Six Secrets to a Happy Marriage

Up - couple in the movie2

By Judy Berman

It’s the little quiet moments that I enjoy most, and the exhilarating times, too, in our 31 years of marriage.

What advice would I give for a happy marriage? I defer to others to bring you the pearls of wisdom that might work for you.

  1. Never go to bed angry

Even if you have to stay up several days and emerge with Rocky the Raccoon eyes from sleep deprivation. Of course, by then, you might be so tired that you’ve forgotten what your argument was about in the first place. That’s a win-win situation.

  1. Remember those three little words: “Let’s eat out.”

That worked for comedian Henny Youngman and his wife.

When asked the secret of their long marriage, Youngman confessed: “We take time to go to a restaurant two times a week. A little candlelight, dinner, soft music and dancing. She goes Tuesdays. I go Fridays.”

  1. An open-and-shut policy:

Benjamin Franklin recommended: “Keep your eyes wide open before marriage, and half-shut afterwards.”

Or, to quote another profound source:

“Like good wine, marriage gets better with age – once you learn to keep a cork in it.” (Gene Perret)

Up - couple in the movie

  1. Don’t stop believing:

“A successful marriage requires falling in love many times, and always with the same person.” (Mignon McLaughlin)

That bumpy ride on the road of married life often requires some realignment. To navigate it, to survive the ups and downs of life, means those in the vehicle might have to reset their GPS, and their outlooks to reach a common goal.

  1. Keep talking:

“A happy marriage is a long conversation which always seems too short.” (Andre Maurois)

That line of communication links you together. Your partner can’t read your mind.

  1. Keep laughing:

“A healthy relationship should have a lot more comedy than drama.” (Dave Willis)

Laughter bonds people. It might be lines in a movie that gets you to giggle. Or a weird situation you spot when you’re out and about. Inside jokes that keep on giving are the best.

Venice - family vacation - June 2015 (97) - at Caffe India

Each relationship has to find its own rhythm. I have to thank my husband, Dave, for his patience, love and support.


Do you have a quote about being happily married? Please share below. 

Source of many of these quotes are from: “40 Best Funny Marriage Quotes and Advice”

Photo: from the movie “Up.” For the second image, here is the link:

Photo: Dave and  I (Judy Berman) in Venice, Italy, June 2015.

Hash Browns and Hooligans

Diner - 1982 - starring Kevin Bacon

By Judy Berman

A four-on-one catfight in a garishly-lit eatery with tinny Muzak in the background is certainly a far cry from vicious attacks by roving thugs that you see on the nightly news.

Yet the five-woman brawl in the suburban eatery was a disturbing incident. It left me wondering how far it would have gone if restaurant workers, customers and Onondaga County sheriff’s deputies had not been there to stop it.

The reason for the outbreak is even more unsettling. The four women apparently just didn’t like the fifth woman’s looks.

What the restaurant lacks in atmosphere, it sometimes makes up for in free entertainment. This night, it was: “hash browns, but hold the hooligans.”

On a bleary-eyed weekday morning, some people are drawn here for the good, hot coffee. Fewer still for the food.

Most go there because it’s one of the few places that’s still open after the pubs close.

This setting is a familiar one to fans of the movie, “The Diner” (1982). In the movie college-age characters hang out at their beloved diner as they struggle with their passage into adulthood. The struggle here in this diner is real as well.

A typical overnight eatery

A typical overnight eatery

I take in the confrontation and suspect all five might have had a run-in earlier at some bar. Or maybe too much booze led to the overflow of insults that led to the assault.

One of the four women, a brunette, made no effort to conceal her contempt for the blonde who was waiting on a bench with two guys until they could be seated at a table.

The brunette, dressed in black, looked like she was itching for a fight. She verbally slammed the blonde for the way she looked and dressed, and for being with the two men. Any patron near them could overhear the steady stream of insults. The blonde said nothing.

But when the blonde and the two guys got up to go to a table, the blonde accused the women of being jealous.

Suddenly, the restaurant floor became a tangle of bodies. At first, it was only the blonde and the outspoken brunette. Within seconds, the brunette’s friends joined the fray, and all four of them were outside the blonde’s weight class.

When the going got tough, the blonde’s companions got going. They disappeared into the woodwork until the fighting was over.

Bystanders tried to break up the fight and pull the women on the floor apart. The brunette continued to kick the blonde while she was on the floor. Then, someone gave the brunette the bum’s rush outside.

Moments later, the brunette returned and renewed her attack on the blonde and on a man who had tried to pull them apart. Before police arrived, the brunette and her friends continued their scratching and gouging.

One of the girls delivered sly kicks to the blonde on the floor who was getting the worst of the mismatch.

A man who tried to end the fight earned a few bruises for his efforts from the brunette who jumped on his back and began pummeling him. The arrival of the men with badges didn’t initially dampen her ire, either.

The stories woven on how and why the fight broke out depended on the author of the moment. The deputies were doing their best to sort it out outside so the restaurant could get back to business – some of which it had already lost.

Two handfuls of blonde hair by the restaurant’s doorway were the only reminders of the brawl.

Coffee in a cafe - 2004

The blonde’s companions remained in the background during the questioning, just as they had during the fighting. The man who tried to stop the fight and tend to her injuries comforted her until the two guys decided to join the blonde.

Wild things run free and unchecked. But one Friday morning, years ago at 3.a.m., they were only a few feet away.


Have you witnessed an unsettling experience while dining out … or shopping?


Music Video: “Whole Lotta Shakin Going on” Jerry Lee Lewis …. (1964 live performance)

Photo: The Diner (1982) – Kevin Bacon starred in Diner alongside Mickey Rourke, Steve Guttenberg, Tim Daly, Ellen Barkin and Paul Reiser.

Photo: Diner (not the one I ate at) – taken 2008 in Maine by Svetlana Miljkovic

Photo: Coffee in a  Viennese café in Vienna, Austria – taken in 2004 by Andreas Praefcke


Gators Are Just Misunderstood

alligator - ready to cross path in the Everglades - 2005

By Judy Berman

When our daughter, Danielle, went to Florida State University, I worried about gators.

No, not those Gators – FSU’s main rival, the University of Florida. But, alligators.

OK, I worried about many things with her being hundreds of miles away from home. But, gators were high on that list of concerns.

Danielle just joked that the landlord used the gators for speed bumps in their Tallahassee apartment complex’s parking lot.

Truth be told. She and her husband never saw an alligator UNTIL we moved to Florida. Then, those reptiles seemed to be everywhere.

alligator - knocks at door - Island Packet - 2006

I should have known when I spotted a photo of a gator ringing a doorbell at a home in Hilton Head, South Carolina, that they were quite intrusive.

This poor chap’s excuse, apparently, was that he was drawn to their home by the smell of teriyaki chicken that the homeowners were grilling on their back porch.

The homeowners wisely moved inside once they spotted the gator in a nearby lagoon.

So what brings these creatures that roamed the earth millions of years ago to our neck of the woods?

alligator - marshmallow

“Oh,” they drawl with that big toothy grin, “the swimming hole is just fine, there’s plenty of wildlife to share a meal with, and we’d love to be invited in to chat with your guests and cats.”

Uh, no.

An adult alligator is about 13 feet long and weighs up to 800 pounds. The largest ever recorded was found in Louisiana and measured 19 feet, 2 inches, according to Animal Corner.

Dave and I can’t seem to get away from them. We went to the Everglades, and, of course, the gators were there – in abundance.

One came out of the pond and crossed a path that we had naively walked around just a few hours earlier.

Then, a tourist stepped off the platform we were on to get a closer – too close for my comfort – photo of the alligator.

I was camera-ready for the money-shot. The gator just nonchalantly walked on by.

alligator - Myakka Golf Course - Englewood, Florida

Just imagine that alligator acting like a boss on the golf course.

Not sure if golfers at Myakka Pines Golf Club in Englewood decided to run in a straight line or to zigzag to avoid a confrontation with that huge beast. Either way works, or so they say.

I’d be on the first golf cart out of there. And, the song I’d be singing on my way to the 19th hole: “See ya’ later, alligator … ”


What wildlife is intriguing or too close for comfort in your neck of the woods? 


Music Video: Bill Haley sings “See You Later, Alligator” – that’s the tune I’ll be singing when I see one.  


Main Photo: Alligator ready to cross a path in the Everglades where a tourist is standing about 20 feet away and taking photos. Too close for comfort. Photo: Judy Berman, 2005

Photo: Alligator rings doorbell at home in Hilton Head, South Carolina –Taken by Richard Holinski/Special to the Island Packet – 2006

Photo: Alligator with marshmallow in its mouth.

Photo: Alligator on Golf Course – Photographed at Myakka Pines Golf Club in Englewood, Florida –

Alligator facts – Animal Corner –

Link to ‘Living Among Alligators’ – provides an alligator safety guide – tips on how to avoid an attack by an alligator.

Unintended Consequences

unintended consequences

By Judy Berman

Sometimes, the solution is worse than the problem.

Politics aside, there are just too many examples to point to where someone should just have left well enough alone.

Where to begin?

* The desire to hide or keep something out of the public eye is so common that there’s even a name for it: The Streisand Effect.

In 2003, Barbra Streisand sought to have photos of her Malibu, California, home removed from the Internet.

An environmental activist, Kenneth Adelman, posted aerial photos of her home “on his website as part of an environmental survey.” Steisand sued him.

Her actions had the exact opposite effect of what she was aiming for. The lawsuit “brought more than a million visitors” to his website.

The case was dismissed and Adelman’s photo was widely distributed in the press, according to a May 2007 article by Andy Greenberg in

* Who hasn’t had a headache when moving?

If only all moving firms were as careful as these men are.

If only all moving firms were as careful as these men are.

Broken furniture, missing items or belongings delivered weeks after promised.

The latter happened when our eldest daughter moved to Florida to attend college. The van arrived weeks after she did. Until it did, all she had in her apartment were the few meager belongings she packed in her car.

It’s probably a good thing for the company that the website Yelp did not exist then. Yelp, a multinational company, publishes customer reviews about businesses.

One customer, upset with the terrible service provided to her parents, gave the moving company a low rating on Yelp. The moving company was not pleased and threatened to sue the woman if she did not take the review down.

What they got instead was a deluge of negative publicity and tons of unwanted attention from the media. The moving company withdrew its threat.

* What kids don’t complain about their school lunch? I recall a lunch revolt at my high school many years ago, when kids refused to buy their lunches until the school offered better selections.

This story does involve political intervention and fallout.

School lunch photo ban lifted in Scotland

School lunch photo ban lifted in Scotland

In Scotland, in 2012, a 9-year-old girl took her disgruntlement with her school lunches one step further. Martha Payne, from Argyll, posted photos of the lunch and rated them on her blog “NeverSeconds.”

“She gave each meal a ‘food-o-meter’ and health rating, and counted the number of mouthfuls it took her to eat it. She had been using the blog to raise money for the Mary’s Meals charity,” according to a June 15, 2012, article in BBC News

Argyll and Bute Council decided to impose a ban on photos at the school’s canteen because the school catering staff feared for their jobs. The council cited a Daily Record newspaper that “published a photograph of Martha alongside chef Nick Nairn under the headline “Time to fire the dinner ladies.”

After public furor over the ban, Martha Payne was again allowed to take photos of her school lunches. Hopefully, the menu choices improved as well.

* The last entry in the what were they thinking file is the “noble” experiment – the 18th Amendment which took effect in 1920 – that made it illegal to make, sell or consume alcohol.

It was deemed a failure – Richter-scale huge – and repealed in 1933. In Ken Burns’ “Prohibition” – a three-part series on PBS – he showed that, much like drugs, alcohol was brought in by planes, boats and over the border by cars. It also was illegally made and sold in the United States. You can read my story on this here.

Prohibition was intended to reduce crime, but it actually did the opposite. The “unintended consequences” of Prohibition was demand for the product increased, and crime – which became more organized – filled the void.

Sometimes, it’s better to shrug it off and let it go. Just ask Barbra.


Have you a story about unintended consequences that you’d like to share? Please share.


Music Video: The Pet Shop Boys – Twentieth Century – 


Photo: Unintended Consequences – illustration on blog. Curtis Ogden’s blog is a great read.

Photo: Moving company. If only every mover was as careful as these guys are. Source: Rharel1. Taken May 29, 2010.

Photo: School lunch – “NeverSeconds Blogger Martha Payne School Ban Photo Lifted”, June 15, 2012

Link: “The Streisand Effect” by Andy Greenberg

Link: “The Perils of the Streisand Effect” by Justin Parkinson, BBC News Magazine, July 30, 2014

Link: “Moving Company Picks the Wrong Person to Threaten to Sue Over a Bad Yelp Review:

Link: “NeverSeconds Blogger Martha Payne School Ban Photo Lifted”, June 15, 2012

Link to my story: “Scamming the Mob” which ran Oct. 7, 2011 –


Shake It Off

Shake it off - Golden Retriever shaking off water

By Judy Berman

Sometimes, any sliver of humor is fair game.

In a hardscrabble world, here’s a few who had a laugh in spite of being given a difficult time.

* A defense attorney I knew was assigned to a real tough character. His client had been convicted of murder, and his next stop was a federal drug trial.

I asked the attorney if I could talk to him about his client.

“Oh, I have to be careful what I say. He’s already sent me two letters in one envelope. One implied my mother and father weren’t married,” he laughed, dismissing the crude implications.

His client surprised everyone by pleading guilty at the start of the trial.

* Waiting on tables often has its own headaches. One such incident involved my Mom when she worked in a coffee shop at a Las Vegas casino.

A particularly ornery customer complained loudly about the service. She demanded that someone carry her tray to her table when she was capable of doing the same herself.

My Mom, who was in her 70s, could be a real pistol at times. She sweetly announced that she’d take the tray to the customer’s table. Then Mom proceeded to limp, lurching awkwardly toward the table. (I wish I could have been there. I’d have been rolling.)


* Speaking of restaurants, this is often where my family members and I torment each other – all in good fun, of course.

As I leave one restaurant, I dip into the candy bowl to take a few mints.

My son-in-law, Keith, pretending he doesn’t know me, says loudly: “Lady. Save some candies for other people.”

I slink out the door, laughing. But, payback is a bear, even if it does take me years to get even.

Recently, when celebrating our eldest daughter Danielle’s birthday at a restaurant, my jam came on. I started dancing out the door. I’m betting that same son-in-law was praying that no one he knew was there.

At another eatery, my youngest daughter, Jenn, noticed a black cloud in the huge fish tank. I told her: “I’ve got two words: fish flatulence.”

She lost it. Those words still make her laugh today.

* Sure, you’re overworked. But a little laughter lightens the load.

Happy Otter

When I was working as a reporter, my editor sent me an e-mail wondering when he was going to see my story so he could edit it.

“I don’t see you typing.”

Me: “That’s because I’m weak from hunger. It’s been 15 minutes since my last six-course meal.”

Editor: “You can eat on the way home.”

Well, it’s that kind of compassion and warped humor that keeps me from losing my sanity.

It’s times like these that I can appreciate the Dover Police Department’s video cam that shows an officer lip synching Taylor Swift’s “Shake It Off.” (It was staged. But, so what?It’s great fun.)

Taking a skewered look at life is sometimes the best way to get thru to the other side of the rainbow.


Do you have a humorous story to share?


Video: Dover Police Officer lip-synching Taylor Swift’s “Shake It Off” – 

Video: K C and the Sunshine Band’s “Shake Your Booty” 

Main Photo: shake it off –  Golden Retriever shaking off water – Photo taken by Googie man on June 2, 2008

Photo: minion

Photo: Happy otter – California sea otter bathing at Moss Landing, Calif. Photo taken by Sstasi on Sept. 23, 2007.

Bad Bosses and Wise Guys

Wise Guys - movie DVD - save

By Judy Berman

The smell of hazelnut coffee still makes me queasy. It is a reminder of an ice queen who once ruled where I worked years ago.

Clueless, out-of-touch, manipulative, narcissistic, sadistic and just plain bad bosses can be found anywhere.

Take the one where a man collapsed at work. His boss stepped over him as he lay on the floor, and she strolled to her office. One wag said that the boss’s only concern appeared to be whether the employee had turned in a report she was expecting.

Some bosses are human stress factories. One bragged that he loved to keep employees off-balance.

When he learned that one of his minions was applying elsewhere, he sabotaged that employee by passing on a bad job evaluation to the prospective employer.

Dilbert - Pointy-haired boss

These examples almost make Dilbert’s pointy-haired ignorant boss, and the harmlessly deluded and insensitive boss in “The Office” (Michael Scott, as played by Steve Carell), appear sympathetic and wise.

If these examples sound remotely like the situation you’re in at your workplace, take heart.

Things could be so much worse.

Be glad Dan Hedaya (as Anthony Castelo) is not your boss. He’s the low-rent mobster in Newark, New Jersey, that Danny DeVito (as Harry Valentini) and Joe Piscopo (as Moe Dickstein) work for in Brian De Palma’s movie, “Wise Guys.” (1986)

Their tasks are to go start the boss’s car while fellow goons inside take bets on how long it’ll take for a bomb to explode.

Frank “The Fixer” Acavano (played by professional wrestler Captain Lou Albano) drives Harry and Moe to the racetrack. He tells Moe to place a bet on a specific horse.

Harry knows that the boss has been losing money on the horses. He persuades Moe to gamble on another instead, and they can take the winnings for themselves. The boss’s pick comes in first, and they wind up losing $250,000 of the boss’s money.

Needless to say, Castelo is – to put it mildly – disappointed. Still, he rejects a remedy offered by “The Fixer,” the mob’s chief enforcer.

“Let me waste ‘em, Mr. Castelo!” Acavano urges.

“Do we really hurt them by killing them?” Castelo asks.

“It’s a good start,” sagely concludes Frank Vincent (as Louie Fontucci).

Castelo’s solution is to have Harry Valentini and Moe Dickstein “put to the test … by having them kill each other.”

“The Fixer,” Acavano, will whack whoever survives.

When the two guys are tipped off about the plan, they steal Acavano’s prize Cadillac and go on the lam to a casino in Atlantic City. There, they run up charges on Acavano’s stolen credit card.

Wise Guys - movie - Danny DeVito and Joe Piscopo

Harry hopes to visit his Uncle Mike and persuade him to bail them out so they can repay Castelo. Things do not go according to plan, and the mob is hot on their trail.

Moe Dickstein writes a farewell letter to Castelo that stuns them all.

This screwball mobster comedy is a primer, a how-to on turning the tables to get a little justice.

Just have a plan in place before you head out the door. Then, you can mail out that “take this job and shove it’ letter with a smile on your face.

Have you had a bad boss experience you’d like to share? Keep the comments PG please.


Movie Trailer: “Wise Guys” (1986) stars Danny DeVito and Joe Piscopo.  

Main Photo: Wise Guys – Danny DeVito and Joe Piscopo and Cadillac

Photo – Dilbert – Pointy-haired boss in comic

Photo: Wise Guys (1986) – Screen shot – Danny DeVito and Joe Piscopo on the lam, making a call to Uncle Mike


Oh, Bother … Relax


Winnie the pooh and piglet1

By Judy Berman

How could one lovable, somewhat-confused, philosophical bear get into so much hot water?

Usually, Winnie the Pooh’s downfall is linked to honey pots.

But there he was getting dissed in a small Polish town because of a scandalous lack of clothing on his lower extremities.

He did have his little red jacket on. But no pants. Come to think of it, many of my stuffed animals are also “sans” pants.

It’s not the first time Pooh has had a brush with the politically correct police. He and his friends have come under fire before.

Town councilors in Tuszyn opposed naming a playground after Pooh because he was half-naked, and that was “inappropriate” for children.

One town official said the author, A. A. Milne, was a disturbed man for creating a “hermaphroditic, nudist bear,” according to an article in “The Washington Post.” Milne’s “bear of very little brain” was introduced in a collection of stories, Winnie-the-Pooh, in 1926.

Later, the Polish official said he was just joking.

NPG x19574; Alan Alexander ('A.A.') Milne; Christopher Robin Milne and Pooh Bear by Howard Coster

How could you ever be upset with a bear who says: “Sometimes, the smallest things take up the most room in your heart.”

Pooh can hardly be considered controversial. But some consider him and the characters in another beloved children’s book to be subversive

“The same parent group in Kansas that objected to Charlotte’s Web in 2006 also cited the talking animals of Winnie the Pooh as being an insult to God in public arguments during their quest to ban the novel by E.B. White,” according to “Banned Books Awareness.”

As Milne said, “Some people talk to animals. Not many listen though. That’s the problem.”

Winnie the Pooh, Rocky and Bullwinkle, The Snowman1

Even little Piglet has been targeted by groups that want to censor him.

“Several institutions in Turkey and the U.K. (United Kingdom) have also banned the book, claiming that the character of Piglet is offensive to Muslims,” according to BuzzFeed Books.

“The Muslim Council of Britain formally requested an end to the “well-intentioned, but misguided” policy, and for all titles to be returned to the classroom,” according to Banned Books Awareness.

There’s no shortage of conspiracy theories, including claims that Winnie the Pooh is linked to a radical political group.

This makes my puzzler sore just thinking about such things.


What are your thoughts about book banning?

COPYRIGHT NOTICE: Judy Berman and earthrider, 2011-15. 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,, or earthriderdotcom) with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.


Video: Hot List: Children’s Books You Won’t Believe Are Banned

Main Photo: Winnie the Pooh and Piglet, from A.A. Milne’s “The Complete Tales of Winnie-the-Pooh,” with decorations by Ernest H. Shepard (1994). Original copyright 1926 (from a book in our family’s library).

Photo: Rocky and Bullwinkle, Winnie the Pooh, and The Snowman. Some of the beloved PANTLESS characters in my stuffed animals’ collection.

Photo: Winnie the Pooh, author A.A. Milne and his son, Christopher Robin, 1926

Link to source: “14 Classic Children’s Books That Have Been Banned in America.” (from 1900 to 2010)

Video: Dav Pilkey, the creator of Captain Underpants, stars in a banned books week video. When one of my seventh-grade students tell me they want to do a report on this book, I groan and tell them to choose one with more challenging vocabulary. BUT I would NEVER tell them they can’t read it on their own time.