This installment of the Grand Midway Hotel’s weekly coffeehouse featured mostly familiar faces, plus one actual newcomer, a couple quirky films on DVDs (both comedies, though otherwise quite unlike one another), one regular’s persistent smartphone frustrations, another visit by two psychic researchers, and yours truly conveying good writing news (polite way of saying bragging) even as I savored my slightly late supper: Yummy takeout cashew chicken from the nearby Windber Wok. A very decent little Chinese restuarant in Windber, PA.—How’s that for unexpected?
The night’s first movie (and a fairly obscure one, at least to me) was:
This entertaining effort is a mostly-comic vampire romp filmed in mockumentary style. Think: This is Spinal Tap, only focused on a mixed bag of vampires, from the very old to the newly undead, who share a flat in modern-day England. A documentary crew get involved in following them around, recording their personal stories, memories, conflicts and everyday antics. There’s a good deal of inoffensive gore (pity their poor, put-upon human hanger-on—-she’s forever having to clean up the aftermath of various parties that end in feeding frenzies, in hopes of someday earning the right to join them in undead immortality). There’s lots of deadpan humor, some wistfulness (one vampire pines for the mortal love of his life, an absurd mix-up kept him from hooking up with her decades ago and she now who lives in a nearby nursing home, while he of course is young as ever). A memorable party for the area’s entire supernatural community gets them in serious trouble (they brought MORTALS to the annual shindig, toting MOVIE CAMERAS to record it all?!). A novice vamp accidentally brings an actual vampire hunter home with disastrous results. Petty quarrels erupt in comical violence, accompanied by delighted boyish cries of “Bat Fight!” And confrontations with a gang of local werewolves occur (though they turn out to be not-such-bad blokes, in the end).
Watching this mismatched band cope with the modern world, including personal issues and problems not that much different from what us ‘normal’ people face proves quite entertaining. Oh, and the 400-year-old vampire (who looks about 30) and his 90-something lady love? He finally get up his courage and puts the bite on her. They’ll surely live happily ever-after (even if his friends say he is a bit of a cradle-robber–hee hee).
An enjoyable oddity, all-around.
I also enjoyed reporting my news: A small-circulation Science Fiction magazine (Outposts of Beyond) had bought two of my stories earlier in the afternoon. They’ll be published in next year’s April and July issues. Meanwhile, the editor (who has used my work in the past) expressed interest in interviewing me in the near future. Woot!
I regaled our new visitor (Hi, Liz!) with my best lines from Blair Murphy’s Zombie Dream movie. (We’re cultural zombies, you see–we want to eat your freedoms, as well as your flesh!) For any readers yet to experience this weirdly wondrous flick (including my dubious acting ‘talents’) here’s a shot of me in full-on zombie mode, chewing on some very (un)tasty fake intestines:
Other regulars told our new friend all about the building’s history (and the town’s as well). A walking tour of the immediate environs ensued and Blair later explained some of the lore regarding his prized deck of tarot cards (once he found where he’d misplaced them, yet again).
As mentioned above, Blair met with the researchers who’ll be including the Midway in a guided tour of haunted area locations coming in the fall.
A frequent attendee spent too much of the evening trying to get one working smart phone by mixing/matching a pair of balky/defective ones. Between these bouts with the “wonders” of technology, she and another young regular compared experiences and memories of military service, growing up in the area and fishing.
Everyone wished Mark the Plumber well, as he was going to Pittsburgh for a heart problem the following day.
Oh, and the night’s second movie on DVD was a classic from 1974:
Smirky former football star turned rebellious convict (Burt Reynolds) takes on football-obsessed slime-ball warden (Eddie Albert) in an inmates vs guards gridiron battle for the ages. Actually, this and the earlier video do have some things in common. Both have moments of drama and poignancy. The humor is ironic, deadpan and effective. Neither film has you “rolling in the aisles” with mirth, but both are very entertaining.
Hey, did I forget this is a coffeehouse I’m supposed to be reporting on?
Perish the thought! After a bottle of ginger ale (to accompany my takeout repast), I had a couple cups of Starbucks Original Blend, with hazelnut creamer and sugar.
All told, it was a relaxing and pleasant evening. As usual.