Hot Ferret Love!

As a former Highlander fan, denizen of the Big List where ferret and weasel jokes were rife (long story), I had to read this tale of the bodice-ripping plagiarism case that somehow involves black-footed ferrets.
For one thing, the author of the offending bodice-ripper is from Mattoon, IL, not far from where some Highlander fans gathered a few years ago for a mini-convention and garage sale of HL-themed gifts. It’s not the kind of place where there are many bodices, let alone where they get ripped.  But it is the kind of place where people who read trashy novels live and dream. Thank goodness for people like the Smart Bitches, who read this crap so the rest of us need not bother with the stuff that truly isn’t worth reading.

I  won’t be reading any romance novels (ever), but I admire women who take them seriously enough to ferret out the good ones, and snark on the bad ones. Heh.

Below, the author whose non-fiction article was one of many sources found almost word-for-word in the novelist’s book, describes how sexy it is to study ferrets and write about their hot, steamy relations.

Move Over, ‘Meerkat Manor’ | Newsweek Books |

Nocturnal, ferrets come out after dark to hunt for prairie dogs, their main source of food. With Livieri at the wheel of his pickup truck, we bounced down rutted dirt roads alongside the prairie dog colonies that fill the Conata Basin—a federal grassland near Badlands National Park. Researchers find ferrets by shining a spotlight on the moonscapelike setting of a prairie dog town. From dusk until nearly dawn we sat in Livieri’s truck—two dudes looking for weasels. Nobody said science was sexy.After three days in Wall, where the highlight is visiting the famous Wall Drug Store, I could hardly leave town fast enough. I returned home and wrote the story for the Summer 2005 issue of Defenders magazine, which detailed how ferrets in the Conata Basin were being threatened by a federal effort to poison prairie dogs.

Had I known that my text would one day appear in a romance novel, I might have sexed up my story: “Hot-loving polecats do it in prairie dog holes.”

h/t Salt Blog, and thanks for the good laugh!

Where Is Stephen’s Hat?

Stephen Colbert of the Colbert Report (mind the silent Ts) hijacks Maureen Dowd’s NYT column to note that although his hat is not in the ring, it’s not on his head… and his new book is in stores now.

Also, he ghost-writes Frank Rich’s column too. His work there done.
Actually, if Stephen Colbert ran for office, he should seriously think about an extremely manly religious blogger/Saviour as a running mate: Jesus’ General.

I Am an Op-Ed Columnist (And So Can You!)


Surprised to see my byline here, aren’t you? I would be too, if I read The New York Times. But I don’t. So I’ll just have to take your word that this was published. Frankly, I prefer emoticons to the written word, and if you disagree 🙁
I’d like to thank Maureen Dowd for permitting/begging me to write her column today. As I type this, she’s watching from an overstuffed divan, petting her prize Abyssinian and sipping a Dirty Cosmotinijito. Which reminds me: Before I get started, I have to take care of one other bit of business:

Bad things are happening in countries you shouldn’t have to think about. It’s all George Bush’s fault, the vice president is Satan, and God is gay.

There. Now I’ve written Frank Rich’s column too.

So why I am writing Miss Dowd’s column today? Simple. Because I believe the 2008 election, unlike all previous elections, is important. And a lot of Americans feel confused about the current crop of presidential candidates.

Bold New Pledge Drive Ploy

Peter Sagal, host of news quiz show NPR : Wait Wait… Dont Tell Me has written a new book that’s being offered as a premium on pledges of $120.00 per month. Sagal is hosting this morning’s pledge drive, and with his quick wit, it actually is fun listening to WBEZ begging for fundage. Actually, as stations go, BEZ does a pretty good job of making pledge drives endurable; they shorten them by a day or so by running a promotional drive at the beginning with crazy big goals – if they reach the goals, they cut the length of the drive.

This morning’s drive will probably be pretty successful; Sagal’s book is called The Book of Vice: Very Naughty Things (and How to Do Them) and in an extended interview he taped with Scott Simon, he described some activities he researched, such as private establishments where people swap partners… and also how he checked out strip clubs in the company of a posse of female sociologists.

As one of the other pledge drive announcers noted drily, they’ve already had over 50 calls during this morning’s campaign. I’m thinking they’ll do even better during Car Talk and WWDTM…

David and I had a lively discussion as to whether Peter is likely to suffer any backlash from that segment of the populace that has an over-developed righteousness bone, yet lacks a funny bone. I mentioned a post I’d seen lately about how impossible it is for people to talk across a religious divide, because they have completely different frames of reference that often don’t overlap.

Actually, we’re thinking The Book of Vice might make a great gift for someone…

Poetry for Pleasure, Fun Beyond Measure

My husband David and I spent the weekend either running around in the heat shopping for materials for a couple of easily-accomplished home improvement tasks, or dragging ourselves “into the cool” of the house to have a tasty beverage and recover our energy for a bit. Also, there was napping. It was a good weekend for that.

We managed to complete one little project day before yesterday, on Saturday. The guys that poured the driveway had left trenches down the side of the driveway where the wooden forms had been staked into the ground for the pour, and after looking at this for 2 or 3 weeks, we decided that it might look nice if we added some more gravel and some leveling sand and put in reddish-colored pavers. And it does look good, except where I stepped on the one side to “seat” them more fully and ended up knocking out of true a bit – we think there needed to be more backfilling there. Well, they still look pretty good.

And then yesterday, we were pretty sore, so limited ourselves to lighter duty stuff, harvesting tomatoes, and napping.

Today, we went off to Menards and then the Container Store to get some shelving – started with the “do it yourself” stuff at Menards, and then bagged it and went to TCS for the more expensive Elfa system stuff that David’s had good results with before. They’re good there about walking you through the design process and figuring out how many uprights you need and how many shelves, and how wide they should be. David struggled a bit with getting the hanger strip installed – actually, two of them end to end, but then putting the hangers and shelves up was literally a snap. So now a lot of the junk in the garage is up off the floor or arranged neatly on the new shelves, rather than being stuffed onto the smaller, less classy looking shelves we still have on either side of the new unit. We even cleaned off the “work bench” (actually, an old busted hollow-core door) to be ready for another little project this week.

While waiting for the shelving order to be filled, we went up to the “big box” bookstore for a while. I came home with three books:

The Ode Less Travelled: Unlocking the Poet Within
This already feels like an old favorite, a property I love in a new book. Mr. Fry confesses to a Dreadful Secret: He writes poetry for fun.

I have written this book because over the past thirty-five years I have derived enoumous private pleasure from writing poetry and like anyone with a passion I am keen to share it. You will be relieved to hear that I will not be burdening you with any of my actual poems (except sample verse specifically designed to help carlify form and metre): I do not write poetry for publication, I write it for the same reason that, according to Wilde, one should write a diary, to have something sensational to read on the train. And as a way of speaking to myself. But most importantly of all, for pleasure.

This seems like a pretty auspicious beginning; I chuckled quite a bit over the Forward and the chapter entitled “How To Read This Book,” and so I think that I’ll be able to overcome my English major’s background (the dreaded “How do you respond to the daffodils?”) and give it a whirl. I always enjoyed writing comic verse but never gave myself enough of a leash to write a “real” poem. I’m feeling inspired enough to at least try some Blogon Poetry again just for fun, because the random nature of mining your own site statistics for weirdly disjointed phrases makes for some odd yet slightly interesting verse.

After that, I’ll be reading the next book in the “Harry Dresden” series, Grave Peril (The Dresden Files, Book 3). I’m still irked that they cancelled the SciFi Channel TV series, but the books are of course richer, deeper, darker, and sexier than they could have put on American TV, even on a cable channel.

It’s really annoying to be a citizen of a country founded by several dozen boatloads of religious cranks, you know? A lot of us have gotten over this, but still that stubborn Puritan streak keeps showing up in the way we react to news or entertainment or public servants who get caught in an improbably wide stance in an airport men’s room. This reminds me of a visual gag, now that I’ve been reminded of it by re-reading about Mr. Fry’s brilliant career in British television. Sadly, Stephen Fry wasn’t involved in “Blackadder III,” appearing in only one episode, although he returned as General Melchett for the whole run of Blackadder Goes Forth (BBC Radio Collection)

How’s this for a wide stance, Senator Craig? And in wigs and knee pants, too! That’s Hugh Laurie in the middle as Prince George, son of Mad King George and about the thickest git in three counties. That’s a manly stance, now!


There, I feel better. That joke won’t get old for a good long while yet.

Anyway, after reading the Jim Butcher book(s), I’ll be starting this:

I like Neil Gaiman’s stuff, and Stardust seems like a natural. We’re going to try to see the movie before it scrolls off the local megaplex screens.

Episcopal Cafe: Dobson Rejects Potter, Nyah

The Lead

The Christian Post has news that Dr. James Dobson, of Focus on the Family has officially renounced Harry Potter and all the associated “Harry Potter products.” “‘In a story about Christians’ views on the Harry Potter books and films, reporter Jacqueline Salmon wrote that ‘Christian parenting guru James Dobson has praised the Potter books,’’ the statement read. ‘This is the exact opposite of Dr. Dobson’s opinion – in fact, he said a few years ago on his daily radio broadcast that ‘We have spoken out strongly against all of the Harry Potter products…’’

Your humble news editor-of-the-day, having spent all night Friday in line with his family for the last book of the series, wonders if Dr. Dobson has actually read them…Without giving too much away, the final book makes it clear to most that JK Rowling is writing within the model set by the Oxford “Inklings” of the last century. The works as a whole seem very much in the tradition of Pilgrim’s Progress. The final work has images of christian morality, teaching and theology that rival the works of C.S. Lewis in the Narnia books in terms of their explicitness.

I think Dobson hasn’t actually read them, either. There is one entire chapter that is quite, quite metaphysical. And there are some quiet little statements of faith in all the bits of information and epitaphs and mottoes that Harry and his friends encounter while searching for ways to accomplish the mission Dumbledore gave them in the previous book. Nothing to hit you over the head and make you think “Oi! that bit there is a blatantly Christian clue, that is!” or “hey, that sounds pretty karmic” or even “That part with the non-violent passive resistance sounds kinda Buddhist, ” but it’s there. It’s just a matter of fact thing – the school has always had Christmas and Easter holidays, and the kids come from a variety of backgrounds and faiths (there’s at least one Wizarding family named “Goldstein,” and of course there are the Patil twins). It’s clear that sometimes people attend church or other services, but there’s no particular importance attached to this.

Perhaps this is one reason Dobson and his ilk have problems with this kind of fiction.

Another reason may be that fiction and works of imagination must be ruthlessly put down so they won’t be confused with or held in equal stature with matters of faith and Holy Scripture.

It all comes down to imagination again – it’s possible for religious people to write and enjoy works of imaginitive fiction, not to mention the odd pint or two with the Inklings down at the “Bird and Baby” but not everyone can make that leap of faith.
[tags]Harry Potter, James Dobson, Christianity[/tags]


Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows (Book 7)
I feel as if I’ve broken the surface of a deep, still pool – I’ve been submerged in the latest and last book in the Harry Potter series, and a few minutes ago I read the last chapters, the last paragraphs, the last words, the last page. And now I’m breathing deeply and taking a look around me for the first time in a while.

It’s not that I’ve spent the entire weekend with my nose buried in a book – I did end up spending some time at the rummage sale yesterday at Holy Moly, which was very successful, and in spite of my freaking out over missing one deadline for print classified ads, the turnout the first morning was greater than it’s ever been in the history of St Nick’s, apparently. And I’m relieved and happy for the committee that put in so much hard physical work gathering stuff and figuring out how to store it, that their hard work didn’t result in a disappointingly small number of bargain-hunters (who were there waiting with clutching claws for the opening on Friday morning in their hordes, thank God). I ended up going over after the concrete guys laid the driveway, and stood around helping out where I could and packing up unsold stuff for donation or storage for next year’s sale. Also, I’ve got several big garbage bags’ worth of summer clothes that we’re donating to a work-friend for a Haitian orphanage charity that she supports.

So last night, we went out to dinner at Kampai, because we’d missed out on sushi before a few nights previously, and on the way back David teased me that there was no need to stop anywhere for any old…book. Teased me that it would be sold out, teased me that we should stop at a Christian family bookstore, that sort of thing. And then we stopped at Borders, and there weren’t any crowds because that was over and done with, and walked in the door to see a long table set up with about 3 dozen neatly stacked copies of “Deathly Hallows,” and also on the table was a box of tissues, ready for use by sobbing fans who no doubt had plopped themselves down and started reading.

I’m always sorry to see the ends of things I care deeply about – it may sound strange, but much of my adult life has been lived mostly inside my head, in beloved books and favorite shows and movies. I have my “real” life, and my “not-real” life, and every now and then, something new and different and enthralling is discovered that dominates my “not-real” life, or at least has a kind of “time-share” with the other enthusiasms that have become a part of my “not-real” life.

The Harry Potter books are kids’ books for everyone, because they reach the essential child that lives in every adult. They won’t appeal to everyone, but they will appeal more to people for whom imagination is an important part of their inner life.

I can’t really speak to the criticisms that “Harry Potter is Satanic” or any of that “occult” claptrap. I can’t cite chapter and verse, but I’ll tell you one thing: the values in Harry Potter, and the underlying themes, are familiar to anyone who’s read Holy Scripture, but they’re subtly changed. The entire series is centered on the eternal struggle between Good and Evil, that the weak and the downtrodden should be protected from tyrants, and that self-sacrifice for the sake of others is the highest and most powerful act of Good.
In church today, the Old Testament reading was from Amos, a simple man who last week was a simple herdsman and dresser of sycamore trees, and this week was asked again by the Lord:

This is what the Lord GOD showed me– a basket of summer fruit. He said, “Amos, what do you see?” And I said, “A basket of summer fruit.”

A simple guy, who was called to do great things, who would much rather have been back taking care of his sheep and his sycamore trees, was Amos. Also, he was kind of a plodder and a bit literal, if you ask me, but solid and worthy in the end. I realized tonight in reading that the Neville Longbottom character was a bit like old Amos – he really was only good at Herbology, but found unknown and unguessed reserves of leadership and resolve and ability as the books progressed.

There are other characters whose motivations and deeds could be pretty successfully compared and contrasted with Bible figures, and also with mythical heroes, too.

No spoilers here, though. David’s been given the book now that I’ve finished it, and he’s already nose-deep in it and occasionally chuckling or muttering “Hmm! that’s interesting…” as he goes. He’s only just started it. As soon as he’s finished, we’ll have to get together with Steve to discuss the details in the book – it’s not so much that loose ends are tidied up, as that the hidden interconnections between everything that went before are finally revealed.

There are underlying themes that I want to sink my teeth into and worry a bit… the ones about tyranny and groupthink and how fear can make an enemy seem more powerful and all-knowing than they really are, and how that fear can be exploited by a cynical few in order to stay in power.

And I may just have to re-read all the books again in order now. Which I’m sure was Ms. Rowling’s intent from Page One, Book One.

The Unreserved Pleasures of Reading

Kitchen Confidential, by Anthony Bourdain , by Anthony Bourdain

If you’ve ever watched No Reservations, a travel and food show hosted by Anthony Bourdain, then you have “Tony’s” voice in your head as you read this book, the one that made him famous enough to be made host of his own show(s). He has a trademark writer’s voice, too – a little too cool for his own good, but genuinely racked-out sounding and with a certainhardcore urbanity and something that sounds like a foodie-sensualist’s version of Beat Poetry on his summing-up monologues.

I’m a fast reader, so it’s not unusual for me to sail through a book in a solid few hours of steady reading. I wanted to slow down and savor some things, and skim others just to see what happens next in Bourdain’s description of his own life and career. It’s the first time that I’ve read a “foodie” book, and was surprised to find it such a page-turner. But not all that surprised, because I knew that Bourdain could write in a way that makes you want to know more about him, yet doesn’t reveal all his secrets atonce.

I like reading books by writers who can really tell you something about themselves that’s true and authentic, in their own unique voice. I can’t write anything like that, but admire anyone who can.

Next up, case in point: Uncommon Carriers, by John McPhee.

Needful Things: Prayers and Supplications

I keep meaning to purchase the New Zealand Prayer Book because it’s got some amazingly beautiful and poetic liturgy in it. Also, things like the Night Prayer and little gems like this:

For People Critically Ill, or Facing Great Uncertainty

God of the present moment,
God who in Jesus stills the storm
and soothes the frantic heart;
bring hope and courage to N,
as s/he/they
wait/s in uncertainty.
Bring hope that you will make her/him/them the equal
of whatever lies ahead.
Bring her/him/them courage to endure what cannot be avoided,
for your will is health and wholeness;
you are God, and we need you.

Good, eh?

Speaking of the Night Prayer, it would be neat to do something like this with it.

When Ted was vicar of Holy Innocents, he used to lead the Bishop’s Committees off with the Night Prayer. We’d start with it, do the business meeting, and end with the conclusion of it. The exact version of what he used is below – with one typo corrected; he had it as “The angles of God guard us through the night,” which always amused me, because of course as a science buff who’s also a person of faith, I’m fine with the image of God as the Great Geometer.

Night Prayer

Adapted from A New ZealandPrayer Book

The offering of prayer late in the evening, by laity, religious orders or clergy, often called Compline, has sometimes been described as the ‘good night prayer of the Church.’ It rounds off the day and prepares us for a quiet night. As the psalmist wrote: “I lie down in peace and take my rest for itis in God alone that I dwell unafraid.” Night prayer derives it content from the wisdom of the centuries in Scripture and above all in the psalms, but also from contemporary Christian experience of God. It celebrates the awareness that each of us who tries to pray is part of the human whole. So we are taken over the threshold from daytime, not in a mood of self-centered spirituality but as representativesof humanity, acknowledging our creaturehood before God.


The angels of God guard us through the night,

and quieten the powers of darkness.

The Spirit of God be our guide

to lead us to peace and to glory.

It is but lost labour that we haste to rise up early,

and so late take rest, and eat the bread of anxiety.

For those beloved of God are given gifts even while they sleep


My brothers and sisters,

our help is in the name of the eternal God,

who is making the heavens and the earth.


We have wounded your love,
O God heal us.

We stumble in the darkness,

Light of the world transfigure us.

We forget that we are your home,

Spirit of God, dwell in us.


Eternal Spirit, flow through our being and open our lips,

that our mouths may proclaim your praise.

Let us worship the God of Love.

Alleluia. Alleluia.

Psalm 134

We your servants bless you, O God,

as we stand by night in your house.

We lift up our hands towards the holy place,

and give you thanks and praise.

Bless us from all places where you dwell,

O God, creator of the heavens and the earth.


Lord you are in the midst of us, and we are called by your name.

Leave us not. Jeremiah 14:9


Into your hands, O God, I commend my spirit,

for you have redeemed me, O God of truth and love.

Keep me, O God, as the apple of an eye;

hide me under the shadow of your wings.

Eternal Spirit,

Earth-maker, Pain-bearer, Life-giver,

Source of all that is and that shall be,

Father and Mother of us all,

Loving God, in whom is heaven:

The hallowing of your name echo through the universe!

The way of your justice be followed by the peoples of the world!

Your heavenly will be done by all created beings!

Your commonwealth of peace and freedom sustain our hope and come on earth.

With the bread we need for today, feed us.

In the hurts we absorb from one another, forgive us.

In times of temptation and test, strengthen us.

From trials too great to endure, spare us.

From the grip of all that is evil, free us.

For you reign in the glory of the power that is love, now and forever. Amen.

Lord, it is night.

The night is for stillness,

Let us be still in the presence of God.

It is night after a long day.

What has been done has been done;

what has not been done has not been done;

let it be.

The night is dark.

Let our fears of the darkness of the world and of our own lives rest in you.

The night is quiet.

Let the quietness of your peace enfold us,

all dear to us,

and all who have no peace.

The night heralds the dawn.

Let us look expectantly

to a new day,

new joys,

new possibilities.

In y our name we pray.


Final Versicle

The divine Spirit dwells in us.

Thanks be to God.

An exact quote of the last part of the Night Prayer is found here. I suppose the adaptations were to remove the alternate responses that are in Maori:

Final Versicle
The divine Spirit dwells in us.
Kia noho te Wairus o te Runga Rawa ki a tatou.

Thanks be to God.
Whakamoemititia a Ihowa.

From A New Zealand Prayer Book/He Karakia Mihinare o Aotearoa, authorized by General Synod on 26 May 1988 pursuant to the 1928 Church of England Empowering Act procedures, for use in the Church of the Province of New Zealand, in terms of the Canons of the General Synod.

I’ve been trying to have some Lenten quiet time lately, and as it happens that search for calm and quiet confidence in Things Working Out in the universe is something very needful at the present time. Someone we care for, that we don’t see as often as we should, is going through a rough patch, particularly today. My thoughts are with that person and with the entire family.

At a cousin’s bar mitzvah (or was that the bat mitzvah?) the prayer book that they used (since we’re on the subject of prayer books) had the most incredibly beautiful language.I ended up reading a bunch of the special prayers at the back and being very moved by their poetry. Now what was the name of it?

I think it’s Paths of Faith: The New Jewish Prayer Book for Synagogue and Home : For Weekdays, Shabbat, Festivals & Other Occasions. I’d like to look up some of the special prayers for Troubled Times, but it’s not searchable online. However, there are some admirable prayers for troubled times – specificallyin this time of war – here.

Paths of Faith is not really the “new” prayer book of the Reform Movement; the official “new” book comes out next year.This is a personal work by one of the most respected scholars in the Jewish Reform tradition, Chaim Stern, who died in 2001. This one incorporates all or most of the changes agreed on for the next official book, though, including gender inclusive language.

Anyway, thinking all good thoughts and remaining hopeful that Things Will Work Out For the Best here.

Library Thing: The Unsuggester and the Anti-Tolkien

Via Pazzo Blog » Blog Archive » Books you’ll never read:

Instead of suggesting books you might like to buy, based on what you've bought before, Library Thing has the Unsuggester – plug in a book you've read or you own, and it comes back with a list of books you probably would not want to read.

The Lord of the Rings (Collector's Edition)

So I plugged in one of my all-time favorite books…and found that apparently, Mary Higgins Clark is the Anti-Tolkien.