Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Teenage Hooligan Run Amok

Welcome to "The Gods Are Bored," parenting with the big, broad, flexible outlook since 1989!

No wonder it's such a zoo around here.

Honestly. What can you say about teenagers? You try to raise them right. You try to set a good example for them. And what do they do? When you aren't looking, they pinch your theatrical-grade buzzard costume and make a video!

Not only do they make a video, they film it in big sister's bedroom ... off limits, of course.

Why, readers. Why? Why has my daughter The Spare turned out to be such a hellcat? Was it something I did?

Evidence of the crime, below.

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Truth about Chain Mail

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Need Cheer

Welcome to "The Gods Are Bored," blue as the Wild Pacific on a rainy New Jersey day!

Since I got a full-time job, I've been pondering the possibility of buying out my family members and owning the family property on Polish Mountain outright. Just now the 76 mountainous acres are one-sixth mine.

My uncle and cousin are living there right now. My cousin had a realtor come out from Cumberland, Maryland. The gig is up, dear readers. The farm is worth almost $200,000. Why? The views. The size. The location, just a two-hour drive from all those deer-blasting Washington lobbyists.

I can't afford to buy the farm. I will never be able to afford to buy the farm. Well, let's never say never, but let's say BIG FAT PROBABLY I'll never have the dough to buy the farm.

Okay. So there are two things I could do. I could wallow in self-pity, weep and wail, or I could ask the faeries to help me devise a Plan B.

ATTENTION ALL FAERIES: ANNE NEEDS A PLAN B TO EASE THE PAIN OF LOSING HER BELOVED FAMILY FARM! FRONT AND CENTER!

Puck: Neither a borrower nor a lender be. Take the money and go on a spree! Why should I have to say anything more? You're 55 miles from the Jersey Shore!

Anne: (weeps) The Jersey Shore? That's my consolation prize? @#$@##@$!

Princess: Trees and stones, bucks and does... that place is a dump. Buy some new clothes!

Anne: Geez, no wonder the fairy tales always make faeries look flip. Come on, faeries ... I'm crazy with grief!

Puck: Crazy with grief. She needs some relief! Let's go to Wendy's. Where's the beef?

Princess: She wants a barn full of rusty old tools. With her share of the booty she could buy a few jewels!

Anne: For the very first time in my life I'm actually looking forward to an afternoon of teachers' meetings. Gosh. I think I'll go early and sit in the auditorium. Puck. Princess. Thank you ever so very much for your help ... NOT!

Host of Faeries: We want chocolate! We want chocolate!

Some days, everything that can go wrong does go wrong. Ah well, according to my handy Mayan calendar, this is the week of the Vulture.  Flap, flap. Self-pity is crap.

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Sunday, March 28, 2010

Short and Serious

Welcome to "The Gods Are Bored," where we're time-starved and chore-laden! I'm going to keep this one short.

I'm not kept up to date on the news like I used to be before I started teaching school. So it was just yesterday that I heard about the most recent scandal in the Roman Catholic Church -- that of deaf men accusing priests of having abused them when they were schoolboys.

Just when you thought you'd heard it all about that Church, huh?

I've been thinking a lot about the evils of the Catholic Church. Only a few of them are coming to light, I'm sure. Some big ones have made history. Heck, Dante put two popes in the lowest bowels of Hell, and when he sees them on his journey, they tell him that the next pope will soon join them. (In fact at first they think Dante is said pope.) Inferno was written in the early 1300s.

However, throughout its career, the Roman Catholic Church has also done a great deal of good. A huge amount of good. Let's say we were to weigh good vs. evil in the Catholic Church. If we did that, and we found that for every evil deed, the Church produced 10,000 good deeds, does that mitigate the evil deeds? Put another way, does the preponderance of good allow leeway for some evil?

I'm interested in what you have to say on this subject.

As for me, I just look at that whole RC thing and thank the bored gods that I never had any truck with it. Bad enough to have spent time in a Pentecostal Church, but the Roman Catholic Church -- where my poor husband was born, raised, and educated -- seems to have taken the fork in the road that leads to Creepy about 3,000 miles ago.

This is just my opinion, though. I am not going to sit here and lob stones. It's not my place to judge a particular sect of a particular praise and worship team. What I'm wondering about is a deeper issue. Does a preponderance of good mitigate a smaller amount of evil? How much evil is too much? Can any praise and worship team be condemned solely on its bad deeds if it has also done good in the world?

If all this is too heavy for you to ponder, hey. I hear ya. Who do you think will win the World Series this year?

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Friday, March 26, 2010

Shout Out for a "Gods Are Bored" Flash Mob!

Welcome to "The Gods Are Bored!" And welcome back, Follower #78! Couldn't live without me, could ya?

Next week will bring April 1. And that means only 29 days until the annual Fairie Festival at Spoutwood Farm!

The Fairie Festival in Glen Rock, PA is a kid-friendly, farm-friendly, three-day love fest for faeries and their human fans. There's entertainment, good food, activities for the tots, vendors, and -- for those of us who love the bored gods -- the affable companionship of like-minded Pagans. Although the festival tries to be secular, its true nature is revealed both within the venue (thinly disguised Rituals led by a Bard) and without (loud protests by local Christian fundamentalists).

After attending the festival a few times, I was asked to lead the Mountain Tribe. This is quite an honor for me, since my heart will always reside in Appalachia, on this side of the veil and the other side too.

Last year I met some "Gods Are Bored" fans at the festival. And oh, it did warm my heart! So now I'm trying to extend that warmth even further.

Over the next three weeks I'll be encouraging you to join the Mountain Tribe at the Spoutwood Fairie Festival.

Let it never be said that I am overly demanding. My friend in South Africa needn't book a flight. Nor am I issuing a royal call to my buddy Down Under.

However, if you live in the Baltimore/Washington metro area, or in the lower half of New Jersey, or out about Pittsburgh, I do wish you would join my Tribe and help us welcome in the May! It's not often that May Day falls on a Saturday. This year it does. Come and dance with me, many wonders to see!

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Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Defending the Bible

Welcome to "The Gods Are Bored!" Praise the Lords! And Ladies! All of them! One is the loneliest number.

I don't know what happened to Follower #78, but I'm down a notch. All three of you who are sticking with "The Gods Are Bored" during lean times, will you please drum up some more business for me? I'll bake you a pie just as soon as I have a moment to spare.


Have you ever seen a person who just can't stop asking annoying questions?

(If you answered no, have you ever looked at your own patterns of questioning?)

I have several students who like to steer my class off topic. Duh. Students live for this, don't they? Let's talk about anything else except transition words! Can't say I blame them much.

Today, however, the conversation in class was not about transition words, but instead about euthanasia. My sophomores have been reading a novel called Stuck in Neutral, about a teenager with cerebral palsy. "Mercy killing" is a theme in the story.

This afternoon I asked my students to write a position statement about euthanasia. And my off-topic questioner piped up. It went something like this.

Student: Miss Johnson ...

Self: Yes?

Student: I know this is off topic, but...

Self (to Self): here it comes, today's attempt at diversion....

Student: Have you ever wondered if the Bible was written by a crazy person? I mean, I go to church every Sunday with my grandma, but I still think about it. What if the Bible was written by someone who's nuts? I mean, look at all the stuff in it. There's some crazy shit in there! Ooooops! Sorry, Miss.

Self can see another student in the front of the room that Self knows is very religious. This student is quietly fuming. Self does not blame her.

Self: This is off topic, Student.

Student: I know, I know. But look. There's all this stuff about Moses going up and getting the Ten Commandments, and a bush that's burning. It's like, who wrote this?

Other Student: God wrote it.

Class erupts in spirited debate, all at the same time. Self is thinking Self is about to be fired.

Self: Please note that I'm not saying I go to church, or even what religion I am. But the newest parts of the Bible are 2,000 some years old, and the rest of it is older than that. I think if all the stuff in it was crazy, people would have discarded it by now. (To Self: Am I actually saying this?)

Student: Why do we read it anyway, if it's so old?

Self: I appreciate your questions, Student, but this is off topic and also off limits. You're asking me to comment on religion, and the Constitution.....

Student: It's just STUPID! Give me one reason why people read the Bible.

Another Student, to Student: If you don't believe in God, why do you waste every Sunday at church? That's retarded, yo.

Self: Look. We need to get back on topic. But I will address your question, Student. Here's what I think. And once again I want to preface these remarks by reminding you that I haven't said whether or not I believe in the Bible, or whether or not I go to church. I don't think the Bible is stupid. I don't think it was written by a crazy person. (To Self: Liar, liar, pants on fire!) The reason the Bible has been around for thousands of years is that it does contain some good advice about how to get along with other people. (To self: I can't believe I'm defending the Bible.) Now. We were talking about euthanasia, and whether or not people should be able to choose to end their own lives when they have no hope of cure for their illness. Would you all please write a paragraph stating your opinion on euthanasia, pro or con? Thank you.

Student: Miss. You are always trying to make us work!

Self: (Evil laugh) Yep. So do it!

There you have it, my ten faithful readers. It is not humanly possible to get through a school year without having to debate the relative merits of Christianity in a classroom. And yet I want to dodge this grenade with every ounce of my being. Nevertheless, I felt like I had to defend the Bible when one student was just trying to steer the class off course, and another student was clearly upset by the new course the discussion was taking.

Moral of the sermon: Love it or hate it, the Bible has endured because it was not written by a crazy person. Some of its writers might have been a little trippy, but when I think "crazy" and "long book," I think Thomas Pynchon. Nobody is going to be reading Thomas Pynchon 2,000 years from now. So the Bible was not written by Thomas Pynchon.

Emmmm...... I'm starting to babble. It's a long day, teaching. Don't let anyone tell you different.

Monday, March 22, 2010

First Part Last

Welcome to "The Gods Are Bored!" I hope you are hale and hardy today,

On Sunday I went to my Druid Grove. We meet in a large state park outside Philadelphia.

After such a cold and snowy winter, the park still looks beaten-down and shellshocked. There's not much green. Nevertheless, on an unseasonably warm afternoon, I could easily find little buds shooting out of the ground. I also could hear the songs of birds that don't venture into the Jersey flatlands -- the phoebe and the towhee.

I thought to myself, "Spring rolls around every year, and the birds sing, and the buds open up, and the wheel makes a circle."

Then I thought about that circle for a moment.

The birds singing are not the same birds that sang in the park 10 years ago. Those birds have died. These are new ones. The buds coming up are replacing dead foliage. Everything looks and sounds the same, but the cast and crew have changed. This is because, while the wheel turns, life is still linear. We're born, we're young, we mature, we age, we die. New people take our places.

From this cheery little meditation rose the thought that my youth -- my personal springtime, to be metaphorical -- was very difficult indeed. My mom was sick, my family was poor. Everything was a struggle. College was no picnic either. Then I jumped straight into maturity. A long-term relationship, children, cats. Let's not forget the parrot. And all the time I have worked. Constantly since I turned 16. I even worked part time while I was in college. I went back to work two days after The Heir was born.

If I look at my biological calendar, it's time to enter autumn. But I'm not going to do it. Fountain of Youth be damned. I want my springtime!

So, if you will, take an axe to the brittle, old parts of Anne. Let the new growth erupt. Time may be linear, but I'm going to cheat the clock. I'm going to have the first part last. Howl at the moon. Catch a shooting star. Kick up my heels and dance in the rain.

Spring comes every year, but this time I'm going to jump on and ride that train.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Alpha in Springtime

Welcome to "The Gods Are Bored!" Spiritual need fulfillment and upholstery care in one convenient location since 2005! Blessed be the brocade ... can I get an accolade?

The sun is just setting on a beautiful early spring day. How did I honor this day and the bored deities who gave me the life and health to enjoy it?

I did chores.

Yep, that's right. I did chores. Now I'm going inside to cook supper grade papers.

You might think this would anger the bored gods. And I'm sure it would too, except that the praise and worship rituals in this house are conducted by my cat, Alpha.

Alpha came to live with us in 2000, July 4. She had been picked up some months earlier in Delran, with one surviving kitten. The other kittens had starved. Alpha's family moved away and just left her outside the home.

After being rescued, Alpha spent some months in the rescue house. The cat ladies couldn't get her adopted out, because Alpha didn't get along with other cats, and she was all grown up.

I had been patiently waiting for my daughter The Spare to develop enough empathy to keep a pet kitty. Spare saw Alpha in a cage at a store in Snobville, and the next thing we knew, Alpha had moved in.

Some people are deeply attuned to the world of Spirit. They feel holy into their bones. I wish I was like that, but most of the time I'm just a plodder. I have delegated all Spirit work to Alpha.

As I bustled about the property today, fiddling with this and that, Alpha lay basking in the warm gift from the great God Sol. Alpha was at one with the universe. The phrase "Blessed be" seemed to have been coined just for her.

And so do the bored gods rain down upon Alpha every joy and peace beyond human understanding. She accepts these gifts wordlessly, soulfully, with neither a bang nor a whimper.

Alpha had a checkup from the vet this past Tuesday. He pronounced her a "healthy senior citizen" at age 15. Long may she splay and sleep in the sun all day.

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Friday, March 19, 2010

OPKI

Welcome to "The Gods Are Bored," where spring brings new life to a weary world! As the sun rolls into this hemisphere, I salute Robin, Marian, Orphee and Bride -- and all the fine Gentry of Sidhe!

There's nothing quite so frustrating as coming home from a long week of work, only to find that your teenager needs to go to the mall. Truly this is akin to cutting your finger and then pouring bleach into the wound.

Spare wanted to go to the mall to get a birthday present for a friend. I suggested the sensible alternative of a suitable lawn gnome. Give gnomes! The all-occasion party present!

The pharmacy in Snobville has lawn gnomes, so Spare and I went there. Before that we had to go to the grocery store -- and wait in line 15 minutes -- just to buy cake icing. By the time we got to the pharmacy, I was more in the mood to wrestle a Rhodesian Ridgeback than to stand in line to buy a lawn gnome.

Of course the line was long, and it was full of Clones in Abercrombie outfits. I was about to hack up a furball until I looked outside.

A fine-looking young gentleman was seated on a Main Street bench, curled over a laptop.

I pointed him out to Spare. I said, "Apollo comes to Haddonfield."

She didn't argue. In fact, she agreed wholeheartedly.

Then I looked at the dude's t-shirt, where it peeked out from beneath an unbuttoned hoodie. I could see the letters OPKI.

First I said to the Spare, "Oh, he must be in a fraternity."

Then I thought about it. I'm not nearly as swift as I used to be.

I paid for the lawn gnome and said to Spare, "I'm going to go talk to that guy. You want to come?"

Did she want to come? She's 16. She wanted to crawl under a rock and pretend her mother lives in Albuquerque. But that didn't stop me. Come to think of it, nothing much stops me. I'm the fool who rushes in where brave men dare not tread.

Out I went to the bench. He looked up.

Me: I can only see part of your shirt, but I'm guessing the rest is "HOPKINS."

He (obligingly revealing more cotton): Yes, you're right.

Me: When did you graduate?

He: Actually I'm still there. Class of 2011.

Me: Wow! I'm an alumna. I won't even tell you what year. What's your major?

He: Writing Seminars.

Me: Get outta town. You're kidding me. That was my major!

He: Seriously? Do you live here in Snobville?

Me: Yes, I've been living here 22 years. Where do you live?

He: (Names the very poshest and wealthiest little borough, even too snobby to be Snobville.)

So at this point I just plopped down next to him on the bench and we began a jolly old talk about professors past and present, courses we both had to take, where he lives near campus, on and on. All the while, Spare was spying on us from a safe distance. She could see, but she couldn't hear the conversation.

I gave him my email so he can friend me on Facebook. And you know what? He will do it. We OPKI people stick together, especially those of us in little itty bitty majors like Writing Seminars.

Spare turned about 27 shades of green in envy. Oh well. Don't want to be seen with a crazy mom? Can't blame you, but don't pout when you lose out.

Oh, snap! Now that I look at his graduating year I realize that it's an anniversary year for me too! We'll be at reunion lacrosse games together!

For those of you who have never heard of Johns Hopkins University, I'm not going to laden on any false humility. It's a college that only takes really, really smart people. When I went there I often felt like I was in over my head. But I had a way with words in those days, and they handed me a Phi Beta Kappa key when I left. For those of you who have never heard of Phi Beta Kappa, it's a society for really, really smart people.

There are several morals to this sermon:

1. What do you have to lose by asking a stranger a polite question about his t-shirt? I guess it depends on what the shirt says. If you see OPKI, that person is smart.

2. No day is so bad that it can't get a little brighter.

3. When you get to be a woman of a certain age, toss the humility aside and brag. I may be getting old and gray, but dammit, I still have that key.

Good night, friends. I will try to be serious tomorrow. No promises. Me being serious is like bending steel. It can be done, but not easily.

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Thursday, March 18, 2010

Kept Women, Rhodesian Ridgebacks, Teabaggers and Other Such Scum

Warm welcome to "The Gods Are Bored," your little oasis of Pagan humor in the vast sea of Serious Thinking! I'm your host, Anne Johnson, restored to good spirits with a little old dose of sanity.

Whew. Sanity has gotten expensive! Have you noticed? When it was prescription, I could get my health plan to pay for it. Then it went generic and got even more affordable. Now that anyone can get it over-the-counter, a good dose of sanity sets you back a bundle.

Oh shit. Was I talking about sanity, or Zyrtec? Silly me! Zyrtec is the more expensive item. Sanity comes from within -- and from without, a gift from the bored God or Goddess of your choice.

We all really know what the best medicine is, though. Don't we? LOL, ROTFL LMPAO. (Pagan)

A funny thing about the Internet is that, if you keep a diary, its entries never really grow old. This blog is almost five years old (wow), and I get comments from people who are still reading my rants of yesteryear. Here are some topical favorites from ages hence, in no particular order:

KEPT WOMEN

Early on in the history of TGAB, I wrote a post about women who didn't have to work because their husbands brought in all the bread. I called it Kept Women. And has it ever gotten the hits! Time to trot that old topic out again and freshen it.

With the economy the way it is now, I'm betting that there are far fewer Kept Women of every kind than there were in 2005. Even my neighborhood's Alpha Kept Woman had to go get a job at Barnes & Noble when her husband was let go from his six-figure salary. Let's face it. Chances are these days that there are almost as many Kept Men as Kept Women. It's a cold, cruel world out there if you aren't one of the tiny fraction of people who control all the money.

So on the matter of Kept Women, I wax nostalgic and say yes, I was bitter about their riches and their ability to devote themselves heart and soul to the PTA. But now that so many of them are slapping FOR SALE signs on their mansions, I say, "Woe are they! Have mercy, Bored Gods!"

RHODESIAN RIDGEBACKS

You know what makes people boil over in nasty ways? Insult their dogs. I wrote a post about how a fellow with a foursome of Rhodesian Ridgebacks got into some hot water with his neighbors and friends when the fluffy little pooches did a little friendly gnawing on various human limbs. I'll bet I've heard from two dozen kindly people who assure me that Rhodesian Ridgebacks might as well be Beanie Babies, they're that docile. If you own one of these purebred canines, will you do me a favor? Love it to death, but don't expect everyone else to. Especially my friend with the permanent scar on her shoulder, put there by the bite of a Beanie Baby.

Don't get me wrong. I like dogs. I like them the way I like jelly beans -- all mixed up with different colors and flavors. The better mixed the mutt, the more I like it. If you don't agree, why are you here? Go browse the Westminster Kennel Club site or that puppy mill in the next county.

TEABAGGERS

Okay. Truthfully, I've never written about teabaggers before. How did I miss this blue ribbon chance to hand out moron badges? No offense to these well-meaning village idiots, but do they ever wonder about the fearless leaders they take their marching orders from? Like, who is telling them to oppose helping the poor and sick? Can't be Jesus. Last time I looked, anyway, which has been awhile. Maybe someone ripped into the Bible and gave it an edit, better to reflect the agenda of Corporate America. I guess that's probably it. Pray and grow rich, then you won't need government health care -- and damn to hell anyone who does! They just didn't pray to grow rich!

If you are uninsured, get on this right away. Pray to be rich. Not to a bored god, though. He or She will see right through you.

OTHER SCUM

I'm trying to think of other ridiculous people, places, and things to insult, so that idle Googlers find what I've written and take me to task. Come on and help me out here, friends! Give me TARGETS. Not the usual stuff like Wal-Mart and Rush Limbaugh. Weird stuff with a small following, like Moms Who Make Their Teens Wear GPS Trackers. I don't know. Let's get creative! I like being told off by a Kept Woman who just got back from having her Rhodesian Ridgeback groomed and is just dropping onto the Net for a minute before her tennis lesson. Her husband never lost his job because he's in the Strategic Planning Sector at Blue Cross.

Yes, I'm Anne. Back, bad, and taking self pity to the mat! No day without a faerie! Top that!

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Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Who Stole My Car?

Welcome to "The Gods Are Bored" on a night when I can't even poke fun at myself. If you're looking for laughs today, move on. I'll see you tomorrow.

Last week I dreamed I was visiting a fancy hotel. I parked my car outside. When I went to get my car, it was gone.

I rushed back into the hotel and reported my car missing. I had a feeling that the hotel management was somehow responsible, that they had done something with my car and couldn't return it.

I demanded the immediate return of my car. Someone said, "Your car is outside." I went outside (it was cold and raining). At first the car looked like mine, but on closer inspection it had a station wagon back. It was not my car.

I went back inside and freaked out. I got angrier than I've ever been in my life. I slammed my fist down on the counter and screamed, "I want my car, and I want it NOW!"

Then I woke up.

Unless you're into boats or horses, you probably have a bond of identity with your automobile. This is the modern age. For better or worse, we are our cars. I have always chosen sensible little economy cars that don't go very fast but are cozy and not terribly attractive to thieves.

I am my car, and in my dream it was gone. The replacement car looked somewhat similar, but it had bad differences that I couldn't live with.

This is where my life is right now. Who took my car? Who took me? Where is A.J?

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Monday, March 15, 2010

Just Say No to Daylight Savings Time

Welcome to "The Gods Are Bored," fellow earthlings! And a blessed howdy to any faeries in orbit around us. It's me, Anne, on my netbook. Snark in the park!

I'm usually a bright and cheery person with an unshakably optimistic outlook on life.

Okay. Not buying it, are you?

I'm usually a serene person on an even keel with a calm and collected outlook on life.

Still skeptical? As well you should be.

I'm at core a pessimist and a cynic. I need to force myself to laugh. Otherwise I'd be a female version of Ebenezer Scrooge ... only more generous to the poor.

But today I think I'll cut loose in all my savagery. You know what I hate? This early application of Daylight Savings Time.

I know, I know. Daylight Savings Time gives us a precious extra hour of daylight in the evenings, which is a green savings on energy consumption. That's the whole rationale behind moving Daylight Savings Time to earlier in the spring.

Do I have to like this because I try to be green? I hope not, because it pisses me off. Oh, I'll do it. And save energy too. But I'll complain about it. Complaining is something I don't get to do enough of.

Farmers successfully lobbied against the whole Daylight Savings Time thing until the 20th century. (Remember, it was first proposed by Ben Franklin, who I otherwise like, but this idea sucked.) It seems the growers of our nation's food and the milkers of our nation's cows kind of liked getting up in the daylight a few months of the year.

I like it too.

Just last week the slightest hint of dawn was starting to creep into the world as I heaved my weary body out of the sack. It sure helped to see the sky brightening a bit.

But no. Spring forward! Back into the inky blackness I plunge, as the alarm screams and EVEN THE CAT DOESN'T BUDGE FROM THE BED. Unfair! Unfair, I tell you! I want my dawn!

You needn't remind me that in a few weeks that dawn will re-surface. We're talking heart-of-the-school-year teaching weeks here, people. I do not need to be sitting here feeling like my melatonin level is off the charts.

Sometimes I can't help but feel a bit nostalgic for the era when the Wheel of the Year turned, and people got up with the light and went to bed with the dark. They say we're more civilized now, but when a little electronic device bleets like a foghorn in pitch darkness, and I have to lumber into the false brightness of a bathroom for a hot shower I really don't need, it just makes me wonder how far we've really come.

How about instead of Daylight Savings Time we call it Daylight Spend Wisely Time, and just get up whenever the hell we want to?

I appeal to all you teenagers out there to endorse this modest proposal.

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Saturday, March 13, 2010

My Extremely Fascinating Life!!!!!!!

Welcome to "ZZZZZZZzzzzzzzZZZZZZZZzzzzzzzZZZZZZZ."

Oh. Hello. Sorry. Was I sleeping?

Gosh, you should see the weather here today. Another Nor'Easter, only this time it's rain and not snow. We'll all be washed out to sea.

Think of the stormiest weather you've ever seen (rain, not snow). What do you want to do on a day like that? Stay at home and sleep, right?

See? I knew you were an intelligent reader!

Alas, my daughter The Spare had other ideas for today. But I must say that, if I had to go along with her, I was glad it was a day too horrendous outside to do anything else at all.

Spare and I attended the annual convention of our state's Children of the American Revolution societies. At this convention, Spare was sworn in to a state office.

Me, I just swore. Politely and under my breath, of course.

First of all, Spare and I were a half hour late, which was a bit embarrassing given the fact that the program listed her as leading the National Anthem. When we slunk into the banquet hall, every head turned and every eye stared. The meeting was well under way.

What followed was three hours of excruciating boredom, broken only by the ingestion of expensive but lackluster banquet food.

These shindigs are always held at posh hotels or country clubs. In this case, the latter. At least I could divert myself by staring out the window at the sheets of rain, blown vertical by 40 mile-per-hour winds.

If you've always wondered what happens when we so-called American bluebloods get together, here it is in a nutshell:

Blah blah blah blah. (bang gavel)

(repeat 55 times)

The motion to blah blah blah blah has been placed before the board. Can I get a second?

Second.

Any discussion?

It has been moved and seconded to blah blah blah blah. All in favor say "Aye."

Blah.

All opposed say "Nay."

(Silence)

(repeat 55 times)

Hour after hour after hour of this, with reports from about 30 different people, all saying pretty much the same thing. Break for lunch, then ....

... the dreaded awards portion of the event.

Even if your local society is up for awards (which ours was), it's just magnificently stupifying to sit through dozens and dozens of citations, both individual and group in nature.

Then a half dozen or more adult Poobahs speak, mostly thanking everyone for their hard work.

Then it's pin time.

Pin time at a C.A.R. convention is worse than watching a second hand tick around a clock face for 16 hours. At the regional conventions, it can last 60 minutes. That is 60 minutes of someone at a podium reading names, one by one, of pin recipients and the donors thereof. After each recipient's name is called, some eager youngster walks up from the back of the hall, receives a pin, gets her picture taken by 15 people, and returns to the bosom of her family (usually the donors of the pin). At any given event, you could be treated to three or four dozen pin recipients. Today, blissfully, there were only about 20.

Also at C.A.R. conventions, there's the gift-giving portion of the do. This is worse than watching a slug carve a trail of slime across a paving stone. The president of the occasion (C.A.R.) gets presents. He or she opens them at the podium to show everyone what they are. Then the senior president (adult) gets presents. He or she opens them at the podium to show everyone what they are.

Who devised this torture? If they had used it in the witch-hunts, the entire population of Europe would have been burnt to a crisp.

Spare is lapping all this skull-crushing boredom up, because it's her aim to be the president of the occasion some years hence.

Can she achieve the lofty goal of being state president of the C.A.R.? What will it take?

Time and money and the ability to suffer debilitating boredom, that's what.

First of all, these statewide meetings are held wherever the senior state president lives. If this Poobah lives in, say, Princeton or Trenton, woo hoo. Only an hour's drive on the turnpike. But if that Poobah lives in Mahwah or Morristown, well. Let's just say you'd be surprised how big a little state like New Jersey can feel at times.

So ... all you recent immigrants out there ... let's repeat what you're missing by not being eligible for the Daughters of the American Revolution:

1. Nail-biting drives on the turnpike or some other congested superhighway in lousy weather.

2. The pleasure of wearing a foundation garment all day on a Saturday.

3. Meetings that make you wish you'd just run the gauntlet from Havana to Key West in a fishing boat, and

4. Overpriced food that might have been carted over from the nearest prison cafeteria.

Those of you who know me to be a logical, down-to-earth kinda gal will wonder why I would encourage my daughter to be a snob. For the answer to that you need only read a few chapters of Pride and Prejudice, right to the part where poor Charlotte marries for money. If Spare continues on this slug-slickened brick road just a few miles more, she will qualify to be presented at a debutante ball in Washington, DC. White gowns, red roses, red carpet, the works. Candidly, this debut business gets one invitations to swell bashes, especially in Maryland, where the Civil War never really ended.

Why, Anne! You say. You would set your daughter up for a wealthy spouse? Where are those solid Druid values?

Ahh. Fret not, friends. Spare has already announced that only a starving artist will do for her. She just likes the idea of being a stealth Liza Doolittle. Plus ... any chance to purchase a gooey gown and use it once sounds terrific to her. Why wait until a wedding day to plunk down wads of cash for a white dress?

Have I lowered you to bottomless depths of boredom yet? Good! Welcome to my world! Teach all week, spend Saturday watching kids get pins, starting a savings account for a white dress worn simply for irony's sake.

You can laugh or go nuts. The choice is yours.

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Wednesday, March 10, 2010

On the Topic of Faerie Houses

Welcome to "The Gods Are Bored!" Our new spring collection of bored gods, goddesses, and totemic animals is now online and ready for your order! Please input your coupon information before you begin to shop. And thanks for giving your custom to "The Gods Are Bored." We offer only the best quality downsized deities!


Friends, I've been sorely in need of some good news. Today I got it. I called out sick to go see the surgeon who fixed my hip. Reason: the other hip was hurting. The surgeon looked at my new x-rays and pronounced my unfixed hip good to go for years and years! Woo Hooooooo! What a relief!

EXHIBIT A: PRINCESS, BY SEITOU

One of my readers has asked about how to build a faerie house. Princess and I think that's a good post topic, so here goes:

My sister constructed a faerie house in her backyard. Her yard is rather abnormal, since the end of it is a big, steep bunker made when her McMansion was carved into a cornfield. Steep bunkers are great for faerie houses, because usually the local wildlife moves in quickly and carves out a portal. This had happened in Sis's yard. A groundhog laid the ... ground work.

Oy. That one makes even me groan.

Sis used her imagination and filled the vacant cavity with colored stones, little trinkets from the flea market, and pieces of broken glass. The part that I like the most is that she placed many pinwheels along the sides of her faerie house. Any wind makes that location lively indeed. I contributed a ceramic troll I found at a yard sale.

I don't have a faerie house in my back yard. I feel that faeries only visit our dimension. They live elsewhere. When they are with us, they revel in the natural environment.

This is not to say that you can't attract faeries to your back yard with some enticements. I would build a simple cairn of stone and decorate it with shiny items or pretty stones and feathers. I would lean heavily toward feathers found in the wild. Don't worry if they aren't colorful. It's the texture that the faeries like, not the hue. Also I don't think it matters what bird they come from, so long as you haven't gunned the fowl down and gutted it.

The world as we know it today is very different from times past. I think that faeries understand and appreciate this. Therefore I am always on the lookout at flea markets and thrift stores for unusual items of jewelry and/or trinkets. Do faeries mind if you leave one earring on their cairn when you've lost the other? I don't believe they see this as a sign of disrespect. Some of them love shiny things. By all means shower your backyard with diamonds if you like. And then give me your address!

One decorative embellishment I have used in Shrine of the Mists is marbles. Have you seen today's marbles? They aren't like the ones we actually played with back in the day. You see, this is another place where stuff becomes collectible. Companies are putting out theme packages of marbles for collectors! So I bought a theme package of marbles (the solar system) and dropped them into my shrine. They are beautiful by moonlight. Heck, they're just plain beautiful, and they didn't cost very much at all.

If you want to build a faerie house or cairn or shrine, be sure not to neglect the foundation. For this I recommend landscaping pebbles in the color of your choice. I put about five inches of them into Shrine of the Mists. Those puppies are pretty too, and nothing will grow up through them if you layer them thick enough.

Mindful that faeries travel between dimensions, you can keep the ones in your yard (and your life) happy if you give them offerings of chocolate and wine or other spirits. In this case I do go with fresh offerings, because who wants a stale Girl Scout cookie? Bard Andrew says that even if the faeries don't carry away your offering, they still take energy from it.

One of the things we seek from faeries is an energy exchange: our life force for their spirit force. Any way you choose to honor them and invite them to your home will be acceptable to them. I've seen everything from high-end OOAK faerie houses to a few stones piled together with a pinwheel anchored on top. Suit your own personality. If you build it, they will come.

Last thought on faeries: If you address them, be sure to say, "Ladies and Gentlemen," not "faeries." In the days of yore, faeries were called The Gentle Folk or The Gentry. They appreciate respect.

This valuable advice is offered, as always, free of charge.

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Monday, March 08, 2010

Wooden Ships on the Water

Welcome to "The Gods Are Bored" in the wake of the 2010 East Coast Vulture Festival! Beloved "Buzzy" has been shipped back to Akron Design and Costume Company, which is far and away the best mascot rental company in the world! Such nice people work there, and you could want to be a meerkat and they would make it happen.

Every Vulture Fest is memorable and wonderful, but this one topped all the rest. It started with a nice 55-degree afternoon, very amenable to wearing a big vulture head and a poncho of "feathers." It then proceeded to another fantastic flyover. And it was a sunny evening. A huge flock of buzzards landed in a deciduous tree right at the roadside so they could catch the final rays of the sun in their wings. I parked right under the tree. They decorated my car as only great big birds can. I must get The Heir to take a photo before it rains. Only the rain will wash away the baptism of the Sacred Thunderbirds.

My daughters The Heir and The Spare both accompanied me to Vulture Fest. We got to the venue early and got a parking space near the door. We sat there for awhile, listening to music and talking over all things vulture. Then I looked out my window and saw a smudge ceremony taking place.

The featured performance at this year's Vulture Fest was a Native American drum circle group called One Heart. The group members were being smudged by the Elder prior to the beginning of the evening.

You would never believe it from reading this web log, but I am a very cheeky person. I go plowing in whether invited or not. I didn't even know that Native Americans used sage sticks, that's how poorly informed I am. So if the smudging is meant only for them, or only for men, or tied closely to their culture, I should have kept my place.

But I didn't.

I asked them to smudge me too. The Elder bathed me in sage smoke and then, when finished, tapped me once on the shoulder. To say that I was deeply moved -- and so happy to tie this sacred piece to Vulture Fest -- is an understatement.

I was also glad that they all laughed when they saw me put on the Buzzy costume. I didn't want them to think I was disrespectful. I told them that I'm the resident Vulture Shaman for the festival, which is what I am ... only the Vulture Fest folks just think I'm a crazy wicked talented mascot.

When it was their turn to perform at the Fest, One Heart proved to be very dramatic and very, very interesting. Unlike the Celts, who each have their own drums and play in concert, the Native Americans in One Heart all sit around one drum and play it simultaneously. This unites their heartbeats in harmony. Their two female dancers basically swayed around the drum holding bird wings. The ceremony was something I would definitely like to see out under the sunshine or the stars.

Though the hour was growing late, the Elder gave a talk. Not a talk, a sermon. He talked about how Native Americans celebrate Mother Earth, and the turning of the seasons, and how everything is animated with a soul. He said that vultures are special because they move in the air. And the air is alive. It has a spirit of its own.

Whoa. I had seriously never thought of that before, but now that I've heard it, I can feel the energy of the air all around me! It's like being blind all your life and suddenly seeing something that's been there all the time!

So much of what that Native American Elder said in his talk was similar to Druidic thought and practice. Reverence for the land. Appreciation for Spirit. He called it God, but hey. We at "The Gods Are Bored" are okay with whatever you want to call it. Maybe the Great It doesn't even have a name to begin with!

When the program ended and the drummers were packing up their things, I came over and thanked them for their music and words. I told them I'm a Druid, and many of the philosophies seem to overlap, beginning with the smudge stick.

One of the men looked at me and said, "Well, we really don't know how many boats came and went over that water, do we?"

Whoa again. We don't know. A smattering of Vikings, and Columbus. Possibly the Egyptians. But does history record everything? How many boats came across that water? Who was in them? How long did they stay? What about from West to East? The wind favors America-to-Europe. Could we owe some of our most ancient Western philosophies to visitors from North America? I don't see why the hell not. The Mandan Indians had blond hair and blue eyes.

At any rate, it was an honor to share a smudge ceremony with Native American drummers who respect Vulture. I hear that this group does Work down in Salem County. Something to look forward to this summer.

And something to inform my Work with Mountain Tribe at the Fairy Festival.

Blessed, blessed buzzards.

Photo by the peerless Birdchick.

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Friday, March 05, 2010

Don't Be Jealous!

And that includes you, Angelina Jolie. I know you're watching!

Thursday, March 04, 2010

My Mummer

Welcome to "The Gods Are Bored!" The vulture mascot costume arrived, and soon to follow is my daughter The Heir! Heir knows how to shoot videos, so perhaps you'll soon see me in all my vulture finery!

It's the funniest thing, but I've noticed it frequently. There's always some little bit of good to be found in any bad situation. This philosophy kept me in the Methodist Church for years. But never did I think anything spectacular would come out of the stupid night school classes I have to get in order to get a piece of paper saying I can do the job I'm already doing.

In night school, each of us students has had to get up and teach a "lesson" on something we find interesting. I did mine on kitten fostering. This past Wednesday it was someone else's turn.

That someone was a tall, young guy with a South Philly accent. His topic was being a Mummer.

Not much can divert my attention from buzzards during Buzzard Week, but this did. I finally met a Mummer!

For my three readers who don't know, Philadelphia has an annual Mummer's Parade on New Year's Day. Lots and lots of people -- mostly men -- dress up in sequins and feathers. And they strut in lavish routines. If you're a TGAB regular, you've seen the YouTubes.

I've lived in the Delaware Valley for 25 years, and I had never met a Mummer. They are, with perhaps the exception of the drunken Comics, titans one and all in my book. I would rather meet the humblest Mummer than Kevin Bacon or Bruce Springsteen. So, meeting one and learning about what it takes to be a Mummer, was absolutely fascinating to me. That one short presentation made up for every boring Bigwand harangue, and then some.

One of the things I learned was that each Mummer has to buy and assemble his own costume. My Mummer spends $2500 a year. He raises the money by selling chances. Guess who's gonna be buying a lot of chances? Heck, it's high time I got lucky!

After his presentation I gave him a hug. He said that some people on my side of the river don't even know what Mummers are. Well, I do. They're fabulous, and now I have my very own to support and root for. Sweet!

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Wednesday, March 03, 2010

More Buzzard Metaphors

Welcome to "The Gods Are Bored!" Damn night school and full speed ahead: Buzzard Day is Saturday!

This year's Holy Week buzzard posts have been slightly weirder than in years past. (Yeah, slightly weirder than Anne's usual heavily weird. I know.)

Today I've been thinking about what happens when buzzards get sick and die.

Have you ever owned a cage bird? I can tell you that birds stubbornly refuse to act sick ... until the moment they croak. I'm assuming, based on logic, that vultures are particularly fussy about this. My guess is that they hold themselves up stoically until the last gasp. No fun being consumed by a flock of your nearest and dearest if you can feel them doing it.

Some people are like this too. They will ignore the first symptoms of illness (or worse, they're uninsured). Only when things get critical do they seek medical attention. By and large, though, people are quick to ask for help when they're sick. My cat Alpha's vet says that animals bear up much better under pain than people. As a species, we're also more likely to be sympathetic to other people who are ailing. That's one positive about being human.

There are days, though, when I wish I could adopt the Vulture Model. I'd like to stand looking dandy even as I'm falling apart inside. It's a bummer, having to be such a human wimp. Oh yes, I try the Vulture Model when I can, but ... as my vet tells me ... humans aren't programmed to conceal.

Doesn't mean we should't try.

I'm not advocating pretending you're doing great, skipping those mammograms and other unpleasant tests just because you're adopting the Vulture Model. However, no one really wants to hear other people whine. So I'm trying to stiffen my spine, hold up my ugly bald head, and stop feeding my pain to other people.

Going strong until you drop is the Vulture Model. We humans can't do it, but we can admire it. All hail the Sacred Thunderbird!

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Tuesday, March 02, 2010

The Parable of the Very Faithful Vulture

Book of Anne 3:2


1. Once in a past year, the village of Wenonah suffered a dreadful ice storm. 2. The damage was extensive to homes, trees, and wildlife. 3. A kindly woman looked out her back window that morning, and lo, she did behold a most distressing sight. 4. On the lawn in her small back yard sat a turkey vulture. It seemed to be injured. Nearby, on her fence, another turkey vulture sat watching the injured bird. 5. The kindly lady went out into her yard, and verily the injured vulture did not fly. The other vulture did fly, but only to a nearby tree. When the lady went back inside, the vulture that could fly returned to the fence. 6. Thinking quickly, and being of a supremely holy temperament, the lady brought a space heater from her living room, and too, she brought an extension cord. 7. The holy lady did set up in her back yard the space heater and left it where the injured vulture could approach. As the lady watched from the window, and the other vulture from the fence, the injured vulture approached the space heater and did stand near to it. 8. The lady saw what she had done and thought it good. 9. After a period of 30 minutes had passed, the injured vulture spread its wings and flew to the fence. Lo and behold, its wings were not injured but frozen. They needed only to thaw in order for it to fly again. 10. The whole time the frozen vulture was thawing, its mate sat patiently on the fence, watching. When the frozen vulture was able to fly, the pair flew off together. 11. Therefore I say to thee, he who pair bonds is holy like unto the vulture, for he will raise fine chicks and live in a secure tree and eat the thickest intestines. 12. He will dwell all his days with a companion who will not desert him in time of need, nay, but stay closely at his side through danger, toil, and snare. 13. But he who cleaves not to the pair bond will be last to the feast. He will find only bones and ants where once lay fine, thick intestines. He will curse and gnash his beak, saying, "Wherefore is my mate, and my chicks, and my nest? For all is gone, and I have only bones and ants for my sustenance."

The word of Anne for the people of Vulture. Thanks be to Vulture.

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Monday, March 01, 2010

Holy Week Commences

Welcome to "The Gods Are Bored," buzzard worship at its finest since 2005! I'm the Head Priestess of the Cult of Vulture! Yes, that is me in the ceremonial attire.

My profile picture on this site was taken at the very first East Coast Vulture Festival. It was one of the most rapturous evenings of my entire life. Imagine being buzzard besotten for a lifetime, and discovering that a charming little town just 10 miles away has been honored by massive numbers of vultures, wintering in the trees! And the town parents (note gender neutrality), instead of shooting said vultures, celebrates them with an annual festival!

Seriously, if this festival was in Cleveland, I would go to it. Don't believe me? I've been to the Hinckley Buzzard Day. Wenonah, New Jersey is ever so much more convenient.

EXHIBIT A: VULTURES KETTLING IN WENONAH, NJ, 2009

Buzzard Week has crept up on me this year. I've never been busier! But that's no excuse for neglecting religious observance.

Here's how our Holy Buzzard Festival proceeds:

In the afternoon we have a vulture-themed party for children, free of charge. There's nothing more uplifting than winning young minds and hearts for worship of the Sacred Thunderbird, Peace Eagle of the Sky. I will be at the children's program in full vulture regalia. (Last year it was 70 degrees. I almost passed out. It's called suffering for your faith.)

This year the evening Ritual includes the usual uplifting sermon on the important role vultures play in our ecosystem. Then we will have some musical numbers from a local vulture-friendly folk singer. Then a display of wildlife (including a Sacred Turkey Vulture Thunderbird Peace Eagle). After that we will have a drum ceremony from Native Americans. That's right, I'm not making this up. A real Native American drum performance to honor the Sacred Thunderbird etc. etc. etc! I am quite sure the congregation will be uplifted ... ummmm ... well, we want to be uplifted, anyway. We love buzzards! Nothing more uplifting than a vulture, don't you think?

As time permits this week, I will post pictures of previous ceremonies and helpful tips for your personal Vulture Worship. If you are wondering whether or not vultures qualify as bored gods ... absolutely, yes! See the light! Those things on the shoulder of Route 40 aren't ugly buzzards, they're Sacred Peace Eagles, cleansing the earth and keeping it pure for all living things!

Remember, vultures don't mess with living things. Not even little kittens. Vultures are peace on the wing. Watch them fly and ask yourself how great it is to be stuck on the ground.

All hail the Sacred Thunderbird! Long may the Peace Eagle reign!

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