In the past 48 hours, at least 35 people were shot in Dayton, Ohio and another 46 were shot in El Paso, Texas. Those are the headlines, but they're only the tip of the Titanic-sized iceberg that is gun violence in America.

Excluding suicides, over 26,000 people have been shot in the USA this year to date, which puts us on pace for 44,000 by the end of December. By those numbers, an American has a roughly 1 in 74,000 chance of being shot each year. That's only slightly worse than the odds that you'll die in a motorcycle accident. Except, of course, that to die on a motorcycle, you have to first be *on* a motorcycle. The person who shoots you will generously donate the necessary bullet.

Right now, it seems there's not a whole lot you can do to avoid getting shot. Night clubs, bars, and retail stores seem to attract shooters, but so do schools and churches. Outdoor festivals are popular, and your workplace is a death sentence waiting to happen. Sadly, you're most likely to get shot in your own house by a member of your family, so staying home is no help.

About all you can do for sure is stay away from other people entirely, and even that is no guarantee. My friend Randy, who lives a good fifteen minutes from anything I would call civilization, has had people shoot into his house from the street 100-yards away, apparently just to see if they could. Guns are cool!

Personally, I love attending live sporting events. So far, those have been generally bullet-hole free, but that's clearly only a temporary condition. I hope I don't get shot at a football game. I probably won't; many people ride a motorcycle their whole life without dying on one. But if the worst does happen, know that I was shot doing what I loved: running in panic from someone shooting people. U-S-A!

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Last night while behind the wheel dodging deer and listening to DJ patter, I was inspired to consider what my oldest memory might be. They say that the average person's memories begin at the age of three. That might be about right for me, too.

I remember that the master bedroom in our house in Stone Mountain had green carpet and a split level with black railing along the single step separating the bed from the sitting room/attached bath. (What can I say? It was the late 70s when even builders had bad taste.) I recall looking up through the bars of the railing at my mother in bed with my baby brother. I must have been about three years old.

Is it a real memory? I think so. It seems to me that most of what I remember of my childhood comes from pictures and videos my family took. Birthdays, Halloween, Christmas, all of these are things I remember secondhand from pictures and film, seen again much after the fact. To the best of my knowledge, no such pictures were taken through iron bars at my mother and brother in bed.

If that's not my oldest memory, I'm not sure what is. Playing with Kenner Star Wars toys in my sandbox? Going with my neighbors to see Raiders of the Lost Ark? Listening to Joan Jett's I Love Rock 'n Roll record? My memories after 1981 get very good. Those are real, but they aren't my earliest.

Honestly, I don't think about the past much. It's a habit I've cultivated. Most of what I do remember is the unpleasant stuff, so it's best to avoid it. Live in the present, knowwhatimean?

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I see deer everywhere these days. Literally every day. Deer here, deer there, deer everywhere. That's not paranoia talking, either. I have pictures!

It's two AM. Fear is gone.
Ok. That's not a great picture. But that really is a deer, and it was only the first of four I saw last night!

Even if you go to bed at sundown, you probably know that after dark suburban neighborhoods are teaming with raccoons, possums, and armadillos roaming between the religiously maintained lawns and hedges. Owls can be heard marking their treetop territory, and it's not summer without bats overhead hunting gnats and mosquitoes. Those critters are everywhere, but they're small. Deer are big, larger than dogs. You think you'd notice if they were around. Don't be fooled.

I've been letting Dad's dogs out at about 2AM for the past two months. Almost every night, I see deer. This week alone, on Sunday, I spotted a pair of does napped by a fence. On Monday a family of four walked calmly across the road in front of my car. On Tuesday another grazed at the end of the driveway without regard for my presence. The dogs chased it away briefly; then it came back and finished its meal. That was a determined, hungry deer.

Where do these deer go every day? Do they have a lair? Do they retreat to their secret underground deer cave? Do they squat in abandoned crack houses? (Dad watches a lot of Ancient Aliens on History Channel. He'd probably insist they go back to their spaceships.)

I'm not trying to be an alarmist about this. It's too late to build a wall. Deer. Are. Everywhere. It's time to stop fighting them and learn to live in harmony. And build bigger gardens: deer eat a lot of greens.

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It's a good thing phones aren't made for paws

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Since I started seriously tracking the movies I watched in 2012, the actor I've seen the most is William Powell (33 times). That isn't an accident.

Powell is one of those "actors" who always turned the characters he played into some variation of himself. We usually call that class of actor — which includes the likes of Jimmy Stewart, Clint Eastwood, and Tom Cruise — "movie stars."

Powell's cool, confident, and sarcastic persona was perfect for playing con men, attorneys, and especially gumshoes. He's most famous as Nick Charles, the detective who caught the Thin Man in seven movies (the best of which is the first), but you may recognize him as Philo Vance who he played in five other films (beginning with the silent-turned-talky The Canary Murder Case).

I mention this because tomorrow, July 29, would be Mr. Powell's 107th birthday. TCM is celebrating with seven films between 6AM and 6PM. Manhattan Melodrama is in the middle (11:15AM). That's the movie that Public Enemy Number One John Dillinger was walking out of when he was gunned down by G-Men. It's also the first film to pair Powell with his on-screen soul mate Myrna Loy, the future Nora Charles (and not-coincidentally, the actress I've seen the most, 35 times). Oh, and Cary Grant is in it, too (14 times).

Happy Birthday, Mr. Powell.

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As my father's late mother would have said, there's always time for picture shows!

104. (1543.) John Wick: Chapter 3 - Parabellum (2019)
Seeing this in a theater was my treat to Dad treat before his heart surgery, and it was a worthwhile experience... if you like bloody murder-fest actioners, which Dad certainly does. Unlike many reviewers, I thought it was better than Chapter 2. Kill 'em all, John.

105. (1544.) Lady of Burlesque (1943)
A very enjoyable B-picture murder mystery based on a book written by, of all people, the burlesque queen Gypsy Rose Lee. You go, girl! The protagonist is played by Barbara Stanwyck, who I should mention is the greatest actress who should have played Lois Lane but didn't.

107. (1546.) The Bishop Misbehaves (1935)
This film is more a comedic crime caper than the sort of whodunit it's lampooning. Disappointed by the lack of mystery, I found it a bit tedious. Your mileage may vary.

108. (1547.) Tora! Tora! Tora! (1970)
If this film is to be believed, America is almost as responsible for Pearl Harbor as the Japanese. Another case of victim blaming? From what I've read, the history is pretty solid.

109. (1548.) Kong: Skull Island (2017)
Historical accuracy has no relationship with this film. They couldn't even keep Kong's height consistent. I suspect if plays well with the Pacific Rim crowd. I liked the style, but most 1960s comic books were better written.

110. (1549.) Get Out (2017)
I can see why this was such a big hit. More psychological thriller than horror, it is very well made and a lot of fun. It drags a bit late when the writing is on the wall and you're waiting for the reckoning that is obviously coming, but I found that reckoning to be plenty satisfying enough to make up for the wait.

More to come.

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Forest Lawn Memorial Park is just around the corner from my Dad's new house. It's been there since 1956, which means it was there when I was in high school. I must have passed it hundreds of times, but I'd never been in. Not until this week when the beautiful weather made a side trip necessary.

Oh what a beautiful morning, oh what a beautiful grave

I've never liked it. Oak Hill is the older cemetery closer to town. As previous posts on this blog prove, I like it fine. Forest Lawn, on the other hand, has always seemed to me more like a small, sterile golf course than a cemetery. Now that I've been in, I'll second my own first impression.

Fore

I've never been a believer that cemeteries should remain solemn and unused plots of ground. If you can't celebrate the lives of the dead, why remember them at all? Besides, a tiny metal plate with a stack of fake flowers is hardly how I'd want anyone to remember me.

Please Refrain From Loud Noises Or Activities That Disturb The Serenity Of The Park

The rules are posted by the entrance. The first one is no kids (living ones, I assume). The second is no recreational equipment (read: no fun). The third is no pets ("Leashed Or Unleashed": even fish are out). That sounds awfully exclusionary, but read to the bottom and you'll see that "Properly Attired Walkers And Joggers Are Welcome Except During Funeral Services." Thanks for that offer, but I think we'll keep on passing by.

Choose life

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The Shadow knows what I sing in the shower. It's this:


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CXpWfd1BNkQ

Wind? Strobe lights? Hammerpants? Oh, early 1990s, where have you gone?

Seriously though, this is always the song I think of when I see Talyor Dayne's name come up, which isn't often enough. Tell it to my heart, indeed.

And while I'm on the subject, with apologies to The Hunt for Red October, I still consider The Shadow to be the best Alec Baldwin movie. (I like Royal Tenenbaums more, much more — it may well be my favorite movie ever — but Baldwin's only the narrator, so it doesn't really count. For similar reasons, the best Sam Elliot movie is Road House, not The Big Lebowski.)

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Meanwhile, dogkind had already long mastered leaping

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Maybe I'm just jealous that they didn't sell poop-shaped toys when I was three years old, but no. Just no.

I *wouldn't* buy that for a dollar

I don't know what's wrong with kids in 2019. Back in my day, everyone came with their own poop slime formula.

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To be continued...

 

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