Monday, May 31, 2010

I Must Be Stupid

Welcome to "The Gods Are Bored," Memorial Day issue! Remember, hate the war, not the warrior. In all my long life, I've never heard someone say, "Goddamn, I wish I could go back to the front lines and kill some more people!"

We've written many times about Memorial Day here at TGAB, so today's sermon is not going to be about patriotism, but about stupidity. Frankly, I'm feeling stupid, and I wonder if I'm alone in my idiocy.

What's bothering me is that technology doesn't make any sense.

EXHIBIT A: OIL RIG

Look at this thing! For the love of fruit flies, it looks complicated to me! All that scaffolding, all those parts. I would almost make book on the fact that more than one fine mind spent itself designing this puppy. Of course, you would expect something complicated like this, given its purpose. Not easy to go down deep in that dark water, drill a hole, and suck up fossilized liquid plant matter from Hell's basement. You've got to have some immensely elaborate equipment to do the job.

Seriously. Peruse this picture. Is it hard to imagine that something could go wrong on equipment like this? I guess I'm just stupid. I look at that picture, and I say to myself, "But what if Tab A gets pulled out of Slot B somehow?

It could be that a lot of that steel and stuff is just for artistic embellishment, so the oil rig looks good in photographs. I honestly don't know. You tell me. I might paint it a different color, or hang some Christmas lights on it, if the whole thing is just a clever facade, and what's really needed is just the Awesome Augur and a few deep sea divers.

EXHIBIT B: SOLAR PANEL

Here's where I feel like a stone cold moron. This thing looks so easy to make that you could put Red Green and his duct tape to work for a few hours, and it would be done. Heck, when I was a mere stripling I had a magnifying glass that I used to focus the sun on dried leaves and set them on fire.

I admit this could be total ignorance on my part, but solar panels look like they could be made by the millions in a converted Coca-Cola factory and slapped onto rooftops by anyone brave enough to climb a ladder.

Why am I so stupid? Please give me the details of this Intelligent Design. We put so much faith in Exhibit A, when Exhibit B seems so much more practical. Why, if you were to compare Exhibit A to Exhibit B using a natural model, Exhibit A would be Homo sapiens, and Exhibit B would be some basic, one-celled microscopic critter swimming on the locker room floor in some gym.

MRSA MRSA me. I'm so confused.

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Saturday, May 29, 2010

Kubiando Ball

Hello, I must be going! (Thanks, Groucho!)

Spare and I are off to the Kubiando Ball, a little faerie-friendly celebration for those who volunteered their services at the Spoutwood May Day Fairie Festival. Oh boy! A ball!

The Gods Are Bored will return Monday. We do not anticipate finding any humor in the oil spill in the Gulf. High dudgeon, yes. Humor, nope.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Isaac Bonewits

Welcome to "The Gods Are Bored!" Red dragons always eat free here!

Tonight, Thursday, a number of Pagans are meditating or doing Work on behalf of Isaac Bonewits. Isaac is a leader in the American Druid community, a writer, a magick practitioner, and an all-around nice fellow.

Isaac has developed a form of cancer that is very difficult to treat. You can follow his vicissitudes at his Facebook fan page, and even kindly donate to help pay his medical bills. Please give some thought to helping Isaac financially. He's a self-employed writer. Need I say more on that front?

I heard Isaac speak once and attended a Ritual with him. He is a very commonsensical person, highly tolerant of all faith paths. At the place where I saw him, he talked for about two hours about the founding of ADF (an American Druid community) and his philosophy on bored gods and personal paradigm changes. He spoke eloquently on the money wasted in constructing and maintaining church buildings. I agree with him thoroughly on this. Once you start pouring cash into a structure, the praise and worship becomes about the structure and not the deity.

Isaac is a dear man, gentle and kind, laid-back and full of plain, down-to-earth wisdom. Which is exactly what you would expect of a Druid, actually. Let us all send him energy and petition the bored gods for restoration of his health.

Tonight the Shrine of the Mists will be illuminated for Isaac Bonewits. Protect, o Green Man, one of Your own.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

YKMR?

Welcome to "The Gods Are Bored!" We'll dispense with the hook today and get right to the little acronym up top.

My daughter The Spare and I coined the acronym YKMR for use at the thrift store. When she tries on something totally inappropriate, I say, "YKMR?" When I try to fit my fanny into an itty bitty size, she says, "YKMR?"

YKMR stands for "You're kidding me, right?"

Now, actually this little piece of information is a hook into one of our great "Gods Are Bored" columns of free advice! Read on, and learn how to avoid being placed on a jury for a grisly criminal homicide case!

All three of my readers know that I live in a New Jersey county renowned for more than just being the burial place for Walt Whitman. My county, lying just a mere spit from Philadelphia, has residents of each and every socio-economic level, from the richest of the rich to the poorest of the poor. I teach at a school that serves the poorer of the poor, meaning that my students, while sharing Walt Whitman's city, also are mostly from the upwardly-mobile immigrant class.

Today I reported for jury duty in Walt's city at the County Court.

Three years ago when I had jury duty, I went in and sat in a chair all day, alternately watching CNN and reading an improving piece of literature. I figured it would mostly be the same today.

BAMP! Wrong.

Precisely on the stroke of 8:30 a.m. the court official announced that they were going to start calling numbers for a criminal trial. There were 500 people in the room. The court called 80 potential jurors. I was one of them. And when you're one of 80 potential jurors in this specific city, knowing you're going in for a criminal case, you know immediately it's going to be serious business.

Sure enough, upon entering the courtroom, we were handed a lengthy questionnaire. It had the usual stuff in it, like, "Do you recognize any of these names as people you know?" and "Have you ever served on a jury before?" But then it took a sinister twist:

"Are you able to look at autopsy photos without averting your eyes?"

"Would you be able to render a just verdict if you knew the victim was homosexual?"

"Would you be able to render a just verdict if you knew that drug sales and/or drug abuse was involved in the case?"

Then the trial attorneys and the defendant came into the courtroom. Prosecutor: young, crisply-dressed Hispanic woman. Defendant: young African American male. Defense attorney: elderly, avuncular African American male.

I think this was when the first YKMR hit.

The judge gave us a brief overview of the allegations against the defendant, and let me just tell you -- whether he is guilty or not, I sure wanted to avoid those autopsy photos. And for a long time it looked like I was in the clear. By noon the judge had sat 12 jurors and three alternates, with only one juror unsure of his employment situation. About seven potential jurors had gotten off (albeit with stern scolding from the judge) for various employment issues. Me, I'm a first-year school teacher with 16 days left in the school year, but the judge had already made clear that he would not excuse anyone who wasn't self-employed and could prove financial hardship.

At lunch break, all I could think of was, "It's a lottery, and you still have about a 1-in-50 chance of dodging this."

After lunch, everything changed.

The juror who had employment issues was dismissed. Then the prosecution and defense began picking off jurors they didn't like. A few people who got excused were no-brainers, like the tanned redneck construction worker and the retired machinist who still held a grudge about being burgled 40 years after the fact. But other jurors went as well, and every time one of them was excused, the court aide rose and called another number.

Readers, it was agony.

Then a pattern emerged. More and more of the people called up were clearly trying to plead their way out of being on the jury. Finally the judge, in exasperation, told us that there was another homicide trial for which jurors were being called, and a medical malpractice suit that could take six weeks.

It was reassuring to know that any way I turned, grisly autopsy photos or sickening medical malpractice photos loomed.

And then they called my number.

I'll bet I looked like a deer in the headlights walking up there. My heart was doing the Jitterbug.

Here's where the free advice kicks in. Always be truthful, and if truthful means babbling like an idiot and saying, "I don't know what you mean," then do it!

I truthfully told the judge that I could render an impartial verdict. When he asked where I worked, I truthfully told him a high school that serves students from the city.

The defense attorney asked me how I thought the students in my "school community" would react if they knew I was serving on this jury.

I babbled. Truthfully, I don't know. I wouldn't tell my students what kind of trial I was serving on anyway. The only thing I clearly remember telling the judge, defense, and prosecution was that my students often speak of the criminal justice system, never in a flattering way, but that I understood that I was always only hearing their side of the story.

The prosecutor asked me how I felt about guns. I think that's where I said, "I don't know what you mean." That's when she clarified: How did I feel about gun violence? Duh. Babble. Does anyone think gun violence is a good thing?

Then she asked me if I thought people who grew up in difficult circumstances deserved consideration for their difficult upbringings. I didn't babble on that one. I just said, "No." Can you let someone get away with homicide because they had it tough growing up?

Before I could say, "I need a bathroom break," I was sent to the jury box to the empty seat.

Anne Johnson, Juror #1 in a criminal homicide case involving handguns, drugs, and homosexuality.

That's when the YKMRs began.

You're kidding me, right? You're kidding me, right? YOU ARE KIDDING ME, RIGHT? I'm no lawyer, but I would never seat a kindly school teacher of disadvantaged kids on a jury to try a disadvantaged kid for a criminal offense.

Yes. They were kidding. After about 10 minutes of me sitting there looking like a stuffed and mounted deer in the headlights, the prosecutor turned around and said, "I ask to excuse Juror #1."

Back to the free advice. Before the lunch break, I was planning to tell judge I could never look at autopsy photos, it would make me physically ill and traumatized (entirely true). Instead, with that crutch being removed, I fell back on the truth, which sounded so incomprehensible -- even to me -- that I'm sure the defense attorney wanted me off the jury too.

I descended back into the jury holding area, drowning in a ball of sweat. But then the day got better very quickly.

I had sent Mr. Bigwand an email about having to miss class. I had my Netbook with me and had checked my emails a few times. He hadn't replied. So I called his cell phone, told him where I was, and told him I would be late for class. And apologized, because tonight was the night I was supposed to present some drivel or another. He gave me a free pass and said I'd done enough for the day!

Free advice: Everyone pities you when you get jury duty. Use that to your advantage as you can.

The prayer that unites all Druids calls for us to have a knowledge of justice and a love of it. But justice is a slippery thing. None of us comes into a jury box without preconceived notions. My preconceived notion in this case is that the culture of poverty predisposes some young people to become violent. Would this have swayed me in a criminal case with a clean packet of evidence? No. But if there was a shadow of a doubt, I'd be like a weeping willow.

I guess the prosecutor figured that out.

One final note in this ultra-long sermon. There were 80 people from all races, ages, and walks of life called into a room to judge an extremely serious case. Almost all of these people could have cared less about what they heard. During breaks they laughed and joked around like they were at some ice cream social. One young moron loudly declared, "I'm a racist, and I'll tell the judge that right to his face! They'll never put me on that jury!" A young man's life was about to be decided for him, and his potential jurors only wondered if they could re-book their rentals at the Shore.

The irony of all of this is that next week I will be teaching my students a play called "Twelve Angry Men." If you haven't heard of it, look it up. I'm glad that when I act it out, it will be in a classroom and not a courtroom.

As always, our "Gods Are Bored" advice is free. Until August, when I start begging for books again.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Stress Fractured

Welcome to "The Gods Are Bored," a happy hunting ground for deities who don't deserve deletion! A god who corners the whole praise and worship market is rather like a gushing oil well. Something is bound to go wrong amongst the following, and then, what a mess! You don't need to stick to the straight and narrow, but try just the narrow. It's a more pleasant path.

Whew! Was I ever stressed out yesterday! I was so grateful for all your advice. And I took it, every last bit of it except climbing the fire tower and cursing to the sky. I have done that in the past -- it is a spectacular stress-reliever -- but I wasn't near a fire tower.

I do believe my favorite stress reliever is participation in a drum circle, either by drumming or dancing, or both, or just listening. Drum beats follow the rhythms of our hearts, and drummers connect our individual hearts to a wider astral heart that we all can share. All good praise and worship teams should have drumming.

I know you'll have trouble believing this, but when I was little I soothed myself by making up stories. I would then either tell the stories to my sister or elaborate upon them in my mind. I have kept doing this my entire life, and I've pulled one novel out of the process. Either by calling Faerie, or by grounding, or by disappearing into the imagination, it is possible to beat down the sand castle of stress.

Lately I've been telling myself a story about Merlin, not making much progress with it but loving the visit with him every night.

Always and forever, however, my OxyClean of stress management is humor. When all else fails, I just throw up my hands and laugh. Then I call Puck, and we try to turn someone into a newt. (We've never succeeded. Once, when Limbaugh was the target, we gave ourselves the shingles.)

Readers, I want to thank you again for your advice. The best advice is always free! If it requires a stipend, you inevitably doubt the sincerity of the giver. Don't believe me? Look around you at your local preachers. Case closed.

Don't stress, don't stress, don't stress.

Monday, May 24, 2010

To my readers:

Please tell me your best stress reliever. You choose the situation. Or let's just say life in general.

Friday, May 21, 2010

Harsh Words at the Core Content Curriculum Standards Meeting

Welcome to "The Gods Are Bored!" Do you know what core content curriculum standards are?

Let me see if I can make this understandable. CCCS are the particular things kids should be learning at school, grade by grade. Subject by subject. People get paid good money to tweak these things, so CCCS are tweaked way more than they need to be, by people who would otherwise probably have to work as valets at the busier hotels in Manhattan.

Just today I'm back from a CCCS meeting here in stench-drenched New Jersey. And you just would not believe what the new New Jersey standards are for social studies and civics.

Every history textbook in New Jersey will now delete all mention of the state of Texas. Children in the Garden State will be taught that the land mass some people call "Texas" is actually Northern Mexico, and it has been that way since Santa Ana became the first president of Northern Mexico in 1529.

I said to the Curriculum Development Committee: "But wait. Aren't you re-writing history that everyone knows, everyone sees, and everyone accepts as common sense?"

They looked at me in bewilderment.

So I said, "You can't take Texas away. Bad. Bad."

At last! A level of vocabulary they could understand!

Then the Committee led me to understand that Texas ... errr ... Northern Mexico is demanding that their social studies books be re-written to minimize the civil rights era and to maximize the whole One Nation under You-Know-Who thingy.

Once I understood that, I jumped right in and helped re-write New Jersey's CCCS!

From now on, if you live in New Jersey, you will learn that:

1. Ronald Reagan was not a president. Frank Sinatra was.

2. Every signer of the Declaration of Independence was really from New Jersey. It was just too far away for the other states to participate in Congress. But New Jersey -- whoa! Right across the river from Philadelphia! And by the way, yes. Benjamin Franklin was from New Jersey.

3. Global climate change, caused by burning of fossil fuels found in stinking Northern Mexico, is causing disastrous erosion of New Jersey's fabulous, indeed peerless beaches. This all began when a race of near-humans called "Bush" overthrew the U.S. government in a coup d'etat. Don't believe me? It's in the textbook, right there on page 313! Study up! This will be on the test.

4. Thomas Edison was from New Jersey. He was also an atheist, famous for saying, "God is dead. Long live the lightbulb!"

5. New Jersey schools will not use B.C.E. or C.E. We're taking a cue from Northern Mexico on that. Except we're doing it right. This is the Western Hemisphere, and from now on all calendar dating will be drawn from the Mayan pyramids. Next test is in Week of Vulture, on Monkey Day.

6. New Jersey textbooks will expunge all references to conservative politics and will delete any mention of Republican politicians. The president who won the Civil War will now be Jefferson Davis, and his first act was to have the entire southern United States (including Northern Mexico) IQ tested, after which anyone with an ounce of brains was summarily executed.

(A few Yellowdog Grannies squeaked through the carnage, thank goodness.)

We citizens of New Jersey are numerous enough that textbooks we wish to purchase will also be purchased by other states in The United New Jersey Annex. (That's what our country will now be called, thank you very much. Test on Snake Day!)

I started out not liking these new Core Content Curriculum Standards much, but wow. They are growing on me. They are making me proud to be a New Jerseyan! Edison bless us all!

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Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Summer Memory Verses

Welcome to "The Gods Are Bored!" I am your exhausted host, Anne Johnson. Anne Johnson is my real name. I think.

Last summer I successfully memorized "Miracles," by Walt Whitman. Reciting it has given me pleasure all year long. Therefore I am commencing another memorization task. It is the famous "first poem of Ireland," a work called "The Mystery," by Amergin.

See what you think:

I am the wind that breathes upon the sea
I am the wave of the ocean
I am the murmur of the billows
I am the ox of the seven combats
I am the vulture upon the rocks
I am a beam of the sun
I am the fairest of plants
I am a wild boar in valor
I am a salmon in the water
I am a lake in the plain
I am a word of science
I am a point of the lance of battle
I am the God who created in the head the fire.
Who is it that throws light into the meeting on the mountain?
Who announces the ages of the moon?
Who teaches the place where couches the sun?
If not I?

These repetitious ones are tough, but worth the effort. And pinky swear, I didn't add the part about the vulture. It was already there.

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Monday, May 17, 2010

The Best Things in Life Come from the Thrift Store

Welcome to "The Gods Are Bored!" Now I know, I know ... you're going to argue with me. The best things in life are free, right? Let's examine this proposition.

The best things in life for me are my husband and my kids. Well, the husband sure does pull his share of the weight and more, but the kids. Whoa. Anything but free! Take a gander at Heir's college tuition. Or Spare's fancy fairy wear. I have worked my fingers to the bone and shelled out ducats liberally for my beloved children.

Big Red, on the other hand, set me back three bucks. I bought him at the thrift store. I had to convince another customer (who didn't speak English) to sell him back to me. Since then, Big Red has been a mainstay of the Spoutwood Fairy Festival, beloved by young and old.

Let's review. My dragon, Big Red (pictured, having pretended to be a kite and gotten stuck in a tree), cost three dollars, no tax because I bought him point of sale from another thrift store customer. Now, just look at that grin on my face. I'm not mugging for the camera, readers. This was a candid shot. I didn't even know it was being taken!

The moral of this sermon: Are you still going to that crappy shopping mall? Get thee to the thrift store! The best things in life are lightly used.

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Saturday, May 15, 2010

Interview with a Bored God on the Source of Power for the Earth

Welcome to "The Gods Are Bored!" It's a beautiful afternoon here in the rural wilds of New Jersey. A pleasant breeze is blowing ... and blowing ... and BLOWING.......

Well, would you look who the wind blew in! Gosh, I have no notes prepared for an interview, but please give a warm, wonderful "Gods Are Bored" welcome to Aeolus, God of Wind!

Aeolus: Hello, Anne. You called?

Anne: You must have been reading my mind. I've been thinking about Your power, Oh great God of the energetic sky!

Aeolus: I heard your prayers. Which was easy, because no one prays to me anymore. Nice solo work, Anne.

Anne: Oh, come now. You have a praise and worship team.

Aeolus: Not a big one. But it's a living, if I watch my spending.

Anne: I suppose I should tell my readers why I have been evoking You. It's a very simple game. I have the idea that our Earth is being prodded and drilled and mined and dug up, and mountaintops removed, on and on and on. All the while, You, Aeolus, could lend your power to our gluttonous nation so that we no longer would need the bubbling crude.

Aeolus: Oil. A finite resource.

Anne: Whereas you, Aeolus, are eternal. You must have a pretty low opinion of modern humanity, given that the ancients understood your potential and depended upon it more than we do.

Aeolus: I'll speak frankly. I'm not only being mostly ignored, I'm being deliberately overlooked. As long as there's money to be made from oil and coal, no one will take Me seriously. I can't be bought and paid for. I just do my thing, all the time. Sadly, it's not in the interests of certain big businesses to put Me to use.

Anne: May those businesses -- or, I should say the people who run those businesses -- be hounded from the midst of all that is good and holy!

Aeolus: I know I have my bad days. I can rip things to pieces when I get pissed off. But properly harnessed, I could rock on for your energy needs. Everyone knows this, and yet on and on it goes, the digging and the drilling and the mining.

Anne: Yes, oh mighty God, I personally find it inconceivable that a country that put human beings on the Moon can't figure out how to put You to work in a dedicated way.

Aeolus: Where money rules, mortals are fools.

Anne: Let us not overlook that other powerhouse deity, the great Sol.

Aeolus: Ah. Sol! Oh, me. Oh! Mortals take Us completely for granted, unless We're on Our worst behavior. Then We're the enemy. Tornado. Hurricane. Drought. When will mortals start thinking about Our power in a positive way?

Anne: I can't speak for the rank and file here in America, but as for me and my house, we worship the great Powers of the Sky. Fear not, Aeolus. Some day people will bow to You again. It won't be a matter of choice. It will be a matter of necessity. We can only hope that Your return to power will not be preceded by a fatal rape of this planet.

Aeolus: That, my dear Anne, is up to you mortals. And as long as there are those among you who grow fat on profits from the products of the underworld, the fatal rape is only a heartbeat away.

Anne: I know it. Whew. (bangs head on wall)

Aeolus: Now, now, Anne. Don't get blown away! Sol and I were here long before the advent of humanity, and We'll be here long after mortals depart. Human history is not even a blip on the radar! And with that in mind, be of good cheer! Oh please don't cry! Look! See what I have for you ....

Anne: Oh! It's beautiful! Thank you, Aeolus!

Aeolus: Come on outside. If your skills are rusty, I'll help you. Let's get this pretty thing in the air!

Anne: I'm right on it!

Readers, Aeolus gives me some good ideas here! Let's protest Big Oil and Big Coal by flying kites! And while we're at it, let's look at each kite flight as a gesture of praise for the great Bored Gods, Aeolus and Sol. Pull the power from the sky! Frankly, it's do or die.

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Friday, May 14, 2010

I can't believe I'm watching a hockey game. Any other day, I find hockey as interesting as the legal notices.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

In Which I Do a 180 on the Notorious BIGwand

Welcome to "The Gods Are Bored!" Are you having a nice day? On a Thursday? Liar.

For the three of you who follow this silly page regularly, here are some updates:
1. The Heir returns from college today. I must make some macaroni and cheese.
2. The Monkey Man got his email phished and was out of touch for awhile, but he has returned. Pizza and Poetry May 22 -- be there!
3. I want to go to the animal shelter tomorrow and pick up three kittens. Bottle babies. Lots of work.

Now, on to today's rant, in which I prove that I have no decency whatsoever, having taken more advice from Machiavelli than from the kindly Druids who want me to improve myself.

Quite a few tiny blips of cyberspace have been devoted to my loathing for my night school instructor. I thought and thought about what I would call him and finally landed on a fitting title: Mr. Bigwand. Just scramble the letters around a little, and you'll get the gist.

I've heaped every sort of scorn on this person, largely because I don't like people who are too fond of themselves. Mr. Bigwand does not need for me to like him. He is his own biggest fan. Just ask him. He'll tell you. And tell you again.

However, last night I saw Notorious B.I.G.wand in a different light.

You see, he wrote a letter of recommendation for one of my classmates. And he knows everyone in the school district where she applied, so he also made a few calls on her behalf.

Mr. Bigwand told the rest of the class that there were more openings in the district from which he retired (and in which, to hear him tell it, he stands on God's shoulders).

I have been re-hired to teach next year at my current school. However, my school district is notable for its opaque methods of terminating employment. Here today, gone tomorrow seems to be the rule of thumb where I work.

Ergo, I may need one of those hand-penned recommendation letters from Bigwand in the future. The district where he used to teach is near my house.

If I can give all you youngsters out there a bit of free advice, it's this: Never burn any bridges. If you don't like someone, don't tell. You never know who that person knows or how they could be helpful to you in your future. So what if that help strokes the ego of the helper? If you're the helpee, does it matter?

Readers, have I told you lately how much I adore Mr. Bigwand? What an intelligent, discerning individual! I just can't wait to go to his house for a picnic! (This is actually true -- the picnic is the final class, and we must attend to get our certificates of completion.)

Am I despicable and shameless? Oh yeah. Guilty as charged. Remember, both the high road and the low road get you to Scotland, and one does it faster than the other.

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Sunday, May 09, 2010

Back and Forth on the RC Church

Welcome to "The Gods Are Bored," online and in demand for your deity needs! One god is too busy. Many, many more -- equally worthy -- are nearly ignore or relegated to "myth." Book with a new carrier today! Our operators are standing by to take your call.

We here at TGAB hardly ever see the Philadelphia Inquirer anymore. I forget which op-ed piece by Rick Santorum finally pushed us over the cancel brink, but one of them did. If you don't know who Rick Santorum is, just look at this photo and judge a book by its cover for once.

The Inquirer has a columnist named Michael Smerconish. He's very popular, because usually he examines issues with a good yin-and-yang candor. Today's Smerconish column was not one of those times.

Michael Smerconish used his son's confirmation into the Roman Catholic Church as an opportunity to remind his many, many readers of the many, many good things the RC Church does, including (but not limited to) instilling a religious sensibility in its young teen members. Having put my oldest daughter through a Confirmation ordeal with the United Methodist Church (for which she still hasn't forgiven me, nor do I blame her), I would say that at the age of 13, you're old enough to know what you don't want, but not old enough to know what you do want. It's the Perfect Storm age where you bow to your parents' wishes and then wonder why you did.

Smerconish used his piece as well as an apologia for the bad press the RC Church has gotten over its pedophile priests. I've been over and over this subject here at TGAB, sometimes swinging one way and sometimes another. Today I'm in full combat gear.

I can't speak for you, reader, but I'm not satisfied with the RC Church's avowal of zero tolerance for child molesters. I have a friend who (deservedly) got jail time for watching child porn on his computer, even though there was no proof he ever harmed a child himself. When do we ever hear of pedophile priests going to jail? They get quietly shuffled here and there. Very quietly. Why would the RC Church not publicly condemn these men, compensate their victims, and send the perps to a Catholic-run penitentiary with all the cozy charm of Alcatraz? So much of Catholicism is still mired in the Middle Ages. Why not its punishment regimen for its criminals?

As long as I'm ranting yet again, I'll beat another dead horse. It's despicable that a faith founded by a barefoot carpenter who preached on hillsides is now represented by a man wearing a crown and living in a palace. A white man at that, when the majority of the church's parishioners are of color. Ha! A nation that abolished slavery just 140 years ago elected a black president, while a Church that prides itself on multicultualism continues its millennia-old tradition of white men, white men, white men!

So, while Michael Smerconish wipes a tear from his eye as his 13-year-old is initiated into the Roman Catholic Church, he might spend a moment pondering how his son will see that church 20 years from now, 30 years from now, 40 years from now. There's a chance the boy will become a Druid. There's more of a chance that he will become like my husband -- a bitter agnostic who reviles Catholicism in its every form.

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Saturday, May 08, 2010

It's Just a Job

Welcome to "The Gods Are Bored," where today's sermon mulls the tricky topic of employment.

In the 20th century, many people had careers. They worked their whole lives in the same factory, office, school, firehouse, you name it. I don't see that happening anywhere anymore, except perhaps in the health care industry.

All of us are now in danger of being part of the next Reduction in Force, the next Revised Head Count. First they closed the factories, then they closed the computer-based service industries, then the computer rendered obsolete all sorts of newspapers and reference books (that was my career). Soon, I'm told, voice-activated software and robot-driven factories will put all the foreign workers out on the street.

I think about this because my husband, once again, stands at the precipice of RIF. As a first-year teacher, I hold only a tenuous grip on my job. Two springs from now, our daughter The Heir will enter the workforce.

In this century, we will have to re-think the whole notion of career. What faith, love, and energy we might have put into our workplaces will be -- and should be -- re-directed. Where should we direct it? Toward our dreams, our visions, and what we now call "hobbies." Why should we re-direct it? Because in this brave new world, we are "heads" and not "hearts."

EXHIBIT A: ANNE FOLLOWS HER HEART


Deep inside a jewelry box, preserved as sacred relics, sit five little pins that belonged to my grandfather. They are "perfect safety" awards from his workplace, the American Celanese Corporation. He earned one for his department every five years, like clockwork. When he retired after 45 years of service, the company put his name up on its entrance in big letters and gave him a gold watch. I never heard him utter a single complaint about Amcel, either when he worked there or after he retired.

My daughter The Heir shows many traits that remind me of Granddad. Alas, there exists no Amcel in which she could begin at the bottom, learn skills, and perfect machinery. My advice to her will be, "Get a roof over your head and then follow your dreams." Maybe I'll even tell her to forget about the roof. They leak after awhile.

"Job satisfaction" and "job security" are becoming oxymorons. If you're sure your dream is safe in your cubicle, you go. If not, blaze onward until the wee hours making music, making art, making other kinds of dreams come true. They can take your job away, but they can't take the you out of you.

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Friday, May 07, 2010

My Very Totally Awesome Garden Blog!

Welcome to "The Gods Are Bored," giving a whole new meaning to the term "green thumb!"

Everyone else brags about his or her garden, so let me tell you all about mine. It's an anti-garden.

Instead of planting pretty stuff and fussing over it, I just let everything grow wherever it wants to grow. Even the little plot I had set aside for tomatoes is now clogged with some plant that likes New Jersey soil.

I love the idea of gardening, but when I get out there to do it, it seems like so much work. Better to hop in the hammock and spend that time being a vegetable, rather than planting one.

Actually I have done some planting in my yard. When the city of Baltimore tore down the old Memorial Stadium where the Orioles used to play, I went into the wreckage and took some seeds off the wildflowers growing up through the rubble. That's what's now growing in my so-called garden.

Remember the old adage: weeds are plants that are growing where you don't want them to grow. In my yard, there's no such thing as a weed.

My neighbors envy me. I often see them staring across the fence. I try not to be vain about my fabulous anti-garden. No use stirring up jealousy in suburban New Jersey.

Thursday, May 06, 2010

Advice or Knowledge Needed

Welcome to "The Gods Are Bored," celebrating all things, especially those with wings! I'm your host, Anne Johnson. No pie tonight, I'm trying to readjust my girlish figure a bit.

Tonight's topic is a quick one. I need your advice.

My daughter The Spare found our cat, Beta, sleeping in the clean laundry. Spare saw a tiny tick under Beta's eye. Beta sat calmly while Spare plied the tweezers and removed the tick, but the sly little bug escaped the tweezers and fell back into the pile of laundry.

The tick Spare tweezed is a deer tick, the kind that carry Lyme Disease. We have plenty of both said tick and said disease in these parts.

You know how small these champion pests are? The size of a pencil point.

My question is, what should I do? Will the pesky vermin live in my laundry until it hits another warm body ... that presumably will not be Beta? Should I wash the whole kit and kaboodle again? (SIGH) Would it even matter if I did? Ticks, I have found, can survive everything but fire and toilet flushes. They are the zombie vampires of the insect world.

If you can help me out of this dilemma, the number to call is the Comments box. Our operators are standing by anxiously to speak with you!.

Wednesday, May 05, 2010

Methinks They Do Protest Too Much

Welcome to "The Gods Are Bored," on our feet -- and on our toes -- since 5:30 this morning!

Finally, finally, a picture of The Spare in her full Fairie Festival regalia! Isn't she fetching?

The May Day Fairie Festival at Spoutwood Farm is held in a section of rural Pennsylvania, just south of York. Almost every year, a group of extremist protesters take root along the road and shout venom through a megaphone at people going up to get inside the gates. These protesters call themselves Christians, although I'm not sure the very busy Jesus would agree. If memory serves from my Methodist Church days, Jesus wasn't big on declaring that some people were going to hell, no questions asked.

The protesters hold signs ("Pagans Will Burn") and shout Biblical scripture, all of which is met with much mirth from the festival attendees. As one jolly fellow wearing little more than a wrap walked past them, the protesters shouted, "Men who wear skirts will go to Hell!" To which the festival attendees replied, chanting together: "Jesus wore a skirt. Jesus wore a skirt."

I'll take a shortcut here and just say LOL.

Except all is not funny. When Spare and I passed the protesters, she turned to give them the raspberry and stopped short. There, standing among them, was a little girl just the age of many of the little girls all dressed up for fairy tea parties and fun dancing in the drum circles. Only this little girl stood miserably amongst the haters, staring through the fence slats as if in a daze. She must have been hot, because everyone else was.

I feel for that poor little girl. What must her life be like? These protesters (no one from the local community even knows who they are) remind one of the Westboro maggots. They're just shouting to hear themselves and air their superiority. What do they do at home at night, when the day and the hateful shouting are done? Do they warn the poor little girl against Pagans? Probably. Does she hate herself for wishing she could go to the festival, all dressed like a fairy? Probably.

What a world.

Tuesday, May 04, 2010

In Which I Become the Jabberwock

Welcome to "The Gods Are Bored," clueless on computers since around the turn of the century! If anyone can tell me how to have my followers' pictures in my sidebar along with my links, please lend a hand. Seems that when I enabled the followers, Blogger ate my links.

Speaking of eating, I am Jabberwocky! The following poem was written by my friend Maebius, who attended the Spoutwood Fairy Festival.Thanks, Maebius, for writing TGAB tonight!


Twas beltaine, and the fairie grove
Did shine and sparkle like the waves:
All mimsy were the kiddie troves,
And the mom sats in shade.

"Beware the JohnsonAnne, my friends!
The smile thats bright, the hugs that catch!
Beware the Jubjub Spare, not shun
The wonderous Mountain Clan[ch]!"

We took our crystal shard in hand:
Long time the manxome Tribe we sought --
So rested we by the Tumtum tree,
And stood awhile in thought.

And, as in uffish thought we stood,
The JohnsonAnne, with eyes aflame,
Came whiffling through the tulgey wood,
And burbled as she came!

One, two! One, two! And through and through
The Tribes all chanted snicker-snack!
We joined in song, after not long
and Galumphing echoed back. (KUBIANDO!)

"And, has thou enjoyed the Faerie Fest?
Come to my arms, my beamish boy!
O frabjous day! Callooh! Callay!'
We chortled in our joy.

Twas beltaine, and the fairie grove
Did shine and sparkle like the waves:
All mimsy were the kiddie troves,
And the mom sats in shade.
May 04, 2010

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Monday, May 03, 2010

Back to Reality

Welcome to "The Gods Are Not Bored at Fairie Festival!"

Naah. That doesn't sound so kicky. Short and sweet is my motto.

My sister and my daughter The Spare and I had a wonderful time at the 2010 May Day Fairie Festival at Spoutwood Farm. The weather was a tad on the warm side ....

... rephrase. It was hot as Midsummer, and just as humid. I tried my best to keel over with heatstroke in my Mountain Tribe attire (pictured, note the tie-dye and awesome face paint). And I came close, so close. But every time I started to see stars, some faerie named Jeff was at my side with a bottle of water. Jeff joined the Mountain Tribe and became a faithful follower. True to my ineptitude, I never found out his last name, nor did he hear about this blog.

In addition to all the fantastic fun at the fest, it was my privilege to do a Ritual with the AODA Archdruid, John Michael Greer. A few of us who wanted a (relatively) serious moment of reflection convened at a nearby farm that had an amazingly splendid Ritual space atop a high hill. The owner of the property maintains the Ritual site (unaffiliated with any particular Path), as well as an indoor sanctuary of unsurpassed luminosity and imagination. Viewing the indoor sanctuary, both Spare and I said, "I would SO want this in my house!"

Spare and I attempted to lead the Mountain Tribe. Alas, we were so busy that we didn't get to take a single picture! Try as we might (and we tried almost till we keeled), we were hard pressed to find a dozen Mountain Tribers each day. This has led me to the brilliant conclusion that, from now on, Spare and I will be proud to lead the smallest Tribe. It will be our point of distinction.

On Saturday the Fairie Festival was greeted, as usual, with some small band of Pentecostal Christians who spew venom upon the festival-goers, using signs and megaphones. Many merry counter-protests ensued, including Spare and me. We performed our peerless "Jabberwocky" for the people waiting in line to get inside. Personally I have found "Jabberwocky" to be a favorite poem of the faeries, and it totally disarmed the negative energy put out by the protesters.

Here is a picture of Spare, me, and my sis during a rare moment of reflection. I sure hope someone I know took some photos of Spare in her gooey Winter Faerie dress. She looked stunning.

I will write more about the festival tomorrow, or soon. Stay tuned, because those protesters said some funny stuff. And I said some sweet stuff, but just now I'm too tired to type anymore.