Operator?

We have established that this story first published in 1981, but what year are we in really? Operator? When was the last time you could dial -0- and get an operator? I just tried it on my Vonage (VoIP) phone and got nothing. I will have to ask my mom, who still has a land-line… Great… Now I will have that Jim Croce song stuck in my head for the next week…

But really? Was there ever a time a person could pick up a phone and ask to be connected to a specific person, high up in a skyscraper in New York City? I am picturing a giant switchboard with an endless row of operators (standing by…) physically plugging cords into different jacks… “Bill Ellis? a-one a-moment, plee-uz…” And the lady (Lily Tomlin for sure) makes a connection that is almost out of reach… Amazing how many Operator references there are still… fading into history mostly, but what an invention, the telephone!

Now give him what-for, Cherry!!

Ruh Roh…

No, Mark, technically, I think you just quit…

But that’s the way to show some backbone! Priorities in order!! Tell those suits how we do things in the woods!! That’s fine! You probably have options you don’t know about… And what? Are they going to NOT give you the award just because you aren’t there? Your market price is going up, Mark Trail! There’s a great article in what you are going through right now! Fear not, Nature Writer, these pricks will see the light!

Well, there goes that theory…

…the one that I offered up a few days ago- about how Bill Ellis knew to call Mark at the Animal Hospital, about how he must have called Lost Forest and Cherry directed him, which also assumes that Mark sent Cherry home so he could await Andy’s fate in private… But apparently not…

Oh, J.R. Williams, you insensitive brute! Why, you could easily be one of the villains that Mark goes up against in another tale of Corporate Greed… But wait, you are sort of playing the Villain right now… The only thing that’s missing is a cigar in one hand (or maybe a glass of whiskey) and you’d be a dead ringer for “Big Mike” of arranged big game trophy hunting fame…

So, as Mark is about to tell J.R. to take this job and shove it, we see Mark’s jaw start to set as he steels himself for the conflict!

Just how many “Conservation Writers” are there?

I mean, who is Mark’s competition, after all?

Apparently Bill hasn’t been listening… I guess enthusiasm can blind a person. And compare the “hospital” in these two strips… the first looks like a farm with a water tower and red barn, and the second (complete with a fallen tree in the foreground) looks more like a city skyline. What is going on here??

Oh, Bill, haven’t you ever seen an awards program? “Accepting for Mark Trail is his Editor, William Ellis…” Then you could go on an on about what a standup guy Mark is and how the world is a better place with him in it, blah, blah, blah… You could even read a prepared statement from Mark, explaining that he is bedside with a loved one struggling for life…

At least Andy is back in the present tense!

In a departure from more typical Mark Trail obliviousness, Mark inquires about the cat that has really brought nothing but despair, cost and potential tragedy to Lost Forest…

Yes, he is, Mark! One of a kind. Not that anyone else seems to understand that…

Uh, Bill…? Did you even hear a word Mark said?? “Andy’s still in serious condition!” “Mark, get on that damned plane, and get to the awards ceremony!”

I assume that Bill called Lost Forest first and Cherry told him to call the Animal Hospital… So many leaps of faith in this story line!

In life’s waiting room…

Sometimes things happen that bring everything else to a halt. It’s usually when a loved one is lost or in peril…

In this case it’s Mark oldest friend, Andy the St. Bernard, who saved his life when they served together in WWII… We really have to apply time bending to this, though… We established that it’s 1981 and WWII was in the mid ’40’s so that makes Andy close to 50 (350-400 in dog years) and Mark in his 60’s… I guess we get to live forever in the funnies…

As Mark ponders how hollow the award would be without his Dearest Friend to share it with, Cherry has to wonder where she fits in the pecking order- Would Mark be nearly as conflicted and paralyzed if it was her fighting for life?

Canine Pneumonia?

What’s with the ‘P’ in P-neumonia? Like, what’s with the ‘h’ in diphtheria? As we name diseases, we need extra, confusing letters that add nothing to the phonetic pronunciation? While we are at it, then, why don’t we ‘pronunce’ as opposed to ‘pronounce?’

I thought for sure that Dr. Tom Davis, Cherry’s father, was a Vet! Maybe he just does large animal as opposed to house-pets… But isn’t Andy a large breed dog? Doesn’t that count for something?

I might help, Doctor, if you ran an IV or something…

You and the mouse in your pocket?

Who is this “we?” For the last week there has been one- singular- Ranger “Checking his traps…” “You fellows?” Is Mark referring to the hedgehog in the foreground? And “The Hospital?” Do you mean the Animal Hospital? Or does everyone, man and beast, see the same doctor in Lost Forest?

Ah, the days before cell phone technology… when you had to rely on others to deliver messages! Cherry will be so relieved to find Tabby is OK! Did anyone even ask about the damned cat? Nope, cats always come back… whether you want them to or not!

In or out?

This isn’t the first time I’ve been confused, by the Trailverse or other things, but I swear that Jr. Ranger Tom appears to have put Andy and Tabby back into the trap and closed the door… It was just a few days ago that Andy and Tabby were outside the trap, with the door open, and tags being inspected…

And the trap seems to have been moved away from the lake. When the trap was first being inspected, the waters where practically lapping against the box.

For all the grief I gave James Allen during his brief turn at the tiller, inconsistency and incongruity seem to be a feature of this strip… And as the comments suggest, we are being asked to understand that there was an awful lot of information exchanged off-camera in order for Mark to even know where to go! But then, we should be grateful that this story is wrapping up quite quickly as we are being spared those gory details.

The land-line tells all!!

Colorizing the past and punctuated with older technology… I wonder if that phone is hooked up to a party line? News of Andy’s Lazarus-like return will travel fast…

With the news of Andy still breathing, Mark and his pink chamois-cloth shirt and jeans make like Clark Kent heading toward a phonebooth! Cherry continues to look on in disbelief, hoping against hope that her side of the story will never have to come out!!

Why aren’t they calling for Doc Davis? He might actually be able to do some good here…