ABR. Always Be Retiring.
Hollywood teaches: Hollywood never saves the best for last. If you're approaching retirement or you have one last mission (or are asked to "come back for one last X") then things are not going to go as planned. It's so common that parodying it in the movies has become a cliché. Always skip the last mission. Always retire about a week early. Never come back for one last caper no matter how perfect the heist.
The reality: History is littered with stories of soldiers being killed just before they were supposed to go home and cops killed a day before retirement. Hollywood likes those stories because they are tragic. You know who Hollywood doesn't care about? All of the people who were days away from retiring from some horrible desk job grind, staring at the photograph of the boat they're going to buy in Mexico, only to drop dead from a heart attack. Although, if they were defusing a bomb...
The joy of the saloon.
Hollywood teaches: Contrary to the jaunty piano music and buxom harlots often associated with saloons, these are places best avoided. Destructive brawls break out nightly and poker games often end with a shooting. Hollywood's depiction of saloons seems to grow darker with each passing year. The recent HBO series Deadwood featured repeated stabbings, shootings, and throat-slitting butchery in Al Swearengen's Gem Saloon. The proprietor kept the rotting severed head of an Indian in a wooden box and instructed underlings to feed corpses to pigs.
The reality: Saloons could only dream of being that interesting. Hollywood has undoubtedly inflated historic body counts and these days saloons are just wood-paneled relics in old mining towns that have been turned into tourist attractions. If you consider it scary to see a five dollar bottle of organic sarsaparilla being sold to a retiree from Vermont wearing khaki shorts and sandals then welcome to the edge.
Are you concerned that you may be a character trapped in a Tom Waits song? Be smart and learn the warning signs before it's too late. Also, it's too late. It has always been too late.
I'm haunted by a recurring vision of a skeleton flipping me off. To avoid seeing this terrifying image in bumper sticker form, I pay someone with a blank bumper to drive in front of me at all times.
It is said the Lord did write upon the sky, "Only the Most Awful shall be cataloged herein." And a wind did come and blow away the words and turn them into a skull. And the writers did fall upon their knees and give thanks, for yea, the Most Awful was good. Thus the lists were born. Read them, sons and daughters, and be strong.