Much has been made of the spelling of the name American Pharoah. The new Triple Crown winner boasts a moniker that opts for P-H-A-R-O-A-H rather than the more accurate P-H-A-R-A-O-H. Here at the Jimbo List, we are taking an open-minded view of the matter – especially since the name could have been much, much worse.
WORLD B. FREE PHAROAH
A dictionary and the Daily Racing Form make a nice combo.
Here we are at the first Sunday of the NFL season, and the excitement is running pretty high. It’s a beautiful thing. As we await the festivities, take a look at these films featuring characters who take their pro football VERY seriously.
Great, great movie with an amazing cast, including Mickey Rourke, Kevin Bacon, Daniel Stern, Tim Daly, Ellen Barkin and Paul Reiser. It’s set in Baltimore, where one of the characters, Eddie (played by Steve Guttenberg) makes his girlfriend take a written quiz on the Baltimore Colts before he’ll marry her! I love how seriously everyone takes it, even though they understand on some level that it’s nuts.
BIG FAN (2009)
Patton Oswalt dives into the crazy end of the pool as “Paul from Staten Island,” who loves his New York Giants and makes frequent calls to a sports radio station. Things do not go well for Paul when he encounters his favorite player making a drug deal. The movie doesn’t flinch in dealing with obsession and delusional behavior – but it also gets the intensity of sports fandom right.
SILVER LININGS PLAYBOOK (2012)
For me, the Solatano clan in “Silver Linings Playbook” is the gold standard for NFL fans in movies. These folks live and die with their beloved Philadelphia Eagles. Robert DeNiro’s dad character is essentially a walking set of Sunday superstitions, which any NFL fan completely understands. One of my favorite scenes in this movie involves Jennifer Lawrence setting DeNiro straight on both his Eagles knowledge and the nature of jinxes. Crabby snacks and homemades for everyone!
JERRY MAGUIRE (1996)
One of the underrated things about this much-quoted movie is Regina King’s performance as the wife of an NFL player (Cuba Gooding, Jr.). She follows every play as if her husband’s life depended on it, which it does.
PAPER LION (1968)
Alan Alda (that’s right) plays a writer for Sports Illustrated who attempts to understand the game from a new perspective by posing as a quarterback for the Detroit Lions. What’s truly wild about this is that it’s based on the true story of George Plimpton’s famous book, also called “Paper Lion.” Real NFL player Alex Karras, who later became a successful actor, plays himself here.
BUFFALO 66 (1998)
This one is most definitely not for everybody. Vincent Gallo’s gritty film is about a guy who gets out of prison, kidnaps a woman and forces her to pretend to be his wife during a visit to see his parents. How does the NFL factor into it? Well, Gallo’s horrifying parents (Angelica Huston and Ben Gazzara) are huge Buffalo Bills fans. They even named their son Billy, after the team, and have a picture of O.J. Simpson among the family photos. As if that weren’t enough, the plot involves Billy’s desire for revenge against a Bills kicker who missed a crucial field goal in the playoffs.
A CHRISTMAS STORY (1983)
A personal favorite, because it accurately reveals the love-hate relationship you can have with your team. Darren McGavin plays a rough-around-the-edges Dad in northern Indiana in about 1940, dealing with the usual car problems, home repairs and odd neighbors. There’s a classic scene where the mom character knows exactly how to break up some possible tension at the family dinner table: mention that the Chicago Bears are playing the Green Bay Packers on Sunday. It immediately sends McGavin into a sarcastic meditation on his “Monsters of the Midway.”
That’s all for now, sports fans. Are you ready for some football?
Every time you turn around, there are new rules being put into place in major sports. Sometimes it’s out of concern for players’ safety. Often, it’s intended to make a sport more exciting. Now that baseball has returned, let’s hope our national penchant for rules doesn’t overly alter our national pastime. It could get ugly.
INFIELD TWEET RULE: YOU LOSE A BASE RUNNER EVERY TIME A PLAYER MAKES AN OFFENSIVE COMMENT ON TWITTER
VENDORS FORCED TO SELL KALE CHIPS INSTEAD OF PEANUTS
NATE SILVER CALLS ALL BALLS AND STRIKES
BATTING TITLE WINNERS MUST APPEAR ON “DANCING WITH THE STARS”
FANS GET TO MAKE ONE PITCHING CHANGE PER GAME USING A SPECIAL SMARTPHONE APP, “PITCHIFY”
SEVENTH INNING ZUMBA
ON-DECK CIRCLE NOW A TRIANGLE
BASE STEALERS HAVE TO ACTUALLY CARRY THOSE BASES AROUND THE INFIELD
FIRST PLAYER TO COMMIT AN ERROR HAS TO WEAR A “CAT IN THE HAT” HAT FOR THE REST OF THE GAME
FANS MUST WEAR PERIOD CLOTHING TO GAMES INVOLVING THROWBACK UNIFORMS
Oh, March Madness, how I have missed you. The buzzer beaters, the crazy coaches, the incomprehensible bracketology! It’s all glorious, including the dizzying array of dorky team names. But it could be dorkier still, as you will see. Here are some woeful team names you won’t have to memorize as the NCAA basketball tournament gets under way.
THE FIGHTING AMISH
THE DIFFIDENT HOUSE CATS
THE RUNNIN’ NECK SORES
THE IRRITATING RINGTONES
THE ANGRY OLIVES
THE SLEEPLESS KNIGHTS
THE RED HERRINGS
THE HUSTLING DUSTBUNNIES
THE GLARING OMISSIONS
THE MIGHTY GAZETTEERS
THE DASHING DIMWITS
THE FEISTY I.T. GUYS
THE PURPLE PUSHOVERS
THE FECKLESS HECKLERS
THE NERVOUS NELLIES
Here’s hoping your favorite team cuts down the net.
I’m hearing some great things about the special effects tiger in the film version of “Life of Pi.” This has me intrigued. Tigers just may be the most beautiful creatures on the planet, and if this pixelated critter is as wondrous as advertised, he’ll join an illustrious roster of pop culture tigers.
I’m going with my favorite tiger first. Yes, he’s the villain from “Jungle Book,” but he’s undeniably great. He’s droll, he’s cunning, he’s merciless. He also has the voice, heavy-lidded eyes and lantern jaw of the urbane British actor, George Sanders.
TONY THE TIGER
On the other end of the spectrum, you have Frosted Flakes icon Tony the Tiger. He’s no villain – he’s more like that gregarious uncle who let you stay up past your bedtime and showed you wrestling moves like the Backbreaker and the Spinning Toe Hold. He’s not PC, but he’s ggggrrreat!
Can’t say this is one of my favorite teams, since I’m a National League guy. But still, props to a Major League franchise that’s been around since 1894, boasts four World Series titles and has had players such as Ty Cobb, Hank Greenberg and Al Kaline in the lineup. Best of all, the Tigers stayed in one city all these years.
Dear lord, what a great creation Tigger is! Anyone with little kids (or grandkids) knows that Tigger is a welcome infusion of energy, action and humor in all situations. He’s dangerous and tame, simultaneously. Thank you, A.A. Milne and Paul Winchell.
CROUCHING TIGER, HIDDEN DRAGON
Ang Lee’s 2000 film classic is the cinematic equivalent to a tiger: it’s powerful, graceful, violent and visually arresting. You want tragic heroes and villains? You want epic history and scope? You want some kick-ass swordplay and wire walking? Your search is over. Also, it’s only fitting to include Mr. Lee in a List inspired by “Life of Pi.”
Dennis Leary is the voice of Diego the prehistoric tiger in the “Ice Age” movies. Although he curbs his normally robust language as Diego, Leary does a nice job of lending a soulful quality to the proceedings.
DANIEL STRIPED TIGER
Of course, there is no pop culture tiger with more soul than Daniel Striped Tiger from “Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood.” This little gent had the voice of Fred Rogers, which explained why he was so darned nice. Another thing in his favor? Sporty wristwatch.
No, he is not a model citizen. He’s a tremendous golfer, though. For years, he absolutely commanded the attention of his competitors and sports fans in general. Very tiger-like.
This guy – how could you not like him? Half of cartoonist Bill Watterson’s brilliant comic strip, “Calvin and Hobbes,” tiger Hobbes is the savagely sophisticated counterpoint to incorrigible little boy Calvin. Young Calvin believes Hobbes is an actual tiger and not a stuffed animal. I’m inclined to agree.
EYE OF THE TIGER
There are several tiger songs I could have chosen, such as “Hold That Tiger” and “I’ve Got a Tiger By the Tail,” but instead I have selected Survivor’s “Eye of the Tiger” from 1982. Why? Because it’s in “Rocky III,” fool.
You might find this hard to believe, but there are some sporting events that are too crazy even for the Olympics. So while you’re wading through countless hours of halfpipe this and bantam weight that, just be thankful you’re not watching THESE events:
As we head into another edition of the Summer Olympics, here’s a List of Olympics-related film dramas and comedies to get us in the mood. No documentaries, though – the Games will provide all the reality we need for the next two weeks.
CHARIOTS OF FIRE (1981)
Let’s start with the gold medalist. While it’s debatable whether “Chariots of Fire” deserved its Oscar for Best Picture, the fact that it is a classic character study told with grace and dignity is undeniable. The film presents running in the 1924 Olympics as a matter of religious faith, personal struggle, patriotic duty and elite frolic, depending on the individual.
JIM THORPE — ALL-AMERICAN (1951)
This one is more of a tragedy. Burt Lancaster plays the great Jim Thorpe, who won gold medals in the pentathlon and decathlon at the 1912 Olympics, only to have the medals taken away because he’d been paid once to play summer baseball. In the 1980s, after his death, Thorpe’s medals were reinstated. This movie, in some of the action scenes, used actual footage of Thorpe.
DOWNHILL RACER (1969)
Now for a little Winter Olympics action, with plenty of star power. Robert Redford is excellent as an aloof, driven Olympic skier. What I like so much about “Downhill Racer” is the way it showcases the rivalries, politics and competitiveness among athletes and even coaches on the same team.
PERSONAL BEST (1982)
Mariel Hemingway stars in this drama set around the 1980 Olympic games. The story works on two fronts. First you have the various personal relationships involving women’s track and field athletes. Then you have the emotional aftermath of President Carter’s decision to boycott the 1980 games.
COOL RUNNINGS (1993)
Highly enjoyable, Disney version of the Jamaican bobsled team that took the Olympics – and the world – by storm in 1988. Far from being a documentary, it stars John Candy, Doug E. Doug and the always-charismatic Leon Robinson.
WALK DON’T RUN (1966)
The 1964 Summer Olympics in Tokyo is the backdrop for this old-fashioned romantic comedy. Cary Grant, in his final film role, plays matchmaker to speed walker Jim Hutton and Samantha Eggar. It’s very sweet.
WITHOUT LIMITS (1998)
“Without Limits” was one of two films in the 1990s to profile Olympic runner Steve Prefontaine, who ran in the 1972 Munich games. I prefer this one, which stars the fine actor Billy Crudup as Prefontaine and Donald Sutherland as his coach. As a side note, “Without Limits” also features the legendary runner Frank Shorter – although he doesn’t play himself (Jeremy Sisto plays Shorter).
I think this is one of Steven Spielberg’s great films. It starts with an extended recounting of the brutal terrorist attack at the 1972 Munich games and continues forward with a story of Israeli agents responding to the attack in the years that followed. Eric Bana and Daniel Craig star. The movie ends with a visual that some might find cliched, but I found to be among the most haunting I’ve ever seen.
We finish on an inspirational note. “Miracle” gives us one of the truly joyous moments (for Americans) in sports, with the U.S. hockey team’s incredible run at the 1980 Winter Olympics. Kurt Russell is perfect as coach Herb Brooks.
Did I leave any good ones out? Add them to The List!
So many stadiums, so little time. With baseball, basketball and hockey ongoing – and football never far from a fan’s thoughts – the staff here at The Jimbo List would like to ponder a few arena names that (hopefully) will never happen.
MILLER GENUINE DRAFT DODGERS STADIUM
SAN FRANCISCO SHAKE SHACK
CHICAGO BUILD-A-BEARS FIELD
GOOGLE CHROME DOME
STARBUCKS COFFEE GROUNDS
COLISEUM FOR DUMMIES
ENERGY DRINK RINK
STAY PUFT STADIUM
WRIGLEY PIGGLY WIGGLY FIELD
You’ll notice I steered clear of Enron Field. Add to The List!
With the baseball season officially starting this week (the Seattle Mariners and Oakland Athletics in Japan), now is an excellent opportunity to envision a more digitally-enhanced version of the American pastime:
Here we are in this season of caring and kindness, yet if I’m being honest, some things are creeping me out. Not big things, thankfully. But they keep popping up, like irritating people at a wedding reception. Here are the ones currently causing me to gnash my teeth.
THE ABILIFY BATHROBE
Sweet mother of all that’s holy, please, someone, toss this ratty bathrobe onto the advertising scrapheap. I understand the symbolism. I get it – depression can be this smothering outer layer we take off with the help of medication. I also get the notion that depression may never completely go away, which is why the bathrobe hangs around, floating, in the background. But does it need to have eyes? Does it need to sit in the next chair at the doctor’s office and take notes?! In terms of basic creepitude, the Abilify Bathrobe is off-the-charts yucky.
BOBBY VALENTINE’S VOICE
I’ve become convinced that Valentine’s larynx is tucked somehow inside his nasal cavity. That’s the only explanation for a warble that sounds like Kermit the Frog on sodium pentathol, after a session in a sensory deprivation tank. Now that he’s the manager of the Boston Red Sox, we’ll all be hearing a lot more of him.
CHRIS COOPER’S RAP SONG IN ‘THE MUPPETS’
I happen to have a ton of respect for Chris Cooper, going all the way back to TV’s “Lonesome Dove,” but this just doesn’t work. The only reason the Muppet characters in this scene don’t have their eyebrows raised to the top of their foreheads is because a handler is physically preventing it.
PEOPLE WHO WEAR PAJAMAS IN PUBLIC
Have we NO shame, whatsoever? When did it become OK to swing by the Post Office, do the grocery shopping and grab a cup of coffee in our pajamas? As a society, I think we need to seriously consider the implications of saying to the world at large, “My desire for a Mountain Dew right now outweighs the common decency to pull on a pair of actual pants.”
BREAD PUDDING FRENCH TOAST AT DENNY’S
As a fan of both bread pudding and french toast, I feel I’m qualified to say (while letting out a sigh) this is just too much. It’s too much. For pity’s sake, look at that plate of food! Unless you’re an Appalachian Trail hiker, those slices of french toast are going to adhere to your midsection like a shopping mall sandwich board.
TARGET COMMERCIALS LADY
That maniacal grin, those twitchy eyes – why, it must be the holiday season! It’s a matter of personal taste, certainly, but I find these ads grating. This is a style of comic acting that works much better on “The Office” or “SNL” than it does in a commercial being shown again and again.
And now it’s your turn. What stuff is creeping you out?