Pulp Recognition Whiz

In yesterday’s Scroll I threw out this link with a challenge —

Look for the SF pulps! Photos of old newsstands.

Steve Davidson of Amazing Stories actually did it. Here are his results. The titles are flagged in red.

  • Argosy

  • Astounding, Amazing, and Weird Tales

  • Planet Stories

  • Weird Tales

  • Wonder and Amazing

  • Action Comics

I asked if Steve used a computerized microscope? He answered, “Nah, squinting and an intimate familiarity with pulp SF title fonts, lol.”

Oldies Goldies

Curated by Carl Slaughter: Sci-fi oldies, but definitely not sci-fi goldies:

(1) How can a sci-fi television show fail with the likes of Vincent Price, Earnest Borgnine, Lorne Greene, and a hunk from Dallas?  Fail they did.

  • Future Cop
  • Time Express
  • Fantastic Journey
  • Invisible Man
  • Gemini Man
  • Man from Atlantis
  • Project UFO
  • Beyond Westworld
  • Tales of the Unexpected
  • Spiderman
  • Logan’s Run
  • Buck Rogers in the 25th Century
  • Battlestar Galactica

(2) Bad and hideously bad failed speculative TV pilots.  Including Leonard Nimoy’s Baffled.  Try this quote from Clone Master:  “I’m working on some very sophisticated cloning experiments.  But working on cloning and being a clone are two different things.”  And this Morgan le Fay quote:  “I am Kali, goddess of destruction!  I am Lilith, queen of demons!  I am Ishtar, bloody Ishtar!”

  • Dr. Strange
  • The Man With The Power
  • Northstar
  • ExoMan
  • The Archer; Fugitive from the Empire
  • The Tribe
  • Clone Master
  • Baffled!

(3) Remember these old, tacky, short-lived sci-fi shows of the 80s?

  • Automan
  • Manimal
  • The Wizard
  • Wizards and Warriors
  • Misfits of Science
  • Shadow Chasers
  • The Phoenix
  • Powers of Matthew Star
  • Starman
  • Outlaws
  • The Highwayman

(4) 80s sci-fi gems and duds, mostly duds.  Including Linda Hamilton and Ron Perlman’s Beauty and the Beast.

  • Darkroom
  • Galactica 1980
  • Buck Rogers in the 25th Century
  • V
  • Otherworld
  • Hard Time on Earth
  • Voyagers
  • The Greatest American Hero
  • Once a Hero
  • Beauty and the Beast
  • Werewolf
  • Max Headroom
  • Twilight Zone

(5) Remember these old, tacky, short-lived sci-fi TV shows from the 90s?  Including Steven Spielberg’s seaQuest DSV and Stephen King’s Golden Years.

  • Space Rangers
  • The Flash
  • M.A.N.T.I.S.
  • Mann and Machine
  • Viper
  • seaQuest DSV
  • The 100 Lives of Black Jack Savage
  • Eerie Indiana
  • Nightmare Cafe
  • Dark Shadows
  • Earth 2
  • Touched by an Angel
  • Twin Peaks
  • X Files
  • Golden Years

Superheros: Best and Worst Video Roundup

Curated by Carl Slaughter: (1) Screen Junkies’ list of best comic book screen casting

  • Chris Evans as Captain America
  • J.K. Simmons as JJ Jameson
  • Patrick Stewart as Professor Xavier
  • Tom Hiddleston as Loki
  • Michael Keaton / Christian Bale as Batman
  • Ryan Reynolds as Deadpool
  • Hugh Jackman as Wolverine
  • Robert Downing as Iron Man
  • Heath Ledger as Joker

(2) CBR’s list of worst superhero castings:

  • Nicolas Cage as Ghost Rider
  • Ryan Reynolds as Green Lantern
  • George Clooney as Batman
  • Eric Bana as The Hulk
  • Jessica Alba as The Invisible Woman
  • Ben Affleck as Daredevil
  • Shaquille O’Neall as Steel
  • Seth Rogen as The Green Hornet
  • Topher Grace as Venom
  • Halle Berry as Catwoman

(3) 8 openly gay superheroes

(4) Superhero Movie Moments That Make Absolutely No Sense

(5) Movie essayist Patrick Willems, who has a keen eye for colors in superhero movies, especially likes the way Patty Jenkins used colors in Wonder Woman.

(6) 10 Actors Who Thought They Were Playing Other Comic Book Villains

Pop Super-Character Quiz

By Carl Slaughter: Identify the superhero, supervillain, superrelative, superalterego, or superbuddy who uttered these famous catch phrases or one liners.  Easy ones first.

  1. “I’m Batman.”
  2. “I am Iron Man.”
  3. “This is a job for Superman.”
  4. “I’m your friendly neighborhood Spider-Man.”
  5. “Hulk smash!”
  6. “I am Groot.”
  7. “Shazam!”
  8. “In brightest day, in blackest night, no evil shall escape my sight.  Let those who worship evil’s might, beware my power, Green Lantern’s light.”
  9. “Kneel before Zod.”
  10. “Hail Hydra.”
  11. “Back in a flash.”
  12.  “Flame on!”
  13. “My Spidey sense is tingling.”
  14. “Assemble!”
  15. “Kowabunga!”
  16. “Spoon!”
  17. “Bub.”
  18. “Why so serious?”
  19. “Genius, billionaire, playboy, philanthropist.”
  20. “I could do this all day.”
  21.  “It’s clobbering time!”
  22. “It’s morphing time!”
  23. “The power of the Sun in the palm of my hand.”
  24. “I am vengeance.  I am the night.”
  25.  “It’s not who I am underneath, but what I do, that defines me.”
  26. “With great power comes great responsibility.”
  27. “You either die a hero or you live long enough to see yourself become the villain.”
  28. “Don’t make me angry.  You won’t like me when I’m angry.”
  29. “I feel a great swell of pity for the poor soul who comes to that school looking for trouble.”
  30. “I’m not locked in here with you, you’re locked in here with me.”
  31. “Men get arrested.  Dogs get put down.”
  32. “This city’s afraid of me.  I’ve seen it’s true face.”
  33. “You’ve got me?  Who’s got you?”
  34. “Is she with you?”  “I thought she was with you.”
  35. “It is our sacred duty to defend the world.  And it is what I am going to do.”

Answer key:

  1. “I’m Batman.”
  2. “I am Iron Man.”
  3. “This is a job for Superman.”
  4. “I’m your friendly neighborhood Spider-Man.”
  5. “Hulk smash!”
  6. “I am Groot.”
  7. “Shazam!” AKA Captain Marvel
  8. “In brightest day, in blackest night, no evil shall escape my sight.  Let those who worship evil’s might, beware my power, Green Lantern’s light.”
  9. “Kneel before Zod.”
  10. “Hail Hydra.”
  11. “Back in a flash.”  — The Flash
  12.  “Flame on!”  — The Human Torch
  13. “My Spidey sense is tingling.”  Spider-Man
  14. “Assemble!”  — Avengers
  15. “Kowabunga!” – Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles
  16. “Spoon!”  The Tick
  17. “Bub.”  — Wolverine
  18. “Why so serious?”  — The Joker
  19. “Genius, billionaire, playboy, philanthropist.”  — Tony Stark
  20. “I could do this all day.”  — Steve Rogers
  21.  “It’s clobbering time!”  — The Thing
  22. “It’s morphing time!”  — Power Rangers
  23.  “The power of the Sun in the palm of my hand.”  — Doctor Octopus
  24. “I am vengeance.  I am the night.” — Batman
  25.  “It’s not who I am underneath, but what I do, that defines me.” — Batman
  26. “With great power comes great responsibility.” — Peter Parker’s uncle, Ben
  27. “You either die a hero or you live long enough to see yourself become the villain.” — Harvey Dent
  28. “Don’t make me angry.  You won’t like me when I’m angry.” — Bruce Banner
  29. “I feel a great swell of pity for the poor soul who comes to that school looking for trouble.” — Professor Xavier
  30. “I’m not locked in here with you, you’re locked in here with me.” — Rorschach
  31. “Men get arrested.  Dogs get put down.” — Rorschach
  32. “This city’s afraid of me.  I’ve seen its true face.” — Rorschach
  33. “You’ve got me?  Who’s got you?” — Lois Lane
  34. “Is she with you?”  “I thought she was with you.” — Superman, Batman
  35. “It is our sacred duty to defend the world.  And it is what I am going to do.” — Wonder Woman

Sci-Fi Pop Quiz 2

By Carl Slaughter: Here is a list of titles you are to use in answering the questions that follow.

  • The Mysterious Island
  • The Island of Doctor Moreau
  • From the Earth to the Moon
  • The First Men on the Moon
  • The Time Machine
  • The Invisible Man
  • Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde
  • League of Extraordinary Gentlemen
  • The Adventures of Captain Nemo
  • The Adventures of the Nautilus
  • The Land That Time Forgot
  • The People That Time Forgot
  • The Lost Continent
  • The Lost World
  • Journey to Venus
  • Lost on Venus
  • Escape on Venus
  • Journey to Mars
  • Return to Mars
  • Marooned on Mars
  • Robinson Crusoe on Mars

(1) Which of these stories did Jules Verne write?

(2) Which of these stories did H.G. Wells write?

(3) Which of these stories did Edgar Rice Burroughs write?

(4) Which of these titles are fake?

(5) Which title is incomplete?

(6) Which title is slightly misspelled?

(7) Which stories have a crossover character?

(8) Which story originated as a movie?

(9) Which story originated as a comic book?

(10) Which two stories were written by famous authors writing out of their usual genre?

The answer key follows the jump.

Continue reading

Hugo Voter Technology

Apples or oranges, which is best? Laura “Tegan” Gjovaag asked for Filers’ help in solving a dilemma:

I finished watching Stranger Things for the Hugos last night. How on earth am I supposed to judge a work that’s almost 7 hours long against 2-hour works?

For these situations I recommend the squeemeter.

Just hold it while you’re watching Best Dramatic Presentation nominees and let its patented galvanic measuring technology track your reactions. Figures don’t lie!

Bite my shiny plastic ___!

If You Give Del Arroz Publicity

By Camestros Felapton:

If you give Del Arroz publicity
He’s going to ask for an interview.
When you give him the interview
He’ll probably ask for a review.
When he’s got his review
He’ll ask you about your con.
Then he’ll want to be on a panel
To make sure you aren’t political.
And if you invite him as a guest
He might notice you’re an SJW.
So he might give you a stern lecture
About how you are spoiling all the fun
…so maybe you won’t invite him.
But then he’ll be upset
And he’ll talk to everybody
About how you wouldn’t let him in.
So you’ll end up talking about him
And give Del Arroz publicity.

 

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?”