From left to right, Wim Steenbakkers, Deb Smith and Ray Quintana serve soup at the annual Homer Community Food Pantry’s Empty Bowls fundraiser on Friday, Nov. 8, 2019, at Homer United Methodist Church in Homer, Alaska. Quintana was visiting from Albuquerque, New Mexico, and volunteered his time during this stay. (Photo by Michael Armstrong/Homer News)

From left to right, Wim Steenbakkers, Deb Smith and Ray Quintana serve soup at the annual Homer Community Food Pantry’s Empty Bowls fundraiser on Friday, Nov. 8, 2019, at Homer United Methodist Church in Homer, Alaska. Quintana was visiting from Albuquerque, New Mexico, and volunteered his time during this stay. (Photo by Michael Armstrong/Homer News)

Best Bets

You know that old comic strip, The Phantom, about a hero who people believe can never die? The gimmick is that The Phantom is really generations of men, sons of sons of sons, who train with their father to take on the mask when dear old dad retires.

OK, maybe that’s too obscure an old cultural reference. What’s next? A joke about Mutt and Jeff? The Yellow Kid? How do you expect millennials to follow these convoluted introductions if they refer to 20th Century icons?

Hang in there. The Betster merely wants to explain the Betster Origin Story. People frequently send us emails asking,

“Who is the Betster? Who writes those charming little columns? And how can we get our special event in Best Bets?”

The back story is that the Betster is like The Phantom, the smarty pants who cannot die. The truth? Well, over decades of Best Bets, many have been called to the cause. Do we contract out the writing? Does the column appear weekly in a secret Google Docs link? Only the Shadow knows. Oops — there we go with another obscure Greatest Generation reference.

We like to keep the identity of the Betster secret. It’s part of the mystique. It’s part of the charm. But also, it’s mainly because at the end of a long deadline day when we’re trying to wrap up the paper, we always seem to put off Best Bets to the end. Bargains are made. Straws are drawn. Someone has to write it. Someone has to go into the dusty archives of the building and put on the secret Betster mask.

Great powers exist in that black velvet eye covering. Generations of Betsters have worn the mask, going all the way back to … Well, we cannot say, but rumor has it that one Betster later became a best selling New York Times author. With power comes great responsibility, the sacred duty of researching way cool happenings in town, and picking out the ones that the Betster believes worthy of inclusion.

Is it fun? Is it a nonprofit event benefiting a worthy cause? Can the Betster create a snappy lede or a funny alliterative title? The Betster has their standards, which is why week in and week out you will find yourself overjoyed at finding amazing things to do, like these Best Bets:

BEST BARLEY BET: If it actually gets cold this winter, we could do something way cool: ice skating on Grewingk Glacier Lake. Today from 5:30-6 p.m. at Grace Ridge Brewing, Dana Nelson does a Barley & OATs (Outdoor Adventure Talks) on the ultimate Kachemak Bay bucket list item. What do you need for the trip? When should you go? Find out at the talk. This event is free to attend.

BEST STEPPING OUT BET: If you’re looking for a more sedate activity that doesn’t involve walking in a blizzard, try Walk with a Doc from 9-10 a.m. Saturday at the SPARC, the South Peninsula Athletic & Recreation Center. Walk with a Doc returns on the first and third Saturdays of each month with a different local health care provider leading each walk. They will speak about a current health topic, and you’ll spend the rest of the hour walking, asking questions, getting free blood pressure screenings and more. Please bring your clean, indoor walking shoes to change into.

BEST IT’S NOT TOO SOON BET: The Betster doesn’t believe in getting all decked out for the holidays until after Thanksgiving, but will grant a special exemption for Alaskans who need to do a little advance shopping so they can mail stuff down south. OK, that excuse worked when mail got barged to the Lower 48, but shhh — don’t tell gramps that. Kick off the holiday bazaar season with a classic, the St. John’s Christmas Bazaar from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday at St. John the Baptist Catholic Church. There will be craft items, gifts, baked goods and more. Baked goods? Yum — those are always in season.

BEST WOOT WOOT BET: One of Alaska’s coolest graphic novelists, Nathan Shafer, is back with his latest Arctic adventure, “Wintermoot Book Two: Sourdough and Arête.” Shafer holds a book release party at 4 p.m. Saturday at Bunnell Street Arts Center. The second issue of Wintermoot focuses on Sourdough, an aging Alaskan superhero and Arête, a younger superhero, as she interviews him for her forthcoming anthropological study of the effects of colonialism on the supernatural in Alaska. Wintermoot 2 also features the first Zero Chapter, on the opposite side. Zero Chapters are short origin stories, setting up up-coming issues of Wintermoot. This first Zero Chapter is written by David Karabelnikoff about a Unangan superhero. It is called Sngax-six, which means “dream” in the Unangan language.

BEST MAYBE MAYBE BET: The weekend weather forecast calls for snow showers, which could mean a big old dump of snow or, more likely, wet sloppy stuff that melts by Monday. Whatever happens, get ready for cross country skiing at 6 p.m. Saturday at the Homer Elks Lodge for the Kachemak Nordic Ski Club’s annual meeting, dinner and auction. Kick off a new season, find out what the Kachemak Nordic Ski Club accomplished last year and hear about new goals and dreams. Meet the board of directors and candidates to be elected at the meeting (current members are eligible to vote). Meet committee chairs and sign up for volunteer opportunities. Bid on items at the silent auction. Door prizes will also be given away. Bring bread, salad, main dish or a dessert. Desserts will be auctioned off.

BEST TAKE IT OUTSIDE BET: The gardening season is pretty much over, but plan ahead next year when the Homer Garden Club sponsors a presentation on Garden Art from 2-4 p.m. Sunday at the Aspen Hotel. Suzanne Singer Alvarez and Heather Floyd speak about how to make art for your garden. Alvarez discusses making garden pavers and birdbaths. She will share her techniques and products for us to get the best results. Floyd talks about her metal sculptures which bring color, sound and movement to your garden.

Susan Pacillo, left, and Cinda Martin, right, warm up soup at the annual Homer Community Food Pantry’s Empty Bowls fundraiser on Friday, Nov. 8, 2019, at Homer United Methodist Church in Homer, Alaska. (Photo by Michael Armstrong/Homer News)

Susan Pacillo, left, and Cinda Martin, right, warm up soup at the annual Homer Community Food Pantry’s Empty Bowls fundraiser on Friday, Nov. 8, 2019, at Homer United Methodist Church in Homer, Alaska. (Photo by Michael Armstrong/Homer News)

Bowls for sale are displayed at the annual Homer Community Food Pantry’s Empty Bowls fundraiser on Friday, Nov. 8, 2019, at Homer United Methodist Church in Homer, Alaska. People could purchase just soup or, for $35, buy a handcrafted ceramic or wooden bowl with their soup. (Photo by Michael Armstrong/Homer News)

Bowls for sale are displayed at the annual Homer Community Food Pantry’s Empty Bowls fundraiser on Friday, Nov. 8, 2019, at Homer United Methodist Church in Homer, Alaska. People could purchase just soup or, for $35, buy a handcrafted ceramic or wooden bowl with their soup. (Photo by Michael Armstrong/Homer News)

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