Imagine if a story started with "Once upon a time on Mars" and it was not fiction.

BANTER BITE BACKSTORY: Both Red and Black will admit that science wasn't their favorite subject at school, but that doesn't stop them from being in awe of "things scientific" – such as the landing of the Perseverance rover (nicknamed "Percy") on Mars.

Red, the straight-A student, got through her science classes with hard work and perseverance (sorry, couldn't resist), but as soon as she could, left the subject of science to others. (Unless you count occasionally watching science fiction movies.) When catching up on the news from last week, she read the AP article Black had sent, and when she read the quote from NASA's science mission chief, "Now the amazing science starts," could only imagine how everyone involved was probably so far beyond being straight-A students that it boggled the mind. So, Red decided to just enjoy the incredible images she found on CNN.

Black, who may not have been the best student (too impatient with that which she thought irrelevant, although she did learn critical negotiating skills in order to pass some classes), started to take issue with Red's comment about everyone being "beyond straight-A students" as she knows passion, hard work, and tenacity (was so tempted to use "perseverance" again) can get you further than just grades. But before she could say anything, Red reminded her of the television show "My Favorite Martian," which had been a childhood favorite.

And although the landing of Percy on Mars generated very different thoughts for each of us, we both agreed that President Joe Biden summed it up best when he tweeted congratulations to NASA,

Today proved once again that with the power of science and American ingenuity, nothing is beyond the realm of possibility.

This definitely falls under truth is stranger than fiction. And thinking about it cracks us up.

BANTER BITE BACKSTORY: It's one of those stories where you don't know if it's true or false, but either way, the puns just keep on coming with no end in sight.

It all started when Red received an email from Black and the subject line was "Bear Butt". Since Red had been cooking a lot of pork butt roasts lately (in her new, and now favorite, Dutch oven) she initially wondered if Black was sending her something about some sort of new exotic meat. But then realized Black thinks "cook" is one of those four-letter words you shouldn't use.

But then she opened the email and clicked on the link to Alaska woman using outhouse attacked by bear, from below, and was first horrified and then, realizing it had a "happy ending", knew that it was going to be a source of bathroom humor and plenty of play on words.

Black couldn't resist referencing the comment from the women's brother who said, "I opened the toilet seat and there's just a bear face just right there at the level of the toilet seat, just looking right back up through the hole, right at me." You know his immediate reaction was, "Hole-y shit!"

Red wondered what did the bear make of the situation. Was it as scared as the woman, or did it barely make its radar? And will they ever get to the bottom of how this happened? We know that we'd all like the bare (or it is bear) facts and nothing else.

Sorry, it's just a very punny story … and continues to crack us up.

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Even if you observed a moment of silence on Monday for those who died in this tragedy – do it again today before the flags are raised at sunset.

BANTER BITE BACKSTORY: It's a grim milestone, 500,000 lives lost to COVID-19 – alone, scared, typically away from family and friends with their only comfort coming from healthcare workers covered by protective gear.

Yes, it's a staggering number, half a million, but it's made even more shocking when you realize it's more than the number of American soldiers who died in World War I, World War II, and the Vietnam War -- combined. And, if that isn't enough, think about the fact this "war" has only been raging for about a year. It's almost incomprehensible – 500,000 lives lost in a single year. And at what point does the number start getting so big that we become numb?

Until you hear on the news tributes to individuals or you read heart-wrenching articles with images that capture the loss. Or, you personally mourn the loss of family members and friends. Because it's not just the 500,000 who died – it's the ripple effect of these lives lost. And it's important that we all remember,

It isn't about charts and graphs. It isn't about comparisons. It isn't even about what we should've done differently – or better. It's about losing loves ones. It's about lives lost. Full stop.

Forget about being in the dark, it's like going back to the Dark Ages.

BANTER BITE BACKSTORY: In the midst of the unprecedented winter storm that hit Texas last week, it's coming to light (pun intended) that power outages leaving millions in the dark could have been much worse as the power grid had come dangerously close (as in minutes) to crashing.

Last week, when Red first heard that the Texas power grid had come very close to total collapse, she thought it might have been yet another guest making a dramatic claim, as what he described seemed more like a scene from a Hollywood movie than a nightly news show. Meanwhile, as Black read about the situation, she could only imagine the assorted lawsuits that would be filed – both legitimate and "creative".

But now that official investigations into the situation have begun, the reports are even scarier than a Hollywood blockbuster – millions went without electricity, heat, and water – not to mention thousands who went without medicine and food – all while enduring frigid temperatures. And, people, including children, died.

As the investigations continue, it's becoming more obvious what happened … and what happened is unforgivable. Especially as much of it was avoidable. We get no comfort in knowing it could have been even worse. But at this point, what would be even worse would be not to do everything possible to prevent this from ever happening again.