Monday, June 30, 2008

Spare the Magnificent

Welcome to "The Gods Are Bored," hopelessly mired in the 20th century!

I can actually remember a time when it snowed so much that people predicted we were entering a new Ice Age. Guess that ship has sailed.

Today I dragged my daughter The Spare out of bed at the ungodly early hour of 10:30 a.m. I wanted some real, actual, hold-in-the-hand snapshots from my other daughter's digital camera.

I had the camera, but I needed the 21st century human to get the photos from a little silver box into a bigger, computer-shaped box, and from there into a package like the ones we used to wait for so impatiently, and then leaf through really fast.

Spare waltzed through the digital-to-real print process as nimbly as a faerie flits over a toadstool. Whilst self stood by, unable to say much except, "My name has an 'e' on the end of it," and, "Our zip code is not 08666, you minx."

The beauty of The Spare is that she also does old-fashioned stuff, like baking cakes and fixing breakfast. She was born at the end of the 20th century, and my wish for her is that she lives right through this century and into the next.

Then she'll have to ask her daughter how to work the lazer-powered jet pack and the "Make Me Look 20 Again" super-appliance, which will probably debut As Seen on T.V.

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Saturday, June 28, 2008

Annie's Little Litmus Test

Welcome to "The Gods Are Bored," where the local blueberries are in and the hummingbird-friendly hanging baskets just went on closeout sale!

Say what you want about New Jersey. Something comes out of all those smokestacks that makes great blueberries. They're probably carcinogenic, but hey. They taste awesome.

I've had this habit of submitting the people I know to a little litmus test to see if they'd be amiable companions or not. It's a really simple test: Do you believe in Santa Claus, or some variant thereof?

Generally speaking, there's a small window of time in which people don't believe in Santa Claus (or some variant thereof, including faeries). That window usually opens around age 8 and ends at age 16. I call that era of life the "cynical time."

Some people never leave the "cynical time." They trust their own senses, they don't believe in any higher power, they think the human race is the be-all and end-all, and that be-all ain't a pretty picture.

Here in Chateau Annie, we subscribe to the wisdom of the late, great Robert Anton Wilson.

In his many books, Wilson said that if the human brain was a computer, it would have a great deal of unused space, just waiting to be filled with programs and data that would lead to enlightenment, especially extra-sensory perception. In other words, what we perceive with our five senses isn't necessarily all there is to perceive in the vast universe. And when more of us tap into our Sixth Sense, lying useless in most brains, we'll move up the ladder.

Spirit beings like Santa Claus, faeries, angels, gnomes, daemons, etc. lodge themselves in that part of the brain circuitry we haven't yet fully put into play. Ditto the bored gods and all other deities. You doubt there's a higher power out there? So that puts you at the top of the spiritual food chain? *shudder*

When someone tells me they think Santa Claus is some scam parents pull on their kids, I think to myself, "Pass on this person." Many, many adults believe in Santa Claus (or some variant thereof, including faeries).

I'm an adult, and I believe in all sorts of higher powers, including Santa Claus (or some variant thereof). Why? Because human beings can't possibly be the best sentient beings this universe has produced.


If humans are the penultimate of the universe, I'd like the Flying Spaghetti Monster to zap the entire concoction and start over. Perhaps adding more basil, thyme, and oregano.


FROM ANNE
THE MERLIN OF BERKELEY SPRINGS

Friday, June 27, 2008

The Grinch, Victorious

Welcome to "The Gods Are Feverish!" I'm your host, Hot Annie. Pass the iced tea, please.

But wait. There's no ice.

Word just in from the Goddess Sedna that for the first time in recorded history, the North Pole will be open water this summer instead of solid ice.

Sedna tells me that Santa Claus's workshop just sank under the waves. Total loss.

Apparently Santa's been warned over the past few years that his workshop might be in danger of destruction, but he just ignored it. The only radio station that reaches the North Pole carries Fox Radio -- Rush Limbaugh, et.al., so Santa thought global climate change was just something made up to cheat honest oil executives of their hard-earned research money.

Sedna says that the ice floe under Santa's workshop cracked in the middle of the night. Santa didn't have time to hitch up his sleigh. The flying reindeers were locked in their barn, so even they couldn't escape.

For those of you with young children, this news will be very hard to take. I suggest you don't tell your tots. Just start saving your money now, and you might be able to get them a few gifts at Christmas, out of your own budget. I suggest sunscreen, sunglasses, box fans, and popsickles.

The death of Santa and Mrs. Claus, and all their elves and reindeers! How tragic! I'm sure none of them knew how to swim. Why would they need to know, living on a solid block of ice....

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Wednesday, June 25, 2008

A Message That Belongs Elsewhere


Welcome to "The Gods Are Bored!" Today I'm posting at Appalachian Greens, so if you want a daily dose of Anne, you'll need to go there.

Photo: Graduation 2008.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Druidic Pastoral Counseling


Welcome to "The Gods Are Bored," by the light of the sun and moon, by the power of sea and stone, by the beauty of flower and field, we bid you welcome to this blog! Let all disturbing thoughts be laid aside!

Wow. Just writing that makes me feel serene. Which, believe it or not, is what religion is supposed to do for you. It's supposed to impart serenity.

Eight times a year I meet with fellow Druids of the Grove of the Black Oak. We are a very small fellowship, but we get it done. The best part is that we meet outdoors, in a huge Pennsylvania state park. So there's no threat of a pesky soot stain on the upholstery.

Two nights before Druid Grove, my daughter The Spare went to a party where she and her friends watched a horror film called Cloverfield.

(I do not watch horror films. They make me unwell.)

Cloverfield so frightened The Spare that she came home and couldn't sleep. Even when I joined her in her bed, she still sat there, mumbling about parasites and monsters and everybody being dead in the end.

This little cinematic effort was still hard on The Spare's mind when we went to Druid Grove. She brought up the subject at first chance when the rest of us were chatting our hellos.

Muin, who is a founding member of the Grove, had seen the film and loved it. He and The Spare began a long, earnest conversation about it, in which he explained to her (without making her feel stupid) that some of the characters had to survive. He helped The Spare to evaluate the quality of the movie, its special effects, etc.

As they talked, I could see that The Spare was becoming more comfortable not only on the topic of one scary movie, but on the overall, broader realm of conversing with adult males other than her dad.

If you think about it, teenaged girls don't get a big choice in who they can chat with among the adult male population. There are dads, other peoples' dads, uncles, pastors, teachers, and (icky icky yuck yuck yuck) coaches.

Since our Druid Grove is egalitarian, I wouldn't call Muin a "pastor," although it's hard to argue theology with a Druid who speaks fluent Gaelic and whose grandparents don't think modern Druids are doing it right because they did it differently. What Muin is, though, is a valuable role model in a particular praise and worship path.

When I think back over my days in mainstream Christianity, which were many, I can only remember one pastor who seemed to give a fig about his people, and then only in the most professional manner -- rather like a doctor about to examine a Plantar wart. The rest of the Christian leadership I've known has been extremely dismissive of the opinions, yea even the presence, of young women. (Think: "Go play in the traffic now so we can get out of here in time for the Eagles kickoff.")

Druid Grove is different. The Spare takes her role, it's as important as any other role, and her presence is welcome and appreciated. No one's shoving doctrine down her maw, but if she's got an issue with a horror film, she can have it resolved.

What I guess I'm trying to say in a nutshell is that a whole legion of Christian youth pastors, educated out the wazoo on how to handle teenagers, can't hold a candle to one cheerful Druid who loves scary movies.

Muin makes beautiful Celtic jewelry. You can see his stuff here. I'm going to add him to my sidebar for those of you who want to wear your religion proudly as something other than a tattoo.

May the harmony of the land be complete!

FROM ANNE
THE MERLIN OF BERKELEY SPRINGS

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Monday, June 23, 2008

My Very True George Carlin Story

"Welcome to the ..." Bwaaaaaaaaaa haaaaaaaaaaaaa waaaaaaaah!

My favorite comedian died today.

Loki must be doing backflips for joy. Seriously, can't you just picture George Carlin entertaining the entire Heathen pantheon? They're probably giving him some kind of golden horn or something even as we speak.

It happens that I had the good fortune to see George Carlin perform live, twice, in a small restored vaudeville theater near my hometown.

I don't know how other comedians learn their routines, but Carlin liked to practice his before live audiences. So when he had an HBO special lined up, he would tour around these small theaters, charge a reasonable ticket fee, and rehearse in front of a crowd.

The first time I saw George at the Maryland Theater, it must have been 1998 or even earlier, because my parents were still alive and still living at home.

Now you have to imagine George Carlin doing his thing in a small theater in Appalachia. The male audience members in particular were just stoked to the max. Couldn't wait to see the guy.

I went by myself and found myself seated with some good ol' boys, and in minutes we were carrying on as if we'd always known and loved each other. This is what we had in common: We thought George Carlin was the fuckin' bomb.

Just before the show was scheduled to start, two well-dressed couples came in and sat in front of my row. The women had their hair all done up, and (pinky swear) the dudes were wearing ties.

Carlin always toured with a really funny younger guy, a warmer-upper whose name I can't even remember. And that's a shame, because that guy was funny as hell too.

Anyway, the warmup was over, and out comes Carlin, all in black. The rednecks went nuts.

Carlin says to the audience: "How you doin' tonight?"

We cheered.

And he said, "Well, fuck you."

And then he launched. Need I say it was classic Carlin, which always took aim, using extreme cussing, at everything that needed to be shot down in our culture. I remember that he did an extended run of "Goddamn it, I get so pissed off" selections that night.

What was interesting to me, in addition to Carlin, was the reaction of the well-dressed couples in front of me. First they stiffened. Then they started whispering to one another. Then they got up and left.

As they were leaving, I heard the one woman say to the other one, "I can't believe that's Mr. Conductor!"

The guys I was sitting with heard her too, and we all just about fell out of our seats.

I don't have to tag this "navel gazing," because I will never forget that moment, no matter how senile I become next month.

On the other hand, it might make a good "moron" tag.

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And You Thought I Was Kidding...


Honestly I can't make this stuff up.

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Saturday, June 21, 2008

Seriously. What Would Jesus Do?


Welcome to "The Gods Are Bored" on Solstice weekend! These long days mark the time when we settle in to watch our gardens ripen, to see if the seeds we've sown will actually sprout up and bear fruit.

(Puck the Faerie likes Midsummer Night. He says we should watch for our seats to bare Fruit Loops.)

Lately I've been reminded once again of the vast chasm between the humble carpenter who preached from a fishing boat way back in the day, and the people who call themselves his disciples in these times.

Last night Mr. Johnson came home just as I was about to toddle off to bed. I agreed to sit up with him just for a few minutes. And in that time he clicked through the channels to Fox News.

On Fox News, a very young, very blonde woman was aggressively challenging a wildlife conservationist about oil drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. She was harsh and relentless -- we need to find every drop of crude oil available in America in order to fuel our automobiles. Too bad if it's under a wildlife refuge. The farmer in Nebraska needs his gas to get into town. He can't move to a big city and take the El.

What caught my attention was not the combative nature of the woman's questioning, but rather the large golden cross on her neck. She was wearing the Big Christian Symbol, large enough and gold enough that no one was going to miss it.

I had to ask myself, "What would Jesus do about drilling for oil in a wildlife refuge?"

Know what? There's just no answer to that. I defy you to provide an answer to that question. How Jesus felt about international consumption of crude oil, or even olive oil for that matter, is not recorded.

This second example of WWJD might be open for debate. I'll leave it up to you.

My fundie sis and her husband made a rare trip to Chateau Johnson in order to attend The Heir's high school graduation and The Spare's middle school graduation. Sis has no children of her own, but within the past year she adopted a rescue dog with a sad past. She brought the dog with her. (They stayed in a hotel.)

Sis and her husband recently moved into a $400,000 McMansion. It's near their church. They share the roomy structure with ... their dog.

We all had to go to the shopping mall to get a pair of shoes for The Spare. When we got home, The Spare told me she saw Sis leaving little notes with smiley faces on them that said "Smile! Jesus loves you!" here and there in the mall.

Sis wanted to know if there was a pet boutique in the area. There's one. We went to it. Sis purchased a pink and black satin tutu for her dog. The mutt needs little else -- it has collapsible water and food bowls, a duffel bag decorated with embroidered dog bones for its trips, and several leashes, depending upon how far a walk is planned.

On the walk back from the high school after The Spare's graduation, Sis bemoaned the fact that she will never have any children, that during her reproductive years she was actually suffering from an undiagnosed disorder that kept her from conceiving. (The birth control pills didn't help either, but Sis must have forgotten about them.)

Since she'd made a snide remark about how I should have used my wand to stop the rain, I made bold to observe that many Christian adoption services existed for all those pregnant teenagers out there who wanted to avoid abortions. I also recollected hearing about adoptions or fostering of older children as well.

This subtle hint was either lost on its audience or ignored out of politeness.

When we returned to Chateau Johnson after an absence of two hours, Sis made over her dog lavishly for more than ten minutes straight. The Heir and The Spare watched this display in utter disbelief. We have pets here, and we love them, but they're just part of the landscape and certainly not the center thereof.

So I ask myself again, "What would Jesus think of this woman, my sister, who tithes faithfully to her church, who leaves little smiley faces in the mall, and whose disposable income and affection go primarily to a pet?"

After Sis left, I asked Mr. Johnson a question, and now I'm asking you. (Maybe I'm querying the wrong audience, but I'm not going to pose this one to Dobson, sorry.)

Is there any mention of dogs in the Bible? The culture from which it sprung depended upon sheep and fish and wheat for sustenance. But I can't recall a single citation about dogs in the whole book. Cats either. Now you know they must have had both. They would have needed the dogs to help with the sheep, and the cats to keep the mice out of the grain.

Why didn't Jesus tell us how to treat our dogs and cats? Heck, there are legions of bored deities out there who are dedicated completely to domestic animals.

Lots of people claim to talk to Jesus one-on-one. If there's anyone reading this who does that, will you please ask Jesus:

* His stance on drilling for crude oil on the Continental Shelf and in the ANWR, and...

*How we should treat our dogs.

Thank you for helping me understand these thorny theological issues.

And for those of you who follow other religious paths, happy Solstice! May all that you plant be a worthy tribute to the deity of your choice!

Friday, June 20, 2008

A Sobering Thought

Welcome to "The Gods Are Bored," where we are definitely not known for careful and sober analysis of life issues! Generally we leave those things for Mormons and other people who don't have any fun.

Today we've got something on the plate that can't be ignored.

*My daughter The Heir graduated from high school two evenings ago. (If you haven't left advice for her, see below. I'm going to print out the comments and give them to her when I think they've maxed.)

Missing from The Heir's Class of 2008 were two young men who died while in high school. One of them led Philadelphia policemen on a high speed chase that culminated in his jumping from the Benjamin Franklin Bridge. They found his body three months later. Apparently corpses sink in the colder months and then float to the top in spring.

Told ya this would be heavy going.

The other student lost from Heir's Class of 2008 died of an ordinary drug overdose, the same scenario that robbed us of Hendrix, Joplin, Curt Cobain.

Of course, during the outdoor ceremony (it rained), the principal and other speakers remembered these two deceased gentlemen with a moment of silence.

------

*My daughter The Spare graduated from Middle School last night. The ceremony was held indoors in a stifling gym (it did not rain inside or out). Spare will be a member of the Class of 2012 ... maybe

... maybe

Because you sit there the night after a high school graduation, looking down upon all the fresh-faced 8th graders, and you think, "Which one will dive off a bridge? Which one will mix opiates and liquor? Which one will drive a car into a tree?"

Because, odds are that by 2012 one of those chairs will be empty.

I ponder The Spare and hope for the best. She's the one with the sassy mouth, the one who would rather choose an outfit than finish her homework, the one whose social calendar is always packed. She's the fighter. The drama queen. The one who says, "Faster!" when the light turns yellow.

In the state where I grew up, there's a place called Great Falls. At Great Falls, the Potomac River descends from the mountains into the tidal zone. Great Falls isn't one sheer waterfall like Niagra. It's a couple of miles of raging whitewater, punctuated by dramatic, rocky cataracts. Maybe about 50 waterfalls all in a row, like Mistress Mary's pretty maids.

I feel like I'm sending The Spare into Great Falls in a leaky boat. Stay with me, folks, to see if she navigates through to the calm tidal waters of Blue Crab Country.

Because someone in the Snobville Class of 2012 ain't gonna do it.

In these cases I guess it helps if you understand Probability Theory. But my ability in math begins and ends with "Shit Happens." I can only hope that the bored gods will intervene just this one time and keep the shit in the crapper.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Commencement


Welcome to "The Gods Are Bored" on this, Commencement Day, 2008.

Just six hours from now, my daughter The Heir will walk across a stage and get a piece of paper that says she's an adult.

Do you remember this moment in your life, readers?

Mr. Johnson and I are offering The Heir some advice.

Mr. Johnson's is: "The race is to the steady, not the swift."

My advice is: "Be always mindful of your upholstery and avoid all pesky stains."

If you could tell The Heir something inspirational, what would it be?

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Tuesday, June 17, 2008

He's Baaaa-aaaaa-aaack!


Welcome to "The Bored Gods, All of Them, Have Stopped Worrying and Learned To Love Soft Ice Cream!"

Wow. That's a mouthful. Mmmmmm. Swirl it around on your tongue!

I try not to repeat myself on this blog, but some things just bare (pun intended) repeating.

In our part of America, white trucks called "Mr. Softees" drive around neighborhoods with this annoying kiddie tune blaring. Mr. Softee trucks dispense soft ice cream, popsickles, and other cold confections. The annoying kiddie tune is so loud you can hear it in time to find your purse no matter how well the faeries have hidden it. And after you've made your purchase, the song lingers through the next two blocks.

Last summer, the Mr. Softee truck in our hood was manned (word choice intended) by an extremely handsome young fella. He got a lot of repeat business from Chateau Johnson, because it was universally agreed among mother and two sisters that this was a person worth looking at. And in order to look at him, you had to buy his soft serve. If you wanted him to smile, you tipped him. Generously. Extremely generously.

(Okay, Grumpy. Like you wouldn't tip Cary Grant if he was dishing out vanilla with rainbow jimmies.)

Last week The Spare and I heard the stupid kiddie song coming down the block. We looked at each other. I said, "Oh Pleeeeeeeeeeeeze let it be the same dude!"

The Spare said, "I don't care if it's Godzilla. I want some soft serve."

We went outside and flagged him down.

It was the same dude. A year older, but not one bit less stunning. We tipped him. He smiled. The world turned a brilliant rainbow hue, and turtledoves cooed in the pines.

I'm all alone here in the house today. I hear the Mr. Softee truck ... hmmmmm ... Smile at Mr. Softee, or put the towels in the dryer?

In go the towels. Truck passes by, unaccosted. We at "The Gods Are Bored," in the course of a long and interesting life, have gotten some sense in our heads.

Then again, he drives by every day. Be still my beating heart!

Monday, June 16, 2008

Love and Marriage

Welcome to "The Gods Are Bored!" Love is in the air ... along with heavy metals and ozone and pollen. But forget the particulate matter, love is in the air!

In a few hours, Phyllis Lyon and Del Martin will marry in San Francisco. Phyllis and Del have been partners for 55 years. Tonight they'll be newlyweds.

Fifty-five years, readers. I haven't been married half that long, and it seems like I've been married forever.

The difference between me and Mr. Johnson and Del and Phyllis is that I'm a woman, and Mr. Johnson is a man. Del and Phyllis are both women.

To me this gender thing is inconsequential. Totally. If you meet someone you want to spend the rest of your life with, you should be able to marry him, her, or it.

It, you say? Well, Decibel the Parrot could live to be 100 years old. Shouldn't I be able to make provisions for poor dear polly?


Maybe that's a stretch, but we at "The Gods Are Bored" endorse marriage as the union of two souls and as an economic reality. Unlike the sanctimonious ex-senator Rick Santorum, we do not view gay marriage as the end of civilized society as we have know it. We at "The Gods Are Bored" view gay marriage as a sacred covenant between two people who love each other.

And if you've loved the same person for 55 years, you shouldn't have to wait until you're in your 80s to tie the knot. Just think how stale that wedding cake will be! For the love of fruit flies, let's let people love each other however the spirit moves them!

Best wishes to Phyllis and Del for many decades of happy marriage!

FROM ANNE
THE MERLIN OF BERKELEY SPRINGS

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Saturday, June 14, 2008

All Navel, All the Time


Welcome to "The Gods Are Bored," where we will dispense with our usual peppy opening paragraph!

Snobville High School Prom 2008

The Heir wore a black cocktail dress, splashed with color, sporting a swishy chiffon skirt. She enjoyed the company of her escort. His name is really John.

Snobville High actually has an old-fashioned promenade. Each couple comes out the high school door into a courtyard and walks down a sidewalk through a phalanx of parents (and half the rest of the town as well, everyone comes to this thing).

It's right out of Jane Austen, and you get to see everyone's attire. For my money The Heir had the prettiest dress of all, and best of all it's re-usable, doesn't look like a prom dress.

I would love to post a picture, but The Heir wishes to remain anonymous.

Heir & Spare Graduation Party, Today!

The first two hours consisted of poor Spare and her boyfriend having to chat endlessly with self and Mr. Johnson. How an 8th grade boy bore up under this I cannot tell you. But he is a swell kid. Then Mr. Johnson's family arrived, and my mother-in-law lost no time in telling 8th grade boyfriend that he was so pretty, no wonder there are pedophiles in the world!

(Spare looked like a slug that had just gotten hit with a dash of salt. Can't say I blamed her, but you've gotta make concessions for grandmothers, they are a special breed.)

Once Mr. Johnson's lively family came in, all the rest of the guests started to show up. My blessed Seitou, faerie artist, came in and disappeared upstairs with The Heir for awhile, and sure enough, weird music started floating down the stairwell. Then several of The Heir's co-workers arrived with their children, and my best friend Celeste, and my editor at The Smart Set with his two darling little boys.

The boys plus my peerless nephew Vincent, all under age 10, were quite taken with Decibel the Parrot, so I entertained them by giving Decibel a hose-down on the front porch. Who says kids need computers for amusement?

The Spare's boyfriend had to leave. The Heir gave him a little light listening: The Velvet Underground. Nothing like loading a little Lou Reed into an 8th grader's brain. So off toddled Spare's bf, and in came Heir's bf, who really is more like a bff.

We were anxiously awaiting Grandma's pronouncement on Heir's bff, but Grandma was chatting with Celeste. (Sigh of relief.)

By 5:00 the guests had mostly eaten, chatted, and said their polite toodle-oos. Heir's bff had to mosey along to another party. He was no sooner out the door than I looked out the window and said, "Here comes someone with orange hair. It must be one of our party guests."

It was the Monkey Man, resplendent in a torn t-shirt and curly silver wig. (The orange hair turned out to be his jester hat.) With him came my favorite of his puppets, the Crying Crow.

Nephew Vincent lives in Baltimore and thus was totally ignorant of Monkey Man and the wealth of urban legends clinging to him. But within moments, Vincent and Monkey Man were best of friends, shoving jewel weed into a bowl of water to watch its leaves turn silver. (Did you know that happens, Nettle? I didn't.)

Monkey Man had prepared a special puppet show for Heir and had written a poem in her honor. The highlight of the puppet show was the return of the Monkey after a long year of absence! And I must say the Monkey had a better year than the rest of us, he looked brand new. I've gotta find that damn spa and spend a year there myself.

Monkey Man's poem had us all crying, because it was about both Heir and Spare, and how much they mean to him. And then he gave Heir a Jackson Pollack-inspired scribble drawing done by his students in Camden. They had signed it on the reverse with special greetings, so it's hard to know which side to display.

The Heir then entertained us with a few ditties on the musical saw. Enough said about that.

I had to run the Monkey Man up to the El, and kiss my dear niece and nephew farewell, and when I returned our neighbors had come in for a late sandwich -- including the boy The Heir played with throughout her childhood until they were pre-teens. Said boy is now the captain of the Snobville varsity basketball team, about ten feet tall and chiseled like a statue. Seeing him made me feel how the years melt into one another, how two little toddlers playing on a swing set become adults going out into the world.

We Johnsons have compared notes just now. We determined this was one of the, if not the single weirdest day in the history of this household. The sheer variety of guests, all coming in and going out, boggled the mind.

Not a single piece of furniture was stained, and The Spare is doing the dishes. I think I'll take a walk on the wild side!

FROM ANNE
THE MERLIN OF BERKELEY SPRINGS
faerie image by Seitou

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Thursday, June 12, 2008

A Quickie

Welcome to "The Gods Are Bored," taking steps to usher in Armageddon by supporting Barack Obama! Yes, apparently he's the Antichrist (see post below).

But just remember, re Armageddon. When the busy god clears out his praise and worship team, it'll be a greener, less crowded globe for the rest of us. And so many empty churches to put to good uses we won't be able to think of enough uses! So bring it on, Barack.

We at "The Gods Are Bored" will be off the air for a few days, preparing a graduation party for daughters The Heir and The Spare. The Heir is graduating high school, National Honor Society, National Art Honor Society. The Spare is limping out of Middle School with grades barely intact. But who among us, I ask you, did better than limp out of Middle School with grades barely intact?

I've got to go clean my house. The cats, Alpha and Beta, won't do it. Nor will Decibel the Parrot. Mr. Johnson says he'll help, but talk is cheap. I'm sure Heir and Spare will pitch in, but not until the 11th hour, and I'm a control freak. Gotta do it now.

If you're looking for a good read in my absence, click on Will Bunch in my sidebar, and scroll down to his post on how Rush Limbaugh called him a Stalinist. Will's blog is a hoot, because he posts the most reasonable stuff, and then every troll from the Hall of the Mountain King leaves comments that curl your hair.

See you Sunday! Or, if you're in the neighborhood Saturday, drop by for a hoagie and a piece of cake. And make that graduation check payable to Heir Johnson. She's off to college in the fall.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Suffering for Barack Obama

Welcome to "The Gods Are Bored," true blue and Union too!

Clearing the Record: Yesterday's post takes readers to the wrong link. (Oh gee, is anyone surprised by that?) If you want to meet David Miley, go here. I sent you to Jeff Lilly. Sorry, David!

My legions and legions of regular readers will recall that I've been going in for treatments on my hip that are administered by a nurse. The treatments do not involve needles, nor do they involve prescription medications. All well and good, but today I decided I'd rather just be in pain all the time.

You might recall that this nurse was a Hillary Clinton Democrat, fiercely devoted to her candidate. And that would be fine with me, except that the nurse in question has taken her disappointment over the primary to alarming levels of idiocy.

She hates Barack Obama and refuses to talk about anything else.

Oh readers. I tried. I really tried. Look at all the fascinating topics I attempted to steer her toward:

1. How to play the musical saw
2. The odd ways of faeries (a personal fave, usually works)
3. The Snobville Memorial High School Prom, what daughter will be wearing, and her problem finding shoes
4. How nice the students are at the Vo-Tech

Ah, but was she listening? Uh, nope.

She was horrified to hear, for the second week in a row, that I plan to vote for Barack Obama. None of her stirring speeches last week moved me an inch.

Out came all the tired racist stuff again. He's a Muslim. He swore into the Senate on the Koran. He has nothing in common with Clinton in terms of political platform (WTF?). His name. That name. No one should be able to be a president of the United States with a name like "Obama."

Sez I: "Hillary just endorsed Obama last Saturday. Do you mean to tell me that if Hillary walked in this room right now and asked you personally to vote for Barack, you wouldn't do it?"

Sez She: "Nope. I'm gonna vote for McCain. Hillary should have never caved like that. She should have stood up to him and taken all her followers with her."

Sez I: "Do you know anything about McCain's platform? What he represents politically?"

This last led her to declare Obama the Antichrist and to predict Armageddon should he be elected.

Seriously.

I decided that my hip will just have to hurt, because I ain't goin' back to that crazy lady.

It gets worse. I have so taken her rants to heart that I just volunteered for the Obama campaign! Picture me limping to a voter registration drive in Camden, New Jersey in two weeks! The San Juan Bautista Parade -- four hours in the sun, registering voters!

I haven't volunteered for a presidential campaign since 1976. See what happens when we at "The Gods Are Bored" hear the word "Armageddon?"

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Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Revising My View of the Human Race

Welcome to "The Gods Are Bored," wit and wisdom for the witty and wise!

Musical saw player for hire. Will annoy the most easygoing neighbors. Can be accompanied by Macaw. Will annoy the most easygoing neighbors in the next Zip code.

Decibel the Parrot, Orator


Just when I throw in the towel on the human race, I'm proven wrong. Opened my email this morning to find a blessing from David the Druid. Heartfelt spiritual uplift, the kind that leaves you feeling like you're wearing soft feathers all day.

Then this afternoon, I visited the ever-interesting Buzzardbilly, to find that she had sent me an award! I hope it'll load. If not, I'll show Buzzardbilly how much I love her another way.


Here it is:


I'm supposed to name ten other bloggers that I love ... but I'll suffice it to load a few more faves onto the sidebar and do a meme on Ten People I Love.

Ten People Anne Loves

1. Spouse and partner, Mr. Johnson
2. Daughter The Heir, despite musical saw
3. Daughter The Spare

Gosh, I forgot to differentiate between living and dead. So let's stick to the living.

4. Sis, even though her religion is a sticking point
5. Monkey Man (You would love him too.)
6. Cousin Marta Fiscus
7. Cousin Cindy Hinchen
8. Joe Kuskowski
9. John Cowan

10. Everyone in my blogroll, including Jesus' General, but I only love him in a chaste and Biblically-appropriate way.

Ah, love, love! It's the only thing! As for me and my house, we will follow the Love!


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Monday, June 09, 2008

Mortals Suck

Welcome to "The Gods Are Bored," saving energy by frying eggs on the sidewalk!

Hot weather always makes me search for the bored god of Blind Rage. If you know him/her, please tender an introduction.

It is so hot here where we live that the public schools closed down at noon today. A message alerting parents went over the emails yesterday afternoon.

As word spread through the Middle School-osphere, my daughter The Spare got the following instant message:

School out at noon. Thank God for global warming!

The Spare was infuriated by this sentiment. She exhausted every expletive I've taught her (a colorful string of invective). She said someone ought to tell the polar bears that school gets out early, so they'll be happy about it too.

I can't imagine why any deity would want our species as a praise and worship team.

Yours with blind rage,

ANNE
THE MERLIN OF BERKELEY SPRINGS

Sunday, June 08, 2008

A Declaration of Faith

Welcome to "The Gods Are Bored," where we're homebound by the heat and the hip while the daughter's in Philly at the Gay Pride Parade!

(Pause for gnashing of teeth)

My daughter The Heir boarded the El about two hours ago to attend Philadelphia's annual Gay Pride Parade, conveniently located on the street right above one of the Center City El stops. In addition to her many other fascinations, The Heir loves drag queens. I hope some day she has one for a friend.

These days I can't be on my feet for more than 30 minutes, so I stayed home. (More gnashing of teeth)

Before she left, I told The Heir to collect any anti-gay tracts being handed out by the right-wing Christians who attend these things. I told her that if they asked if she was gay, she should say no, she's a Pagan.

To my astonishment, she declared a religion. Turns out she's a Pastafarian.


Perhaps you haven't heard of the Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster. The FSM's followers are known as Pastafarians.

The Flying Spaghetti Monster appeared in a revelation to a Kansas seer in reaction to the Kansas state school board's mandate to teach intelligent design in science classrooms. The Holy Monster declared that It was in fact the Intelligent Designer, and the science teachers should make note of that fact.

Since then, the FSM has attracted a worldwide following of envious proportions. Let's just say It's not a bored god. It was too busy to grant an interview!

Make light of this major new deity if you will, but we at "The Gods Are Bored" take It very seriously. After all, Isaac Bonewits became a Druid and began his Path because the college he attended demanded weekly religious observance. He formed a Druid group as a tongue-in-cheek protest. Lo and behold, the college quickly dropped its religion requirement, and Bonewits found a life calling. He was probably bombarded by bored deities, all eager to reclaim a praise and worship team.

So it is with pride that I recognize The Heir's commitment to Pastafarianism. But oh boy, I hope there aren't any dietary restrictions, because I dump almost everything on a bed of spaghetti.

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Saturday, June 07, 2008

Reality Check

Welcome to "The Gods Are Bored," weighing the world in the balance and finding it wanting since Kennedy was assassinated! That's a long time.

Today, as Hilary Clinton was giving her historic speech conceding to Barak Obama and offering her support, I was in Camden, New Jersey with my daughter The Heir.

It is 96 degrees outside. The kind of day when even Decibel the Parrot gets two hose-downs.

The Heir had a face-painting gig at Camden's minor league ballpark. The gig started at 2:00 and the game wasn't scheduled to begin until 5:00, so imagine my surprise to find every parking lot crammed with white people, many waving Rebel flags and all drinking prodigiously.

I had to drop The Heir off at the ballpark and drive around until I could convince an official to let me park in the players' lot just for an hour.

In the course of my driving around Camden (which, at last census, probably reported less than 10 percent Caucasian residents), I saw that every tourist parking lot was similarly packed to the gills with imported people. And every lot sported those flags, the ones with the stars and bars.

Did I say that it's almost 100 degrees here today?

The official at the ballpark told me that the event I was witnessing was a massive tailgate party in anticipation of a big country music concert this evening. As I scurried into the ballpark, I saw one inebriated person relieving himself onto the sidewalk and another barfing on same.

It was 2:00 in the afternoon. A bit on the sultry side.

So I waited while The Heir did her face-painting, which was unrelated to the country music show. And then we got in the car and tried to start home. But there seemed to be many differences of opinion developing between the attendees of the country music show and the mostly minority police force of Camden. It took us awhile to skirt the madness.

The temperature had perhaps climbed to 102 by that time.

I'm trying to picture the people in that parking lot voting for Barak Obama. Or for Hilary Clinton, for that matter.

My camera must be out of film, because I'm just not seeing this segment of society as being one bit happy about an educated brown man, and probably an equally or more educated white woman, running America.

Ready for some more Republican? Four more years.

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Friday, June 06, 2008

Jiff on the Shelf

Welcome to "The Gods Are Bored," recognizing motherhood as a bond forged by the Great Goddesses, by whatever names they care to be called!

I'll bet if you said, "Here kitty kitty kitty," and you were calling The Goddess, she would come. She knows your needs.

Yesterday afternoon at about 4:00, my daughter The Heir left for an overnight visit to the college in which she has enrolled for the fall, 2008 semester.

I was perfectly okay with this. Happy as a clam.

Yeah, crap. I've been a weepy mess for weeks.

It's unusual for mothers and daughters to have relationships that aren't touched by tension, but The Heir and I have enjoyed a blissful partnership since the day they stuck her tiny little sweetness into my arms for the first time. Maybe two, three harsh words between us in 19 years ... and I don't remember the occasion.

We do flea markets and road trips, we go to weird performance art shows and poetry get-togethers, buzzard festivals, Druid Grove, thrift store. She's never had a boyfriend to pull her time away from me, and we've just done our thing. And it's been a marvelous thing, a wonderful thing, a holy thing, as if we knew each other in another life (which maybe we did).

This morning I came downstairs to make school lunches. It's a quirk of both of my daughters that they won't eat the lunches made by their schools. So I pack lunch for them every day. I figure I've made more than 2,000 lunches for The Heir in 12 years of schooling.

(Hey, my bagel guy says I've saved a ton of dough by doing this, that school lunches are getting expensive!)

Anyway, I got ready to make the lunches, and I remembered that The Heir was out at her college. And there sat the Jiff on the counter, ready to become a peanut butter and jelly sandwich.

I put the Jiff back in the cupboard and used all of the remaining paper towels to stem my crying. I can't imagine life without The Heir under my roof!

I know, I know, whatcha gonna do? She's gotta get under way, so she can buy her own bagels and Jiff in the future. It's just hard, that's all.

Gotta cheer myself up. Time to visit YouTube and watch "vulture phone book." That'll do the trick.

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Wednesday, June 04, 2008

Praising the Nettles of This World

Welcome to "The Gods Are Bored," a space where we all-too-often forget our primary mission: to praise the Ancient Ones!

I have a friend named Nettle. You might think that a rather savage name, but stinging nettles are actually tasty, if you know how to cook them. So Nettle says, and I believe her.

I imagine my friend Nettle, humming over a merry pot of nettle soup, as she gazes out upon her little urban garden.

Today the bored Goddess Airmid asked me to salute Nettle for her talent as an herbalist. Nettle made me a homeopathic tincture for arthritis, using Solomon's Seal. It has proven every bit as effective as those awful pills we always tend to swallow in these modern times.

There's something very primal and holy about the taste of Solomon's Seal, as if every growing thing on earth had been swirled into one single mixture. Once again I can see sweet Nettle, mixing and boiling and testing her medicines, in a way that was ancient before Eve was born.

Who was the first person to taste an oyster? Who was the first to pluck a sprig of mugwort and munch it? These are the Ancient Ones. Much of their wisdom is lost to our snobbery, our stubborn conviction that everything today is better than it was in the day.

I will lie in the long grass, thinking of Nettle as she creates delicious soups and healing medicines. I will thank the Great Goddess Airmid for endowing this talent upon Nettle.

And then I will pluck a savory blade of grass, stuff it between my thumbs, and shatter the silence with my squawks. Because you know me. And so does Nettle, and so does Airmid.

Blessed be!

FROM ANNE
THE MERLIN OF BERKELEY SPRINGS

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Tuesday, June 03, 2008

Why Democracy Doesn't Work ... Again

Welcome to "The Gods Are Bored," frank talk about religion, politics, and hot sex with groovy partners!

Well, two outta three ain't bad.

Sometimes people say stuff that is of such monumental stupidity that it literally takes your breath away. And when you think that such people are allowed -- nay, encouraged -- to vote, you understand why we get fascists like Dick Cheney in positions of power.

I've been going in for treatments on my hip. The treatments last about 15 minutes. And try though I might to keep the subject from turning to politics, the (presumably educated) technician who gives me my treatments just wants to rant.

She hates Barak Obama. She hates his name. What kind of name is that for a president of the United States? She says he's Muslim, he was sworn into the Senate on the Koran.

When I wouldn't budge from my position that I'll vote for him if he's the Democratic nominee, she encouraged me to read the Koran. And get this: Even after I told her I don't like mean books like the Koran and the Bible, that's part of the reason I'm a Pagan, she just kept on ranting.

Says she: "Obama doesn't have enough experience to be president. He's only served two years in the Senate."

Says I: "Abraham Lincoln didn't have any more experience than Obama. He spent one term in Congress and couldn't even get re-elected. He lost a Senate campaign."

Says she:

Are you ready for this, readers????

"Well, this country is more complicated now than it was when Lincoln was elected president."

Pinky swear she said this.




Yeah, as president, Lincoln had a real sleigh ride. Easiest eight years in the history of America. And I'm sure he enjoyed his many years of retirement in Florida, too.

Now picture this pie-faced moron in a voting booth!

H.L. Mencken was right. Democracy doesn't work because stupid people vote stupidly.



So, jot that down in your history notes, kids. Our nation's politics are more complicated now than they were when the whole fuckin' shootin' match split in two, and then both sides fought over it for four years.

Moron. Moron. Moron.

I've got two more treatments to go. Next time I will wear my full Pagan regalia, if for no other reason than it might help me not to become infected with idiocy.
Photos: Gettysburg Battlefield, Andersonville Prison Cemetery

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Monday, June 02, 2008

Free Music Lessons!

Welcome to "The Gods Are Bored," pleased to be of assistance in your spiritual needs! Our operators are standing by to take your call.

Let's hear it for democracy! Today you get to vote.

All in favor of reading another tired rant about another tired Rick Santorum rant against gay marriage, signify by saying AYE.

All in favor of learning how to make a loud and obnoxious noise with a blade of grass, signify by saying AYE.

Grass it is!

Last night when my daughter The Heir was tucking into her first foray with the musical saw, I decided to accompany her on the only more weird-sounding wacky instrument available: a blade of grass.

Do you know how to do this? I'll bet my Appalachian readers do. Don't know about you fun people in Texas. Maybe you don't have the right kind of grass down there.

I'm positive that any UK reader will have the right kind of grass. Because all of our current lawn grass originally comes from the UK.

What you'll need:

1. A blade of lawn grass about a quarter inch wide and at least five inches long. (If you don't have any that size right now, don't mow your lawn for a few weeks.)

2. Your hands.

Directions:

1. Place the grass between your thumbs so that the edge of the grass faces you.

2. Curl your other fingers together like you'll be playing "this is the church, this is the steeple."

3. Put your thumbs firmly against your lips and blow hard.

Ideally you should make a sound that resembles the caw of an angry crow or the screech of a horny cat.

If it goes SQUAWWWWWWWWKKKKKKK! You've done it right.

If it sounds like a fart, try again. You've got it in principle, if not in practice.

Now add the protests of an under-medicated macaw. Voila! An evening at Chateau Johnson!

My neighbors didn't call the police last night, but they did circulate a petition. It was stuck in the windshield wiper of my car this morning. But poo poo to them! It's a free country. They should broaden their musical horizons a little bit.

If you would like personal tutelage in the production of sound using lawn grass, please contact me through my email.

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Sunday, June 01, 2008

Happy Birthday, Heir!


Welcome to "The Gods Are Bored!" We will gladly fill your needs for spiritual guidance from proven ancient detities. Or, if you need it, we'll provide weird sound effects for your next science fiction film.


Yes, today is The Heir's birthday, and it could be avoided no longer. She came into possession of her musical saw. She's in the other room right now making her first set of noises with it. Banging it with a mallet, to be precise.

What does it sound like? Nothing I have ever heard before. No, wait. Maybe a wolf whistle that goes longer than anyone would have breath to blow. Otherwise it's pure Plan 9 from Outer Space.

Did you ever play an instrument? My mother started me with piano lessons before I went to school. Later I also took the violin. Both piano and violin were my mother's idea, and I feel like I spent half of my childhood practicing. The only good that came out of it is that I know how to read music. I never touch a piano now.

While I was a kid, chafing at the practice regimen, I swore I would never make my kids take up a musical instrument. I have let them find their own way, so to speak. And instead of doing finger drills on the piano, they spent their kid years outside playing stickball and stuff with their peers in the neighborhood.

The upshot of this parenting decision is that now The Heir has chosen her own instrument to master, and it sounds like the aliens have landed.
This is The Heir. Isn't she beautiful?


FROM ANNE
THE MERLIN OF BERKELEY SPRINGS

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