Thursday, July 31, 2008

Trying To Take the Plunge


Welcome to "The Gods Are Bored!" Water, water, everywhere, and even the boards did shrink ... water, water everywhere, but nary a drop to drink!

Today's sermon: Going for a Swim?

I don't know if it's easier living in the best house in a poor neighborhood, or the worst house in a fancy neighborhood. I actually have the latter, and it don't come easy.

Most communities have public pools where you pay a couple of bucks for a swim. Here in Snobville, you've got to belong to a swim club. Swim clubs require big bucks. However, sometimes they try to maximize the profit margin by offering August-only memberships to lesser mortals. (Here in New Jersey, many towns empty out in August as everyone goes downa shore.)

Yesterday I called Snobville's three swim clubs to see about an August-only membership.

Club #1: Sorry, no. We have a waiting list.

Club #2: Yes, it costs $500.00. We don't have a half-season rate.

Club #3:
Manager: Um, do you know anyone who belongs to Segregation Swim?

Anne: I've lived in Snobville for 20 years, so I suppose I do. No one springs to mind.

Manager: Well, here's how it works. You have to get two endorsements in writing from valid members of Segregation Swim. Once we have those, you fill out an application. When that's approved, you can pay the fee and come swim with us.

(long pause as Anne tries to think of some perfect put-down)

Manager: If you've lived in Snobville for so long, I'm sure you could just come here and look around, and you'd recognize someone. They could fill out the form right on the spot for you.

Anne: Thanks so much, you've been ever so kind.

Nice restraint, huh? Actually my mind just went blank, and I couldn't think of anything sufficiently nasty to say.

Where I grew up we had many inexpensive or free options for swimming. There were swimmin holes, of course. There were also two mountain lakes, $3.00 for a carload (before the days when everyone had to be strapped into a seatbelt). And there was the municipal pool. It had recently integrated, and many white mothers wouldn't let their kids go there anymore. Some days it was pretty much me, my cousin Ray, and a bunch of very happy black kids, scattered throughout a big-ass pool with slides.

So I'm not used to having to pay a hefty fee or get character endorsements in order to loll in a friggin swimming pool.
Damned plumber. Why did he have to fix the leaky pipe in the basement? I had a lovely pool right downstairs, but now it's gone.

FROM ANNE
THE MERLIN OF BERKELEY SPRINGS

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Tale of Two Bad Monicas



Once upon a time, there was a great white house, with many people coming and going inside. As it had twisted corridors and numerous rooms, the white house often played host to bemused and befuddled people who weren't quite sure which way was west.

As you know from peering into your own dark closets, little mice like to scurry about and grab what they can while no one is looking. Thus it was for the Two Bad Monicas in the big white house. They were very, very bad -- so bad that it's sad.

The Bad Monicas both dreamed of the day when they would be as successful and sought-after as their predecessors, The Two Bad Mice (Tom Thumb and Hunca Munca). You may well recall that Tom Thumb and Hunca Munca wasted a white house when no one was watching. What they didn't destroy they dragged off to their den.


Our first Monica, better known as Lewinsky, preyed upon presidential prick, not within a deep recess of the white house, but right smack in the centre of the big, oval nursery. This greedy Monica couldn't eat her fill inside the white house, so she took something home for later. Lo and behold, the popular president plunged in the polls, dragging the Democratic Party with him into the depths of despair. Bad Monica left in her rear only rack and ruin, and a blue dress that probably doesn't fit her fanny.

Our second Monica, chaste and Christian, cheated charmingly by creeping through the Justice Department (another big house, I think this one is red brick) and chucking everyone who ate bleu cheese. This Monica, Goodling by name, conspired to conscript Conservatives into corner offices, from conspicuous to cubicle. Oh my! She did it too! And what a mess -- just like the blue dress.


What havoc they wreaked, these Monicas -- squeak squeak! Our nation's a wreck. Go ahead, take a peek.

And so our two Monicas, let no one say they're dumb, made mincemeat of those old mice, Hunca Munca and Tom Thumb.

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Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Daddy Deities


Welcome to "The Gods Are Bored," o ye of great faith! So glad you could drop by! The New Jersey blueberry crop is in, so you've picked a great day for a luscious piece of pie.

Evn has been writing his own -- and linking to -- posts about the nature of deity. Deep, ponderous questions, such as How Does the Goddess Feel about Us Moderns, and Is There a Common Deity from which All Others Flow?

If you write a blog post about such things, you're a Thinker. If you write a treatise about them on vellum, later published, you're a Saint.

Myself, I tend to consider deities in relation to the praise and worship teams they serve. Granted, we are all Homo sapiens. A Maori tribeswoman could mate with a Wall Street banker and produce a perfectly sound kid with ten fingers and ten toes. Are both of these people united by one deity that takes separate forms, or are they tapped into deity systems that are unique to them?

You would hardly think that someone who entitles her web log "The Gods Are Bored" would feel that all humanity can trace its religion back to a unifying deity. That's deity as DNA in my book. I like to think that any group of people who takes the time and effort to communicate with the divine gets a whole pantheon, perhaps somewhat related to others' pantheons, but actually unique to that culture. In other words, I think the universe is big enough for a grand number of deities, both here and on other planets where blobs of thinking carbon ponder such issues.

Having said that, you can understand why I'm reluctant to throw Daddy Deities out with the bathwater. Granted, some of those we know the best aren't great prizes. One need only point to the jealous, sexist, xenophobic, baby-killer in the Old Testament to find a perfect example of God Gone Bad.

Are all Daddy Deities like that, though?

When my grandfather died (I grieve for him to this day), the good ol' Southern Baptist preacher who would be giving Granddad's send-off called my father and my two uncles into a conference room to get some personal stuff to shove into the sermon. The first thing the preacher asked was, "How did your father contribute to your religious faith?"

There was a long, pregnant pause. My dad was agnostic, his younger brother was a physician who never attended church, and Uncle Foggy attended Old Order Mennonite meetings simply as an anthropological exercise.

Finally my dad said: "We all think of God in personal ways, and our feelings about God are based on our experience of our fathers. Whenever I think about God, He has all the traits of my dad."

So, for my father, God was a kindly, gentle, family-centered man who always did the right thing and set an example of love and charm that trickled down into his grandchildrens' generation.

I take this one step further.

My dad was even more loving and nurturing than his father. To the end of his life he lavished me with tenderness and care. Yes, I put a picture of To Kill a Mockingbird at the top of this post, because my dad was very much like Atticus Finch. The dog had to be rabid before he would shoot it. He had principles that meant more to him than public approbation. He taught Sunday School for 50 years, and every single one of his classes had the same theme: "How can we all live in harmony?" Like Thomas Jefferson, he snipped the Bible down to the good stuff and left the rest in shards on the floor.

Most of all, he had a lap to hide in. A tender pat for the shoulder when the going got rough. An open invitation to consult him about anything and everything. His spare time was devoted to taking me for hikes, helping me with my science, canoeing and biking with me, and attending every horrible, squeaky, orchestra concert I ever appeared in.

Dad taught high school chemistry and was beloved by all his students. Yes, all. When he took to his deathbed and I had to go help him out, I sought solace in the local bar. The bar owner told me, "Your dad flunked me, but I deserved it. If I'd done any work for him, he'd have passed me. I liked the guy. Drinks on the house as long as you're in town."

With such a shining example of male parental nurture, it's no wonder I looked around for a personal pantheon that included male deities. Just because the busiest male deity is a jealous, vengeful, woman-hating, child-killing loser doesn't mean that all male deities share those ugly traits.

There are a great many women all around the world who have been treated horribly by men who, if they even bother to justify their behavior, can lean upon some nasty male deity for excuses. I count myself the lucky one to have had a dad who was steadfast and godly. Even as I write this, he's playing games with Peter Pan and the other boy faeries, his eternal reward being perpetual, blithe youth.

So today, we at "The Gods Are Bored" salue Bile and the Dagda, Ogma and other numerous male Celtic deities who are far better Daddy Gods than some of the deities in wider usage. Praise be to the Good God Fathers. It's a damn shame more people don't know They're out there.

Our operators are standing by to take your call.
FROM ANNE
THE MERLIN OF BERKELEY SPRINGS

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Monday, July 28, 2008

Small Miracle (Are There Any Other Kinds?)

Welcome to "The Gods Are Bored," anxious and depressed 23 out of 24 hours a day! Aren't you glad you get the product of that one odd hour?

First, we at "The Gods Are Bored" send prayers and sympathy to the members of the Unitarian Universalist church in Tennessee where a gunman opened fire at random on the congregation. It seems the fellow disagreed with the UU platform and tried to take the argument to a higher court. It's a big miracle (not small) that more people weren't hurt. And just remember, these sorts of shootings can happen anywhere, so the local fundamentalist mega-church probably isn't any safer than the UU church down the block.

Many, many bored gods are just as happy if you stand out in a field or forest and praise them. I highly recommend this practice.

My legions and legions of regular readers will know that my daughter The Heir and I both have a hopeless addiction to TaB Cola. TaB is the grandmother of today's Red Bull and other similarly caffeine-laced beverages. It tastes like yesterday's horse pee, but after three cans you can't get through a day without it. I wouldn't be surprised to learn that they put tobacco in it.

For awhile back in the 1970s there was a TaB scare. Researchers claimed that it caused cancer. They fed lab rats the equivalent of 300 cans of TaB a day, and the rats got cancer. How the poor rodents didn't die of heart attack I do not know.

TaB almost went off the market through bad publicity. But eventually it was exonerated and returned to some shelves.

Some is the word. Around here where we live, finding TaB is an adventure fraught with anxiety. (See greeting above.)

Today, while the clothing rolled in the dryers at the laundromat, I set off to replenish the TaB supply. I drove to the huge grocery store that carries it ... I don't buy any other item there, just TaB.

The huge grocery store was shuttered. Out of business.

I stood in the parking lot uttering small whines of dismay. Then I drove to another big grocery store, the only other store that I've seen TaB in. But that store doesn't always have it. Only sometimes.

I limped back to the beverage aisle. (Anecdotal evidence, as yet unproven, has linked consumption of TaB cola to degenerative arthritis of the hip.) Lo and behold, there stood a modest stash of the essential pink cans... oh, bliss!


But it gets better. There was a cute little young guy there, wearing a Coca-cola uniform shirt, taking inventory of the Coke products in the aisle.

Talk about taking your prayers right to the source!

Grabbing six-packs of TaB like a dervish, I pleaded with the young fella to keep stocking the store with The Pink Wonder. This is what he said:

"There aren't many people who drink TaB, but those who do, drink a lot of it."

Thereafter he promised to continue to provide modest portions of TaB to that store.

Here's the kicker: The guy said if I hadn't come in and purchased a cartload of TaB at that moment, in front of his very eyes, he would have cancelled TaB from that store! But he won't, because of me.

I wish every listless woman in South Jersey was reading this. They would owe me big time.

When The Heir gets home today, I will tell her of this adventure, and she will sigh with joy and relief. The bonds between generations are forged by such small miracles.

Or, to put it another way: When The Heir can't pay off her college loans, I'll be able to say, "Hey, I kept you in TaB. That should count for something."

And it will.

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Saturday, July 26, 2008

The New Toy in the Car

Welcome to "The Gods Are Bored," patiently waiting for the tomatoes to ripen! Any day now ... I guess.

Mr. Johnson travels frequently, and he's man enough to admit that he gets lost from time to time. So he went out and bought one of those GPS thingies you put in the car. It tells you how to get from Point A to Point B. And it's so polite!

Mr. Johnson programmed in a direction-giving voice that is female and British. I immediately called her "Celeste" and got jealous of the sexy way she said, "Bear right, then ... take the motorway."

So, I've been re-programming the GPS to make it more interesting. Here's what I've come up with so far:

GPS, drunk: "Get oudda da car, let summun else do it."

GPS, stoned: "Hey, man, like, I guess you could go right if you wanted to, but y'know, any way you wanna go is okay with me, man. So long as we end up at an ice cream store, okay, man? Whoa, is this a car, man?"

GPS on meth: "Go right. I said RIGHT! Right, you idiot! Gaaaa! Want anything done, you gotta do it yourself! Here! Give me the wheel! I'll drive the damn car, and I'll GO RIGHT!!!"

GPS, passive-aggressive: "I know which way to go, but I'm not telling you. I am so sure you'll be able to figure it out... (mumbling) yeah, forget it."

GPS, Mormon: "Keep both of your hands on the wheel."

GPS, Fundamentalist: "At the crossroads, turn right. You must turn right. If you turn left, you will be Left Behind and go to hell. Thus sayeth The Lord."

GPS, Druid: "Turn towards the way of the Salmon of Wisdom, who dwells within the waters of the sacred pool from which all rivers flow. That would be West. May there be peace in the West."

GPS, Hillbilly: "What you wanna do is look for the big chestnut tree, it's about three, maybe four, maybe five miles up along the creek. When you see the tree, there's a road maybe a hundred yards, maybe a half mile, on your left. Take that road. Now, I think someone said something about having that tree cut down, and if they've done it, you're just outta luck."

GPS, having a bad day: "Do me a favor, okay? Turn off the damn car, go back inside, and have another cup of coffee. Because I don't feel like dealing with you. Say what? You've got a 10:00 appointment in Southwest Philly? Like I care. Take mass transit."


GPS, programmed by Anne: "After 1500 yards, turn right. Oh, wait! There's a vulture over there! Turn left! Follow that buzzard! Hold on. Hold on. He's swinging around..... Okay, go straight. No, he's listing to the right! Hang a sharp right! Watch out for that treeeeeeeeee!!!!!


I think we might have been better off in the days of those maps that you could never fold up right once you unfolded them.

FROM ANNE
THE MERLIN OF BERKELEY SPRINGS

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Thursday, July 24, 2008

Yes. Her Name Was Asherah

Welcome to "The Gods Are Bored," speed-blogging today! Please keep visiting this site. We're only temporarily stalled -- not shelved. Big difference in the two.

Here's a copy of an email I just received from one of the weird women I can't seem to shake from my church lady days:

The Public Broadcasting System (PBS), probably the most liberal network in America, will present a program this fall that says the Old Testament is a bunch of made-up stories that never happened. "The Bible's Buried Secrets" says the Bible is not true. It is scheduled to air on November 18.
Producer Paula Apsell said: "...It's (The Bible's Buried Secrets) designed for intelligent people who are willing to change their mind. …it will give intelligent people who want to read the Bible in a modern way a chance. If we insist on reading the Bible literally, in 25 years, nobody will read it any longer."
Among highlights of "The Bible's Buried Secrets":
• The Old Testament was written in the sixth century BC and hundreds of authors contributed.

• Abraham, Sarah and their offspring didn't exist.
• There is no archaeological evidence of the Exodus.
• Monotheism was a process that took hundreds of years.
• The Israelites were actually Canaanites.
• The Israelites believed that God had a wife.
I have often said that PBS should not receive tax dollars. "The Bible's Buried Secrets" is simply one more reason Congress should stop supporting PBS with our tax dollars. Congress gives PBS hundreds of millions of tax dollars to help support the network.
For more information,
go here.
Sincerely, Donald E. Wildmon, Founder and Chairman American Family Association


We haven't heard much from Pastor Wildman ... err ... Wildmon in awhile. But it's always nice when we do. Actually I think these PBS folks are on to something. Apparently they've been rooting around in Yahweh's closet and found the abundant evidence that Yahweh had an ex-wife and that the Red Sea didn't part.

Now, see, I can't understand why Pastor Wildman is crackin on PBS. If it turns out the Old Testament is partly fiction -- and that part includes how Yahweh went rampaging against all those Egyptian babies, thereby violating their Right to Life, why, that would just be great for a lotta birds.

FROM ANNE
NOPLACE IN PARTICULAR

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Sunday, July 20, 2008

On Hold

Welcome to "The Gods Are Bored!" Due to circumstances beyond our control, we will be out of touch for a few days.

Last winter, I worked as a substitute history teacher in a minority school during Black History Month. The New Jersey world history curriculum demanded that I teach the Scientific Revolution, the Enlightenment, and the Cultural Revolution. In other words, all white dudes, all the time. During Black History Month.

So I assigned a do-at-home project. The students had to interview someone in their family about their personal family history, and then do a family tree as far back as they could manage.

Some of those reports were fascinating. There was one kid, a tall, silent black guy, who wrote that his grandmother lived on the Nanticoke Indian Reservation. Another kid discovered that he was related to Philadelphia's recent mayor, John Street. And one girl who stood up to read her paper said, "I am going to tell you about my strong, proud, African American grandfather..." It went uphill from there.

The student who stands foremost in my mind, however, was a fellow I'll call Orlando. (My regular readers will notice I use this name alot.) One morning, Orlando came in with the most amazing news: His grandfather told him that his great-great-grandfather had cut his own leg off with a machete. And died in the process.

The G-G-G-granddad in question worked in the sugar cane fields in the Dominican Republic. He got some kind of infection that worked on his leg until the pain became unbearable, and in a moment of insanity, he hacked his leg off.

Right now I'm glad I don't have a machete, because I would be adding a whole interesting new twist to the old Johnson family history. My leg hurts like hell, and I can sure see how someone would go crackers and start slashing.

So I'm going to lie low for a few days, trying to keep my mind off machetes and other extreme pain-relieving measures.

Judging from some of the weblogs in my sidebar, many of you know about bad-ass pain, so you'll bear with me, won't you?

Meanwhile, if you want religious enlightenment, go to YouTube and search for Vulture vs. Phone Book.

If you want yet another reason why you should avoid fundamentalist Christianity like unto the verminous plague, go to YouTube and search Electric Pickle. Trust me, you will find this video funnier than anything I've ever written here.

Please bear with me. The sugar cane harvest will be over soon.

FROM ANNE
THE MERLIN OF BERKELEY SPRINGS

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Spreading Happiness at the Thrift Store

Welcome to "The Gods Are Bored!" Do not adjust your television dial. That strange noise you hear is The Heir practicing her musical saw! Either that or we just proved that there's intelligent life on other planets.

We're kind of weird here in the Johnson family. On a hot afternoon when everyone else is at the swim club or the movies, we hop in the car and go to the thrift store. There's a whopper of a thrift store nearby. It's as big as a Sam's Club, only packed to the plimsol line with clean, mended, used clothing.

My daughter The Spare loves the thrift store because she's a tiny little thing, and there's always gorgeous stuff in tiny sizes. And The Spare is brave about setting her own fashion trends. No friggin fifty dollar Hollister t-shirts for her! She can make a dollar holler.


Today, while browsing (and leaning heavily on the shopping cart to keep weight off my bad leg), I found a big plastic bag of Calico Critter stuff. My daughter The Heir had a bunch of Calico Critter toys when she was little. (We were in the chips in those days, not like now.) She played and played with that stuff.

Anyway, the bag at the thrift store had the whole family of bunnies and a bunch of furniture. At two bucks, it looked like a nice little ebay turnaround. So I flung it in the cart.

We were at the thrift store for about two hours. Yes, you got that right. Keep your movies and your shopping mall! At almost the end of that time, I saw a mom and young daughter moving down an aisle. The daughter, maybe 5 or 6, was pushing a shopping cart. In the cart was a dollhouse.

I got the mom's attention, put the bag of bunnies behind my back, and showed it to her. I said, "Would your daughter want these for the dollhouse?" And the mom was thrilled. When the little girl saw the cute bunnies and the furniture, she just about flipped.

So I did my good deed for the day. I'm sitting here thinking about that cute little girl, at home in her room, putting those bunnies to bed in her dollhouse. Somehow that's a nice feeling. Like white magic or something.

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Friday, July 18, 2008

Treatise on Movie Sex

Welcome to "The Gods Are Bored!" No tithes, no offerings, just good ol' front porch rambling! Set a spell. You'll see what I mean.

This morning I read a movie review for a French film called "The Mistress." The movie is not MPAA rated, but the reviewer noted that the film is crammed to the plimsol line with nudity and hot sex.

The review got me to thinking. Once before I die I'd like to have movie sex. But it ain't gonna happen.

I'm not talking about having sex while being filmed. (I think that's been done, but not by me.) I'm talking about the kind of sex people have in the movies.

Movie sex is always perfect. No one gets a cramp, the bed doesn't creak, the cat doesn't explode into the middle of everything looking for a bowl of Meow Mix. With movie sex there aren't any kids creeping around the house, even when there are kids in the movie. With outdoor movie sex, no one ever gets stung by a bee or pricked by a thistle. It's bliss, bliss bliss!


Don't take this as a quibble about my life partner. He's a hot hunk, and we have had us some good times. Lots of good times. But it's never been movie sex. He's not Clark Gable. I'm not Vivian Leigh. If he lifted me into his arms and kissed me at the same time, he'd strain his back. And his arms gripping me that tight would hurt. The sunset would be covered in haze, and someone would steal the damn wagon.

I'm not gonna name any names, but I knew someone who knew someone whose cousin had sex outside once and got poison ivy on her elbows and her knees. With movie sex you can roll around in an acre of poison ivy and never get a pimple of it.

Sometimes movie sex is accompanied by appropriate music. Real-world sex is usually accompanied by a ringing telephone. Or the doorbell ... oh there are the nice Seventh Day Adventist ladies again!

Think about the wildest ride you ever had, and then compare it to movie sex. Was it that good? I'm thinking. Thinking. Mulling over my wild youth...

Okay, maybe twice we came close. Pardon the double entendre.

Please be advised that we aren't talking about pornography here. Porn is just fake as hell. Everyone knows that. What I'm talking about is the makeout scenes in your standard film fare. One of my favorite examples is Madonna getting a piece while perched on a pinball machine in Desperately Seeking Susan." Perched on a pinball machine? Does that sound like a fun place for whoopie? Maybe I'm missing something.

There's one bit of sweet revenge we can all enjoy as we contemplate that oh-so-perfect movie sex we're watching on the silver screen. Those scenes are hell to film. It takes hours, there are directors and gaffers and who knows who else watching, analyzing, saying "cut" and "action" and "could you open your mouth a little bit more as you orgasm?"

In real life, it's hey baby baby, cha cha cha ... and put out the cat.

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Thursday, July 17, 2008

At Play on the Social Network Site

Welcome to "The Gods Are Bored!" It's great to see all of you here today. And for those of you who are new, well, hello. I'm Pastor Annie, leader and Grand Poobah of the Great Church of Every Deity!

Our agenda at this site? Resurrection! --- of any and all ancient, new, or very recent pantheons who've been shoved aside by One God zealots. One is the loneliest number. Everybody sing ... I wanna hear a choir!

Jesus' General, poor misguided Conservative that he is, always is talking up this spot called Second Life.

Have you heard of Second Life? Because I like the General so much, I actually screwed up my courage and took a look at Second Life. It's one of these virtual worlds. You can pick a new name and better looks, shed those pesky pounds, and flit around meeting people ... all without ever leaving your comfy computer chair.

But there's a catch. You've got to earn money on Second Life.

They lost me. I can't hardly earn a buck in my First Life. Now I've got to go shove around and rake in largesse in some virtual world? Pass.

However, maternal necessity dictated that I had to open a Facebook.

Facebook is a little different. It's just sort of seeing who you can connect with by whatever obscure (or close) connections you generate. I don't live for Facebook, but it's kind of fun to go on my home page and see my assortment of friends. There are Pagans, and inlaws, and Appalachians, and locals ... it's a lively mix.

If you have a Facebook and you want to be my friend, I use the same name (Anne Johnson) and the same beautiful portrait you see on this site. I am Anne Johnson from Philadelphia, which narrows it down from 340,000 to about I guess 600.

Yellowdog Granny has found me, and so has Elvis Drinkmo, so I guess you can track me down on Facebook.

The only reason I'm touting my social network site today is because I successfully posted the fabulous YouTube "Vulture vs. Phone Book" on Facebook. I couldn't get it to work here.

Our operators are standing by to be your friend.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

TGAB Update

Welcome to "The Gods Are Bored," millions and millions of deities served! You want your deity for here, or to go?

I've been getting great comments from my legions and legions of readers. Gosh, some mornings all I get done is reading my comments section! Well, I also have to examine the upholstery for stains and sort the socks, and by golly, when all that's done it's lunchtime!

Some of you expressed an interest in trying a Tastykake. If you're made of money, you can get them online at The Tastykake Store. However, before you take this step, please be advised that you can save money by getting a regular cake mix, using lard instead of butter/oil, adding extra sugar, doubling the chemical preservatives, and slathering the whole thing with the kind of icing they use to make those pretty flowers on wedding cakes. No shipping and handling that way.

Another Dry Basement by South Jersey Waterproofing ... oops, not! Since spending $7000 of home equity to waterproof the basement, Mr. Johnson and I have earned a nice pool of water that doesn't evaporate, in a section of the basement that never had water before. Some people would find this annoying, but I guess they don't like to skinny dip.

Right to Life for Insects That Leave Painful Scars: It's getting hard to live up to my Right to Life ideals. A colony of wasps has taken residence in our roof, and even though I told them they have a right to life, one of them stung me anyway. How's that for gratitude?

Willoughby the Kitten, one of my many fosters, is now the big, bad mancat at Woodstock Trading Company. I take care of homeless kittens. I never slaughter them in pentagrams. People who do that are disgusting and should be declawed and neutered.

The Heir leaves for college on August 23.

My hip surgery is scheduled for September 2. I will be in hospital for four days, trying to beat back the MRSA that also has a right to life. It's a Catholic hospital, and Mr. Johnson is afraid if I write "Pagan" on my admission form, they'll kill me.

Them's the updates. Oh yeah, I almost forgot. I left saltwater taffy in the garden for the faeries. Yesterday morning they rewarded me by sending a hummingbird to my shrubbery.

FROM ANNE
THE MERLIN OF BERKELEY SPRINGS

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Let's Do Some Stereotyping!

Welcome to "The Gods Are Bored!" Can we talk about stereotypes?

Last weekend Snobville had a big craft fair. They have it every year. I never go, but I had to walk past it to get to the post office. And on the corner some mom-and-pop outfit was selling old fashioned soda in "souvenir mugs."

The mugs featured a bearded, bellied guy in ragged clothes, carrying a gun in one hand and a moonshine jug in the other. Nearby sat a busty blonde, scantily clad in ragged clothes, pouting sexily at the viewer. Behind all this was an outhouse and a moonshine still. And mountains, of course.

Oh, go ahead. Lob disdain at Appalachians. We are bloody used to it.

But why don't we spread the stereotyping around a little bit?

There's one group that rarely gets socked with the stereotype. Friends, let's look for a minute at people who read The New Yorker.

Have you ever met a New Yorker subscriber who didn't think he (or she) could crap on the sidewalk, and no one would smell it?

These are people who keep up not with regular books, but with Lit-tra-cha. Don't think there's a difference? Try reading a New Yorker short story. ????????? becomes ZZZZZZZZZZZ pretty fast.

These are people who want to look smart even if they're not, who want to look rich even though they aren't. They want to be seen as hip, chic, on the cutting edge of everything intellectual and cultural and political.

Please allow me to take a heaping helping of stereotype, roll it into a ball, and lob it at people who read The New Yorker.

You're snobs. You look down your nose at the rest of us as if we can't spell "Rimbaud," much less pronounce it. You grimace over your rimless glasses when someone tries to pass you in the narrow aisles of The Strand Bookstore, because you're too busy pretending to read John Barth to actually step aside.

So when a piece of virulent crap like this week's Barack Obama cover appears on the front of the New Yorker, of course it isn't the chic, over-educated city slicker snobs who get bashed. They're smart. They can understand a joke. It's the rest of us who are too stupid to get the satire. Because what are we? We're the unwashed masses who don't read The New Yorker! Poor us. We're so clueless and stupid. Why, we don't even recognize the names of the poets who publish their work in the New Yorker, while making a pittance as assistant professors in Midwestern colleges! No hope for us.

Intellectual snobs, stand up and be stereotyped!

Here's my New Yorker stereotype "souvenir mug":

The guy is a sloppy-dressed, bespectacled skinny nerd with unpublished poems hanging out of his pockets. The girl has her nose in the air as she walks her toy poodle -- both girl and poodle in matching Givenchy attire and flawless accessories. We'll set them in front of New York University, which both of them wanted to attend, but neither got admitted. In the background, the posh New York City skyline which, trust me, looks better in postcards than in person.

How's it feel, intellectual snob, to see yourself portrayed en masse as something less than ideal? You've had it coming. Go cry into your Argentinian merlot.

Assuming that the word "moron" has multiple meanings, I shall tag this one...

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Monday, July 14, 2008

A Message for the Sitting President


Welcome to "The Gods Are Bored!" Today we turn this site over to an old buddy of ours, the Jersey Devil!

Hey, Dubya, you fat-faced oil slut moron. Get dis. You drill offa da shore of New Jersey, you deal with me. I like my beaches and my overpriced t-shirt stores (you should see what dose shirts say about you) and my rolla coasters and all dat stuff. My boardwalks are da rockinest, and it's a cheap ride to my beaches from Philly, New York, and even Baltimore.

Some hurricane comes along and bashes da Jersey Shore, hell, dat's Fate. But you slather my beaches with oil, you gonna wish you wuz one a dem crude-crudded dolphins, yo.

Don't mess with da Jersey Devil, Dubya, you ain't got the stuff for it.

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Saturday, July 12, 2008

Navel Filled with Icing

Welcome to "The Gods Are Bored!" Ooooooo! A navel filled with icing! Sounds racy, doesn't it? Tee hee.

Actually it's more like I'm going to gaze at my navel and write about another favorite food. Most of my legions of readers know that I can't get enough TaB Cola. But there's another junk food staple that rounds out the perfect diet.

Let's talk Tastykake.


Ummmmommmmmommgurgleslurpslurp!


Tastykake is a product of Philadelphia and is distributed in the Mid-Atlantic states as far west as the eastern reaches of Appalachia. So I grew up with Tastykakes, and now I live in Tastykake Central, where they're actually made.

Yesterday I happened to see in the Philadelphia Inquirer that the neighborhood around Eastern State Penitentiary would be staging a campy re-enactment of the storming of the Bastille, using the empty old penitentiary as the Bastille. The highlight of the re-enactment would come after Marie Antoinette intoned, "Let them eat cake," at which point the crowd would be pelted with 2000 Tastykakes. From a three-story rampart on the penitentiary entrance.


This sounded like my cup of tea.

Mr. Johnson and I, daughter The Spare and one of her friends made the trip into Philly for the event. And although it was a hot afternoon, the show was well worth the sweat. When the "queen" (who was swilling real champagne from a bottle) stood upon those high ramparts and said the famous quote the real Marie Antoinette never said, her crew of courtesans began heaving loads and loads of Tastykakes down upon the sizable crowd.

It was rather like the scene in "Monty Python and the Holy Grail" where the soldiers pelt invaders with farm animals. You could look up and see packaged pastries falling from the sky in great quantities. They splatted at our feet, on our backs (ouch), and practically into our hands. I do believe Mr. Johnson actually caught one. He has a background in baseball.

This Reign of Tastykake went on for about 15 minutes. And then for ten minutes more, we just lobbed them through the crowd. Then Marie Antoinette was led to the (working) guillotine, and we got to vote on whether or not she should get the mortal whack. Although the crowd stood firmly in favor of quick execution (pelting her with Tastykakes for good measure), she was spared.

Not so the two watermelons used to prove the prowess of the guillotine. Mr. Johnson and I quickly named said watermelons "Rush" and "Cheney," so we felt pretty good about the way that blade made a satisfying whack and carved those melons up good.

We came home with loads of Butterscotch Krimpets, which if you've never had one I think you can buy them online, and they're well worth the $$$$.

You can keep Paris, London, Rome, and all destinations that require overseas travel. What could possibly compare with being pelted by 2000 junk muffins that first were flung high into the air like so many non-combustible fireworks?

Daughter The Heir is out of town right now. When she hears about this adventure she will be very jealous. But by the time she returns, the Tastykakes will all be history, shoved into the maws of those who earned them -- Spare, Mr. Johnson, and self.

I never thought I'd like living near a big city, but if Philadelphia keeps making copies of the Declaration of Independence out of Cheeze-Its and attempting to bean its citizens with packaged pastries, I think I'll have to say that urban life is not all bad.

Leave it to Philly to turn one of France's darkest hours into an opportunity to make bad jokes about George Bush and then pelt people with plastic-wrapped krimpets. My stash is a little banged up, but no matter. The goods survived the plunge, and I'm ready to tuck in. Yummy yum!

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Friday, July 11, 2008

Fierce Faeries


Welcome to "The Gods Are Bored," your dollar store of devoted deities! Come, all ye bored gods and goddesses: It's time to stand up and be counted! Rage against the machine!

The faeries here on my property have been very active lately. And they have recruited more fierce faeries into their ranks. This doesn't mean that it's harder to find my reading glasses. It means that the faeries are concerned about the inhabitants of Chateau Johnson.

They may not always be well-behaved, but they're very protective.

Some years ago the faerie folk found my family and snatched us from the jaw of the one jealous god. You know who I mean. Mr. Big.

But Big is a jealous sort. (Sorry to repeat myself, but it bears repeating.) He's always trying to win someone back. You'd think he'd be satisfied with the gazillions of faithful he already has. He's not. He's the consummate hoarder.

This is where faeries go to work for you. They can throw a head trip on the most zealous of Big's followers, without the followers even knowing it's happening. Faeries have been doing this for more than a thousand years, and they've gotten very, very good at it.

If you feel that someone's trying to seduce you back to the Bible, just ask your resident faeries to form ranks. If you don't have resident faeries ... oh, for the love of fruit flies! Everyone has resident faeries! Anyway, let your faeries know you appreciate them. Never just say, "Thank you." That's not imaginative enough. Give them chocolates, wine, pretty flowers. Let your cat prowl the garden. Don't kill the insects (unless they're fire ants).

In all these ways you honor the faeries that keep guard over you and yours. And when the perils come swooping in, so will the fae.

Are there perils too great for the fae? Nope. They will escort you personally to the Summerlands when your time comes. I have seen this happen. So have faith in the wee folk. Feel safe among them. Mr. Big has not been able to destroy, or even dent, their power.

Where are the faeries when you need them? At your elbow. Let them hide your car keys from time to time. It's well worth it to curry their favor.
FROM ANNE
THE MERLIN OF BERKELEY SPRINGS
Image: "A Little Mischief," by Seitou.

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Wednesday, July 09, 2008

My Visit to Snobville UM Church

Welcome to "The Gods Are Bored," where we profess no faith in the basement waterproofing process! Call me skeptical, but there are still puddles down there. Whoever the God of Waterproofing is, he's not up to the task. Or maybe it's the revenge of the mold.

But, on to today's sermon!

This week I gave blood. And they actually took it. Half the time I'm anemic. But I've got a rare type, and they take my offering straight to Children's Hospital (so I'm told), so I do try to let them tap me fairly frequently.

The blood drive was at the Snobville United Methodist Church, where I was formerly a dissatisfied and disbelieving church lady. Considering the amount of time I forced my poor daughters to spend at that place, it's a miracle they still speak to me. They don't miss it, that's for sure.

Since I heard the voices of the Bored Gods and left Snobville UMC, the church folks there have embarked on an ambitious building project. It's finished now. The blood drive was set up in a dizzyingly tall and wide room, all brand new. (It even smelled brand new.) I suppose it's the new fellowship hall.

After they tapped out my pint, I slogged up the stairs to the first floor, towing my bad hip as always. I was met by the Grand Poobah Church Lady who, I presume, is now paid to be kind to everyone who enters Snobville UMC, no matter how bright the Tinker Bell t-shirt the guest may be wearing.

She was keen to catch up with me and the daughters, but keener still to show me the fancy upgrades to the facility. She walked me into a posh parlor with fancy chairs and carpet and cabinets lovingly displaying old stuff from the former incarnation of Snobville UMC.

She said: "Isn't this beautiful?"

And I said, "Yes indeed! It looks just like Versailles!"

I pride myself on the ability to craft insults that pass right over peoples' heads.

Truly, that room did look like a place where rich people would gather to eat cake while everyone else starved.

So, maybe the church lady understood my implication, because she launched into a long story about how the church is subsidizing a monthly breakfast for the homeless folks in nearby Camden. The crux of her argument was that breakfast for 200 people only cost the church $165 a month. (How the cooks do it she doesn't know.)

Well, I looked at the 14 guilded and pristinely upholstered chairs in the drawing room (no way would I ever sit on something that perfect, you know how I feel about stained upholstery), and I figured the cost of those chairs would feed those breakfast folks in Camden for a year, maybe two, maybe three. But it's more important to have pretty chairs for people to sit in when they come to worship -- and a sanctuary given a facelift of rosy red carpet and matching pew cushions.

Isaac Bonewits is right. What is a church except a big building that always needs either maintenance or upgrades or expansions, or at very least a new roof? Why not just go outside and greet the Bored Gods where they're most likely to see you -- under the sky!

I left the Snobville UMC with the feeling of one who had come to a crossroads and picked the better path. Still, if they have blood drives there, I'll go. But I won't eat their cake.

Tuesday, July 08, 2008

Why Democracy Doesn't Work Part 2343234: The Dog Factor

Welcome to "The Gods Are Bored!"

"How much is that doggy in the window? Actually, money is no object. I need him to win the presidency."

Or so it seems from the latest Associated Press poll. John McCain, who "owns" two turtles, a tank of saltwater fish, two dogs (one a mutt), and a pussy cat, overwhelmingly beat Barack Obama among dog-owning voters. Sample morons from our enlightened democracy said that dog ownership shows compassion and selflessness. Even when someone else is hired to walk the dogs and feed the fish.



Frankly, I can't think of much that's more compassionate and selfless than last Christmas's display of the sitting president's bouncing Scottie dogs under the tree. All that warm fuzziness just makes you forget about the more than 4000 servicepeople who have come home from Iraq in coffins.

Not to be outdone, Senator Obama has promised his daughters a dog after the election. You, yes you, can vote on what kind of dog he buys! (Please note that all the choices are expensive purebreds. I guess animal shelters are for people who cling to their religion and their guns.)



This is my sister's dog. Can we presume she will make an informed decision on election day?

Just between you and me, I'm surprised the United States of America has lasted as long as it has. Maybe it's because almost every president has owned a dog or a cat, or both. A fine test of leadership ability, that.

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Monday, July 07, 2008

Live and Let Live (Mostly)


Welcome to "The Gods Are Bored!" The cats are hiding in the shrubbery, Decibel the Parrot is temporarily silent, and all hell is breaking loose in the basement! It's waterproofing day.

I'm a live-and-let-live kinda person. Which doesn't mix well with an old house. My solution to the river of water in the basement after each rain was simple enough: I would just not go downstairs until the water receded. Which it always did, because if you pray to King Triton these things get taken care of. What else does he have on his plate? Fixing a wet basement is better than nothing, when you're a bored god.

Alas, wet damp places prove to be fertile ground for ugly black-and-green fluffy stuff of a biological nature. We had a garden in our basement that looked like it oughta be growing in one of those lovely Superfund sites along the turnpike.

I hate to kill ugly black-and-green fluffy stuff. It has a right to life! I feel bad.

Something tells me, though, that ugly black-and-green fluffy stuff is rather like athlete's foot fungus. It will only consider this basement waterproofing job a temporary setback. It'll be ba-aaa-aaa-ck.

Just remember when you step on that pesky picnic ant that you're killing something. Ditto when you pull those weeds out from around your tomato plants.

Tonight I'm going to make some kind of offering of atonement for the death of the ugly black-and-green fluffy stuff.

Something tells me that this particular living organism will not want incense burning on an altar. Perhaps a piece of soaked cardboard in an out-of-the-way location would meet with more approval from the God of Mold.

FROM ANNE
THE MERLIN OF BERKELEY SPRINGS
Photo: Anne's cat, Alpha.

Thursday, July 03, 2008

So Many Idiots, So Few Villages

Welcome to "The Gods Are Bored," in this, the best of all possible nations!

Ahem. Yeah. Well, we could all be living in some hellhole like Switzerland.

We at "The Gods Are Bored" will now go on one of our famous moron tirades, so please be sure your seatbelt is fastened and your chair is in the upright position.

Devastating News for the Nation's Villages: This Idiot Is Too Rich To Live in an Apartment above the Post Office/General Store

Rush Limbaugh just inked a contract that will pay him $38 million a year until 2016, and a $100 million signing bonus. His response:

"I'm having more fun than a human being should be allowed to have."

Yeah, I'll bet. That kind of money will buy not only unlimited quantities of pharmaceutical-grade opiate painkillers, but also vials of baby pee to use in those pesky random urine tests. So you're set for life, big man. Hate pays.

And speaking of hate ...

Nation's Villages Bid on Ebay for Right to Own Rick Santorum

Backstory: A few years ago, the Boy Scouts of America decided it would not admit any young man who was openly gay or atheist. In response, the city of Philadelphia told its Boy Scouts chapter that they would have to start paying rent on their posh digs on Logan Circle. The Scouts went to court ... and lost.

Today, in his every other weekly column for the Philadelphia Inquirer, Rick Santorum (who lost his U.S. Senate seat in a thorough trouncing by a ho-hum opponent) let fly at the city of Philadelphia for expecting the Boy Scouts to abide by anti-discrimination laws if they want government support for their clubhouse.

Needless to say, ex-senator Santorum comes down squarely on the side of the Boy Scouts. Let's listen in on a bit of his argument ... it'll help drive up that Ebay bidding:

Thanks to the ACLU, liberal feminists and teachers unions, our government-run bureaucracy ... has waged war against boys. Liberals have largely run our great cities for the last half-century, but not many of them dare cross powerful special interests like the ACLU and the teachers unions, radical feminists or Hollywood and First Amendment absolutists (read pornographers).

Fair use copyright issues preclude me from quoting more, but I couldn't do it anyway without gagging up my breakfast. I will say that at the end of his editorial, Santorum threatens Philadelphia's mayor with a loss of federal funding for the city. Stop being an ACLU-loving pornographer, Mr. Mayor, "before some equally political legislator treats Philadelphia as badly as you have treated the Boy Scouts."

Rick Santorum has six children and is raising them as strict Roman Catholics. So much for progress in the gene pool. But at least the citizens of Pennsylania had the good sense to kick his pious butt out of the Senate chamber during the previous election cycle.

And now for that Ebay bidding on Santorum, Village Idiot Par Excellence. Early returns show several hamlets in Kansas in furious competition. But don't discount the longshots, Dover, PA and Dayton, TN. The former has a nice school the kids could attend, rather than being home-schooled. The latter has a lovely college where Mr. Santorum could teach. Emm, if only he wasn't a Roman Catholic.

With morons like these two on the loose, who feels like watching fireworks and eating hot dogs? Fourth of July? Bah, humbug.

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Wednesday, July 02, 2008

Government and Religion - Perfect Together

Welcome to "The Gods Are Bored," where we are pretty doggoned tired of watching politicians pander to evangelicals. Stop the country. I want to get out.

Front page news this morning: "Obama unveils his faith-based initiative."

Oh yes, the Democratic candidate for president is all in favor of funneling federal dollars into church coffers for the cause of social justice.

Gongggg! We at "The Gods Are Bored" do not approve of faith-based initiatives. If we weren't bombing other countries into the Stone Age, we'd have money aplenty for federal, non-affiliated soup kitchens. Make soup, not war.

The Democratic candidate for president differs from the sitting president only in the way the faith-based initiatives would run. Hiring would have to be done blind, with no questions asked about the applicant's faith.

Gonggggg! The evangelicals do not approve, because the whole basis of faith-based initiatives is that they can hire their own and quietly proselytize as they ladel out their Campell's.

I'm asking myself how the Democratic candidate for president would police the faith-based initiatives in order to assure that hiring is fair. What do you think will happen when someone goes to the Southern Baptist Outreach Federal Soup Kitchen on a job interview, attired in a cape and a Pentagram?

My guess is that the candidate will be deemed lacking in the proper qualifications for the job.

I further predict that the Democratic presidential candidate will get fewer Christian Right votes than would the dessicated corpse of Warren G. Harding. So why is he bothering to court this group? Do they really outnumber the rest of us?

If so, please tell me now so that I can get my passport updated. This ball is rolling downhill, wrapped in the U.S. Constitution.

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Tuesday, July 01, 2008

One, Two, Three Kicks You're Out

Welcome to "The Gods Are Bored," where the great game of baseball has been making the local news lately!

In 2001, our sitting president thought long and hard and made a tough decision. He decided that once a year the White House lawn would host a t-ball game during the final week in June.

You know t-ball, right? It's baseball played by tots too young to hit a pitch, so they whack a ball off a tee. No score is kept, it's just a way to train kids to hit and field.

This year our sitting president invited a team from Puerto Rico to be "Side One" in the White House t-ball game. Then, guided by his infinite wisdom, he decided he'd better get another team full of brown kids as opponents. This sparked an invitation to a t-ball team in the Cramer Hill section of Camden, New Jersey. Cramer Hill is mostly populated by Hispanic Amerians from Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic.

The local newspapers seized on this jolly tale, of course. A reporter actually went out to Cramer Hill's little league facility and found it to consist of dirt, rotted fences, no place to sit but the ground, and a few port-o-potties. Forty percent of the kids in the league can't afford the basic entry fee. Every year about 6o kids get turned away for lack of playing space.

(This was in the paper on Monday. Today we hear that "private donors" have given money to help fix up the field. These same donors paid for the kids' bus to Washington, DC. ... Go figure. The president didn't even give them bus fare!)

What amused us here at "The Gods Are Bored" were the quotes from and behavior of the four- to seven-year-old Hispanic kids from Camden who were told they would be shaking hands with President Bush.

One kid said his mom asked him not to kick the president.

I'm a mom myself, and if one of my kids was faced with the prospect of shaking hands with President Bush, I would have to offer the same advice. Because chances are that my kids would relish an opportunity to kick President Bush. And my kids don't live in a poverty-stricken, crime-ridden, crumbling city with patches of dirt for baseball fields.

The front page of today's Philadelphia Inquirer shows one youngster from Cramer Hill running, nay sprinting, in the other direction rather than palming the president's proffered paw.

You've just got to love four-year-olds. They believe in Santa Claus. They also believe their parents when they hear them say that the sitting president should be kicked, and frequently. They're rather surprised when Mami tells them not to kick the president, even if Mami wants to, because kicking isn't nice. Still they aren't keen to shake hands with a guy who they've heard so much about, and none of it praiseworthy.

The Cramer Hill t-ball team got a nice autographed baseball from our sitting president (one baseball to be shared by the whole team). They got to eat hot dogs and burritos, presumably prepared by President Bush's Filipino chef. And they got to ride out of state on a fancy bus, and not at taxpayer expense.

I suppose a good time was had by all. But getting to meet President Bush will not be a bragging right in Cramer Hill. The kids who dared to touch him at all will be searching their palms for cooties.

I'll bet at least one of those kids sniffed the president, just to see if he stinks as bad as Mami and Papi say he does.

Of course that wouldn't make the news, would it?

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