Saturday, October 09, 2004

Bears and You

I started watching ABC's "Lost" accidentally, and I've found myself almost hooked. In fact, I would have been completely hooked, but last week's episode totally blew it.

First, the premise is one of the oldest in sci-fi: a group of people are stranded on an island which is inhabited by a monster. Great. One of those stories.

Second, the monster in this case is a polar bear. Hmm. Yes, of course. A friggin' polar bear. On a friggin' tropical island. I can't wait to see how they play this one off. Crazy scientist's pet project a la Jurassic Park? Genetic mutations due to nuclear testing? Random evolutionary wackiness?

Third, said polar bear was shot to death by a handgun in last week's episode.

Now, I don't know how much the Dearest Readership knows about firearms and bears, so I'll give you a quick overview. Ready? It's pretty complicated, so stay with me:

Handguns, generally, won't kill a bear.

In order to kill a bear with a handgun, you really need to hit it in the face, preferably through the mouth, so that the bullet penetrates the brain. If you've ever fired a gun at a target, you know how difficult aiming actually is. Contrary to TV, it's hard to fire a handgun accurately beyond 20 feet or so. And that's in calm, controlled conditions without adrenaline or a pissed off bear charging at you.

Then there's the bear itself. Handguns will definitely kill snakes, rodents, and even mountain lions if the cat's small enough and the gun's big enough. But bears... well, bears are big. And mean when provoked. And they have really thick skin. I'm not saying you could swing by your local taxidermist's and buy bear skins for the troops in Iraq to replace their Kevlar, but it is pretty thick stuff. By the time a handgun bullet penetrates the skin, it's lost most of its energy, so it won't do a lot of damage to internal organs.

Long story short: don't try to shoot a bear with a handgun, okay?

Hmm. Shall I write a play to illustrate my point?


Encounter With a Grizzly: A One Act Play

Three young couples sit around a campfire in a U, with the open end facing the audience. One of them strums a guitar while sitting on a big plastic cooler. He also has a shoulder holster with a handgun clearly visible. Some of them sip hot chocolate from tin cups, while others roast marshmallows. Three tents are set up. It's dark except for the campfire, which throws shadows onto the tents and trees in the background. Everyone looks stoned, and no one talks. It's very serene.

A bear enters stage right. The couples are oblivious to the bear as it sniffs the air, looks up into the trees, and meanders, slowly, around the background. It moves behind a tent and approaches the group from behind. He watches the group and is curious but obviously friendly: nodding along with the gentle guitar, looking at what each person is doing the same way an infant looks at a wall. A cooler by his feet catches his eye.

The bear bends over to open a cooler behind the group, and stands back up with a can of beer.

Bear [pointing to the can of beer]: Hey, uh, you guys mind if I drink this?

Everyone turns, slowly, and gazes up at the bear. There is a five second silence in which no one's expression changes.

Group: [screams]

Panic. Marshmallows get thrown into the air. The group disintegrates into chaos: one person runs over a tent, deflating it. The guitarist makes it about 20 feet from the campfire and then turns over on his back, kicking and swatting the air for no reason. He looks like a toddler about to get tickled. Everyone is still screaming. One person runs with his arms waving over his head across the background, exiting stage left momentarily, then entering stage left and running across the background to stage right. This process is repeated throughout until noted. Anyone remaining runs and exits stage right.

The bear watches this with mild curiosity. After a few moments he goes back to surveying the camp. Seeing the cooler the guitarist was sitting on, he casually tosses the beer over his shoulder and bends down to open it.

Offstage, a car engine revs. There are shouts of "let's go!" and "get in the car, Ray!" The person running across the background all this time makes a final run from stage left to stage right, still waving his arms over his head and screaming.

The bear stands up with an opened candy bar. The guitarist stops kicking the air and sits up. Hands shaking, he takes out his gun. Gaining his nerve but clearly overloaded with adrenaline, he gets to his feet and approaches the bear. He looks like he might turn and run instead at any second.

Once within three feet of the bear, he points the gun at it and fires off several shots. The bear chews the candy bar and looks generally disinterested. The guitarist seems to calm down, and lowers the gun but still faces the bear.

The bear looks down at his chest, and brushes at it as if he's just noticed a stain or something. Still chewing, he points at a bag of marshmallows on the ground.

Bear: Oo! Are those marshmallows?

The bear bends down for the marshmallows while the guitarist fumbles with the gun and reloads. The bear stands back up with the marshmallows, and the guitarist fires more shots, now within reach of the bear.

Bear: Dude. Stop that.

He swats at the guitarist's arm and he drops the gun. Holding his forearm, he stumbles backwards and trips behind the only tent that's still standing. The bear crams several marshmallows into his mouth, watching the guitarist. He drops the bag and daintily steps over a cooler; waddles over to where the guitarist fell.

The guitarist's body is hidden by the tent. The bear stands over him for a moment, and then a horrible, primal, and very loud grizzly bear growl vibrates through the theater. The bear bends over and both are out of sight. As the horrible sounds continue, pieces of clothing and raw, bloody meat are thrown into the air behind the tent, some getting hung up in trees. Screaming and the revving car engine continue offstage. At some point the guitarist's screams turn into a gurgling sound and eventually die off completely.

The bear stands up and mildly looks around. Seeing the cooler again, he slowly meanders back to it and rummages through it. The car engine fades, presumably driving away. The bear retrieves a beer, pokes a hole in it, and slurps at it. Looking around some more, he sits down by the fire. He reaches out for the bag of marshmallows and pulls it into his lap. He belches.



Blogger Cooper66 said...

I anxiously await your analysis of the babe fest "DESPERATE HOUSEWIVES".

2:59 PM  

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