Nikki’s mother called a while ago with bad news: The sleepover birthday party set for tonight is cancelled. Which means two things.
1) I will probably have to wait for “The Departed” to appear on DVD, like all the other parents in the world, and
2) I can find out what happened to the Whiskers as soon as everyone else does.
Yes, we’re watching “Meerkat Manor.” If you’re not watching this Friday-night Animal Planet serial, you don’t know what you’re missing. One 30-minute episode tracking the antics of extended meerkat clans in the Kalahari Desert routinely features family, fellowship, squabbling, grooming, sex and fleas. “Desperate Housewives” does not have fleas. Added value.
I’ve loved meerkats since I saw a mob of them at the Toledo Zoo, and they seemed to be the only animals there that didn’t know they were in captivity and didn’t care anyway. They live in extended families in complex relationships with one another, which is why their lives make such interesting television. The narration comes close to, but does not cross, the line of anthropomorphism, which makes it feel like science. But it’s as gripping as any old soap opera.
The Whiskers are the central family group. They’re led by a tough female, Flower, who reserves all breeding privileges for herself and doesn’t hesitate to kick the crap out of any female who defies her, including her own daughters. The Lazuli are their close-by rivals, and a third group appeared this season — the Commandos. Their leader is Hannibal, a male who appears to be missing an eye. Every week we are reminded that meerkats are adorable little weasels of menace, no matter how much time they spend grooming one another and looking out for the clan’s babies. Last week a Commando war party found a lightly protected Lazuli den holding two pups, Bubble and Squeak. The Commandos streamed down the hole and killed Bubble. On camera! It was tough to watch.
Last week, the episode ended with Flower and a small band of adults desperately trying to hold off another Commando raiding party. The Whiskers were outnumbered by the Commandos, and had pups with them, too. I know enough about television to know the chances of the producers allowing the central band to be taken apart midseason are pretty slim, but you never know. I keep thinking of Flower, whom I have loved and hated throughout the summer — yes, I willingly allow myself to be manipulated by producers and editors — trying to do her duty, and I just…I just…
Well, I just would have happily DVR’d it if I’d been able to see “The Departed” tonight, but now I’m sort of glad I don’t have to.
And if you hear me making references to war dancing and scent-marking, this is where they come from.
There’s shameless, and then there’s shameless. Vote GOP or share responsibility for the next terror attack. I spit on these people.
I’m pretty plugged in to the daily news cycle, but missed the Great Stadium Threat yesterday. Dirty bombs in trucks? Huh. A few years ago, in a private conversation, a police official sketched out a scenario for attacking stadiums that was far easier, more plausible and likely deadlier than the hoax under investigation yesterday. I have a friend, a sportswriter, who believes that if al-Qaeda knew us better, they would have attacked us not on September 11 but on September 9, flying their planes into four NFL football stadiums scattered around the country. The casualties would have been higher, the shock more profound, the blow to the economy graver, he believes. “If you want to rattle Americans, get them at play,” he said. So it’s not a stupid idea. But I wish dumbass armchair warriors conducting “writing duels” would do it in private e-mails, not on websites.
My local weekly wins the headline of the month award. No link (paid subscribers only), but it’s short, and so:
Arrested with meat in pants
Oh, baby. Have a great weekend.