Saturday, January 17, 2015

Bay vs. North Ridgeville 1/16/15



Koz Lifts Bay as Rockets Stay Hot

-Daniel King 1/17/15

North Ridgeville- In the dog-eat-dog West Shore Conference, you have to be tough-minded to win on the road against a conference title contender. If you want to win on the road against a fellow contender in overtime? Well you have to have John Koz on your side.

The Bay junior guard scored 17 points, including a game tying 3-pointer off of a critical North Ridgeville turnover with less than 10 seconds left in regulation. If that effort wasn’t enough, Koz muscled his way to a game winning bank shot with 1.5 seconds left in overtime to send the Rockets to a 56-54 conference victory and their 8th straight win.

Demario McCall and Jordan Montgomery paced the scoring for the Rangers, adding 15 and 14 points respectively. North Ridgeville found themselves in a 25-15 hole after the first half of play due to a bevy of turnovers. The Rangers were bothered early by the length of Rockets’ senior Rex Sunahara; who swatted several Ranger lay-up attempts in the first quarter. North Ridgeville stormed back in the 3rd quarter thanks to a 24-16 run keyed by Rangers sophomore Colin Sullivan.

The Rangers cooled off in the 4th quarter and overtime period, ultimately succumbing to the clutch play of Koz. The Rockets improve to 5-2 in the conference play, and 8-3 overall. Bay will play Normandy this week in an out of conference match up. The Rangers fall to 4-3 in conference play, and 8-5 overall. North Ridgeville will also step out of conference this week to face Amherst Steele.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Nightcrawler

Dan Gilroy's directional debut, Nightcrawler, features Jake Gyllenhaal playing a greasy, desperate, and dark Lou Bloom. Bloom, desperate for work, pries his way into the Los Angeles  crime journalism field by getting up close and personal with fresh victims of either violence or accidents. The movie unfolds against the blank and black backdrop of urban Los Angeles, where our main character and his employee Rick(Riz Ahmed) have found a profitable partner in Nina Romina(Rene Russo). Bloom gives Romina the bloodiest footage he can shoot, and is rewarded by Romina monetarily and also with female attention that Bloom desperately seeks. The film's conflict centers around Bloom's small business and his relationship with his employee Rick and (more centrally) Nina.

Voyeurism isn't a new film trope. Since the time of Hitchock's landmark Rear Window, directors have been fascinated by the prospect of human obsession with watching others in intimate situations. Indeed, this film pokes at our eerie instincts to slow down while we pass a horrific car accident. As many have pointed out, the film is a critique of sensationalistic journalism. "If it bleeds it leads," should basically be posted across Rene Russo's forehead in this film. Again, we aren't breaking new ground with this material. However, the film's most poignant and interesting theme is its overarching critique of what is commonly referred to as the "American Dream." This critique in and of itself is also not new. Just last year we saw Leonardo DiCaprio brilliantly and hilariously snort the American Dream up his nose and pukeall over those around him. However, this film's critique isn't of the decadent 80's, but is an up to date and accurate critique of the Post-Recession American Landscape. Bloom isn't fighting to be a millionaire, he's killing to make $50K, something a lot of 20-somethings can relate to(I'm poor).

The film works for me on many levels. Gyllenhaal is excellent in this film. He is subtle and uneasy and just the type of slime we all try to avoid on the street. He speaks to his employee Rick as if he has watched and memorized countless corporate Human Resources manuals. Lou Bloom really does sound like a corporate manager who we have all rolled our eyes at even if he doesn't look the part. The dichotomy of Bloom looking like a creep and talking like the manager of PNC has its hilarious moments. If this is Gilroy's directional debut, then I'm all in. He builds the tension throughout the film with exacting ease. Each time Bloom hears a radio call from emergency services, the audience perks up to see what grisly scene we are encountering next. Of course, we can't look away.


Friday, October 4, 2013

On Dads, the Browns, and Cleveland.


“Punch to the gut,” is a cliché used often while receiving difficult news. Never have I understood this more than when I learned that my father had been diagnosed with Stage 4 terminal cancer in June. I felt our pain was shared. My insides twisted, muscles ached, and eyes burned. Death was not an aspect of life I had ever faced. Death was a headline, a Facebook Status about a grandparent, or losing the family pet. Sitting next to my father in the hospital, holding back tears and feeling my lips quivering were the most difficult hours of my life. I wanted to tell him everything that I was always scared to say because I didn’t want to be a pussy. The certain sentences that existed in the space between us but were never formally communicated. I wanted to tell him how much I loved him, but could not utter that sentence without breaking down completely. I was instructed by my sister to “hold it together,” and I did for the most part. I could not look at my sisters or him in the eye. My sisters and I asked him if he had any sort of bucket list: “Well..I’d like to make it to the Browns’ opener.”

            After my Dad’s consistent desire to be a hardass resulted in us not getting a ride to the stadium last night for the Browns-Bills game, we settled on parking in the bowels of downtown Cleveland: underneath Tower City. I had made this walk what seems like thousands of times with him, usually in treacherous conditions with me bitching about not parking closer. “It’s fun to walk through downtown in the weather,” he would say. Yeah, that is the type of shit he takes pleasure in. This time it was 70 degrees. It was a pleasant walk through the city center as we approached the stadium. The smell of alcohol, urine, and desperation fill my nostrils despite my attempts to strictly breathe through my mouth. Cleveland smells exactly what outsiders think it smells like. My jaded view of the Browns is inescapable. Another death march down Lakeside. I’m sober, which is frustrating. Being sober at a Browns game amongst the scores of drunks is awkward. But my dad is not sober. He’s drunk off of the Browns.

            “Run it down their fucking throats,” is something my dad says when the Browns get near the goal line last night. “Run it down their fucking throats again,” is something he says when their first running attempt gets stuffed at the goal line. I feel awkward when he says shit like this, but after awhile I realize I’m the outsider here. I’m sober. I began to let my guard down, and admire my dad’s appreciation for The Browns. It’s so communal. Everyone in the section knows him and it’s fucking hilarious. They laugh when he yells ridiculous obscenities, and treat it as if he said something so expected they hardly flinch. It’s his family, too. I will say something once in awhile to my Dad. “Weeden can make those sideline throws at least,” for example. But I don’t participate in the obscure yelling in the general direction of the field. My Dad sneaks off to smoke a cigarette. He has given up on cancer, but here we are pretending that Brandon Weeden is a capable quarterback.

            The beginning of the game is exactly like every other Browns game I’ve been to with my Dad. The excitement is building during the walk to the stadium, the crowd is in a frenzy, and then the Browns start playing football. We’re losing 10-0 quickly, and our starting QB who happens to be a St. Ignatius alum, appears to have the sliding ability of Jason Giambi. This game is different. The crowd is beyond its usual drunken whirl. The Browns are getting lucky, generally getting outplayed in the first half, but making up for it by special teams dominance.

            It’s halftime, and the Browns are celebrating Jim Brown’s legacy. My dad says to me twice, “Greatest player I ever saw,” as if I needed to hear it twice so it sinks in. He has said this to me an estimated 10,000 times in my life. He tears up. I think he loves Jim Brown the player because of what he represents to his childhood. This moment is surreal because I see my dad survey the scope of his life in terms of Jim Brown. He saw Jim Brown player when he was 12 years old. Jim Brown has grown old with my father, and here they are for one final salute to each other. It’s a moment. I begin to think of me seeing LeBron when I’m older. I can’t fathom it. He’ll always be 26 year old LeBron; the youthful kid from Akron messing around in the pre-game warm-ups. Kyrie will always be this young. There is no old version of Kyrie Irving.

            The Browns win, and we exit the stadium to raucous applause. I imagine my Dad leaving the stadium taking a bow, tipping his hat to the crowd. This is a new memory. It won’t be confused with the many other Sunday afternoons of leaving disappointed and with the feeling of being ripped off. My dad might not go on a profanity laced tirade when we get to the car this time. He keeps smiling and fist pumping, and no matter what I will make this the last memory. This is the memory that will be exaggerated by me in 20 years when I’m telling this story.  We walk up the hill for the last time ever together. The finality of the moment is devastating. He’s struggling to get up the hill, and I want to carry him to the car. We talk about the Browns, and then it is silent again. The words are dancing between us this time, dissolving into the downtown fall morning. Decades of unsaid admiration remain unsaid, but the time for goodbyes isn’t now. The Browns have won and that is all that matters. Ironically, I conclude how the Browns have been such a consistent part of our relationship; a talking point that can break the awkward silence during any time of year. It has been tough for me to justify being a Browns fan, but now I get it and it'll never be forgotten. Go Browns.