Have gun, will see movie

have gun

I’ve been in love with Ancient Egypt since I was a little kid, so of course I was going to see “Gods of Egypt” this week.

However, what happened in the lobby after the film put a damper on my outright joy about the astonishing special effects and gorgeousness of the movie. My happiness turned to fear the minute I saw the gun.

There I was with a friend one minute, laughing and joking, excitedly talking about the film. The next minute, she got quiet and asked me, “Do you see that guy with the gun?”

I froze. I felt cold all over. And then I began looking to see what she was talking about. About 15 feet away was a man at the concessions counter with a semi-automatic in a holster on his hip. He didn’t look like a cop; he was dressed in a sweatshirt and jeans, was older and balding.

My friend and I talked about what we should do. The man seemed to just be getting popcorn. But what if he was dangerous? What if he had come to the theater to kill people? In a week where there have been two mass shootings in our country, and a two-month period where there have been a reported 34 mass shootings in the U.S., that didn’t seem like a stretch to me. And that very thing had happened in Aurora, Colorado, in July 2012; a man opened fire in a movie theater and killed 12 people.

“Do you think he’s law enforcement?” my friend asked me in a hushed tone. “That’s a pretty serious-looking gun.”

Indeed it was. I’ll admit it – I was really scared.

“What if he’s crazy?” I answered.

“Think I should ask him why he has it?” I almost asked, and then immediately pictured him pulling it out and shooting me in the chest as soon as I asked why he had the gun.

“Well, if I report him to someone from the theater,” I said out loud, “I would hate for him to be crazy and then I would be responsible for that person getting shot.”

We discussed the man for only a few minutes, but it seemed like forever. My eyes never left the gun at his side.

Finally, my friend’s friend had arrived for the movie they were going to see. We headed for the ticket counter and my good sense finally kicked in, or maybe my curiosity got the best of me. I asked the girl at the counter, “Did you know that man has a firearm?”

She was the one who looked panicked now, and she quickly said, “No,” and radioed for a manager.

I pointed him out and the manager approached him. A minute later, she laughed and headed back toward us. Turns out she knew a man the man with the gun was with, and he was involved with law enforcement.

A family member told me later that it’s the law in this state that you’re allowed to carry a gun in the open as long as it is clearly visible. OK, I guess, but I have some questions.

If that man was law enforcement, why did he need a gun in a movie theater on a Saturday when he was clearly not on duty? Did anyone else see that gun and get scared witless like me? Sure, maybe it would be good to have a person trained in shooting if someone else went off the rails and opened fire, but how are the rest of us supposed to know who is who anymore?

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You can mourn someone you’ve never met

graveyard-celebrity deathsIn the past couple of years, I have mourned the loss of several people who I had never met.

Leonard Nimoy (yes, who was Spock of Star Trek but also had success in movies, television shows, in the recording studio and in the art world) died Feb. 27, 2015.

The mercurial, but nonetheless talented singer/songwriter Scott Weiland died Dec. 3, 2015. And even though his death was predicted and “expected” for years, that didn’t make it any less shocking, any less painful for me when it came. I loved Stone Temple Pilots, and I also loved all of Weiland’s side projects. I met him once and made him laugh, and I will carry that image of him forever – his head thrown back in true laughter at something I did that he called “delightful.”

The great David Bowie passed away Jan. 10. Just four days later, actor Alan Rickman died. Both men had cancer, and both were 69 when they died. In this day and age, that isn’t old. And both were vibrant and still performing amazingly well in their chosen careers.

I still recall like it was yesterday sobbing and dropping to my knees when I learned that John Lennon had been murdered on Dec. 8, 1980. I remember right where I was, who I was with, what I was wearing, how I heard the news. I felt like I had been punched in the stomach. I loved him and his music so much. My teen brain couldn’t make sense of the fact that he was a peace activist and he was murdered. I still want someone to explain that one to me. And there’s the snuffing out of all of the wonderful music he was making and would have made…

When Johnny Cash died, I felt like I had lost a family member. I wept bitterly the day I found out he was gone. My dad played his records when I was a child, and I followed Cash’s music career as I grew up and moved from place to place. Never saw him in concert, never met him, but I truly loved him. Maybe this won’t make sense to some people, but he was like a father figure to me.

Why do celebrity deaths affect us so much? I think there are many reasons. But, mostly, I think it’s that these people gave us themselves and their time, and therefore we spent time “with” them. I knew everything about Lennon, and as a teenage girl I had spent hours and hours talking with friends about him and listening to his music.

Bowie made me feel like being an outsider, a misfit, wasn’t so bad. It was fine to not be like everyone else. In fact, it was cool to be whoever I was, whoever I wanted to be, and I could change and change again and still be cool. I could just be me. And that was all right.

Cash spoke out for the downtrodden, the broken, the wayward people. I felt his music deeply, and felt like he was talking to me in some of the things he said.

As Spock, Nimoy taught me many lessons when I was a child and as I grew up. I also loved his music. And later his art. He seemed a noble person to me.

Rickman made me laugh, and cry. His quality roles are too numerous to list here, and I may have loved him for the ones that were not as famous as others. I wonder if he would find it funny that the first thing I thought when I learned he was dead, while I hadn’t even wrapped my head around Bowie’s death, was, “By Grabthar’s Hammer…” And then I laughed. I think he might have approved.

The bottom line is this: Let people criticize us “commoners” when we mourn the passings of the famous. Love is love, no matter where it is found. Go ahead and love, and mourn, however deeply you need to.

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If animals don’t go to heaven, no one should


I still recall the day many years ago that my mom called me, sobbing, because her pastor had announced in church that animals don’t have a soul and, therefore, they don’t go to heaven.

My mom was the most animal-loving person I have ever known. We owned a pet and fish store when I was a preteen and she later became a conservation officer assistant who saved hundreds of wild animals. In my growing-up years, we had all varieties of animals in our home. They included a pig, owls, ferrets, foxes, coyotes, possums, badgers, snakes, lizards of all types (including a Gila monster), parrots and a monkey. We also had many dogs and cats.

After I became an adult with a place to live where I could have a pet, I got my own assortment of pets. First, it was a fish tank, and then a cat. And then there was a larger fish tank, and then a dog. And then some rats (which are wonderful pets). I’ve had two cats. I’m now on my fifth dog. I loved each and every one of my animals as much as my mom loved each of hers. I think some things are imprinted on you when you’re young.

There is a famous writing called “The Rainbow Bridge,” which comforts many animal people when they read it. If you’re not familiar with it, it talks about our animals going to a place to wait for us to join them.

I could delve here into Bible verses about animals and how much God loves them, but people who love animals already know that, Bible verses or not. So, you can look those up on your own if you want to read them.

Do animals have a soul? I don’t know the answer to that. But I do know that they are wonderful beings that give us their all. They forgive far beyond what any human ever has, and they love us unconditionally. And they deserve our love and respect in return.

The death of my first German shepherd wounded me far deeper than any death ever had, including those of people I had been close to. I remember sobbing and asking a friend of mine why dogs only live 10 or so years, instead of 50 or 60. At that time, I could’ve lived my whole life with Pasha and been completely happy to do so. This wise friend replied, “Think about all the animals we kill every year because no one loves them. People can’t even keep a five- or 10-year commitment. Think about how many more animals would die because people would not give them a lifetime.”

I remember when Pasha was getting old, I swore I would never have another dog after her. And then, I had to come home to a home with no dog. And it turns out that isn’t who I am. I am a girl with a dog. Twenty-nine days after Pasha’s death, I rescued my second shepherd. And 28 days after Ellie’s death four years later, I rescued another shepherd. When Sarah died just five years later, I rescued two shepherds, a mother/daughter pair, Lily and Lola, just 26 days after Sarah’s passing. Sadly, Lily died just four months and 11 days after she came to live with me. (But that is a story for another time.)

Losing each of my animals has been incredibly painful. But at some point, I realized that if any of them had not left, I would not have been able to be there for the others. And with that realization has come some kind of acceptance about the brevity of animals’ lives, although I still wonder why they have to go so soon.

I believe I will see all of my animals again. I’ll have a huge fish tank, a half-dozen rats, two cats and a small stable of German shepherds. My mom, who passed away herself two years ago, now likely has the largest assortment of pets anyone has ever had in heaven. One definition of heaven is this: “a place or state of supreme happiness.” If animals don’t go there with us, I don’t know that I want to go there myself.

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