The Ultimate Irish Wake

Weekend at Bernies - main charactersBy Judy Berman

Going out on your own terms is exactly what Walter George Bruhl Jr. did. He wrote his own obituary, and it’s hilarious.

“There will be no viewing, as his wife refuses to honor his request to have him standing in the corner of the room with a glass of Jack Daniels in his hand, so he would appear natural to visitors,” according to CapeGazette.com.

This reminded me of Bernie Lomax in the movie, “Weekend at Bernie’s” (1989).

An Irish wake is an occasion for both sadness and merriment. In this movie, death is a dark comedy.

Bernie Lomax (Terry Kiser) had it all: a cushy executive job at a New York-based insurance company, a flashy sports car, hot babes and a beach house with endless parties.

He was the ultimate host. Just one problem. He’s dead.

Despite that, he is still the life of the party.

No one seems to notice that the party-guy is a real stiff.

That wasn’t the ending Bernie had in mind when two of his employees – Richard Parker (Jonathan Silverman) and Larry Wilson (Andrew McCarthy) – discovered someone ripped off the firm for $2 million.

Hoping this would lead to a promotion, they couldn’t wait to tell Bernie. He lured them to his beach house for the weekend with the promise of a fun getaway.

Weekend at Bernie's - screenshot - Bernie Lomax arranging hitInstead, Bernie turns to his Mafia partner, Vito, and asks him to knock off Richard and Larry because they discovered his scam. The mobster, however, decides Bernie’s the one who’s got to go because he’s been getting greedy.

Having an affair with Vito’s girlfriend was the final nail in the coffin.  The mobster orders a hitman, Paulie (Don Calfa), to rub out Bernie.

Before Richard and Larry arrive at the beach house, Paulie kills Bernie. When they find his body, their weekend plans appear to be dead in the water.

Then, the partiers arrive. Richard and Larry prop Bernie up. With his sunglasses on and perpetual goofy grin from the fatal drug overdose, no one notices that he’s shed his mortal coil, and the party goes on.

Richard insists on calling the cops until he sees his office crush, Gwen Saunders (Catherine Mary Stewart), walk in.

The next morning, Richard and Larry discover a taped phone message that Bernie had accidentally recorded. On it, Bernie tells the hit man to kill his two employees and make it look like a murder-suicide.

That’s when they realize that their best bet for staying alive is to make it look like Bernie is still around.

Larry has rigged it so that Bernie appears to be waving as friends pass by. They also tie his shoes to theirs so it appears he’s walking with them. And Bernie keeps popping up in all the wrong places.

The sightings of Bernie convince Vito that Paulie has botched the job. So Paulie’s ordered to return and take care of Bernie permanently.

That’s a tall order for a guy who just won’t stay dead, and it’s driving Paulie crazy.

So, Bernie is having the time of his life death. But, I would rather have the last word like Walter George Bruhl Jr., who died March 9 in Punta Gorda, Florida, and wrote his parting shots in his obit.

For years, I’ve told my husband, Dave, that I want an Irish wake with me standing in the corner with a glass of wine. Also, a ticker-tape parade.

He assures me that he’s working on this as we speak. I’ve asked my friends to nag remind him of my final wishes.

That would be the ultimate send-off.

COPYRIGHT NOTICE: Judy Berman and earthrider, 2011-14. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to (Judy Berman) and (earthrider, earth-rider.com, or earthriderdotcom) with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Movie trailer: Weekend at Bernie’s (1989) – starring Andrew McCarthy, Jonathan Silverman, Terry Kiser  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YCTgcZ6ImsQ 

Photo – Weekend at Bernie’s – http://www.stumpedmagazine.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/09/Weekend-at-Bernies.jpeg

Photo – Weekend at Bernie’s – screenshot – Terry Kiser as Bernie Lomax – arranging hit

Walter George Bruhl Jr.’s obituary. http://capegazette.villagesoup.com/p/walter-george-bruhl-jr-dupont-co-retiree/1139838

Here I Come To Save the Day

Mighty Mouse - cartoonBy Judy Berman

Did you ever notice how eager folks are to offer help when you’re nearly done with the job?

The nine most terrifying words in the English language? President Ronald Reagan identified them as: “I’m from the government, and I’m here to help.”

This is true whether the message is from the government, your job or at home.

All the heavy lifting has been done, and someone swoops in like Mighty Mouse to save the day, and cheerfully offer to take the load off your shoulders. They then take the easiest part of what you have to do and leave you with … you guessed it … the most onerous part of the task.

Take, for example, one of the chores at home that you put off until you can’t any more.

You’ve sorted the clothes, pretreated the laundry, run the water, added the detergent and have nearly finished dumping the clothes in the washer. When, out of nowhere … well-meaning hubby enters the picture.

“Here, I’ll press the (starter) button. You go and rest now.”

Push button - receive bacon

You might feel as if you’ve been punked.

Remember Jeff Foxworthy’s comedy routine about cleaning up and ashtrays?

Foxworthy notes that women “still clean up about 99 percent of the things around the house.”

“A woman could be out repaving the driveway. Men have enough gall to run out in the yard and go: “Hey baby. Man, it’s hot as hell out here! Look, don’t worry about emptyin’ that ashtray in the den, I done got it, all right? Did it for you, sweet pea. I’m gonna take a nap now.” And Foxworthy makes his exit.

Jeff Foxworthy

But the “real” helpfulness comes from the government and corporations.

When we were planning a family vacation, Dave made airline reservations months in advance. The airline decided on random seating for our family. The children would have been seated rows away from their parents.

How to solve this? Well, in the old days of customer service, an airline employee would correct this via one, quick phone call.

We called. An automated voice answered, “The next available representative will be available in 27 minutes. Please hold. Your call is important to us.”

Right! Twenty-seven minutes? Well, we had no alternative. We waited. When we finally got thru …. “bzzzzz.” We were disconnected.

Arghhhhh!

Despite numerous calls, we still had not resolved this before we got to the airport.

Then, this caped crusader rushed up to us and quickly ushered us to the proper seats, and we were on our way.

Thanks for the help, buddy. If only all good intentions worked out this smoothly.

COPYRIGHT NOTICE: Judy Berman and earthrider, 2011-14. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to (Judy Berman) and (earthrider, earth-rider.com, or earthriderdotcom) with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Video: Jeff Foxworthy comedy routine, Redneck Comedy Roundup http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=H7qZIRtbFJ8 

Main Photo – Mighty Mouse – cartoon – Still frame from the animated cartoon “Wolf! Wolf!” (1945). The film has fallen into the public domain, as its copyright has expired. http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/f/f8/Superraton.jpg

Photo: Push button – receive bacon – taken June 24, 2010 by jimmyweee (Note: “But wait, there’s more! New in this model, push the flap to receive bacon directly to your face!”) http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/3/36/Push_button%2C_receive_bacon_%284731546246%29.jpg/640px-Push_button%2C_receive_bacon_%284731546246%29.jpg

Photo: Jeff Foxworthy – wikimedia

Ruthless People

Sam Stone's schemes to get his wife's fortune hits a snag in "Ruthless People"

Sam Stone’s schemes to get his wife’s fortune hit a snag in “Ruthless People”

By Judy Berman

When someone does you wrong, how do you handle it? Do you feel powerless?

There’s no need to. You can turn the tables on the bad guy.

There should be an app for that. One you can download – off the Internet or from your local library.

Take a page out of O. Henry’s short story, “The Ransom of Red Chief,” written in 1910. Two kidnappers’ scheme to rip someone off backfires. But getting found out was not the worst of it.

The kidnappers get more than they bargained for when they grab a rich man’s son and hold him for ransom. It soon becomes clear to the men who the real hostages are. Before long, they’re only too willing to pay off the boy’s father so he’ll take his son back.

A twist of that theme has endless possibilities. Here’s how it played out in the movie, “Ruthless People” (1986). Sam Stone (Danny Devito) plans to kill his wife, Barbara (Bette Midler), so he can inherit her fortune. His plot hits a snag when a kidnapper calls and demands Sam pay a ransom of $500,000 to get his wife back … or she’ll be killed if Sam doesn’t pay up.

The conniving, little fiend is delighted, thinking someone else is going to do his dirty work for him, and he’ll soon have Barbara’s fortune.

The kidnappers, Ken (Judge Reinhold) and Sandy Kessler (Helen Slater), hatched this scheme to get back at the Sam for profiting from a fashion design he stole from Sandy.

Too late, Ken realizes he has double-trouble: Barbara is a terror that he’d be only too eager to return and her husband doesn’t want her back. Ken drops his demand to $50,000 after Sam fails to show for the ransom drop.

Furious about being kidnapped and unaware why she's still held captive.

Furious about being kidnapped and unaware why she’s still held captive.

Unaware of the stalled negotiations, Barbara has been working out in her kidnappers’ cellar. She’s dropped about 20 pounds. Sandy notices, brings out designer clothes that would make any fashionista ecstatic and suggests Barbara try them on. They are Sandy’s creations.

Sandy confides to Barbara that she was kidnapped to get back at Sam and her for stealing her creative ideas and profiting from it. Barbara tells Sandy she didn’t know Sam had stolen Sandy’s designs.

Then, Barbara asks when she’s going to be released. Sandy reluctantly tells her that Sam will not pay the ransom, even though they just dropped their demand to $10,000.

Barbara’s dumbfounded. She’s worth a fortune. She cries, “I’m being marked down? I’ve been kidnapped by Kmart!”

Sam’s girlfriend has get-rich plans of her own. Carol (Anita Morris), a gold-digger, conspires with her dimwitted boyfriend, Earl Mott (Bill Pullman), to blackmail Sam. She wants Earl to videotape Sam when he disposes his wife’s body.

Carol doesn’t bother to view the tape first and mails it to police. Instead, the videotaped evidence will show another “crime” in progress. Carol convinces police to investigate Barbara’s disappearance. When they’re snooping around, Sam realizes he better bring Barbara back alive … or, he could be charged with her murder.

Now, Sam is only too eager to pay the ransom. There’s just one little glitch. Barbara’s cooked up a plan with the kidnappers to fleece Sam out of more than $2 million.

Sam’s outraged, but he agrees to meet Ken. When Carol learns of the drop, she tells Earl to go steal the ransom money.

They're not clowning around as they wrestle with ransom payoff.

They’re not clowning around as they wrestle with ransom payoff.

What follows is Murphy’s Law: anything that can go wrong will. Cops lay in wait for Ken to show up. The slow-speed chase that follows and the final outcome are hysterical. Revenge is sweet.

It’s an ending that O. Henry would approve of. Perhaps, it will provide inspiration to you should you want to even the score.

Movie Trailer – Ruthless People – Barbara attempts to escape her kidnappers 

COPYRIGHT NOTICE: Judy Berman and earthrider, 2011-13. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to (Judy Berman) and (earthrider, earth-rider.com, or earthriderdotcom) with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Video: Ruthless People – “I’ve been kidnapped by Kmart”

Video – Music – Ruthless People sung by Mick Jagger

Main Photo – Ruthless People – Danny Devito and Bette Midler – split image http://www.bing.com/images/search?danny+devito+and+ruthless+people&qpvt=danny+devito+and+ruthless+people&FORM=IGRE#view=detail&id=FB0D724D61A89E65C72C92AE05B397079810994F

Photo – Ruthless People – Bette Midler exercising during her captivity http://www.bing.com/images/search?q=bette+midler+and+ruthless+people&qs=n&form=QBIR&pq=bette+midler+and+ruthless+people&sc=0-0&sp=-1&sk=#view=detail&id=6629F167CA33F3374F3281A019EEC4BA3D788128&selectedIndex=46

Photo – Ruthless People – Danny Devito and Judge Reinhold wrestling over the ransom money http://www.bing.com/images/search?q=danny+devito+and+ruthless+people&qpvt=danny+devito+and+ruthless+people&FORM=IGRE#view=detail&id=306DBF9F8781AF9239A7804A48F5C3F750EC9E52&selectedIndex=259

A Devine Bit o’ Blarney

A woman leans backwards to kiss the Blarney Stone.

A woman leans backwards to kiss the Blarney Stone.

By Judy Berman

On the train from Dublin to Blarney, I begin to wonder just what I’d gotten myself into. The signs posted were in Gaelic. The folks around us were speaking in a beautiful brogue – and we didn’t understand a word.

But we arrived without a hitch and basked in the village folks’ warm welcome.

The old castle, built in 1446, beckons. It’s the third structure built on this site, and it’s a long climb. This trek, taken years ago, meant that I’d have to lean over an empty space in the wall while lying on my back to kiss the Blarney Stone. Well, I had some second and third thoughts about that before finally giving in.

I was convinced that I didn’t need to do this to acquire the gift of eloquence. Being part-Irish, I always assumed that was in my DNA. But my husband and I did just that. (Our youngest daughter, who already has the gift o’ gab, declined.)

Blarney Castle

Blarney Castle

After kissing the stone, you are supposed to be bestowed with the gift of blarney – or “clever, flattering” talk. Smooth-talking charm aside, I doubt that I could have pulled off what townspeople in the tiny Irish village of 52 people in Tullymore (Tulaigh Mhór) accomplished.

One of their own won the National Lottery. But no one knew who. I’d lived in a community like this. The livestock outnumber the residents and everyone knows everyone else’s business. The world almanac of misinformation, the owner at the local grocery store, filled in whatever information was missing.

The townspeople hold a chicken supper, hoping that the winner will at last be revealed. No dice. But they notice that one of the townsfolk is missing: Ned Devine. Quite odd.

Two friends, Ian Bannen (as Jackie O’Shea) and David Kelly (as Michael O’Sullivan) rush to Devine’s cottage to confront him. But Ned is dead, and in his hand is the winning lottery ticket. The shock of winning killed him.

Honest folks would have alerted authorities. When 7 million pounds is involved, however, scheming Irish eyes are smiling about what they could do with the prize money.

In “Waking Ned Devine” (1998), Jackie is convinced by a dream that Ned wants the town to share his wealth. So Jackie and Michael plot with the townspeople to deceive the claim inspector from Dublin. They are all to pretend that Ned is alive and well. Then they can all be rich.

In the scam to defraud the lottery officials, Michael poses as Ned. This becomes a bit awkward when the claim inspector stumbles into the church where Ned’s funeral is being held. The villagers pretend the service is for Michael.

As Jackie rides with the claim inspector to Ned’s cottage, Michael drives at breakneck speed, naked, on a motorcycle to beat them there.

Everyone’s on board with this conspiracy – except one who has designs of her own on the money. Aye, and that’s the rub … in this fine tale filled with blarney, deception, twists and laughter.

“Erin go Bragh” … Long live Ireland. 

 

Video – movie trailer: “Waking Ned Devine” http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=osmPlQXzXXA

COPYRIGHT NOTICE: Judy Berman and earthrider, 2011-13. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to (Judy Berman) and (earthrider, earth-rider.com, or
earthriderdotcom) with appropriate and specific direction to the original
content.

Photo: BlarneyCastle - BlarneyCastle and adjacent east tower View is to west from walkway. To kiss the Blarney Stone, you must climb the steps to the top of castle, go to the arch shown in the photo, lay on your back, and arch your head backwards to kiss the Blarney Stone at the base of the arch shown in the photo. Photo taken April 2001 by Joseph Mischyshyn. http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/2/2e/Blarney_Castle_and_adjacent_east_tower_-_geograph.org.uk_-_1625431.jpg/400px-Blarney_Castle_and_adjacent_east_tower_-_geograph.org.uk_-_1625431.jpg

Photo: Blarney Stone – woman kissing the Blarney Stone (Blarney   Castle, Ireland) – August 2002 http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/7/7f/Blarney_stone.png/454px-Blarney_stone.png

Blarney Castle – the home of the Blarney Stone http://www.blarneycastle.ie/

Life’s Endless Possibilities

By Judy Berman

The days shortly after high school graduation – parties, drag races, broken hearts and promises, and new love. Adventure awaits.

Hot rods cruising the streets of a suburban California town. Rock ‘n’ roll music blaring from the windows. Waitresses roller-skating to your car to get your orders.

Those are the images that the movie “American Graffiti” (1973) captured. The posters asked: “Where were you in ’62?” That question is as valid today as it was then. What do we hope for in the future? What are our next steps in life?

This was a time of innocence – one year before President John F. Kennedy was assassinated. The movie’s also a reminder that we don’t have to stop dreaming just because we’re now grown-ups.

The coming-of-age film focuses on four high school grads who meet at Mel’s Drive-in – Burger City – to share their last night together. In the morning, Richard Dreyfuss (as Curt Henderson) and Ron Howard (as Steve Bolander) will leave for college on the east coast.

Curt’s not sure he wants to go.

“You just can’t stay 17 forever,” Steve chastises Curt.

Steve tells his girlfriend, Cindy Williams (as Laurie Henderson, Curt’s sister), that maybe they should see others while he’s in college. She decides to take him up on that before the evening is over – almost permanently as a result of a drag race on Paradise Road.

The guys go their separate ways. While Curt’s riding around, he sees the woman of his dreams, Suzanne Somers, in a white Thunderbird. She mouths, “I love you,” before she disappears from view.

His search for her is interrupted when he runs into some hoodlums, members of The Pharohs (pronounced FAY-rows). They spot a police car in a parking lot that’s on the lookout for speeders. The Pharoh’s leader, Bo Hopkins (as Joe), convinces Curt to hook a tow cable to the rear axle of the police car.

Curt hesitates, afraid he’ll get caught.

“Look at it this way. Now, you got three choices. One, you chicken out, and, in that case, I let Ants (another Pharoh member) tie you to the car and drag you around a little bit, and you don’t want that. Right?” Joe asks Curt.

Right. Nor is Curt prepared to deal with the alternatives. Option 2? If the cops hear Curt, well …

Option 3? If he’s successful, Joe says Curt can “join the Pharohs with a car coat and a blood initiation and all that.” Uh, Curt’s not too keen on that idea, either.

After Curt hooks up the police car, the hoods race their car past the cops. Curt yells out, “Stand by for justice.” The cops start to peel out. The cable stops them, tearing the rear axle off their car.

Once Curt gets out of the gang’s clutches, he goes to a local radio station to appeal to Wolfman Jack to help him find his mystery woman. The man in the control booth claims he’s not Wolfman. Curt also confides that he’s not sure if he’ll go off to college. Wolfman advises Curt to go out and experience life.

“The Wolfman comes in here occasionally bringing tapes, you know, and to check up on me and what not, and the places he talks about that he’s been and the things he’s seen. There’s a great big beautiful world out there, and here I sit, sucking popsicles,” he tells Curt.

In the morning, all four guys meet at the airport. As The Beach Boys’ “All Summer Long” plays, only one of them is aboard the plane. From the plane, a familiar car is spotted as it threads its way through the street.

This captivating film has many funny, romantic, touching and scary moments and well worth the view.

And Wolfman’s advice? It’s one we all could heed, no matter where we are in life. Venture out there. Explore life’s endless possibilities.

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COPYRIGHT NOTICE: Judy Berman and earthrider, 2011-14. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to (Judy Berman) and (earthrider, earth-rider.com, or earthriderdotcom) with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

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Poster: American Graffiti (hanging in our office)

Movie clip of American Graffiti (1973) – Go to “Videos – Trailer” on IMDb data base: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0069704/

Photo: Wolfman Jack in 1979 http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Wolfman_Jack_in_1979.jpg

Photo: Ron Howard (as Steve) and Cindy Williams (as Laurie) – dancing http://www.listal.com/viewimage/791092

Music video: The Beach Boys’ “All Summer Long” (with stills from the movie) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0iOhxiO-ngc

Photo: Richard Dreyfuss (as Curt) and Bo Hopkins as (Joe) http://www.listal.com/viewimage/791095