Red in tooth and claw.

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.

a4167ee006dbfc5b294ea67e47.jpgYes, 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.

Posted at 9:49 am in Current events, Popculch, Television |

12 responses to “Red in tooth and claw.”

  1. Danny said on October 20, 2006 at 10:04 am

    One of Tom Clancy’s books dealt with the whole stadium-nuke issue years ago. I think it was “Sum of All Fears.”

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  2. Dave B. said on October 20, 2006 at 10:21 am

    Next year we’re supposed to have meerkats at the Franke Park Children’s Zool. You’ll have to come and visit.

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  3. nancy said on October 20, 2006 at 10:21 am

    Can’t forget “Black Sunday,” either, Danny.

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  4. Dorothy said on October 20, 2006 at 10:31 am

    Man. Oh. Man. I saw “The Departed” on Tuesday night. Try to get a babysitter is all I’m sayin’!

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  5. brian stouder said on October 20, 2006 at 11:16 am

    Isn’t it interesting how seamlessly Leonardo DiCaprio (hope I spelled that correctly) made the transition from kiddo heart-throb to accomplished leading man? (I still think of him as the little brother in What’s Eating Gilbert Grape?)

    Tonight the girls and I will be hanging out, while Pam and our 11 year old son run off to see Brad Paisley at the Coliseum. I know nothing about Paisley, but I DO have a blue paisley print shirt hanging on at one end of the closet, which will go to the Salvation Army on the next purge.

    Shelby and I will also be intently watching the meerkats, no doubt

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  6. mary said on October 20, 2006 at 11:43 am

    The meerkat colony at the LA Zoo is excellent. Having said that, I’m not sure it’s still there, as they’ve been renovating a lot lately. But yes, they seem to be oblivious to being in a zoo.

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  7. deb said on October 20, 2006 at 5:44 pm

    well, that headline certainly trumps the athens messenger’s “meat burned” headline, doesn’t it?

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  8. deb said on October 20, 2006 at 5:45 pm

    and hey — the meat-in-pants guy wasn’t a rock ‘n’ roller, was he? i’m thinking the sausage scene from “spinal tap” here….

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  9. nancy said on October 20, 2006 at 5:54 pm

    Alas,he was only trying to shoplift a pot roast. (I’m glad to see the item designated the cut; that’s a reporter with promise.)

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  10. brian stouder said on October 20, 2006 at 8:37 pm

    Well, this guy isn’t a Pointer, but he is a Detroiter of some sort….and a dummy (so to speak)

    I could soomer understand jonesing for a particularly irresistable pot roast, as opposed to having wood for a mannequin…

    Dotson had been out of prison for less than a week when he was caught. His pursuit of mannequins over the past 13 years has led to at least six convictions for breaking and entering and a stint in prison, police said. “He told his parole officer he was going to buy a mannequin so he didn’t have to do these break-ins anymore,�? said Detective Brendan Moore said. “Apparently that didn’t work out.�?

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  11. lol said on October 21, 2006 at 1:20 am

    Hello, I found you while researching “dr” laura. Do you ever listen to her anymore? I’m not actually a listener. She moved nearby, and writes a column for Santa Barbara News-Press. Sad, sad story. I’m wondering about Derky, also Lew’s family. He must be a grandfather? Great-grandfather? They bought that almost $10,000,000.00(more?) Mc Mansion estate. Guest house, solarium, large pool house, alot more! There are rumors about them but none of the help confirms anything. Derky was only at Hillsdale one semester? Did she ever mention the arrest in Fayetteville, NC? Was he demoted to private? Why no girlfriends mentioned? Sorry about all the questions… any reponse appreciated. Also understand if you’re sick of her.

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  12. Kevin Knuth said on October 21, 2006 at 7:44 am

    Wow- if the RNC can find Osama and use him in a commercial, why can’t the Bush administration find him?


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