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In search of… May 6, 2008

Posted by ourfriendben in gardening, wit and wisdom.
Tags: , , , ,

Our friend Ben is not what you’d call a morning person. As James Herriot put it, “I am not at my best in the morning.” In fact, I’m more of a dusk person. Colleagues have told me I actually look different in the afternoon. No doubt they’re noticing that our friend Ben’s hulking Mr. Hyde-like morning persona has finally completed its transformation into something more closely resembling the civilized Dr. Jekyll.

(Fellow gardeners, you may wonder with our friend Ben why Robert Louis Stevenson chose the surname of one of gardening’s icons, Gertrude Jekyll, for the protagonist of his ghoulish tale. It does lead one to wonder whether Mr. Stevenson happened to know any foul-tempered members of the Jekyll clan, or was merely struck by the name, or if in fact it was just coincidence. One website, The Victorian Web, claims that it was used as a clue to the character’s suicidal tendencies, “Je” from the French, “I,” and “kyll” for “kill.” This seems like a stretch to our friend Ben, especially given the name’s pronunciation, which I understand is properly jeekle, not jeckle or jeckill. But I digress.)

Thus, anything that can bring a smile to the zombified, Shaun-of-the-Dead-like early morning face of our friend Ben is a good thing. (Silence Dogood claims it’s more like a miracle.) And one thing that often does is the list of search engine terms that people use to find our blog, Poor Richard’s Almanac. WordPress hosts our blog, and it allows you to see what words and phrases people use each day that direct them to you. (Thanks, WordPress!) Of course, most of them are very straightforward: the two most popular for this blog are “ben ten” and “poor richard’s almanac.” But because the blog’s scope is fairly broad, people come to it by all kinds of roads.

Many of the search engine terms lead our friend Ben to conclude that students are searching the web for stuff to put in their term papers. Our friend Ben wonders what they make of it when they search for Robert Frost’s “Nature’s first green is gold,” for example, and end up staring at one of our friend Ben’s rants. Then there are the people who are looking for very specific information, answers to practical questions or dilemmas. Our friend Ben is relieved when I see that, in fact, the post they’ve been directed to answers those questions, and I feel bad if I can see that it doesn’t. I hope they had better luck elsewhere! There are sometimes questions that our friend Ben would also like to know the answers to, such as “who invented Amish friendship bread,” and the occasional topic I wish we’d actually written, like “ben ten party food ideas.”

But, almost daily, there are also searches that strike our friend Ben as screamingly funny. These range from “little richard’s almanac” to this morning’s classic, “infant swallowed copper-plated steel coin.” We’ve had sweeping generalizations like “cats are brown,” bizarre juxtapositions like “african greys and radishes” and “radish seeds and caffeine,” eccentric arrivals such as “lola loves rick,” “blue cat statue in yard,” and “do yellow snails need blubber.” We’ve gotten “nutritional value of vegetable peels” and “crazy ben franklin quotes” (poor old Ben, he gets no respect).

One search that recently received a One-Ben Lifetime Award was “revenge of the bread, the Amish strike.” Haaaaaaaaaa!!!!!!!!! Not only is it great in its entirety, but “Revenge of the Bread” is just begging to be turned into a Wallace & Gromit classic. (Tragically, our friend Ben just discovered on a trip over to Nick Park’s official Wallace & Gromit website, www.wallaceandgromit.com, that Nick is even now at work on a film called “A Matter of Loaf and Death,” so clearly it isn’t in the cards. Rats!!!)

A great big “thank you” to every search-engine user who brightens our friend Ben’s day. Keep ’em coming, please! But I fear we already have a grand prize winner, the person who submitted “poor richard will do anything for money.” Our good friend and fellow blog contributor Richard Saunders is never going to live that one down—at least, not if our friend Ben and Silence have anything to say about it!