Welcome to "The Gods Are Bored!" We open our doors, and in rush the gods and goddesses of yesteryear, eager for praise and worship teams, drooling over the possibility of being promoted from the lowly standing of "myth."
Last week, the goddess Asherah dropped by and told of her divorce from Yahweh (a.k.a. the Intelligent Designer, he's been outed). If you're a woman who's been told you "haven't grown" with your spouse as he departs for the Trophy Wife, scroll down while there's time!
Well, you know how it is with families. Mom has her say, then the son drops by.
Kind readers, please welcome Baal, son of Yahweh and His Asherah. A big wig in ancient Israel until a little cabal of priests decided that all this polytheism stuff is for primitives.
Baal: Hey, you're only making it worse. I've been in therapy 2000 years trying to get over the loss of my familial status.
Anne: Oh my, I can imagine. Divorce is so hard on children, no matter how old they are. What happened to the big golden calf you used to ride around on?
Baal: I hocked it for tuition payments. I've got a degree in Theatre Arts from Athens University. I mean, the Athens University. Sophocles was one of my teachers.
Anne: You must be an awesome actor.
Baal: I'm always cast to type. I never get to see just what I could do with a character role.
Anne: Cast to type? What does that mean?
Baal: I always wind up playing the disenchanted brother, gnashing my teeth over the accomplishments of the better sibling. (Sigh.) Is it life, or is it art?
Anne: Sorry, I'm running through every play I can think of, and I can't come up with one drama where that's a device. Current or past.
Baal: Pardon me, but you're a goat judge, not an English professor.
Anne: So true.
Baal: I've made a tidy living since the 1940s playing Jamie in "Long Day's Journey into Night." That's a Eugene O'Neill play, for you goat judges who don't know great theatre.
Anne: Wait. Wait! I saw that! Wow, it's been awhile, but I saw Jason Robards and Colleen Dewhurst on Broadway in that. Back when I made good money judging goats. Were you in that production?
Baal: Who, me? On Broadway? Oh, I hope I get there some day! When you're immortal, it's nice to have ambitions. Otherwise the time passes so slowly.
Anne: So, Baal, where do you perform "Long Day's Journey into Night?"
Baal: Summer stock, mostly.
Anne: Summer stock? You're kidding me. Summer stock? Isn't that for dreck like "Annie, Get Your Gun?"
Baal: Everything is more serious in Massachusetts.
Anne: Oh, you work in Massachusetts. Say no more. So, Jamie is your defining role, eh?
Baal: Afraid so. If the shoe fits. I also do Happy in "Death of a Salesman." And there's the occasional stunt work for movies. You know, human beings can't pitch head-first off a cliff and live, but you see that a lot in films. Usually it's me. Did you see the first Rambo?
Anne: I think so.
Baal: I did too. What a good movie!
Anne: Okay, we'll let that one pass. So Jesus Christ is your brother?
Baal: Half brother. You really are a goat judge.
Anne: Stupid mistake.
Baal: I'll say. Especially since Mama was just in here last week.
Anne: Stop me if I get too personal, okay? As I said, one of the side effects of divorce is that the children rarely get to see one of the parents. Are you ever invited to family events in ... heaven?
Baal: Nope. Black sheep and all that. I think the half brother would like to have me visit, but I've been playing Jamie too long. I would try to get him liquored up, make him a failure so I'd feel better about myself.
Anne: That shows deep insight.
Baal: Ought to. Spent the last of the Golden Calf cash on psychoanalysis with Freud.
Anne: So you never see Big Daddy, eh?
Baal: I'm okay with it. I've got steady work. I can even send Mama a little dough now and then, help her with the electric bill. My brothers do even better.
Anne: Oh, I forgot you have brothers! How is it that they do better than you?
Baal: They hooked up with humans and got themselves a family tree. So, even though they're 6,004 years old, they still get invited at Thanksgiving.
Anne: What do they do to pay the bills the other 364 days of the year?
Baal: It varies. They run seasonal Halloween costume stores, they work as stewards on cruise ships, they harvest oranges in Florida. I have one brother who's never worked out his anger at being ousted. He raises snakes for the pet market. Keeps a few cobras and rattlers for his own amusement. I beg him to get help, but he says, hey. He's immortal. So if they bite him, big deal. Who am I to judge? The half brother says, "Judge not, lest ye be judged."
Anne: You're exactly the kind of god brotherhood we like to hear from at "The Gods Are Bored." One can only imagine the comedown of being a deity one day and a fruit-picker the next.
Baal: It's not all fun and games being a deity. I had to ride that damned golden calf into battles. Trust me. It was a pleasure to melt that thing down and get enough largesse for a first-class education.
Anne: You're lucky you went to school in Ancient Greece. If you tried to stretch that golden calf today, it might pay for a year or two of community college. Forget the psychiatry.
Baal: All in all I can't complain. People read the Bible, they figure I'm dead and gone. So I never get recognized in public, even when I do Jamie fifteen nights in a row in Salem.
Anne: Here's your chance to make a pitch to regain a praise and worship team, Baal.
Baal: Oh, hell no! Even from Massachusetts I can see how it's tearing my half-brother apart! Pastors calling for assassinations and natural disasters, soldiers seeking revenge, his so-called followers grubbing in the cash by the fistful. Even church suppers tick him off. Wrong use of holy buildings, you know? So I'm just as happy (pardon the pun) playing Bad Brother in serious dramas, and occasionally pitching head-first off a cliff.
Anne: Most of us ordinary Americans can understand that, Baal. We're all facing diminished expectations as the cash flows into the hands of the wealthiest, while the rest of us cringe for our jobs. Or lose them.
Baal: I'm glad I've got a skill. And thanks for your time. I've got curtain in an hour, and it takes a long time to make myself look like a worthless, drunken, womanizing, jobless twentieth-century American.
Anne: I've got you there. Except for the womanizing, I could be ready for that curtain in about five minutes.
BEST WISHES FROM THE BORED GODS! If you haven't seen or read "Long Day's Journey into Night," you're missing a classic.
THE MERLIN OF BERKELEY SPRINGS