Enjoyed a private showing of “Dunkirk” last night–private in that I was the only person there for the 7 o’clock showing at Pueblo Tinseltown.  The movie has been out for over a month and that probably accounts for my lucky solo viewing.  I have an idea, too, that “Dunkirk” likely enjoys better box-office up north in Colorado Springs, which has a large military population, along with enough ex-Brits to support a couple of stores specializing in British food and candy.

Very first movie I can remember seeing in a theater was also a war flick–“Sahara”, with Humphrey Bogart.  One of my uncles took me to see it at the Gaumont Theater in downtown Coventry (England).  This would have been 1947, or ’48, even though the film was released in 1943.  Not sure if it was a re-release, or if “Sahara” had been held back from British audiences until the war ended.  For one thing, “Sahara” was (and is) a little anti-British slant.  The only Englishman along for the ride on “Lulubelle” the tank is an effete, tea-drinking worry-wart.  The Americans, the Canadian and the Australian are stalwart chaps to a man–hell, even  the Frenchman is a tough guy bent on revenge.  Of course, if the English were miffed, Italian audiences must’ve been royally pissed at J. Carrol Naish (an actor as Irish as Paddy’s pig in real life) and his portrayal of an Italian soldier as an organ grinder’s monkey groveling in the sand, saying things like “Please-a don’t-a leave-a me behind”.  Hollywood could get by with a lot of crap in those days.

War movies (I try not to use the word “film” much) have changed remarkably over the years, from a lot of jingo-istic propaganda to anti-war themes that flirt with treason.  Some movies from the Fifties still delight (“The Caine Mutiny”) or can still make me cringe (“Paths of Glory”, Kirk Douglas at his all-time best).  A couple of modern “serious films” offer interesting contrasts: in “Saving Private Ryan” American GIs are freshly landed in action, still learning, still somewhat clean and bright, hopeful and cracking wise; fast-forward a few years to “Fury” and its grimy tank crew hardened beyond belief and at least as homicidal as the enemy they face.

Just a note to thank my middle daughter, Elaine, for getting me out of the starting gate and onto the first furlong.  She navigated the minefield of setting up this site, something I had thrown up my hands over a dozen times, stopping just short of firing the computer into the dog yard.

Standing In The Starting Gate

(Getty Images)

This time a week ago I probably couldn’t have accurately defined the word “blog”, or the verb “to blog”.  But this morning I are one, the end result of well-meaning nuns hammering simple English sentences into my noggin such a long time ago.

There is no great purpose to this (although fame and fortune would be nice), except to keep the gears in my head from freezing up–sort of like Slick 50 for the mind.  Whether it’s widely read or totally ignored is ultimately not the purpose.  Of course, every writer wants to be widely read and admired, but no reader is under any obligation to comply.  Subject matter will likely be as wide-ranging and off-the-wall as the echo chamber between my ears.  Means always personal, always self-centered, and so in great danger of failing to interest to anyone else.  Maybe.  Maybe not.

While I’m still in the starting gate: I’ll try to steer clear of politics and religion–except in the occasional historic context.  Those subjects seem to be arguments without resolution and depressing to boot.  Besides, you can get all the bloody politics you want just about anywhere else these days.

The “hill” in the domain name is not very large, but it stands at the very edge of the Great Plains.   The foothills of the Rockies rise just half a mile to the west, while half a mile east the land falls off into flatness clear the hell to the Alleghenies.  Or maybe the Smokies.  View from here runs upwards of a hundred miles in one direction or another.  That view, and its changing light and weather will likely show up here fairly often.  So, too, will my flawed memories of a long, reasonably uneventful life (so far).

I’ve lived through some interesting decades, but my memories–the ones I’ll write about here–are not of great events, but rather the small stuff of every day: movies seen, books read, people and places long gone or still clinging to existence.  Dogs and horses–and people–loved and lost.

And so to begin, every day (if possible)–think of it as an aging guy talking to himself in the mirror, a mirror fogged with hot water while shaving.