I did the NYC Reading Series The Book Report last month– The Book Report is a reading series that promises to deliver exactly what it promises: reports on books by the people who’ve read them.
Since I have been reading nothing but Shakespeare this year, I did my book report on Othello. Turns out Sasha Fletcher had done a Book Report on Othello a while back. So, naturally Sasha and I challenged each other to a duel.
& !!!!!! – Sasha & Leigh said that Sampson Starkweather gave a legendary Book Report on Hamlet & Weekend at Bernie’s & that I just had to get my hands on it. Check it out below it’s a literary critical wonder.
— J. Hope Stein
Othello Vs Othello
My Book Report: “The Curious Case of Who Fucked Desdemona” By J. Hope Stein is up here at Brooklyn Vol. 1 and Sasha Fletcher’s which I have taken the liberty to nickname “Motherfucker Has My Hanky” is right here & pretty badass competition.
By Sasha Fletcher
So OTHELLO is a play about OTHELLO, who is a moor, and was written by William Shakespeare. It is about OTHELLO, who is a General in like Venice. Anyway So OTHELLO marries this girl DESDEMONA, who is like a senator’s daughter, which is probably pretty prestigious in a time when women are defined by their fathers and husbands? And so, because it is one of those plays that is all about starting IN MEDIA RES, we see this guy RODRIGO talking to this guy IAGO, and RODRIGO is all BRO WHY DIDN’T YOU TELL ME ABOUT THIS SECRET MARRIAGE BETWEEN OTHELLO AND DESDEMONA I WAS TOTALLY HARD FOR HER COME ON BRO. And IAGO is all BRO I HATE THAT OTHELLO GUY SO MUCH and here are the reasons: 1) So OTHELLO promoted this guy named CASSIO instead of IAGO so obviously fuck that guy right? and 2) APPARENTLY IAGO believes that OTHELLO slept with IAGO’s wife EMILIA, or I mean, he says he does, that that happened, and that is indeed a shitty thing to do to a bro, but so these I guess are the reasons IAGO hates OTHELLO, and so he is all LISTEN RODRIGO, BETWEEN YOUR PATHETIC FAILED INTENTIONS TO MARRY DESDEMONA AND MY TOTALLY VALID BEEF WITH OTHELLO WE HAVE GOT US A SERIOUS REVENGE SCHEME SO LET’S GO WAKE UP DESDEMONA’S DAD AND BE ALL HEY DID YOU KNOW YOUR DAUGHTER IS SECRETLY MARRYING A MOOR IN SECRET I BET YOU DID NOT. And so then RODRIGO goes to do that, and IAGO, he is all HEY OTHELLO DESDEMONA’S DAD KNOWS, LOOK OUT, THAT BRO IS TOTALLY NOT COOL WITH THIS MARRIAGE THING.
But, SURPRISE, the fucking Turks are totally planning a sneak attack, and everyone is all OTHELLO YOU ARE THE BEST AT GENERALING, YO BRO WE HAVE GOT TO NOT DIE FROM TURKS, WHAT DID THEY EVER DO. And he is all BROS, VENETIANS, I HAVE GOT THIS. But then DESDEMONA’S dad shows up and is all THAT MOORISH DEVIL BEWITCHED MY DAUGHTER’S HEART USING WITCHCRAFT. And OTHELLO is all LOL, NO WAY. I JUST TOLD HER ABOUT ALL MY VALIANT EXPLOITS AND MY UNIMPEACHABLY VIRILE MASCULINITY TOTALLY WON HER HEART AND LADY PARTS and the assembled Venetian senate was like CAN’T ARGUE WITH THAT LOGIC BRO and DESDEMONA’S dad is all I AM NOT SATISFIED BY THIS AND ALSO MY DAUGHTER WILL TOTALLY BETRAY YOU SO WATCH OUT. And then OTHELLO goes to defend against the fucking Turks, and he brings along his wife and CASSIO and IAGO and IAGO’S wife EMILIA.
Anyway once they get to Cyprus to defend against the Turks they find out that the whole fleet was destroyed by a storm and OTHELLO is all DUDES THIS IS GREAT LET US PARTY and they did, and it was good. And so IAGO goes and gets CASSIO drunk because CASSIO is all DUDE I CANNOT HOLD MY LIQOUR, and then he gets RODRIGO to fight drunk CASSIO, and OTHELLO has to step in to break shit up, and he is hell of disappointed in CASSIO and totally demotes him, and then IAGO is all BRO THAT IS WAY HARSH YOU SHOULD GET DESDEMONA TO GET HIM TO CHANGE HIS MIND, LADIES ARE TOTALLY PEOPLE CAPABLE OF LOGIC AND EMPATHY.
And so then IAGO is all like HEY BRO, I HEARD DESDEMONA AND CASSIO ARE LOOKING AT EACH OTHER AND STUFF and then there’s some stuff involving a handkerchief, and it is like really important and loaded with meaning, like fraught with meaning we could even say, if we were the kinds of people to use words like fraught, and I guess we are, so basically there was this totally fraught hanky and OTHELLO gave it to DESDEMONA and said totally fraught hanky had like great and total significance in the context of their relationship and EMILIA like finds it on the floor or something and gives it to IAGO who plants it on CASSIO and then he, IAGO, is all WHOA HEY CASSIO THE KEYBOARD WHAT IS UP W/ THIS HANKIE I FOUND and CASSIO is all man I don’t even know and then they whisper talk about feelings and CASSIO is all I just like this girl Bianca, but it’s hard man, feelings are hard, and IAGO is like it’s cool bro I know, and they are doing it all quietly and meanwhile OTHELLO is all storming around going all MOTHER FUCKER HAS MY HANKY OF SIGNIFICANCE AND IS TALKING ABOUT HIS FEELINGS HIS MOUTH IS MOVING I CAN SEE IT OH MAN IF THAT FUCKER IS FUCKING MY WIFE I WILL FUCK ALL OF THE FUCKS UNTIL WE ARE ALL FUCKED IN THE SOUL UNTO DEATH AND TOTALLY INFINITE SADNESS and then IAGO is all HE TOTALLY GOT THIS HANKY FROM DESDEMONA and OTHELLO is all FUCK EVERYTHING and then proceeds to make DESDEMONA’s life miserable which make DESDEMONA sad.
So then RODRIGO is all like IAGO, LISTEN. I GAVE YOU MONEY AND STUFF, AND I HAVE DONE EVERYTHING YOU ADVISED, BUT I AM TOTALLY NOT HAVING SEX WITH DESDEMONA YET, SO I WOULD LIKE TO INVOKE MY MONEY-BACK GUARANTEE and IAGO is like COOL TOTALLY CASSIO HAS THE COUPON and RODRIGO is all OH COOL I WILL ASK HIM FOR IT and IAGO is all like NO DUDE IT IS HIDDEN IN HIS LEG YOU HAVE TO CUT HIS LEG OPEN TO GET IT so RODRIGO goes and does that while CASSIO is fucking BIANCA, and so everyone is all like OH MAN CASSIO WHO DID THIS TO YOU and CASSIO is all RODRIGO and everyone is like OH FUCK WHERE IS RODRIGO, but RODRIGO is in the corner being quietly stabbed to death by IAGO.
That night OTHELLO confronts DESDEMONA, but by confront we mean he confronts her face with a pillow and smothers her unto death. Then EMILIA shows up and is all YO WTF EVERYBODY GET IN HERE THIS MOOR JUST KILLED A WHITE LADY WHO IS HIS WIFE. And everyone is all WTF and OTHELLO explains about how adultery and hankies and significance and betrayal and stuff and EMILIA says HOLY SHIT GUYS I TOTALLY FOUND THAT HANKIE AND IAGO WAS ALL GIMME THAT HANKIE AND JUST UGH YOU GUYS THIS TOTALLY BEARS ALL THE HALLMARKS OF AN IAGO SCHEME and then IAGO emerges from the shadows and stabs her to death and OTHELLO stabs IAGO but not to death, no, because he wants IAGO to live his life in pain and then some rich guy shows up and is all EVERYONE HERE IS UNDER ARREST. And so they are all like IAGO WHY DID YOU DO THIS and IAGO is all NOPE NOT TALKING BROS, NOT NOW NOT EVER, SUCK IT, I AM TOTALLY TAKING A VOW OF SILENCE, LOL and then OTHELLO gives this amazing and moving speech where he is just totally stricken with remorse and just awful feelings for killing his wife even though he lead such an awesome live and was basically the most bad-ass General in all of Venice, and everyone is all man that was a good speech that totally sucks that this happens and then OTHELLO kills himself because fuck everything he just killed the woman he loves like a total chump. Then they punish IAGO and some guy gets appointed as OTHELLO’s heir or something.
The moral of the story is SERIOUSLY GUYS WHAT THE FUCK IS WRONG WITH PEOPLE.
 which is European for African-American
 who is dead
 which is in Italy, which is basically part of Europe
 which is Latin for when shit just gets started without all that preamble nonsense, so basically the opposite of Star Wars
 who is a keyboard
 which is European for African-American
 it’s true! he had no idea!
 the Ottoman Empire is what they did
 which is European for African-American devil
 who is totally DESDEMONA’S attendant, which I mean, I bet that is going to work out well Shakespeare
 OR WAS IT AN ACT OF GOD????
 who is still a keyboard
 because he is a keyboard
 seriously, Tai. Way harsh.
 which is not true because CASSIO is totally looking at this girl BIANCA, who is a prostitute, and by looking I am totally talking about fucking, just in case that wasn’t clear.
 dude if a fucking hankie is the most significant thing about yr relationship I don’t know maybe take a step back or something?
 which I guess in Europe means punching her in the face in front of people all the time
 probably because of feelings
 what a keyboard
 because DUH YOU GUYS
 yeah we are totally not going to touch that whole purported affair nonsense no sir not us
 because DUH YOU GUYS
 what does that mean Sasha? I will tell you what it means. I’ll explain and I’ll use small words so that you’ll be sure to understand, you warthog faced buffoon.
“To the pain means the first thing you will lose will be your feet below the ankles. Then your hands at the wrists. Next your nose.
Prince Humperdinck: And then my tongue I suppose, I killed you too quickly the last time. A mistake I don’t mean to duplicate tonight.
Westley: I wasn’t finished. The next thing you will lose will be your left eye followed by your right.
Prince Humperdinck: And then my ears, I understand let’s get on with it.
Westley: WRONG. Your ears you keep and I’ll tell you why. So that every shriek of every child at seeing your hideousness will be yours to cherish. Every babe that weeps at your approach, every woman who cries out, “Dear God! What is that thing,” will echo in your perfect ears. That is what to the pain means. It means I leave you in anguish, wallowing in freakish misery forever.”
Anyway yeah that is basically what I meant by that you guys.
This Too Too Solid Flesh
By Sampson Starkweather
To be, or not to be.
Thus sets forth the existential crisis conquered in this classic tragedy, this modern masterpiece of literature: Weekend at Bernie’s.
“O that this too too solid flesh would melt,
Thaw, and resolve itself into a dew!”
Indeed, Bernie, indeed.
Who among us has not wondered what happens after we die? Who has not been haunted or tempted by the ideas of heaven and hell, who has not pondered the spiritual and physical possibilities of the afterlife? The mystery of death has long been the central struggle of man’s existence. Well, goodbye mystery, because now we know what happens after you die: you go water-skiing!!!
Like lesser literary works that preceded it, such as Don Quixote, Macbeth, and Hamlet, the theme of Appearance vs. Reality and questions about the nature of reality are examined. Weekend at Bernie’s shows us how many uncertainties our lives are built upon, how many unknown quantities are taken for granted when people act or when they evaluate one another’s actions. How do you know your friends are not just well-kept corpses propped-up in 80s beach wear? That the guy you’re playing footsie with under the table in your stockinged feet isn’t in the third stage of rigamortis?, that your boss isn’t holding a spectacular yoga position or perfect Tai chi pose, but to quote Kansas, just dust in the wind.
The human puppet theory has long been rejected due to the text’s rich literary merit, but is it no coincidence that Weekend at Bernie’s, which was a favorite of the Bush family, prefigured George Bush Jr.’s presidential campaign, orchestrated by Karl Rove and Dick Chaney (who were known to have screenings of Weekend at Bernie’s in the Oval office, making George dress up as Bernie while he microwaved the Orville Redenbacher ) who are clearly the Larry and Richard of the Executive Branch, and stole the plot of Klane’s masterpiece to carry out their puppet plan to gain the presidential office. Thus, the power of words!
But who is Bernie? What’s underneath that blue Member’s Only jacket, those round John Lennon sunglasses, mustache, and perfect hairpiece? What is the soul of a man? He is a man who has suffered for his sins, who sacrifices his life to benefit those around him, who is righteously tan, wears flip flops, and loves a good party. Sound like anyone you know? That’s right, Jesus. The parallels are endless, but I don’t want to take this analogy too far and suggest that Bernie Lomax is the second coming of Jesus Christ, unless of course, you think that Bernie Lomax is the second coming of J.C., but I’ll let you decide for yourself…oh did I mention Bernie Lomax was 33?
Poetic, thoughtful, and philosophical, Bernie seeks to thwart his fate through intellectual maneuvering. He is tortured by his intellectual curiosity, constantly with his brow furrowed deep in contemplation, lost in his eloquent silence, his far-away gaze deep in reverie, the inner struggle of contemplating the universe, his suffering is a lesson for us, maybe we should put down our laptops, stop thinking about everything, just kick back, relax, have a mai tai and move on? Adopt the philosophy of that popular bumper sticker we all know, What Would Bernie Do?
Scholars and critics have spent lifetimes delving deep not only into the rich and inexhaustible literary goldmine that is Weekend at Bernie’s, but also into themselves in order to critically analyze, and in some cases, search their very souls for the questions and answers that haunt us all. Take for example, Dr. Rupert Von Humperwinkel, whose dissertation work, Invincibility From the Freedom From Free Will: Bernie, Beyond the Barmecidal which was later published by Penguin as The Soul is But a Blue Coat summarizes exquisitely the complexities that lie at the heart of this masterpiece:
“Eventually, Richard and Larry realize what is going on and they decide to prop Bernie up and cart him around with them so that they cannot be killed. Hilarity ensues.” …Or as the Richard Dawking’s poignant blurb on the back flap says, “He’s the life of the party, well almost.”
So what have we learned? That life is not unlike death, both mysterious and equivocal, a mixture of bright surfaces and dark forces where what seems both is and is not. But beyond uncertainty, beyond the afterlife, beyond beauty, basically, fuck buying a flashy car or a cute little dog, just drag around your dead boss’s body to beach parties if you want to get laid!
“To die,—to sleep,—
No more; and by a sleep to say we end
The heartache, and the thousand natural shocks
That flesh is heir to,—’tis a consummation
Devoutly to be wish’d. To die,—to sleep;—
To sleep: perchance to dream:—ay, there’s the rub;
For in that sleep of death what dreams may come”
The dream came, we named it Weekend at Bernie’s!
Finally, for some context and to take a peek behind how a masterpiece is made, here is a series of memo’s from the studio sent to writer Robert Klane on the original script:
August 1, 1987 – Not really buying this Bernie character ‘alive.’ Please fix.
August 2, 1987 – That is a great change. We love it. What do you mean you’re not thrilled with it?
August 3, 1987 – Went to the morgue today. Turns out you’re right. But we’re going to ignore that.
August 4, 1987 – I hear what you’re saying. Ignore that.
August 14, 1987 – Instead of rotting can he be smiling? That would be great. Oh, and holding a cocktail?
August 14, 1987 – Sunglassses.
August 19, 1987 – I sense a trilogy here!