Thursday, August 27, 2015

Pope Francis Is a Blizzard

Hello, and welcome to The Gods Are Bored! Guess what? We are going to have an unprecedented event in the Philadelphia region. We're going to have a crippling blizzard -- like, the blizzard of the century -- the last weekend in September!

I know, I know, that sounds weird. But I'm not kidding you.

What do we know about blizzards?

*They shut down highways.
*They close schools.
*They make travel hazardous, if not impossible.
*They cause disruptions in health care and public safety.
*They make people run out to the store ahead of time for bread, eggs, and milk.

All of that is going to happen in Philadelphia during the final weekend in September.

Pope Francis, he of the "everyman" and "feed the poor" ilk, is coming to the City of Brotherly Love for a fluffy thing called World Meeting of Families. We in the Delaware Valley have already been told that Pope Francis will not be including gay people in his definition of marriage and family. That's to be expected.

What's also to be expected is total chaos in Philly. (I wonder if anyone will be able to tell? It's always partially chaotic in Philly.)

This lunatic pope is going to Independence Hall on Saturday and is giving an open-air Mass at 4:00 Sunday afternoon. Anyone -- I mean anyone -- who wants to go see him is warmly invited to do so.

Not that it will be easy in blizzard conditions.

Let's go back over those blizzard prerequisites:

*Shutting down highways -- Every major highway except Interstate 95 will be closed while the pope is in Philadelphia. All highways coming in from the east. All highways going out to the west. Both major bridges into Philadelphia will be closed. (The Ben Franklin Bridge will be open to foot traffic, but everyone has to go through scanners, like airport security.)

*The pope must be guarded by the FBI, local and state police, the sheriff's department, and Homeland Security. They are already at work on plans to erect a fence around a huge swath of Center City Philadelphia -- including Spare's college.

*My school will be closing at noon on Friday and not opening up again until Tuesday. This is because all major thoroughfares in Camden will be closed to traffic.

*Spare's school in Center City will be closed from Wednesday until the following Tuesday. All students are being strongly urged to go home, if possible.

If it disrupts traffic and requires extra police, and closes the schools, it's a blizzard.

Maybe that's why he wears white.

I had the utter bad fortune to have to spend the day with a devout Roman Catholic colleague. She proudly said that this pope will seek out the poorest neighborhoods in the region to visit. He has a lot of ground to cover, if that's the case. But what I think (and I didn't share this with my colleague) is that this blizzard visit is a colossal case of hubris. This pope is asking for a terrorist attack, he's asking for crowds to crush each other in an effort to get to him, and he's basically giving criminals of all stripes a wonderful chance to rob, pilfer, and scam.

La di dah! This will be a funny adventure for those of us at The Gods Are Bored! We'll lay in our stores of milk and bread. We have plenty of firewood and space for Heir and Spare. Gonna hunker down and ride out this storm, praising and worshiping the Bored Gods!

Stay tuned.


Friday, August 07, 2015

My New Job as a Video Production Assistant

Well, I'm not PAID or anything, but ...

My two readers will recall that my daughter The Spare has decided to do a comedy web series called Speed. She is trying to get a 24-minute pilot episode done so she can shop the concept.

Folks, I've always been impressed with my daughter, but you should see her now.

I've helped her the last two weeks, because inevitably someone (or everyone) in her crew can't make it to the shoot. So I have seen her set up expensive cameras and lights, microphones and test shots. I've seen her direct actors and then jump in to play her own role.

She is working her shapely little butt off for this project. To those of you who donated, your ducats did not fall into an abyss.

At least I hope not.

You see, it's not a solo show. There are eight cast members, none of them being paid. Cross your fingers that everyone hits the mark until Spare can call it a wrap and start editing. It's been dicey so far.

So, you may ask, what is my role in this ambitious project? I'm glad you asked!

*I carry heavy stuff.
*I decorate sets.
*I get water from the Rite Aid when the actors are thirsty.
*I take care of wardrobe malfunctions (a reach for me).
*I run errands.

But wait! There's more! Spare has also enlisted the help of Heir! Yes, Heir has a role in the show, and when she's not acting in it, she helps out too. That's how these things get done, after all. It's a family effort!

The moral of this sermon is, I haven't raised a pair of slackers who spend the day watching other people's YouTubes. I'm right proud of that.


Wednesday, August 05, 2015

Frank Talk on Shopping for Folding Chairs

This is "The Gods Are Bored," and this is a public service announcement:

If you go to a nude beach, don't sit on someone else's chair.

Free advice! I'll pay you dearly to take it.

Two weeks ago, at the nude beach, a very vile human unfolded my beach chair and deposited his man-parts on it without asking or even looking around to see who might own the chair.

After that I wouldn't take the thing home, partly because it was gross, and partly because the particular person who used it is particularly loathsome. (In a fair and stable world, I would have taken it home and scrubbed it. But not after THAT guy.)

Anyway, the loss of a perfectly good folding chair led me on a quest to find a new one. Have you done this sort of shopping lately, reader? I couldn't believe my eyes.


I know you won't believe me (and maybe it's still season), but the item above costs $40, no matter where you shop. I wouldn't stoop to Wal-Mart, but all the other stores were pretty consistent in their pricing. Since the chair I was trying to replace had been given to me, I hated like Hell to think of spending $40.

So I went to the camping store.


This is what passes for a camping chair these days. Lord love a fruit fly! A cup holder? Are you kidding me? And some of them have little zipper pouches to put your valuables in. Very handy! The thief will know where to look first! If the simple beach chairs were expensive, these were even more so. And they're kind of heavy. At least to my spindly arms.

You know what I've discovered in the prime of life? (Wait for it -- more free advice!)

The best place to look for affordable, traditional merchandise is a mom-and-pop hardware store.

Thank goodness there's still one of those near me! Home Depot has just about decimated the species.

So I went to the mom-and-pop hardware store, and lo and behold:


This is exactly what I wanted! A good, old-fashioned mesh folding chair. Not so great for the environment, but neither are the other ones. And this unit set me back ... yep ... twenty bucks! I can lift it, and in my experience these puppies last a good long while if you don't leave them out in the weather during the winter.

All that remains for me to do at this point is to make a sweet little sign that says:


At least this narrows it down some.


Friday, July 31, 2015

Lughnasadh 2015

Hello, and welcome to "The Gods Are Bored!" It's me, Anne Johnson, Pagan since 2005, and that doesn't include the years spent in the closet!

This is the time of early harvest. Gardens are full of ripening fruit, the corn is sweet and tender, and the wheat has been scythed and stacked. The cat is asleep in a paper bag, and ...

Oh. Delete that last part! Cats sleep in paper bags at all times of the year!

I'm solitary this year, missing the group I was with last year, but unable to coordinate anything. But I do have a prayer and petition to the bored Gods on this Lughnasadh Day.

Dear bored Gods: Is my old-in-the-tooth fruit finally ready for harvest?

Last week, an agent in New York City asked to see my finished novel, Gray Magic. (I'm working on a new, and very different, novel right now.) Gray Magic has languished for a decade on my shelf, having made it into PDF but no further. Famously, Mr. J took it to St. Martin's Press, where not one but two editors deemed it a superior wrapping for dead fish, should it be in paper form. But I've never lost faith in Gray Magic. I've read all 4,000 or whatever pages of Game of Thrones, and I think my book, at a slender 450 pages, is better.

If this agent turns Gray Magic down, I will post the PDF here on The Gods Are Bored, and you can read it for free, or just send me a donation. That is my Lughnasadh pledge. I'm tired of people telling me this book I worked on for 15 years and four drafts is a sad waste of good words. I'm not buying it anymore. It's a good story.

Time to harvest what I planted, don't you think? Nothing should die on the vine.


Tuesday, July 28, 2015

I'm Back with a Weird Tale about Another Encounter with the Menace Named Michael Divine

Well! It's been awhile! How are you? I'm okay, I guess. You know what would make me feel better? A little laughter, Gods Are Bored style.

Over the weekend, Mr. J and I made our first trip to Gunnison Beach. A picture paints a thousand words:

Yes, Gunnison Beach is New Jersey's only lifeguard-staffed, clothing optional beach. As for the option, the vast, vast majority of people there opt to doff the threads.

I loved the place. Great vibe, good-looking people, beautiful view of Manhattan across the water, happy party atmosphere. I wish it was closer! Anyway, on with the story:

Mr. J and I went to Gunnison Beach because some people I'd met at Four Quarters Farm were going to be there. It was sort of a Pagan/polyamory/bi meetup that was advertised as having a little drumming too. Finally, a reason to make the 2-hour commute and the grueling trudge to the nudie beach! I even brought my hand drum.

We found the folks at the meetup, and after some swimming, and people-watching, and sun tanning, we just chilled and chatted with the Four Quarters folks. Much of our talk was about Four Quarters Farm itself and all the fun we had there.

All of a sudden I looked around, and ... what are the odds? ... I saw the same jerk who was rude to the Spare at the Fairie Festival! Yes, there he stood in his birthday suit, wearing a little hat with a feather in it.

Back story: This person is a show-off drummer. At a drum circle, he asked Spare if he could see the drum she was using, then took it to another part of the circle and dumped it. He didn't want to use it, you see ... he just didn't want her to use it. At least that's how it came off at the time. Who asks for a drum and then doesn't even bang on it? Then, to make matters worse, when we called him on it, he exploded at Spare and shouted in her face. Suffice it to say we found the man unpleasant.

And just about the last person on Earth who I would want to bond with on a nude beach. So I did my best to ignore him. (For one thing, I knew my drum would never leave its travel pouch.)

Thank goodness he didn't sit down in our group! But alas. He did sit down.

How's this for bad form? This guy ... same one who outdid himself at Spoutwood ... saw my folded-up beach chair in the sand. He picked it up, unfolded it, and sat his naked butt down on it without asking anyone! Who does this at a nude beach? Would you sit in a stranger's chair at a nude beach? Without even inquiring who it might belong to?

So he sat on my folding chair for about five minutes, banging his precious drum. Then he got up and walked away.

I liked that chair.

I really liked that chair.

It was a special chair. It was given to me on Ventnor Beach by a Canadian tourist who had bought it for her week-long vacation and didn't want to take it home. It was lightweight and easy to carry. It was also sturdy and a good fit for me.

What are the odds that the same person who threw a dark blanket over the Fairie Festival would rise from the rubble to bedevil me again? Because you know what I'm going to say, right?

No way would I ever sit in that chair again. I'm trying to wipe the very image from my mind!

On my way off the beach for the day, I ruefully paid that nice, lightweight, sturdy chair forward to a group of bathers who needed extra seats. They were grateful for it. I was sorry to see it go.

Today I went out and priced beach chairs. Even though it's mid-season, the doggone things are costly. Oh, by all the bored gods ... I may be faced with the options of sitting on the sand, or shopping at Wal-Mart!

Michael Divine, if you Google your name and find this, please know that I could make concessions for you regarding your behavior in the drum circle. But I can't even imagine how you could show the colossal bad form to use a beach chair -- on a clothing optional beach -- without first asking to do so. Where did you learn your manners, the Planet of the Apes?

And oh, by the way? You're a lousy drummer. A legend in your own mind.


Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Why I'm Not Here

Welcome to "The Gods Are Bored," culture vultures and bad-ass buzzards since 2005! I proudly bear the name Anne Johnson and am grateful for its sublime anonymity.

At one point I was up to five readers, so I'll address you as if that's the number.

I haven't been here at "The Gods Are Bored" lately. There are two reasons:

1. Now that the tots are grown and I've settled into a Path that is written about so much better on other sites, I'm running out of things to say.

2. I'm writing a novel.

Yes, after spending 15 years writing a grand, sweeping, historical fantasy that was widely deemed suitable to line a bird cage, I've started a whole new project. This one's not a grand, sweeping historical fantasy. It's a droll little fluffy thing, aimed more at the heart than the head. In short, it's like "The Gods Are Bored," only fiction.

Here's the good part: When I finish this novel, tentatively titled Million Dollar View, I am going to copyright it and post it online as a free read. Oh, there will be a PayPal button, but I'll ask only a goodwill offering, if you choose to do so.

I expect this little confection to be completed within the calendar year. In the meantime I will still be dropping by TGAB with my usual blend of giddy and fluffy.

Speaking of which, isn't this adorable? I've started a garden of these around my shrine. Yard sales are chock-a-block with bowls and vases. The beauty of this craft idea is twofold: First and foremost, it's easy to do. Second, it's impermanent. If you need the bowls or vases, there they are!

Friday, May 08, 2015

Change of Heart

It's funny what's left to learn when you reach your golden years.

I'm not exactly golden yet ... but I'm sure not green.

Last weekend my daughter The Spare and I went to a festival that we attend each year to honor Beltane and the faeries. We look forward to this festival eagerly, all year long. Yes, all through my long and horrible work year I dream of the festival. My work is awful, dreadful, stressful, unappreciated, and unrecognized. The festival is wonderful, awesome, happy, joyous, and otherwise perfect.

Except when it's not.

Spare and I had an unpleasant -- very unpleasant -- experience in a drum circle, featuring a man who acted disrespectfully and then made matters worse by laying the blame on Spare. She was reduced to tears, and I was shocked, shocked I tell you, to see someone act like this in what is supposed to be a nurturing space. But this happens sometimes with drumming. People who are really good at it can become annoyed with people who are not good at it, or only beginning to be good at it. But that's beside the point.

The point: We left the festival rather shaken up.

And then Monday came.

When I walked into my workplace, it looked and felt different to me. What do you know? NOTHING is all good or all bad! I spent 150 work days this year miserable, living only to go to the festival ... and then something stressful happened at the festival!

This week has been different than any I have ever spent on this job. And not because I got a great gift from my school for Teacher Appreciation Week. (Not even exaggerating, each teacher got a 12-ounce bottle of water with a packet of instant iced tea mix tied to it with a ribbon.) Things were different because of the shock I experienced at the festival.

Ask me how valuable it was to spend my Beltane weekend at the festival. I'll tell you: It was Earth-shaking. I am a different person now. I hope it lasts!

As for the festival itself, I now love it more than ever, because I love it a little less, and my work a lot more.

Thanks be to the bored gods for lessons learned in unexpected ways! This week has flown by. It's Friday, and I'm going home to drum.