Monday, June 27, 2011

Interview with a Bored Goddess: Freya

Welcome to "The Gods Are Bored," where there's no telling how fast a cat can run when she's inspired! My name is Anne Johnson (really), and today I'm having a special guest! No tea and crimpets for this fine Goddess. Beer and munchies all around! Woo Hoo!

The Very-Much-Not-Bored Freya arrived about an hour ago, and my cats, Alpha and Beta, asked for the honor of pulling Her chariot. Sometimes you just gotta laugh. Alpha was about four when we got her and has now lived here 11 years. Beta just had major surgery this past spring. Could you tell? No sirreeee! They're out there ripping around like whippersnappers. Maybe they won't jump on my face at dawn tomorrow. (Yeah, I know. Right.)

Anyway, Alpha and Beta have deposited Freya here onto my very best sofa, and we're tucking into some Swashbuckler beer from Lancaster County. Please give a warm, wonderful, "Gods Are Bored" welcome to Freya, Mother Goddess sacred to the Norse peoples!

Anne: Wow! My cats really enjoyed your company, Freya.

Freya: Sweet things. I adore cats. Even spindly old tabbies like yours.

Anne: Yeah, my felines aren't much to look at, but they can mouse. That's really all I ask of them.

Freya: Your daughter Spare seems especially fond of the shorthair.

Anne: Yes indeed, especially since Beta had her surgery. But today, beautiful Goddess, I asked you here on behalf of my other daughter, The Heir.

Freya: I don't believe I know her. Is she one of Mine?

Anne: No, she's an unaffiliated sun-worshiper. So, what better place to spend the summer than Norway?

Freya: Your daughter's in Norway? I would have known that if I wasn't so busy.

Anne: All hail your being busy, Goddess! All hail Heathenism! It must feel so good not to be a "myth" anymore.

Freya: It's wonderful. I'm enjoying it immensely. Now, Anne, I have to tell you: If your daughter isn't a Heathen, I'm not going to go out of my way to protect her. I have followers to protect.

Anne: Yes, I know. But I'm a worried mom. Daughter off in Europe for the summer. I've never been abroad myself. I don't know how she will fare in a country where she doesn't speak the language. She's so far away!

Freya: Anne, I tell you what I'm going to do. Because you have been so faithful to all the bored deities, I'm going to lay a guiding hand on The Heir and show her a good time in the Land of the Midnight Sun. Am I correct in supposing that she picked Norway for its long hours of summer sunshine?

Anne: That, and she wanted some place that wouldn't be overrun with annoying American tourists. She wants to soak up a place that isn't dedicated to the American culture ...

Freya (concentrating): Oh, I see her right now! She's drinking a can of TaB X-treme!

Anne: WHAT? What's TaB X-treme?

Freya: What does it sound like? It's TaB, on ... TaB.

Anne: Lord love a fruit fly! Heir drinks TaB for breakfast! She may never come home!

Freya: I'll send her home to you, Anne. Safe and sound, with a suitcase full of trolls. And a worse TaB jones than ever.

Anne: She goes to Norway to sample a whole new culture and finds grocery shelves brimming with TaB. Go figure.

Freya: If Coca-Cola was a god, We would all be in trouble.

Anne: Sound wisdom, dear Goddess. Have another beer! And try the cheese spread. Fresh from the farmer's market.

Freya: Can I interest you in Heathenism?

Anne: Of course! I'm interested in everything!


Artwork: "Freya," by the incomparable Thalia Took.

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Sunday, June 26, 2011

Fling

Welcome to "The Gods Are Bored!" You know, I believe that some gods have become bored because of modern science. Do you agree?

Little navel gaze on that topic, sort of.

On Saturday morning Mr. J had to drive to Reading, PA to attend a wedding. You might remember that Mr. J is better known as Mark Kram, Jr. and last year he won a boatload of awards for a newspaper piece called "Pieces of Paco." If you Google phillynews.com and type in his name, you can read it. Have some tissues handy.

Mr. J asked me to go with him to the wedding. I didn't feel like sitting in the car for 2 hours out and 2 hours back. But then I remembered that the Celtic Fling was this weekend, just a hop and a skip from Reading! Threw some duds into a suitcase and agreed to accompany Mr. J to the wedding.

The wedding we went to was one of the girls Mr. J wrote about in "Pieces of Paco."

It worked like this. A young boxer named Paco Rodriguez was killed in a match at the Blue Horizon in Philadelphia. Paco's family donated his organs, and Mr. J wrote a story about the horrible tragedy faced by Paco's family ... and the miraculous recoveries of the people who received his organs. Mind you, Paco was a young boxer, so he was in tip-top shape and died with only head trauma.

The recipient of his lungs was a cystic fibrosis patient who had been given about a week to live. She was 21, and her boyfriend proposed marriage to her on what they both thought was her deathbed.

Saturday she got married. She invited all of Paco's donor recipients to the wedding, and they all came. Paco's brother Alex also flew in from Chicago to attend the event.

You want to feel weird as Wonderland? Sit at a table with a guy who can look around him at people who have his brothers lungs, people who have his brother's heart, people who got his brother's liver, people who got his brother's spleen and pancreas. I couldn't help but wonder what this poor dude from Chicago was thinking as he watched the beautiful, blushing bride dancing with her new husband.

Of course both the bride and groom thanked him for coming as part of their speeches and said he would always be like family to them.

Doesn't bring his brother back though.

Mr. J and I left the wedding at 6:00 without eating anything and started to try to find a hotel room. In the Lancaster, PA area. On a Saturday.

Ogling the Amish might be the stupidest American tradition around, but it has been and always will be popular. There were no rooms at the inn. Tourist season is in full swing.

For a hairy moment I thought Mr. J was going to give up. But he reversed gears, found us a room in Harrisburg, and we dined at a pub on Restaurant Row. Sunday morning we gulped down our complimentary breakfast and headed to the grounds of the Pennsylvania Renaissance Faire, where there was a Celtic Fling in progress.

Spare had alerted me to the Fling earlier in the week after hearing a commercial about it on the radio. Otherwise I wouldn't even have known about it. I never thought I would go there, even though one of my favorite bands, Albannach, was playing on Sunday. (See about about Anne's reluctance to drive 2 hours one way, 2 hours back.)

EXHIBIT A: ALBANNACH, SERIOUS BUTT-KICKING FLING BAND

Mr. J and I went to the Fling. He doesn't usually go to these kinds of things with me, so he's not used to seeing how I behave. But he took it in good stride when I joined the small (very small) group of people dancing to Albannach's set. Turns out that those dancers were almost all Fairie Festival people -- I recognized them.

So, this weekend I got to see a bride who cheated death, with the help of someone else's untimely end. I got to go to lively Harrisburg. (Not kidding, all the clubs are on Restaurant Row.) Then I got to see Albannach, which I thought was only a dream.

And on Monday, I believe Freya will be stopping by for mead and steaks!

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Saturday, June 25, 2011

Good News from a Goddess

Welcome to "The Gods Are Bored!" No time to tarry today -- just want to pass along some good news!

I've been declined an interview by a Goddess.

Well, not exactly declined, but postponed. Postponed because She is too busy with Her praise and worship team!

The Goddess in question is Freya, and I wanted to draw her attention to the fact that my daughter The Heir is summering in Her domain. When I called Freya for an interview, she said she will pencil me in for Monday (maybe), but she's especially busy just now.

I'm pretty doggone clueless about Freya's praise and worship, although I once drank a toast to her from a horn of mead. It's great to know that there are modern humans out there who not only love her but are treating her like a Goddess and not just a "myth."

I must fly now. Hopefully Freya and I will get together shortly. In the meantime, I had better get down the spelling of her following. I never do get it right without looking it up. Here's a cold read: Asratu. Goddess, I know that isn't correct, and she'll be offended if I mess up. So help me out here! Tell me what you know.

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Thursday, June 23, 2011

When They Go, Turn Out the Lights

Here it is, nearly the end of June, and I haven't written about this year's Memorial Day. Instead of navel-gazing, though, I would like to focus on "shared sacrifice."

When I was a very little girl, I went to many Memorial Day celebrations. I can remember row upon row of WWII veterans marching together, in straight lines. They were men in the prime of life, and there were lots of them -- even in small towns, like where I grew up.

In those days, a family could live comfortably on one earner's salary. Many workers belonged to labor unions. The wealthiest Americans paid more taxes than the middle or lower levels of society. It was the era of The Greatest Generation.

When we think of The Greatest Generation, we think of the soldiers who kicked Hitler's ass. What we've forgotten is that everyone fought that war. Women at home grew victory gardens and knitted socks. Kids rolled bandages. Men who were too old to fight organized scrap iron drives. Everything was rationed, from sugar to heating fuel. There was a sense of union.

Talk about shared sacrifice! The Great Depression, followed by World War II. Those people knew sacrifice.

Today the members of The Greatest Generation are in nursing homes, mostly, or they're barely ambulatory, or they're dead. When they go, the ideals of the United States of America will go with them.

Fifty years ago, school teachers were an underpaid lot. Nevertheless, teachers were respected, and it was understood as part of the social contract that teachers should make up for their small salaries with quality health care and comfortable retirements. After all, America was trusting its public school teachers to prepare a new generation to take the country onward. Half the population was in a labor union, and teachers weren't allowed to strike (at least where I grew up), so taxpayers tried to be generous.

The days of collective bargaining are drawing to a close, and teachers are still underpaid. Now, at least here in New Jersey (but everywhere else eventually), they stand to lose the cost-of-living increases in their pensions and the pay scales and job security that reward their lifetime commitment to their profession. Not only that, but here in New Jersey we are about to get two new laws lobbed at us. One, anyone who teaches in New Jersey will have to live in New Jersey. Two, any public employee who gets sick in New Jersey will have to seek health care in New Jersey.

You see, there's a powerful political boss here in South Jersey who owns a number of for-profit hospitals. When people seek the highly-trained specialists in Philadelphia, at Children's Hospital or the University of Pennsylvania, or the Crozier-Chester Burn Center, or Wills Eye Clinic, that's money off a billionaire's profit margin.

Welcome to a brave new world that would have been unthinkable to The Greatest Generation. By the time the so-called "free trade" agreements sent all our blue collar jobs overseas, members of The Greatest Generation had pretty much retired. They've been the beneficiaries of the world they created, where no one minded offering help to anyone else, because we were all in it together.

We're not in it together anymore. It's everyone for themselves. It's, "I don't have good health care, so you shouldn't either," instead of, "Hey, why don't we work together to get health care for everyone?"

Our country is more concerned about what women do with their wombs than whether or not living children get a good education.

Our country is more concerned with buying goods at the cheapest prices than supporting our citizen workers.

Our country places a reduced tax burden on people who live behind gates with paid security staff, sending their children to private schools, and paying for the best health care out of pocket.

Our country is asking people who struggle to make ends meet to pay more taxes, pay more toward their health care, lose the social safety nets that keep them solvent, and get by with reductions in the numbers of police officers, firefighters, and school teachers.

Don't blame the Republicans. Who is presiding over the decimation of collective bargaining? That would be Barack Obama.

As we bid farewell to The Greatest Generation, we are also bidding farewell to the America they knew. It was segregated (which we still are), it was Christian (which we still are), and it was informed by collective bargaining (which we are not) and a sense that those who had more money should help more with taxes (most emphatically this is not us).

Goodbye, Greatest Generation. Someone turn out the lights when the last of you leaves the planet.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Long Strange Solstice

Welcome to "The Gods Are Bored" on Summer Solstice 2011! The Star that warms us sheds its greatest light today, and tomorrow the descent back into darkness begins. It's good, though. The Southern Hemisphere needs summertime too. Wouldn't be right to be selfish and keep all the sunshine. Plus it would scorch us -- so on you go, Mr. Sun!

Summer Solstice is usually a sad day for me, because I love these long twilight evenings we get this time of year. But today my attention has been diverted in a most happy way.

This morning Mr. J and I went out for breakfast, and while we were finishing up the rasher and toast, he got an email from the editor at St. Martin's Press who commissioned his book.

The editor loves the book. Said he had to cover his face on the commuter train so that no one would see him crying over it. Publication will be next spring, prime time!

Well, Mr. J and I just sat there and cried ourselves. This book project has been a labor of Hercules for my husband. It tightened his strings to the max and nearly pulled us to pieces. If he had gone through all of that, only to hear that it needs lots more work, he would have torn out his hair. As it is, the editor's enthusiasm just knocked us over.

Mr. J suggested we take a little drive as a sort of victory lap. Seizing a golden opportunity, I gave him the directions to .... Wenonah, NJ, where I hoped his joyous gaze would fixate upon some cozy house with a nice big tree in the back yard.

He was happy. But not that happy. Wenonah looked fine, said Mr. J ... but it's kind of quiet, and what about the vulture problem they have in the winter time?

Geez. I'm no expert on spell work, am I? Thought I'd have him hooked on Wenonah once and for all. Alas, will keep trying.

EXHIBIT A: WENONAH, NJ: WHAT "VULTURE PROBLEM," DARLING?

On this Solstice I will light a candle to Queen Brighid the Bright and thank Her for my home and hearth, for the health of my daughters, and for the success of Mr. J's extraordinarily difficult endeavor. Wherever you are in these extra daytime hours, may the Gods and Goddesses be with you, may the Sacred Totems uplift your spirits, and may all be well with your soul.

Going to Asbury Park tomorrow. Still time to send a message to Clarence, if you want. See below.

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Monday, June 20, 2011

Taking Messages to the Shrine of the Big Man

Welcome to "The Gods Are Bored," bright and early on the first week of summer vacation! I'm Anne Johnson, a New Jersey re-plant. Given my origins in Appalachia, I'm surprised I took root here.

Over the weekend, rock n roll lost one of its biggest and best, Clarence Clemons. I was a fan of the Big Man long before I settled in Jersey, and living here did nothing to stem my passion for the E Street Band.

Today's obituary in the Daily News said that Clarence respected all religions. And that, my friends, is music to the ears of "The Gods Are Bored!" Won't it be the ultimate irony beyond the veil, if the most tolerant among us gets the best retirement package? No Heaven could be so blissful that it won't eventually become boring, given an open-ended timetable. Those who can skip and sample will be better off, don't you think?

Big Man is probably, even as I write, being feted by bored deities he never heard of, ancient Wise Ones who inspired imaginative prehistoric humans to take animal bones and blow into them to make pretty noises. Gosh, even I haven't met the deity who inspired the first flute -- but I'm still trying. Maybe the Big Man will help arrange an interview.

Can't imagine anyone needs this back story but here goes: Clarence Clemons began playing saxophone with Bruce Springsteen on the New Jersey bar scene back in the early 1970s and became part of the E Street Band's signature sound when Bruce inked a recording contract. Bruce and Clarence did not work together uninterrupted over the decades, but the Springsteen stuff I like the best is the old stuff with Clarence on sax. Clarence suffered a stroke last Sunday and died over the weekend.

Needless to say, a Shrine to the Big Man is being built along the wall of the Stone Pony in Asbury Park, New Jersey. The Stone Pony is one of many seedy venues where the E Street Band played gigs back in the day, and it has become one of the signature Springsteen pilgrimage sites.

As luck would have it, my daughter The Heir and I had already planned to go to Asbury Park on Wednesday. When we go, we park across the street from the Stone Pony.

Today I will purchase a poster board to take to the Stone Pony on Wednesday. The poster will accompany Heir and me to Camden tonight, where we will get haiku and other poetry from the Monkey Man and his crowd.

But soft! Here is a unique and uplifting "Gods Are Bored" opportunity! If you would like to leave a personal message at the Big Man's Shrine in Asbury Park, just write your sentiments on the Comments thread. I will add your words to the poster, and you will be represented!

The deadline for contributions is Tuesday, June 21 (Summer Solstice coincidentally) at sunset. Let's commend the Big Man to deities who will appreciate his talents!

PS - You don't have to write a haiku. That's a Camden thing.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

A Little Housekeeping First

Welcome to "The Gods Are Bored!" Summer vacation from school has begun, and of course I had high hopes for all the bored gods I would interview here and all the vast knowledge I would disseminate through this fine site.

Alas, first I have a little housekeeping to do. The buzzards help, but they don't eat everything.

I was never an expert at keeping a tidy house when I worked at home. Going out to work every day has only made matters worse. If you factor in the faeries, it's going to be a three-month battle to find those pesky kitchen scissors.

The good news is that I thought I didn't have any back seats in my car. After clearing out the debris, I found the back seats. But now I can't find my front yard.

There is a Bored Goddess here today. Her name is Chaos, and she is having a whopper of a good time!

Friday, June 17, 2011

The Gods Are To Be Thanked!

School is out for the summer! Huzzah!

This means that "The Gods Are Bored" will resume its summer hours ... more posts, more topics, more reading what you write as well! This is what I live for, frankly. So bring it on!

I have been asked by Llewellyn Publishing to contribute 25 spells to a Spell Almanac for 2012. If you have an issue for which you would like a spell, please leave it in the Comments section.

I do spells for protection, but not for love, financial prosperity, or health. This is the 21st century, and I believe we should all be proactive in our pursuit of love, financial prosperity, and health.

Ta ta for now ... oh, it feels so good!

Monday, June 13, 2011

The Many Achievements of Mark Kram Jr.

Welcome to "The Gods Are Bored!" Today we're stepping back from the usual madness and mayhem to pay tribute to a budding young writer who will be coming to a bookstore near you, sometime next summer.

My dear husband, Mr. J, is better known as Mark Kram Jr. Over the weekend he finished writing his first full-length book. The book was commissioned by St. Martin's Press. It is titled Like Any Normal Day. Trust me, you will know when it goes up for sale. I'll even be able to get you a signed copy if you want it.

Mark wrote this book while working his day job as a reporter for the Philadelphia Daily News, and also while contributing a monthly column to the South African equivalent of Sports Illustrated. In other words, he can't sit down, because he worked his butt off.

Not only was the work load daunting, but the subject matter of Like Any Normal Day was also very emotionally wrenching. The book tells a true story of a young athlete who became quadriplegic in the blink of an eye during a high school football game. At age 16 he could no longer move any part of his body except his head. After living more than 20 years like that, trying every miracle cure from Lourdes to Pat Robertson, he finally persuaded his brother to take him to Michigan, where he committed assisted suicide with the help of Jack Kevorkian.

The magic of my husband's work on this story is that Mark never passes judgment on the athlete, or his family, or his friends -- and Kevorkian just simply damns himself with his own words. This is not the story of how it is to be a quadriplegic, it's the story of one man's life and one man's decisions. It is left to the reader to judge the man's motives, to judge how he lived his life and why he chose to die.

Many people who choose writing for a career have a sort of natural proclivity for it. For my husband, it was the "family business" (hence the "Junior"). Writing has always been a tough row to hoe for Mark, but he has turned out consistently fine work. He has so many awards we don't have any place to hang the plaques. But this book was a Labor of Hercules that not only required sensitive writing but also demanded that Mark interview at length many people who were devastated by the athlete's suffering and his decision. He tackled and completed this difficult book without falling to pieces. I can't say I could have done the same.

At the moment when Mark Kram Jr. struck the final sentence of Like Any Normal Day, I was walking into a Barnes & Noble store to pick up some summer reading. It occurred to me that next summer (hopefully) the "New Arrival" table will have my husband's book on it.

Let's give a warm, wonderful "Gods Are Bored" huzzah for Mark Kram, Jr. No one will read this book with a dry eye.

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Friday, June 10, 2011

On the Delicate Art of Winning Spiritual Warfare

Welcome to "The Gods Are Bored!" Today we channel that blighter Niccolo Machiavelli for a discussion on the delicate ins and outs of spiritual warfare.

Our friend Mrs. B (see sidebar, "Pagan Soccer Mom") won the contest for "Top 25 Blogs of Faith" on a site called "Circle of Moms." It seems that many Pagan mothers visit "Circle," because many of the top 25 blogs were by Pagan writers.

As Mrs. B became poised to win the contest, which she didn't even enter by her own volition, she began getting hate mail from the lunatic fringe of Christianity. She has been genteel in not posting these vitriolic comments, but she has graciously posted many warm wishes from Christian moms who said her blog has helped them understand Wicca better.

This is all nice and nice, as we hillbillies used to say. Truth be told, however, it's easy to see how Christians could view a Pagan mom getting positive publicity as an act of spiritual warfare.

Whenever you believe that your religion is the one and only way to achieve immortal bliss, you must ... must ... view every other religion as an impediment to this bliss. When faced with something like Mrs. B's success, true Christians can only reply, "Well, you have a nice blog, and you won the contest, but you are going to go to Hell unless you accept Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior."

It's a fact. If spirituality must be considered warfare (and who the hell thought up this crap?), then strict Christianity is a line in the sand. You can't have one foot on the bus and the other on the curb.

Now, there are many, many people who say, "I'm a Christian, and I still have respect for other faiths." I believe you, but if you don't think the people in those faiths are going to Hell, you are not, strictly speaking, a Christian. You appreciate Jesus, but you haven't bought in. The true believers, the buyers, so to speak, have a core tenet: Believe in Jesus, or hit the hot.

The exclusionary nature of mainstream religions has eroded their power among thinking people. The more we learn about the age of the Earth, the nature of the Cosmos, and the long history of humankind, the more unthinkable strict Christianity becomes. In fact, it's incredibly cheeky for any religion to claim sole proprietorship of immortal bliss. For all we know, cats could get immortal bliss! Why not? They're pretty smart mammals!

One way to fight, and win, spiritual warfare is to invite all sorts of religions to your table on equal standing. Think of it as King Arthur's Round Table of Gods and Goddesses. There's a seat for Jesus, by golly! And for Buddha and Muhammad! We'll put Muhammad near Horus, Osiris, Baal, and Jesus, since they all come from more or less the same part of the world. But other than discreet seating by regional location, our table is round, round, round. All are welcome on equal standing.

Humans are not, by nature, egalitarian. We're wired to consider ourselves exceptional, and the other guys damned and doomed. But you know what? That's a tired model. It's time for a change. Open hearts, open minds, and every destination with 10,000 ways to get there!

Harm no one. Love widely and well. Show mercy and respect to all. When someone asks you why you do this, you say, "Everything is."

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Tuesday, June 07, 2011

One Last Gasp for Mrs. B

Hey there, hi there, ho there ... if you love justice, kindness, and motherhood, please scroll to the post below and vote one last time for Mrs. B! Wednesday is the final voting day, and Mrs. B is ahead in the tight race for "Top 25 Blogs of Faith."

If you have voted before, you can still vote again. Let's bring home a big win for Mrs. B!

Saturday, June 04, 2011

Vote for Mrs. B!

Welcome to "The Gods Are Bored!" Two posts in one day -- that shows you that something important is afoot!

I don't have much time to catch up with the Pagan blogosphere, but I'm glad I wandered over to The Wild Hunt, because there I found a disturbing story about the popular Pagan Soccer Mom, Mrs. B.

I'm a big fan of Mrs. B and have been for a long time. Her site is in my sidebar, and if you've never seen her blog, well ... she puts a lot of work into it and has plenty of great advice, particularly for parents of special needs children.

Someone nominated Mrs. B for a thing called "Top 25 Faith Blogs by Moms." And the voting began, and Mrs. B took off like a Triple Crown thoroughbred.

Which didn't sit well with some lunatic fringe so-called Christians, who took a silly contest and turned it into "spiritual warfare." Mrs. B has since been receiving hate mail, including death threats.

The people harassing our Mrs. B do not (thank all bored gods of all pantheons) represent Christian thought. Sadly, they are just the lunatic fringe ... and, just as all clouds have silver linings, every religion has lunatic fringes.

We at "The Gods Are Bored" urge you to follow the link below and vote for Mrs. B every day between now and Wednesday next. This is not spiritual warfare, but it is Pagan support for a worthy woman who has never had a bad word to say about anyone.

The link is:

http://www.circleofmoms.com/top25/faith

Let's get her to the finish line.

Size Doesn't Matter

Welcome to "The Gods Are Bored!" Right up front, gonna apologize for yesterday's politically incorrect post. I don't know what was in my head (besides gin). There's absolutely no reason to berate the moron Chris Christie for his weight. Stupidity knows no size or shape. Meanness and cruelty do not increase with belt length.

In today's mail I received a form letter from the president of the New Jersey Education Association. Depending upon who you ask, this NJEA is either:

A. New Jersey's teacher's union for public school employees, or

B. A cutthroat and devious organization of thugs whose sole purpose is to rob taxpayers and keep bad teachers in classrooms.

Guess which letter Chris Christie would circle. BING! Absolutely correct. "B" it is.

Here's the opening paragraph of the letter, written by Barbara Keshishian, current president of the NJEA:

"We have been under constant attack from a governor who demonizes NJEA and its members at every opportunity. He has attacked us collectively and individually, ignoring the proven successes of the vast majority of New Jersey's public schools while exaggerating the shortcomings of a small number of struggling schools where our colleagues work against difficult odds, and in the most challenging circumstances."

Actually, this is putting it politely. Christie would like nothing better than to do a Wisconsin on NJEA, but he dare not since New Jersey is brimming to the plimsol line with unionized workers in many fields of endeavor.

Envisioning the future of our nation, Republicans like Christie would like to privatize schools and turn them over to corporate interests and religious institutions. These so-called "charter schools" will offer parents an alternative to public education without that pesky private school tuition. While charter schools are required to adhere to the state's curriculum requirements, they are not required to hire certified teachers, and they are not bound by the NJEA.

America, we at "The Gods Are Bored" have been on the front lines of movements several times. The first was in 1981, when our company rolled in a newfangled thing called a word processor, and no one wanted to learn how to use it. We were again on the front lines of the "independent contractor" movement, wherein a company could get the same amount of work from an employee without offering even the most basic benefits, if that employee was agreeable to the bargain.

Charter school teachers are basically independent contractors. I went to night school with a roomful of them. The working conditions they described were horrific. I wouldn't last a day. Most of them were fired after their first year -- literally before they could even dispense with Mr. Bigwand and night school.

There are only two reasons for charter school to exist. Both of them suck.

1. To be able to advance a particular religious or corporate agenda using taxpayer money, or

2. To be able to hire and fire entry-level employees, thus minimizing salaries.

Is this the future of our nation's schools? Higher expectations coupled with lower worker morale?

Oh, gee. Silly me! Why would education be spared the same debacle that has beset the rest of Working America?

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Friday, June 03, 2011

I'm Surprised This Helicopter Parent Could Get off the Ground

Welcome to "The Gods Are Bored," where there's always room for another moron! And plenty are the morons who deserve attention here -- there's never enough time ...

You've probably heard the term "helicopter parent." These are parents who try to micro-manage their kids' lives, especially in high school and college. Snobville is full of such people, only they often miss the forest (kids behaving badly) for the trees (kids excelling in school). God forbid little Biff or Buffy bring home a "C" in cooking class! How can they get into Harvard with that stain on their perfect report card?

I'm totally serious. Snobville High no longer has cooking classes because they were a threat to those all-important GPAs.

This week, helicopter parenting took on a whole new heft here in New Jersey. Our infamous "I'm-going-to-tame-runaway-spending" governor, Chris Christie, found that he might miss his son's varsity baseball game because he had an important meeting with a bunch of Iowa Republicans who came to Trenton to try to get him to lumber for president. ("Run" cannot be used in Christie's case. He couldn't save himself from an attack sloth.) Fearing he might miss the first pitch, Christie hitched a ride in a state police helicopter that flew him to the game. Governor Blimpy then took a limosine for the final 100 yards to the game. Word, the guy cannot walk the length of a football field.

The evil journalists who follow such things made a report, and it got around that Governor Spendthrift does not do as he says. He has since reimbursed the State of New Jersey for use of a state helicopter, but rest assured he wouldn't have bothered if he hadn't been caught out doing it.

Now, I know we are an overweight nation, most of us are overweight at least a little. I stand accused myself on that front. But Governor Christie is not overweight a little. He is obese. They would snap him up for "The Perfect Loser" without even looking at how bad a governor he is. With that in mind, as a citizen of New Jersey, I would like to observe the following:

1. Whatever that helicopter ride cost, Christie ought to have to pay the same surcharge that obese airline passengers have to pay. That chopper must have labored like a mule to get off the ground with Chris Christie inside.

2. Did he reimburse the limo for driving him 100 yards? Same thing. A car works harder when it's weighed down.

People are talking about this man running for president. I say, go ahead and vote him in, Iowa. But before you do, go to your nearest encyclopedia and look at pictures of our American presidents. Out of almost 50 chief executives, I think only Teddy and Taft were fat. Oh, wait. I've seen pictures of Grover Cleveland. He was porky too. Otherwise, weighty matters tend to be decided by men (and soon women) who watch their weight. Even Tricky Dick cut a fine figure in a tux.

Governor, you're a spoiled brat who got caught with his hands -- both of them -- in the state cookie jar. If the rest of us are giving up hard-earned benefits, the least you can do is walk 100 yards ... and for the love of all that is state property, stop this helicopter abuse! Next time use the aircraft carrier. Better fit.

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Wednesday, June 01, 2011

Happy Birthday to the Heir!

My daughter The Heir doesn't like to be featured on "The Gods Are Bored," so I don't say much about her. One thing I will say is this: If it's weird, and it's on YouTube, she will find it. The snippet below is priceless ... thanks, Heir!

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One Toke Over The Line - Lawrence Welk - WTF! (1971)