the smell of my desperation has become a stench

Captured by cameras for the first time

The last time Leah came to visit overnight we forced her to watch three-days worth of “The Dog Whisperer,” and by the time she left she was poking us in the neck with her thumb and forefinger to get us to stop chewing on shoes. We have since seen every episode of “The Dog Whisperer,” twice, and now our new obsession is “Planet Earth,” an 11-part series about our planet, filmed over a 5-year period in 200 different locations. We watched at least 4 of the 11 episodes while she was here, including the one dedicated to life in caves, and let’s just say that any misconceptions we may have had about bat poop HAVE BEEN CLEARED UP.

“Is that what I think it is?” she asked as the camera panned up a 300-ft tall mountain of bat droppings.

“That depends on what you think it is,” I answered.

“I think we’re looking at a heap of bat poo.” And for the next seven hours I had to resist blurting out BAT POO whenever there was a lull in conversation.

Up until that point in my life I hadn’t ever been confronted with the idea that bats excrete anything, let alone the fact that this excrement would perform such a vital function in their habitat. That mound of Very Important Bat Poo provides essential nutrients to millions of cockroaches who in turn serve as food for something else, and so on and so on, and years later you’re sitting there eating a chicken burrito for dinner that was made possible because some bat flying around in a cave in New Mexico decided to use the potty. SCIENCE IS AWESOME.

So we get to the end of the episode where they take a couple of minutes to show how the camera crews infiltrate these areas to get such interesting shots, and there’s this British camera man talking about the suits they all have to wear while filming so that the cockroaches don’t crawl into their pants, and he keeps referring and gesturing to the mountain of poo behind him. Except his accent makes it so that when he says POO, it sounds like he’s talking about some sort of rare, elegant cheese you might serve with expensive champagne, and suddenly Leah’s looking at me, and I’m looking at her, like, I know we’re supposed to be grossed out, but this man could be describing maggot larvae and I’d still want to throw my panties at the television.

  • J. Bo

    2007/12/11 at 2:11 pm

    BAT POO!

  • Julia

    2007/12/11 at 2:13 pm

    I can’t even look at the screen imagining all the cockaroaches.

  • Jenna

    2007/12/11 at 2:13 pm

    We have a ton of bats in our vacation house attic and sometimes we’ll go there and there will be bat poop running down the wall in the shed. I’m convinced that one day we will light a match and the whole house will explode from all the gases.
    We’ve tried getting rid of them but they keep coming back…

  • Barbara E.

    2007/12/11 at 2:15 pm

    Mound of Very Important Bat Poo is my boss’s secret nickname.

  • Leyre

    2007/12/11 at 2:15 pm

    Not to be super gross, but I kind of wanted to know what the texture of it was. Like, was it a mushy mountain of bat poo? Or is bat poo more firm than that? I figured it must be more firm, because they were walking on it right? I was disturbed by the amount of curiosity I had about the poo of another animal.

  • Julie

    2007/12/11 at 2:15 pm

    You crack me up! Thanks for the laugh.

  • RH

    2007/12/11 at 2:17 pm

    hilarious…as always

  • Sarah

    2007/12/11 at 2:22 pm

    I concur on all fronts: british accents are dead sexy, planet earth (and all science shows) are kickass, and bat poo is fascinating.

  • hello insomnia

    2007/12/11 at 2:23 pm

    I’m always fascinated by the lengths they will take to film the episodes. I don’t have the guts to tackle that much poop, bat or otherwise.

  • Lindsey

    2007/12/11 at 2:25 pm

    I went to an Arbonne makeup party awhile ago, and the consultant was preaching the evils of traditional makeup, going so far as to tell us that horse fat was in foundation and concealer and that mascara was made up entirely of bat poop. I just shrugged, because what, did I think eyeshadow was composed of rainbows and butterflies? I don’t care what kind of animal poop is in mascara, as long as it keeps my eyelashes curled and defined.

  • Anonymous

    2007/12/11 at 2:25 pm

    The current Planet Earth is good, but I prefer the narration of the original BBC version better.

  • anita

    2007/12/11 at 2:25 pm

    That Leah is one lucky friend. Wild games of Candyland and harassment by a knee-high person seizuring to tiny tot Mormon music, a trifecta extravanganza of “The Dog Whisperer” and stimulating conversations revolving around bat excrement. Color me jealous.

  • Anonymous

    2007/12/11 at 2:30 pm

    How gorgeous was that mountain? Sparkly!

  • Lindsey

    2007/12/11 at 2:31 pm

    The Caves episode is what nightmares are made of: claustraphobia, bats, snakes, cockroaches, and suffocating in a pile of bat poo. I had trouble sleeping the night I watched that one. Planet Earth is awesome though–I think I’ve given it to just about everyone for Christmas this year.

  • Pete Dunn

    2007/12/11 at 2:32 pm

    Donna and I have spent way too many late nights watching these shows too. I’m particularly fascinated by the cinematography as well. Some really kick-ass technology plus sitting around for days makes for some very cool shots.

  • Diana the Scale Junkie

    2007/12/11 at 2:35 pm

    I just watched again in HD, simply amazing!

    And you don’t throw your panties at an Englishman you throw your knickers 😉

  • Lauren

    2007/12/11 at 2:35 pm

    Planet earth is possibly the most amazing thing ever made.

    Well, besides that TV show over here where they put 12 incredibly stupid individuals (they were tested on intelligence..and the least intelligent got put in) in a rocket to go into ‘outer space’ when in fact it was a simulator in a warehouse in London. Fantastic.

  • Sadie

    2007/12/11 at 2:35 pm

    What is really impressive to me is that bat poop has its own special name, ‘guano.’ I mean, what other animal really can boast that?

    (For some reason I am frightened and also excited that I may find the answer, later on in your comments section)

  • kalisah

    2007/12/11 at 2:38 pm

    those planet earth shows are AWESOME. But I didn’t watch the caves one. Ick.

  • Friday

    2007/12/11 at 2:38 pm

    If I saw an episode of Dog Whisperer staring Chuck, I think my head would explode.

  • Ely

    2007/12/11 at 2:43 pm

    This show is proof that TV can still be amazing with all the writers on strike.
    It makes me appreciate science for making something like bat poo seem interesting

  • chilldogg

    2007/12/11 at 2:44 pm

    So sad that we don’t have these series in Germany.

    Watching the film of leta the entry before, I noticed that there were two hiccups- the first after 12 seconds and the second one on 23. Very cute..

  • anne nahm

    2007/12/11 at 2:45 pm

    …. Thus explaining the gigantic mount of panties in front of tvs for future generations. :^)

    Also, Baby Jesus says to tell you Hi:

    And Merry Christmas!

  • Jennine

    2007/12/11 at 2:46 pm

    Not even a champagne truffle from Godiva would make me enter a cave with a 300 ft tower of bat poo. I hope he bathed himself in Clorox.

  • kalisah

    2007/12/11 at 2:56 pm

    hey anita – I don’t think “Be a Friend” is a Mormon song is it? I thought it came from a Disney movie…

  • Erik

    2007/12/11 at 2:56 pm

    For more information on the power of Guano, I suggest you rent Ace Venture: When Nature Calls.

  • littlefirecrack

    2007/12/11 at 2:56 pm

    I am sure that the episode with all the POOP was totally fascinating to Leta poop POOp pOOP, pooooop!

  • J. Bo

    2007/12/11 at 2:56 pm

    And now we all know why Batman and Robin wear tights tucked into their boots– it’s on accounta the poo in the Bat Cave…

  • Anonymous

    2007/12/11 at 2:59 pm

    Planet Earth is fascinating, but these shows aren’t new. They were out last season.

    Sigourney Weaver (the narrator) is good, but if the guy at the end makes you want to throw your panties and/or knickers, you should get the BBC version. David Attenborough is phenomenal.

    Bat guano is awesome. Supposedly, it is a fantastic fertilizer.

  • m@

    2007/12/11 at 3:02 pm

    The bad poo is the one memory I have of Carslbad Caverns. Ah, the smell.

    And I’d like to go on record saying that “Planet Earth” is the most awe-inspiring nature special ever. And not just because of a 3-story tall mound of Bat Poo.

    Although the DVD’s are strangely lacking Sigourney Weaver’s narration and it no longer says “… for the first time ever” every 5 minutes.

  • Meredith

    2007/12/11 at 3:05 pm

    I managed to spend the whole weekend staring in awe at the Discovery Channel. When I had watched them all through, some friends came over and I tried to coerce them into watching them again with me. They didn’t stand for it for long, though, because I kept ruining all the surprises…

    “Don’t worry! No blood is shed! The deer on the right gives up and walks away!”

    Your site is wonderful, by the way. It never fails to make me laugh. Keep up the good work/hilarity. Don’t let the haters get you down.

  • chantel

    2007/12/11 at 3:07 pm

    I LOVE Planet Earth. When it was first announced I put it in my outlook calendar, then I added it to my google calendar just in case outlook failed that day. Then I made my kids come and watch all the episodes with me because I’m one of those parents who forces their children to watch documentaries on punk rock and bat poo. Pretty much the same thing isn’t it?

  • Lori

    2007/12/11 at 3:08 pm

    I don’t care about the poo but the roaches no way ,I skipped that episode and am really glad that I did

  • Noemi

    2007/12/11 at 3:08 pm

    Yup, British accents pretty much make anything ~*classy*~

    … you know unless it’s a cockney accent.

  • MamaBear1001

    2007/12/11 at 3:09 pm

    LOL – i have nothing intelligent to say but feel compelled to post anyway b/c comments are open and there aren’t 100 yet!

    bat guano. used to be an imported luxury for fertilizer, yet. but in the end, it’s all just poop.

  • She Likes Purple

    2007/12/11 at 3:20 pm

    I thought the same thing, every time I watched one of the crew members describe anything. Although I missed the bat poo episode. I was probably busy downing tequila, trying to calm myself down from the polar bear episode. I would have fed myself to one, if given the chance, after watching how they’re collectively starving to death. I’m buying the coffee table book for my husband for Christmas.

  • Lizzie

    2007/12/11 at 3:20 pm

    All I want for christmas is a british announcer boyfriend to narrate for me on command.

  • Cate

    2007/12/11 at 3:23 pm

    Mmm…British accents…

    Okay, so I’m really just commenting because you have comments open and I am compelled to tell you that I love the little descriptions you’ve added to the daily pics.

  • Z

    2007/12/11 at 3:25 pm

    I watched that mound of poop LIVE! as it aired for the first time and I remember someone saying something about hearing a collective “Ewwwww….” from off in the distance.

  • angela

    2007/12/11 at 3:25 pm

    LOVE Planet Earth. I prefer the version narrated by David Attenborough.

  • Connie

    2007/12/11 at 3:25 pm

    You should teach Leta how to say “poo” like the British man. Seriously. You really should.

  • Laur

    2007/12/11 at 3:25 pm

    I’ve never seen this show, but it certainly sounds interesting. I may just have to start watching it now. I’ve always wanted to learn more about bat poop, after all. What could be more fascinating? Besides maybe dolphin sex, but I already know about that. I have my 6th grade science teacher to thank for that – and I must admit, it’s probably the only lesson I paid attention to in any science class I ever took. Had we learned about bat poop as well, that would’ve made two… but alas.

  • Annabelle

    2007/12/11 at 3:33 pm

    I could watch Die Hard 1 over and over again just to listen to Alan Rickman. “You ask for a miracle, I give you the F-B-I.” Love.

  • Wieslaw Samek

    2007/12/11 at 3:33 pm

    Everything looks much better in HD. Some time in the future other sensory improvements in TV technology will make it even more realistic.

  • Jen

    2007/12/11 at 3:38 pm

    Planet Earth is awesome! The series is really gorgeous. The bat poo was astounding. After I got over the bat poo, and how much of it there was, they went on to glow-worms.

  • mcgee

    2007/12/11 at 3:42 pm

    You discovered it! It’s a fantastic series, especially with the original narration that David Attenborough did. I remember exactly the scene you’re talking about, and I believe I did indeed toss my panties at the television.

  • ollka

    2007/12/11 at 3:43 pm

    So. You just wrote a whole post about BAT POO. Just like that. Man, you’re good!

    Also: the “question for testing whether I’m a human visitor and to prevent spam comments” just asked me to type “plain Troy”. Awesome.

  • Rebecca

    2007/12/11 at 3:43 pm

    So apparently I now belong to the ‘Very Proudly British’ camp 🙂

    I love this series. It aired on the BBC in the UK a few years back and I subsequently brought the DVD set. Though I don’t know why they’ve changed the narrator to Sigourney Weaver – much as I love her, I wouldn’t choose her over The Legend That Is David Attenborough, who narrated the series over here…

    Trust me when I say that, while bat poo is, most definately, an intriguing and as-yet undiscovered miracle worker, you ain’t seen nothing til you’ve seen the episode about mountains and the footage of the snow leopards. It’s breathtaking.

  • Natalie

    2007/12/11 at 3:51 pm

    I went to Rainforest Cafe one time and I heard the server behind me tell a couple that the particular chicken dish they wanted to order had a heaping serving of “guano sauce” on top of it. Do you know I have not eaten there since? I’m sure he really said guava, but my ears heard guano, and that’s all she wrote. The reason I am telling you this is because everytime someone mentions bat poo I start twitching uncontrollably until I tell my story.

    I’m currently obsessed with Planet Earth as well, but I have to steer clear of that episode for obvious reasons.

  • cauloccoli

    2007/12/11 at 3:56 pm

    The best thing about bat poo is that it has its own special name. Gotta love GUANO.

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Heather B. Armstrong

Hi. I’m Heather B. Armstrong, and this used to be called mommy blogging. But then they started calling it Influencer Marketing: hashtag ad, hashtag sponsored, hashtag you know you want me to slap your product on my kid and exploit her for millions and millions of dollars. That’s how this shit works. Now? Well… sit back, buckle up, and enjoy the ride.

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