Trick Shots.

The other day I ran across a video of bowling and billiards trick shots and it reminded me that there used to be a magazine called The National Bowlers Journal & Billiard Review, published from 1913 until 1978 when the magazine split into two new publications: Bowlers Journal and Billiards Digest. I subscribe to Billiards Digest even though I don’t play pool as often as I did back in college when I was a regular at Tom’s Pool Hall, but that’s another story.
Why billiards and bowling once shared magazine space is a mystery, although it was probably for economy, but it got me wondering if they really have anything to do with each other. Well, they both have shady reputations, especially on film.
Consider the following baseball films: The Natural, Field Of Dreams, Pride Of The Yankees, 42, even Bull Durham. The sport is presented as noble and heroic, as are many of its players.
Now consider the following football films: The Blind Side, Remember The Titans, Friday Night Lights, Any Given Sunday. Again these are films that present the sport as noble and many of its players as heroic.
When it comes to billiards, well, I can count the number of pool films on one hand and still have fingers left over–mainly The Hustler and its sequel The Color Of Money. Billiards, according to Hollywood, anyway, is a game of cheats, cons, and questionable characters. The same holds for the only film I can think of about bowling–Kingpin. In many TV series and movies, though, bowling is presented as a wholesome, family activity, whereas billiards is almost always a backdrop to a sinister plot or a prelude to a bar fight.
Anyway here’s the video.

10 Comments

  1. mydangblog

    Brings me back to my own university days playing countless games of snooker in the common room. The only time in my life that I ever drank coffee!

    Reply
    1. Christopher Waldrop (Post author)

      I love snooker, but it’s really hard to find a table around here. The only time I played snooker regularly was when I was in the UK. The college there had a snooker table and I played daily. Back in the states I had to settle for regular pool.
      There used to be a place here in Nashville called Snooker’s that only had regular pool tables. Go figure.

      Reply
  2. Jay

    You’re right, it really does have a bad reputation.
    Of course, in my experience it’s not so much a ‘sport’ as a reason for guys to grope you on your second date, so…

    Reply
    1. Christopher Waldrop (Post author)

      I’m sorry you got groped, but it’s not surprising. I’d forgotten how many guys I’ve seen “teaching” their dates how to play pool. A lot of the best players in the world are women and I always have this fantasy of one of them coming along to show those guys how it’s really done.

      Reply
  3. BarbaraM

    There’s almost always a pool table or two at bowling alleys.

    Reply
    1. Christopher Waldrop (Post author)

      I’d forgotten that–there used to be a bowling alley near me that had a couple of coin-operated pool tables over in its classic arcade area. Bowling alleys also almost always have classic arcades, but that’s another story. It’s just really hard to find a real pool hall these days.

      Reply
  4. Spoken Like A True Nut

    I wish there were more places around to play pool these days. They’re dwindling fast.

    My parents had a small table in their basement but there wasn’t much elbow room and there was a pillar in the way on one side so you had to think really creatively for some shots. I credit the difficulty of that table and all the 9-ball tournaments I watched as a kid for my not making a total fool of myself when I played on my college’s team in grad school.

    Reply
    1. Christopher Waldrop (Post author)

      Maneuvering around a pillar like that must have been some pretty good training.
      And that’s really cool you were on a college team. The university where I work used to have a pool room but doesn’t anymore, and the university I went to as an undergrad used to have a pool room but doesn’t anymore. It’s a depressing trend although there’s a growing number of colleges that offer pool scholarships. So that trend might reverse itself.

      Reply
  5. Ann Koplow

    Hey, Dude! Isn’t “The Big Lebowski” about bowling, too? Great post and video, man.

    Reply
    1. Christopher Waldrop (Post author)

      How can I have forgotten that “The Big Lebowski” is about bowling? I guess that’s what happens when you find a stranger in the Alps. But I always thought that film was more about the rug. It really did tie the room together.

      Reply

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