Wednesday, March 12, 2014

The last words ...

Every so often a writer with a great sense of humor grabs the attention of the media.  Sadly, Walter's 15 minutes of fame came at the very end, with a self-penned obituary.  From yesterday's Delaware Cape Gazette:

Walter George Bruhl Jr., DuPont Co. retiree

Walter George Bruhl Jr. of Newark and Dewey Beach is a dead person; he is no more; he is bereft of life; he is deceased; he has rung down the curtain and gone to join the choir invisible; he has expired and gone to meet his maker.

He drifted off this mortal coil Sunday, March 9, 2014, in Punta Gorda, Fla. His spirit was released from his worn-out shell of a body and is now exploring the universe.

Walter George Bruhl, Jr.
He was surrounded by his loving wife of 57 years, Helene Sellers Bruhl, who will now be able to purchase the mink coat which he had always refused her because he believed only minks should wear mink. He is also survived by his son Walter III and wife Melissa; daughters Carly and Paige, and son Martin and wife Debra; son Sam and daughter Kalla. Walt loved and enjoyed his grandkids.

Walt was preceded in death by his tonsils and adenoids in 1935; a spinal disc in 1974; a large piece of his thyroid gland in 1988; and his prostate on March 27, 2000.

He was born in Philadelphia, Pa., April 20,1933 at 10:38 p.m., and weighed in at a healthy seven pounds, four ounces, and was 22 inches long, to Blanche Buckman Bruhl and Walter George Bruhl.

He drifted through the Philadelphia Public School System from 1937 through 1951, graduating, to his mother’s great relief, from John Bartram High School in June 1951.

Walter was a Marine Corps veteran of the Korean War, having served from October 1951 to September 1954, with overseas duty in Japan from June 1953 till August 1954. He attained the rank of sergeant. He chose this path because of Hollywood propaganda, to which he succumbed as a child during World War II, and his cousin Ella, who joined the corps in 1943.

He served an electronics apprenticeship at the Philadelphia Naval Yard from 1956-61; operated Atlantic Automotive Service Stations in Wilmington during 1961-62; and was employed by the late great DuPont Co. from 1962-93. (Very few people who knew him would say he worked for DuPont, and he always claimed he had only been been hired to fill a position.)

He started at the Chestnut Run Site as a flunky in the weave area of the Textile Fibers Department, and then was promoted to research assistant, where he stayed from 1963-72. In 1972 he accepted a position as an equipment service representative with the Photo Products Department at the old DuPont Airport site (now Barley Mill Plaza).

In 1973 he was promoted to manufacturing engineering technologist and was employed in that capacity until, after 31 years with The Co., he was given a fine anniversary dinner and a token gift and then "downsized" in December 1993. He was rehired as a contract employee in June 1994, doing the same job that he had been "downsized" from, and stayed until July 1995.

He started his own contract business and worked at Litho Tech Ltd. from 1996-99.

There will be no viewing since 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. 

Cremation will take place at the family's convenience, and his ashes will be kept in an urn until they get tired of having it around. What’s a Grecian Urn? Oh, about 200 drachmas a week.

Everyone who remembers him is asked to celebrate Walt’s life in their own way; raising a glass of their favorite drink in his memory would be quite appropriate.

Instead of flowers, Walt would hope that you will do an unexpected and unsolicited act of kindness for some poor unfortunate soul in his name.

A memorial luncheon in Walt’s honor will be held Saturday, March 15, at 1 p.m., at Deerfield, Newark.

Walter sounds like a great guy and my act of kindness in his name will involve a favorite drink this evening.

Now to get started on my own story.

Monday, March 10, 2014

When I grow up ...

It was during a recent trip to the grocery store that I began thinking sincerely about the sort of old person I hope to become.  “Old person”—what exactly is that anyway?  Driving into the store’s parking lot, I noticed a lady that I presumed to be in her mid-70s or older parking her car near the store’s entrance.  Though she was a very attractive, white-haired, impeccably dressed woman, what really caught my eye was her ride.

And it wasn’t just me that noticed.  A young couple stopped to chat with her as she got out of the car, gesturing as the three of them admired the car’s “makeup.”  They'd disappeared inside the store by the time I found a parking spot and I made a mental note to look for the car’s owner while I went about my shopping.

I never did find the lady car's owner but you gotta love her attitude.  She’s connecting with people in a way that we rarely connect these days, and she's making a statement, one that will only bring happiness to everyone she meets, making a frozen Wisconsin day seem a little bit warmer.  

I hope we cross paths again.  I want to be like her when I grow up.

Sunday, March 2, 2014

February Best Picture Hustle, Part 2

Getting around to posting to the second part of this blog has been harder than I expected, for a variety of reasons, but we do have more to share from the  Rogers' February Best Picture Challenge. As I write this, it is 85 degrees and my head is not exactly on movies. Add unreliable internet service and ... well, how can I complain? Did I mention it is 85 degrees?

It is, however, not good to publish a "part one" and then not publish "part two", so here goes!

GRAVITY is a movie I would not have seen, were it not for our February challenge. I had doubts that George Clooney and Sandra Bullock could be believable as astronauts, and the promise of never-before-seen special effects is not the kind of thing I'm drawn to.

Missing Gravity - especially the 3D version - would have been a mistake. For most of the film's 90 minutes I felt as I were floating in space with Dr. Ryan Stone (Bullock), a medical engineer on her first space shuttle mission. Of course I've never been in space and don't know what it feels like, but the aforementioned special effects were unlike anything I've experienced before and I was ducking for cover (spoiler alert) as pieces of an exploded space station took aim. The whole story was more than a little far-fetched, but by the time I came to that realization I was in space with Dr. Stone and my "reality" had changed.

The best part about our best picture challenge is that many times we discover terrific movies we never would have seen. Gravity is one of them. Make sure you see it. On the big screen. In 3D.

PHILOMENA, on the other hand, is the sort of movie the MMD* would term a "chick flick", just my kind of movie.

It's the true story of a woman's search for her son, a son who was taken from her in a time when young women having children without being married was considered a scandal. A now older woman who has buried a husband, Philomena (Judy Densch) is haunted by the past and the son taken from her long ago. She meets journalist Martin Sixsmith (Steve Coogan, who also wrote the screenplay) and not-so-gently persuades him to write about and aid with the search. It's funny, heartbreaking, surprising and tender. Much, much more than a chick flick.

In many years a movie like Philomena would win the Oscar for best picture. It's that good. This year, because so many outstanding films are nominated, I don't think it will. 

12 YEARS A SLAVE is based on yet another true story, that of Solomon Northup (Chiwetel Ejiofor), a free black man living in upstate New York who was kidnapped and sold into slavery. At first outraged and determined to prove his free status, Northup is beaten into submission and the next 12 years are a depiction of unspeakable violence, unexpected acts of kindness, survival and the pursuit of understanding in the pre-Civil War era. We see the good in conflicted slave owners, the evil of others, and the tortured paths of slaves who must do the unthinkable to preserve their own lives. 

As many have written, it is very difficult to watch. Ejiofor's performance is astonishing and I join those who believe this film should be part of the American high school curriculum. It may not be a lock for the best picture Oscar but it is most definitely worthy.
THE WOLF OF WALL ST.  What can I say? I didn't want to like this movie and the first 45 minutes were hard to sit through. The portrayal of 1980s excess, greed and corruption - not to mention the record-setting use of the F-word - is tough to take for this Wisconsin girl brought up with better manners. But as the three-hour true story of New York stockbroker Jordan Belfort (Leonardo DiCaprio) unfolds, the audacity of it all was truly something to behold. And DiCaprio, well, he's my pick for best actor based on what I will call the "Lemmon Quaalude" scene. Unbelievable stuff. If only it weren't true.

HER. Sadly, the MMD and I made a strategic error, selecting Philomena over Her a couple of weeks ago. When we finally had a night to see Her it was gone from our theaters and Philomena was still hanging around. Strategy is part of our game and this year we blew it. So it goes. If you saw Her, please post your thoughts in the comments below. I definitely want to see it when we return to the Frozen Tundra.

Tonight there is an Oscar party at a crazy little Mexican bistro down the beach just a few hundred yards. Can't decide if we'll walk that red carpet or choose room service, but I will be hoping Nebraska pulls off the best picture upset. My gut tells me the winner will be 12 Years a Slave. What do you think? Please post your comments below!

Wish you were here ...

* Man of My Dreams