R. A. MacAvoy’s Bear Stories

Bertie MacAvoy says “The motto under the name MacAvoy is ‘Bear and Forbear.’” But her husband Ron suggests it should be “FourBears” — or forty. That’s because they have had so many Close Encounters of the Bear Kind at their home in the Cascade foothills of Washington State.

Bertie wrote a series of anecdotes about these human-ursine meetings on her Facebook page. When she dropped social media for awhile the earliest ones might have been lost except that I happened to have clipped and saved them to a Word file. She later renewed her FB account and — because the bears keep coming to visit — added some new bear stories. I sent her the file, but as she is busy prepping a new book we agreed posting them on File 770 is quickest way to restore them to the internet. So it is my privilege to share these stories with you.


One of Three:

BERRYBEAR

Our road is old Weyrhauser land, sliced along its length with long driveways, brush-fronted, at the ends of which are houses. One-of-a-kind houses. Ours is the oldest, built by a family named O’Brien in the middle of the last century. A few acres down from us is a geodesic dome. But at the other end there were until ten years ago wetland preserves, but the county or someone like that decided they really needed money, and they traded a developer for the right to lace mini-McMansions through it, as long as 90% of the wetlands needed for drainage were allowed to remain.

These developers did a bit more than allow them to remain. They filled the 50 year old second-growth woods with trails for the development people to use and they could not conveniently exclude others. So Ron and I used to ride our horses along these trails. The only danger we ever encountered was from a lady with an untrained mastiff who allowed it to attack my pony’s hind legs.

This day I was not riding, but walking my five-month-old doodle Doyle, who is the dog in my picture who looks like Godzilla next to me. (Fault of the picture.) I was training him to keep at heel. About half a mile in from the road, the trail arced to the left, so when Doyle started pressing against my leg, I was only pleased he was learning his business so well.

Then we saw a horse as we rounded the bend. A dark horse under the dappled light, and it seemed to have lost its rider. I went closer carefully, and Doyle heeled, heeled, heeled. Really big broad horse. Maybe a Friesian, or some horse of farm stock turned into a pleasure mount. Then the horse began to stand up.

It stood up slowly, with control, until it was (by later measurement against the high briars around the trail) over eight feet tall.

The black bear stood there, watching me. I thought of the things I had been told to do when confronting a bear in the woods. I thought hard. I came up with ( ———————————————————-.) I noticed the bear had a right paw filled with small branches, leaves and twigs. I remembered that the salmonberries, first of their ilk to fruit, were in full season. I saw at last that the bear was staring much in the way I must have been staring, and that his entire muzzle was shiny, drippy, and dare I say, faintly salmon-colored. I turned on my heel, slowly, whispering, “Doyle, heel.”

Boy, did Doyle heel. He heeled all the while I walked sedately in the direction from which I had come. After forty feet or so I looked over my left shoulder. Though I scarcely dared to do so, I dared less not to. I saw the bear, just at the edge of visibility. He had gone down to all fours, turned on his . . . heel? – And was peering at me carefully over his right shoulder. Our eyes met once more. I continued on until I could no longer see the bear, but could see the brightness of the cleared road ahead. Then I ran like a much younger person. All the while Doyle heeled for me. He heeled my left leg so closely he almost knocked us both down.

Epilogue:

When I got home I thought about my moral obligations, both to the bear and to child-kind. Finally I called the County Sheriff’s line and told them I had seen a black bear in the development’s wetlands. “Well, they do live here,” drawled the man who answered. I assured him the bear had done nothing at all hostile. “That’s good,” he said. I reminded him that children play in those woods and he agreed that they do. Then again I said the bear had not been aggressive. By now he was just listening. At last I asked him what they would do about the bear. “I’ll tell a few folks he’s there,” said the deputy.

“But you won’t chase him . . . ” “Well, they do live there.” he repeated.


Bear Story Two of Three:

COVER ME

Because Ron cannot sleep with any noise at all, we live in the dark woods. This has its own consequences.

It was 12:00 pm. Maybe 1:00 am. There was a noise as though a large man was pulling our empty garbage cans along our gravel drive for fun. The dogs, instead of barking, were lying stone-still with their eyes open. I listened, …feeling much like the dogs about this noise, but Ron threw off the covers. “I can’t stand it” he said, rising.

I had been sleeping deeply and did not want this. “It will go away. They’re empty.”

But Ron was walking to the long closet, where the shotgun was. He had never taken out the shotgun before, not in the ten years we had lived here. “Cover me,” he said, climbing into his sweat clothes.

‘Cover me.’ I’d heard it all my life on cop shows. It was when one cop went behind another and . . . did what? All I was really certain of was that cop two was not supposed to shoot cop one, nor let him be shot. Or hurt otherwise.

I was very sleepy. Did not feel the spirit of adventure. But I rose, and not having a suit of sweatclothes, pulled on my bathrobe and foot-snuggies. I wished I could visit the bathroom, but he was striding out of the room. I scrambled to the hall closet and took out my own .357 magnum with laser sight.

(Here I must pause, for all of you who do not live in a county where the sheriff’s department has been so cut that there is an estimated 45 minute response time to any emergency call. We are encouraged to have guns in the house. Allowed to carry them, as long as we do not brandish. I do not carry as a rule. Ron and I are admittedly odd folk, but not odd in the manner you may now be suspecting.)

I followed him down the stairs to the garage door, still trying to think what a person does when ‘covering’. I thought of ricochet. I thought about how far a .357 magnum bullet may go through the trees when it does not hit anything. I kept the laser sight depressed so that I could watch the red light NOT approaching Ron’s back. He pressed the button to open the garage door.

It was very, very dark out there. Even though we hadn’t turned on the garage light, it was black on black. There were the faint grey and green tall rectangles of our wheelie cans lying on their sides, and beyond them a hump of black beyond all other blacks. Ron walked out and stood by the fallen cans and he made a sound. “Aaaaaaaaa,” he said (‘a’ as in hat). It was not a roar at all, but rather the sound an older brother would make to his younger brother who had embarrassed him once again. One time too many.

The bear, a half-grown juvenile, receded through the night. Meanwhile I was still moving the laser site left and right, while never it letting touch Ron. “What AM I supposed to do?” I asked him.

“Just cover me,” he said, dropping the shotgun carefully down and picking up the cans, one by one and wheeling them into the garage, where he jammed them between the cars and the motorcycles and the big beams. I looked out into the dark drive, but could no longer see the imprint of the black bear. I stood there until all the cans were enclosed. “Okay,” said Ron. He picked up the shotgun, we went in and he lowered the door.

I don’t think he said another word that night. He put the shotgun back, and I put back my revolver in its hidey place. I know he was asleep within 60 seconds of hitting the bed. I was surely not.


Third Bare Tale out of Three

HOME INVASION

Or: Putting on the Mantle of the Nanny

This story was supposed to be illustrated with a sketch consisting of the front end of a black bear in a doorway at night, with Doyle the black doodle standing stiff as a board with his teeth exposed and my feet beside him with legs extending into a white nightie, and one of my hands with index finger pointing forward, in minatory fashion. This sketch turned into nothing but a paper of eraser stains and confusion. All the black on black I guess. But actually anyone’s mind can produce it better than I did on a sheet of 20 weight. Put your own picture HERE

It was September of last year, and the heat on our flat-roofed house had become unbearable, so we left the living room French doors open onto the second-floor deck. It seemed an acceptable risk – after all there were only three thin poles connecting the deck with the ground, we are invisible from the road, and also the two dogs slept in the living room.

While still sleeping I heard a light, metallic clatter, followed by a bass “Wahhoooooo! Wahooooo . . . ” Which brought me to instant wakefulness. It was Doyle’s voice, but he had never used that word in his life.

It called to me with wolf-pack immediacy. I was on my feet and through the bedroom door without conscious thought. Behind me Ron was murmuring in his sleep. He had taken herbal sleep-drops.

Wolf-pack immediacy is not frontal-lobe enough to allow me to think of going for a weapon. I arrived at the French doors, where a piece of moon was cutting through the clouds, to find my very humanized, retired service dog had smashed out our rickety screen door and was standing in the threshold, stiff as a board and screaming into the face of a black bear on our deck. The bear was regarding him with ears forward, which is not a friendly sign in bears. It was a young bear, only perhaps 150 pounds.

‘Young bear’ was not a good sign among bears, either. (Full grown bears know better than to shinny up people’s deck posts to see what is to be seen. They also are probably too heavy to do so.)

I strode forward and placed myself next to Doyle. My response was purely intuitive, but it was the correct one. The bear could not be allowed through the threshold. Think about it. It was also correct pack behavior, because I am and must remain Doyle’s superior His cry went from ‘Whoooooo” to a more self-collected ‘Arghhh” and he back away two steps, placing his head just behind my legs. Again, proper pack behavior, whatever Rin-Tin-Tin’s you may have seen. The bear raised his little eyes to mine.

I don’t know whether the bear was even thinking about going into the house. I know he was immensely surprised to find his j.d. wanderings so forcefully interrupted. But he could also not easily get down off the deck – not without turning his back on two major threats. Neither could I back off, for a show of weakness to a bear with ears forward could easily be damaging. Or fatal.

I pointed my finger at the bear. “Bear,” I said in my most firm and parental voice. “You are not welcome here. Go away.” From the other room Ron mumbled “Who are you talking to? Who . . .?”

I dared not stop speaking. Nor step forward nor back. Nor raise my voice into a directly challenging tone. “Bear, go home, now!” I said, and “I mean it bear, right now. You must go home!” Doyle stood right next to me and between us we blocked the doorway perfectly.

The bear began to walk backwards and reached the rail. I had a strong sympathy for his predicament, but did not dare show it. “Over the rail, bear,” I said. “Go.” And I said other, similar things, not believing the bear understood English, but I can be more chiding in English than I ever could in Bear. And I feared silence.

“Who ARE you talking to?” asked Ron, and out of the corner of my eye I could see his white sleep-shirt appear down the hallway, but I dared not respond. The bear, meanwhile, managed to climb up the old and weather-damaged rail, while still craning his neck to keep eye contact. I talked, Doyle threatened and Ron questioned with increasing bewilderment while the bear crested the rail, and began to slide down the post. (The next day I saw some unpleasantly deep long scratches in the wood.)

When the screeching sound was over and I assumed the delinquent bear was on the ground, I shut both French doors. Doyle collapsed where he stood, eyes open and silent. “Will you at last tell me WHAT?” asked Ron, now behind me. I found my voice had broken and I could not.

This has been the last of my three encounter with bears in the Pacific Northwest. So far.


NEW BEAR ALERT

After feeling at rest last night, having finished my third of three North West bear stories, I was surprised this morning at 6:48 am, as I thought my husband and the dogs had left for their morning trek into Marymoor Park, to have him call up the stairs “Are you there? Are you THERE?” With my empty coffee cup beside me and my Kindle on my lap, I called back “Where could I be? Completely vanished? In another dimension?” and he bounded back up the stairs, just a dark outline with his Canadian Tilley hat on his head and said, “The bear stories are not over! The cans are spread all over the ground and enormous drag marks are everywhere!”

My mind had been on IMPOSSIBLE ODDS: the Kidnapping of Jessica Buchanan and her Dramatic Rescue by SEAL Team Six, which I had just downloaded, so there were about three seconds of reset for me. Then I said, gleefully “But you didn’t wake up!”

The wide-brimmed hat shifted right and left. “I guess there weren’t any recycled cans in the garbage,” and then he was off to the park again.

It’s like Sam Gamgee said. The stories don’t end, you just fall out of them. And maybe back in.


Bear encounter #4 . . . and FIVE.

At one-thirty last night we were awakened by our dog Doyle’s bass bark, which is rarely given and sounds like the trump of doom. He stood beside the doors to the upper deck and repeated the bark, again and again. Doyle is an almost silent dog, so we knew it was something important. But what?

I suggested letting the dogs out into the pasture, because whatever… it was they had room to maneuver and were not at all stupid about their reactions to danger. Ron allowed me to let them out, and the Bark became a sort of howl. I think all Doyle needed, (being a tall, black dog) was phosphorus around his eyes to look like the Hound of the Baskervilles. Dingle was also yipping and running wildly. We could hear her feet on the grass. We could hear other sounds, too.

“It’s a bear,” said Ron. I’d never really heard a bear make noise before, and could see why people call them sows and boars. (Though I myself would always address a bear as Honored Sir, or Ma’m) Ron took point entirely during this encounter, because I was sore and stiff and my curiosity wasn’t overwhelming. Ron went out with an LED flashlight; I could see him through the upstairs window, walking to the fence. “Doyle has it treed,” he shouted.

Doyle had TREED a bear? Our aggressionless, hypersocial Doyle, retired service dog? “Is it a cub?” I called out. “Big enough,” he answered. It’s in the Doug Fir.” Ron seemed fascinated by the situation. Then he added “The bear has started crying.”

I could hear it. It really sounded like a cross between a growl and a child in distress. I went down and called in the dogs. Doyle came in quick enough. Dingle, who tends to get emotional about things, was more difficult. Then Ron said, “There’s another bear. It’s wuffling as the bear in the tree is crying. Can you hear it?”

I could. It was a much deeper sound. “Please come in,” I pleaded to my superhero of a mate, and Ron did, though he was clearly fascinated by the Ursine dialogue.

It was just what no human on the face of the earth wants: a young bear crying for its mama. And Mama comes.

We listened for some minutes, imagining what we would do if the cub (not a little, cute cub, remember) could not figure out how to get down the tree. Would we call the Fire Department? Stay housebound all day? But then the sound turned into a scrabbling. And the Mother and Son (or Daughter) reunion took place. About ten minutes later the dogs closest to our property started barking hysterically. Then, in another ten minutes, dogs further away.

Clearly we live on a bearish superhighway. I can work it out in my head how they come over the wild animal bridge over Novelty Hill Road and thence through the undeveloped area behind us, down our drive and to Peterson Pond (renamed Swan Lake by developers, though there is nary a webfoot of any kind upon it) and across 238th up the road to the North West. But there is nothing for them in that direction but increasing development, and I hope these two have gotten the idea that our Common Way is a bad choice. For their own sakes.

And by all benevolent spirits, for ours, too.


I Just Slapped A Bear

Three o’clock this morning there was a bellow and howl of dogs and I went out, still drugged with my sleeping pill, and there was a bear on the deck, looking in the screen door.

It wasn’t a very big bear. Probably no longer than Ron, although wider. (I have never, ever slapped Ron.) I opened the door and the bear just stared at me, inquisitively.

I’ve had enough. I hauled back and slapped it across the face. On each side of me the dogs were barking and shouting ‘Do it again!!”

The bear reacted just as though his mother had done the same thing to it. It retreated over the deck, jumped the rail and fell bodily onto the garden. Onto the same Nandina bush as the last falling bear.

This edge-of-the-wilderness life sometimes gets old. Really.

And FB keeps telling me I slapped Astrid Bear. I didn’t. I wouldn’t.


Here’s Another Fine Mess You’ve Gotten Us Into — Bear

May 11, 2017

This morning, at 5:58, there was a crash on our north porch, where we have been keeping our Coleman camp stove, since our real range died three weeks ago. (We use it in the kitchen, but there is a danger of propane leaks, so . . . )

Ron scrambles out to see, but I’m looking through a window and shout “Cub! Cub!” Because it’s better to confront a full grown male black bear than get close to a cub with mother around.

The bear is a fleeing streak of black, going off. The stove is now in the kitchen and I smell propane.

It gets old. It really does.

Trigger Snowflake, Lawman

By Ingvar: The Sun was high in the sky, a small brilliant speck visible through the crystalline dome of Fort Corallium. Trigger walked down Main Street, gracefully lifting his wide-brimmed hat to the people greeting him. He’d been the local law for three years now, and Fort Corallium had seen a steep drop in crime under his service.

Up ahead was the Coffee Emporium, one of the more luxurious establishments in the dome. He quickly checked that his badge was displayed on his broad chest, and that he had indeed holstered his laser revolver. It did not do to offend Miss Hoyter, the owner of the Emporium. Stopping briefly just outside the door, he brushed some specks of dust off his right sleeve, then entered.

“Sheriff Snowflake! What a pleasant surprise. What would you like?” said Miss Hoyter.

“It being payday and all, Miss Hoyter, I think I will indulge in a cup of your finest Colombian coffee,” answered Trigger, “It’s been several weeks since the last. But, the bounty for Frayed John came in, and it’s coming to the end of the month, and I feel like luxury.”

“Very good, Sheriff. Would you like something to eat with your coffee, as well?”

“I think I would actually like to start with a glass of fruit juice and a grilled synthecheese sandwich, with the coffee to follow, maybe with a vanilla Danish, if they are fresh.”

“Ever so, Sheriff. We always make Danishes in the morning. They may no longer be warm from the oven, but they should still be delightfully crisp.”

Trigger walked to one of the booths and sat down, making sure he had room to draw his weapon and a good sight line to the door. It was unlikely he would need that, with everyone knowing that causing a ruckus at the Emporium would result in Miss Hoyter issuing a lifetime ban from the establishment and she was the only place in town that imported coffee all the way from Earth. The beans from the hydroponics factory were vastly inferior in taste and you might as well simply steep roasted dandelion roots, for all Trigger cared.

As he savoured the last bite of his grilled synthecheese, Miss Hoyter came over with a cup on a silver platter.

“Here, Sheriff, freshly ground Colombian filter coffee, no milk, one brown sugar on the side, as you like it. We had a single strawberry Danish left, so I thought that it would make a suitable gift for Fort Corallium’s handsomest lawman.”

Trigger smiled at the compliment. He’d been good for Fort Corallium and the settlement agreed with him. Mostly quiet, these days. The ice miners had quickly grasped that Trigger was no push-over and would not condone any fisticuffs out on the streets. The only place in town that fighting still occurred in public was at Slim’s Alco-Hole, an establishment serving intoxicating liquor, for consumption on the premises. But, as its clientele was mostly the rougher elements of the community, and the fights very seldom spilled out from the main room onto the street, it was really only necessary to ensure that the medics were alerted. Once every few weeks, one miner or another would go too far and Trigger would need to step in and enforce the peace.

Looking at his plates, Trigger decided that as delicious as the vanilla Danish was, he would alas have to leave the last bite uneaten, it simply would be too much. He grabbed his cup and savoured the last mouthful of deliciously bitter coffee, as it slid down his throat.

“Miss Hoyter, I thank you. The coffee was delicious, as always. Please give my compliments to your pastry chef, by the way the vanilla and strawberry were most excellent.”

“Thank you, Sheriff. I do in fact bake the Danishes myself.” Replied Miss Hoyter, blushing slightly. “I am delighted that you enjoyed your little break. Can I tempt you to stay a while longer? I have some Viennese pastries I have been experiencing with. The air mixture is not quite right, so I have had to –”

“Alas, Miss Hoyter, I have had as much leisure as I can allow myself. Maybe tomorrow?”

Miss Hoyter nodded in agreement, “See you tomorrow, then, Sheriff.”

Trigger folded the napkin and placed it beside his cup, before standing up. As he made his way back out onto Main Street, he quietly mused to himself that Miss Hoyter would make an excellent spouse for a lucky man, one of these days.

Trigger had reached the shuttle port end of Main Street and turned around, when his radio made a sudden noise. He unhooked the unit from his belt and pressed the transmit button. “Sheriff Snowflake, what’s up, over?”

“Sorry Boss, the silent alarm from Lilyberg’s Jewelry just went off. Thought you should know. They’ve been pretty good at not doing falsies and, well, maybe it’s nothing and maybe there’s a problem, over.”

“No worries, Deputy Canner, I will proceed apace, I am a mere two blocks from Lilyberg’s. Sheriff Snowflake, out.”

He picked up the pace, it would not do to slack when the possible safety of the dome’s jewelry street was in possible jeopardy. Why, if he ever decided that the slow and gentle flirtation with Miss Hoyter should give way to a more serious pursuit, Lilyberg’s is where he would purchase the diamond ring.

He looked through the wide-open entrance of Lilyberg’s Jewelry and saw that nefarious deeds were indeed in progress. A swarthy, heavy-set man, probably a newcomer, since Trigger did not recognise him, was threatening Joseph Lilyberg, the proprietor of the shop, with a long knife.

Trigger unholstered his laser revolver and spoke in his stentorian lawman voice, “Please surrender your weapon, you are under arrest for armed robbery and illegal threats.”

The swarthy man turned his head and saw Trigger. A slight flinch, bringing the point of the knife a fraction closer to Joseph Lilyberg’s trembling throat. “Ah, the Sheriff. One step closer and I will ram my knife through the spineless neck of the goldsmith. All I want is every necklace and bracelet under the counter then I will be out of here, nobody gets hurt. How about that, Sheriff?”

Trigger quickly calculated angles and risk. It would be safe, but not for a lesser shot than him. “As I said, surrender your weapon, you’re under arrest.’

Before the swarthy man could more than tense his arm, in preparation for plunging the wicked blade through Mr Lilyberg’s shaking throat, Trigger fired his revolver, hitting the large knife right on the ricasso, snapping the blade and the laser beam reflecting up into the face of the villain, temporarily blinding him. A few quick steps later, Trigger whipped out a pair of hand-cuffs and locked the swarthy man’s hands behind his back. Holding firmly on to the cuff chain, Trigger walked the man out, while he grabbed for his radio. “Deputy Canner, please open holding cell Two, I am bringing in a perp, fool tried to rob Lilyberg’s.”

The following morning, Trigger Snowflake woke from a night of restful sleep. Standing by the basin in front of his shaving mirror, he cast a quick, admiring glance at his reflection. He was a good-looking man, firm of muscle, but not so thick with it that he would be slowed down. Add to this, a chiseled chin, sharp cheekbones and slightly dark-blond curly hair, cropped close to his head. He finished his morning shave, then put the straight razor away. He much preferred the old-fashioned way, rather than simply slathering his face in depilatory cream. Using a straight razor took skill, discipline, and no small amount of confidence.

Once dressed, he walked across the street to the Sheriff’s office. The swarthy perp from yesterday was turning and tossing in Cell Two, obviously not having had a restful night, contemplating his wickedness. Trigger sat down in his chair, poured a glass of chilled fruit juice, then leaned back and placed his feet on the edge of the desk. Later in the day, the Circuit Judge would be arriving at the shuttleport, hopefully taking the perp away to one of the penal asteroids, there to spend the rest of his life refining minerals.

Trigger took another sip of juice, when the front door was flung open and a kid came running in.

“Sheriff! Sheriff! They’ve taken Miss Hoyter hostage! Sheriff! Please come at once!”

It was Ben, one of the few kids in town, most miners preferring to not bring their family and rather take short-term contracts. But Ben’s father, Ezekiel, was a widower and had rightly decided that a life without a good paternal figure would lead the young boy astray, into crime or possibly even sodomy. So, Ezekiel had brought Ben with him, even if taking family meant agreeing to a minimum two-year contract, as opposed to the normal six months.

“Ah, young Ben, what is this about a hostage situation?”

“It’s at the Emporium, Sheriff! Armed men came in, held Miss Hoyter at gun-point and now they’ve tied her up! Come, quick, Sheriff, you must save her, please?”

Trigger nodded, “Certainly, it is my duty as the local representative of The Law. It would just encourage scum like that to not do my very best.”

Expecting serious trouble, Trigger strapped his double-holster gun belt on. Two laser revolvers would make short work of these miscreants. He left the Sheriff’s Office and headed up Main Street towards the Coffee Emporium, to more and more increasing cheers as he got closer. Obviously people were aware of what was happening and looking forward to him sorting the whole thing out.

Not long before the doors to the Coffee Emporium, he stopped and double-checked that he had loaded both revolvers with fresh laser cartridges and had the holsters loosely strapped to his legs. Satisfied that everything was in order, he placed himself next to the door, back to the wall and shouted.

“This is Sheriff Trigger Snowflake. You are all under arrest. Drop your weapons on the ground and exit this establishment peacefully.”

A gruff voice was heard from the inside. “You are holding one of my men in your cells. I have three hostages, including the owner of the café. If you can guarantee us safe passage to the shuttle port, a fully fueled shuttle and the release of my man, I will let them live. If my demands have not been met in fifteen minutes, I will start to kill the hostages, one every fifteen minutes, until such a time as my demands have been met.”

Trigger risked a quick glance through the door. It would expose his head, but only for the fraction of a second required to get that crucial view of the room. He pulled his head back to safety, just as a laser blast went through where his forehead had just been. They were quick, maybe even a match for Trigger’s enhanced reflexes. Thanks to his photographic memory, he could analyse the scene. There were five scumbags, three armed with laser revolvers, one with a laser carbine and one with a knife very similar to the one yesterday’s scum had wielded. At a guess, the man with the carbine was the leader, he certainly was the largest and in the centre of the group. Sitting on the floor, expertly bound up, was Miss Hoyter, as well as Mr. and Mrs. George Elphinstone, Margaret by name. They were somewhat the line of fire, especially since the miscreants could not be trusted to hold their fire until their weapons were fully raised. Trigger had certainly heard of hostages being shot in exactly that way, over in Beryllium Valley, only a few months ago. That would not happen on his shift.

“I have a counter-proposal. Come out on Main Street, and we’ll have an honest duel, one by one. There are five of you, so you will get five chances to kill me. If you do get me, I can guarantee that the kind people of this town will let you depart in my own personal shuttle.”

It was not, strictly speaking, a lie. Standard procedure was to tempt hostage-takers into leaving the hostages safely behind, before engaging, if at all possible. They were unlikely to want to drag the bound people along, lazy criminals would never exert themselves needlessly.

“Tell me, Sheriff, what guarantees do we actually have that what you say is true?”

Trigger quickly checked his pockets. He did, thankfully, have the activation card for the sheriff shuttle in his back pocket.

“I will throw the activation card to my shuttle through the door. You can check it yourself. It’s a Chrysler Motors Potomac-class shuttle.”

He threw the card, being careful to not get it to land too close to the leader, since that might be a bit suspicious. He could hear quiet steps, then it was silent for almost a minute.

“OK, we’re coming out. Standard duelling code, revolvers only, draw only after a dropped handkerchief lands. One of us at a time, we decide on the order. Is that acceptable?”

“Fine by me. I will cross to the other side of the street and find someone to act as our officiator.”

Trigger nodded to Joseph Lilyberg, who had just stepped out of his store. “Mr Lilyberg, Joseph, a quick word, if I may?”

“Eh, yes, certainly Sheriff, what can I do for you?”

“Could you please take my handkerchief, here, and officiate in a series of duels? If I should happen to pass on, please allow any still-living criminal free passage to the shuttle port.”

Of course Trigger had no intention to play by the rules, that would only apply for an honourable duel and his challengers were all villainous scum, but the current stratagem would certainly work to lure them our onto the street.

Not long after, the five criminals exited the Coffee Emporium, discussing quietly among themselves who would be the first to face him. Trigger slowly walked to the centre of Main Street, continuously facing them.

“Who, then, will be the first of you facing me? I have secured an officiator, standing against the wall between us. I believe we are at the regulation 19 yards, but if you gentlemen prefer, we can have that established for sure.”

The leader shrugged, “This looks fine to me. Charlie will face you first, then Thor, Tony, Esbiorn and finally myself, should that be necessary. I don’t believe that to be the case, we are all skilled shots and quick to draw.”

Facing each other down the length of Main Street, Charlie and Trigger squared off, right hands gently hooked near he grips of their laser revolvers. After a few tense seconds, Mr Lilyberg dropped the handkerchief, both men paying very close attention to the falling piece of fabric. Just before it was about to touch the ground, Trigger drew not only his right-side revolver but also the one on his left and fired five rapid shots, each shot hitting solidly in the forehead of the five criminals.

“Sorry, my fellow Fort Corallium citizens. I had to give these scum an illusion of fairness, to avoid collateral damage. If someone could call the undertaker to bring the bodies to the shuttle port, I shall release the hostages.”

Later that evening, there was a knock on the door at the Sheriff’s Office. Trigger walked to the door and pulled it open.

“Ah, Miss Hoyter, how can I help you?”

“Well, dear Sheriff, it would be amiss of me not thanking you thoroughly for your remarkable assistance this morning.  I have brought a pot of coffee, a few Danishes and some Viennese pastries. After that, I hope we shall both of us find ourselves in a better frame of mind.”

“By all means, Miss Hoyter, you are welcome into my office at any time and it would be a delight to share a cup with such a remarkable lady.”

Trigger’s thoughts went to the diamond ring in the top drawer, this would be the best possible moment to propose marriage and the custom was that once a proposal was accepted, no chaperone would be needed.

“Miss Hoyter, Coraline, I have tried to find the best moment to ask you this.” He kneeled in front of her, “Would you marry me?”

Filers Destroy Even More Lyrics

Almost anything will make a Filer burst into verse. I’ve been clipping the highlights from our own version of La La Land reality for over a year, and today I’m ready to play them for you.

Matthew Johnson http://file770.com/?p=33927&cpage=3#comment-579600 – (“Be Our Guest”)

 (And the juxtaposition of Lovecraft and Beauty and the beast makes me wish there was a mash-up of the two. With a few tweaks, it could be a truly horrifying story.)

Lose your mind, lose your mind
Your skull will be a melon rind
Open up the evil book
And ancient secrets you will find
Hidden clues, shoggoth ooze
You’ve got the Miskatonic blues
Try the fungi, they’re a lulu
Don’t believe me? Ask Cthulu
Thought and reason, you can park ’em
After all, sir, this is Arkham
Our hotel Bible’s not from Gideon
All our curves are non-Euclidean
When you’ve gouged your eyes out you’ll be glad you’re blind
Open the Necronomicon
Read a page and then what fun,
You’ll lose your mind, lose your mind, lose your mind!

Niall McAuley http://file770.com/?p=34266&cpage=1#comment-615233 (Beowulf)

So. The Filers in days gone by
and the SMOFs who ruled them had courage and greatness.
We have heard of those pixels’ heroic scrolling.

Soon Lee http://file770.com/?p=28318&cpage=3#comment-418410 (“The Gambler”)

The Writer

On a cool Autumn’s eve
At a Worldcon bound for nowhere
I met up with the writer
We were both too tired to sleep

So we took turns a-starin’
Out the window at the darkness
The boredom overtook us,
And she began to speak

She said, “Child, I’ve made a life
Out of writin’ people’s stories
Knowin’ what the plots were
By the way they held their tropes

So if you don’t mind me sayin’
I can see you’re out of ideas
For a taste of your Oolong
I’ll give you some advice”

So I handed her my China
And she drank down my last swallow
Then she bummed a cigarette
And asked me for a light

And the night got deathly quiet
And her face lost all expression
She said, “If you’re gonna play the game, child
You gotta learn to write it right

You’ve got to know when to show ’em
Know when to tell ’em
Know when to passive voice
And to gerund

You never check your wordcount
When you’re typin’ at the keyboard
There’ll be time enough for counting
When the writin’s done

Every writer knows
That the secret to good writin’
Is knowin’ what to throw away
And knowin’ what to keep

‘Cause every book’s a winner
And every book’s a loser
And the best that you can hope for is to Fail
Better next

And when she finished speakin’
She turned back toward the window
Crushed out her cigarette
And faded off to sleep

And somewhere in the darkness
The writer she dreamt stories
But in her final words
I found advice that I could keep

You’ve got to know when to show ’em
Know when to tell ’em
Know when to passive voice
And to gerund

You never check your wordcount
When you’re typin’ at the keyboard
There’ll be time enough for counting
When the writin’s done

Repeat to fade

(Starring Badass Raadchai Ann Leckie as the writer. With apologies to Kenny Rogers)

Peer Sylvester http://file770.com/?p=32890&cpage=1#comment-536816 (“When I’m washing windows” from George Formby)

Now I go ticking boxes to earn an honest bob
For a nosy filer it’s an interestin’ job
Now it’s a job that just suits me
A box ticker you would be
If you can scroll what I can see
When I’m ticking boxes

Pixels and filers too
You should see them argue ‘n coo
You’d be surprised at things they do
When I’m ticking boxes

In my mind I’ll work hard
But I’ll never stop
I’ll scroll this blinkin’ thread
Till I get right to the top

The star wars thing, it looks divine
The twitter guy, he is doin’ fine
I’d rather have Mikes job than mine
When I’m ticking boxes

The handmaids’ new series I call
It’s a wonder if it will fall
My mind’s not on my work at all
When I’m ticking boxes

I know a fella, not so swell
He is a puppy, that’s plain to tell
I’ve seen him insult Jemison as well
When I’m ticking boxes

Oh, with my mouse I’ll scroll hard
But I’ll never stop
I’ll click this blinkin’ box
Till I get it right on the nob

Oz and awards lyin’ side by side
God stalks I have spied
I’ve often seen what goes inside
When I’m ticking boxes

Camestros Felapton http://file770.com/?p=33089&cpage=1#comment-546353 (“Try a Little Tenderness”)

Oh the Gorn may be weary–
Them Gorns they do get weary
Wearing those same old metallic shorts, yeah yeah…
But when the Gorn gets weary
Try a little pixelness….

Cubist http://file770.com/?p=32862&cpage=4#comment-539962 (“Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds”)

picture yourself on a scroll on a pixel
with vector equations and hex-color codes
suddenly someone relocates the cursor
and turns on alternative modes

high-contrast JPEGs and aliased TIFFs
stealing your vision away
look for your rods and your retinal cones
and you’re blind

pixel in the scroll with diamonds…

Rev. Bob http://file770.com/?p=34266&cpage=1#comment-615153

The Mount Tsundoku pile is hangin’ over my head
And if it falls over I reckon it’ll render me dead
Oh! Woe is me! Typos are a misery!
But I-I-I’ve got to read
So I’m off to start ‘nother pretty thick doorstop!

Jack Lint http://file770.com/?p=32961&cpage=2#comment-540505 (Kipling’s “Gentlemen-Rankers”)

Since we’re talking of things that are Kipled:
We’re poor pixel scrolls who’ve lost our books,
Baa! Baa! Baa!
We’re little morlocks who’ve got no Nooks,
Baa–aa–aa!
Gentlefolk-filers out on the spree,
Damned from here to the Library,
God ha’ mercy on such as we,
Fifth! Godstalk!

Morlocks doesn’t really work there, but it seemed important at the time.

Peer http://file770.com/?p=33024&cpage=1#comment-543093 (People Are Strange)

People are strange
When you are a filer
Twitter seems wicked
When you’re unwanted
Places are uneven
When you are scrolled

Kip W. http://file770.com/?p=33089&cpage=1#comment-546116

Scroll on, thou doughty filer;
And, as thy pixels flow,
Scroll messages of media
To every fan below.

microtherion http://file770.com/?p=33129&cpage=2#comment-548951

Yor-El And The Gang Singing:
Oh yes, it’s Kryptonite
And the feeling’s right
Oh what a night

Luthor, he’s got the one
A rock that’s special everywhere
From Gotham to Metropolis
It’s Kryptonite, and Superman is down

[It’s Kryptonite…]

Wonder Woman, Lois Lane
You mothers both named “Martha”
Come here you hostage lady
Yeah, stay with me tonight

If you hear any gats
It’s just the Bat
It’s Kryptonite

Gonna use that Kryptonite
Use that Kryptonite
Gonna use that Kryptonite
Use that Kryptonite

[It’s Kryptonite…]

Stoic Cynic http://file770.com/?p=33129&cpage=1#comment-548627 (“Ragtime Gal”)

Hello my baby,
Hello my pixel,
Hello my scrolltime file.

Send me a tick by wire,
Baby the blog’s on fire…
*notices audience*

Ribbit!

Kip W. http://file770.com/?p=33274&cpage=2#comment-556328 (“High Hopes”)

Once there was a marten so fine,
Thought he’d take Collider off line
Everyone said, “Your mind’s flyin’…
You can’t take that off line!”

But he had
High hopes,
He had
High hopes,
He had
Sky-high don’t-care-if-I-die hopes
So whether mouse or mink,
If your Brain can think
You can scheme with Pink-
-y till nine.

Oops, there goes the Large Collider off
Oops, there goes the Large Collider off
Oops, there goes the Large Collider off line

Ka-
BOOM!

Peer Sylvester http://file770.com/?p=33328&cpage=1#comment-556877 (“The Joker” from Steve Miller Band)

Some filers scroll for the space cowboys
Some scroll for rockets and love
Some scroll for Boris (*)
Cause we scroll for the Tingle and love!

People scroll here, baby
Some clicking it wrong, clicking it wrong
Well, don’t you worry baby
Don’t worry
Cause were right here, right here, right here, right here at home

Cause we´re a Brunner
we´ re a Carter
we are a LeGuin
And were much smarter
We read SciFi in the sun!

(*) Strugatzki of course!

IanP http://file770.com/?p=33328&cpage=1#comment-556985 (Bon Jovi’s “You Give Love a Bad Name”)

Scrolled through the heart
And you’re to blame
Darling, you give Kzin a bad name…

A Kindle’s sale is what you tell
You promise me heaven, then put me through hell
Piles of books got a hold on me
Mount Tsundoku’s a prison, you can’t break free

Oh, oh, you’re a pixeled gun (yeah)
Oh, oh, there’s nowhere to run
No one can file me
The damage is done

Scrolled through the heart
And you’re to blame
You give Kzin a bad name (bad name)
I read my part
And you play with your game
You give Kzin a bad name (bad name)
You give Kzin a bad name
You give Kzin a bad name

Kurt Busiek http://file770.com/?p=33381&cpage=1#comment-559446

Pixel Scroll is my name
770’s my nation
Cyberspace my dwelling place
The File’s my destination

Steve Davidson http://file770.com/?p=33461&cpage=1#comment-562912

Mikey had a little file
there it is, on the screen
its just a little file
why not scroll it up
cute cute, little file
little pixels, little scrolls
now its comin at me
flowing cross the computer screen

pixel pixel, please let me scroll you
I want to write the fifth comment
Filer filer, its just a file
we want to make it the fifth comment

Camestros Felapton http://file770.com/?p=33485&cpage=1#comment-563726 (David Bowie’s “Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders From Mars”)

Pixel Scrolldust and Filers from Mars
Pixel scrolled guitar, blogging posts by Mike & Glyer
And the Filers from Mars
He scrolled it left hand
But made it too far
Became a special post by our gracious host

Peer Sylvester http://file770.com/?p=33546&cpage=1#comment-566010 (“Where is my mind” from The Pixies)

Ooh, stop
With your pixels in the air and your mouse on the ground
Try to tick and click it, yeah
Your box will collapse
But there’s nothing in it
And you’ll ask yourself
Where is my file
Where is my file
Where is my file

Peer Sylvester http://file770.com/?p=34628&cpage=2#comment-624273 (“No Milk Today” from Herman’s Hermits)

No scroll today
cause Mike has gone away
For signing of a book
“No scroll” is what it took
How could he know just what this absence means?
The end of all our scrolls, the end of all our dreams

Camestros Felapton http://file770.com/?p=33546&cpage=1#comment-566131 (“Distant Sun” by Crowded House)

When your seven worlds collide
Whenever I am by your side
And dust from a distant sun
Will shower over everyone

Charon D.  http://file770.com/?p=34101&cpage=1#comment-605760 (“Little Old Lady From Pasadena”)

Now everybody’s saying that there’s nobody shadier
Than the little old lady from Pixelgradia
She’s scrolling fast, she’s scrolling hard
She’s the terror of Pixelgradia Boulevard

Go granny go granny go granny go!

John Hertz – “Superstar”

Frankenstein,
Frankenstein,
Why are your eyes always filled with brine?

Frankenstein,
You’ve gone far;
Do you think you’re what they say you are?

Peer Sylvester http://file770.com/?p=34151&cpage=1#comment-610212 (“House of the Rising Sun“)

There is a house in New Crobuzon
They call the Rising Son
And it’s been the scroll of many a poor boy
And Godstalk, I know I’m one!

My mother was a Filer
She scrolled my new blue dreams
My father was a Slakemoth man
Down in New Crobuzon

Now the only thing a slakemoth needs
Is some dreams and a trunk
And the only time he’s satisfied
Is when he’s on a weaver

Camestros Felapton http://file770.com/?p=34186&cpage=2#comment-612125

We are the Hugo voting mere-people
We swish our flippy tails
We like to read our books a lot
And all that that entails

Once we lived on land you see
Amid the normal folk
But rabid mammal griefing
Made us all a bit more ‘woke’

“If we really must regress” we said
“and head back to the past,”
“Let’s return to the sea”
“But this time make it last”

Now we live among the dolphins
The whales and all the cephlapods
You are welcome to join us
Among the weird, the strange, the odds

Johan P http://file770.com/?p=34266&cpage=1#comment-615027 (“Let’s Do It, Let’s Fall in Love” by Cole Porter)

Birds do it, bees do it
Even pixel scrolling files do it
Let’s do it, let’s fall in love

Steve Davidson http://file770.com/?p=34266&cpage=1#comment-614908

The pixel must scroll
down the file of Mike’s dreaming
Flow Glyer, slow let the fifths and nears
come streaming onto my screen,
onto my screen
There’s a file, over at the fannish place
there’s a file, scrolling in a pixel place
there a hive, a hive of villany in every fans life

Peer Sylvester http://file770.com/?p=34266&cpage=1#comment-614968 (These Boots Are Made For Walkin’)

Well, these files are made for scrolling, and that’s just what they’ll do

One of these days these files are gonna scroll all over you
You keep tickin ‘ when you oughta be clickin’
You keep stalking when you oughta not God
You keep fifthing ‘ when you oughta be a’seconding’
What’s right is right but you ain’t been left just yet
These files are made for scrolling, and that’s just what they’ll do

Matthew Johnson http://file770.com/?p=34357&cpage=5#comment-619490 (“The Jumblies” by Edward  Lear)

Far and few, far and few, are the lands where the Filers stroll
Their books are piled in a tsundoku
And they went to sea in a scroll.

They went to sea in a scroll, they did, in a scroll they went to sea
In spite of all that the pups would say
In a Meredith Moment on book launch day
In a scroll they went to sea

And when the scroll was nearly wrecked
And everyone said “You’re just boxes to check!”
They called aloud, “Our scroll’s done with,
But we don’t care a pixel! We don’t give a fifth!
In a scroll we’ll go to sea!”

Far and few, far and few, are the lands where the Filers stroll
Their books are piled in a tsundoku
And they went to sea in a scroll.

Camestros Felapton http://file770.com/?p=34259&cpage=2#comment-614694 (“Goldfinger”)

I spent today cleaning things and entertaining other members of the household with my Shirley Bassey impression:

Molddddd fingers,
He’s the man, the man with the mouldy touch!
It rained too much
(so now he has)
Molddddd fingers
Beckons you, with his dusty clawsssss
They’re full of spores!!!!!!

Peer Sylvester http://file770.com/?p=34266&cpage=1#comment-615126 (Let’s Do The Time Warp Again)

Let’s do the Godstalk again.

Let’s do the Godstalk again.
It’s just a click with the left.
And then a box from the right.
Scroll your hands with your hips.
You bring your comments in tight.
But it’s the puppydrek
That really drives you insane.
Let’s do the Godstalk again.
Let’s do the Godstalk again.

Magenta:
It’s so dreamy, oh fantasy free me.
So you can’t vote me, no, not at all.
In another dimension, with
scientific invention,
Well pixelated I scroll all.

RiffRaff:
With a bit of a Mars flip

Magenta:
You’re on the file drip.

RiffRaff:
And nothing can ever scroll the same.

Magenta:
You’re read like a mountain.

RiffRaff:
still more books;you cant count´em .

All:

Let’s do the Godstalk again.
Let’s do the Goldstalk again.

Charon D. http://file770.com/?p=34697&cpage=1#comment-625555 (“A Pirate’s Life For Me”)

We pillage and plunder and polish our hooks
Appertain, me hearties, yo ho!
Or we would if we weren’t sitting around reading books
Appertain, me hearties, yo ho!

Yo ho, yo ho, a pixel scroll for me!

Tom Becker http://file770.com/?p=34828&cpage=1#comment-630510 (The Road Goes On Forever by Robert Earl Keen, Jr.)

Sherry was a blogger at the local fannish site
She had a reputation as a girl could really write

Down Main Street after midnight with a brand new file of zines A fresh one before her nose and a bheer appertained
She’d ride down to the clubhouse and meet with all her friends
The scroll goes on forever and the pixels never end

Kip W. http://file770.com/?p=34828&cpage=2#comment-630692

Useta blog down south on a pixel farm
Near Corflu, Tennessee.
‘Tweren’t nobody there in that cube but air,
Seventeen billion pixels and me.
One day round three, I said “OMG,
I’ll read File Sev’n Seven-teee!
It blew my screen,
Turned my red lights green
And I scrolled my pixels freee!

And there was
Pixels on the Hugos,
Pixels on the zines,
Pixels scrolled on costuming
And television screens
Pixels writing con reports from Washington, DC,
When I scrolled my pixels freeeee!

Craft Brewers Genre News

By Martin Morse Wooster: Here is some news I unearthed while attending the Craft Brewers Conference.

I know fans will enjoy the many fine products of Canada’s Great Lakes Brewery in their Take Ten series.  This is the brewery that dares to produce Harry Porter, Harry Porter and the Bourbon Soaked Vanilla Bean, Robohop, and Octopus Wants to Fight IPA.  I bet they’d be sued if they produced beers with these names in the US (and with Harry Porter, they write, “Please don’t sue us”) but they’re Canadian, so presumably Hollywood doesn’t care.

I stopped by Geeks Who Drink, a nationwide pub trivia company.  Once I established my geek cred by telling them, “I once won a tossup round against Roger Craig” (which for Jeopardy! fans is the equivalent of saying, “I once hit a single off of Greg Maddux”) they told me everything, including that their annual Geek Bowl tournament was so geeky that they got Jim Parsons AND Wil Wheaton to pose questions.  If you visit their site you will find they are holding a national Star Wars trivia tournament on May 4.

Are you one with the force? Is the force one with you? Does your partner still hate you for insisting on answering “I know” every time they tell you that they love you? Then join us on May 4th, as Geeks Who Drink returns to a galaxy far, far away for our third iteration of Let the Wookiee Win: A Star Wars Quiz.

Listen up, because we’re going to kill a TON of Bothans to bring you this quiz. Our questions will cover the five, good theatrical Star Wars films and (pretty much) only those movies. That means you can expect a healthy dose of Episodes IV through VII and Rogue One and just a smattering of Extended Universe references to separate the contenders from the pretenders. Study like a thorough padawan; they may never say the names of those bounty hunters Vader sends after the Millennium Falcon, but we consider that fair game.

Et in Arcadia Ego

By John Hertz: Speaking of Nero Wolfe, which I think is worth doing provided it’s one of Rex Stout’s stories, while happening to re-read ”Murder Is Corny” (1964) I found this – who knows how many times I’d seen it before it struck a spark (1980 Bantam printing of the collection Trio for Blunt Instruments, p. 134):

There it is, your one major flaw: a distorted conception of the impossible.

Stout never says Wolfe gave s-f a thought.  But what more could you ask?

The Latin above may come from the poet Virgil.  Literally it’s “And [even] in Arcadia, I am”.

In a painting by Guercino of about 1620 (the cautious say “1618-1622”; computer lovers will recognize my choice) idyllic shepherds find it on a tomb.  If you read E. Waugh’s Brideshead Revisited (1945), which I think is worth doing, you’ll find it’s the first part.

You can look up “Arcadia”.  And you can decide for yourself about the rest.

Buckaroo Banzai Returns – To the San Francisco Public Library

This patron borrowed Buckaroo Banzai when she was in high school, but her family moved and she never returned the book—until now.

During the San Francisco Public Library’s Fine Forgiveness Program (Jan. 3 – Feb. 14) 699,563 overdue items were recovered. During the six-week period, late fees were waived on all returned books, CDs, DVDs and other materials, regardless of how long overdue. Included were 12,246 items that were more than 60 days past due. The value of those long overdue items was nearly $236,000.

SF and fantasy figured prominently in publicity used to get out the word – and in stories about some of the oldest books returned under the program.

The five longest-overdue items that people brought back were:

  1. 40 Minutes Late by F. Hopkinson Smith (due 1917)
  2. Brass: A Novel of a Marriage by Charles Norris (due 1937)
  3. The Currents of Space by Isaac Asimov (due 1953)
  4. The Principles of Biology by Gardiner and Felmister (due 1967)
  5. Billiards at Half Past Nine by Heinrich Boll (due 1968)

The collection of short stories titled 40 Minutes Late was 100 years past due, and Brass, a Novel of a Marriage by Charles Norris had a due date stamp of 1937, making it 80 years past due. In both cases, the books were originally checked out by the returners’ great grandparents.

The fellow who returned 40 Minutes Late said his grandmother checked out the book from the library’s Fillmore branch (now shut down), and she died one week before it was due.

About the century-old book Katherine Jardine, Public Relations Officer says, “We need to process it back into the system. We are not sure yet if it will go back out into circulation. It might live in our History Center or Special Collections.”

Longest overdue books returned under amnesty displayed in a case at the San Francisco Public Library. SFPL photo.

Display of amnesty books at SFPL. Photo by Dave Nee.

Coverage of the amnesty campaign included an interesting map showing the distribution off accrued fines throughout the city. Patrons with unpaid fines have their borrowing privileges frozen. City Librarian Luis Herrera said, in consequence, the fines disproportionately affect low-income patrons, who need library services the most.

City data show that the highest fine amounts are concentrated in historically impoverished neighborhoods. Tenderloin patrons owe $302,376, Mission residents are $227,722 in the red, and a Bayview, Hunters Point and Visitacion Valley ZIP code owes $253,302.

In comparison, Financial District residents owe $8,347 and Presidio residents owe $6,495. But any San Franciscan could earn back card privileges by dropping off late materials at one of the library’s 27 branches during the campaign.

[Thanks to Dave Nee for the story.]

Gone Interplanetary

Art Widner at the 1990 Worldcon. Photo taken and (c) by Andrew Porter.

By Marty Cantor: This is going on a few lists where there may be some fen who remember this Art Widner board game.

Right, you read the name up above correctly — Art Widner.

Interplanetary is a board game which Art Widner invented in 1943.

From paperwork (which I cannot now find) I believe that there may very well have been several boards many decades ago but I am certain of one board which is still in existence, the board I used when I played the game last night.

Some time after I joined LASFS in 1975 I discovered that LASFS had not only a board for this game but also various playing pieces. And paperwork showing that others had made attempts to make the game more playable than what was apparently earlier versions of the game.

Ted Johnstone, Bill Ellern and Betty Knight demonstrating Interplanetary at the Los Angeles Hobby Show in 1960.

As a seasoned board game player I soon found that the game seemed to need quite a bit of work to make it fully playable and I worked on the game, off and on, for several years. This work required the cooperation of other LASFS’ game players. Finally, in 2007, after many years of not paying attention to the game, I put what I consider to be the finishing touches on the game – and then again put the game aside for about 10 years.

Until last night.

A couple of weeks ago I i/n/v/e/i/g/l/e/d/ convinced three women who were new to the Friday Night Board Gaming Meetup I run to play a Eurogame called Wars of the Roses. This is a longish game of some intricacy. They loved the game so I thought I would introduce them to Interplanetary so I printed the rules and handed them out.

Last night 4 of us played Interplanetary. It is, obviously, not a Eurogame-style game, depending as it does on the rolling of dice. Interplanetary is, though, a game with some strategy and a spectacularly different board than any other game.

We had fun.

Interplanetary game board

Origins of Project Bluebook

By Carl Slaughter: On July 29, 1952, the Pentagon held a press conference about flying saucers.

The flying saucer phenomenon began on June 24, 1947, after Kenneth Arnold reported to his airport tower sighting nine saucer-shaped vessels flying at extremely fast speed in echelon formation over the mountains of Washington state. When Arnold landed, the local media was waiting for him. The wire services picked up the story. Within 24 hours, newspapers all over the country ran front page headlines about the Arnold report. Suddenly more and more people claimed flying saucer sightings. UFOs had entered American culture.

On January 7, 1948, Kentucky Air National Guard pilot Captain Thomas Mantell crashed and died while in pursuit of a UFO. The public and the military began to take flying saucer sightings much more seriously because Mantell’s death indicated a possible alien hostile presence on Earth. (Another concern was that the vessels might be Soviet. This was at the beginning of the Cold War.) On October 1, 1948, North Dakota Air National Guard second lieutenant George Gorman engaged in an extended chase with a UFO that had speed and maneuverability far beyond any human vessel at the time.

In response to these and other UFO encounters, the Pentagon launched Project Bluebook and other investigation projects. The CIA launched the Robertson Panel and Congress launched the Condon Committee. Project Bluebook was finally shut down in 1970.

Whether or not you believe in UFOs, this documentary is an excellent history of the UFO phenomenon.

Barkley — So Glad You (Didn’t) Ask: A Column of Unsolicited Opinions — #5       

usbtypewriter

The Proust Questionnaire Answered

By Chris M. Barkley:

From the Vanity Fair website:

The Proust Questionnaire has its origins in a parlor game popularized (though not devised) by Marcel Proust, the French essayist and novelist, who believed that, in answering these questions, an individual reveals his or her true nature. Here is the basic Proust Questionnaire.

1)      What is your idea of perfect happiness?

To be listening to music, reading, writing or creating something of value.

2)      What is your greatest fear?

That my life has no meaning and nothing I have done has any value.

3)      What is the trait you most deplore in yourself?

Without a doubt, I procrastinate way too much. I’ll work on that tomorrow. Promise.

4)      What is the trait you most deplore in others?

When people impulsively give in to their most inner crassness and do things to please themselves without a thought to how their actions might be interpreted by others.

5)      Which living person do you most admire?

Currently, the 44th President of the United States, Barack Obama and his wife, Michelle. I also admire the men and women of law enforcement and public safety, who put their lives on the line EVERY day.

6)      What is your greatest extravagance?

I LOVE buying music, books and films. What I take for granted everyday is a pleasure that is denied to a great number of people in the world.

7)      What is your current state of mind?

Troubled, but feeling hopeful.

8)      What do you consider the most overrated virtue?

Modesty or moderation. When I was younger, I tried to dial back my self-worth and ego to appease other people, which, I think, held me back in my development as a person. As I’ve grown older, I learned the hard way that those sorts of feelings are actually harmful. If you’re good at doing something, ANYTHING, you have to be your own cheerleader first before you can get others to believe it. Occasionally, you’ve got to cut loose and feel it, otherwise you’ll tie yourself in emotional knots.

9)      On what occasion do you lie?

It’s usually a selfish impulse to protect myself from some stupid mistake or faux pas that I should have avoided in the first place. Shameful, but true.

10)   What do you most dislike about your appearance?

I would love to have been three or four inches taller.

11)   Which living person do you most despise?

I TRY not to despise anyone because hating takes a lot of personal energy and  is distracting me from more important concerns. Having said that, Donald J. Trump has worked himself off of my Christmas card list..

12)   What is the quality you most like in a man?

Honesty and a sense of humor.

13)   What is the quality you most like in a woman?

Honesty and a sense of humor.

14)   Which words or phrases do you most overuse?

Gotcha. Really? C’mon Man!!!!!!

15)   What or who is the greatest love of your life?

I have the privilege of having two exceptional people in my life; my daughter Laura and my life partner, Juli. I LOVE them both so much.

16)   When and where were you happiest?

When I am in the company of the people I love and good friends.

17)   Which talent would you most like to have?

One day, I would like to learn how to play musical instrument, such as a guitar or the piano.

18)   If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be?

Well, I am learning to be more decisive, be less of a procrastinator and try not to be such a hoarder. Every day is a challenge.

19)   What do you consider your greatest achievement?

That I am a loving parent who has successfully raising a responsible adult.

20)   If you were to die and come back as a person or a thing, what would it be?

I honestly can’t fathom to idea of being someone or something else. One thing is certain; not as a lobster. PLEASE!

21)   Where would you most like to live?

Anywhere my partner Juli happens to be.

22)   What is your most treasured possession?

The love I feel for Juli and Laura. It is greater than any physical possession I have. (Except for those 1966 copies of Justice League of America, numbers 46 and 47.)

23)   What do you regard as the lowest depth of misery?

Being depressed, mainly about my own state of mind or being worried about my country and our world.

24)   What is your favorite occupation?

While I love my current occupation as a bookseller, I would gladly trade it in to be a full time, professional writer.

25)   What is your most marked characteristic?

My dry and somewhat caustic wit. And my big nose.

26) What do you most value in your friends?

Honesty, loyalty and Vernor’s Ginger Ale..

27) Who are your favorite writers?

Harlan Ellison, Rita Mae Brown, Octavia Butler, William Shakespeare, William Goldman, Aaron Sorkin, Elmore Leonard, Dashiell Hammett, Gregory McDonald, Raymond Chandler, Rex Stout, Jack Vance, Jim Bouton, Theodore Sturgeon, Anne Rice, Stephen King, Robert A. Heinlein, Leonard Maltin, Kage Baker, Kij Johnson Nnedi Okorafor, Lois McMaster Bujold, George R.R. Martin, Neil Gaiman, Alfred Bester and Alice Sheldon (James Tiptree, Jr.) .

28)   Who is your hero of fiction?

I tend to gravitate towards film characters than literary ones. Lately I have been drawn to Max Rockatansky and Imperator Furiosa, the haunting main characters of Mad Max – Fury Road.

29)   Which historical figure do you most identify with?

Until Lin Manuel-Miranda enlightened us all about the life of Alexander Hamilton, I wouldn’t have an answer to this question.

30)   Who are your heroes in real life?

Teachers, cops, fire fighters and all other first responders. They should be the most respected and highest paid workers in America.

31)   What are your favorite names?

Laura and Juli, of course.

32)   What is it that you most dislike?

Arrogance, avarice and dishonesty are at the top of my list, especially if that person happens to be an elected servant of the people.

33)   What is your greatest regret?

That I spent nearly forty years wondering if I could be a writer instead of BEING a writer.

34)   How would you like to die?

Quietly, of old age if at all possible, watching Casablanca or 2001, A Space Odyssey. Otherwise, it should be in a spectacular fashion, with tons of spectacle.

35)   What is your motto?

“No Surrender, No Retreat.”

With MANY THANKS to Vanity Fair magazine.

On Another Tentacle

by John Hertz: (reprinted from Vanamonde 1230; italics, parentheses after this, in original)  My exhorting my companions on the Left (Mike Glyer once said I have the gift of exhortation; I warned him I was taking that as a compliment) not to be so smug, self-righteous, arrogant about our opinions (see Van 1228) shouldn’t be taken to imply I think you folks on the Right ought to be smug, self-righteous, arrogant about yours.  Indeed you have trumped us (8 Nov 16).  But triumphalism isn’t good argument.  It isn’t good politics.  It isn’t neighborly.  And since you are fond of saying you, not we, are the true guardians of liberty, I believe I may add It violates your own principles.  Now is the time for you to be better preachers, teachers, reachers.  I’ve insisted “Democracy is not Give me what I wish no matter what but I can be outvoted” (Van 1224); however, as Samuel Johnson said, people “may be convinced, but they cannot be pleased, against their will” (Lives of the English Poets, 1781; Congreve); and lest you fall into the pit beside the road of victory, I remind you of a remark by Isak Dinesen (who called it the saying of the hero of a book read as a child, Out of Africa ch. IV pt. 5 “The Iguana”, 1937): “I have conquered them all, but I am standing amongst graves.”