Wednesday, October 31, 2007

"Gods Are Bored" Halloween Poll: You Decide

Welcome to "The Gods Are Bored," coming to you live and livid on Halloween!

Just carved four pumpkins in 90 minutes (no record, I'm sure). "Gnome Henge" (circle of lawn gnomes) firmly established in front yard, with the pumpkins facing the Four Quarters.

It's just barely warm enough to put Decibel the Parrot on the front porch to greet the Trick or Treaters. On his cage is a sign featuring Captain Jack Sparrow and saying, "Don't Touch Me Parrot, Mate."

Last year the sign said, "Fingers. The Other White Meat."

The year before that it said, "Got Fingers?"


Two decades ago I wouldn't have dreamed of having a tropical parrot on the porch at Halloween. It was too cold. But Decibel likes to laugh when he isn't screaming loud enough to be heard two blocks away, so he enjoys the Trick or Treaters.

Do not construe this as a defense of global warming.

Okay. I have to explain my "Gods Are Bored" poll. You the reader will decide what I should do!

This afternoon I arrived at the Middle School in my economy car to find my daughter The Spare and seven of her friends awaiting a ride across town to our home. You do the math. One of them asked to go in the trunk, for the love of fruit flies! Thankfully, the Fighting Wombat Mascot costume is in the trunk, and you know economy cars. There ain't room for much else if you've got a Wombat costume in the trunk.

I stuffed five kids in the car. The other two volunteered to walk, which was pretty doggone knightly of them.

So I'm driving with a tall 8th grade boy next to me in the front passenger seat. I've never met him, but he's nerdy enough. He gets a cell call from his mom. She reminds him that he has to be at All Souls' Mass at 7:00 p.m.

EXCUUUUUUUUSE ME???????

Maybe I've been under a rock too long. I didn't know that Roman Catholics actually have a SPECIAL MASS on Halloween.

I've got no truck with "Mr. Applegate," my infrequent guest-blogger (and whiner extraordinaire), but oh please! A Christian Mass on Halloween?

So I'm in the kitchen, carving pumpkins, and thinking about the Roman Catholic church. There's a pretty gray brick one standing one block from my house.

I picture all the most raccoon-ravaged Catholics converging on the sanctuary at 7:00 to participate in a ceremony that has NOTHING TO DO WITH THEIR FAITH AT ALL.

And it occurs to me to create a sign that says:

"Halloween is a Pagan holiday. We want it back!"

... and discreetly tape it to the church door during the service.

Yeah, I would wear black clothes and run like an arthritic, bursitic geezer rabbit, so don't paint me as a modern Martin Luther or anything.

Trouble is, I'm conflicted about this. Should I do it or not?

It's too late to make a decision this year. That's why I'm leaving it up to you, dear reader.

Should I do the semi-demi-mini Martin Luther thing, or not, next year at Halloween 2008?

Vote with the Comment button. Vote early and often and pro Green Party.

FROM ANNE
PAGAN NEIGHBOR TO CHRIST THE KING CHURCH OF SNOBVILLE, USA

PS - I was pretty tired when I came home from work today (yeah, working on a High Holy Day ... my deities understand I need the dough). But this little bit of info galvanized me, and the Johnson Personal Samhain Ritual is a GO.

We want our holy day back.

Another extra: I just answered the door to a Trick or Treater, about seven years of age, all alone, dressed in a tie-dyed shirt and round sunglasses. Taped to his shirt: "Long Live John Lennon."

I think I'm going to run out of candy. That kid just walked off with the motherlode.

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Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Four Virgins Went into the Woods...


Welcome to "The Gods Are Bored!" Bet that headline has you wondering where this post will meander, huh?


Sorry, but there are no farmers or traveling salesmen in the mix.


The four virgins who went into the woods were the four members of my Druid grove who are young and unmarried. (Two of these are my daughters The Heir and The Spare.) We had our Druid grove's Samhain celebration this past Sunday, as always in the woods. And our numbers are steady, which is a great sign!


If you believe a particular group of Christians whose brains behave as if they've been playing with listless raccoons, Druids sacrificed virgins on Halloween.


Our virgins emerged from Ritual cheerful and shivery. (It was a chilly afternoon.) I am pleased to report that not one of them was harmed, that harming virgins or any other human being is a sin in the eyes of Druids, and that anyone who thinks otherwise better put down the little, dull-eyed baby raccoon and go call Animal Control.


Blessings of the New Year to you, may the coming dark months not overwhelm you, may you make a fruitful beginning of some new challenge or task, and may you reap the bounty you have sown since last you jabbed sharp knives into unyielding pumpkin rind!


No virgins or kittens have been sacrificed in the preparation of this blog.


FROM ANNE

THE MERLIN OF BERKELEY SPRINGS

Equal Deity Employer

Saturday, October 27, 2007

Guest Blogger Explains Halloween


Welcome to "The Gods Are Bored!" Anne and her daughters are toddling around doing errands and shopping for Halloween costumes. And I just happened to be in the neighborhood. And she left her computer running.

Bad girl, Anne! Wasting energy!

I am best known as Satan, Prince of Darkness, Lucifer the fallen Angel, Beelzebub, and about another dozen atrocious monikers. All of them embarrassing to someone trying to pad his resume for work as a deity. So please, will you call me "Mr. Applegate?" Thank you ever so much.

There's a considerable amount of confusion over the upcoming holiday, Halloween. More and more Christians out on the fringe are teaching their tots that this night of enjoyment and imagination is all about me, and nothing but me.

These are the same kind of Christians who arrive at my gates wailing and gnashing their teeth because once, just once, in their lives they got drunk and cheated on the old spouse, and then were too embarrassed to tell anyone and they died before they could spill it out and get it forgiven.

See what I have to put up with? Talk about a thankless job.

So today, I, Mr. Applegate, will explain to you how I got drawn into this Halloween business. It's not a pretty story.

It starts when I signed a contract to work for a small-time deity working a lightly-populated planet. This deity's praise and worship team at the time consisted mostly of a group of sheep-herding people in the Middle East, related to each other through tribe and clan. The gig seemed to have a nice enough deity, and a nice enough praise and worship team.

I signed without reading the fine print.

Big mistake. I had been hired to be the bad guy, the enforcer, the evil dude that kept all the people toeing the line. I got sent to the satellite office, charged with torturing dead folks for eternity.

That's when I sent the contract to my cousin who's a Fire Spirit for a pretty little planet in the Crab Nebula. He showed me a clause that gets me out of the job after a 10,000-year stint. I can either shutter the contract or negotiate better terms. And you can best bet what I'm gonna do. I'm outta here, even if I have to become mortal!

The deity I signed with turned out to be very ambitious. He set out on a course of world domination, sending the conflicting messages that such deities tend to do when they work the monotheism pathway. He became even more successful than he expected. But some places he met with resistance. Inevitably.

One of these places was the British Isles, where for thousands of years the praise and worship teams had practiced a faith that considered October 31 the last day of the year because it marked the end of the harvest. The October 31 harvest holiday included equal measures of serious worship and frivolous play and was so ingrained in the people that they simply would not give it up. It became a divisive issue between the priests of my boss's religion and the priests of the older religions (which, I might add, have some lovely deities in them).

The boss called me to the corporate headquarters and told me he planned to have his priests link me to the harvest holiday. He said emphatically that he wanted me to put on my formal attire and stroll around visibly during that period of time. He said further that he wanted me to urge all my followers to use that night for evil mischief. (Yeah, go figure, I've got followers. And yes indeed, they are rank morons.)

I've got a contract, I've got a supervisor. If I get fired ... there's that damn word again, fire ... I'll be considered insubordinate. It's a short gig, 10,000 years. So I went with the program.

Out comes the red devil duds, and off I go, inciting troubled youths to murder kittens and paint 666 on the sides of churches. All on a Halloween night. All in the name of a matching 401K plan.

Please don't tell my mother about this, she'll be too humiliated to attend her rainbow-painting classes -- and she loves to make rainbows!

One of the lowest moments in this job for me was the day the ancient deities who were really responsible for Halloween came to me and asked me kindly to cease and desist. I had to pull out my contract and show it to them. I had to admit I'd signed it before reading the fine print. I could see Their opinion of me go plummeting into the pit of .... oh hell.

Can I be completely candid? I have nothing to do with Halloween. I got grafted onto it to make it evil in the sight of my boss's praise and worship team.

I've only got a little less than 4,000 years to go on this contract, and I'm a free agent again. What makes me think that by that time, educated folks will call my boss a "myth," and he'll be losing at shuffleboard to some of the very deities he displaced?

Have a truly happy Halloween!

MR. APPLEGATE

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Thursday, October 25, 2007

Best of All Possible Worlds


Welcome to "The Gods Are Bored," less than a week before Samhain! Almost time to carve those turnips! (Gotta be authentic, dontcha know.)

Today an email arrived that contained a PDF of my novel, Gray Magic. With trembling fingers I opened the file and found ... oh, by all the bored Gods and Goddesses and Sacred Totemic Animals ... a really great book!

Now, y'all know I'm not usually a puffy egotist, although I do carry some pretty strong opinions around in my backpack. But damn, I couldn't stop reading my own doggone story, even though I've been through each chapter about a dozen times over the course of 15 years.

A previous commenter asked if the book has heaping helpings of my truly atrocious humor. Alas, no. It's serious. It's an adventure story, brimming to the plimsol line with dungeons, fire, and sword.

Would you be intrigued if I told you that one of the characters is a young woman who so longs for her dead brother that the faeries send his spirit into her body? (It's called being a changeling.)

No? Well, try this. The brother was gay. How does a woman behave who carries within her the spirit of a gay young man? It's the Middle Ages, mind you. End of the thirteenth century.

Wanna read it now?

FROM THE MERLIN OF BERKELEY SPRINGS

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

It's All for the Best

Welcome to "The Gods Are Bored," where we recognize that some of the bored gods and goddesses out there make more sense than the active, busy ones.

How many times have you heard this one?

"Everything happens for the best."

Man, it must have been Babe the Blue Ox that dumped that load on the human race. Everything happens for the best? EVERYTHING?

Granted, some things happen for the best. You're having tomatoes for dinner because you planted a little sprig in the spring and it grew up and burst into tomatoes.

But where do all these wildfires, and hurricanes, and earthquakes, and genocides come from? Can't blame the human race for the last two unless you're gonna tell me there wasn't ever a wildfire or a hurricane before Homo moronis came on the scene.

Some pantheons have deities you can blame when it hits the fan, because their whole purpose is to cause trouble in the world. "Chaos" is Herself a goddess, mother of "Gaia," our pesky planet. Faeries, those cute little dollinks, have the capacity to make you go crazy or waste away. Coyote and Anansi are playful, but not to be trusted. These deities make much more sense to me than one that tells you that your painful, terminal cancer is a gift from a deity with some higher purpose behind it.

Sometimes you might have a momentary little weird coincidence that seems spiritual in nature. And it probably is. A happy coincidence! How nice.

Other times you just happen to be standing under a building when a big chunk of it breaks off, say, 50 stories up. If you'd moved a foot to your left, you wouldn't have been wasted by a block of concrete. Unhappy coincidence. How terrible.

Let's face the truth. Somewhere between the Garden of Eden and the Gates of Hell lies our lives -- never all good, never all bad, certainly never the best they can possibly be.

If you life is the best it can possibly be, write to me right away. I'll insult you horribly and put you back in the pack where you belong.

Monday, October 22, 2007

Afternoon with the Church Ladies

Welcome to "The Gods Are Bored," resolutely flippant since 2005!

Don't get us wrong here at "The Gods Are Bored." We care passionately about everything that's wrong with the world, global warming topping the list. But we've read so much history that we realize it's the human species that's the problem, the species is going to be a problem until it evolves or disappears, and that ain't gonna happen in our lifetime.

So, let's laugh.

It might surprise you to know, kind reader, that you're a better friend to me than anyone living in my Zip code. Except for one person, and I'll call her Betty (as in Crocker, she majored in home economics in college and her cooking shows it).


Betty and I met years ago when we were both church ladies, good ol' Methodists. We aren't a thing alike. (Witness above parenthesis.) But somehow we click.

Betty's dad died last week at the tender young age of 95. Instead of having a funeral for him, Betty and her siblings hosted a garden party to celebrate his life. And it was an interesting life. He designed diving equipment and even worked with Jacques Cousteau.

As these parties are wont to do, however, Betty was surrounded by folks, and so was her brother who I also know. I paid my respects and wandered into her garden.

(An aside: Betty is divorced, her kids are grown, and she lives alone. I had to water her flowers for her while she was away this summer, and it was like misting the Brooklyn Botanical Gardens. Swear to the bored gods, that woman has more flowers in her back yard than some nurseries stock.)

So I stroll into the garden, and what to my wandering eyes do appear but all the Methodist church ladies I used to know back in the day! Just as back in the day, they were all sitting around eating cake.


And the first thing one says to me, all obnoxious, is, "Oh, Anne! Is The Spare going to make her Confirmation this year?"

Mind you, I haven't set foot in that church since Christmas 2004.


So I replied: "Gosh, I'll have to ask her. She seemed to like the Druid weekend in the Pine Barrens that we went to last month. In fact, she goes with me to all my Pagan rituals." And this is true.

Five church ladies trying not to look shocked? Priceless.

Actually I was keen to catch up with them, to hear about their kids, since I knew all the kids. One of these precious youngsters is planning to be a minister in Kentucky.

Pity poor doggone Kentucky. It must be crawling with young ministers, just as if no one who lives there is a Christian.

Then, of course, they wanted to catch up with me. I surprised even myself. I told them point blank why I'd left the church, how my daughter The Heir felt like youth group was trying to brainwash her, how disgusted I was that the Methodists defrocked a lesbian pastor despite her congregation's pleas to keep her. I even talked about OakWyse, how he got fired for putting Druid liturgy on an Episcopal site.

I didn't go into the details of my new multi-deity faith except to say that I worship outdoors in a park. Then I asked them how the expansion of the Methodist church building was going -- the one that's costing upwards of $12 million and is running two years behind schedule.

For so many people, going to church is less about religion than about getting together socially with people who think like you do. This is certainly the case with the group of Methodist church ladies I saw yesterday. But somehow, sitting there, I remembered that I had never enjoyed their company, had never fit in with them, and had never gotten any sincere thanks or support for my years of helping with each and every thing at that stupid church, from unloading pumpkins from a truck to -- you guessed it -- baking casseroles for church suppers and diapering babies in the nursery during Sunday School. One of the last times I attended the doggone church, one of these same ladies scolded The Spare in front of my face for talking while serving as an acolyte.

I promised my Roman Catholic grandfather-in-law that I would raise my children in a religion. He said he didn't care which denomination, just please raise them in a church. My 18-year-old got to 8th grade as a Methodist and is now an atheist, suspicious of all religions. My 13-year-old, yanked sooner from the Methodist fold, describes herself as curious about all religions, but partial to none. However, she never has to be dragged to Druid rituals.

Pop Pop, if you think I failed in your wishes, I'm sorry. It's too soon to know whether my kids will believe in higher powers, but not too soon to think they'll know right from wrong, good from bad, what to do in touchy situations, how not to hurt people. For the love of fruit flies, they both hate Dubya. That's a start.

Moral of this sermon: If you have to burn bridges, be sure the one you burn has Methodist church ladies on the far side of the stream.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Halloween Blogging Year Three: We've Been Booed!


Welcome to "The Gods Are Bored," wired for wacky weirdness since 2005! We've got unpasteurized apple cider and fresh cider doughnuts -- eat your fill, it's Halloween!

The night before last, just as the Johnson family was tucking into its Hungry Man Dinners, the doorbell rang.

I leaped up. "Oh, maybe it's the Mormons!"

(We are still waiting for the Mormon missionaries, having seen them working a neighboring street. Must say they're not a bit like those Energizer Bunny Seventh-Day Adventist ladies, who you can set your clock by month after month.)

Mr. Johnson also leaped. "I'll answer the door," he said pointedly. (I guess after 23 years of marriage he knows his spouse's small peculiarities.)

"It must be burglars!" The Heir predicted. She's a mite skittish.

Mr. Johnson went to the door. It was not Mormons or burglars, but a gaggle of giggling little girls, chaperoned by affable dads. The giggling girls handed Mr. Johnson a bagful of treats and informed him he'd been "booed." They ran away laughing.

This is a new wrinkle on a very, very old tradition. And we at "The Gods Are Bored" just dearly do love tweaking traditions! That way the traditions don't get stale, and rote, and boring, and the same every year, year after year. Like for instance, how many times can you light a little candle in a big church and sing "Silent Night" on Christmas without saying to yourself, "Been there, done that. Like, 40 times."

But I digress. Mr. Johnson bought a bag of candy and Juicy Juices back to the table. Inside were the instructions. We had been "booed" by Halloween ghosts. Now it was our turn to boo. The instructions told us to fill three bags with treats, add copies of the instructions, a little picture of a "boo" ghost, and take them to the houses of three friends. These friends, having been "booed," would have to "boo" three more friends each.

Once you've been "booed," you get a picture of a friendly ghost to hang on your door, so everyone knows you've already been "booed" and they don't "boo" you again.

The Johnson gals were keen to get right on this. Not only did it mean having to go out and buy Halloween candy, but it also meant sneaky deliveries to dear friends. We actually found one of The Heir's best friends walking in front of her house -- so we shoved the goodies into her startled hands, shouted "BOOOOOOO!" and ran.

What a fun new game! We at "The Gods Are Bored" shun all things that smack of chain letters, but we made an exception here. Clearly a fun time was had by all. The giggling girls were having a blast. Anne and Heir and Spare had a blast. Heir and Spare's friends got goodies at the very least ... and a good laugh. And laughing is what we're all about here at "The Gods Are Bored!"

The fun kid stuff attached to all holidays exists because life is bloody difficult, and these little diversions help take your mind off it for awhile. Also, you want your children to enjoy some innocent revels that they can store in their memory banks to help get them through the rougher spots in life.

So, to those out there who say to their kids, "Halloween is a Pagan festival, no trick-or-treating for you," I say: "BOOOOOO!"

And the poor sweet tots, denied an all-time kid-favorite holiday, say to themselves, "My parents suck." Or something of that sort.

If you have read this, consider yourself "booed!" Today you have to eat one serving of the candy of your choice! Be sure not to spill any on your upholstery. Pesky chocolate stains can be hard to remove from fabric.

Friday, October 19, 2007

Dreaming On


After just six months of missionary work in a suburb of Philadelphia, two Mormon missionaries, Abner and Zebediah, returned to their homes in Ogden, Utah.

Their families were startled by the young men's premature return. Typically Mormon missionaries spend a year or more in faraway places, trying to win people to the one true faith.

Abner and Zebediah decided it would be easier to explain if they called their families together and talked as a pair. So that's what they did. The Abner family, 16 in all (very tired mother) and the Zeb family, 10 in all and still counting (very tired mother) convened in the basement of the nearest Mormon church.

Abner said, "We have gathered you together tonight to tell you all that Zeb and I have seen the light. We have become Druids."

Some family members gasped.

Zeb said: "We were slogging door to door in a middle class neighborhood. We came to this house with a nice lady inside who gave us pie and cider and told us that the god we worship is temperamental, jealous, has a spotty record on environmentalism, and allowed the Romans to torture his own son."

Zeb's little Mormon brother peeped: "Yeah! In the Bible it says, 'I am a jealous god!' So Zeb's gotta be right!"

Abner continued: "The lady said that her religion is filled with kind Goddesses and totemic animals -- and Gods too -- and that it seeks to honor those deities by preserving the earth and celebrating the lives of those who came before us."

To which Zeb added: "Well, heck's sake, we Mormons already steep ourselves to the gills in genealogy. So why not set aside one night a year to pray to all those folks whose names we've traced back all the way to the Magna Carta?"

"This is blasphemy!" roared Zeb's father. (Zeb's mother just sighed and tried to keep her eyes open.)

"Now here's something really wonderful," said Abner, ignoring the interruption. "The nice lady said that if we follow her faith, we wouldn't have to abstain from mastur ... mastur .... massssturrr ... uhhhh ... turtle dove love. Because there's nothing sinful about having an urge to think about ssssss..... ssssss..... sssssss..."

"Remember, Abner, we practiced this part," Zeb said.

"There's nothing sinful about turtle dove love!" Abner exclaimed.

"It serves as a natural population control, to say nothing of allowing young teenage boys to blow off steam so they can concentrate on something besides controlling their sexu...... ssssss....."

"What's turtle dove love?" asked Abner's younger brother.

"Jerking off," replied Zeb's equally younger brother.

"Aren't we supposed to not do that?" asked yet another pinch-faced teenage brother.

"Well, being free to engage in turtle dove love is just one little side benefit of Druidism," Zeb explained. "Druids encourage their followers not to over-populate the planet..."

This caused the boys' moms to perk up for a moment.

"And their festivals aren't all about drinking Jesus blood or worshipping torture. They're all about being really kind and warm and loving, and enjoying yourself as long as no one gets hurt and the furniture doesn't get stained."

"What was that last part?" Abner's dumbfounded father asked.

"He got it wrong," Abner answered. "He meant, 'An thou harm none, do what thou wilt.' And if you can't say anything else about that sentiment, at least you can say that it'll save the kids a lot of memorizing verses from the Book of Mormon."

The little kids all started to cheer and asked how they could sign up to be Druids. The moms converted right on the spot. The teenaged boys rushed off for some alone time. The girls contemplated a life that included more than diapering one baby after the next after the next.

And then Anne woke up, and it was time to make supper.

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Thursday, October 18, 2007

Because Cat Blogging Always Gets the Most Comments!

Welcome to "The Gods Are Bored," recognizing that an intelligent designer created the human race to wait upon domestic cats!
First, I'm a little behind on this Ellen DeGeneres (sp?) stuff. So she gave an adopted dog to someone else and got all pissed when the animal shelter repoed the mutt.

Take it from this cat-crazy Druid who volunteers at the local animal shelter: Dog pounds have become very picky about who they allow to adopt animals because:

1. Some people in the past have adopted animals and then sold them to nasty research mills where the poor pooches were tortured with any manner of stuff that touches humans in any way.

2. Some people adopt animals for slaughter in pentagrams. That's the work of people who believe in Satan, which the last time I looked he's in the Christian Bible, not the poems of Taliesin.

So, while it breaks my heart sometimes to see my foster kittens grow into young adulthood in cages at the pound, I know that when they do go out, they're going to safe homes. And they are never euthanized, because the shelter I work for doesn't kill sweet-tempered pets.

(Two Mormon missionaries are working the next block. I just saw them a minute ago. So if this post stops in mid-sentence, you'll know I'm spending the rest of the afternoon testifying to the power of the Goddess to those who need to hear it the most.)

On to today's fabulous tail! Errr.... tale!

THE ADVENTURE OF BETA CAT


I have two cats, Alpha and Beta. Both are rescues. We got Alpha from the shelter because she was older and no one wanted her. Beta chose to live with us after toughing it out in the wild for about six months. In that time she had a litter of kittens that had to be rounded up. The Spare tamed Beta, and we've had her five years. (No more kittens from Beta! We saw to that first thing.)

Some cats just consider themselves boarders. They demand, you give, they go outside until they have more demands. This is more or less Beta.

One evening last week I realized that Beta hadn't made any demands for a day or two. I wasn't sure how long it had been since I had seen her lounging on top of Decibel the Parrot's cage.

Another day went by. Then we got an overnight cold rainstorm that would certainly have brought Beta home under every normal circumstance. It was official. Beta was gone.

I got to thinking about the fox I've seen in the neighborhood. Knowing that Beta's a night owl (actually she's a cat), I thought probably she'd run afoul of the fox.

When I told my daughters this, The Heir pretty much accepted it. But The Spare would have none of it. She wanted to hang up posters and ask around. It was the weekend, and I promised to call the local shelters on Monday to see if they had picked her up. As you can see from the picture, she's a strikingly individual cat in appearance.

Five days and nights (at least) passed, but The Spare never gave up hope.

Last Sunday, just after I returned from the Faerie Con, I was sitting in the living room with The Heir. We heard what sounded like a meow at the front door. Even then I said, "Oh, it's probably just the kids across the street."

We went to the door, and there stood Beta, skittish and visibly thinner. She ran to the food trough and ate and drank like anyone would if they'd been five days without water and vittles. Then she rubbed us (first show of gratitude ever from her). She was hoarse.

We don't have much car traffic around here, but the houses are pretty close together. My guess is that Beta snuck into someone's garage and then got trapped in there until the weekend.

I figure she's down to about seven lives left now.

Anyway, The Spare, eternal optimist like her dad, is vindicated. Beta has returned.

Alpha's pissed as hell. She loved being Only Cat.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

The "W" word


Welcome to "The Gods Are Bored!" Bewitched, bothered and bewildered am I! (Do you know your Broadway musicals?)

Today I got a poorly grammarized email from some dude. He purported to be a talk radio host in Las Vegas and wanted to "interview a witch" for a taped spot to be aired on Halloween. He asked me to call him and left a phone number with no area code.

Click. Deleted.

If you are that dude, and you're reading this post right now, I will only agree to interview with people if they're smart enough to word an email properly and leave an area code. However, I could be persuaded to do a face-to-face interview if you're really in Vegas, and you pay for my trip.

But, alas, I am not a witch.

Now my regular choir is confused. But Anne, you worship all those Celtic deities and all the Pagan holidays! Doesn't that make you a witch?

Nope.

Wicca and Druidism are not the same. They may be as alike as Methodism and Lutheranism, but I'll leave you to tell a Methodist he's just like a Lutheran.

This is just me personally speaking, and I have no wish to offend my legions and legions of Wiccan readers. But I just object to the word "witch." I think it's freighted with too much negative baggage. Just remember how confused Dorothy was in Oz when she met a good witch. And straight on that good witch's heels came the prevailing vision of a witch. And what a nasty one too!




So, just as I think the word "masturbation" should be changed to "turtle dove love" (the "m" word being so absolutely repellent that it could lead to blindness), I think perhaps the word "witch" should be retired in favor of something more user-friendly.

I propose "sweetie pie."

What a nice word! It can be applied alike to men and women. It suggests the true nature of Wicca, which always has been and always will be a nurturing, healing faith, rather than a practice that butchers kittens and tries to turn that nosy neighbor into a newt.

Now that we're closing in on Samhain, we at "The Gods Are Bored" will be examining our favorite holy day and how to use it as a recruitment tool amongst the Left Behind crowd. Seems to me they're the ones who've corrupted "witch" beyond all possible use as a word, so let's offer up some sweetie pie to their frothing mouths.

Cheerio, my sweetie pies!

FROM ANNE
THE MERLIN OF BERKELEY SPRINGS

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Waiting for Godot or Upload, Don't Know Which

Welcome to "The Gods Are Bored," hedging our bets by worshipping every deity except jealous old Yahweh! Why do that? Well, we'd rather be in hell than in Yahweh's heaven, so if he really is the only god, then burn, baby, burn. And if he's not, wow! Welcomed into every other heaven that ever was! Sounds like fun, doesn't it?

Something vastly exciting happened to me over the weekend, but Blogger has decided not to upload the picture. I hope it's Blogger and not me, because if ever a picture painted a thousand words, this is the picture.

999 of those words would have something to do with Anne being a certifiable, verifiable, undeniable loony toony wackaroonie!

Can you believe it? Only two weeks and a day until Samhain, and I haven't even started my yearly paean to this universally-celebrated Pagan holy day! And there's big news out of the Vatican about the Knights Templar. New archival evidence suggests that the Knights Templar never kissed each others' assholes, worshipped a goat head, or had sex in their secret rituals. Stop the presses! Would someone please tell the Vatican that they were the only ones who ever believed this shit????

Yours from Ward C, waiting for my meds,

ANNE
THE MERLIN OF BERKELEY SPRINGS
And now the picture has uploaded, so read on, kind ... err ... reader!

The Elvis of Fairy Artists

Welcome to "The Gods Are Bored!" They're immortal. They're bored. Invite them to your next chic soiree!

Oh by damn, there's the Mister Softee guy again. BE STRONG, ANNE!


Okay. Woman of steel, don'tcha know.

Those of you who are into faerie art will recognize this handsome fellow immediately. The wackadoo woman with him is surely bound for a long stay in a ward presided over by Nurse Ratchet.

Seriously, I got to meet Brian Froud! He is the Elvis Presley of faerie paintings and sketches. He signed my book on the page that has the faerie who used to be my childhood friend. We even chatted about these types of guardian faeries. (He has one too.) He got a kick out of my costume (pictured above, inspired by one of his paintings). He also LOLed when I told him I dragged a Froud print to the house paint store so that I could match my bedroom wall paint to it.

I didn't bother him with the significant fact that a signed and numbered Brian Froud print of Queen Brighid the Bright hangs above my altar to same (QBTB, not BF). It's the first thing you see when you come into my double-wide.

The poor guy was so dead tired, and he did at least two more signings Sunday afternoon, and still people got turned away. I was just lucky to be in the right place at the right time to get my favorite little Froud faerie embellished by Froud.

You may ask how Anne got lucky when other faerie fans were thwarted in their desire to meet the master?

Suddenly my two worlds collided. That's how.

As I strolled through the streets of Philadelphia dressed as above (true dat!), I happened upon a harvest festival at Reading Terminal Market. The festival had a bluegrass band. And it was a gorgeous day, too pretty to be inside a stuffy convention hall that still reeks of the 2000 Republican National Convention. So I watched the bluegrass band for a whole set, and the pickers loved it.

There's nothing quite like clogging in a wimple and bodice, with a wreath of leaves on your head.

This unexpected detour led me to the Faerie Con late. And when I bought my copy of The Secret Sketchbook of Brian Froud, I asked when his next signing would be. The lady told me she thought he might stop by the booth for a minute or two. And he did, and I met him, and it's all because I like bluegrass.

My pal Bibi was there, and she snapped the photo above. If you look closely you can see Puck (dark blue) and Princess hanging from my headpiece.

Now picture me riding mass transit in that gear. I did.

Mountain music makes you free, and faeries make you immortal. Not a bad combination, all in all.

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Friday, October 12, 2007

Light a Candle for the Templars


Welcome to "The Gods Are Bored," coming to you live (sort of) an hour before dawn on Friday, October 12, 2007!


Tonight commences three nights of faerie revelry at the Pennsylvania Convention Center, i.e. Faeriecon. There are still tickets available for the events! I'll bet you could even get a standby seat on a plane if you live far away.

Don't you love how I spend your money for you? Well, if I had any of my own maybe I'd be more frugal with yours.

I must run off and teach school today, then run home and make dinner for my peerless seamstress of a mother-in-law, who is joining us for the festival. Then my daughter The Heir and I are going to the Good Faerie Ball. (Trying not to be nervous about driving into Philly and parking in a garage. It's too late at night to take the El.)

Still, I want to pause a moment today, and especially on October 13, 2007, to mark the 700th anniversary of the arrest, torture, and suppression of the Knights Templar. This little bit of history may seem to be so far in the past as to be inconsequential. Think again.


Few events have had such a sweeping effect on modern Europe. Any time anyone has opposed state-based religions, any time anyone has argued for separation of church and state, any time the folk have risen up to depose ruthless monarchs and dictators, the ghosts of the Templars are there.

Just ask a member of the Freemasons. You'll have to choose a live Mason, because George Washington is dead.

So please light a candle for the Knights Templar and shake your fist in the direction of the nearest despotic ruler ... err ... bad guy in power, and say, "Today the folk are raised up, and casting down the proud! We remember Jacques de Molay!"

I don't know how Elmore Leonard wrote all those great novels at this hour of the morning. My TaB-free brain is in shutdown.

Faeriecon! See you there!

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Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Absolutely Everything about Faeries

Welcome to "The Gods Are Bored," where we .... oh no! There's that music!

It's not bad enough that the Mr. Softee man comes around at least three times a week at exactly 3:30 p.m. He also happens to be the handsomest dude in the universe, with a smile that can wring a dollar tip from a substitute teacher buying a small vanilla cone!


My daughter The Heir, who is very discriminating, agrees that our Mr. Softee is a boffo Mr. Softee, worth the price of jimmies and then some.

Please excuse me a minute .......


Mmmmbfffff gloppppp mmmmmbbbbbb.... (lap lap lap)


Yummmmm! OOOooooooEEEEEEE! Come on baby, stuff my cone!


Oh yeah. Faeries. Why listen to me blather? Come to Faerie Con this weekend and consult the experts!


Oh, Mr. Soffffteeeeee! Come back! I want another banana split! With extra whipped cream.......

Monday, October 08, 2007

Long Night's Journey into Day


Welcome to "The Gods Are Bored," where we think marathon running should be confined to moments when the British are coming! Let Mercury do the running for you. Slow it down a notch! The race is to the steady, not the swift.

Princess the faerie and I are here today with great news.

A real, live publishing house has agreed to publish my novel, Gray Magic! This is not just some vanity thing I'm doing on my own to make myself a millionaire. This is editors who believe in the work. It will come out in an affordable, durable paperback edition, as sturdy as that copy of Mists of Avalon in your local library. You know, the one that's been read by every woman in town.

Gray Magic is set in the Middle Ages. It's about the Knights Templar. And I started it a decade before The Da Vinci Code came out, so it's no rip-off of Dan Brown. It just has a similar theme, done in a completely different way.

If you know anything about the Knights Templar, you probably know that they were Crusaders and bankers with enormous wealth who were suddenly arrested, detained without legal representation, tortured until they confessed to bizarre, unreal things, and then burnt at the stake if they recanted their confessions. These men were held in impenetrable fortresses for years and years. Many went mad. Some committed suicide.

Gee, what did I say I was writing about? Is it Guantanamo, or France of 700 years ago? The latter, bearing chilling similarities to the former.

This is absolutely bizarre, but the 700th anniversary of the Templars' imprisonment will occur this coming Saturday. While I am at the Faerie Con. Coincidence? Nope. We at "The Gods Are Bored" do not believe in coincidences. Let's call it serendipity and hope it means that the ghost of my central character is indeed looking in upon me to help get his story out.

As the process of producing Gray Magic continues, I'll tell you a little bit about the plot and characters, just so you know it's the kind of thing you'd like to stuff in the old beach bag and read at the edge of the pounding surf. I studied fiction writing with John Barth, but I am no John Barth and never was, and never ever will be. This book is something that anyone can read. It's an adventure story with a moral and more than one nod to faeries and the Old Bored Gods.

Princess went with me to New York yesterday to review the contract. She thinks it's swell. So do I, because I've been working on Gray Magic for 15 years, it's gone through about 10 drafts, and after that long I bet I could have taught at least one monkey to type War and Peace perfectly.

So you know it will be good.

Faerie Con is just days away! Come, please! I'm going to get to meet Brian Froud! I'm so excited!

For once there's good stuff going on. Pinch me and wake me up.

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Friday, October 05, 2007

Somebody Grab That Clock!


Welcome to "The Gods Are Bored," ..... uhhhh..... BWAAAAAHAAAAAHAAA BWAHHH HAAAAAAAA!


Tonight is the final home football game for the Snobville Fighting Wombat, i.e. my daughter The Heir!

She has been the Wombat for four straight years.


It's more than that. She is an adult now. I wish I could take the damned clock and wind the hands back, and back, and back, and back, until she was a newborn in my arms again.


She's a singular human being. I am glad to leave the world with such a fine Homo sapiens. Maybe she'll improve the species a little bit.


She's getting into the zone downstairs right now. Her routine is to listen to a performance art piece called "Christianity is Stupid," by Negativland.


Time to go to a special football game. I have an extra ticket, if you aren't busy.

Thursday, October 04, 2007

Sometimes the Trees Win


Welcome to "The Gods Are Bored," where once-pampered pantheons come to get their groove back! Have you been worshipping the same god as long as you've had that hairdo? Whoa, Joe. Time for a change!

A friend of mine who lives near Washington, DC emailed me the link to a story about Appalachia.

Okay, watch Annie botch the link:


If this works it'll be a first. So I'll recap in a few words.

Along the North Branch of the Potomac River, there used to be coal towns, some with post offices and schools, that are completely gone now. As in, swallowed by green stuff that seems to want to grow everywhere, if we just let it.

With all the despicable sprawl that our savage species sows, it's amazing to realize that, some places, trees are fighting back. This is particularly true in Appalachia, where small-town coal miners moved on when the seams dried up and where farms failed and were abandoned or bought out by the government for state forests and national parks.

One time my dad showed me a picture of our family farm that had been taken in about 1925. The entire property was covered with fields, here and there a windbreak. That same property now consists almost entirely of pine and oak forest. Forest, mind you. Piney woods where you can take shelter from a snowstorm.

When I was a kid, log houses two stories tall stood here and there along hiking trails on Polish Mountain. My dad knew the people who had lived in them. Those houses are all gone now, not a trace left, even the graveyards swallowed by the forest.

It's a modest comeback for Mother Nature, given the pressures everywhere to slap down asphalt for another Wal-Mart. But it does happen. Where people leave, plants generally move back in.

Maybe I'm the only person who has ever stood on Fifth Avenue and wondered how long it would take plant life to reclaim Manhattan Island. If you have an educated guess, please share it with me.

Less that two weeks until Faerie Con! If you love faeries, Philadelphia should be your destination on October 12-14. See you there!

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

Simplify, Simplify


Welcome to "The Gods Are Bored," comfortably numb since 1981! Let's face it. If you're old enough to remember Nixon, nothing surprises you now.

In my teens I was a big fan of Henry David Thoreau. The title above, "Simplify, Simplify," is from Walden, his masterpiece of nature-based navel-gazing.

This is not a treatise on Thoreau. I'm still thinking about that History Channel show, Hillbilly: The Real Story.

(Yes, this blog is bipolar. Bored gods one day, Appalachians the next. We try to be inclusive. Big, broad, flexible outlook and all that.)

In a two-hour documentary, it's easy to make Appalachia look pretty homogenous, the domain of Scots who were first relocated to Ireland and who then took ship to America, where they were shuttled off to Appalachia to kill Native Americans.

See the above autumnal tree? That's a metaphor for Appalachia. No two leaves exactly alike, don'tcha know.

Happens that both of my parents hailed from Appalachia. Mom was born and raised in a valley between the Blue Ridge and the Alleghenies. Her ancestors lived in the Blue Ridge. Dad was born and raised in the Alleghenies. Where he lived they called it "Allegany."

I am the first of nine generations to live outside Appalachia. So, all ye filmmakers, hearken to my family tree:

Scots-Irish, yes indeed:

Hanna
Lashley
McDill
MacElfish
Morrison (maybe Scots)

But, soft! Also from the same mountains, find:

Middlekauff
Brinham
Kennard
Tewell
Blue
Mountain
Iames
Bennett

Don't Kennard and Mountain sound suspiciously French to you? That show, Hillbilly: The Real Story conveniently forgot that the Scots-Irish were not the first white people to visit the mountains. The French got there first. They traded with the Indians. There was a war, and those French and Indians had to come from somewhere.

A guy named Blue, like a dog named Blue, can be from anywhere.

Bennett. Oh my golly, gee whiz. Could there be some English DNA in Appalachia? Bennett, as featured in Pride and Prejudice, is probably a good ol' Norman Invader name. As in benet, "blessed."

I never met a Scot named Middlekauff. Did you? In fact, I know my Middlekauff ancestor sailed to America from the Palatine, an old name for a part of Germany. He was one of the first of my ancestors to venture into Appalachia. There are so many Middlekauffs in Western Maryland that you can hardly throw a bratwurst without hitting one.

I'm still part owner of the family farm from which my great-great grandfather (nee Elbin) marched to the Civil War. It was once 150 acres and got split between my grandpa and his older brother. Farther along the mountain road that criss-crosses the farm there's a new family who moved in around 1982 and built a house about 500 yards from the plaque marking the Middle of Nowhere.

That family's surname? Kurkowski. They've already inter-married with the Mountains and the Kennards and the Perrins and the MacElfishes.

(Okay, I'm exaggerating about the intermarriage, but the Polish name is for real.)

How about black people who live in Appalachia? Are they African Americans, or Appalachian Americans? I submit that they are Appalachian. Heck, there have been black Appalachians since the day after Jamestown. And no matter how hard we've tried to push out all the Native Americans, there are still plenty of Indian hillbillies.

History Channel documentaries notwithstanding, Appalachia is a region with as much diversity as most of the rest of America. It's just those mountains that make a difference. They're pretty, and people like living there, through many generations.

Can I go home now?