Two quick reviews, some other quick links, then on to the local links because it’s a big weekend.
AMERICAN HORROR STORY (10 p.m. Wednesdays, FX): Horror/slasher/torture porn movies do nothing for me. They don’t scare me, they don’t keep me up at night, they don’t give me bad dreams. You know what movies give me bad dreams? Stuff like Wall Street. I remember having nightmares after I saw that movie knowing that this was was the world I was soon going to enter into. And that scared the everlasting shat out of me at 12 years old. But Friday the 13th? Nightmare on Elm Street? Pass. I know it’s all fake, that there is no such person who can live in my dreams and kill me, so it doesn’t scare me. Real life scares me, fake movies don’t. So I watched the first 50 minutes or so of American Horror Story – the new Ryan Murphy/Brad Falchuk creation — kind of twiddling my thumbs. It probably was scary, I just wasn’t feeling it. And I was annoyed at Dylan McDermott and his overactive, can’t-take-a-hint libido and his newly sculpted body. Jealous much? But then the last 15 minutes or so rolled around. In that time, Tami Taylor may or may not have been knocked up by the ghost of The Gimp from Pulp Fiction, some already creepy kid may have made himself even creepier since he may or may not be a demon, a weird, horny maid may or may not be a ghost who’s already been murdered once, some guy with half his face burned off once killed his family in this crazy house … my head was swimming. And I loved it. Shows like this, I decide whether I like them initially based on the degree of how much I want answers to the questions posed. Even at the start of The Killing, I was a little lukewarm on all of the questions being asked, a sign I should have taken heed of much earlier. But this thing? I. Want. Answers. I’m engrossed. There are probably too many questions to ever get answered, and in typical Murphy fashion, he might just forget about them halfway through the season. But I’ll take what I can get, and I’m in. GRADE: B
MONEYBALL: Woo hoo! My first trip to an actual movie theater since January. I’m embarrassed to admit that … but it’s true. Moneyball is a fantastic movie, and it’s one of Brad Pitt’s four best roles. Since I left the theater Thursday, I’ve been trying to figure out how to rank his performances in 12 Monkeys, Fight Club, Moneyball and Growing Pains (either episode). My rankings could change on a daily basis. Despite it being a great movie, its baseball omissions are almost criminal. Indulge me for a second as I baseball geek-out here just for a second, not even taking into account the book. The movie isn’t that much like the book at all, but there is no way the book that was written could have been made into a movie as-is. It needed tweaking. The movie would have you believe three major baseball fallacies:
MOVIE FACT: That Carlos Pena was an All-Star caliber player for the A’s. REAL FACT: He hit .218 in 40 Oakland games in 2002 with 7 HRs and a non-Moneyball-like .305 on-base percentage. If they didn’t make that trade, they had a black hole at 1B for the rest of the year.
MOVIE FACT: That Jeremy Giambi was a world-saving player brought to Oakland in the 2002 preseason. REAL FACT: He had been in Oakland since 2000, brought in to entice and convince brother Jason Giambi to stay in Oakland. He never got more than 397 at-bats in six major league seasons. He was a career part-time player who never was the reason any team won or lost.
MOVIE FACT: That the cupboard was bare in Oakland after Jason Giambi, closer Jason Isringhausen and outfielder Johnny Damon left. REAL FACT: They had been planning for Giambi to leave for two years, which is why they traded for major prospect Pena before the 2001 season ended. Isringhausen was easily replaced with Billy Koch, who was traded for in the offseason away from Toronto. Damon was a rent-a-player add at the 2001 trade deadline who everyone knew was as good as gone after the year — although it was complete awesomeness to see Scott Boras get ripped a new one. The truth is the A’s had the AL MVP (Miguel Tejada), the AL Cy Young Award winner (Barry Zito)and two more starters that finished in the top 10 of the Cy Young balloting (Tim Hudson, Mark Mulder). Bottom line — the cupboard was anything but bare. Look at it like this: If the Phillies lost Ryan Howard, Jimmy Rollins and Ryan Madson tomorrow, they’d still have Roy Halladay, Cliff Lee and Cole Hamels in the rotation. And that’s probably enough to win the NL East.
Whew! That’s off my chest. The great part? I didn’t give a crap. I swallowed this movie whole, knowing all its historical flaws and smudges. It will be in my top 5 movies of the year. GRADE: A-.
Two quick notes, none of which should be surprising for those who’ve been paying attention. NBC canceled the Hank Azaria sitcom Free Agents, and the CW canceled H8R. And the Saved by the Bell world sheds a tear for Mario Lopez.
Let’s get a couple local ones in, because there’s a lot going on this weekend. If you have a cool event coming up, you can send the PopRox Facebook page an invite, or you can just email it to me. I’m sorry I can only get four in this week, because there is a ton going on. Short on time this morning.
Barley Creek is hosting its third Octoberfest celebration Saturday, complete with a fundraiser for the Tri-State Troopers Fund. Here’s the twist. It’s $5 admission if you do it in advance, and then you get a $10 gift certificate for future Basrley Creek use. So let’s get this straight. If you’re a Barley Creek regular or even semi-regular, you’re being paid to go to this. Umm, yeah. That’s good. The cool thing is it’s a family event. We’ve gotten to a new age here, people. We can bring our kids to a bar. It’s socially OK, as long as it’s not a dive corner bar. Just have an event at a bar, and put up a bounce house, and we’re good to go. That’s pretty sweet. And it’s only from 3 to 9 p.m., so the kids can come and be home in time for bed.
Somehow I’ve managed not to make it in to Wing King yet down on Main Street in Stroudsburg. I should be ashamed of myself that I haven’t tested a place that dares call itself “Wing King.” I’ll be remedying that in the near future. Too bad it can’t be this weekend, since they’re celebrating their second anniversary. It’s a couple doors down from Siamsa.
Another second anniversary — The Lounge in the Comfort Inn in Bartonsville. It starts at 8 p.m., and there is a $200 balloon drop at midnight. I’ve never drank a martini, so I wouldn’t know what a good special sounds like. but they’re only $4 in the early part of the night. That sounds like a good deal.
It’s always interesting to see people figure out new things to equate with drinking. The latest — biking! The Bike and Brew sponsored by Edge of the Woods Outfitters and the Gem and Keystone at Shawnee. You bike the McDade trail, then you go back and hit the Gem and Keystone. Sounds like a plan to me. Starts at 10, it’s $30, and that includes a beer sampler and biking equipment. It’s $25 if you bring your own bike, and you meet at the Gem and Keystone.