Thursday, January 5, 2006

Vox in the Box (1)


Welcome to Vox in the Box, my (almost) weekly column. This is the first edition, and, in the future, when this space is widely read and appreciated across the web-- we'll look back at this first serving, fondly, as a signature moment of the great entrees that would follow.

Partly inspired by Swerbs Blurbs, a mix of sports and entertainment, party inspired by Bill Simmons (the new national minister of pop culture), and partly inspired by the many other spaces I read on the internet that make this universe a little smaller...this column will be a sampling of my usual brown toilet logs.

Some of you know me from @u2, cleveland.com or countingcrows.com. Some of you know me as kleak, rock-n-roll fanatic/instigator from the pro-boards and rollingstone.com. Most of you know me quite well as plain old Sam, and have been reading my pointless emails for years. I ask that you not reveal my last name, so that I can speak freely and frankly about a variety of subjects. (There are even a few folks who have read my provocative posts on mlive.com. Kids, I'm really not a mean person, but you Wolverine fans bring out the worst in me.)

And speaking of college footyball (as Bernie Focker would say), it's rare that a game will live up to three months worth of hype like USC v. Texas. My favorite part was when Keith Jackson had to plug that dumb John Stamos show, Jake in Progress, and Keith pronounced it: "John Stah-mos." But did any of yall hear Dan Fouts? He couldn't get enough of Vince Young. I've never seen a national, objective announcer drool over one player like that. Then Lee Corso called Vince Young "the greatest player I have ever seen." Those two guys were so jacked up on Vince-hyperbole, they made Brent Musberger seem cynical. Sorry, but Vince is just another brother who can run. He's athletic and strong, and is surrounded by great blockers. He had a nice game against a crappy defense; he's not the black Jesus. If he was, he'd have won the Heisman in a runaway. I agree with Kevin that Vince will be a failure in the NFL...(unless he falls into a great situation like Rothlishitberger). I have one wish for '06 (well I have more than one, but let's pretend I don't): Please, Vince, Stay in School, with your obnoxious self. Please stay. If Vince stays, OSU v. Texas may be my most anticipated College Football game ever.

Matt Leinart didn't show much class in the post-game interview, but he's right. USC is the better team, but the lateral and the 4th-and-1 call killed them. Coach Carroll needs to be a little more creative with the national championship on the line. But Texas made one defensive play, and I guess that was one more than USC made....although I missed the first half.
Now, Leinart is a great quarterback. Some of his passes reminded me of how effortlessly Dan Marino would thread the needle. And I don't really mind that he was a sore loser afterwards. Imagine the stuff that some of you rage-filled rabbits would spew if someone stuck a microphone in your face after a loss at tuesday-night basketball. And that's just a friendly game with poor shot selection.

On to the Buckeyes, who really weren't challenged on monday night....I've been thinking about Troy Smith's place in Buckeye history. If he does go 3-0 against Michigan, he's arguably the best QB we've ever had. Before Smith came along, I'd say Greg Frey was the best I've seen....followed by Germaine and Mike Tomczak. I also don't think Smith will find NFL success and I certainly think he has plenty of room for improvement, but OSU is not a school known for quarterbacks. So maybe Smith will be the best Buckeye ever.

It's time for The Random Top 10...this will be a weekly installment. You Rollingstoners will probably skip right to this feature every week.

Top 10 Movies of 2005:
1. Hustle and Flow- Please tell me there is someone in America that has seen this film besides me, the two sisters behind me and the usher at Severance. Whoop that trick! Whoop that trick!
2. Brokeback Mountain- It's a shame that the public views this as a gay-cowboy movie. That trivializes the plight of the film....the heavy baggage that is internal pain and suppressed dreams, and the way it can all be magically released by visiting a certain place and moment in time. Gyllenhall and Ledger actually make you believe they're hot for each other for half the film, and Ang Lee's direction is perfect till the final scene. Flawless script and a great peak at Gyllenhall's wife's almost-perfect rack.
3. Two For the Money- Ok. OK. I liked this movie before I saw it. Happy? But it still was a very, very good film. Much like Boiler Room, it's a morality play for salespeople. Chew McConaughey won People's Sexiest Man Alive Award with this performance, although that's usually not a good thing. People Magazine is a rag, but that's another column.
4. Crash- So many possibilities here with a cast of some SamVox favorite actors (Ryan Philipe, Matt Dillon, Terence Howard). Crash takes on Los Angeles, post Rodney King and OJ-trial, and challenges stereotypes...it builds and builds, but the ending delivers a scapegoat death and an uneven compromise rather than answering any of the questions it spent two hours asking.
5. A History of Violence- Strangely intense sex scenes in this one. Highly entertaining and fast moving, but expects more than one leap of faith from its audience. Viggo Mortensen's career triumph.
6. Star Wars III: Revenge of the Sith- Lucas will never redeem Menace or Clones, but Sith was epic enough that we won't have to show our kids Episodes 1 and 2. The last hour of Sith was everything that's good about the Star Wars franchise. McGregor, amazingly, is a better Kenobi than Alec Guiness. I would give my left testicle to hear McGregor say: "I think we better get indoors. The Sandpeople are easily startled...but they will soon be back...and in greater numbers."
7. Bad News Bears- Makes my top 10 mostly because it wasn't the disaster I was expecting. The producers knew it couldn't be family-friendly, so they let Billy Bob put a somewhat perverted spin on Buttermaker. Kelly Leak had the spirit, but not the acting chops. Buttermaker's daughter was the only real casting mistake. Major props for showing Buttermaker walk into Chico's Bail Bonds while looking for a sponsor, and then finding a strip club.
8. Empire Falls- Not nearly as spectacular as HBO's 2004 masterpiece, Angels in America. Fans and critics that read the book were disappointed with the movie. But I didn't read it, so ignorance is bliss in this case. Disillusionment and fear spread like the plague in an American small town, and who better to proverbially carry it than Robin Penn, Ed Harris, Phillip Seymour Hoffman, and that guy from Go, who played a gay selling Amway products.
9. Batman Begins- This movie wouldn't usually crack my top 10 list, but I saw too many duds in 2005. So the bat maaan crashes my party. I liked Christian Bale. He brought soul to the character. I liked Michael Keaton too....he brought integrity and an understated brilliance to the role. But Val Kilmer was my favorite Batman....and he had the superior co-stars. Nicole Kidman never looked as hot as she did in Batman Forever...she trumps Katie Holmes and Basinger. And I'm in the minority here, but Tommy Lee Jones as 2-Faced was better than Nicholson's Joker. There are many turkeys here in web-land that think Batman Begins is the best super-hero movie ever made. Stop. It's Superman II, and nothing else comes close.
10. In Good Company- I didn't like this in the theatre, but, as I so often do, revisited it on HBO. Dennis Quaid always does it for me. He has a real talent for honest portrayals of life's mainstream characters.

Don't you worry 'bout your mind
Don't you worry 'bout your mind
You should worry about the day
That the pain-- it goes away
You know I miss mine sometimes

I am Paul Hewson in the box.

Shalom for now; parting is....inevitable