Getting our boo on

by Lorin Michel Thursday, October 6, 2016 9:05 PM

A number of years ago, we went to a Halloween party. There was no criteria, no theme other than to dress up. We brainstormed for a number of days, perhaps weeks trying to come up with an idea and finally settled on Clarice Starling and Hannibal Lecter from The Silence of the Lambs. We were and remain big fans of the film, and quote it regularly. Kevin can lower his voice still and imitate Dr. Lecter, especially with the line: “Oh, Senator. Love your suit.” It drips with venom and sarcasm and fright. 

That line became the catalyst for Kevin’s costume, or rather the scene for that line became the catalyst. For those who haven’t seen the film, Dr. Lecter is brought in to speak with the senator whose daughter has been kidnapped by Buffalo Bill. Lecter has promised he has information to share. They’re all in an airplane hangar and Lecter is wheeled from the plane, in a jumpsuit and a straightjacket, essentially strapped upright to a dolly. He is wearing a mask on the bottom half of his face, ostensibly so that he won’t bite anyone. Hannibal the cannibal and all. 

The first thing we did was find the mask, which was surprisingly easy. We made a straightjacket out of an oversized white sweatshirt. We bought an orange jumpsuit and he wore a pair of black shoes. We rented a furniture dolly, which came with straps and with a little hair goo to slick his hair back, he was ready to go. 

I found a dark straight-haired wig. We bought a blue windbreaker and with white duct tape, made the letters FBI for the back. We made an FBI badge and an FBI ID, using Jodi Foster as Clarice Starling (rightly so). The hardest thing to find, interestingly, was a toy gun than looked somewhat realistic. Eventually we did, along with a clip holster.

The wig itched terribly. And Kevin being strapped down, with his arms tied across his chest, was uncomfortable. When we arrived at the party, we wanted to make an entrance, with me wheeling him in the front door. But I wasn’t strong enough. Luckily, we ran into Dracula in the front yard who graciously made the assist. We entered and were an instant hit. In fact, we ended up winning most creative costume. 

Eventually Kevin removed the mask so that he could have a cocktail. Naturally I unstrapped him and untied him. I took the wig off. But we had a blast. Unfortunately, we haven’t been to a Halloween party since. If memory serves, we got invitations but for whatever reason, weren’t able to go. 

This year, we have a party to go to. It has a rock icons theme, though you don’t have to stick to it. We’re going to, and can’t wait. Today, we finally figured out who I was going to be and so now we can go about trying to find everything we need to transform ourselves into other people. 

Kevin is going as Willie Nelson. I’m going as Turn Back Time Cher. Kevin has already tracked down a battered old guitar. We found a place for a long gray haired hippie wig which we’ll braid. He found a place to get the stuff to make a guitar strap like Willie’s and he’s started tracking down black cowboy boots. I have a slightly more difficult task, trying to find the slinky, sequined body suit, thigh high hooker boots and slightly oversized motorcycle jacket. I’ve located a place to get a wig and a white sailor’s hat. The jury’s out on whether I’m going to a) show my butt and b) put fake tattoos on said butt. I’m leaning toward no. Maybe if my butt was the butt of 15 years ago. Not sure it would hold up under scrutiny now. 

This party we’re going to is a very big deal. People spend months on their costumes. We have a little less time. But I feel confident we can do it. And I’m starting to get excited. 

If I could just figure out a way to turn back time on my butt….

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It’s 1:19 in the morning and the phone rings

by Lorin Michel Saturday, October 11, 2014 10:09 PM

I was exhausted last night, so exhausted that we ordered a pizza and Caesar salad for dinner. I usually cook; I love to cook. But not last night. We watched the most recent episode of Sons of Anarchy OnDemand and Kevin went to bed immediately following. I had a few more things to do but wasn’t far behind him. He was asleep when I got to the bedroom. I was asleep within minutes.

At 1:19 my cell phone rang. I was long ago conditioned that a ringing phone in the middle of the night is almost always bad news. That, or a wrong number. But in this day of cell-phones only, wrong numbers don’t happen very often and almost never in the night. I was awake immediately. I reached and looked at the display. Justin.

My heart, already racing from being jarred awake unexpectedly, dropped and spun.


“No, it’s Joanne.”

Now my heart was really pounding. Justin’s girlfriend is calling me at what amounts to 4:30 in the morning New York time, on Justin’s phone.

“What happened? Is he OK?”

These are words a mother does not like to say. Because my brain works in very strange ways, I wondered if there was a difference, more meaning perhaps, in asking those questions in the reverse order. Is he OK? What happened? I decided there was. Asking if he was OK first is better because it begs for the answer “yes, he’s fine” before finding out what happened. The brain also isn’t always completely logical when it awakes unexpectedly because of a ringing phone.

Joanne said that he was fine, that he didn’t want us to worry, but he was in the emergency room with food poisoning. He wanted to know about insurance. His mother has only ever done one thing for him and that was to cover his health insurance. She sent a terse note about a month ago that said she was no longer doing that. We need to get him signed up for a plan. To put him on ours was going to be ridiculously expensive, $300 plus a month. That’s because we’re on a platinum PPO. To have his own plan will only be about $100 per month. We’ll pay for it, of course. Because his biological mother had covered it for so long, it simply fell off our radar. But at 1:19 in the morning, the radar began to scream.

Moonstruck remains one of my favorite films. Its depiction of an Italian family in Brooklyn, with all of its peculiarities and eccentricities always rang true for me. There’s a scene at the beginning when Cher’s character, Loretta, announces to her father that she’s getting married. They have champagne with sugar cubes and then go to wake up Loretta’s mother to tell her the news. The mother, Rose, is played with absolute accuracy by Olympia Dukakis. They nudge Rose awake. Her eyes open and immediately she asks or actually states as if it must be true, very matter of fact: “Who’s dead.”

Who's Dead?

Joanne is Italian. I’m sure she would get it. If you’re being awakened, someone must be dead, or at least very hurt. Thank dog that was not the case last night. He was sick, but would be fine. No we didn’t have insurance for him yet but told him to pay the bill and we’d reimburse him.

The moral of the story: a phone call in the wee hours of the morning isn’t always catastrophic. Moral number two: get your kid secured with health insurance. 

Celebrating our boy today as he recovers. He helps us to live it out loud, always.

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live out loud

Paying homage to a childhood idol who has now become a guilty pleasure

by Lorin Michel Tuesday, September 24, 2013 12:38 AM

My mother will cringe when she reads this though she will also nod and smile in recognition of the 1970s, a time when hair and fashion were as bad as much of the music. Not all of the music of course. The 1970s gave us James Taylor and Carole King and Jackson Browne and the Eagles and Linda Ronstadt and Elton John. But the 70s also gave us disco. The 1970s were also when I discovered Sonny and Cher and specifically Cher.

I think it started when I would hang out at my friend Jeanie’s house. We were probably in 5th or 6th grade. She had a Sonny and Cher album and one night when I slept over, we watched The Sonny & Cher Comedy Hour. I hadn’t heard of them before that. It was a riot. From then on I was a fan, not so much of Sonny but of Cher. I thought she was glamorous and funny and I loved to listen to her sing.

Truth time: I still do.

That’s my guilty pleasure. I’ve grown up since those days listening to her heckle her then husband soon to be ex-husband but I still love to listen to her songs, past and present. I mean, come on, Gypsys, Tramps & Thieves was a great song. As was Dark Lady and Half Breed. When I’m listening to music from the 70s and one of her songs comes on, I crank the volume and sing along.

The Way of Love was also a song I enjoyed. She’s not a good singer but she has some sort of presence, and she’s fun.

Cher and I lost touch for a few years. I watched her appear in movies like Silkwood and Mask, The Witches of Eastwick and one of my all time favorite movies to this day, Moonstruck. That was 1987. In 1989, she released an album called Heart of Stone that included the song If I Could Turn Back Time, which I still have on my iPod. I love that song. It’s anthemic in a Cher sort of way.

I suppose that’s the last Cher song I liked. I hated Believe. It was way too 70s for a time that was almost into the 00s. But it was one of her biggest hits. Not bad for someone who started her career in 1963.

This morning, the woman formerly known as Cherilyn Sarkisian LaPiere Bono Allman, was on NBC’s Today. I don’t watch NBC or any network in the morning but is my home page and they often put up video clips from some of their news shows. This morning there was a clip of Cher so naturally, since I still like Cher, I watched. She’s 67 now. She’s had too much plastic surgery but she’s still got it, whatever “it” is. She had Moonstruck kind of hair again, big and black and curly and she was dressed in what I would call biker chic, all black with accents of silver. She has evidently released a new album called Closer to the Truth. She also announced a new world tour, this after her Living Proof: The Farewell Tour of 2002. I didn’t see it; I won’t see this one. I like Cher but not that much. I won’t buy the new album either because the song I heard this morning did nothing for me. It was still a little disco-ish and as much as I like 70s music, I draw the line at anything with a dance beat. I did however buy The Very Best of Cher in 2003 and yes it does contain Believe.

She was typical Cher this morning. Droll, funny, irreverent. She sang her new song, though I suspect she was lip syncing. And that’s OK. Even nearing 70, she still struts around on the stage, still pulls off a few dance moves.

Cher has staying power. She is or has been a singer-actress-songwriter-music and film producer-film director-comedian-television host-model-fashion designer-dancer-entrepreneur. She’s a diva and makes no excuses for it.

I’ll never be a diva but I love that she continues to make herself relevant in an ever-changing environment. That’s not just a guilty pleasure; that’s a roll model. 

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live out loud

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