by Lorin Michel Friday, October 9, 2015 9:02 PM

One of my favorite guilty pleasure movies is the absolutely horrendous Road House starring Patrick Swayze at his sexiest, bad-ass best. The movie is truly awful. The storyline is ridiculous; the plot even worse. A bouncer with a national reputation who travels the country cleaning up really horrible bars. Oh, and he has a philosophy degree, and a mullet. And an awesome body. 

Patrick Swayze was never a very good actor but he was always compelling. And sexy. He had a great walk, and great hair, even that truly embarrassing mullet. Road House also had Sam Elliott at his grizzly best, and Kelly Lynch who was bad in everything she ever did. If you haven’t seen it, don’t bother. But if you have, relish in its B-movie fantasticalness.

The title refers to a bar that sits on or a near a major road on the way out of city. You can find them all over the world. In Canada, they were once called a stopping house. In the US, they were and are establishments that serve lots of beer, lots of hard alcohol, and crappy food, and there is often dancing. The earliest ones were frequented by cowboys. They usually had and have a bad reputation. In Alaska, road houses were checkpoints for dog sleds. In Australia, road houses sell fuel and service vehicles. An attached restaurant is there for the eatin.’ Britain used to call them coaching inns and most are now Bed & Breakfasts. Spain has post houses. Since the bad movie, road houses have become synonymous with the Swayze movie. They’re bad-ass bars where most people wouldn’t be caught dead.

Which leads me to the Roadhouse Cinemas which we’re going to patronize for the first time today. It’s not on the way out of town and it’s not really on the road. I think it’s somewhere tucked behind a nice outdoor mall, probably part of the parking lot rather than a road.

It is sort of a bar. It’s actually a full service bar and restaurant. You can take food into the theater to munch while watching the movie. You can have food and beverages delivered while you’re watching simply by pressing a call button. It’s certainly not haute cuisine, more like hot cuisine, and I’m fairly sure there won’t be dancing. Nor a bouncer. But I bet it will be fun.

We haven’t been to the movies in years. Ever since we got our 55” smart TV there hasn’t been a reason to. We simply wait a couple of months and stream it through Netflix. We have surround sound. We can watch whatever we want in the comfort of our own home complete with a pause button. Most of the films that come out, we don’t care that much about. And when we do, we can usually wait. Plus it’s expensive to go to the movies. If the films aren’t that good and we’ve just spend $30 on tickets and $25 on popcorn and a drink, we get irritated. Irritated isn’t supposed to be part of the movie-going experience. Which is why we like our couch, where we can put our feet up, keeping the remote handy along with a bottle of wine.

But from the moment we saw the trailer of The Martian, on the internet because we don’t go to the movies, we knew we had to see it in a theater. When the reviews came out, it just solidified our desire.

So we’re off to the Roadhouse. There will be no bouncing. There will be no fighting or dancing. There will be beer and bar food. I suspect somewhere Patrick Swayze is smiling. I know we will be relaxing in their comfortable reclining theater chairs, celebrating the experience of living it out loud.

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live out loud

Giving up the Ghost

by Lorin Michel Monday, May 5, 2014 10:30 PM

I start my pottery class tonight. I haven’t taken pottery since I was in high school. I remember it fondly, the art department in the back corner of Milford Area Senior High, MASH for short. There was a drawing studio, a photography area complete with dark room, and a pottery studio with a kick wheel. I spent many afternoons kicking that wheel, especially during the latter half of my senior year when I had painfully little to do since I’d already more than fulfilled my class requirements and all I wanted to do was get out of school.

There was no air conditioning in our high school and as the summer drew ever near, similar to what’s happening today, I’d be up to my elbows in wet clay and sweating profusely from the effort required to keep the wheel going fast enough to “throw a pot.”

Throwing a pot, for the un-pottery initiated, entails getting a good mound of wet clay in a nice fairly round ball, wetting the wheel and kicking to get the speed up, aiming and throwing the clay ball at the center of the wheel, hitting the center as close as possible, squeezing more water while forming a mound that is completely centered and then, eventually, pulled a pot up and out of the ball, all the while kicking, kicking, kicking, smoothing, pouring water to keep the clay wet and phew. I’m tired just thinking about it.

I’ve long missed the primal nature of working with clay. It’s messy. While there’s thought involved in creating and in focusing on the job in hand, literally, there’s something easy about it. It’s natural. Ancient civilizations have been using clay to make pots for thousands of year. With a kick wheel, rather than an electric wheel, it’s technologically simple. Simple these days is good. My life is filled with emails and text messages and phone calls and work and house and husband and kid and dog and family and friends. I’m not complaining but there are times when it all gets nearly overwhelming. The idea of sitting at a wheel and getting muddy sounds extremely appealing.

For the next eight weeks, the class meets on Mondays from 6 to 8. I have no idea what to expect. Perhaps it’s all instruction. I know the studio where I’m going also offers extensive studio hours where you can just go and play in clay.

I was talking to my brother about it over the weekend. He’s been a big supporter of me doing this ever since I told him I was thinking about it several weeks ago. We talked about the pottery studio at MASH. Scott was also very into art and took pottery classes. He was telling me about a place he visits sometimes in Vermont, a studio/gallery owned by a woman named Monica. For the life of me, I can’t remember her last name. We talked about the whole process of throwing a pot. He told me to make sure the wheel was a kick wheel because those you can control. Of course, I can’t control what kind of wheels there are at the studio.

Then he started to laugh and asked me if Kevin was looking forward to re-enacting the scene from Ghost. Without missing a beat I said that I doubted it would happen because the famous scene he was referring to, with Demi Moore and Patrick Swayze writhing in wet clay to the sound of Unchained Melody, took place in the middle of the night in the privacy of their own beautiful New York loft. I will be in a public studio in the middle of town with my fellow potters. Also, he’s no more Patrick Swayze than I’m Demi Moore. Though we do like Unchained Melody.

When I told Kevin I thought he was going to explode he laughed so hard. I’m not sure whether to be insulted that he agreed with me or relieved that it’s not what he’s expecting. Not that I mind writhing around in wet clay to the Righteous Brothers. I just always wondered about the cleanup.

The movies are always really good at presenting these incredible situations but they never show you the aftermath. How Demi and Patrick (whose character names I think were Molly and Sam) mopped up the floor and cleaned up the walls so that the house looked normal isn’t addressed; nor is the part about getting clay in all the wrong places.

Tonight I’m giving up that Ghost but I’m not giving up the ghost. To do so would mean I won’t succeed or worse. And I think this is going to be something worth celebrating. 

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live out loud

Going over to Dover

by Lorin Michel Tuesday, July 31, 2012 12:36 AM

For some reason, I have become very enamored of much of the music from my youth, specifically the soft rock of the 70s and early 80s. I could listen for hours to James Taylor, Carole King, Joni Mitchell, Steely Dan, Fleetwood Mac and more. I don’t know if it’s the nostalgia aspect, since music can carry you back in time quite easily. Just like the smell of muddy fresh-cut grass immediately transports me to my grandmother’s house in Eldred, Pennsylvania when I was eight and used to play in the huge park just down and around the corner from her house, across from the school (yes, just the one; it was a small town), hearing Fleetwood Mac’s Landslide with Stevie Nicks on lead vocals takes me back to early high school.

Perhaps it’s the relative innocence of the time, maybe the fact that the hardest decision I had to make was what to wear to school the next day. At the time, of course, caught up in my teen angst, my life seemed hard, horrible. In retrospect, it was pretty damned good. It still is.

Lately, I’ve been on a quest to find a good online radio station that plays great 70s and 80s music. No disco; no Captain & Tennille Muskrat Love (don’t even like the America version). Just good acoustic guitar, piano and other not-too-metal instruments. I listen to a number of online music sites. My two favorites, currently, are Live365 and TunedIn. iTunes also has a plethora of online radio stations. Soft Tracks, from somewhere in Pennsylvania, on TunedIn is great as is something called Kman (Live365) out of Ontario, Canada. [In the car, there’s The Bridge on satellite, but I don’t pay for satellite in the house because of all the other stuff that’s available.]

Today, I was listening to Kman, and my K-man came in the house and asked who was singing a particular song. I had the volume up pretty high, pumping through my very bitchin’ desktop speakers (a gift from my husband several years ago). It was fairly quiet today, otherwise; not a lot of phone calls, so playing music a little louder was allowed. The song was She’s like the Wind, written and sung by the late Patrick Swayze.

Now before we go any further, I have to say that I was long a Swayze fan. He wasn’t a great actor, but I could watch him walk for days. There was just something sexy about the man; I was sorry to see him go. And he wasn’t a bad dancer. Not good enough to be professional, but good enough to hold his own in Dirty Dancing, which is where the song was featured. I was also a fan of the movie back when it came out. It was a guilty pleasure. It was stupid and old-fashioned but it was fun. And it had Swayze (I’m also a huge fan of the terrible horrible no good very bad wonderful cult film Road House). Kevin refers to Dirty Dancing as “Nobody f*cks with Baby,” his take on “Nobody puts Baby in a corner,” one of the big lines from the movie. So when I said it was Patrick Swayze, he asked right away if it was from a movie. I said yes and named the movie.

He was silent for a minute and then asked: “Patrick Swayze was in that?” I assured him that yes, Patrick Swayze was indeed in Dirty Dancing; that it was one of his biggest hits. My K-man was perplexed. Finally he asked: “That movie with Jennifer Beals?” The K-man is a big fan of Jennifer Beals since The L-Word on Showtime. Oh, and the short-lived Chicago Code.

We quickly got the two movies straightened out. It got me to remembering when I saw both. Dirty Dancing was by myself. I went to a matinee one afternoon. But Flashdance was when I was in college (as was Jennifer Beals, who was at Yale at the time) at the University of New Hampshire, in Durham. One summer night, when my younger sister was staying with me for the weekend, my roommates and I took her to The Strand theatre in Dover. Khris was probably 13 at the time; perhaps a little young, especially for the lobster scene, and a couple of others.

But The Strand was pretty lax in terms of enforcing the no one under 17 policy, so in we went. Grabbed some popcorn and proceeded to watch all kinds of bad gyrations. Michael Nouri was cute though; the movie took place in Pittsburgh. We had been to Pittsburgh many times because our mother is from Pittsburgh.

The Strand was one of those old burlesque type theatres with red velvet seats, cracked floors and a high stage. It opened in 1925, had been converted into a movie theatre in the 1950s and it still seemed stuck in both eras. It smelled bad, but it was huge, cavernous, sat 900 people and it was a great place to see a flick. It closed in September of 2009 and went up for auction in November of that same year.

I remember it well. I remember going over to Dover where there were great diners and this wondrous old movie theatre. It was only about 10 minutes or so from Durham, easy to get to. I was more interested in having fun that particular night than I was in making sure my sister was enjoying herself. I was selfish in those days. But I remember taking her, I remember the spectacle of the film, which went on to become a huge hit and make a star of its star.

I’m celebrating that memory tonight. Of going over to Dover, or as the New Hampshirites say “ovah to Dovah.” We lived it out loud that night. 

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live out loud

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