Windber Coffeehouse Nights: July 5, 2018

Last night’s coffeehouse at the Grand Midway Hotel featured another open mic night, with live music by The Birddogs (a local duo), a brief stand-up comedy routine from young Ed the Comic that fell a bit flat, topped off by a pleasant little jam session as Ed brought out his guitar to noodle around with the aforementioned duo. A good number of new folks came in over the course of the evening (mainly out of town/visiting family and friends in the area). There were, of course, a sprinkling of regulars (myself included).

Starbucks blend was my coffee of choice, though the heat and humidity had me starting the evening with a cold soda (Sprite, to be exact). As always, movies on DVD were playing on the two screens–though often drowned out by the live performers.

First up was the familiar/ raunchy/frantic but sometimes aggressively funny 2010 Russell Brand/Jonah Hill comedy….


The night’s other flick was the John Cusack, Samuel L Jackson version of Stephen King’s….


A trapped-in-a-haunted-or-cursed hotel room epic. Cusack is the skeptical journalist who learns how little he truly understands and comes apart at the emotional seams as the tension and weirdness mounts and dangers increase; Jackson is the hotel manager who tries to protect him from whatever lurks in the room. A pretty effective thriller/chiller, but I’ve seen it often enough, so I didn’t pay close attention.

Fortunately, much of the conversation was stimulating. Owner/host Blair Murphy filled me in on the Dungeons & Dragons campaign he hosted this past weekend. The son of the game’s creator and two of Blair’s boyhood pals were among those attending, plus a decidedly eccentric (in a mostly good way) game-master from the Bronx who Took A $700 Cab Ride (from New York to Pennsylvania) to run the show! I’d met him at the Friday evening get-acquainted party, but not being much of a gamer I left the enthusiasts to their fun the rest of the weekend. This fellow stayed at our favorite haunted hotel/AirBNB several additional days then had Blair drive him back to NYC. A unique individual, to say the least.

One of the regulars and I discussed a certain former neighbor of his who (trust me) you do NOT want living near you.

Ed the Young Comic and I had a good talk about Lennie Bruce and other boldly political comics/social commentators. We also compared notes on attending Windber High School and the social pecking order of things therein, roughly 30 years apart (yes, I’m the old guy in that scenario–but Ed was kind, perceptive and thoughtfully gentle).

I talked to several regulars and semi-regulars about the local library’s fundraising efforts and Blair came through bigtime, donating a bag full of weird and wonderful Midway items for the cause (including a DVD of his movie ZOMBIE DREAM, Midway themed T-shirts and a coffee mug, one of the wizard hats used in the recent world record try, and multiple voodoo dolls, among other things).

I found a couple agreeable regulars playing gin in one of the booths, using Nightmare on Elm Street/Freddie Krueger cards. If you never knew that such cards existed, you aren’t alone.

Jazz music, ‘nice/non-threatening’ clowns, plus a once-rich local mall developer fallen on hard times all were discussed by various people. Oh and we all got to munch from a free bowl leftover potato chips and pretzels from that several-days-ago D&D tournament (they weren’t even stale, unlike the cheese puffs which promptly went into the trash).

Just another typically quirky evening of fun and enlightenment at the Grand Midway. Stay tuned for next week’s recap!

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