Monday, December 25, 2006

Merry Christmas

Friday, December 22, 2006

All-Time Top 50 "Sports Entertainers"

Professional wrestling has been around a long time. Starting as a carnival act, it has evolved into an international multi-million dollar phenomenon. Competitors are no longer known as "wrestlers" and are instead now only referred to as "superstars". The term "Sports Entertainment" has replaced "Pro Wrestling" reflecting the much broader reaches of the industry.

With the New Year almost upon us, it is a time for reflection. With apologies to all time greats like Gorgeous George (the first true "entertainer"), Bruno Sammartino, Buddy Rodgers (the first WWF champion), and Barry Horowitz... well maybe not... I give you my top 50 wrestl... I mean, sports entertainers since I have been watching (1983). Afterall, I can only comment on what I've witnessed, and it wouldn't be fair to try an evaluate someone's true impact just from hearsay.

Because the industry is as much, if not more about the entertainment as the quality of "wrestling", my list is mostly weighed on the impact the particular superstar made to the sport. It is not a list of how "good" each individual is as a mat-technician. Here we go:

Hulk Hogan is to wrestling as Star Wars is to science fiction. I know some of the purest out there are cringing at the thought, but there is no denying that The Hulkster made wrestling what it is today. From the moment he broke the evil Iron Sheik's Camel Clutch (a feat never done prior), wrestling has never been the same. Terry Bolea had people saying their prayers and eating their vitamins all over the world.

While Hogan drew fans like never before, Vince McMahon REVOLUTIONIZED the basic structure of the industry. Until Vinny Mac came along, wrestling was made up of small territories. Wrestlers were only known locally. That all changed as McMahon purchased these territories, forming a monopoly, or empire if you will, providing wrestling with a national stage... a presence in the mainstream culture that continues to grow.

Yes, Eric Bischoff is at #3. Even though WCW was only at the pinnacle of sports entertainment for a mere 4 years, Bischoff's influences in the sport are unparalled. The "attitude" of today, kayfabing (breaking character), controvesy, etc. can all be attributed to this pioneer. Most importantly, Bischoff's WCW made the WWE better which ultimately saved it from bankrupcy.

Prior to Hulk Hogan, local and national news programs began to feature stories about a 7'3", 500 lb. man who was agile (Andre could actually perform drop kicks early in his career), strong (he'd lift four women at once on his shoulders) and charasmatic. People started to pay attention and Andre the Giant became a household name. FYI, Andre Rousimoff (his real name) could also drink 12 bottles of wine prior to a match with no (immediate) effect on his performances.

Who doesn't know The Nature Boy? Even non-wrestling fans have heard of him. Being a 17 time world champion helps too. Whether heel or babyface, fans have been yelling "WHOOO" for over 20 years. Incredibly, Naytch almost didn't even get his career off the ground when early in his career, he broke his back in a plane crash that claimed the lives of 3 other men.

Steve William's Stone Cold character may have saved the WWE back in the Monday Night Wars era, when WCW was beating WWE in the ratings war every week. He blurred the line between babyface and heel, a characteristic still prominent in many of the WWE supertars. Bad@ss face had never been uttered until Stone Cold came to town. His fued with McMahon carried the WWE as your average everyday people related to his desire to "kick the bosses @ss". Afterall, don't we all wish we could flip off our bosses and "stun" them to hell?

One of the best all-time on the mic, Dwayne Johnson is now a preusing Hollywood and has become a fairly mainstream actor known world-wide. The People's Eyebrow somehow became a universal symbol known world wide, meaning "I'm the sh!t and I'm about to kick your @ss!"

We can't have heroes if we don't have villians... and Piper was the greatest villian (heel) of all. From cracking Jimmy Snuka over the head with a coconut, to fighting Mr. T, to beating up Morton Downey Jr., Piper is arguably the most controversial heel in the history of the sport. His Piper's Pit segment was the predecessor to all the great "talkshow" segments seen in recent history.

Who is this you ask? Verne Gagne was a former wrestler and promoter of an organization out of Mineapolis called the AWA (American Wrestling Alliance). The AWA was third in the Big 3 of the 1980's (WWF, NWA, AWA) and employed supertars before they were supertar, launching careers of legends such as Hulk Hogan, Curt Henning, The Road Warriors, Jesse Ventura, Bobby Heenen, and more.

He's loud, he's obnoxious, he's brash... but he's helluva innovator within the industry. ECW defined a new generation of superstar and paved the way for a new extreme style that is at the forefront of almost every match today.

The most popular tag team of all time, The Road Warriors are the only team to hold all three major tag team titles (WWF, NWA, & AWA). They redefined the tag team division with their power moves and painted faces, a look never seen before, incidentally taken from the Mel Gibson movie Mad Max.

A legend in the Memphis area, this former AWA World Champion is best known as the guy who slapped (and later wrestled) comedian Andy Kaufman. Jerry Lawler has made history as being the wrestler with the most championship reigns of all time. He has won 111 titles in his career.

Nobody, including myself, would have thought The Hitman would be this high on ANY list back in the mid-80s when he and partner Jim Neidhart were a mid-card tag team known as The Hart Foundation. But multiple world titles later, and whalla. Bret Hart is national hero in Canada, has a column in a Canadian newspaper, has a hockey team named after him (The Calgary Hitmen), and is currently playing the genie in the "Aladdin" play. The Montreal Screwjob is the most talked about inner-industry swerve ever, and unfortunately The Excellence of Execution never recovered.

If this list was purely about MY all time favorites, Sting may have been #1. Mixing power and high flying agility, Sting had a charisma like no other. While The Road Warriors were darker, more brutal characters defined by their face paint and ring attire, Sting wore bright tights, a colorful array of face paints, and had beach blonde hair. Half the enjoyment was wondering what he'd look like each night. But most importantly, Sting is considered the NWA/WCW franchise player, being the only superstar to never "jump ship" to the WWE. He truly carried the organization in its darkest times. Then he became Crow Sting, out of shape, older, and disinterested... an officially jumped the shark as far as I'm concerned.

I've never been much of an Undertaker fan. But "The Phenom" is hugely popular, and although he originally came from NWA/WCW, stuck with the WWE company through the bad times making him the WWE's own "Franchise". He is currently undefeated at Wrestlemania, a streak of well over ten years. From the undead zombie who got his powers from a mysterious urn, to the supernatural comic book character, to the American Bad@ss biker, Mark Callous has been able to forever etch The Undertaker persona into wrestling lore.

Too many heel/face turns to count, Savage gained poularity in the mid to late 80s that eventually propelled him to the WWF World Championship and several runs as the Intercontinental Champion. Many inside the industry feel Hogan felt so threatened by Savage's popularity, he sabotaged his WWF career. Ironically, Hogan urged Eric Bischoff to bring in Savage in WCW's infancy. Macho Man's match at Wrestlemania III with Ricky Steamboat is considered one of the all-time greatest matches ever.

The only thing Paul Levesque has done (besides marry Vince McMahon's daughter, which may make him the smartest wrestler of all time) is win the WWE world championship TEN times. Also took over DX with Shawn Michaels first retirement, reaching the height of its epic popularity.

A G.I. Joe character was developed based on this guy who battled for the good ol' U.S.A. A short run as a heel supporter of Iraq during Desert Storm saw him reach the top as WWF world champion. Some say this forever hurt his status in wrestling history, but he had a frikin' G.I. Joe action figure and cartoon. Enough said.

The Shawn Michaels era of WWF was a dark one. Upstart WCW was gaining momentum and the WWE was reeling. But Michael Hickenbrand is a multiple time world champion and is hugely popular as H.B.K. His formation of DX may have saved the WWF when eveything was about WCW's nWo.

Arguably the most famous manager of all time, "The Brain" managed greats such as Andre the Giant, Big John Studd, Ken Patera, Mr. Wonderful Paul Orndorff, King Kong Bundy, and more. Usually the thorn in the side of Hulk Hogan, Heenen spoke for guys who had absolutely no mic skills, making them main eventers when there was nothing to work with.

Sons of the legendary Fritz Von Erich, tragedy pretty much across the board... Mike, David, Chris, and Kerry all gone before their time. The Von Erichs literally owned texas wrestling, known as WCCW (World Class Championship Wrestling). Kevin is the only remaining brother. Kerry, perhaps the most famous Von Erich, defeated Ric Flair to become the NWA World Heavyweight Champion. The Von Erich claw is one of those finishing maneuvers that will forever transcend time.

Just know that his "King" gimmick in the WWF was actually at the vey END of his remarkable career. A multiple time NWA and AWA world champion. WWF gimmick started the annual "King of the Ring Tournament".

"Have a Nice Day!" Maybe the most extreme/hardcore performer of all time, there wasn't a bump Foley wouldn't take to thrill the crowd. Half an ear was ripped off, teeth threw his lip, a fall from an 18 ft. high steel cage, broken ribs... just a few of the many injuries suffered in the ring over his career. Reached the pinnacle as a multiple WWE world champion. Some say his winning the world title is the single most important point in the Monday Night Wars, when WCW commentator Tony Schiavonne gave away WWE Raw's ending, making fun of Cactus Jack winning the title on the pre-recoreded show. The plan backfired as millions switched over to Raw, giving the WWE momentum it never would've had.

The former tag team partner of Sting, The Ultimate Warrior basically had no in ring skill. He invented the "squash" match... and it was hugely poplular when the WWE focused on kids wanting their wrestlers to be superheros. The Warrior was "chosen" to carry the torch after Hulk Hogan's first retirement. Some might say he prevented a total fall off post-Hogan. Unfortunately Jim Hellwig began a downward spiral shortly after, defined by the recently released DVD "The Destruction of The Ultimate Warrior".

"The American Dream", not counting his stint as the polka-dot wearing plumber in 80's WWF. Former NWA World Champion.

Their "invasion" to WCW marked the beginning of perhaps the single greatest angle in wrestling history, taking kayfabing to an all new level. No longer were other wrestling companies "never spoken of" on tv. The Monday Night Wars had officially begun.

Hardcore legend, NWA World Champion, ECW World Champion, and WWF main eventer.

NWA World Champion. Career defining fueds with Ric Flair and Randy Savage.

First ever ECW champion, Snuka found fame in the WWF with his "I Love You" hand sign followed by his finishing move (predecessor of The Frog Splash). Career defining moment: a superfly jump from on top of an 18 ft. high steel cage.

"U.S.A - chaa, poo!" Some say he took the WWF world title off of Bob Backlund only to set up Hulk Hogan as an American Hero. That alone makes him a critical part of wrestling history.

5 time WCW world champion, 10 time WCW tag team champion, WWE world champion, WWE world tag team champion. An impressive resume to say the least.

Once billed as the son of Andre the Giant, the Big Show is the only person to ever hold the WCW, WWE, and ECW world titles.

Perhaps the most popular tag team in the WWF during it's growth period of the 80's. Their new style mixed power (Davey Boy Smith) and agility (Dynamite Kid). WWF tag team champions.

The Madman from Sudan defied all logic in the ring. Perhaps the all-time greatest blader and the father of the "foreign objects".

"The Million Dollar Man" worked as one of, if not THE top heel in WWF during the mid to late 80s. Heavily involved in ending Hulk Hogan's first title reign when on Saturday Night's Main Event on NBC, he payed off the referee to tie his twin up in the back, to do a quick count, and declare Andre the Giant heavyweight champion.

NWA's russian heel faction main evented cards in the mid 80s feuding with the likes of Dusty Rhodes and Magnum T.A. Ivan a one time World Champion. Nikita a U.S. Champion.

Gained popularity in AWA and WCCW, the men from Badstreet U.S.A. also had a run in NWA winning the tag titles. Invented the "Freebird Rule" where any of the 3 members of the group could defend the belts (also used by the Koloffs, Demolition, The Dudleys, and more).

How can an announcer be on this list? Jim Ross is more than an announcer... he handles a lot of behind-the-scenes duties and is the benchmark to which other announcers are measured.

WWF's answer to The Road Warriors. Unexpectedly went from Road Warrior rip-offs to hugely popular WWF tag team champions.

WWF Intercontinental and tag team champion. Argument whether he or Ric Flair invented the infamous "face flop".

One of the greatest WWF Intercontinental Champions of all time. Legendary feud with Greg Valentine. We'd like to forget about the "Matador" gimmick thank you.

Held the WWF women's title for 20 years.

Ricky Morton and Robert Gibson - arguably the most popular tag team of the 80s. Multiple time tag team champions. Had girls yelling and crying like they were at a rock concert.

Has won several various title in NWA and WWF. Member of The Four Horseman. Became famous as a member of the U.S. Express (with Mike Rotundo), "saving" the WWE from the evil clutches of the Iron Sheik and Nikolai Volkoff.

I can't believe he made this list, but he does own the all-time longest Intercontinental Title reign in WWE history. Unfortunately, also owns the quickest title loss in a "squash" match to The Ultimate Warrior.

WCW and WWE world champion

The enforcer of "The Four Horsemen", multiple time world tag team and NWA TV champion. WWE booker. Wrestling legend.

The evil "Taskmaster" was a top heel everywhere he went.

A fixture on WWF tv for years and later in WCW, Mean Gene was THE interviewer, at a level that has not been duplicated.

50. Rey Mysterio Jr.
Greatest Cruiserweight of all time? With a run as WWE World Champion, I would say so.

Drew's Blog

Bill Simmons points out this hilarious blog written by "Drew Bledsoe"...

"...and we let 'em off the hook..."

I just watched Mike Brown address the media after the Cavs' debacle tonight against the Pistons, and let me tell you, he seemed to be one cheap podium away from pulling a Dennis Green...

Hopefully he shows some fire in the locker room because this is getting ridiculous.

Saturday, December 16, 2006

Not a sports take..

...but I just watched Al Gore's "An Inconvenient Truth", and not only does it reaffirm to me that our country made a grave error in 2000 by "electing" George W. Bush, but also that Al Gore should run again in 2008 and be the president of this great country.

Visit to find out more.

Plus I kinda like the Melissa Etheredge song at the end...

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Vox in the Box (11)

Where have I been? Somewhere in my fucking head. And I might tell you a story about why we've been Voxless for almost four months. How untimely deaths and a couple of mind-altering nights made me want to ditch my own skin and become BizarroSam, so that I could live a useless life of pleasure and irresponsibility. But somewhere on I-71, my thoughts went from freedom to guilt, then guilt turned into pure depression. And when I walked into my house after three days on the run, I looked in the mirror and saw someone I hated. If this was Superman III, I could choke the life out of Bad SamVox until he disappeared back into me....and then go save Smallville and the soul of Richard Pryor. But this is RealLife, and SamVox is who we thought he was, and you are standing in the heart of Vox 11. And I don't have the time or resources to reveal my parallel universe on a website. So, no stories...instead you get my posh takes:

Props to Pucky: I wish I would've been able to read It Is Time before the OSU-Michigan game. It pumped me up even after I knew the result. That game was so emotional for so many reasons and, for the first time, I didn't mind that they didn't cover and I lost a lot of jack. And I didn't give a shit, at that moment, about the BCS title game. And I don't even care that Troy Smith was on his way to winning Heisman in a landslide. We won the national championship in my mind that day. Afterwards, I got to breathe that Columbus air, wonder where ten years went and go back to the hotel and fall into the deepest sleep I've ever had, dreaming about a world of soft pretzels and orange juliuses, and all those movies they won't make of me when I'm dead. Starring Ethan Hawke.

Sam's Town: The Killers follow-up to one of the finest rock albums ever, in honor of the nostalgic ghosts who float through that historic casino for locals. Stirs thoughts of Springsteen in his prime, when a fast car and the open road was enough. And Brandon waxes on like Bono on downers, while the band plays fast and loud like their native Vegas: flashy on the surface, corrosive in the details. Man, this was going to be a great record. First, it's the Killers. Second, they named it Sam's Town-- which is a tribute to me and the city I love. Third, they decided to blow off the Cars/Cure/Bowie comparisons from Hot Fuss and steal from U2 and the Boss. This was already my favorite record before I heard it. Then, I heard it, and it ain't my favorite record. Not even close (said Sprinsgteen to the prostitute at the end of Reno).

But it's still four stars...thanks to the title track, the bass line and hook from When You Were Young and the better-with-multiple-listenings-Read My Mind, which definitely sounds like Buddy Holly singing With or Without You. And please check out my favorite track-- Reasons Unknown which has to be Flowers reply to Bruce's Dancing in the Dark. I consider Dancing in the Dark a holy song, but Reasons is better. It tells Bruce what he'll get when he starts a fire without a spark.

I wish I had some raves for Snow Patrol's new disc, but I don't endorse safe and saccharine records that lack originality. Eyes Open is more polished than Final Straw but lacks the grit of it's predecessor. Every review I read for Eyes Open is a love letter to Lightbody and his emotive song writing, but I don't think it was a good idea to leave the guitar amps at home. I thought Snow Patrol was a rock band, not Coldplay-lite.

Obligatory This Guy Can't Coach Take: Pete Carroll is not a good coach. He let an over the hill, pot-bellied Andre Rison own the Pats in the '97 SuperBowl. Last year, he's a repeat champion if he converts a fourth and inches by giving the ball to his Heisman trophy winner. But he hands off to Lindell White. That wasn't funny; just sad. This year he loses to an average UCLA team with a less than average quarterback. He did win a national championship, but it was hard not to win at least one title when you had Matt Leinart cutting up secondaries like me controlling Steve Young on Madden '98.

Sports Guy is God: Another great column by Simmons about the horrible state of television broadcast teams in the NFL. (I'm amazed he was able to be frank about the failings of ESPN's MNF crew.) But I don't feel so fortunate to hear Gus Johnsoooooon every other week. There's a reason they send him to Cleveland. I find his hyper delivery to be grating. Ditto for his act of holding onto to the syllable when he believes a big play is happening. I like the enthusiasm, sure, but I almost prefer the way Al Michaels deadpans his broadcasts nowadays. Despite his right wing beliefs, Michaels is a true pro and I'd probably choose him (or Marv Albert) to call a game over any other sports announcer, including Summerall in his prime. If Michaels sounds bitter, it's because he's paired with the worst analyst in pro sports history. Actually my Monday Night Football dream team would be Reghi or Tom Hamilton on play by play (Did yall hear Ham do Buckeye basketball last week? So smooth, you'd never know that's not his everyday sport), Tom Jackson or Michael Irvin as the analyst and Bill Simmons as the three the Dennis Miller/Tony Kornheiser smart cynic role.

SVAC Corner: 25% of the season down, and the Cavs are who I thought they were. A mid-level team struggling to find an identity and continuity in the face of ridiculous expectations. Unfortunately, I've seen nothing to make me rethink my preseason prediction of 49 Cavalier victories. The East is tougher, but SVAC is no better than last year. David Wesley is a bag of balls, Drew Gooden is the prototype for your average pro player, Hughes, of course, is broken, Amon is Jones again but that was always a bullshit signing, and Z plays like a drunk sailor on his last legs-- headed for a long and lazy retirement under the sun. I like Gibson, but other up-n-coming teams in the Association have plenty of Gibsons- hungry, young players making winning contributions. I'm not sure Ferry has been an astute GM and Coach Brown can't get his combinations right. This is a complacent team taking bad shots in important situations followed by key defensive lapses against speedy guards. Sometimes, Bron is willing to bail us out in the games he thinks we have to have. And sometimes he's willing to let us fail. Everyone knows he's tired. And he should be after 13 hard-fought post-season games, the world championships, edging Letterman in that free-throw contest, gawking at Mariah at the ESPYs, etc. And McShill on play-by-play will lose us three to four games on his own. Will there be a Flip Murray to ignite a run this season?

Still, LeBron, in full, can carry us a long way come May. You may need two superstars to win it all, but one Jesus can come close. (See Jordan willing the Bulls to the ECF in '89 and Iverson leading Philly to the 2001 Finals.) I can live with the Cavs under-achieving in the regular season, because that will make the money line payoffs that much sweeter in the playoffs. I predicted a 1st round post-season collapse, but so did Roger I'd like to change my mind. Like Ronnie Duncan, I'm allowed to change my mind. On the other hand, so many local and national media members feel LeBron guarantees us a championship...and that's just irresponsible journalism. I wrote in this space last summer-- don't be surprised if May 2006 was the farthest Bron gets in a Cleveland uniform.

I'm running out of relevant Vox material. I would like to write a bi-weekly column in 2007, but I need some help. Feel free, readers, to start a Simmons-like mailbag and I will make sure Vox answers all questions, no matter how ridiculous. And here we go with another ridiculous Random Top 10. Much like a Mad magazine fold-in, it purports to be something. Then I do my thing with it and it has magically transformed into something else. I did actresses a few Voxes ago, so I guess I'll ring up actors. But my heart's not it tonight-- just feels like The Random Top 10 is wasted potential. So is this column. Then again, so is Toe Nash, Eli Manning, Dan Dickau, brother Ronnie, Lindsay Lohan, Taking Back Sunday, Fergie, the NFL network and Jet Magazine.
Editor's Note: SamVox doesn't know a thing about Jet Magazine, except that sisters prefer Essence and Ebony. But it sure was a nice way to end that sentence.

SamVox's Top 10 Actors:

1. Eric Stoltz
Answer Lance, answer. Stoltz was originally cast to play Marty McFly, but they dumped him for Michael J Fox. Probably a good move; Stoltz would've played it darker, but he still would've nailed it with his with his trademark organic honesty. Even when he's sleazy. Stoltz wins audiences with piercing idealism. His characters, minus Lance, are always saddled with big romantic dreams. I've found those types of roles weigh most actors down, but, in my book, Stoltz is untouchable.
Top 5 Stoltz Films:
Pulp Fiction
Sleep With Me
Some Kind of Wonderful
Bodies Rest and Motion

2. Leonardo DiCaprio (Did you know he's in the original Poison Ivy?)
It really didn't matter to me what he did after his prodigious turn as Jim Carroll in 1995's Basketball Diaries. He could've starred in a Growing Pains reunion or sold suede jackets with Susan Lucci on the Shopping Channel. After BD, I was in love. Two years later, he'd become the most famous celebrity in the world thanks to that trainwreck called Titanic. Then Leo and I would grow apart after I sat through 9 hours of his duds: Catch Me If You Can, Gangs of New York and The Aviator. I wondered if DiCaps would ever make a good movie again. Thankfully, he did. The Departed is the proof, and it rivals any performance I've ever seen on screen.
Top 5:
The Beach
The Departed
Total Eclipse
What's Eating Gilbert Grape

3. Tom Cruise
I don't give a fuck about Scientology or Oprah's couch. Yes, I kind of feel a dirty discomfort when I see him cuddling with Joey Potter, but there's too many people in America that can't separate the art and the artist. The Cruise cannon speaks for its self; loaded with some of the finest transformations in Hollywood history.
Top 5:
Born on the 4th of July
Eyes Wide Shut
Interview with the Vampire
Vanilla Sky

4. Ed Norton
What is it with Ed Norton and prison?
Top 5:
Rounders: (Damon picks Worm up from prison at the film's beginning)
25th hour: (Chronicles the day before he starts a 7-year prison term)
American History X: (Racist Derrick Vinyard is bad. Racist Derrick Vinyard goes to prison and miraculously changes because he folds underpants with a black guy. Good Derrick Vinyard is released from prison, turns on Stacy Keach, but can't save Edward Furlong. All the classic elements for a prison movie.)
Primal Fear: (We were dancin' Marty)
The People vs Larry Flynt: (OK, this doesn't fit the prison theme. But as Flynt's lawyer, he works on keeping Flynt out of jail.)

5. Matt Damon
And you'll still be a goddamn Jew. That line trumps even: Well I got her numbah. How do you like them apples? Civilization boats some phenomenal mysteries: Big Foot, Lochness, The Bermuda Triangle. And how is Damon such a great actor when Affleck is so incredibly bad?
Top 5:
School Ties
Oceans 11
All the Pretty Horses
Good Will Hunting

6. Ethan Hawke.
Amy didn't like him coz he has fucked up teeth. Funny, the things we remember.
Top 5:
Dead Poets Society
Training Day
Reality Bites
Great Expectations

7. Eddie Murphy
Despite being a product of the 80s, Coming to America ages like wine. I watch it a few times a year and it's the funniest movie ever made. At the time, Prince Akeem was an unusual role for Murphy, who had made his name telling dirty jokes and playing smart-ass cops. C2A shows us Murphy doesn't have to swear to be funny. That shy naivete would later serve him well with the success of the Nutty Professor franchise.
Top 5:
Coming to America
Harlem Nights
Beverly Hills Cop
Trading Places

8. Billy Bob Thornton
Check out Indecent Proposal, an intriguing film that most critics dumped in 93, but it's held up. Anyway, Billy Bob plays a Day Tripper and has like two lines while Woody and Demi watch Redford gamble. He was old then, and still more than a decade away from breaking through. A master of his craft.
Top 5:
Sling Blade
Monsters Ball
Friday Night Lights
Bad News Bears
Bad Santa

9. Mark Wahlberg
Yes, I remember 90s nubes rocking the rink to Good Vibrations at the United Skates of America. And that painful rap by Marky Mark that starts, "Annie was a high-school cheerleader" which sampled Lou Reed's Wild Side. It only makes me more appreciate his cinematic triumphs. Your wife is all over my stick.
Top 5:
Boogie Nights
Rock Star

Basketball Diaries

10. The ten-spot could've gone to Christian Slater, Gene Hackman, Emilio Estevez, Denzel, Matt Dillon or Robert "Now d'ya care?" DeNiro, before he became a clown. But I'm a thirty two year old sentimental fool, still living in the pop-culture heaven that was 1985. My man is Michael J. Fox.
Top 5:
Back to the Future
Teen Wolf
Casualties of War
Secret of My Success
Poison Ivy

You know, the first Vox of '07 will feature my Top 10 Films of 2006. It's always a much-anticipated list, despite another down year for the creatively-challenged movie industry. So what are the odds Rocky VI cracks the list? 12 to 1? 20-1, maybe. Make your bets.

I'm gonna fly now. Take us home, Huey Lewis:

don't take money,
dont take fame,
don't need no credit card to ride this train--
it's strong and sudden
can be cruel sometimes
but it might just save your life

Precisely Marty,
I am Doc Brown in the box.

See you back in the future; parting is inevitable

Wednesday, December 13, 2006


Sports Guy's NFL Power Poll this week. Browns sink to #29...

29. Cleveland
I'd feel a lot better about these guys if Danny Ferry hadn't crippled them with so many horrible signings and draft picks. Wait, which Cleveland team is this again?


Saturday, December 2, 2006

A benefit of being a Browns fan...

According to Bill Simmons, we are lucky enough to have a top NFL announcing team on a regular basis...

Thursday, November 30, 2006

What possible reason could there have been to fire Michael Reghi? I mean, I would have gotten it a couple years ago, when I could not stand his "lift and lace" routine over and over. But in the past couple years he has personified the giddy excitement that Cavs fans felt watching LeBron mature into the absolute stud that he is. Already.

But Dan Gilbert, who has undoubtedly made the Gund into a much better place, hopefully not only for fans but for players too, felt the need to put his "Detroit stamp" on the Cavs. At first, McLeod didn't seem that bad, but not unlike Charlie Frye...he got old quick.

Bring back Reghi! After Wednesday's debacle to the Knicks--we can't wait long.

Retire the Jersey

Well chances are it would have happened even with 150 yards and two INTs, but Troy certainly cemented his place in Buckeye history with the huge game, yet again, against Michigan. If he can finish the job against USC/Florida/Michigan again, he will go down as one of the most revered players in Ohio State history. Certainly for those born after, say 1976.

Thursday, November 16, 2006

It is Time

Well it's weird to say, but we may never see another buildup for an Ohio State-Michigan Game as the one on Saturday. Not only the greatest rivalry in all of sports, one that inspires insanity in Ohio State fans no matter if both teams are 11-0, 7-4, or one is good and the other blows. (Apologies to umm, clueless, writers at, here, and here.)

The funny thing is, I am nowhere near as geeked up as I should be, less than 48 hours before kickoff. And I don't really know why that is. Is Ohio State just too damn good? I mean, at the end of last year I had zero doubt that they were going to kill Notre Dame, and they continued to do just that. In the Tressel years, I feel almost spoiled. The sick feeling that just tugged at the back of my mind before Michigan games in the past (see 1993, 1995, and the worst of all, 1996), just isn't there anymore. It damn sure was in the fall of 2002, and the 5 weeks leading up to the Fiesta Bowl may have been the most stressful, anticipatory sports weeks I can ever have. The game was so good, the very definition of an Instant Classic.

At the beginning of the year I read all the articles about the 9 starters lost on defense, and wondered along with the national media if even Ohio State's powerhouse offense can score enough points to make up for what the young defense was going to give up. So what ends up happening? They lead the nation in scoring defense with an insane 7.8 points per game, and allow 20 yards less per game than last year's powerhouse defense. They made a huge-built-up game at Texas into a solid win, and won the rest of their games including another primetime win against a turns-out-to-be-overrated Iowa team. (I'll erase the Illinois JV matchup from memory.)

The Best
But that's not the reason they're going to win. Number Ten is the reason. I never thought anyone would eeeeever replace Eddie George as my all time favorite football player--but all of a sudden Troy Smith comes from fighting for time with Justin Zwick (I wasn't impressed in the only HS game I saw him in) to playing Superman in two straight Michigan and bowl games. The one throw I remember, a perfectly thrown ball over a receiver's shoulder--that's the moment I knew. Let's just say I hope Charlie Frye has to battle Troy Smith for a starting spot by the middle of next year. The man makes incredible play after incredible play, and never fails to surprise me.

War if the Cavs can finish one off, and the Tribe and Browns can put it together...this may finally be the golden age of Cleveland sports that Sam predicted.

War the most boring Heisman ceremony ever.

War Scouts Inc. picked Michigan so they can look smart after an upset.

War I like this red and blue map (right) a lot
better than the ones in 2000 and 2004.

War Ted Ginn not stutter stepping when he catches the ball.

War sleeping in a bubble.

War I almost cried frozen tears listening to Cie Grant sing Carmen Ohio and I hope it happens again.

War Ohio State 37, Michigan 13. Touchdowns for Pittman, Gonzalez, Ginn, and a little Brush High alum named Roy Hall. And 300+ yards for Troy.

And finally, War me not jinxing the whole f*cking thing.

Saturday, November 11, 2006

Friday, August 18, 2006

Froms' Fury (2) Appendix

I almost forgot to address the "No Busing to Memorial" comment:

1. I'm pretty sure that's a school system decision, not a South Euclid (the city) decision.
2. Memorial is in Lyndhurst, so maybe Sockweed, you should be mad at them.

Okay, back to work.

Froms' Fury (2)

Since I've been called out by the biggest contributor to this blog, I will respond to Vox in the Box (10)... don't worry Sockinoid, my fury doesn't have anything to do with you, but I will comment on some of your points.

My fury for this week is a unique and insignificant incident that happened while I was in Subway on Monday. And now you're asking "if it was insignificant, then why am I still talking about it today?" Well it was pretty disturbing at the time...
Around lunch time, the Subway in the BP at the corner of Richmond and Chagrin can get pretty busy. Monday was no different... I'm about tenth in line and we'll just say they aren't the fastest Subway on earth....THIS IS NOT PART OF THE FURY, JUST SOMETHING TO ADD TO THE STORY... I'm behind a rather "solid" (she wasn't fat, but had some extra lbs) colored woman (and by colored I mean black, not white like Mr. Sanford exclaimed the prepetrators were after being asked if they were colored). Some Kelly Clarkson song (yeah I new it was Clarkson, so what!?) is playing over the speaker and for some reason, this woman thought she was at "The Basement"... yeah, she's getting her groove on in the middle of BP. Now PLEASE don't take this the wrong way. This is NOT meant to be racist AT ALL.... but how come you never see a white person doing that... can you imagine? Actually, that's a site I'd love to see... OKAY, BACK THE FURY... I finally get up to the counter and order my food. Two spots ahead of me is a man, I'd guess in his mid to late thirties, who ordered a veggie sub. So the lady is making his 'wich when she asks, "Do you want tomato?". Me and the rest of the line aren't really paying that much attention, but we hear the response: "Cut one in half." HUH? That extra half of a tomato is going to make a difference? How about taking one half off when you're alone and nobody is there to laugh at you for that ridiculous request. And trust me, there was a collective chuckle. Not to mention, he didn't say "CAN YOU cut one in half PLEASE", just "Cut one in half" (like NOW BITCH!)Okay so that's a weird request, but not the end of the world. The "Sandwich Artist" (that drives me nuts) then asks, "Do you want mayo". "Yes" the man replies. She does the usual squirt in a zig zag motion and suddenly the guy WHINES (AND I MEAN WHINES), "THAT'S TOO MUCH! IT'S SWIMMING! I WON'T EAT THAT!" Let me tell you... that sandwich was NOT swimming in mayo. And how about saying "That's enough" so she stops like every other person does. Has this guy ever been to Subway before? First she says "Sir, why didn't you tell me to stop?" She then asks, "Do you want me to make another one?" First he says "Yes", but then says (I think because he realized everyone was staring at him in disbelief) "Just forget it!" and walks away. Remember, the line was out-da-door, so this guy nit-picking about a half of a tomato and mayo was (although funny)pretty aggravating... When she was close to making him a whole new sandwich, there was this collective sound and inhale, as if some shocking revelation was just realized... you know, like "OH MY GOD", hand over the mouth, "YOU'RE KIDDING", "I DON'T BELIEVE IT". It took me until I got back to my office (about 10 minutes) to forget about how this grown adult male acted like an old whinny woman in the middle of Subway.

Citizens vs. South Euclid:
The no eating in car ordinance was something I never understood. Your car is your property, so why can't you fucking eat in it? But I guess it's so you don't hold up a spot for another customer, or maybe it was to reduce the possibility of trash on the ground... I really don't know why... but Sock...why do you want to sit in a parking lot eating anyway? Take it home or eat while you're driving. That Ice Cream man is the hardest working man is SadaEuc... he works on Sunday mornings. I too miss the WWF (yeah, I used the F... come get me World Wild Life Fund) ice cream bars. Even if you weren't a 'sling mark, dem tings was good! I recommend the new X-Men bars... not nearly as good, but the eyeballs are bubble gum. The No Dogs Allowed in Bexley... Sock, I'm just guessing, but they probably don't want or have had trouble with dogs shitting in the park. Seeing as thought there are kids playing, I get it. Some people don't pick it up. Besides, there's the brand new Dog Park across from Quarry Park. We cut through the parking lot at Bexley with the dogs, but I can see why they don't want people walking through the middle of the park. Also, it could be a safety thing... if your dog attacks a little kid, I bet the City could get sued. Which leads me to all the other ordinances... S.E. can get sued if someone gets hurt or killed. We just put up a bunch of signs at CSU prohibiting skateboarding, rollerblading, etc. in the plaza area because they don't want to get sued, which happened to some university somewhere else. Sucks, but that's the world we live in today... SUE ANYTHING THAT MOVES!

Dump the DP:
I'm not arguing whether we should have it or not... I've gone back and forth on that in my head for years. But I will argue your point that this death row killer (I assume he murdered someone) took 40 minutes to die and that's torture. It's not like they purposely toyed with the guy and only half-shocked him or half-injected him over and over. What should they have done? Put him against the wall and shot him? Chopped his head off? Hanged him.. and if his neck didn't break let him suffocate until he shit himself? Now that's Cruel and Unusual Punishment. I don't know if the DP is right or not, but I don't have much sympathy for someone who committed a crime worthy of that sentence. Please, nobody bring up about the guys that are wrongly convicted... that's a whole other thing... I'm talking about the guys that are guilty, not doubt about it.

Vox Growing Angrier By the Paragraph:
All I can say about this is that I agree about the "uuuuuuuuaaaahhhhhh". We argued for years with the Fearsome Threesome (and more) about this.... Sam and me were like DX to Mr. McMahon... always getting pitted in the handicapped match to tip the odds against us. Sometimes the Fearsome Threesome (F3 for short) would recruit others to really tip the scales.

Top Ten Songs:
I dare not challenge the Sock's rock-n-roll expertise. But SELWRECK should've remained buried as our dirty little secret. Droe was (unbeknownst to him) hilarious when he couldn't get the lines right, but even when he could, his delivery was classic. 'Nough said on that topic.

Time for work...PEACE!

Vox in the Box (10)

So Froms, where is the fucking fury? I liked that somebody besides me piped up Bono once said: sometimes you can't make it on your own. Maybe yall could follow suit. We need Hadman Rants on this site. Maybe we could use a Pucky's (Porn?) Palace. Or Guth's Truths. Froms, that ESPN insider also drives me nuts, but be happy that the current Sports Guy column and maybe one or two gems from the Simmons' archive is still free. ESPN controls the world, and one day, after too many pumped up fictional programs that have no air like Tilt and Playmakers, after the poker craze goes bust, and after Stuart Scott becomes a cartoon of his former self like Chris Berman....well then ESPN will charge you for the current Simmons' column. Maybe then the Boston sports guy can go underground again and be able to tell us what he really thinks of ESPN's unbearable Sunday Night Football crew.

I also heard Rome prop himself for not scamming clones. But we still have to hear him pimp chicken sandwiches from McDonalds and SlingBox. When I started listening to the Jungle in '97, Rome wasn't hawking products. I know it's a huge payday when radio personalities cut a spot, but surely Rome is rich enough from world-wide popularity and syndication that he doesn't need to tell us how bad he's gripping for that processed piece of poop from MickyDs. And does he really need to pretend he's going to Sirius?-- just to field calls from clones who say "I love you Romey, but I won't pay $11 a month for you." Then Rome replies, "You know, I get that." Nevertheless, I like Rome. He kisses too much ass in interviews and then tongues himself for softballs, but he's still pretty fresh...without the nicks and cuts of a blade. War those two guys who guest-hosted and ran their Price Is Right/wrestling smack. Think about it, how mind-numbing and indigestible is that all three Von Erich brothers committed suicide? Another column, for sure.

Citizen Vs. South Euclid: If it seems like I'm always piling on South Euclid, well, I am. They finally lifted that stupid ordinance prohibiting eating in your car. And if you've noticed, the Ban on the Ice Cream Man is also a thing of the past. Ice Cream Jones is back, in his stylish yellow truck, riding slow on the streets of SE this summer-- peddling treats to poor, overweight, little tunklers. (Damn, I wish they'd bring back those WWF Ice Cream Bars.) But I'm at Bexley Park the other day with Goose, Mrs. Vox and Memphis, and I'm fucking ambushed by rules and restrictions. No Dogs Allowed, of course (I knew that one, but it's a rule that all the residents quietly ignore; I even prompt Memphis to take a leak right underneath the sign). Also...No Rollerblading, No Rollerskating, No Hitting Golf Balls. But this new rule defies explanation- NO HARD-BALL PICK UP GAMES. I kid you not. I couldn't believe my fucking eyes. If a group of kids can't walk up to the diamond and play baseball, why the fuck is the park in existence? They may as well put up a sign when you enter, HAVING FUN IN BEXLEY PARK IS STRICTLY PROHIBITED. You can't rollerblade, you can't walk your dog, you can't whack the golf ball around, and now-- you can't play baseball on a baseball diamond. Only in the Euc.

The other day, this kid knocks nervously at my front door and asks me to sign a petition for reinstatement of school busses to Memorial. I signed happily without paying attention; I'll sign any petition that moooves, as long as it undermines authority. Then I shut the door and thought about it. We just passed a levy and I'm paying $400 a month in property taxes and they can't bus these kids five minutes to Memorial? And this 12-year old boy has to waste the last precious days of his summer going door to door in the 80-degree heat because South Euclid can't budget the books? Maybe they can organize a few more Hold'Em tourneys or Night at the (fixed) Races or sell me a few more $12 frozen pizzas to pay for the busses? 'Coz obviously, passing a million dollar levy couldn't do it.

Dump the DP: It's 2006. Actually it's the year 5767. But you goys decided to start counting over when Christ was born. Definitely not the smartest decision civilization ever made. Anyway, almost six thousand years have passed with humans making various progressive decisions...and we still implement the death penalty. On May 2, it took 40 minutes for us to execute a death row inmate. So, not only did we kill him-- we tortured him too. What the fuck are the amendments for in this country if we don't follow them? The eighth amendment clearly states Excessive bail shall not be required, nor excessive fines imposed, nor cruel and unusual punishments inflicted.

We can't count votes in Ohio. We deny basic civil rights to citizens with different sexual orientations. And we can't even kill someone properly. But that's just a small part of the giant problem that is Capital Punishment. Statistics show that it certainly doesn't deter crime. And we've actually executed more than a few innocent people over the years. And worst of all, it's barbaric and used inconsistently. Rich, white folks avoid the DP. Which makes capital punishment a purely discriminatory mechanism that, by its convoluted methodology, ends up singling out poor minorities who lack sufficient legal reprentation. If the state is going play God and kill someone, shouldn't the system, at the very least, be consistent?

Vox Growing Angrier By the Paragraph: If you write it, make it right. If you pimp it, know why. If you use it, do a little research first. Or just fucking google it. The world, specifically cyberspace, is full of mistakes. I just want consistency and accuracy.

And although Vox may read like shit, it's correct shit. Unlike Swerbs Turds, where, despite it's pro layout, inaccuracies are everywhere. In Swerb's Opening Old Wounds articles, there are two errors. First, Mark Price did not win the three point shootout in 1992. And second, Jordan was not on the Bulls roster when they swept us in the '94 playoffs. I may be the only dork that noticed that, so I had to email Swerb...after all, I'm sure he wants an accurate site. But three months later, it hasn't been fixed. And it's eating at me. Just like those hillbillies that think Born in the USA is a patriotic song. Or the fans that go uuuuuuuaaaahhhhh when their team is kicking and receiving. Or Kenny Roda not knowing who played middle linebacker for OState during the Greg Belisari era, then the Bucks win a national title and Roda jumps on the wagon and suddenly-- he has a vote in the Harris poll. DISGRACE! Or fucking Quicken Loans and their SmartChoice mortgage product that magically refinances you at 5.5% with bad credit, no equity and unverifiable income. Or the "different direction" Dan Gilbert desired that cans a competent and colorful Cleveland favorite for a YES man delivered straight from the city that stole Game 6 from us.

If you scrolled right down to the Random Top 10, STOP HERE.
The Top 10 Songs I Would Sing If I Was A Contestant on RockStar: Supernova--

1. The Kids Aren't Alright/Offspring: This song falls under the category of great piece of art from an artist I don't care for. Similar to Martin Scorcese's Goodfellas, Whitney Houston's I Wanna Dance with Somebody, Dennis Hopper's Carried Away & Nasty Varmint's Out of the Sanbox/Into the Shower. I can't sing in Offspring's key, but, believe me, I would rock this song out.
When we were young the future was so bright (whoa)
the whole neighborhood was so alive (whoa)
and every kid on the whole damn street (whoa)
was gonna make it big on every beat

2. Machinehead/Bush: Varmint and I rehearsed the hell outta this one. When things were going bad, it was "ok, let's try Machinehead." It always raised our confidence level, as Bush was the one artist we could always agree on. I liked being Gavin Rossdale, the drummer felt the beats were similar enough to Rush, the guitars were loud and fast, and we didn't have to hear Zac sing, because Bush never used backing vocals.

3. Elevation/U2: Definitely not one of my favorite U2 songs, but I'd walk on stage with the house lights on, much like Bono and the boys did to start the Elevation tour. Then I'd just jump straight up and down like Bono; that is the great equalizer for white front men who can't dance. Explain all these controls/I can't sing but I've got soul

4. Smokin' in the Boys Room/Motley Crue: During the guitar solo of this Motley classic, I'd pull a Vince Neal, New Years Eve 2004, and scream "Happy FUCKING New Year Tommy" on national television. Sure, it wouldn't be New Years Eve and the RockStar execs may not appreciate that, but I'll be damned if Tommy Lee wouldn't love it. It's always been a dangerous thing to put a mike in my hands, and if there's vodka running through my veins, chances are you want to advise the DJ-- never let SamVox grab that little black piece of amplified plastic.

5. My Michelle/Guns-n-Roses: This is one of those under-appreciated Guns songs that paved the way for the entire grunge movement. G&R made hard rock accessible for the mainstream thanks to Slash's iconic riffs and Axl's vocal gymnastics. I can't hit any notes on this song, but I'll run with it to the second round anyway.
Your daddy works in porno
Now that mommy's not around
She used to love her heroine
But now she's underground

6. Ry's On Fire/The Dan Green Band: Here is the middle eight lic, Doug, don't ask me again: Sometimes we're just sittin' on our porch, fuckin hungry and drunk, shoutin 4 letter words at some north campus punk. You know, in 31 years-- four of which I wrote professionally-- I've done a lot of shit. Poems, prose, press releases, slogans, taglines, album reviews, etc. 99.9% of it is worth about as much as an Alex Cole rookie card. But Ry's On Fire is something I will always appreciate. Sting once said that the best songs are gifts from above; they write themselves in about 10 minutes and you just try not to get in the way. Well that's what happened when I sat down and scribbled the words to Ry's On Fire. So if I ever get on TV, it's getting performed.

7. Lolly Trolly/ SelWreck: SelWreck was my first band. A rap three piece with Froms and Droe, inspired by the Beastie's Boys License to Ill. The beats came from one of those 80s Casio mini-keyboards and the writing/rapping was collaborative. Our first single, Camp, was about how the three of us met. The b-side was the classic Lolly Trolly, two and half minutes of twelve year olds trolling the creative wave that was 1987. Froms and I did most of the vocals, but we threw Droe the bone of the song-- I met dis girl named Holly/ And I'm takin' her on the Lolly Trolly. We gave him like 60 takes to spit out 14 simple words, but he just couldn't get it right. We laid the track down anyway, and I'd happily trade my copy of The Fly on vinyl to find the cassette tape we recorded on.

8. Who Will You Run To?/ Heart. Another shout-out to Supernova guitarist , Cleveland's own Gilby Clarke. I saw Heart at the Newport Music Hall in 1998. It more of a lesbian convention than a WNBA game. Which didn't bother me; I guess we were all there for Nancy Wilson. There is no celebrity couple out there I'd rather double date with more than Nancy Wilson and her husband Cameron Crowe. Imagine that. During dinner, I might ask Nancy about early Heart and how eccentric and tenacious tunes like Barracuda and Crazy on You eventually gave to flowery pop ballads like All I Wanna Do and Never. Then I'd ask Cameron if he agrees with me that Say Anything did not age well and Ione Skye was never hot. I might butter him first, letting him know that Singles, Vanilla Sky, and Fast Times at Ridgemont High are incredibly important to my existence. Oh, and, Mr. Crowe, what's the significance of Eric Stoltz appearing in every single one of your films? After a few drinks, I'll just come and say it-- Jerry Maguire is a pile of shit. I can't even watch that flick without feeling like I'm cheating on myself. And now that I'm on this tangent, I'll have to ask Nancy if she ever had a threesome with sister Ann. A foursome, if you count Ann twice.

9. Hang on Sloopy/The McCoys. Remember when Derrick Vinyard went to prison in AmHistory X? First thing he did was "raise a flag" by taking his shirt off and proudly displaying his Nazi allegiance. That's why I"ll bust out Sloopy-- to win the all-important Ohio vote. I wish John Kerry woulda thoughta that.

10. Girl I'm Gonna Miss You/Milli Vanilli: This would probably shake things up a bit.
Now I'm sittin' here
Wastin' my time
I just don't know what I should do

I do. How bout wrapping up this column? Ok--

It's a tragedy for me to see
The dream is over
And I never will forget the day we met
Girl I'm gonna miss you

I am Rob Pilatus in the box.

And we got the goddamn Grammy...parting is inevitable

Monday, June 26, 2006

This is Fun and I'm Bored

The Corkscrew Plancha (also known as "The Flying Corkscrew Plancha") is popular in the Mexican Lucha Libre style of wrestling. When a Lucha Libre performs this stunning move, he incredibly launches himself over the top rope, twisting perfectly, timing his body to hit his opponent at the point of maximum impact, or as it is referred to in the Industry... a daring "spot" with a big "bump" to recieve a huge "pop".

I don't know what an INVERTED flying corkscrew plancha would be, but I'm sure it would be DEADLY!


Check out my profile... my question. (Actually, I'm just testing) but really check it out.


Finally, I'm a blogger with Cleveland Sports Torture. Thank you Pucky for inviting me. I think you only did it once before, although you sent me a mean email that you've sent it to me numerous times.

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Vox in the Box (9)

Nine times. Niiiine times.
If Vox goes for 10, I may have to barf up a lung.
This column is brought to you by Ferris Bueller. One of the 100 movies on my list two weeks ago that cannot count Kevin Bacon as one of its cast members. That's right; and this may be the the most incredible stat Vox has ever uncovered-- Kevin Bacon does not appear in ANY of my Top 100 Films of All Time. Now, think about that:

1) I am a huge Kevin Bacon fan
2) Kevin Bacon has done a lot of movies, hence the game- Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon

But there's no Chew Bacon cooking in My Top 100.
Amazing. In fairness to Kevin, The River Wild ranked in the nineties for quite awhile until just recently. The Woodsman is a well made film and maybe Bacon's finest hour; it comes in around 110 and might crack the sacred list if it fares well during the all-important second-viewing. And there's Bac's fantastic turn as Detective Sean Devine in Mystic River. But Mystic misses the mark because of Eastwood's heavy-handed direction. Oh, and of course-- the legendary HollowMan, which fronts as a sci-fi thriller, and then morphs into a soft porn/slasher flick. It does rule when Bacon is invisible, and the extra pounds on Liz Shue had me infatuated with this one-- but it was also recently axed from The Top 100. So no Kevin Bacon anywhere.

But did you know I am the Kevin Bacon of office jobs in Cleveland? You can have hours of fun playing Six Degrees of SamVox. Because I have worked for 2 Fortune 500 outfits (AwfulMax and a Bank That Shall Remain Nameless) with 2000+ employees, spent seven weeks at an ad agency and hacked around in a few chop shops-- well, I'm connected to just about everyone. Go ahead and try it, bra. The woman sitting near you probably worked with someone who worked with someone who worked with me.

Hurricanes and Heat...So the Stanley Cup and NBA title were won on back-to back nights. And I sat half-riveted in front of both, despite not really caring about Edmonton, Carolina, Dallas or Miami. OK, I won't go that far, I did place a $10 bet on the Heat to win in 6 games when they were down 0-1, and it paid five to one. But I've come to the point where just a little bit of action can't get me off anymore. What's an extra $50 in my account, when I know I'll blow that betting on Togo or stupid baseball parlays where I win the first two games and then lose the third a little bit after midnight EST because the California Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim still have Adam Kennedy mucking away at 2B?

The other half of me was begging The Goose to fall asleep so I could do the same. The Goose has seen a lot in her seven weeks on Planet Earth...a playoff buzzer beater by Amon Ones, a grey-haired American Idol, the birth of the Pitt/Jolie love-child, Big Ben crashing his bike, and the release of Jason Johnson-- former Barone Sanitation/ Kurcharski's Septic Service/ Management Said So/ State Romance, Tiger, Oriole, and Indian. I guess Goose just had to see Stan's Cup raised triumphantly in the air Monday night...then last night, a giddy David Stern called Miami's championship, "A team effort, and I do mean team" even though you had Shaq, GP, 'Zo and Walker basically admitting they signed with the Heat so they could ride Wayne Dwayne to the championship. (Remember when Antoine Walker, in his heyday, made those working-class commercials for Adidas where he'd say, "Employee No. 8, Antoine Walker, I make baskets." I used to crack up thinking that no team could win anything with Walker because he shoots literally every time he touches the ball. That was over ten years ago. It's 2006 and he got his ring, but I still haven't seem him pass.)

But, truth be told, Miami's championship has some meaning. There are only a handful of Virgin Pimps left, scattered throughout pro sports. Ten years ago, membership was booming. But after a nervous night in a Coventry bedroom on May 12, 2000, the first letter lost its storied significance, and I could no longer add or in shrine any more VPs. In the past half-decade, almost every Pimp has retired. So it looks like Gary "Glove" Payton will be the last of the Virgin Pimps to win a championship ring. (Unless, Potaps or Mateen Cleaves manages to get lucky. Or Shawon Dunston comes out of retirement as a utility guy to help the cash-strapped Tribe win it all.) What up GP? Saw you come off the bench cold and bust out that clutch J with the shot clock expiring to win Game 3.

Out of obligation, I'm gonna dust off my Top 10 Actresses. This was not an easy Random Top 10. But if I'm going to criticize Swerbs Blurbs, I know I better come strong with my own. Note
that, on my list, you won't find any second-rate TV jobbers, blockbuster blondes with mega-fame and no talent, or in-and-out of the industry, rich from syndication, waste of cans actresses. Like this guy Tony, who lived on my floor freshman year of college, Vox has "been real wichooo from the first day." And we won't stop. Coz we can't stop.

SamVox's Top 10 Actresses

1. Elizabeth Shue: Oh Liz, so selective about her roles. She's been around 20 years, but we've barely known her. If you want see a real transformation, watch Liz in Leaving Las Vegas. You get a serious drama and ammunition in a neat 112-minute package. And I won't even mention Karate Kid. They don't give her much to do in KK, but she makes the most of her screen time as the symbol for all of my fourth grade fantasies.

2. Kyra Sedgewick: Yes I know she's stars in The Closer. I've never watched it, but I know it sucks for 2 obvious reasons: 1) It's a cop show. 2) It's on TNT...AND they promote it, so you know it's especially bad. (And I cannot deal with Kyra being in the left hand corner of my TV screen during basketball games, lifting up the tape to inspect a fresh crime scene in one of those dork TNT promos.) But Mrs. Bacon is constantly redeemable in my book for her phenomenal turns in Singles, Born on the Fourth of July, and The Woodsman.

3. Annabella Sciorra: Vampire or victim, Sciorra will nail it. I still get chills from her role in the controversial Spike Lee Joint, Jungle Fever, as she effortlessly represented all Italian girls who who were sternly warned to never touch black dick. Two years later, she'd tangle with Rebecca DeMornay in Hand that Rocks, an entertaining thriller that hasn't held up, although Sciorra's performance has. And when we thought we'd played the never-see-you-again-game with Anabella, she makes her most gifted and tantalizing turn as Tony Soprano's crazy mistress.

4. Uma Thurman: The character I played, Raven McCoy, her background was she was raised by circus performers. So she grew up doing a knife act. According to the show, she was the deadliest woman in the world with a knife -- Mrs. Mia Wallace. And great roles in Jennifer Eight, Final Analysis and the immortal Beautiful Girls-- perhaps the Most Underrated Film of the 20th century.

5. Reese Witherspoon: Before the A-List, the annoying hype, the Oscar, Walk the Line, the wholesome-mother image, there was this little movie called Fear - panned by critics and fans alike- starring a nubile Reese "Rollercoaster" Witherspoon. Before that was 1994's indy chiller SFW. Throw in Freeway, also from the mid-90s, and you have a perfect Reese Trilogy. If you were a Reese fan then, you were in a pretty select group, and you know who you are.

6. Jennifer Anastassakis aka Jennifer Aniston. Every guy in America has ther own relationship with Jen Aniston. At one time in your life, something she did resonated with you. I'm no different. But as the man on her arm changed, so did mine and Jen's relationship. First, there was Tate Donovan-- after the bloated Ferris Beuller TV failure, but before Aniston was a household name. Then came the Friends explosion and her tryst with Adam Duritz. I liked the dark brown hair and the junk in the trunk, but not that 22-minute mainpulation sitcom which was unwatchable after 1.5 seasons. Sometime during her marriage to Brad Pitt, she easily eclipsed his acting talent and carved out her niche as a Top 10 Actress. It came out of nowhere, and even shocked me, but the The Good Girl is the undeniable proof. An independent film that even her die hard fans missed, GG was Jen as the anti Rachel Green, and I've rarely seen a more poignant performance. Now she's too thin, too tan, too blonde and in love again. But she's one of the most versatile actresses in America. Also check out: Rock Star, She's The One.

7. Ally Sheedy. I was addicted to her in the 80s, and she had a run of strangely brilliant roles in intriguing films. War Games, with Ferris, which still holds up. St. Elmo's Fire, fantastic film showing Sheedy's range-- going from reckless college girl to introspective adult. Short Circuit, not quite. That one was lame, but it gave us more of Sheedy plus the punchy El DeBarge single Who's Johny...and it marked the first occasion SamVox acted up in a movie theatre. Then there's Breakfast Club, of course, in which Sheedy virtually steals the movie despite not having any lines for the first hour. (Must break off a quote here. This would be my classic Ally Sheedy moment:)
Andrew: Parents?
Allison: Yeah
Andrew: What do they do to you?
Allison: (long, dramatic stare, fighting off tears) They ignore me

8. Amy Locane: Underused and under-appreciated, Locane does a lot with a little. Especially as a midwestern Lolita in the troubling and tumultuous Carried Away. She's bangs Dennis Hopper, and it's quite believable. School Ties features another nice subtle performance by Locane. And check her out opposite Johny Depp in the 1990 cult classic Cry Baby.

9. Lea Thompson: Miss Amanda Jones to me. The heart-wrenching, conflicted 80s popular girl in Some Kind of Wonderful. Lorraine Baines/McFly in the Back to the Future saga, which she never received enough credit for. And the taboo-for-the-times sex scene in All the Right Moves. Thompson had a perfect pouty lip and a talent for playing serious teenagers, but she even threw in a 1980s dud for good measure, Howard the Duck-- she sports an MMS Buzzard sticker on her backpack in that one.

10. That 14-year old girl from Shrunken Heads who won't put out. No, I mean Courtney Thorne-Smith. Haha. No, I really mean Nicole Kidman. Nowadays, she's too thin, too blonde and too pale. But I remember the curls, the jean jacket and her surprising fury in Days of Thunder, her inspirational career-making turn in the painfully honest My Life, and her deceptive and haunting presence as the doctor's coy wife in Eyes Wide Shut. But that's another column.

Before I check out, let me salute the IC Elephants-- they scored three unanswered goals to topple Serbia. See yall in 2010.

After three years of Civil War,
feuding factions began to talk
and the President called a truce
because the Ivory Coast just qualified
for their first ever World Cup.
And as everyone knows....
a country united
makes for better cheerleaders
than a country divided.
-- Bono

faraway, so close
up with the static
and the radio
with satellite television
you can go anywhere--
Miami, New Orleans,
London, Belfast and Berlin

I am your little MacPhisto in the box.

To Hell with the Devil, parting is inevitable.

Thursday, June 8, 2006

Vox in the Box (8)

It's a simple thing--
just a ball and a goal...
But once every four years, that simple thing
drastically changes the world.
Closes the schools.
Closes the shops.
Closes the city.
Stops a War.
A simple ball fuels the passion and pride of nations;
Gives people everywhere something to hope for.
Gives countries respect where respect is in short supply.
And achieves more than the politicians ever could.
Once every four years, a ball does the impossible,
and if history means anything...
the world is about to change.
-- Bono

Don't worry, I'll try not to bore you with too much Cup chatter. I don't even like outdoor soccer. I didn't like playing it and I never watch MLS. I once enjoyed international matches, but defensive strategies (crowding the penalty box a la John Scramling) have ruined the artistry of the game. Nevertheless, the World Cup is the best sporting event thanks to soccer's standing as the world's most loved game, the event's global magnitude, the political implications on an international scale, fanatical fans, and the fact that every country but the U.S. considers a Cup game involving their country a national holiday. Even the U.S. doesn't shut down the country for the Superbowl or World Series. Still, you can bank on Uncle Sam making a quarter-final run-- as long as Kasey Keller is between the pipes. American goal-keeping can't be underestimated. And neither can the Ivory Coast; those cats are the Cup's darkhorse.

My first Cup was 1986 and I was enthralled with the way Diego Maradona dribbled his way through half of Europe, scored a goal with his fist, and then made two ridiculously long passes through German traffic to help Argentina win the tourney. Come 1990, the Germans, still bitter from their loss to Maradona in the '86 final, decided to play 5 defenders. Coach Scramling, of German dissent, actually went to that Cup and came back to South Euclid thinking the wheel had been reinvented and couldn't wait to add another defender to make the game less creative, and more disciplined. Yeah, the Germans play Futbol much like Lt. Tom 'Iceman' Kazanski pilots a fighter jet. Ice mistakes, They wear you down and after enough time, opponents get bored or frustrated and do something stupid. Then the Germans strike. They should make another nice run thanks to the home-field advantage, but an inexperienced offensive-minded coach and an injury to captain Michael Ballack means they are a third-place finish, at best.

I'm picking England as your World Cup Champion, although Paraguay may give them an early scare. The English are young and unflappable and have a very talented midfield, essential for establishing tempo and closing games in FIFA competition. The one-two punch of Beckham and Michael Owen will prove too much for any club to handle, as no country is striker-rich like England. It's difficult to pick against Italy and Brazil, so don't go betting money based on my opinions. Although, if you scroll down to Vox 5, I told you after the first round of the payoffs that Roit would not win the NBA championship. (Miami over Roit was my lock of the century...and it should've been a sweep, but Antoine "I Shoot, therefore I Am" Walker was determined to keep the Pistons in the series during Game 2.)

And speaking of DEEEETROIT BAS-KET-BALLLL, let's talk about their place in history. I think it's safe to assume the run of Billups-Wallace Bros.- Hamilton-Prince is over. They squeaked out a championship in '04 with a swarming, unprecedented brand of D under Larry Brown. But they've taken a step backwards with each subsequent season. Next year, they'll go down in the first or second round. The NBA's recent influx of superstar talent won't allow a team like the Pistons to grind their way to another title. So, these current Pistons have the very interesting distinction of just one championship, which brings me to this incredible statistic- since I've been following the NBGAY (1984), every championship team besides Roit has captured multiple titles. The 2004 Champion Pistons will go down as the only team in 20+ years not to win it again. And since 1980, the only championship team other than Roit to win it only once was the 1983 Philadelphia 76ers. Breaking it down:

Magic Johnson-Pat Riley Lakers: '80, 82, 85, 87,88
Larry Bird Celtics: '81, 84, 86
Isiah-Dumars-Chuck Daly Pistons: '88,89
Jordan-Pippen-Phil Jackson Bulls: '91,92,93, 96,97,98
Olajuwon-Tomjanovich Rockets: '94, 95
Tim Duncan-Popovich Spurs: '99, 03, 05
Shaq-Kobe-Phil Jackson Lakers: '00, 01, 02

Kids, you can't get stats like that on Sportscenter or from the mainstream media. We are working hard for you at Vox. And so are the editors at my favorite mag, Rolling Stone; this week they're running a story: How Bush Stole the 2004 Election. "Stole" is an understatement. I urge every American to read the article. It's a crime that Time and Newsweek didn't follow up on the larceny that occurred at the polls in Warren County, Ohio and some other election sites throughout our corrupt and bigoted state. There's a reason that the exit polls predicted an easy win for Kerry, and then suddenly everything went wrong in the next few hours. Read that article. Please. I'm still filled with rage from it. FUCK THE PRESIDENT. FUCK KEN BLACKWELL. FUCK THE SYSTEM AND OUR FUCKED UP STATE. Man, I hate writing in caps. Makes a person seem uneducated. But I was angry and it was a tension breaker. Had to be done. You never want to go into a Random Top 10 angry. If you're angry, don't make a Random Top 10. No, it won't be songs that Kevin and I sang together because we only had a few. And if you think that was the gayest thing ever, then you must've missed Hasselhoff crying when Taylor Hicks won AmIdol.

SamVox's Top 10 Tortured Geniuses:

1. Wolfgang Amadeus Motzart: The first rock star to flame out early; Wolfie died at 35 from too much partying. He revolutionized popular music, and then farted his talent and his money away on wine and women.
2. Bobby Fisher: True story: Before his championship match against Russian rival Boris Spassky, Fisher had an oral surgeon remove all of the fillings in his teeth, because he was convinced that the KGB had installed radio receivers in his head to brainwash him. His paranoia eventually led to his refusal to defend his title and then turn on his own religion and country.
3. Stu Ungar: Considered the greatest poker player ever. This New York Jew was banned from playing gin-rummy by the time he was 17 because he was unbeatable. Ungar won three World Series titles and blew almost everything he won on sports-gambling and cocaine. He died alone in a Las Vegas hotel room at the age of 45.
4. Srboljub "Stan" (The Magician) Stamenkovich. The Pizza Man did things on an indoor soccer field most watchers regarded as impossible, and dominated a game for the physically fit despite being grossly out of shape and overweight with his breathtaking ball-handling and intuition. Days before his 40th birthday, he slipped on a patch of ice and died after drinking all night in his pub in Yugoslavia.
5. William Butler Yeats. The incomparable Irish poet/playwright was as prolific and versatile as he was sometimes-deranged. Legend says he was transplanted with sex organs from a baboon to increase his vitality.
6. Jim Carroll. You already know from the movie he was a prep basketball star. You know he was a postmodern, mystical and descriptive anti-beat poet. You may even know he's a part time rock star who penned and performed the hit, People That Died. But did you know about Winky and Blinky? 5 minutes.
7. DeSagana Diop. I mean Jason Kapono. Funny, how one of those two will get a ring in a week or so. Diop will actually play meaningful minutes and be a force in limiting Shaq's production. But I like the Heat in 7 games. And I'll be rooting for them, too. For DA. Also, love to see Glove get that well-deserved ring. What up GP, saw you busting craps at Aladdin. Seriously, #7 is Hubie Brown. He invented Basketball, right? There's never been a smarter analyst in the history of pro sports. Hubie is a genius. The original Coach Brown. Now, he may not be tortured. But the make-up artist for ABC Sports probably is these days.
8. F. Scott Fitzgerald. Disillusioned American Jazz Age novelist who authored my favorite classic, The Great Gatsby. I view him as the first writer to really capture the corruption of the American Dream. Fitz suffered from depression, alcoholism and financial trouble due to his fast and reckless lifestyle. Then, he blamed his problems on his wife. That rules.
9. 2Pac Shakur. More than being the embodiment of thug life and a great rapper, Pac was an angry visionary. Actor. Activist. Street Prophet. He was a lot of things to a lot of people. To himself, he was his own worst enemy...unable to see past his own predicted death.
10. Jim Morrison. It's all already been said in some movie, magazine, book, blog, dorm room, term paper, VHI Storytellers, etc. He was the Lizard King. He could do anything.

oh tell me where your freedom lies
the streets are fields that never die
deliver me from
reeeeasons why

you'd rather cry; I'd rather fly

the crystal ship is being filled
a thousand girls, a thousand thrills
a million ways to spend
your time

when we get back, I'll drop a liiiiiiiine

I am Mr. Mojo Risin in the box.

La Corone de Pien!!!...Parting is inevitable.

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 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 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.