Saturday, October 31, 2009

Samhain


The hour has arrived. The veil grows thin. Those on the other side who visit may be seen or felt with greater intensity. Beware! Not all who walk this night are benign. This much is true.

And so we gather, light bonfires, toast the end of a long year and the gathering of the harvest. We set aside something for the faeries, those guardians of the portal, and something for the deities who spin the wheel of the year.

To me, every hour of light and dark is a miracle,
Every cubic inch of space is a miracle,
Every square yard of the surface of the earth is spread with the same,
Every foot of the interior swarms with the same.


A blessed Samhain to all who read "The Gods Are Bored." See you next year. And by that, I mean next Druid year. It begins tomorrow.


Image: Scottish mummers.

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Thursday, October 29, 2009

Friending Sam Hain


Welcome to "The Gods Are Bored," poking fun with a sharp stick since 2005! Don't want to be skewered? Then don't be a moron! We don't poke nice, smart people. Like you.

Not to be redundant, but here again is my favorite Halloween panel from the infamous Chick tracts. (I don't link to Chick. You can't get there from here.) The last time I posted this I was choosing which of my daughters to offer for sacrifice on Halloween to the dreaded Sam Hain.

Today it occurs to me. Who is this Sam Hain? The folks who write Chick tracts are not at all helpful. All they say is that he's dreaded. No why or wherefore. Just the fax.

Once upon a time, it might have been quite difficult to find the dreaded Sam Hain. Now it's a snap! There are almost 80 Sam Hains on Facebook. Judging by their profile pictures, some of them should be dreaded. There's the guy dressed up like one of those cannon fodder storm troopers in Star Wars. There are about ten who use skulls as profile pictures, one who uses a pentagram, and a handful whose profile pictures are leering jack-o-lanterns.

Oh, for the bygone days when Sam Hain was difficult to locate! Now you can friend him! If you're thinking about doing it, you might try inviting this Sam Hain to your Facebook friend list. Except I don't think that picture could really be Sam Hain, unless John Dillinger worked under a moronic alias.

Is this life imitating pulp Pentecostal tracts?

This is a big country, and certainly some people proudly carry the name Sam Hain. Or Samantha Hain. I found almost a dozen Samantha Hains. They didn't look dreadful. Some were teenagers. Others looked really ordinary, like the gal who sits your kids on movie night.

Considering the fact that the Celtic term Samhain is actually pronounced Sow-wen or some variant thereof, but definitely not "Sam Hain," I personally would be quick to label anyone who took the fictitious name of Sam Hain as a blithering moron. Do better, chump! It's so easy to fabricate a truly creative Facebook moniker!

Take my FB, for starters. I have friends named (in no particular order)

Cordelia Wetspot
Alvin Talking Sweater
Lucy Talking Sweater (Alvin's main squeeze)
Sufficiently Twisted
Jehovah Kadosh
Frater Servitor Lucem (he comments here sometimes)
Corky St. Clair
and
Alex Pendragon (comments here, as above)

I'm not sure what would happen if Jehovah Kadosh and Frater Servitor Lucem sat down for a drink together, but that's not the point. The point is, what kind of boneheads are calling themselves Sam Hain just to sound spooky? That doesn't sound spooky, it sounds ... middle class normal. Straight outta Kansas normal. Taking toll money on turnpike normal.

One final note to all you Sam Hains out there who are trying to be creepers: If it doesn't work in a Chick tract, it sure doesn't work on Facebook. Go to corner. Affix dunce cap. Stare at wall. When the bell rings and school's over for the day, slink back into your mom's basement. And please ... please don't tell me you're also Sam Hain on Farmville. Stupid just doesn't go that low.

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Monday, October 26, 2009

Don't Be Hatin' on Buzzards: A Halloween Sermon


Welcome to "The Gods Are Bored," special Halloween post for Mrs. B and all her Halloween friends! My name is Anne. I live to laugh. Nothing is sacred to me, because everything is sacred to me! For real. I meditate at the laundromat.

My three regular readers will have heard this sermon many, many times before, but not so lavishly illustrated. All rise, please.

We are gathered here today to give thanks to Vulture. Blessed be the Buzzard!

Halloween is a season where vultures get dragged out as decor. Of course! What do they do but eat dead stuff? Zombies with wings, those ugly old birds.

No, no NO! Bamp! Wrong!

The Latin name for vultures, Cathartes aura, means "Golden Purifier." Would such a fabulous name be wasted on a creepy critter? Of course not! Much maligned by our modern cynics, the vulture -- when examined more closely -- proves to be not just a great bird, but a worthy object of adoration.

Let me put it this way. Did you want to clean up that dead skunk on the roadside just west of your house? How very kind of the buzzards to do it for you! They are Nature's janitors, the willing custodians of all things offal. They are constituted so that they can eat putrid flesh, thus removing it from the ecosystem before it can spread disease. And trust me, friends. These birdies can work fast. They can reduce a full-sized, adult possum to a few totally clean bones and a pile of fur in less than six hours. I've seen them do it! (Don't ask for details.)

The Native Americans called vultures "Peace Eagles." The ancient Egyptians protected the pharaoh's children with images of vultures. What do we do? We trot out ugly buzzard decorations on Halloween. Savages, I tell you. We are savages!

Fortunately, there's a growing respect for Vulture in this new, green era of ours. I myself am the High Priestess of the East Coast Vulture Festival, held the first weekend in March every year in lovely, forward-thinking Wenonah, New Jersey. (That's me in the picture. The sacred regalia weighs 25 pounds.) Nor should we forget the enlightened citizens of Hinckley, Ohio, where they've been having a Buzzard Day in March for decades!

If you consider Halloween the beginning of a new year, make a resolution. Vow right now to have a new and more positive attitude toward those graceful bald birds circling above your house. No, they will not kill your kitten! They exist only to clean up the mess, to eat what we won't, and to entertain us with their brilliant aerodynamics.

Will you dedicate yourself to a better understanding of the humble vulture? Please make this Halloween your first to welcome into your life the Sacred Thunderbird. Golden Purifier. Peace Eagle. All hail the buzzard! Halloween lore no more!

Come see us here any time at "The Gods Are Bored." We are an equal opportunity praise and worship team, dedicated to finding employment for discarded, laid-off, downsized, and nearly-forgotten gods, goddesses, and BIG, BRILLIANT BUZZARDS!


Today, we at "The Gods Are Bored" are offering our own appropriate Halloween giveaway. Leave a comment (be sure we can reach you) to receive three fabulous vulture birthday cards! How very appropriate these are for the elderly relative you always want to remember at birthday time! Winner to be selected based on the nice things he or she says about buzzards, so be creative!

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Ritual



Grove of the Black Oak had a wonderful Samhain Ritual today. It included a hike to the Pennsylvania champion black oak for which our Grove is named. Spare and I also visited this tree in the picture, which is about 50 yards from our Ritual site. The words are: "My path follows you and yours me. Which is your TREE. What is your KEY."

Part of our Grove's afternoon was a hike to the Pennsylvania champion black oak for which the Grove was named. It is a marvelous tree, and when we got to it, each of us fell into a private reverie.

My reverie had to do with Pennsylvania and how I have a tenuous hold on the farm where my ancestors lived for generations.

From one oak in a park, to many others on a property in Bedford County 250 miles away. I prayed to keep my farm.

Now, while the veil is thin, I petition my ancestors. Help me keep the farm.

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Saturday, October 24, 2009

My Awesome Day at the Cat Show

Welcome to "The Gods Are Bored!" Time to navel-gaze about a fabulous day! Not getting any younger and all that. Might want to read this one myself in years to come.

This was a terrific Saturday, even though it's been pouring most of the day. So, let me tell you about the cat show!

1. First thing in the morning, I went out with Mr. Johnson and had some breakfast. Him: wrap with eggs, veggies, and Swiss cheese. Me: over easy, wheat toast.

2. Came home, asked The Spare to get dressed so we could go to the cat show. She said she had to do her Driver's Ed homework first.

3. Blogged about the cat show (below).

4. Spent a jolly hour web-shopping, especially eyeballing Thalia Took's site (sidebar, artist). Wanted everything I saw.

5. Finally, around noon, Spare and I set off for the cat show. Except we had to buy a few groceries first. Just a few. Except oh yeah. Halloween candy! Halloween cake mix! Doughboy Halloween cookies! Pumpkin pie mix! Which kind of candy should be buy, Hershey's or M&M's? Hershey's. Frozen vegetables so that stuff doesn't go bad when Anne can't cook much. Eggs, milk, cat food, cat litter.

6. In the parking lot, it dawns on us. We don't have our Halloween pumpkin! Off to the farm stand. Tough choices. This one, or that one? Get a cart, this year we're going to have a whole jack-o-lantern family! And oh, gosh. Mums. I've got a job! I'm going to buy some mums! It's been so long since I could justify the expense. But I love flowers, even genetically engineered, over-blooming potted monstrosities.

7. Now home to unpack the groceries and plant the mums. Oops. Need another pot of mums to make it look good. Back to the farm stand. Now it's pouring. Another pot of rust-colored mums. Thank you.

8. Hmmm. It's really getting time to go to the cat show. Except The Spare needs one final little element for her Halloween costume. Can we pretty pretty please go to the thrift store just for one little item? Of course we can! An hour later, we have the item, a pair of snow boots, a blouse for me, and a beautiful autumn faerie with a little cart of pumpkins.

9. Time for the cat show ... but wait! I forgot that it's Mrs. T's birthday on Tuesday. Mrs. T is my new teacher colleague who has been so sweet and nice and helpful to me, even before I got the full-time gig. Now Spare and I go to downtown Snobville to find something nice for Mrs. T.

10. Fancy Snobville store. Hadn't been in it for a long time. In the corner, there's an ugly faerie caught in a clear plastic box. Never saw a more wretched faerie ........ wait a second! There's a faerie store in Collingswood! It's called Mineralistic. Surely they will have something there that's appropriate for a Jewish teacher who takes her faith seriously!

11. Off to Collingswood in a downpour. Sprint into the faerie store. Sure enough, there's a beautiful little ring box with a peacock on the lid. I know Mrs. T will love it, because Spare wanted it for herself, and Mrs. T is a girly girl like Spare. Purchase ring box. Sprint back to car. Time for cat show?

12. Oh well, it's raining cats and dogs, so why go to a cat show? Driving home, Spare and I stop by our dinosaur site. We pick up all the dinos and put them in the trunk of the car. We have a hunch that since Mischief Night falls on a Friday this year, some dinos might fall into the wrong hands. We will put them back out on November 1.

13. It's now 5:30. Not only did I not go to the cat show, I haven't gotten my school work done either.

14. I have always loved the fact that my life has never moved from Point A to Point B without sidetracking to Point Q. On this particular day, I may have started at Point A, but I'm now at Point Q, with miles to go before I sleep. Miles to go before I sleep.

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Cat Show


Welcome to "The Gods Are Bored!" I would love to chat with you today, but alas, there's no time. The cat show is in town!

Don't you just love a great cat show? Where else can you see painstakingly genetically engineered felines, groomed to the max, with their high ticket prices and their anal owners and their poofy, pimped cages?

Sometimes the gal I got my Alpha from sets up a booth at the cat show. She still has a picture of Alpha on her poster of rescued, hard-luck-story cats. As the story goes, Alpha's family moved away and just left her behind, outside, pregnant. By the time the rescue ladies got there, all but one of Alpha's kittens had died, and Alpha was near starved to death.

I believe this tale of woe. When we go on vacation, Alpha does not leave the house. Any other time, she comes and goes (never beyond our small back yard). Also she makes nice with anyone who comes in the door, even people who don't like cats. She single-pawedly won over my father-in-law, who had detested felines his whole life. Mr. Johnson about fainted when he came in the room and saw his dad with Alpha on his lap, petting her.

So off to the cat show I go! To look, not to buy. Not even to touch. Those crazy cat show contestants don't even want you to breathe on their precious quality merchandise. But where else can you see the wacky naked cats and Persians who look like they've been bashed in the face with a flat iron?

Meow! Ciao!


Image: No, they aren't show cats! They're a litter I fostered awhile back. Can't even remember their names, except the pink one was Pinkie.

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Thursday, October 22, 2009

Sometimes You Can't Root for the Home Team

Welcome to "The Gods Are Bored!" Root, root, root for the home team!

In our case, that would be the Philadelphia Phillies. Who are now on their way to a World Series.

It's funny, because Mr. Johnson and I bonded over a love of baseball, way back in the 20th century. We both loved the Orioles. But that was decades ago. Now we just don't like baseball anymore.

Mr. Johnson is a sports writer, you see. That's kind of like being a bus driver. While everyone else is celebrating, he's busting his chops trying to get his copy in on time.

Last night the Phils clinched. Mr. Johnson got sprayed with champagne and then had to write his story. He trudged in the door around 2:00 a.m. and went to bed at 4:00 a.m.

I guess some longtime wives might get a little upset if their husband came to bed at 4:00 a.m., reeking of cheap champagne. But in this household, our jobs are our bitches. He had barely settled in when I got up (5:30) and set off for school. I just got home around 6:00 p.m., and he's out in the garage (renovated as a home office), writing another story.

Decibel the Parrot is making dinner. Sunflower souffle.

You'll pardon me if I don't get excited about the Phillies. My better half is getting a little past his prime where this sports nonsense is concerned. As for me, I think baseball has never been the same since Brooks Robinson retired. That's all I'll say today. World Series? Bah, humbug.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

The Bored Gods Go to School


Welcome to "The Gods Are Bored" on a picture-perfect autumn afternoon! What a tonic for a day spent indoors at a teacher in-service meeting!

I always have to laugh when I trudge into my night school classes for "alternate route" teachers. Those classes are taught by a schmoozer who threw his students into lockers and spent most of his career with highly-motivated AP history kids. Here's a question for you: Did this "instructor" keep up with the current trends in education for at-risk students?

I'm supposed to give you "wait time" ...........................

A little more wait time ........................

Anybody? You, in the back row! Does my night school teacher know butkus about modern educational models? Wow! You're absolutely right! He knows NOTHING, ZERO, ZIPPO! The last time this guy had a clue was 1986. And it wasn't much of a clue at that.

However, my school district is wallowing in No Child Left Behind money for state-of-the-art specialists who come in personally and teach all the teachers how to teach. These are the helpers that the smart money rides on. For one thing, my school administrators monitor the sessions and then expect us teachers to do what the specialists say. Which is easy enough. All you have to do is listen to the specialist and have high hopes.

These modern specialists don't recommend shoving bad kids into lockers and locking the door and telling them they won't get out until they promise to behave. Apparently that teaching model has been retired. Someone should tell the night school dude. Won't be me. I wouldn't want to interrupt his navel-centered soliloquies.

Finally I'm getting around to today's sermon! Sorry for the long-winded intro. I guess I am picking up some tips from night school.

In the nice, new, modern teaching book handed out today were some little factoids teachers use to spark student interest. One of them was:

*Earth is the only planet not named after pagan gods.

Now, I guess I knew that in the back of my mind. It's nice to see it in print, though.

Talk about tough! Those bored deities of the Greco-Roman pantheon have rocked on -- literally -- in the face of intense pressure! We have no Planet Gabriel! Tra la la!

I guess I shouldn't gloat, but as a proud defender of the bored gods, I can't help but be pleased that even the most Bible-bound, homeschooled, literalist, sectarian, I-Must-Not-Touch-Myself Christian kid simply cannot get a legally-sanctioned school diploma without learning the names of the planets in our solar system. And that means memorizing and chanting a fine list of names of deities that would otherwise have been put way out of orbit a long time ago.

It gets even better. Teachers aren't supposed to talk about God in the public school classroom. But by Jove, they talk about Jupiter! And even Jupiter's Moons are named after deities!

All hail the magnificent sky.

Speaking of magnificent sky, this morning just before dawn I got up to see the Orionids. It was clear, and about as dark as it gets in New Jersey, from the vantage point of my back yard. Alas, no meteors. But after about five minutes of staring, it occurred to me to wake up The Spare. (She had asked me to anyway.) Even though there were no meteors, it was possible to identify Orion and Sirius. Taurus was lost in the white light.

After having the cheek to re-name Orion with a nice feminine name ("Pavlova," long-forgotten blog post), I decided on the spot to revert to calling the constellation Orion, so The Spare would learn her constellations. This was even before being reminded that so many celestial bodies, and meteor showers for that matter, are named after the popular polytheistic dynasty of old.

All hail the magnificent sky, filled with monuments to deities that hear their names from every child's lips! Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter .... ah, Neptune! They all shine on.

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Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Those Little Halloweeny Things

Welcome to "The Gods Are Bored!" My, October is just flying by, isn't it? Already more than half over ... and that means Samhain is nearly upon us!

Way before this family ditched the busy god, Halloween was the premiere holiday around here.

Why? Because everyone in this household, with the exception of Mr. Johnson, loves to dress up in costumes!

Oh, costumes, costumes! The Heir and Spare are both busy designing and creating theirs. Spare recently watched "Desperately Seeking Susan" (one of my all-time favorite movies) and decided to do the 1980s grunge-chic Madonna look. In two days she had it all together, thanks to the local thrift store and my dresser drawer. Isn't it amazing how a Talbot's beaded scarf can become a hair bow?

Heir was held back in kindergarten because she could talk of nothing else but her Halloween costume -- from the first day of school onward. The teacher asked a question of the group of eager young minds. Heir shot up her hand. Teacher called on her. Heir said, "I'm going to be a red devil at Halloween."

Heir got put in a "developmental" class. Thank goodness, because that meant I got an extra year of her company before she went off to college! Just goes to show you, the bored gods were looking out for me even before I knew Them.

Heir has not changed a bit when it comes to being consumed by costumes. She has huge plans. She predicts awesomeness. Having seen her concoctions in years past, I tend to agree. But this year we'll have pictures!

As for me, I have already created a costume for the ages. I will reprise my fabulous Mountain Tribe Leader duds from the Fairie Festival. Alas, I won't have the fab face paint! Otherwise I carefully kept the entire outfit in one place. And I will have pictures.

Why are we so concerned about costumes? Because we're having a PARTY! More on that later.

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Monday, October 19, 2009

Fall


Welcome to "The Gods Are Bored," in a misty mood on a sunny day!

Every year in the month of October, I get heartsick here in the flat lands. Autumn is beautiful here, but in the mountains where I grew up, it is a month of rapid heartbeats. It's fireworks that don't burst and fade in seconds. It's cascades of color in tiers, flowing down the mountainside and bursting out of the hollows. It's roads rimmed in gold and bronze and scarlet oaks, corners blazed yellow, vistas splattered with glory.

The oaks on Polish Mountain turn red. Here the oaks just go brown, and the leaves fall slowly, over weeks and weeks. One good gale would rip the whole mountain bare, where I grew up.

I suppose I'm in the early autumn of my own life now. I wish I was young, and in love, back in the mountains again. There's something to be said for being calm and mature ... but young and rowdy suited me just fine.

My only regret is that I wasn't brave enough. Young people, boldly state your purpose! Tell that person that you adore just how you feel! A moment of rejection beats the hell out of a lifetime of wondering what might have been. Howl at the moon and shoot out the lights! I didn't find out how much fun this could be until it was too late to do much of it.

Free advice from Anne: Don't come into autumn with "should have, would have" regrets. Remember our Pagan creed: If it doesn't hurt anyone, go ahead and do it! Just do it, don't wait! Those leaves are gonna sift right down onto the ground in the first strong rainstorm. Enjoy their day in the sunshine.

Any questions?

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Saturday, October 17, 2009

Gonna Go for Silly


Welcome to "The Gods Are Bored," dripping with silliness since 2005! It's not every day that one gets two blog awards in the same comment thread. You love me! *sniff* You really love me!

(To be serious for half a moment, I would like to thank Tori and Sarita for stopping by here and sharing their youthful enthusiasm with me, a gal who is young in mind only!

Tori's request was ten honest things about me. I guess she hasn't been a long time reader. Here they are, sweetheart:

1. I love vultures.
2. I have been besotted with vulture love since early childhood.
3. Once a year I dress up like a vulture and entertain people at a vulture festival.
4. There is a vulture primary flight feather on my altar.
5. It's against the law to have vulture feathers, but since it's for religious use, they can't arrest me.
6. My favorite vulture is the turkey vulture.
7. In my youth I preferred lying on the mountainside looking dead so the vultures would check me out, rather than hanging around the mall so boys could check me out.
8. I once saw a rehabilitated vulture return to the wild. It was one of the happiest moments of my life.
9. Sometimes I dream that I'm soaring in the air like a vulture, which makes me wonder if
10. I was a vulture in a previous life and did something bad that led the bored gods to reincarnate me as a human.

That takes care of the ten honest things about myself. My, how cleansing it is to be honest!

Sarita's is a little more complicated. One-word answers to 35 different prompts. Okay. A test for the funny bone, if ever there was one.
1. Where is your cell phone? Lost
2. Your hair? Found
3. Your mother? Bipolar
4. Your father? Faerie
5. Your favourite food? Roadkill
6. Your dream last night? Beckham
7. Your favourite drink? Champagne

8. Your dream/goal? Roadkill
9. What room are you in? Mine
10. Your hobby? Buzzards
11. Your fear? Immortality
12. Where do you want to be in 6 years? Alive
13. Where were you last night? Plead 5th
14. Something that you aren't? Male
15. Muffins?Why do these memes always ask about muffins?








16. Wish list item? Finks













17. Where did you grow up? Appalachia
18. Last thing you did? Breathed
19. What are you wearing? Skin
20. Your TV? MSNBC


21. Your pets? Parrot
22. Friends? Yep

















23. Your life? Pictured
24. Your mood?Pictured
25. Missing someone? Yes
26. Vehicle? Blog
27. Something you're not wearing? Deodorant














28. Your favourite store? Pictured
29. Your favourite colour? Crayola
30. When was the last time you laughed? Currently
31. Last time you cried? August










32. Your best friend? Big Red
33. One place that I go to over and over? Blog
34. One person who emails me regularly? Ticketmaster
35. Favourite place to eat? Table


Wow!
This took a long time! It's nearly midnight, so passing along the treat of this task will have to wait for another day. Big Red is hungry, Decibel the Parrot is cranky, and Godlove's Liquors is closing in ten minutes! Ta ta!


All of life should be like this.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Big Bad Bigwand

Welcome to "The Gods Are Bored," rest stop for deities amidst the hectic turnpike of modern life! Take a break, stay awake! We can find you an amiable traveling companion.

My three or four regular readers will recall that I have recently begun teaching school full-time, and I don't have a teaching certificate. Hence, once a week I have to go to a little Catholic high school in Gloucester City, New Jersey and take "alternate route" teaching classes.

The classes are taught (if you can call it that) by a puffed-up sack of hot air I'll call "Mr. Bigwand." Go ahead. Unscramble the letters. If his wand was as big as his self-opinion, he'd need to drag it around in a wheelbarrow like The Dagda.

I've never seen anyone who could digress with more frequency and at greater length than this guy. He missed his calling. He should have been an Episcopal pastor. (One of his digressions last night was to say he had studied for the cloth. Would that he had kept at it!)

Last night, in one of his digressions, Bigwand made a boast that chilled my soul.

According to Bigwand, every year he buys a new frightening Halloween mask from an expensive, theatrical-grade costume company. He uses it to scare away little kids who trick-or-treat. He bragged that he never has to give away any candy, because when kids come to his door they are so transported by terror that they run off into the night. With glee he described how one little tot became paralyzed with fear -- all the kid could do was stand there, as a single tear rolled down his little cheek.

Even if I was not a Pagan who takes Halloween seriously, I would be furious about this. What kind of pustule on the buttocks of American society brags about scaring little kids to a bunch of people who are TEACHING LITTLE KIDS? Half the class consists of people working in the elementary grades.

Never mind the audience. What kind of hemorrhoid on the butthole of society would take perverse pleasure in scaring little kids on a holiday where kids ought to be happy and having a good time?

That's a rhetorical question. But it still has an answer, and the answer is MR. BIGWAND.

I cannot call this man out. He holds my future in his hands. If he says I didn't do the classwork, or some such, I won't get my certificate.

But I have a long memory. I also have his email. He will not remember my name two days after the class ends.

I'm not a vengeful person by nature, but the thought of some kid having Halloween ruined, perhaps forever, by a big, tall-ass bully just boils the blood in my veins!

Bigwand, it's not a good idea to anger the Cailleach in the front row. She will level the playing field on behalf of every little kid you have ever scared on the Holy Night of Halloween!

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Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Chuckle with Chick

Welcome to "The Gods Are Bored!" Judge not, lest ye be judged. In other words, don't poke fun at people, because they might poke back with sharper sticks.

Every year this time, just for laughs, I visit the Chick tract site and review all their funny pamphlets about Halloween, Masons, Druids, and other malleus malefactors. In the hyper-paranoid land of Chick, even your local sheriff does the Devil's deeds. There's so much evil afoot, it's a wonder Jesus ever got a toe-hold in this horrific world.

This is my all-time favorite Chick panel. I hope you can see the dialogue.

This is very helpful information to me. As a Druid (not Imaginary), I am preparing for Samhain with a 15-year-old virgin daughter at my side. She's very pretty, but I'll admit she has some sass. Her name is The Spare.

Spare might not like being taken away to be sacrificed. And I'm 100 percent certain her dad will put up one heck of a fight when the mean old Imaginary Druids come for her. But it's the will of our Gods that a pretty virgin get her heart cut out on October 31. Thus sayeth Chick.

Now that I think about it, The Heir will be home on October 31 too. Wow. An Imaginary Druid "buy one, get one" for ritual slaughter! I've put my heart, soul, and toil into raising these daughters, just to see them hacked to death! That makes me a swell Druid, I reckon. But I love my daughters! Bad Imaginary Druids! Bad!

(Notice I assume that both of my daughters are virgins. Many a good mother has made this mistake! Maybe they've gotten around a little bit, which would make them useless for ritual sacrifice...)

Doggone it! Why did I leave the Methodist church! Youth group trips are almost as good as band camps for opening up the world of carnal knowledge to freshly-scrubbed teens. I think I'll call the old Snobville UM Church to see if it's not too late to have Heir and Spare participate in the lock-in. If I tell the church secretary it's for the purpose of saving my children from knife-wielding Imaginary Druids, I'm sure to find success.

By the way, if you see any knife-wielding Imaginary Druids bent upon human sacrifice ... lay off the magic mushrooms.

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Sunday, October 11, 2009

Because I Can

Welcome to "The Gods Are Bored!" Poseidon sends his best wishes to all!

I have a three day weekend, so today my daughter The Spare and I drove down to the beach.

After all these years of living in New Jersey, I still haven't gotten used to the fact that you can get in the car at 11:00 and be at the beach at noon, or a little afterward. Where I grew up, getting to the beach was a long, boring ordeal that included a picnic lunch along the side of the road, sitting at an ant-infested table under a saggy pine tree.

Not now! The beach is a hop, skip, and jump. And to me, it's always a miracle when I haven't yawned once, and I'm crossing the causeway into Ocean City.

The day was picture perfect -- too cool to wade, but otherwise sunny and pleasant. O.C. was crowded, but not as crowded as it is in the summertime. All the stores on the boardwalk were open. Spare and I brought back two pounds of salt water taffy. I didn't know you can freeze it! You read it here first!

The amusement parks were open too. Spare took me into one that she had been in before, just to show me which scary rides she'd been on. And that's when I saw it. The carousel.

It was an old-fashioned carousel with lovely old horses, three across and each with its own color scheme and pose.

Something grabbed hold of me. I said to The Spare, "Let's ride the carousel!"

She looked at me as only a 15-year-old will when her 50-year-old mom proposes doing something that basically appeals to no one over six.

As I dragged her to the ticket booth, she loudly protested that this was the most embarrassing, most humiliating, most ridiculous thing she'd ever been asked to do in her life. What if news of this gets on Facebook? What if -- all the bored gods forbid -- someone she knows sees her?

And yet she followed me to the ticket booth, and into the line for the carousel, and onto the carousel, and up onto a horse. All the while shooting me looks of dramatic dudgeon that didn't fail to mask her enjoyment of the experience.

So we rode the carousel to the tune of "Battle Hymn of the Republic" and "Meet Me In St. Louis." When it stopped and we got off and returned to the boardwalk, I said it was the most fun I'd had in a long time. She said I ought to get out more often.

Then I told her, "You don't understand. Why did you think I wanted to ride the carousel?"

She said doggoned if she could figure it out, except that I'm always doing weird things, there was nothing new about this one.

I answered: "Yes, I am weird. I'll give you that. But I rode the carousel because I can."

A year ago this week I was in rehab for a hip replacement, wearing hospital socks and practicing going up and down steps. I needed help getting in and out of my clothing. Twelve months later, I can walk 16 blocks of boardwalk (up 8, down 8) and get on and off a carousel horse without any assistance or pain.

This was more than just a "let's see if I can get on a carousel horse" experiment, though. Youth is a state of mind. The minute you become too old to get on a carousel, you might as well pack it in. When does riding a carousel stop being fun, if you aren't disabled?

Today, riding a bright carousel horse as it whisked in circles and bobbed up and down was my act of praise and worship. You don't need a fountain to be eternally young.

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Saturday, October 10, 2009

Nostalgia Night

Welcome to "The Gods Are Bored" as Samhain nears and the veil grows thin! Can you feel that shift in energy? Trust me, here it comes.

I have been very remiss in letting my three readers know about Mrs. B's Great Halloween Giveaway over at Confessions of a Pagan Soccer Mom. Every day Mrs. B gives away prizes, generously donated by creative Etsy Pagans. She also has guest blogs -- many have been very interesting -- and a haunted tour of someone else's blog. This amounts to a huge workload for her, so let her know what a great job she's doing!

Two great things about growing up in the mountains: swings and leaf piles.

My granddad hung a swing off a big oak tree at the top of the property where the ground fell steeply below it. Wow, was it ever a trip to swing out into thin air, and then back again to the hilltop! Felt like flying.

The other great thing about a mountain property is that it takes about ten minutes to rake up a humongous leaf pile. Granted, the country leaf piles would have some twigs and rocks in them -- high winds and terrain, you know -- but you could literally construct a leaf pile big enough to serve as a fortress.

When my daughters The Heir and The Spare were young, I never enrolled them in sports. Well, I did a few times at first, and then I saw how boring it was for them and me, and we quit it. Instead my kids played in the yard (small though it is) with two other girls on the block. In the fall I would rake up giant leaf piles for them, and they'd spend whole afternoons running and leaping into the leaves, throwing them around, rolling in them, and getting lost in their depths.

The neighbors would come out of their houses and chuckle as I raked leaves from the street into my yard. Isn't it supposed to be the other way around?

Right across the street, my neighbors have three huge oaks. This is not a hardship for me. I love those trees! Not only are they oaks (three different species), but they provide generous quantities of leaves for piling. It was a snap to cover my little front yard with a leaf pile of massive proportions.

Now The Heir is in college and The Spare is in high school. The girls they played with moved to North Carolina. I suppose this year, raking will become a chore -- not much of one, with such a small yard.

Then again, I am Anne. Some afternoon I may come home from school, find my street adrift with autumn leaves, grab the creaky rake, and construct a big ol' leaf pile just for me. Then I'll just sink down in it and smell that musty leaf smell and think of all the leaves falling on the mountainside at home. Perhaps I'll hear the voices of little Heir and Spare, or Granddad telling me to watch out for sharp stuff. Perhaps the veil will loosen right in the middle of that leaf pile, and time will just stand still long enough for me to appreciate all that has been.

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Thursday, October 08, 2009

The Shelter Is Ready

Welcome to "The Gods Are Bored," where we hear tonight of a dreadful bombing event threatening a gentle, benign Goddess whose primary tasks are bathing the nighttime with a silvery glow and shoving water uphill.

The Moon is under attack! Run, Luna! Save yourself!

Don't worry, readers. We at "The Gods Are Bored" have a well-stocked and efficiently run bomb shelter for situations like this. It is staffed by volunteer deities who were themselves victims of violent attack, under the able direction of Turtle Woman.

Luna, we at "The Gods Are Bored" know how traumatized You will be by this dreadful and ridiculous affront to Your celestial greatness! We have a cot ready for you, a clean change of clothing, a kit with a toothbrush, toothpaste, soap, and band-aids, and -- most importantly -- the sympathetic ear of legions of Your fellow gods and goddesses who've been bombed out, mowed down, plowed under, pillaged, damaged, and defaced.


This moon bombing business was kept secret until now, at least from people like this irate Pagan. I wonder what other deities are on NASA's hit list? I won't be a bit surprised if they pulverize Pluto and call it progress.

Tuesday, October 06, 2009

Shrine On, Harvest Moon

Welcome to "The Gods Are Bored!" Have you seen the Moon lately? Ever since it was full, we've enjoyed clear nights around here, and the Moon has lingered into the morning sky. Just before dawn today, it lay a silver varnish over everything, like a gentle celestial spotlight. We at "The Gods Are Bored" all hail Luna, magnificent Goddess of the Moon!

Another day, another laugh. Vent till you're spent. That's my motto.

I have a parrot named Decibel. It's an apt name. Of course, Decibel isn't my parrot's real name. I protect the ones I love by never giving their real names. Plus, Decibel's real name is totally stupid.

There's a Korean market near here. It is a real Korean market, meaning that all the groceries have Korean directions on them, and Korean names, and you can get numerous obscure Korean ingredients there. (A quick aside: If you love your cat, buy it some dried Bonito flakes, the kind used to make soup. Give kitty the flakes all dried out, straight from the bag. You will have a slave for life.)

My daughter The Heir loves the Korean market because she's into marketing, and the place is chock a block with adorable Asian food product characters. We go there so she can look for cans of shrimp where the shrimp on the label are winking and smiling at you, as if they can't wait to be consumed.

One of the items they stock at the Korean market is Parrot brand evaporated milk. Parrot brand is to evaporated milk as Nora Roberts is to fiction. In other words, the name PARROT is more pronounced than the product, evaporated milk.

If you look at a can of Parrot evaporated milk, what you think you're seeing is a can of parrot.

So I bought a can of Parrot and brought it home.

Now, when Decibel gets into one of his conniptions, I brandish the can of Parrot and threaten to bundle him off to the cannery.

It doesn't keep him quiet, but it makes me laugh. And laughter is the best medicine, next to gin and tranquilizers.

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Monday, October 05, 2009

What I'm All About

Welcome to "The Gods Are Bored," with a ha ha ha and a ho ho ho and a he he he! Jolly good fun!

I had such an awful day today that I could either sit here and cry, or sit here and laugh. Laugh it is!

Let me think about something funny.

Oh, here's a good one.

My dad was raised in a strict Baptist family. He didn't smoke or drink. But one year at Christmas, the next door neighbor gave Dad a bottle of wine as a present.

Dad was the kind of guy who never liked to see anything go to waste. If someone was going to give him a bottle of wine, by golly, he was going to drink it!

One evening he drank it. I don't know how much of it he drank at once. You just have to trust me, this was truly a one-time thing. No booze before this, no booze afterward.

He was sitting in his lounge chair, and he just started laughing.

(Oh, yeah, like that's not a typical response to alcohol.)

I said, "What's so funny?"

And he just split a gut. When he could speak (several minutes), he said, "What if they had a horse race, and they loaded all the horses into the gate, and the gate opened, and none of the horses ran?"

He guffawed for another five minutes, and that was all he said.

It is pretty funny, if you think about it.

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Sunday, October 04, 2009

It's Hip To Be Scared

Welcome to "The Gods Are Bored," typed several times a week by a person who has been a ball of anxiety since before John F. Kennedy was assassinated! Is it possible for a little kid to be anxious? You bet, my lieblings!

All my life I have lived with two problems:
1. Persistent anxiety
2. A dark and pessimistic view of life

We must remember that anxiety helped our species to rock on back in the bygone days. If you weren't scared of lions, you got eaten. You just had to worry about those lions all the time. And if the lions were sleeping, the snakes were up. And if both were sleeping you had to find stuff to eat.

In short, I believe that people who don't worry are part-alien mutants.

If you combine persistent anxiety with a dark and pessimistic view of life, you get ... my great-grandmother, from whom I inherited both traits.

On occasion, however, this bad emotional double-whammy can save one's day. Please settle in for a TGAB story!

On Saturday past, I had to drive to Rowan University to take a day course for alternate route teachers. The night before I had come down with a nasty grippe (didn't have to cook supper after all). Being pessimistic, I figured I would feel bad on Saturday morning, and by golly, I did.

Friday evening I checked the Alternate Route Teaching home page at Rowan University. It gave the time of the Saturday think tank and the location as the "education hall."

*No specific directions to the education hall. Ding ding ding! There goes the anxiety bell.
*Anxiety bell activates pessimism: "Shit. I'm gonna have trouble finding that building. I just know it."

The Rowan University web site gave general directions to its front gate. I perused the Rowan directions page and found the education hall on a primitive grid map. It is near the football stadium.

Given the scarcity of hard data, I decided to give myself 90 minutes to find the place. (It takes about 40 minutes to drive to Rowan on a Saturday morning.)

Thus it was that I got out of bed at 6:30 Saturday, gargled fruitlessly, and hopped in my Dodge right around 7:00. I found Rowan easily enough -- its front gate, that is. There was no one at the gate to give me directions to the education hall.

I could see the light standards of the football stadium to my left, nestled deep within the campus. But in New Jersey, seeing a landmark means nothing. You can hardly ever get there from here without help. So I asked a dude who was warming up for a morning jog, "How do I get to the stadium?"

He couldn't help me. He was like the scarecrow in the "Wizard of Oz." Literally, he said I could go this way, or that way, or both ways, and maybe I'd get there, but he wasn't sure how to do it.

In the meantime, another car pulled up behind me. It was a gal from Philly who was also slated to attend the lecture. She said she had found the stadium but couldn't figure out which building was the education building.

On the primitive map, it says, "education building." On the building, there's the name of some fat cat who dumped a load of ducats into the university coffers. In fact, all the buildings had fat cat names. With not even a sculpture or mosaic outside to give away their inner scholarly purposes.

I followed the Philly gal to a parking lot adjacent to the football stadium and a dull, square building that might or might not be the education building. She said she had tried the front door, and it was locked. Since we parked at the rear of the building, I suggested we give the service entry a shot. It was open. There was an elevator. We took it to the first floor. There was one dude in the lobby who said we needed the third floor.

Having spent 75 minutes to find a classroom that I could have gotten to in 45 (with better directions), I finally entered the lecture room where my sore throat and I would spend Saturday morning. The Philly gal and I were nearly the first people there. I told the professor I intended to sit in the rear of the room, as I was ill and didn't want to spread germs. Drawing himself to snarky heights, he sneered, "How good of you to grace us with your presence."

More teethmarks in the tongue. Where do they find these pompous skunks?

Anxiety quelled in favor of seething hatred, I took a seat right by the classroom door. I heard the professor tell the Philly gal that he expected 30 people for the lecture.

Promptly at 8:30 he began to drone in the usual way professors do, by telling us how little we knew about the pedagogy of education.

People were still streaming into the room. By 8:45 there were 50 people. By 9:00 there were 75 people. By 9:15, people were still coming. They had to drag chairs from an adjacent classroom. We students topped out at 100 strong -- more than twice the number considered safe by the fire marshal. (I knew this because I was sitting near the sign that said, "Maximum capacity: 49 persons." Oh, how I did WISH the fire marshal would make an unscheduled raid!)

At about 9:20, the professor doled out this tidbit of helpful advice:

"Two thirds of you will not make it in the profession of education."

Well, that sure was cheery news!

Then he continued:

"Do you know how I can tell? Because education is a business of MINUTES. You have to be on time! If you're two minutes late to your classroom, that's when your students will incite to riot. And how do I know you can't cut it? Look how many of you were LATE TO THIS CLASS!"

A considerable amount of squirming ensued. Almost everyone had been late.

Everyone except moi, the nervous Nelly who knows she needs all kinds of time to find a place that has:

*insufficient directions
*misleading signage
*locked front door

Early on a Saturday morning!

Pip pip for anxiety and the dark, pessimistic outlook! Saved my pink tush in the profession of education!

In closing, I would like to repeat myself. Many long decades ago, I attended the Johns Hopkins University, graduating Phi Beta Kappa. In my four years there I met more than my share of pompous pedants. But here's the difference between the JHU profs and the ones I've met so far in alternate route education. The JHU profs were experts in their fields. (I had one once who cancelled class because he was going to advise Jimmy Carter.) This chap who lectured at Rowan Saturday morning had spent the sum total of 7 years in a classroom before ascending the ranks in the ed biz. By 35 he was a superintendent of a district, and he went on to advise several governors. Yet he was there to teach us how to teach! No politics of modern Cuba, no recent fossil finds, no insight into the nuances of King Lear, no spirited discussions of the philosophy of American letters in the Antebellum South. Nope, this dude with seven years' teaching (in the 1970s, no less) was there to teach neophyte teachers how to teach!

Oh well. He let us go early after giving us the answers to the handout we had to write on to prove we were there. I limped home and spent the rest of the day in the settee, mumbling lyrics to Talking Heads songs.

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Friday, October 02, 2009

I've got a sore throat. I got it about an hour before school left out. I have to drive to Glassboro tomorrow to attend classes from 8:30 until 1:30. I'm receiving my first formal evaluation on Monday.

Now I have to go cook dinner. Thus is it always amongst the middle classes.

Thursday, October 01, 2009

My, How Things Have Changed!

Welcome to "The Gods Are Bored," as we kick off October! For about one million reasons, this is my favorite month of the year. Autumn is such a grand season, isn't it? I admit I miss the mountains more this time of year. But some day I'll go home for good. Bet on it.

Yesterday I had my third class in what looks to be a long, dreary series of useless exercises in educating educators. At least I have a name for my "professor." From here on out, he will be known as Mr. Bigwand. (Buttroy was a close second, but that one more or less can only be used by my dear Yellowdog Granny.)

Mr. Bigwand has a big boat and a big, impressive teaching resume that he likes to reminisce about constantly. He tells very amusing stories about his days in the classroom. Some of the stories are so amusing that he tells them every week.

He does rather ramble, but what else do I have to do on a Wednesday afternoon except sit and listen to him?

Inevitably at conflabs such as this night school class, the predominant question is that of student discipline. How do we get the attention of these fine young minds, and keep the attention long enough to impart some wisdom?

When pressed for an answer to this widely-held conundrum, Mr. Bigwand told yet another story. He is proud (quite proud) to say that he taught at-risk students at an inner city school in Philly. He had 20 kids in a room the size of a two-seater privvy (or some such). One day he got a new pupil, the toughest kid in the school.

Pinky swear, this is what Mr. Bigwand told us.

When the kid began to act up in class, Mr. Bigwand invited the kid out into the corridor. Mr. Bigwand shoved the kid into a locker, closed the locker door, and had a conversation with the kid while the kid was stuck inside the locker. Needless to say, Bigwand concluded, the kid never gave him any more trouble.

I'm trying to picture myself following this edifying advice.

Maybe in some places.... no, wait. I can't even insult the citizens of the usual states that I'm fond of insulting! I'll bet they don't even shove bad kids into lockers in such bastions of brilliance as Idaho and Utah!

If Mr. Bigwand is giving us his true age (and he looks about the age he gives), he must have pulled this stunt when I was still a college stripling. And even then, the 1980s, I can't imagine how he got away with it.

This charming anecdote -- plus the suggestion that one should hover over misbehaving students and pat them nicely on the shoulder -- has been the sum total of Mr. Bigwand's advice on how to deal with discipline problems in the classroom.

I would ask him how to handle a situation where 20 out of 25 students are giddy simultaneously, and school rules prohibit my touching any of them, even in the most kindly way, but why set him off on another long-winded diatribe?

Let's see how this motif unfolds, friends. Bigwand has me in his thrall for ten months. I'm not sure I'll be able to bite my tongue that long without sticking my teeth right through it.

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