Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Vox in the Box (7)

This week I had to step up and "Vox out". Much like Scott Howard, when he became the Wolf. He did it for his teammates, for the fans, and for Stiles...not for himself. Even though he began to hate the Wolf, he realized the legend had been built up so much that he had to deliver. As everyone's favorite bachelor ties the knot this week, it's important I produce for this somewhat bittersweet occasion. Sweet, for those of us that watched Ry eventually emerge victorious and win his true love's heart after years of obsession and, bitter, for those that love Ry more than their own significant other. As the vows are exchanged, I will be flashing back to 1999: Crazy Louie's or Yucatan Liquor Stand (not sure which one), and Ry utters the now famous line: "You're killing me, here." Or something like that. I guess it wasn't that memorable if I can't remember the exact line. But whatever he said...it took a pair of steel balls, especially because Ry wasn't too intoxicated.

Also, we have the Sopranos season finale looming after a challenging, distorted and sometimes mythical eleven episodes. I'm on record as believing that show creator David Chase should not've saved Tony from the gunshot wound. So that unrealistic recovery upset me, mostly because the writers are normally devoted to realism. On most TV shows, Carmela wouldn't have been dreaming and really would've found Adriana in Paris (or even worse, Furio). It would've been impossible for a network show to resist bringing Adriana/Furio back, so they can bait their audience with a ridiculous cliffhanger. But Sopranos has succeeded by showing us the unimportant and the random. Sopranos is unwaveringly authentic in its dialogue and depiction of our bankrupt culture and its treatment of New Jersey and the mob's cathartic and crazy justifications for evil in the name of tradition and order. It's never uplifting. It's not something the whole family can enjoy. It's never, "a can't miss episode where everything will change."...which is how they promote ER every goddamn week.

And since those first three shows, Sopranos has been to true to form-- tackling Vito's identity crisis, Tony's struggle with rage and infidelity, Carm's typical balancing act between her champagne tastes & self loathing and the comical, buffoonish and always-delusional intentions of Syl, Chris and Paulie. So what will happen Sunday? I've been wrong all season, but, unlike the season 5 finale, when Tony escapes the FBI raid at Johny's house and walks home to a happy wife-- I think this season will end with something very devastating to Tony. I'm hardly out on a limb when I guess it will be some type of vengeance from Phil "Go Home and Get Your Fucking Shine Box" Leotardo. Better yet, maybe the FBI pins Vito's murder on Tony. Maybe one of the crew gets whacked? Maybe AJ fucks Meadow. No, that's Six Feet Under. Doesn't matter. Just show me a set of cans at the Bing, Tony driving in his Escalade-- bouncing to some vintage classic rock tune, sub-consciously planning his next move in the jersey/new york chess game.

I have a Cleveland rant, but I don't want to jump on the Tribe anti-bandwagon. I'll just say this: I was Matthew McConaughey-hot with my baseball bets two weeks ago, and all of the sudden-- I can't win a fucking game. This is due to our Indians laying eggs. (I'm going broke from them. If it wasn't for the Heat taking three of four, Ry might not be getting a wedding gift.) You know, Wedgie always talks about doing things the right way...but his team never does. Like when dude tried to avoid a rundown when he was caught between first base and home plate! This summer is lost; that's why it was so important we didn't blow our opportunity last September when we were arguably MLB's best team. Same thing this year with SVAC. We may not get past the first round next year; we were lucky to beat the Bullets. We had a rare opportunity against 'Roit and blew it. Same thing when the new Browns choked a lead away to the Stillers in the '03 wildcard. Opportunities in Cleveland are so, so rare. You can't assume anything about an up-and-coming Cleveland team taking the next step next year because it rarely ever happens. I would hardly be surprised if our recent payoff run is the farthest LeBron ever makes it in the postseason in a Cavs uniform.

Instead of the Random Top 10 this week, I'm bringing you Sam's Top 100 Films Of All Time. This is not a Random Top 100, because there's absolutely nothing random about a list with one hundred titles. When you make a Top 100-anything, you better be methodical and grind it out because it's anything but a random exercise. It's not easy wasting nights away in front of BO, chewing up films I have seen a thousand times over. But there's an upside. Revisiting some Top 100 mainstays every few years is essential in determining whether the film has stood time's test. Did I naively and hastily proclaim it as one my favorites before really dissecting it? Or perhaps it was even more brilliant than I originally thought and deserves a bump?. After multiple viewings of Class Act, Hand That Rocks the Cradle, Unlawful Entry and River Wild...I had to face a hard truth that these staples of my teenage years do not belong on my list. And a film like Mobsters, which hovered in the thirties for years, now barely makes the cut at #97. And, trust me, it almost got knocked off completely-- but was saved by that epic scene in the sauna when Richard Greico as Bugsy Siegel gives Chris Penn a gun that was once the property of Benito Mussolini. On the other hand, a film like True Romance, which has been a Top 100 staple since I first saw it, actually jumps forty-some spots due to how well it's aged (and of course, the incomparable Chris Penn). Tarantino did a masterful job on that script. If he would've directed it, I have to think that movie may have reached Pulp Fiction-esque status, a year before the real thing. Yes, this is important work I'm doing here. Mrs. Vox doesn't agree, needless to say. But my Top 100 films of all time are forever intertwined in the very fabric that is me. All yours...

1. The Bad News Bears in Breaking Training
2. The Karate Kid
3. LaBamba
4. Mask
5. Pulp Fiction
6. Rainman
7. Summer School
8. Basketball Diaries
9. Born on the 4th of July
10. Ferris Bueller's Day Off

11. The Croupier
12. Rounders
13. Singles
14. Sideways
15. Pee Wee's Big Adventure
16. Amadeus
17. The Shawshank Redemption
18. Eyes Wide Shut
19. Willie Wonka and the Chocolate Factory
20. Throw Momma From the Train

21. Point Break
22. Match Point
23. 25th Hour
24. Coming to America
25. Jungle Fever
26. Krull
27. Goodfellas
28. Little Children
29. Superman II
30. The Fly
31. Interview with the Vampire
32. Breakfast Club
33. Major League
34. Forest Gump
35. Boyz n the Hood
36. Gremlins
37. Leaving Las Vegas
38. Dead Man Walking
39. Beautiful Girls
40. True Romance

41. Clerks
42. Die Hard
43. Sling Blade
44. Return of the Jedi
45. Star Trek II: Wrath of Khan
46. My Life
47. Searching for Bobby Fisher
48. The Doors
49. Sleep With Me
50. Fargo
51. Vanilla Sky
52. Cast Away
53. Some Kind of Wonderful
54. St. Elmo's Fire
55. The Empire Strikes Back
56. Trainspotting
57. Back II the Future
58. Stand By Me
59. Hoosiers
60. Philadelphia

61. Ruthless People
62. Almost Famous
63. Raiders of the Lost Arc
64. Go
65. Can't Buy Me Love
66. Brothers McMullen
67. Indecent Proposal
68. A New Hope
69. Boiler Room
70. Hustle & Flow
71. Lolita
72. Hard Eight
73. Unfaithful
74. Ghostbusters
75. Summer of Sam
76. Star Trek III: Search for Spock
77. Training Day
78. Top Gun
79. Fear
80. We Don't Live Here Anymore

81. Young Guns II
82. Misery
83. Brothers
84. Boys Don't Cry
85. Basic Instinct
86. Bill and Ted's Excellent Adventure
87. School Ties
88. Dead Poets Society
89. Blown Away (Jeff Bridges version, not Nicole Eggert)
90. No Looking Back
91. Poltergeist II
92. American History X
93. What's Eating Gilbert Grape?
94. Menace II Society
95. Black Swan
96. Pretty Woman
97. Mobsters
98. He Got Game
99. Teen Wolf
100. Weird Science

"Amid the chaos of that day, when all I could hear was the thunder of gunshots, and all I could smell was the violence in the air, I look back and am amazed that my thoughts were so clear and true, that three words went through my mind endlessly, repeating themselves like a broken record: you're so cool, you're so cool, you're so cool. And sometimes Clarence asks me what I would have done if he had died, if that bullet had been two inches more to the left. To this, I always smile, as if I'm not going to satisfy him with a response. But I always do. I tell him of how I would want to die, but that the anguish and the want of death would fade like the stars at dawn, and that things would be much as they are now. Perhaps. Except maybe I wouldn't have named our son Elvis."

I am Alabama Whitman in the box.

When you are tired of relationships, try a romance....parting is inevitable.

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Vox in the Box (6)


Hi, I'm Magic Johnson. Buckle up Ohio. Lots 2 say 2day.

Maintenance first. The national-bias against Cleveland is always full-tilt when one of our teams is in the payoff. There are more than a few hoop analysts that ate shitburgers for an after-game snack, and I'm not really interested in burying all of them. Just Chuck Barkley and Kenny "If we both stopped for gas" Smith. After the first-half ended, instead of analyzing the half-- as Barkley is paid to do-- the first thing out of Chuck's idiot mouth is how the Pistons are worried that the Heat are taking care of New Jersey too quickly and will be able to rest. Yes, the Heat. I'm speechless. Unbelievable.

Let's talk about gambling. At the end of Game 1, I was hoping Roit would really pile on us. Because the bigger the blowout, the bigger the spread for Game 2. We all know the Game 2 spread was 11.5 points. I let my wine and greed-colored glasses blind me and I split my wager between the money line and that ridiculous spread. So I broke even. But the smart gamblers knew damn well 11.5 points is way too much for a playoff game and they got paid. I wasn't planning on betting the game tonight, but I logged on to Sportsbook and saw the Cavs were getting 7.5 points. I was shocked. Getting 7.5 points at home is just like 11.5 on the road. Tell me, how are the Cavs seven and a half point dogs in a home playoff game two days after we beat Detroit? So, of course, I parlayed the points and the under (thank you Jeff Benton at vegasadvisors.com) for $20 to win $51.38...and, since the Tribe was no-actioned and I was feeling frisky, I took the $33 I had originally bet on them and let it ride on the Cavs +255 money line to win $84.15. I'm sorry, but the Cavs getting 7.5 points in a home playoff game is completely laughable. But that's why I love gambling. Because the oddsmakers didn't make that spread. The Stupid-Ass American Public made that spread. The Same Stupid-Ass American Public that re-elected George Bush, made Desperate Housewives a hit and thinks John Madden is a great analyst . We sometimes forget that the oddsmakers don't give a fuck about an accurate line; they just want the bettors' money laid evenly. So perception becomes reality. And when the line moves like that, great handicappers will pounce.

Clevelanders this morning are thrilled to be tied at two. I'm disappointed. I honestly felt we'd be up 3-1 after 4 games....and we'd close out Roit at their place in Game 5. And I blame the NBA. You don't schedule a road Game 1 just thirty some hours after a team played a road Game 6. I realize you deserve an advantage if you take care of business early, but the Pistons ended their first round series only one game before we did. Our series against the Bullets was emotional, hard-fought, and we played back-to-back OT games. So you knew the Cavs wouldn't compete in Game 1. If the NBA learns how to schedule, I know we'd have won a game in the Palace. That feat will have to wait until Wednesday.

Let's talk about Roit (And keep talking Rasheed. You're better amunition than Coach Jordan.). I'm not impressed. Remember, we beat them twice in a row without our second-best player and best defender. Rip had 30 points...believe me, he doesn't get 30 with LHughes chasing him around curls and screens. I've always thought highly of Billups. But he's not Bron. Or Kobe. Or Tim Duncan. Or even Steve Nash. Again, Roit has no Gilbert Arenas. The Wizards scared me to death with their knack for pure offensive explosions (that's why I picked SVAC to win that series in 7). The Wizards play so dumb, they're good. I was holding on for dear life during our tango with them. But I'm filled with a zen-like calmness against Roit. I know, if the game is close, we'll pull it out....because Jesus is dressed in blue, wine and gold. I don't sweat Prince, the Wallace Bros. or even Billups. Rip scares me, though. I'll never forget how he abused the Buckeyes in the 1999 Final 4. (By the way, Vox doesn't feel like looking up Flip Saunders' career playoff record, but we know it's not good.)

For me, the turning point of this Cavalier franchise came during Game 3 in Warshington. The Bullets owned us in the second half of Game 2 and were out-playing us all Game 3 with their strategy of running guys at Bron and making him pick up his dribble at the top of the key. The Cavs are down four with a minute or so to play, and Bron finds himself in that very position and the shot clock winding down. Somehow, he fires an almost impossible backhand pass to Z under the basket between two defenders. I couldn't believe my fucking eyes. It was at that moment that LeBron graduated to the playoffs, and he was on his way to adding to his legend with two Travalier (hey Bullet fans-- I have that copyrighted!) playoff game winners in his first payoff series. And nothing has shocked me since.
I'm not wrong often when it comes to SVAC, but it looks like I was mistaken in my belief that making the playoffs last year would be beneficial for us. LeBron sure didn't need a tune-up. When God parted the Red Sea for Moses and the Jews, there was no dress rehearsal. It just happened, and the chosen Hebrews marched triumphantly to the promised land while the evil Egyptians drown helplessly.

If you were hoping for a Ran-dumb Top Ten, you're in luck. I think I can squeeze one outta me before I make a sandwich.
But first, has anyone else caught ESPN's two promos for the World Cup? Best commercials I have ever seen. One uses Streets as a backdrop; the other uses City of Blinding Lights-- both feature a narration by Bono illustrating the global importance of the Cup with his perfect prose.

My Top 10 Television Shows Of All Time:
1. The Sopranos: You can look forward to a future Vox devoted to everything Soprano at the end of season six. All I can say for now is Tony Soprano is America, fat with johnycakes and moral relativism.
2. Six Feet Under: Achieved television nirvana during season three. They couldn't sustain it and butchered the final two seasons, but the last fifteen minutes of the final episode was the greatest ending to a show ever. It even inspires me to predict my own demise: SamVox, December 1974- January 2047.
3. Sesame Street: I do vividly recall my attachment to this show, but according to my parents I was obsessed with it. Kevin recently told me they sold Cookie Monster out to health foods, and it's been bothering me ever since. I look forward to reuniting with the show in two years or so.
4. Hogan Knows Best. Just Kidding. But I think that might be my favorite reality show. Actually #4 is Beavis and Butthead. It's difficult for a television show to truly make me laugh. This show did it every night. Not just with Beavis and Butthead, but the supporting cast-- Van Driesen, McVickers, Todd, Stuart's Mom. Dream on.
5. Taxi: The best sit-com ever. Andy Kauffman as Latka Gravas. Christopher Lloyd as Jim Engletowski. Enough said.
6. Family Ties: Epic adolescent moment #1 for me: Alex P. Keaton dancing with Ellen to the Billy Vera classic, "At this Moment." Michael J. Fox marries Ellen in real life and the show jumps the shark when a pre-boob-job Courtney Cock takes Ellen's place and Andy goes from 6 months to 5 years old overnight. War Tina Yothers.
7. Cheers: Sammy gets the bar back, Kevin McHale counting bolts on the Garden floor, Cliff Claven on jeopardy and all those people who've never been in his kitchen, and the hilarious battles with Gary and The Olde Towne Tavern. They always had the better bloody Mary
8. My So Called Life: We all have gay moments. I had 19 of them during So Called's only season spanning fall 1994 to spring 95. It was a great day at 49 Chittenden when MTV aired the reruns.
9. The Dukes of Hazzard. I know this guy named Avery who will happily tell you the story of how I quit baseball because the games were on friday night and I didn't want to miss this show. Even at seven years old, I was trash.
10. Carnivale: A rare monumental mistake by BO, pulling the plug on this masterpiece. War Brother Justin. War Samson, not everything on him is small.

when the president talks to God
does he fake that drawl or merely nod?
agree which convicts should be killed?
where prisons should be built and filled?
which voter fraud must be concealed?
when the president talks to God?

when the president talks to God
does he ever think that maybe he's not?
that that voice is just inside his head
when he kneels next to the presidential bed
does he ever smell his own bullshit?
when the president talks to God?

I doubt it.
I doubt it.

I am Connor Oberst in this box.

Goodnight Mr. Walters- uh-uhhh. Parting is inevitable.

Saturday, May 6, 2006

Vox in the Box (5)

3 Days in May

Wednesday Night: Mrs. Vox and I checked into the hospital during Game 5. We got out of the car right when Bron missed the jumper at the end of regulation. I watched overtime in the waiting room. After Arenas nailed two free throws and the Cavs were down a point, the nurse said our room was ready and I figured Mrs. Vox was in no mood to mess around. I got up and told the nurse, Mrs. Vox and the people around me, "I don't need to watch the last 3 seconds because I already know Bron will hit a shot at the buzzer." So we walk down the hall, check into the room....I turn on the TV and the Cavs are hugging. Unfortunately, I was not a witness that night.

Thursday Night: Mrs. Vox gives birth, via c-section. I was a witness.

Friday Night: The Goose and I watch her first SVAC game together in one of the recovery rooms. I'm not as confident this time, especially when I see Amon coming out for the final possession and we don't need the 3 -pointer. I understand Coach Brown wanted to spread the floor, but you're not spreading the floor if the shooter isn't a threat. But I was wrong; what do I know? Unbelievable move by Coach Brown, who was out-coached most of the series. When that ball bottomed out and the Bullets missed their final desperate shot , so many SVAC deamons were exorcised from my body. I fell to my knees in pure disbelief.

There were many fans that pissed me off at the end of last year because they didn't care if the Cavs made the playoffs or not. They argued naively, what's the point of making the playoffs when we'll be swept? Somebody please, please tell me how getting swept by the Pistons in the first round last year and experiencing their world-class playoff D-fense would not have helped the Cavs pepare for what we're going to run into tomorrow?

If we do lose to Roit, it will be because Coach Brown isn't much with Xs and Os, has some weird fascination with Andy "NBDL" Varajeo, and won't make adjustments when we go through complete quarters taking dumb shots and not recognizing who is hot for the Pistons. But I don't think we're going to lose. I'll have a better idea after Game 1, but I think Roit is very beatable. And I'm telling you now- Roit won't win the NBA title this year, Steve Nash rules, Eric Snow is the most underrated player in the league, LeBron is Jesus, Mike Woodson I mean Wilkes for Flip was the greatest trade in Cleveland sports history (Dilfer for Dorsey may be a close 2nd), and let me tell you 'bout Lah-ree Huuuughes-- even when he can't shoot, (which is often) he's contributing in so many other ways. I love you Larry. SVAC over Roit in 5. And gimme a stack of dem johnycakes.

I've watched a ton of 'BA in my day and I have never seen a player put on an offensive display like Arenas did (no, the Cavs didn't guard him much...but does it really matter when a three point bomb is like a layup for Arenas?). Still, the difference between Arenas and a truly great player like MJ and Bron is that great players don't miss two free throws and a bunny lay-up down the stretch in a playoff. What a choke by him, and the Bullets last night. I hate the Bullets, and Coach Jordan has a summer to think about how we partied on his court after his half-ass guarantee. Eat me Eddie.

We're still at Rainbow tonight, and my laptop is logged on as a "guest" to the CWRU med-school wireless network (so all of these words are unsecured, bra). We're scheduled to go home tomorrow, but I may have to watch the the rest of the payoffs here. These last three days were the most eventful, dramatic and happiest of my life. I got pooped on, did some classic re-evaluating and made all sorts of deals with the man upstairs. Now I need to live up to my end of the bargain.

No time for top tens 2nite, but I did read some emails yall wrote that evoked my favorite song by Aeromsith: Amazing. So I close with Steven Tyler's greatest lic ever--

it's amazin...
with the blink of an eye, you finally see the light
it's amazin...
when the moment arrives that you know you'll be alright
ohhhh...it's amaaaaayyyyyyzin--
And I'm sayin' a prayer for the desperate hearts tonight

Parting is inevitable, but I'll see you in the promised land.