Thursday, October 27, 2011

A Barbaric Yawp, O My Soul.

It's family movie night, so I showed my kids The Dead Poet's Society tonight. Ben's 13, loves to write, wants to be an much more perfect could a young Ethan Hawke and Robert Sean Leonard paired with Robin Williams be for a young wannabe writer and actor?

Unfortunately, about halfway through the film, Finn started complaining of an upset stomach and headache. He started doing that moan and groan thing little kids do, and then he said,

"Mommy, I think I'm gonna barf."

Just as Robin Williams was introducing his children to the words of Thoreau, ripping out that boring palaver in the Prichard text, with all his sucking of marrow, Finn was emptying the contents of his upper gastrointestinal system onto the sunroom, dining room, living room, and hall floor. We made it to the bathroom and he hurled the rest of his guts out into the toilet. was messy. And, as Ben added, when he brought me towels to clean up the mess, smelly.

One towel was so gross that I put it straight into the wood stove. Do not pass Go, do not collect $200. Incinerate.

Finn decided he needed to eat some noodles in order to feel better (we were having reheated venison stew for dinner) and, looking from the film to the bowl and back to the film, I said yes, that's a good idea. "Eat some novels so your tummy will feel better."

Novels, noodles, whatever. Same diff.

Finn feels better now, having purged his stomach and refilled it with egg novels, and Ben's transfixed, watching the scene where Robin Williams' character John Keating teaches Todd Anderson (Ethan Hawke) to sound his barbaric yawp over the rooftops of the world.

I watch my elder son watch this scene, and I know he will, in fact, yawp. Not egg novels, like his little brother, but from the marrow, from the deepest part of his soul, the yawp of words into the universe, "...Ceaselessly musing, venturing, throwing, seeking the spheres to connect them, / Till the bridge you will need be formed, till the ductile anchor hold, / Till the gossamer thread you fling catch somewhere, O my soul." 


Sunday, October 9, 2011

The Wrath of Achilles and Rabbit Pee

If Narcissus had not gotten waylaid by that glassy pool and had lived to see the advent of blogging, the "Stats" function on Blogger may just been his Waterloo (hell yes, pun intended).

Ah, Stats, how I love thee. I could spend my days checking on the number of hits I receive, the traffic sources, referring sites. I like to picture readers in far-flung locales reading my blog over a morning pain au chocolat or masala dosa or steaming bowl of pho. I wonder about my one reader in Saudia Arabia, that new reader in Singapore.

My favorite feature of Stats, however, is the search keyword category. I can see what search keywords led to a hit on my blog. Until yesterday, my favorite search term was "attractive well-dressed teacher." While I appreciate that the accumulated content of my blog somehow satisfies those search parameters as long as the searcher does not put quotes around the term, it does raise some troubling questions. Was that searcher hopeful when he or she located a hit on that term, clicked on the fourth one down, only to be disappointed by my profile photograph? What was the purpose of this search? Did he or she find what he or she was look- wait - oh, wait - Tim read over my shoulder and told me - oh, really? Oh....gross.

Nevermind. I have a new favorite search term - terms, actually. I checked my stats last night, and under "Search Keywords," I found two of interest. "Wrath of Achilles" and "Rabbit Pee." The first, I get. Maybe some student was looking to crib some essay on The Iliad and came across my story about weasels and chicken death. Sucker. Serves you right for cheating.

And the rabbit pee...some frustrated housewife was probably looking for a way to remove rabbit pee from her children's clothes and came across my post about using shredded report card drafts to create raised garden beds. I can tell you from experience that OxyClean or Shout works well, as long as you treat it as soon as you can after the rabbit has committed the offending act. If the pee sits untreated, it's all over. Now, if you have been feeding your rabbits beets, as I have been this harvest season, and they pee on, say, a really nice white blouse you were hoping to wear to Back to School Night with the new pants you got at the consignment store, forget about it. That shirt may as while go in the compost heap because that stain is never coming out. Unless your kid is working on a Civil War project for school, and he needs a shirt that looks as if it's been through a battle, so he can earn points by talking about Civil War infirmary practices, then simply wash the shirt without treating the stain. The smell will come out and the bright red stain will remain, and you will look like some sort of hero for creating the perfect walking wounded costume. Your son might even say thank you under his breath. Unless he's almost thirteen, in which case you will have to remind him to say thank you.

Huh? Oh, yeah - search terms. So I noticed last night that four people have arrived at my blog looking for the "Wrath of Achilles", and six wanted more information about "Rabbit Pee." I hope I have provided useful information for at least a few of those readers. I am going to stick with the assumption that no one was searching on both terms - "Wrath of Achilles" and "Rabbit Pee" - at once.

Because that would just be weird.