October is a bit of a sacred month. It’s so sacred that I start preparing for it in the middle of September. It’s the month and a half out of the year that I can put the Criterion Collection away. I can put all of the new releases aside. I stop thinking about the top shelf of cinema. That particular month and a half is dedicated to horror.
It’s not very difficult. Scary movies are everywhere during October. At 2 a.m. on any given night, AMC is showing a vampire movie from the 1950s. The irreplaceable Turner Classic Movies might be showing a Boris Karloff fright fest from the glorious Universal years. Encore Mystery is liable to have a fun-yet-crappy little known movie about ghosts from the 1990s. Somewhere in my OnDemand feature, a channel that I never watch will stash a goofy film about demonic spirits from the 1970s. In all cases, my DVR burns the candle at both ends. It gobbles up all of these movies for my Octobertainment. And since they’re almost universally 75 to 100 minutes long, it’s extraordinarily easy to work overtime clearing out the goodies that the DVR stashes for me.
In conjunction, my Netflix and Facets queues are filled to the brim with a cornucopia of frightful delights. This was to be the first October that I experienced as a member of Facets, and thus my first chance to truly enjoy the depth of their horror catalogue. After all, the most beautiful aspect of Facets is the diversity of titles that they offer. Netflix, Facets, and my DVR were all well-prepared to spark the orgy of horror movies that makes October the hap-hap-happiest month of the year.
But a funny thing happened on the way to the horrorstravaganza. At some point in the middle of September, my first true love–the game of baseball–intervened. My beloved St. Louis Cardinals were floating around 7 games back of making the playoffs. But they kept winning. And I kept watching. The 7 game deficit started to shrink. Soon, it was down to 4 games. Then it shrank to 2 games. It was completely unrealistic. It was, frankly, something the 100+ year history of the game of baseball had never seen. And I could not, I WOULD not look away for any reason. By the time the final game of the season arrived on September 28th, they found themselves tied for the final playoff spot. A Cardinals win and a loss by the Atlanta Braves–the team they were tied with–would complete an epic comeback, and give my beloved Cardinals a puncher’s chance on baseball’s biggest stage. They won. The Braves lost. Euphoria.
Then the playoffs began. The Redbirds were matched with Major League Baseball’s best team in a five game series against the Philadelphia Phillies. Once again, against all odds and behind in the series, they rallied and won behind a maestro’s effort from Chris Carpenter, who tossed a shutout. It’s a good thing, too, because one run would’ve meant the end of the season. I could not, I WOULD not look away for any reason. I was rewarded.
A few days later, they took on their bitter rival, the Milwaukee Brewers, in a seven game series with a berth in the World Series hanging in the balance. The Brewers held homefield advantage. This was important because the Brewers never lose at home. But a week and a half later, once again against all odds and defying all logic, this amazing baseball team had emerged victorious. They had taken down the Brewers 4 games to 2 in a hard-fought series. I could not, I WOULD not look away, and Cardinal fans everywhere were being rewarded. If it’s possible to fall in love with a baseball team, that is precisely what happened. I was head over heels for the 2011 St. Louis Cardinals.
One final obstacle remained. The extremely resilient and deep Texas Rangers stood in the way of my beloved Cardinals and a World Series championship. The third game featured the best offensive game in World Series history when Cardinals’ Superman Albert Pujols tied World Series records for homeruns and hits in a game. He broke the record for total bases in a game. And then… the Rangers won two in a row, pushing my Cardinals to the brink of extinction. The Rangers had the Cardinals down to their last strike in the bottom of the 9th inning when David Freese–a native St. Louisan, no less–stepped up and, against all odds and defying all logic, tied the game. The Rangers came back and took another lead. And again, down to their last strike, against odds/defying logic, this beautiful amazing wonderful Cardinal team that lies beyond superlatives came back. They tied it yet again, and then won it in the bottom of the 11th when that local kid, Freese, hit a walk-off homerun that ALL baseball fans will remember forever. Anticlimactically, the Cardinals won Game 7 the next night. They had become World Series champions.
I had not looked away, I WOULD not look away, and I had been rewarded in buckets. Most of you probably don’t know that I used to work in professional baseball as a Media Relations Director. In 2000, the team I worked for won their league championship. For one fantastically bizarre moment, I stood in a professional baseball team’s clubhouse and drank champagne, sprayed champagne on everyone within a 100 foot radius, and was sprayed with champagne by those same people. I also was given a championship ring. Until this October, it had been my favorite sports moment ever. But defying all logic and against all odds, this St. Louis Cardinals team that had been on the brink of last rites just 45 days prior and many times since had replaced my unbelievable memories from 2000 at the top of the mountain.
Lost in all of this is that all of those baseball games ate up my horror lineup. With each passing week, I could feel the gaze of my DVR like a jilted lover, looking disapprovingly at me for shunning it at the one time it was supposed to shine. Netflix and Facets DVDs sat on my coffee table collecting dust. Even though I don’t regret a damned thing, I barely made a crack in my annual horror ritual. The calendar has turned over to November. Neighbors are putting their pumpkins away and polishing their various Christmas and Hannukah decorations.
I’ve got a lot of catching up to do.