Actor Pete Postlethwaite Takes Final Taxi

I get knocked down – But I get up again – You’re never going to keep me down

Pissing the night away – Pissing the night away

He drinks a whisky drink- He drinks a vodka drink – He drinks a lager drink – He drinks a cider drink

He sings the songs that remind him Of the good times – He sings the songs that remind him Of the better times………..

These are some lyrics to the song, “Tubthumping” by the band Chumbawumba. In August 11 1997. It reached #6 on the US Billboard Hot 10.

The album version of the song opens with a sample of a monologue used in the 1996 film Brassed Off and goes: “Truth is, I thought it mattered. I thought that music mattered. But does it? Bollocks! Not compared to how people matter.”

That clip was performed by Pete Postlethwaite who starred in the film. It is Postlethwaite who has taken his Final Taxi at the age of 64.

One of my favorite roles he was in was in 1995’s hit film “The Usual Suspects”. Postlethwaite played the menacing criminal mastermind Kobayashi. The thought was that he was the major villain in the film, but he was not as it turned out.

He was recently seen in 2010 in the films “Clash of the Titans” and “Inception”. Other films include “The Last of the Mohicans”, “Aliens 3”, “Dragonheart” and “James and the Giant Peach”. He worked with director Steven Spielberg in the dinosaur adventure film “The Lost World: Jurrassic Park”, and Amistad, about a slave mutiny on a ship.

Postlethwaite received an Oscar nomination for his performance, as Guiseppe Conlon in the 1993 film In “The Name Of The Father”. He will be seen in April in the film “Killing Bono”

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Graham Crowden No Longer Waiting For God

Some of my favorite things to watch on TV are the British comedy TV shows. Shows like, “Are You Being Served? “ “Vicar of Dibley,” “Red Dwarf”, “One Foot In The Grave”, have always been among my favorites. I would rather watch an episode of “Keeping Up Appearances” than an hour of “Law and Order.” If there is one thing I love about our local PBS station it is the Saturday night Brit-coms.

I believe one of the main reasons why I love British comedies is the fact that there is no age bracket. Many of the best shows have older actors unlike the US where they have to be young, pretty and sexy. One of the best shows to put older actors to work was a show called “Waiting For God.”

It is the story of two highly strung residents of a retirement home who cause madness and mayhem for the management and their families. The series ran from 1990 to 1994 on the BBC but has achieved cult status in the US in reruns. The show starred Stephanie Cole and Graham Crowden as Diana and Tom.

It is Graham Crowden that has died at the age of 87.

I have followed Crowden’s career as he was one of these quirky character actors that would pop up in many of my favorite films. He played as the Master of Lunacy in “The Ruling Class” (1972) with Peter O’Toole and as the Leader of Fanatics in “Jabberwocky” (1977) directed by Monty Python’s Terry Gilliam. Other films include the James Bond film “For Your Eyes Only” (1981), “Out of Africa” (1985), and 2003’s Calendar Girls.

He stared with actor Malcolm McDowell in three movies: “If” (1968) , “O Lucky Man!“ (1973) and “Britannia Hospital” (1982).He has been in several other TV series including the British period pieces “The Way We Live Now” ( 2001) and “Vanity Fair” (1998). It was also rumored that Crowden was offered the job of the 4th Doctor Who for the TV series but he turned it down.

Most recently I have enjoyed Graham Crowden’s voice in the BBC’s sci-fi comedy “Nebulous”. He played Sir Ronald Rolands, the main character, Professor Nebulous’ boss and leader of K.E.N.T. – the Key Environmental Non-Judgemental Taskforce.

He will be missed.

The Black Carpet of the 2010 Academy Awards

Every year in my household my family gathers together and watches the Academy Awards. This year was no different. We watched the walk down the red carpet on various channels and comment on the clothes or how different an actor looks this year. We await to see who the best actor or actress is and see what film is best picture this year. ( I was surprised by “The Hurt Locker” as we were counting on “Up In The Air.”)

My favorite part is when the Academy salutes those that we lost this past year. We call it those who have walked down the ‘black carpet.” This year it was split in two with a special memorial to director and writer John Hughes. It was a chance to see many of the films he brought to us and the young actors who he made famous.

The second part was the normal obituary reel. This was presented by Demi Moore as James Taylor sang the Beatles song ‘ In My Life.’

The 2010 list was:

Patrick Swayze
Maurice Jarre
Monte Hale (actor)
Jean Simmons
Tullio Pinelli (writer)
Eric Rohmer (director)
Ken Annakin (director)
David Carradine
Gareth Wigan (executive)
Daniel Melnick (producer)
Howard Zief (director)
Dom DeLuise
Army Archerd
Ron Silver
Brittany Murphy
Lou Jacobi
Simon Channing-Williams (producer)
Betsy Blair
Joseph Wiseman
Jack Cardiff (cinematographer)
Kathryn Grayson
Arthur Canton (public relations)
Nat Boxer (sound)
Millard Kaufman (writer)
Roy E. Disney (executive)
Larry Gelbart
Horton Foote
Robert Woodruff Anderson (writer)
Budd Schulberg
Michael Jackson
Natasha Richardson
Jennifer Jones
David Brown (producer)
Karl Malden

Every year I watch there is a few that I cannot believe the Academy left off. This year is no different. First missing is Henry Gibson. Sure he may have been in films like “The Blues Brothers’ or “The Burbs,” but the Academy should remember him for his role in Robert Altman’s “Nashville.”

Also missing was Gene Barry who may have made a name for himself in TV with ‘Bat Masterson’ or ‘Burke’s Law’ but he did appear in films. Most notable in both version of “War Of The Worlds.”

I understand not using Farrah Fawcett or Beatrice Arthur since they are more known for their TV roles but missing Zelda Rubenstein, who gave such a memorable character as the psychic in ‘Poltergeist,’ is such a shame.

One name that should have been on that list is Dan O’Bannon. O’Bannon was a director and actor but he will be more known for his screen writing skills. For without him we would not have had “Blue Thunder,” “Dark Star,” “Total Recall,” or any of the “Alien” movies. “Avatar” is this year’s biggest grossing movie and it would be missing its actress, Sigourney Weaver, if Dan O’Bannon had not written his screenplay that launched her career.

Dead Woman Has To Pay Late Fees

Even the dead apparently have to pay the fines on their overdue books at one Harrison New York library.Final Taxi Logo

Elizabeth Schaper said she was charged a 50-cent late fee while turning in a book that her late mother had checked out of a Harrison Public Library branch.

“I was in shock,” Schaper said. “This has rocked me to my core”

Schaper’s mother, Ethel Schaper, died at the age of 87 on Sept. 16 after suffering a massive stroke. A few days later, Schaper said she found a library book, “The Price of Silence,” by Camilla Trinchieri, that her mother had checked out from the library.
“My mother was an avid reader – she read an average of two books a week,” Schaper said. “She was a frequent patron of the library.”

Schaper said she returned the book last week, and was stunned when the man behind the library counter told her of the 50-cent fee.

“I told him that maybe he didn’t hear me right, that my mother had just died, otherwise I’m sure that she would have returned it on time,” Schaper said. “His only reply was that, ‘That will be 50 cents.”‘

Connie Perrotta, a secretary for the director of the Harrison Public Library, confirmed the incident occurred but said that the library would have no comment.

Schaper said a couple days after the incident another library employee called to apologize and offered to return the fine she had paid.

Frozen Mom Visited Every Week By Daughters

When is it time to let go of your deceased love one and move on?

 I think that it depends on the person but at the emporium of G Saville & Son Funeral Directors  in London a decade is still not enough and that kind of disturbs your writer here at the Final Taxi.

For ten years the funeral parlor, in a busy shopping street in North-West London, has been receiving weekly visits from two middle-aged sisters.

 Valmai and Josephine Lamas visit separately but their purpose is the same. They come to see their mother, Annie, who died a decade ago aged 84.

 The body of the widow has been kept refrigerated on the premises on the instructions of her two daughters and is brought into the funeral parlour’s chapel of rest each weekend for the visits.

 This bizarre, but entirely legal, arrangement has cost the sisters an estimated £13,600 in fees, replacement coffins – there have been five so far – and “make-up”, including lipsticks and foundation, for their mother.

 It is understood that the remains of Mrs Lamas are barely recognizable now.

 When she died in 1997, the body was preserved with formaldehyde but it has deteriorated to such an extent that it is largely skeletal with some skin remaining on the upper half and head.

 But that has not deterred her children. Valmai Lamas, 59, a bank worker who lives in a council flat in Harrow, three miles from the funeral parlor, visits every Saturday lunchtime to sit silently beside the coffin.

 Josephine, a 66-year-old from Chiswick, West London, who works in catering, is said to attend to her mother’s make-up, lovingly applying foundation and touches of lipstick and refreshing padding in her stomach cavity.

 And the rituals would have continued had it not been for a family member speaking out.

 The relative, who has not been named, was quoted as saying: “Enough is enough. Valmai and Josie have been diligently visiting their mother’s corpse for more than ten years but it is getting ridiculous now.

 “The body has degraded to the extent that it is just a skeleton with a bit of stretched scaly skin on the head.

 
“It’s horrific – like a character from a horror film that has had all its blood drained by a vampire.

 “What makes it even more creepy is that the sisters still make up their mum’s gaunt leathery face with lipstick and foundation.

 “They don’t seem to think what they’re doing is in any way bizarre. But it’s disturbing.”

 It is a view echoed by Anglican vicar the Reverend Francis Adu-Boachie, whose church and graveyard stand directly opposite the funeral parlor.

 Mr Adu-Boachie, who has been vicar of St John the Evangelist, Wembley, for six years, said: “I did not know this was happening but I worry what this is doing to the two daughters.

 “They are in denial and it cannot be helping them in their grieving process. Perhaps they are numb to it now after ten years but I hope it ends for their sake.

 “I have never heard of anything like this before. It is not like visiting a grave at all, it is a denial that death has happened. Most troubling.”

 It is believed the extraordinary situation arose after Mrs Lamas’s daughters refused to accept that her death in 1997 was caused by a deep vein thrombosis.

 According to family sources, they wanted a second opinion and asked G Saville & Son to keep the body in cold storage until they were ready to arrange her funeral.

 But that day has never come. Instead, the daughters have paid £20 a week in fees, spent £2,000 on replacing four coffins as each rotted away, and £800 on make-up.

 Undertaker Philip Saville is quoted as saying: “We are simply acting on the family’s wishes and keeping Annie ‘alive’ in this way, for visiting seems to be what they want to do.

 “No health and safety violations have been breached and the corpse does not smell.

 “There are no laws saying people can’t keep a corpse for years after registering the death, though it is normal to bury the body after just two weeks.”

 The firm declined to comment further yesterday, claiming “client confidentiality”.

 Neither of the sisters could be contacted to talk about their weekly pilgrimages or the future of their mother’s remains.

 But Valmai Lamas is said to have told reporters: “I have always been a private person and I am not interested in discussing any issues of my life.”

 A spokesman for the National Association of Funeral Directors said the family had done “absolutely nothing wrong” in legal terms. 

He added: “It is a private matter for the family. As far as we are aware, all the legalities have been complied with.

 “The law says that provided there is not a health and safety issue from a body remaining unburied, there is no reason why they cannot do this.

 “If there was any risk to public health, the environmental health department would have been involved. There has been no risk.”

 
I think it is time these ladies get much needed counseling.

Bow-wow- not only cats sense death.

A few blogs back I talked about Oscar, the Rhode Island feline who spookily holds death-bed vigils for residents at Providence’s Steere House Nursing and Rehabilitation Centre.

 It appears it’s not just cats who have the gift of sensing when that Final Taxi is drawing near. We now read about Scamp, a Schnauzer from Ohio, who goes to the bedsides of the dying elderly.

Scamp prowls the corridors of The Pines nursing home in Canton and “tries to raise the alarm when he gets the feeling that one of the seniors is at death’s door”.  Staff member explain that the dog will run around a room or bark at the room when he knows that something is going on.

Director of nursing Adeline Baker said Scamp had forecast “practically every one of the 40 or so deaths that have occurred in the three years”, including that of Andrew Popa. Popa’s friend Yvette Notturno has heard about the dog’s “gift”, and “when she got a call from a nurse that Scamp wouldn’t leave her friend’s bedside, she came right away knowing that her friend didn’t have long”. Popa duly died shortly after.

 
The Schnauzer owner, Deirdre Huth, stresses that Scamp’s presence was welcomed by residents  of the Pines. They know that he is not a grim reaper.  Baker has said, “It’s kind of comforting to know that maybe at the end of our lives, if we don’t have family members, there will be somebody there to be with us.”

Cat Predicts Deaths At Hospice

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My daughter has had over 62 surgeries and everytime she comes home our cat seems to know she needs that extra attention. It is funny how animals have a hidden knowledge of when someone needs that special care.

Now I have found out about Oscar the cat. He seems to have an uncanny knack for predicting when nursing home patients are going to die, by curling up next to them during their final hours. His accuracy, observed in 25 cases, has led the staff to call family members once he has chosen someone. It usually means they have less than four hours to live.
”He doesn’t make too many mistakes. He seems to understand when patients are about to die,” said Dr. David Dosa in an interview. He describes the phenomenon in a poignant essay in Thursday’s issue of the New England Journal of Medicine.
”Many family members take some solace from it. They appreciate the companionship that the cat provides for their dying loved one,” said Dosa, a geriatrician and assistant professor of medicine at Brown University.
The 2-year-old feline was adopted as a kitten and grew up in a third- floor dementia unit at the Steere House Nursing and Rehabilitation Center. The facility treats people with Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s disease and other illnesses.
After about six months, the staff noticed Oscar would make his own rounds, just like the doctors and nurses. He’d sniff and observe patients, then sit beside people who would wind up dying in a few hours.
Dosa said Oscar seems to take his work seriously and is generally aloof. ”This is not a cat that’s friendly to people,” he said.
Oscar is better at predicting death than the people who work there, said Dr. Joan Teno of Brown University, who treats patients at the nursing home and is an expert on care for the terminally ill
She was convinced of Oscar’s talent when he made his 13th correct call. While observing one patient, Teno said she noticed the woman wasn’t eating, was breathing with difficulty and that her legs had a bluish tinge, signs that often mean death is near.
Oscar wouldn’t stay inside the room though, so Teno thought his streak was broken. Instead, it turned out the doctor’s prediction was roughly 10 hours too early. Sure enough, during the patient’s final two hours, nurses told Teno that Oscar joined the woman at her bedside.
Doctors say most of the people who get a visit from the sweet-faced, gray-and-white cat are so ill they probably don’t know he’s there, so patients aren’t aware he’s a harbinger of death. Most families are grateful for the advanced warning, although one wanted Oscar out of the room while a family member died. When Oscar is put outside, he paces and meows his displeasure.

No one’s certain if Oscar’s behavior is scientifically significant or points to a cause. Teno wonders if the cat notices telltale scents or reads something into the behavior of the nurses who raised him.
Nicholas Dodman, who directs an animal behavioral clinic at the Tufts University Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine and has read Dosa’s article, said the only way to know is to carefully document how Oscar divides his time between the living and dying.
If Oscar really is a furry grim reaper, it’s also possible his behavior could be driven by self-centered pleasures like a heated blanket placed on a dying person, Dodman said.
Nursing home staffers aren’t concerned with explaining Oscar, so long as he gives families a better chance at saying goodbye to the dying.
Oscar recently received a wall plaque publicly commending his ”compassionate hospice care.”