My column was late last week? And the topic had already passed? Jackasses, all. I will shit down your neck like a twelve-year old Corey Feldman. This space works for you. It can be all that you want it to be....but when I asked for Random Top 10 suggestions, I got zero replies. I'm facing a hard truth that there aren't too many people reading Vox in the Box. Those of you that are....well, we have to band together and take this small space to 5,000 hits a week.
Ok. Off with the horns, on with the column....
So there are three things that just about everybody will always want to read about. In no specific order....the O.J. Trial, the JFK assassination, and any scandal associated with Vince McMahon. Let's just get my opinions on these topics out of the way right now. OJ's innocent. Lee Harvey Oswald acted alone. Vince McMahon is a genius. OK, now we can move on to better things.
In case the next edition of Vox doesn't reach you by sunday....here's my SuperPick. Seattle is +150. Bet this month's mortgage payment on a Seattle win. Perception is reality in Vegas. The Steelers have a national following, and the oddsmakers need to make the Hawks a dog to get action both ways. Seattle 27 Pittspuke 19.
Here we go with another ridiculous Random Top 10--
Sam's Top 10 Websites
1. Pogo.com: When I was twelve, if I couldn't get a game with my dad.....well, I could always play postal chess. WOW, times have changed. Stay away, trolls.
2. Google.com: Hours of fun. Settles arguments in seconds. The ultimate study tool. And yet, despite Goog's greatness, I'm just never feeling lucky.
3. iTunes.com. When I was younger and making my mix-tapes, I'd have a tape ready in the getto blaster and wait patiently for my song to come on. Hopefully I could hit record without missing the first note or catching the DJ's voice. Now I just buy the song for 99 cents. Beam it to my pod. Burn a CD maybe. Technology is ridiculous.
4. atu2.com: They've rejected every one of my contest submissions. They turned me down as a contributor. They ignore my posts. And yet @u2 is better than the band's own website. Matt McGee, don't ever let it be said that I'm not diplomatic.
5. Cleveland.com: Accessible and organized. I hate to endorse anything tied to the PlainDealer, but their forums are the pulse of the cleveland chat community.
7. PartyPoker.com: I love how PartyPoker.com disguises themselves as PartyPoker.net in their dumbass advertisements, proudly proclaiming they are NOT a gambling site. Guys, if you're not a gambling site...can you quit sending me emails offering me a 20% bonus on my next cash deposit?
8. clevelandsportstorture.blogspot.com: U R Here*. If self promotion is wrong, I don't want to be right.
9. ESPN.com (Page 2 specifically): This is where you'll find Bill Simmons, Chuck Klosterman, and some tolerable fiction by Jim Caple. The world wide leader may not have the most dynamic website, but they make CBSSportsline.com look like a fourth grader's school project.
10. RollingStone.com: I used to get my ya yas out there, until they shut down my profile, and then the boards. Our community sets up camp at probaords now, but rs.com was legendary three years ago. I went to Rock-n-Roll University there in 2001 and 2002. I failed out, but I still remember enough lessons to bust out a take and a rock lyric or two.
in france a skinny man died of a big disease
with a little name
by chance his girlfriend came across a needle
and soon she did the same
at home there are 17-year old boys
and their idea of fun
is being in a gang called the Disciples
high on crack, totin' a machine gun
Oh yeah. I am the Sign o' the times in the box.
later on for now; parting is inevitable
Monday, January 30, 2006
Sunday, January 22, 2006
Event radio: You don't hear that term used often. But that's how I'd describe the Trivisonno/Modell interview. You couldn't hear it on Sirius, and the stakes were high-- Modell's first real interview since he left us, and Triv trying to re-establish himself despite rumors of his eminent firing. Give Triv credit for lining it up. Les Levine, Brinda, Roadman and probably even intern Allison all would have conducted more disciplined and responsible interviews, but they may not have offered the security Art felt in talking with our area no-talent fatass.
I did not expect Art to come clean; you didn't either. This interview was Art's last gasp to win sympathy and right enough wrongs to win himself enough HOF votes. Regardless of what he says, he's always a good time. I couldn't stop laughing. My favorite parts:
- Art asking Triv, about 5 minutes into the interview, "are we on the air?"
- Art constantly referring to his wife as "Pat Modell." Is there anyone on earth that calls their wife, without fail, by her first and last name every time he mentions her?
- The way Art kept saying, "I didn't want to move to Bawltimore." Like the city was some sort of STD he wanted no part of and then unwillingly endured.
- Art repeatedly saying "Don't push me, Mike" when prodded to reveal the identity of the evil politician that recommended Art move the team. Art wasn't going to give this guy's name up. No way. But, oh, by the way, it was the most powerful politician in the state and dude's wife name is "Janet"....but he definitely wasn't going to reveal the identity.
- Art using "Parahna" instead of "Pariah" to describe how the Cleveland fans view him.
Triv did not do a good job on this interview. He failed to develop the reasons behind Art's inability to turn a profit in the gold stream that is the NFL. And if Modell was telling the truth (and I think he was) about being sixty days from BKO (that's bank jargon for bankruptcy), then the real story behind the Browns leaving is Modell's selfish pride; his refusal to admit he's a shitty businessman or ask for help to keep the franchise here. Triv never really pursued that. Despite Modell's early attempts to butter up, Triv stayed relatively strong until Art baited Triv into hating on the Plain Dealer. Modell's PD tirade was pathetic, but his PR people were smart enough to know that Triv hates the PD more than Art does....and that was a perfect way to align the two men. (Yall know I think the PD is a rag, but Tony Grossi rules. Tony, if you're reading this, I love you. Ever since you covered the Force in the early 80s. Sure, I could barely read...but I knew a good looking, well-dressed guy when I saw one.)
That being said, Triv hardly laid an egg. Parts of the interview were decent; almost better than I expected for someone with Triv's very limited skill-set. And most radio experts in this town are backing Triv on this one. Check out the radio forum on cleveland.com, where I've been debating radio for a few years. Most of the people that post there either work or have worked in da biz (as the posters say) and they all despise Triv. Here's a direct quote from one of Triv's biggest critics: It pains me to say this...but... Triv had one of his best interviews ever with Art Modell. I couldn't get out of the car... I just drove around until the segment was over. It was great radio.
So, overall, I'd say it was an almost-competent, entertaining, yet disappointing interview. Fuck that analysis. I'll just say this: whatever Roger Brown says about the interview in his monday morning media column, I think the opposite. I don't know what he'll say, but I already disagree. Ok, that's about 1200 words on the topic. How's that for brevity, Puck Rogers?
SVAC Corner: It's funny. So many of my fellow Cav faithful figured that losing Larry Hughes would be no big deal. Sure....why would losing your best defender on a bad defensive team be a big deal? Do yall remember the first game of the West Coast trip when Kobe beat us single-handedly? LeBron couldn't guard him. But no way Kobe hits all those shots against Hughes. And the Denver game....quit blaming Bron for missing free throws. Did you expect him to make them? He's never been a great free throw shooter. We lost the game because of Amon Ones. We're up 2 points with less than a minute to play. And then Amon Ones forgets to guard their best three point shooter. But the media wants to talk about Bron not being able to finish games. That's hilarious. LeBron is good enough throughout the game that we shouldn't need him to hit a big shot. We should protect our lead by playing D. Kobe may have hit a few game winners in his career, but he won 3 titles because he played with Shaq. If LeBron played with Shaq, we'd be winning games by such margins that those last seconds shots wouldn't be necessary. During the Lakers 3-peat, I don't remember Kobe ever hitting a buzzer-beater in a payoff game.
Your Memorial Day on Wheels: January 20th was the anniversary of Ron Kovic's wounding in Vietnam. He was the marine portrayed by Tom Cruise in Born on the 4th of July. Kovic's book, and the subsequent movie, put me on an anti-war path as a confused 14-yard old republican.....and I've never looked back. I urge all of you to read Kovic's recent column and photo essay on the war in Iraq http://news.yahoo.com/s/huffpost/014056. There is a very short but fantastic poem at the essay's end. Personally, I would add 2 more lines aimed at the President: one. two. three. four/we don't want your fucking war.
It's time for the Random Top 10. If you don't have time, don't make a Random Top 10.
Sam's Top 10 All-Time Favorite Cleveland Sports Professionals
1. Dwight "Doc" Gooden: 2 goddamn great summers in Cleveland. 249 innings. 11 wins. 171 Ks. And one homerun at Riverfront stadium on a glorious friday night in June, 1999. Good old Riverfront, home to two other memorable moments-- October 1994. BernieBowl. Don vs. Mike Shula. Bernie is God. OJ's innocent, free Mike Tyson (what predictions). And then February 1996, where Amy and I get high on the stadium pavement. But my life in Cincinnati is another column.
2. Louie Nanchoff: Most of the trademark moves on display when I'm on the indoor soccer field came from Stan Stamenkovich. But the rest came from Louie. George, if you're out there....remember Game 4 of the 1983 MISL eastern conference semi-finals? Force vs. Spirit....
3. John "Hot Rod" Williams: How's Johnfrancis?. Reeeal good. By the way, I'm still waiting for the Devil Rays to bring up Hot Rod's nephew....the next Babe Ruth, Toe Nash.
4. Julio Franco: He pointed a make-believe gun at an official scorer, with whom he had differences with in Cleveland, and said: Someday, I take my gun and shoot that SOB. Then he found God.
5. Terrell Brandon: Rel, to this day, I am still watching your back.
6. Mike Hargrove: My first favorite player in any sport. My first autograph. He was signing at the old Arcade, and my dad stood in line during his lunch our to get it.
7. Peter Ward: From the streets of Liverpool to Warrensville Heights. Peter strapped on a mullet and high-fived Andy Chapman in vintage mid-80s style.
8. Reggie Langhorne: 88. He was Darnay Scott to Web Slaughter's Carl Pickens. So underrated, and fearless over the middle.
9. Vitaly Potapenko: We're going to be good next year, Potaps. Too bad you won't be on the team.
10. Tony Jones: Who knew that Tony Jones would be sitting in front of me at Browns games years after he retired? And that he'd turn white, skinny, gay and accuse me of stealing beer.
Allright. I think I'm done here. C U in 4 days or so. Sorry to waste a column on Art Modell, but we are on the grounds of clevelandsportstorture.
just as every cop is a criminal
and all the sinners saints
as heads is tails, just call me lucifer
'coz I'm in need of some restraint
I am Mick Jagger in the box. And I remember when Mick recorded it.
ta ta for now; parting is inevitable
Friday, January 20, 2006
Wow, here is my first reaction to Mike Trivisonno's insanely soft interview with Art Modell Thursday on WTAM.
A paraphrase of some of Triv's questions for Modell--I'm typing as fast as I can as I listen to the radio, try to work, and punch myself repeatedly in the face. Check the tone of the questions, if they aren't as biased and sympathetic as any interview I've ever heard with anyone...) Reminds me of Fox News doing an interview with Dick Cheney or something. This is exactly like all the Butch Davis, Dick Jacobs, etc. etc. interviews. Pig Virus should fire Triv immediately.
(BTW I didn't pick and choose questions, I was trying to type as fast as I could.)
-When they built a new stadium for the Indians and Cavs, and told you they'd remodel yours, and then reneged, weren't you a little hurt and angry?
-If you hadn't moved to Baltimore would you have been able to survive financially or were you in too bad a shape?
-Did the politicians basically force you out of here?
-"here's the thing, I don't want to put this on you..." you're in financial trouble, you can escape by going to Baltimore, and Al won't buy the team because he can't afford it, then they bring a team back and give it to Lerner, and everyone's happy. (That wasn't even a question which is how 3/4 of Triv's questions are.) (Modell barely held back from slamming Lerner here.)
-Could the NFL have bailed you out financially, Art?
-If you hadn't taken over the financial responsibilities of the stadium and the city of cleveland and bailed them out, would it have put you in such financial trouble.
-So basically you bail out the city of cleveland and when it's their turn to bail you out, they won't return your phone calls. (another non-question.)
-When they took your parking lot to build the rock hall and science center, what did you say to that?
-How much does that bother you, that you won't ever get any credit here again?
-You've also helped out the Clinic, haven't you?
-You really screwed the fans of the city, they were stunned and it was like you tore their hearts out. Doesn't this seem the least bit immoral to move a city institution like that? (OK I made this one up.)
-The upkeep of the stadium, that blew all your money right there? (Such a non-question that Modell replied "you're asking?")
-You put $80 million dollars into the stadium?
-Didn't you go to the city and say 'wait a minute', can I get some help here?
-You're saying "this bankrupted you".
-Where was the report that Baltimore gave you $50 million? (asked this like he knew it was a lie, when Modell denied it, Triv chuckled. ha ha ha hilarious you fat f*ck.
-You take over the stadium, you foot the bill for the stadium, they won't return your phone calls, Art, it really seems like someone really wanted you out of here.
-Art, what doesn't make any sense, if the poliiticans had helped out the team and you would have stayed, they would have gotten reelected immediately, why would they do this?
-So basically it was like a poker game, they called your bluff and it wasn't a bluff.
-Are you telling me that a politician here (Modell said it was the state, not the city), told you to move the team?
-We're not long lost friends or anything like that, but I firmly believe that moving the team really hurt you. I'm not kissing your ass but I really believe that.
-People say that you took care of your players better than any other owner in baseball. (Modell seemed again to be waiting for a question here.)
-"not trying to deflect talking about the move here..." but people here say you were trying to get rid of Jim Brown
-Tony Grossi told Kevin Burne that it was his crusade to keep you out of the hall of fame?
-(Regarding the PD); That's what happens in a one paper town, they get too big for their britches.
-Let me recap this: you take over the stadium and bail the city out, gateway is built and you don't get bailed out, and you are forced to move to baltimore. (Even Modell declined to take this short easy way out...)
-If you could do one thing, is there something you would do to differently?
-How important is the Hall of Fame to you?
Friday, January 13, 2006
The world is waiting. My self imposed deadline is fast approaching...and I have so much space and so little to say. Wait a minute. Strike that. Reverse it. This way, please...
When Eddie Murphy was nine or ten years old and a budding comic, he had very little to joke about because he hadn't done anything yet. He hadn't had sex or been drunk or high. But he had taken a shit. So his act was always about taking a shit, 'cause that's all he had done. I took a shit today. It wasn't unique like that monster-piece Ryan photographed at Palisades, but this thing was long. So very very long that it did coil up like a rattle snake. And it just kept coming out- and twisting- like the ice cream machine at Ponderosa.
I am still in reflection mode regarding 2005. I saw U2, Springsteen and Coldplay perform triumphant shows, but, musically, I will remember it is as the year I found Hot Fuss by the Killers. It was released in '04, but I didn't get hold of it until a year ago next week. Our one year anniversary is approaching and I am getting nostalgic for the first time I put that light blue piece of plastic into my Eclipse CD player and heard those swirling helicopters that signify the start of Jenny Was a Friend of Mine. The Fuss is everything I love about rock-n-roll, packed into 11 ridiculously good tracks. Enough has been written about them making synths important again and their talent for new-age storytelling while still evoking Duran Duran, the Cars and Bowie. But I'd like to pimp the band's secret weapon, bassist Mark Stoermer. Mark Stoermer is possibly the best bass-player on the planet. He's Adam Clayton without the never ending parade of eighth notes. He makes Hot Fuss the best album since 1993's Zooropa or August and Everything After. Hey man, buy it.
Check out ESPN.com's Page 2 for an interesting column by Chuck Klosterman comparing Larry Bird and the best player in college hoops, Gonzaga's Adam Morrison. ("White Like Larry" sports.espn.go.com/espn/page2/story?page=klosterman/060111) Klosterman used to be the rock critic at the Akron Beacon Journal and now writes for SPIN. His two passions are basketball and hair metal, and he has plenty of intelligent opinions. But as much as I love his writing, I disagree with just about everything he's ever said. Chuck, three things I need to tell you:
1. Balance was one of Halen's best album. I'm sorry your girlfriend dumped you right before you reviewed it. But don't hate on the Van Hagar power-ballads. (Hey Rae, what you said is true...I can't stop loving you)
2. When you and Bono were driving around the streets of Dublin in his Mercedes, he was not trying to impress you by giving those fans a lift. That's just Bono. He probably forgot you were in the car. And SPIN never should've sent you on that interview....apparently they never read your asinine assessment of ZOOTV in your book, Fargo Rock City. (one of my favorite books, by the way)
3. I read your Page 2 column twice and I'm still racking my fucking brain trying to make sense of your statements: "Tom Gugliotta ended up being Beck; Keith Van Horn turned out to be Conor Oberst; Mike Dunleavy is probably Ryan Adams." What are you talking about? That makes no sense. Beck is actually Christian Laettner...made a big mainstream splash in the early 90s and then went on to have a stellar career in relative anonymity. Conor Oberst is Kurt Heinrich...young and immensely skilled in all areas, but succeeding under the no-flash radar. And Ryan Adams doesn't deserve a comparison. I guess maybe that was your point- Dunleavy doesn't either? (And Jakob Dylan...that's the easiest one...Jon Barry, all the way.)
2night marks the start of SVAC's annual west coast trip that always turns our gaudy record into mush. Yes, the west coast trip will always expose the season for what it is. In past years, before the january trip, the talk was always how far we would go in the playoffs. After a 1-5 west coast swing, the talk usually changes to: Can we hang on for the 8th seed? Who will lock up the eastern conference's 8th seed...the Cavs, the Celtics or the Sixers? We match up with Detroit pretty well, don't we? Maybe we shouldn't make the playoffs...we're not going anywhere, let's get a better draft pick. You know how it goes. So I'm a little nervous for this game. I would like to sit back and watch it, beat off and have a sandwich- but instead I have to write...
The Random Top 10. (By the way, if yall have any ideas for future Random Top 10s, let me know. Just post it on this blog. I would give my email address, but I learned my lesson from doing that on rollingstone.com. I don't need any more urgent requests asking me to act as next of kin from all of my African friends who happen to be the president/ambassador of Bank of Nigeria and came upon $30 million in unclaimed funds from a man with my last name and no will that recently died in a plane crash.)
Top 10 Singles of 2005:
1. Mr. Brightside/The Killers: Who knew that Brandon Flowers jumping to conclusions in his head could make for such great rock-n-roll theatre? The bassline that sets up the chorus always gets me off. I never knew who the Killers were until I saw this video on VHI Megahits. Fantastic video; Eric Roberts rules.
2. Dakota/Stereophonics: I've always admired their press, but it was Dawnovan that turned me on to this band. The first time I heard Dakota I was so jacked up, I almost called up Zach and asked him if there was an opening in Nasty Varmint for an old friend.
3. Fix You/Coldpay: First time I heard this song, I couldn't even listen past the first verse. Complete rubbish, I thought. Martin whining lousy lyrics. I hated it, and skipped it every time I put on X&Y. Then one day, I was in my car (where 65% of life's great moments happen) and I decided to listen all the way through. And 2 minutes and 35 seconds into it, the guitars start and the heavens opened up for me. Now, it has a lot of personal meaning. I call it my Roscoe song. It helped me make sense of putting Roscoe down. It's almost as if the Chris Martin knew our situation with this dog and wrote the lyrics accordingly.
4. City of Blinding Lights/U2: Forget that it's just a newer version of Streets or that Clayton just recycled the riffs from Whose Gonna Ride...when Bono tells me he's getting ready to leave the ground, I believe him.
5. All These Things I've Done/Killers: You take a little gospel, Vegas-style organs, and Flowers' snappy sense of drama and you have another perfect Killers single. This song is probably on 92.3 right now. I've heard it 4,000 times on the album, and, amazingly enough, it sounds even better on the radio.
6. Talk/Coldplay: You could climb a ladder up to the sun/Or write a song nobody has sung/Or do something that's never been done. Eeek. Kids, those are bad lyrics. But, as usual, it's not what Martin says, but how he says it.
7. Middle of Nowhere/Hot Hot Heat: So they're not breaking any new musical ground, but the arrangement still pushes my buttons. Like the Killers, Heat frontman Steve Bays doubles as the keyboardist. I love the Dylanesque video: the overcoat, kooky hair and plenty of lonely facial expressions during the instrumentals.
8. Original of the Species/U2: Yeah, you heard it in the newest iPod commercial. Bono's own Hey Jude and an ode to mortality, written for Edge's daughter. Watch out-- Q104 just got hold of this song, and they're dead set on ruining it for me. Thank God the band never released Kite as a single.
9. You Can't Steal My Love/Mando Diao: The critics will call this song an energetic rocker from a rising indie band. Maybe so, but all I needed to hear was this lyric: "I said, hey girl have you seen that film with those kids in New York in the eighties / Oh, you have? – well, can I watch it with you anyway!”...and then I knew these guys are the best thing out of Sweden since Roxette.
10. Devils and Dust/Bruce Springsteen: It's not the track I would've released from this album, but it's definitely a vintage Springsteen moment. We don't need any of The Rising's production gimmicks for this one; it picks up right where Tom Joad left us. Bruce nails the mood of today's America in the first two deceptively simple lines: : I got my finger on the trigger/ But I don't know who to trust.
Whew. That was a tough exercise. Much tougher than last week's movie list. Lots of excellent music in 2005. If I left off one of your faves, make your own list.
and someone is calling my name
from the back of the restaurant
and someone is playing a game
in the house that I grew up in
and someone will drive her around
down the same streets that I did
down the same streets that I did
I am Brandon Flowers in the box.
(And I got the Killers off my chest this week. Thanks for your patience; I hope to not have to mention them for awhile.)
au revoir for now; parting is....inevitable
Thursday, January 5, 2006
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