Pulse: 60-Second Critic May 2007


MEMOIR
Pouring Six Beers at a Time and Other Stories from a Lifetime in Baseball
By Bill Giles with Doug Myers (Triumph; $24.95)
By Greg Shutack
Die-hard fans will no doubt find this book both comforting and insightful, as Phillies co-owner Giles recounts his most memorable (the 1980 World Series) and we’d-rather-forget (the 1993 World Series) times in the front office. But while the book is jammed with fanatical detail that takes the reader through such milestones as AstroTurf (Giles helped create it, which, incredibly, he cops to), the Hot Pants Patrol, the Great Wallenda and Kiteman, what’s missing are the thrown gloves, executive-suite brawls and other untold-till-now anecdotes that make such tomes worth reading. Instead we get a book that’s overstuffed with stats and about 100 pages too long. As a result, instead of hitting it out of the park, Giles merely scores a base hit. B-

NONFICTION
Monkey Girl: Evolution, Education, Relgion, and the Battle for America's Soul
By Edward Humes (Ecco; $25.95)
By Andrew Putz
Kitzmiller et al. v. Dover, the 2005 case that challenged the introduction of “intelligent design” into the biology curriculum at Dover High School in York County, pushed the conventions of modern journalism, which assume each side of a debate has something legitimate to say. When folks on one side take the express to Crazytown, modern journalism doesn’t do so well. All of which is to say that Monkey Girl should be essential reading for anybody who cares about education, religion, the First Amendment and the American way of life. In his able deconstruction, Humes, a Philadelphia native, is at his best describing the blow-by-blow of the trial, in which Judge John E. Jones III emerges as the book’s unlikely hero. A

EXHIBITS
“Tutakhamen and the Golden Age of the Pharaohs”
The Franklin Institute ($17.50-$32.50) Through September 30th
By Bobbi Booker
From his brief reign as the Boy King to the myriad of curses unleashed after the 1923 discovery of his 3,000-year-old crypt, Tutankhamen has always been sensational. So has response to this show, now in its fourth month, when tickets might actually be available. But it turns out the legendary monarch’s treasures are a mixed sarcophagus: While some 120 Egyptian antiquities are on hand — including Tut’s kiddie throne — there’s a general lack of “wow” here. (Some visitors have expressed disappointment at the dark animation sitting in for the glorious tomb that stunned audiences in the ’70s.) You might do better at the $8 partner exhibit, “Amarna: Ancient Egypt’s Place in the Sun,” running at Penn’s museum through October. C

CASINO
Harrah's Chester
777 Harrah's Boulevard, Chester; 800-480-8020
By Victor Fiorillo
While the new Harrah’s Chester is hardly in an idyllic locale — smack on the troubled city’s waterfront, surrounded by smokestacks and next to a ­prison — slots 20 minutes south of Philly still sound a lot better than battling summer crowds headed to Atlantic City. Alas, after 40 minutes inside, we were openly longing for two hours on the A.C. Expressway, as a combo of chain-smokers tethered to the 2,700 slots, an abysmal thrown-­together aesthetic, the lack of urinal dividers in the men’s room, and the inexplicably closed restaurants (Temptations Buffet, offering staple cafeteria fare, was the only one open) had us heading for the exit. Of course, maybe 10 years from now, Chester’s schools and housing market will be among the best in the nation, and it will all have been worth it. Uh, right. F

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