Everything I Know About Soccer, I Learned From The Big Green, Ladybugs, And Full House

Last night, the U.S. Women’s National Soccer Team gave America one heck of a late birthday present, crushing Japan to soar into World Cup victory. While I’ve never been a soccer person, I am weirdly emotional about televised sports so it was very exciting. Plus, I love America, and I enjoy when my country has a good birthday weekend.

But as a non-soccer person, it’s hard to know exactly what is going on. I’ll admit it: my trough of soccer knowledge is filled with ’90s children’s entertainment. Namely, the 1995 Disney movie The Big Green, the 1992 Rodney Dangerfield vehicle Ladybugs, and this one episode of Full House. All three proved very useful as I got surprisingly into the World Cup over the last week or so.

Sometimes, Own Goals Will Happen

During England’s semifinal match against Japan, powerhouse defender Laura Bassett had the opportunity to block Japan’s kick at a critical moment. Instead, the ball deflected into her own goal, scoring one for Japan.

You know who has been there? Michelle Elizabeth Tanner of San Francisco, California, that’s who. Yes, a fictional 8-year-old from 1994. A lot of us learned about sportsmanship, life, and disappointment when Michelle triumphantly drove the ball down the field – into the wrong goal. So yeah, Michelle actually headed toward her own team’s goal, while Bassett was just doing her job but miscalculated a bit. Also England was playing in the World Cup and Michelle was playing in a rec league coached by Uncle Joey, a grown man who lives in his friend’s basement and does impressions of 50-year-old cartoon characters.

But here’s where we learn our lesson about mistakes. Michelle’s own team taunted her like a bunch of poorly-raised brats, effectively kicking off two decades of negative stereotypes about millennials. I’d expect that from Aaron, but DEREK? Not Derek. Never Derek. He’s the Yankee Doodle Boy. He’s better than that.

But in 2015, social media rallied around Bassett, who is by all accounts an amazing player who had a bad moment that could have happened to anyone. So our lesson here: sometimes, mistakes will happen, but it takes a real adult to be nice about it.

Americans Are Actually Pretty Great At Soccer

In The Big Green, an English teacher ends up in Elma, Texas, a town where all of the children are variations on the Ugly American stereotype. With the help of the town sheriff – because in tv and movies, Texas is like 50% cowboys, 49% sherriffs, 1% Tim Riggins – the kids win the championship. Yes, the AMERICAN kids. From TEXAS even. All they needed was a British schoolteacher to believe in them.

Last night, America systematically beat out every other participating country to win the World Cup. Basically the same thing. See, Americans CAN do it! Of course, those of us who checked The Big Green out at Blockbuster Video in fourth grade already knew that.

You Don’t Need A Boy On The Team

In an all-new REALLY?! With Seth And Amy, Seth Meyers and Amy Poehler shut down Andy Benoit, a man who writes about sports and decided that no women’s sports are worth watching. What an Aaron, am I right?

But Andy Benoit was born the same year as me, which means he probably grew up on Ladybugs, a movie about a girls’ soccer team coached by Rodney Dangerfield. Well, a girls’ soccer team that included one boy (Jonathan Brandis in the worst blonde bob wig in the world) pretending to be a girl named “Martha.” Yet, after Martha fessed up, you know who scores the winning goal? Kimberly. A girl.

So. Ladybugs is not a good movie. However, Andy Benoit should still know that the Ladybugs never needed Jonathan Brandis to be a winning team. The point is, maybe we just need to stick Andy in a screening room and make him  watch Ladybugs on a loop until he comes around or goes completely crazy, whichever happens first.

Maybe A Ragtag Team Of Misfits Can Play Soccer After All
RgEIp (1)

Because it wouldn’t be a 90s kids’ sports movie without this boy.

The Big Green and Ladybugs showed us that nonathletic losers- with grit, enthusiasm, and some uniforms – can become soccer stars. While in the World Cup, we saw that athletic, highly motivated, well-trained people – with grit, enthusiasm, and some uniforms – can become soccer stars. This is not the same thing. I think these movies seriously overstated how easy it is to become a reigning soccer champ. But those of us who watched the World Cup from our sofas, only half-understanding what was going on, pretty much already knew that.

Things I’m Willing To Believe About Tom Brady

If you’ve come here looking for actual facts about Tom Brady, keep looking. I have to make up Tom Brady in my mind, based on the 2 or 3 actual things I know about him and the way his face is. I have to do this because I’m not a huge fan of football in general (Dillon Panthers/Lions aside), and the Patriots in particular. Still, as Brady prepares for his sixth Super Bowl appearance on Sunday, it’s time to talk Tom Brady.

As you know, I have baseless concepts of certain celebrities. I am willing to believe that Ben Affleck is a Boston bro-mensch, and I am willing to believe that Leonardo DiCaprio is a totally rad 90s teen armed with a Nerf Super-Soaker and a bottle of Sunny D. As for Tom Brady? I am willing to believe that he’s apple-cheeked and squeaky clean, even though I realize that most professional athletes aren’t that way. Basically, I picture the 2015, adult man version of an impish little boy from the 1950s. Which means I’m willing to believe the following:

  • Tom Brady’s childhood photos are being used as the mold for the first male American Girl doll.
  • His face is also the inspiration for the little boy on a can of organic oatmeal sold somewhere clean and wholesome. Like Finland.

    I mean I think this is a WPA ad but you get the gist.

  • When you ask Tom Brady how he takes his coffee, he answers “oh, just some raw sugar and milk that comes in a glass bottle. That I get delivered. From a farm.”

 

  • Just kidding he doesn’t consume “hard drinks.”

 

  • While we’re on morning foods, whenever Tom Brady eats cereal he plates it like one of those “well-balanced breakfast”s of 90s TV ads, complete with fruit, orange juice, eggs and toast.
  • Tom Brady does puzzles for fun.

 

  • And play dominoes.

 

  • Tom Brady literally laughs out loud at Peanuts comics

    This part breaks his heart every time.

  • In the corner of Brady’s bedroom, there’s a basket of socks. They’re waiting to go back to his mother to darn.

 

  • On the whole, he really stores a LOT of his stuff in baskets.

    Like puppies.

 

  • Speaking of which, sometimes he bikes to the grocery store and returns with a baguette and a bouquet of flowers in his bicycle basket, like somebody buying groceries in the “after” segment of a Cymbalta commercial.

 

  • How does Tom Brady warm up his throwing arm? Why, playing fetch with shelter dogs, of course.  And they’re all somehow, like, beagles and golden retrievers.

    He didn’t even KNOW this dog. It just gravitated toward him.

  • When he tries to go to bed early before a big game, sometimes his wife catches him reading chapter books under the covers with a flashlight.

 

  • If you’re a lady walking somewhere with Tom Brady, he WILL walk on the curb side.

 

  • Tom loves meeting up with really old guys, like super old, and just talking about their lives.

 

  • You might have thought it was unusual – though not necessarily bad – that Tom Brady’s daughter is named Vivian Lake. But it’s because, in Tom’s words, “I named the most beautiful girl in the world after the most beautiful place in the world.” Lake Vivian was the pond at Brady’s beloved summer camp.

 

  • That was after he was shot down for wanting to “name the most beautiful girl in the world after the most beautiful girl in the world” – not his wife Giselle Bundchen, but his sixth-grade crush, Stacey Marie.

 

  • Tom Brady rides children’s scooters while wearing a newsboy cap.

 

  •  I’m willing to believe that because it’s true:
  •  On the off season, Brady likes to have a “Sunday evening wind-down.” Which involves brownie sundaes and reruns of Little House on the Hallmark Channel.

 

  • And the only time – the ONLY time – that he has used the word “bitch” was in reference to Nellie Olsen.

 

  • The only Rated R movies Tom Brady is interested in are Westerns.

 

  • You know how nobody throws pizza parties any more? Well, Tom Brady throws Pizza Parties. And the two-liters are always ice cold.

    BELIEVE IT.

  • Remember how once in a great, great while your elementary school would have a “surprise pizza party?” Every couple weeks Brady funds one of those (anonymously, of course).

 

The Buffalo Weather vs. The Washington Megans: NFL Teams, Renamed

By 2017, the Washington Redskins had exhausted all excuses for their team name. “It’s not about PEOPLE, it’s about SKINS.” “Some potatoes have red skin and they’re not offended.” “When you think about it, it’s just a color plus a body part. If we were called the Purple Hairs or the Grey Jowls, we wouldn’t even be having this discussion.”

But they were having that discussion, and everyone was sick of it. The Redskins threw a Hail Mary pass – not on the field, they are not good in 2017 – but in the court… of public discourse. “We’ll change our name if everybody changes their names.”

To their surprise, the rest of the NFL was on board. It was a chance to sell merch, and some of the other teams realized that even if their names weren’t offensive yet, they would be sooner or later. On the first Sunday of the regular season, 2018, the Washington Megans squared off against the Buffalo Weather. And the Cleveland Oranges against the Kansas City Chefs.

Here’s how some of those new names came to be:

The Baltimore Ravens are now The Baltimore Hop-Frogs

The fact that the original team name was a literary reference – To Edgar Allen Poe’s The Raven, of course –  was so badass that the Ravens organization was loathe to change it. But why not look further into the Poe canon and find a work that’s even spookier than The Raven? Enter The Hop-Frog, a short story about a court jester who convinces a group of royals to dress as monkeys then sets them alight, burning them to death.

The Raven, in contrast, was just a bird talking some shit.

The Buffalo Bills are now The Buffalo Weather

The same question plagued the Bills organization for years. What even is a BILL? When a quick survey of the naming committee revealed that nobody – not one person – had met a menacing Bill, they knew they had to come up with something that would strike fear in their opponents.

Then they hit on it. What could be more terrifying, more dangerous, more unpredictable than the Buffalo Weather?

The Cincinnati Bengals are now The Cincinnati Parisiens

Did you know that in the 1800s they used to call Cincinnati “The Paris Of America?” Think about it for a sec. Calling anything the something of somewhere always sounds like it’s either almost an insult or almost a compliment. But Cincinnati – sick of being considered basically the city version of a mom haircut – decided to aim high. With their new team name, Cinci reclaimed its connection to the proud – some would say TOO proud, snooty even – city of Paris.

The Cleveland Browns are now The Cleveland Oranges

Nobody in the Browns organization knew why a team choosing to name itself after a color – already an iffy concept – would also chose to name itself after the WORST color: brown, the color of poop and dirt. However, they were unwilling to repaint the entire stadium and redesign all of their merchandise. So Cleveland chose to keep the same team colors – orange and brown – but named itself after the one that isn’t the disappointment of the color wheel.

The Dallas Cowboys are now The Dallas East Dillon Lions

Dallas put its team name to popular vote, and the people got what they wanted: a team named after the greatest football players in Texas history. The Dallas Tami Taylors lost by a close margin, because Tami Taylor is the truest embodiment of the phrase “don’t mess with Texas.”

The Houston Texans are now The Houston Austins

Look. Texas knows that outsiders’ favorite part of Texas is Austin. It’s not stupid. It also knows that Austin is never going to get its act together to organize a football team. Lord knows it tried. They had meetings and practices and everything, and the result was a mural, a community garden, and a podcast. So, the Texans organization went for the next-best thing, and named the Houston team after the team all of the non-Texans wish existed.

The Indianapolis Colts are now The Indianapolis Adult Horses

Have you ever seen a colt? Cute as hell, but all wobbly on its spindly little legs. Not exactly the name for a football powerhouse. The Colts naming committee wanted to convey an animal with a little bit more power, strength, and maturity. Bam. The Indianapolis Adult Horses.

The Minnesota Vikings are now The Minnesota Ikeas

The Vikings team name was a tribute to Minnesota’s proud Scandinavian heritage. Even more than the Vikings, which Nordic export can confound a grown man into a blubbering mess of tears? IKEA FURNITURE. The new mascot is a confusing diagram on legs –  picture the Bill from Schoolhouse Rock – named the Ikea Directions.

The Kansas City Chiefs are now The Kansas City Chefs

The new Chiefs owner, who is not good at spelling, in fact terrible at spelling, hated dealing with the “i before e” thing in Chiefs. Behind his back, his staff had taken to calling the team the Kansas City Chefs after his most frequent misspelling. As a joke, they all voted for this as the new name… and it won.

Unfortunately, the owner tends to spell it “shefs” now.

The New York Giants are now The New York New Jerseys

The team plays in New Jersey. Everyone knows that this is weird. The organization is just acknowledging it.

The New England Patriots are now The Boston Safety Schools

It seemed awfully ridiculous that most other teams belong to a single city – hell, New York has TWO – yet the Patriots are supposed to represent an entire region. The committee did away with that and just named them for the nearest major metro area. Then, okay, what’s to love about Boston? A lot! Some of the best colleges in the country are in Boston, and so are some of the very good colleges everyone applies to in case they don’t get into those.  Boston may be home to more beloved safety schools than any other city in the country, and it should be proud.

Besides, knocking Harvard down a peg seemed like a pretty Boston thing to do.

The Philadelphia Eagles are now The Philadelphia Iggles

The Eagles organization looked to other Philadelphia teams for inspiration, but got sidetracked discussing the Phillies mascot, the Philly Phanatic. “What’s with this thing where the Phillies have to spell EVERYTHING with a ‘PH?’ It’s annoying. Just spell it like you say it!,” Todd said. It’s not important who Todd is, but this guy is always named Todd.

“Spell it like you say it…” Keith repeated. Freaking Keith.

“Spell it like you say it…” said Don. I’m pretty sure there would be a Don.

And the Philadelphia Iggles were born.

The New York Jets are now The New York Giants

With the Giants renamed to reflect the fact that these guys for real play in New Jersey, the Giants’ name was up for grabs. The Jets knew that a Giant is actually pretty cool, with potential for an awesome mascot and logo that the original Giants never really took advantage of. So they snatched up that name and became the New York Giants.

It’s very confusing and everybody hates it.

The Oakland Raiders are now The Oakland Haircuts

Sometimes, a team knows that it is in the most shining moment in its history. The Chicago Bulls knew it when Jordan was playing, and the Yankees knew it with Babe Ruth. The hybrid bowl cut-mullet sported by Raiders owner Mark Davis? Yeah, the organization’s never going to see another one like that:So, the Oakland Haircuts it is.

The Pittsburgh Steelers are now The Pittsburgh Best Buy Reebok Dairy Queens

They got sort of carried away with the corporate sponsors.

The Seattle Seahawks are now The Seattle Fleece

What’s a Seattle stalwart that forges through bitter winds, driving rain and winter chill? Like, I GUESS their football team, but mostly zip-up fleeces. Guaranteed, if you walk through the streets of Seattle you will see 1000 North Face zip-ups for every one seahawk. And that’s a conservative estimate.

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers are now The Tampa Bay Nanas

The Buccaneers had spreadsheets and whiteboards all blank and ready. The committee met to discuss what everyone’s favorite things about Tampa were. But really, all anyone likes about Tampa is their Nana who lives there in the winter.

The Washington Redskins are now The Washington Megans

The Redskins had the most at stake in the Great NFL Name Change. All eyes were on them to choose a name that was, at the very least, not racist. After hours of debate, a quiet and exceptionally average-looking committee member spoke up. Like, almost aggressively average, if that makes sense.

“Before I was born, my parents had a lot of trouble coming up with a name. They, too, were afraid of offending someone. See, they couldn’t pick a name from either side of the family, because the other side would get hurt feelings. They couldn’t use a name any of their friends had used on their kids, because that would be stealing. My dad didn’t want anything too fancy, but my mom didn’t want anything too cutesy. By the time they went to the hospital, they still didn’t have a name. But once I was born, my father took one look at my little face, eyes opening to the world for the first time, and said ‘I don’t know. Fucking… Megan?’ The point is, sometimes you just have to pick something.”

But the rest of the committee had already stopped listening to her by the end, and they sort of missed the point. “Fucking… Megan? Eh, good enough.”

And that’s how the Washington Megans got their name.

Documentaries That Consumed My Life on Netflix Instant

Over the past few years, I spend the time off during the holidays catching up on TV series I have been meaning to watch, but hadn’t had time to before. For instance, I watched Call the Midwife one time, because it was only one season, or my greatest accomplishment in binge-watching: all seven seasons of The West Wing in one month. That’s an hour-long (42ish minute) program, y’all. This year, I decided to watch Anthony Bourdain’s Parts Unknown and couldn’t stop watching. To preface, I usually reserve my documentary watching for when I’m sick (idk why, tbh), but I was on this kick of following Tony to places I probably will never be able to go to otherwise, and are usually off the beaten path.

My addiction to Parts Unknown led to a spiral of watching the documentaries on my Instant list that had been waiting for me to press play for months or even years, and I finally got around to it. So, I’m here to share them with you. Whether you’re sick or need to pause from your Friends binge-ing, here are a few of my favorite documentaries I’ve watched over the past few years that you can watch on Netflix Instant right now.

Undefeated

Watch if you like: Friday Night Lights, football, underdog stories, Oscar-winning movies, crying

Elevator Pitch: A small, predominantly black, high school on the outskirts of Memphis has a football team with the worst record. A white coach who volunteers his time helps them to possible victory. But like FNL, it’s not really about football at all.

First Position

Watch if you like: Dance, ballet, seeing kids do things better than you

Elevator Pitch: The journey of six kids on their way to one of the biggest most important ballet competitions in the world. You’ll leave impressed with their dedication and inspired to do something with your life.

Ballerina

Watch if you like: Dance, ballet, First Position

Elevator Pitch: As opposed to aspiring young dancers, this one features four professional Russian dancers – and you’ll be glad you didn’t grow up in Russia.

Jiro Dreams of Sushi

Watch if you like: Sushi, Japan, food, elderly people

Elevator Pitch: If you love sushi, you’ll love this 85-year-old sushi master in Tokyo, who owns a world-renowned restaurant and the interesting relationship he has with his son and eventual heir.

Kings of Pastry

Watch if you like: France, Top Chef, pastries, cooking, stressful situations

Elevator Pitch: The French take the art of cooking seriously, and even hand out special medals/collars to distinguish the elite chefs from others – and the competition to win said prize involves years of dedication and endless amounts of patience.

Craigslist Joe

Watch if you like: Humanity

Elevator Pitch: A guy gives up pretty much all he has and travels around the country making money and sleeping in homes all found off Craigslist. The result is a surprisingly moving story proving that despite the fact we live in a diverse country with people who have vastly different views on life, it’s not hard to find the good in people.

Marina Abramovic: The Artist Is Present

Watch if you like: Art, performance art, any modern museum

Elevator Pitch: Marina Abamovic has been a top performance artist for decades, and this movie follows her acclaimed The Artist Is Present exhibit at New York’s MoMa, which is a retrospective on her career. It shows how she connects with new people through her piece in which she sits and stares at visitors, and also reconnects her with one of the biggest loves of her life.

Mitt

Watch if you like: Politics, Mormons

Elevator Pitch: It doesn’t matter that you know how it ends. It also doesn’t matter if you voted for Mitt Romney or not. What matters is that this movie gives you an inside look of the day to day life of a Presidential campaign over the course of six years – and how it can all come crumbling down in one night.

Anything North Korea

Watch if you like: Asia, secret societies, investigative reporting, hidden cameras

Elevator Pitch: From Lisa Ling’s faux eye surgery documentary to Frontline‘s secret hidden cameras, these specials give you an inside look to one of the world’s most secretive and oppressive countries. Forget The Interview, these are the only North Korea movies you need to see.

Jesus Camp

Watch if you like: Fascination with Scientology, The Duggars

Elevator Pitch: These kids aren’t just regular kids – they’re kids who think they have prophetic powers and attend a Christian summer camp to learn how to become the next “Billy Graham” and “take back America for Christ”. Go into it knowing because of this movie – the camp closed.