Wednesday, December 31, 2008

My First Half Century Ends Tonight

Welcome to "The Gods Are Bored!" It has been our pleasure to serve you in 2008! Thanks for your patronage!

Fifty years ago tonight, I was getting along very well with my mother. That's because I hadn't been born yet, but was growing and developing nicely in situ. Tonight when the gong sounds at midnight, I'll commence the second half century of my earthly sojourn. I'm going into it with accumulated wisdom ... a wonderful thing to have.

For the vast majority of my first 50 years I was a Christian. It was the religion I inherited from my parents, and their parents, and generations of ancestors, as far back as I've been able to chart.

In my case, the tight seam of Christianity began to give way easily at first. I married a lapsed Catholic boy and heard his mother, grandmother, aunts, and sisters all praying to the Blessed Mother. Everywhere I looked in those East Baltimore rowhouses, I found a statue, or a picture, or some weird icon, of the Blessed Mother (or St. Theresa -- She's in my dining room now).

The Protestant religion deep-sixed the Blessed Mother, so all I knew about her was that she gave birth in a stable and asked her kid to turn water into wine, and cried at his execution. I had no idea that people actually prayed to her.

I started praying to her myself. And that's when I learned that she was more than the mother of Jesus. She was the Mother of God. Which in my book makes her a Goddess.

Now, that there's a leap of logic. But what happened to me in 2004, after years of drifting toward polytheism, was a full-fledged conversion experience.

I stuck my feet in the spillway at Berkeley Springs State Park, and all of a sudden I was surrounded by deities, and faeries, and elemental spirits, and ... of course ... the Sacred Thunderbirds overhead. I could feel a thousand different sorts of divinity simultaneously. It wasn't a shabby moment. I changed, in the blink of an eye.

It is this celebration of the diversity of deity that underlies The Gods Are Bored, no matter how silly I become, no matter how cynical I seem at times, no matter how nasty I get about turnpikes and mega-grocery stores and No Child Left Behind legislation. The best impulses of humanity seek Greater Powers. Every culture, every individual, we all embrace or deny -- at least we think about -- the concept of deity. With that in mind, I believe that no culture's deity does not exist. No culture's deity is inferior to another's. If one culture has 300 deities and another has just one, well, so be it. All deities are holy and sacred and deserving of the coin flicked into the fountain, the prayer whispered into the pillow.

I'm Anne Johnson, about to turn 50, and I approve this message. Our operators are standing by to take your call. And thank you for visiting my page. You are very important to me. A blessed 2009!

Monday, December 29, 2008

Devil, Defeated

Welcome to "The Gods Are Bored," where holidays make hollow heads! It's hard enough to get everything done on a normal day. Along comes a holiday, you've gotta cram two or three normal day loads into a single day. Phooey.

Everyone in New Jersey talks about the Jersey Devil, a strange creature that lurks in the Pine Barrens, biting the heads off who-knows-what. I'm here to tell you that the Jersey Devil is not a lurking creature. It's a highway.

The celebrated Jersey Turnpike is the route of choice between All Points South and New York City. It is eight (some places twelve) lanes of asphalt mayhem, populated by millions of people who would rather be anywhere else but where they are at the moment. When it moves, it hurtles along at heart-stopping speeds. When it crawls (most of the time), it's hell on Earth.

I will not dwell upon the landscape lining this thoroughfare. It's either large swaths of trackless bog or larger swaths of smoke-belching chemical plants. At Newark there's an airport. At New Brunswick you glimpse a few high rise buildings. But glimpse at your peril, driver. Better keep your eyes on the road.

The ultimate irony: You've got to pay to use it. Like you pay the doctor for that painful root canal.

Two days ago the Johnson family set out on the dreary trek to Croton-on-Hudson, New York, a tony suburb of Manhattan located in the picturesque Hudson Valley. We have family there. (Actually it's Mr. Johnson's family, I lay no claim to these persons.)

In order to get from here to there, it is necessary to take the New Jersey Turnpike. A long way. Right up to another, even more pestilential roadway, the Garden State Parkway. You might ask what's grown along the Garden State Parkway? Rowhouses. If you've seen the opening credits of "The Sopranos," you get the picture. (If anything, the GS Parkway is worse than the turnpike, because it has toll booths every three miles right on the highway.)

We Johnsons piled into our car and set out on the Turnpike, and as the bored gods are my witnesses, we got exactly two exits from home when we saw the dreaded message board looming over the highway: DRIVE WITH CARE ... CONGESTION AHEAD.

Looking ahead, we could see the congestion. Miles and miles and miles of it.

And so I said to Mr. Johnson: "Get off this road. We'll chart another course." We were right by an exit, so that's what we did.

We were still close enough to home that we quickly found Route 130 North, one of those old four-laners that's lined with diners and no-tell motels and gas stations and landscaping shops and auto parts stores.

Our little GPS device went nuts. "Make a U Turn. Make a right. Then make another right. Turn around when possible."

And then I did the unspeakable. I reverted to the primitive times of the 20th century. I opened the glove box and within found a paper map of New Jersey. Unfolding the map, I quickly charted a new route to Croton that not only avoided the Evil Turnpike, but also bypassed the Smokestack State Parkway!

The GPS bleated in vain. "Make a U-Turn! Turn around when possible!" Finally The Spare said, "Oh, shut up, Celeste," and turned it off. (I dubbed the GPS "Celeste," and usually she's very helpful.)

To recap, we made the trek from South Jersey to the Hudson Valley without resort to the New Jersey Turnpike or the Garden State Parkway. We still got in heavy traffic on I-287 going up, but coming back was a pleasant little drive ... and timely too. It was with great satisfaction that we listened to all the dire radio reports about backups on the turnpike, spiked by Jets fans and holiday travelers such as ourselves. We had nothing more than the stop lights on 130 -- lots of them, but hey. We moved.

Say what you will about our modern times, but there's nothing quite like a good ol' road map made of paper. The hardest part is folding it back up, and a former boss of mine showed me how to do that eons and eons ago.

Safe traveling to you. And remember, sometimes the four-laner with stop lights moves faster than the interstate full of stressed maniacs.

Saturday, December 27, 2008

My Navel's Still There

Welcome to "The Gods Are Bored," where unfortunately a little navel-gazing is sometimes necessary! My memory isn't what it used to be, and I might want to re-visit my life at some point. (The better parts of it, anyway.)

It seems like an eternity ago, but it was just Monday past when daughters Heir and Spare, and artist Seitou went on a crawl through the New Jersey suburbs looking for over-the-top lawn displays. Some that we visited are "old standards" -- folks that have been doing this for years. And some have evolved over time from modest to lavish, as folks keep the old and add the new. Heir and Seitou opted to stay in the car while Spare and I prowled the exhibits. Spare and I weren't trespassing. One dude who does a Crazy Christmas House sits on his porch dressed like Santa Claus, dispensing candy canes. (I'd have pictures, but the faeries hid Spare's camera ... again.) Another one has a collection box for leukemia research. Now that's magic! Put your obsession to use for a good cause!

Seitou made an odd suggestion during the Crawl. She thought we ought to go to Snobville's most posh neighborhood, locale of the 4mil-and-up houses. It has been my experience that these kinds of people do not fill their yards with plastic snowmen and vinyl bubbles with penguins dancing in snow to cheesy holiday carols. However, when we got to Lane Of Success, we discovered a mansion with huge trees in the front yard, and from the trees hung glowing balls of light in many colors. Seitou did not know this would be there, which made it all the more special. We discovered a faerie world in high-end Snobville! (We did not prowl this property, but instead ogled it from the street. No use courting a release of the hounds.)

The very next evening, Heir and I went to Pizza and Poetry in Camden. Those of you who have visited TGAB for years will recall our ongoing friendship with the Monkey Man. He runs Pizza and Poetry. On this occasion he was wearing a multi-colored top hat with a sunflower growing out of the top of it. His monkey spent half of last year at the spa (ungrateful wretch worried the Monkey Man sick). But monkey is back with man now, so all is well. We read Emily Dickinson and haiku. (Haiku is big in Camden, that's where Nick Vergilio lived.) I actually had something of my own to read this time -- from the peerless Six Word Blog!

Wine flowed freely. We re-enacted the Twelve Days of Christmas. Leave it to the Monkey Man to get a stodgy Rutgers professor to flap his wings like a partridge.

Christmas morning at dawn I worked an empowerment spell for someone. If I don't recall it in years to come, it won't matter. Just making note of it.

For Christmas The Spare gave me a Witch's calendar with all the phases of the moon on it and all sorts of astrological information that I will find extremely useful. It's a beautiful calendar. Heir gave me dragon's blood incense and a lilac-scented candle. They know me! They really know me! Mr. Johnson signed me up for a reasonably-priced gym that has a pool. So now I can regain my strength without over-taxing my legs doing weight-bearing exercises.

I watched "It's a Wonderful Life." The part that always chokes me up is when the angel points out to poor old George Bailey that because he wasn't there to save his brother, his brother died as a kid. And because his brother died as a kid, his brother didn't live to become an Air Force pilot who saved the lives of 150 soldiers. All those soldiers died. See, that's how I think magick works. A series of insignificant events, having no foreseeable consequences, work together to become a miracle.

Friday Mr. Johnson's second family came to visit. (His dad divorced, remarried, and had three children by the second wife.) This family has a brand-new baby ... and we all know there's nothing more fabulous than that! Lucky kid too, to be born into a family full of urban professionals with good educations and level heads.

Today we are driving to Croton-on-Hudson, New York to see Mr. Johnson's first family. This is the kind of trek that makes me wish I was a buzzard -- three hours of New Jersey Turnpike and related roads that run way too close to Manhattan. It would be so much easier to spread one's wings and fly there! But I also have some fabulous nieces and nephews from this family, so it will be great to see them. (I've got to run out and get them some candy. Hooray for the post-Xmas sales!) We are spending the night in Croton, also a plus. The Hudson Valley is beautiful. I would love to see more of it.

Saved the best for last. My sister sent me a beautiful Pan faerie pin that she bought at a celebrated Wiccan shop in Shepherdstown, West Virginia. I have seen a sea change in Sis since she discovered the tiny faerie in her spare bedroom. Her outlook is definitely broadening and becoming more flexible! Planning to go see her this coming spring. Will take Spare to Shepherd University, which I think would be a good college for Spare.

When I get back from Croton I have a new gym membership, a few writing assignments, and a full-time (sans benefits) job at the Vo-Tech. Oh yeah. And I turn 50 in 2009, so I'll definitely want to see some fireworks on New Year's Eve.

This has been navel gazing by Anne Johnson. Thank the bored deities -- and you -- for the patronage!

Friday, December 26, 2008


Hey, life is disorderly, all right? You think it's an easy transit from Point A to Point B? Think again, shiftless mortal!

I, the Goddess Chaos, am reporting for Anne Johnson. She is an alpha female. It is the holiday season.

Any questions?


Look both ways before you cross the street. A lot of good it'll do you if I happen to be pissed.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Crazy Christmas Time

Welcome, & etc. Busy night.

Last evening, myself, Heir and Spare, and Seitou went on a crawl to see some of the Crazy Christmas Houses in our area. We had a blast. I hope to have pictures up soon.

Tonight Heir and I are off to Pizza and Poetry in Camden, New Jersey. I've finally got something to read ... from my Six Word Blog.

Are you pulling out your hair yet? The traffic around here is unbelievable.

Monday, December 22, 2008

Of Male Druids and Mistletoe

Welcome to "The Gods Are Bored," sunshine in our souls since 2005! Have no fear, Solstice is here!
Yesterday was one of those days when it was just Sam Hill foolish to be out in a car driving around. We got a glaze of freezing rain that just made every surface stone cold perfect for a hockey game.

This can put quite a crimp in a Druid Grove ritual if your members are stretched out over a 70-mile radius.

I suppose it was last Friday that I suggested our Grove meet at my house pending the precipitation. (We usually meet in a gorgeous state park in Pennsylvania.) I live just a few miles east of Philadelphia.

Considering the elements, we had a nice turnout ... six brave gals who live in the general vicinity of Philly, or within the city limits itself.

Everyone was late, of course. This was one of those afternoons when you had to de-glaze the car before you could move it. But eventually we assembled, had lunch, and contemplated doing our ritual in a little swath of county park near my house. (Former home of the dread Tiki, now banished.)

Our group faced two stumbling points. For the first time we had no Male Druid to read the Male Druid lines. And we had no mistletoe. The Druid who planned to bring the mistletoe lives in Allentown, PA, where every kind of frozen thing the sky can dish out was falling in quantity.

Hmmm. Mistletoe is central to the Solstice ritual. What's to be done?

This is what I love about having a religion that has no written record dictating every little picky thing. It happened that I had a swag of silk mistletoe. I said, "Would the ancient Druids object to our using this? I think not." So we used it.

Male Druid. On this date we were an all-female company. So I went to Mr. Johnson's home office, where he sat hunched over his email.

"We need a Male Druid," I said.

He said, "I haven't washed."

"Doesn't matter," I said.

He said, "You are kidding, right?"

I said yes, of course, I long ago had enough of trying to push religion on family members who haven't washed. So he begged off.

I did the Male Druid part myself. Again, do I think this offended the bored gods sacred to the Celts? Of course not! They're thrilled that anyone would gather in a woods and pray for peace from the Four Quarters! They even showered our ritual with unexpected sunshine! When I turned to face West, that big old star just beamed right into my eager eyeballs.

If your religion is written in stone so you can't adapt to changing circumstances, perhaps you're in the wrong religion. There are many, many, many bored gods and goddesses out there with the big, broad, flexible outlook. Silk mistletoe? No prob, my dears. Gender imbalance? Who cares? Everyone's equal in the love of the bored gods.

Our operators are standing by to take your call.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Here Comes the Sun

On behalf of bored gods and goddesses of many, many pantheons, we at "The Gods Are Bored" wish you a blessed Solstice. The sun will return, and then we'll plant our fields again.

If you've got a music server, we recommend listening to "You Plant Your Fields" by the New Grass Revival. It's a perfect Solstice anthem.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Title Here

Welcome to "The Gods Are Bored" on Postmodernist Night! We've got absolutely no topic to blog about, but here we are writing anyway. This is the very definition of postmodernism. Has blogging become exhausted as a medium? Who cares? Even the modernists didn't care. The postmodernists are way too cool to care.

I'm a stupid, boring prat, sitting at a computer, looking out at the black darkness of near-solstice, not even thinking of something like sex, let alone something original, insightful, and world-changing. There are cookie crumbs on my shirt. Speak, crumbs. Never mind. They're just crumbs.

Life has no point, and then we die, so why write? But, why not write, if just to fill the unspeakable void between birth and death? Death. Gonna die. That's it, goodbye. What will they do with the titanium peg in my leg?

Oh, Anne. Bad postmodernist! You rhymed! Don't you know that rhyme went out with the nineteenth century? It's so out of vogue. You're supposed to go on and on, line after line, and make no sense whatsoever. Because if you make sense, that's not postmodernist. Postmodernism makes you work to find the meaning, and then gleefully lets you know that you're absolutely wrong, there is no meaning!

This is the kind of stuff I was taught in college. Is it any wonder that the best I can do for employment at midlife is to be a substitute teacher?

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Thingy Snowman Draws Raves

Welcome to "The Gods Are Bored," where we've proven that it matters how you spin something!

When I called my "Great Christmas Giveaway" snowman ornament a "stupid thingy," no one wanted it. In fact, some commenters begged me to pass them over.

Then I posted an eloquent persuasive testament to the brilliance of the unique Yankee Candle Fragranced Porcelain Ornament, demanding that my commenters be equally eloquent in order to enter the contest.

Oh, what beautiful little essays you penned in search of this prized item! I will let you know later today who the big winner is. Right now I'm at school, and hungry. So please come back later today, or tomorrow.

Note that this item is a snowman, therefore its usefulness transcends the traditional holiday season. Meaning, if you don't get it by December 25, you can still make use of it. I will try to have it out to you by then.

PS ---- The winner is Maebius, purveyor of pleasant prose! Congrats, my dear!

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Where Are the Books?

Welcome to "The Gods Are Bored," where we're always south and east of the snowstorms! Here's some free advice: If you like snow, don't move close to the ocean anywhere south of Boston.

The nineteenth and early twentieth century brought us numerous novels that sought to change society. People like Charles Dickens and Victor Hugo, Theodore Dreiser and Upton Sinclair, and Harriet Beecher Stowe used stories of fictitious characters to engender sympathy from a wide reading audience. Stowe's Uncle Tom's Cabin is widely credited for its introduction to the horrors of slavery among sectors of American society that had been unaware of the institutionalized brutality. Dickens advocated a more charitable social system and more humane treatment of the poor. Upton Sinclair revealed horrific working conditions in America's factories.

During the Great Depression, John Steinbeck penned The Grapes of Wrath, a novel that hides its communist message about as well as you could hide a cow on a subway.

Where are the books and the movies today that address what's happening in our modern world? We're sliding back toward a Victorian-era "only the strong survive" mentality, and no author has arisen to challenge it.

This sad state of affairs may be the fault of writers, or, more probably, it is the fault of the publishing industry -- a cluster of conglomerates for whom the current social climate is just a-okay.

Please don't write to me and say, "Anne, why don't you be the one?" Readers, I've tried and tried to get my fiction looked at by agents. I've got a folder full of one-paragraph rejection letters. An editor once took me out to dinner to "discuss" my novel, but after that I never heard from her again. She was portly in the extreme, and my guess is that she wanted to expense a big dinner.

What we need is for a best-selling author to address these issues. Call me sour grapes if you like, but Nora Roberts is a dreadful writer who churns out basically the same book over and over again. Is she so cocooned in luxury that she wouldn't consider penning something like Oliver Twist? Remember, Charles Dickens was no literary genius, and Harriet Beecher Stowe had never written a novel before Uncle Tom's Cabin.

We need more people like Michael Moore, especially in the world of print. We need that righteous indignation, those snapshot anecdotes of poor souls who are one broken elbow away from bankruptcy. We need a novelistic expose of Wal-Mart, of the broken insurance industry, of the plight of the growing population of "independent contractors" who eke out a living without any benefits and then wait ... and wait ... and wait ... for the check to arrive in the mail.

Again, I can't do this myself. I'm not Nora Roberts. I'm not Mitch Albom (thank goodness). I'm a nobody who sees a niche that needs to be filled.

If you're somebody, and you're reading this, and it inspires you to write the next great Uncle Tom's Cabin, thank you. You're our only hope.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Time To Bake More Cookies

I have a friend who lives in Vermont. She fell on the ice and broke her elbow. Her family is always just on the edge, and now -- being a contract worker -- she can't generate a paycheck. She has no health insurance, nor do her children. Her husband's company only insures him, but they just laid off everyone but him and one other employee.

So I'm sure you'll excuse me if I go downstairs and bake up a batch of cookies for this family. I will pretend that each cookie is a Spanish doubloon, culled from a pirate shipwreck off the coast of far Tortuga.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Dino Disaster

Welcome to "The Gods Are Bored," o ye of good cheer! Curmudgeons are not welcome here!

All ten of you who follow the exploits of "The Gods Are Bored" will know that we have been leaving toy dinosaurs in a local park anonymously for about five years. The park is dedicated to a famous dinosaur found locally. Before we began our white magick, the site was marked by a plaque and a bench. *yawn* We decided to make the little spot more kid-friendly. And we succeeded, as measured by anecdotal evidence.

About a month ago, the Philadelphia Inquirer ran a story about the aforementioned famous dinosaur. Lo and behold, there on the front page of the Science section, was an artful picture of our official "Gods Are Bored" dinos, arrayed across their bench! The caption reads: "Toy dinosaurs are left at the site where Tyrannosaurus Oliviana was found in 1847."

I was so proud! Anonymous magick, given colorful, front-page coverage in a major metropolitan newspaper!

I'll bet you can guess where this is leading.

Today when I went to the dino park, all of the toy dinosaurs were gone. The bench stood completely empty for the first time in five (or more) years.

Luckily I had four dinos in the trunk of my car. I put them on the bench, at the very far edge, in a craven cluster. It's almost as if they're saying, "Please don't steal us! Just play and move on!"

Then I went to the thrift store to get more dinosaurs. But alas, it's the most wonderful time of the year. The toy dinos they had there were great-looking, and big, and high-priced, and definitely items anyone would steal.

If you are tripping over unwanted plastic dinosaurs in the dark of the night, send me an email. I'd like to replenish the population. No, let's say I will replenish the population. There are plenty of thrift stores and flea markets around here with affordable merchandise. As soon as Christmas is over, the dinos will start accumulating again.

It's just sad to see, after all these years, that some person decided to pinch the toys. I hope at least that they're going to a kid who loves dinosaurs and wouldn't get any otherwise.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Let There Be Light!

Welcome to "The Gods Are Bored," in these dark days! How do we beat back this blackness? Let there be light!

My neighbors have all swathed their houses in lights. Is there some contagious component to this? Because, like I need to spend money, but ... I wanna do it too!

What is better than cruising through a neighborhood full of holiday-lit homes? I love the over-the-top ones. We've got those aplenty around here. I don't spend much time thinking about what I would do if I won the lottery, but launching a Crazy Christmas House would definitely make the list.

Tomorrow I think I'll go to the local hardware store and see if they have any of those newfangled LED lights. I saw some on a house near here. They looked like happy faeries, thumbing their fluttery noses at this cursed darkness, this sunless season. I wouldn't need thousands, just a few to wind around my porch railings.

Peace to you and yours, my friends.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Take It to MySpace

Welcome to "The Gods Are Bored," a civil rest stop in turbulent times! Park your crappy attitude at the curb, or you shall have no pie!

Early on in the life of "The Gods Are Bored," a commenter named BBC appeared on my site. Over time I've found his comments mostly amusing for what they reveal about him -- which is nothing particularly pretty or uplifting.

BBC has shown himself to have a God complex. On many occasions he has proclaimed that he is all the god he needs. Which may be true, but why would he darken the doors of this website more than once? We at "The Gods Are Bored" do not recognize BBC as a bored god. Bored, yes. God, no.

BBC calls the human race "monkeys," which of course is entirely untrue -- monkeys are monkeys. (I'm not trying to argue Intelligent Design here. Our species is Homo sapiens, "thinking ape." The genus Homo has been differentiated from chimpanzees -- genus Pan, and from all other monkeys, for instance, genus Ateles, spider monkeys. Humans are not monkeys.)

Whenever I write about faeries, BBC accuses me of smoking marijuana. This is an illegal activity in which I do not indulge. Nor is it necessary to partake of mind-altering substances to have a relationship with faeries.

The man has chided me on multiple occasions for trying to bring all religions together. I wonder if he can read. The mission of "The Gods Are Bored" is to foster respect for different religions than one's own. Granted, this sometimes includes mocking those who can't bring themselves to be tolerant, but our main goal is to bring back the Old Ones and give them meaningful work among Their people.

All of this frequent commentary I have looked upon with a sort of benign indifference. But I should have acted sooner. In fact, I did try to shut him out after he wrote shockingly nasty comments and emails to another blogger in my sidebar. He has done the same thing again to another blogger on my sidebar. And now he has used my comments section to insult someone else.

BBC's profile picture shows a distinguished-looking man with gray hair. His behavior, sans photo, would indicate a snot-nosed 14-year-old with unfulfilled sexual desires alleviated by nasty cyber bullying. That kind of stuff is the fodder of MySpace, not "The Gods Are Bored."

If I knew more about computers, I would selectively block BBC from this site. I tried a year or two ago, thought I'd succeeded, but he came back. Now, regretfully, I am turning on the comment moderation, so that he can no longer use this space as a forum for his tantrums.

Bye bye, Billy. You are a man, not a monkey. Therefore you should behave like a man. A grown man. Give it a try, and remember ... practice makes perfect.

But no matter how quickly you clean up your act, the faeries have asked me to tell you that you are no longer welcome here. Out on your ear, my dear, I fear. Don't peer here. Is that clear?

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Christmas Giveaway, Spun

Welcome to "The Gods Are Bored," fa la la la laaaa, la la la la! 'Tis the season to be jolly! Chestnuts roasting on an open fire, Jack Frost nipping at your nose ...

What can be better than a warm hearth, lightly scented with the fragrances of Yuletide? You bask in the glow of candlelight and family, the winking lights on the tree, the family cat nestled in a holiday basket, lined with a cheerful fleecy throw.

Outside, a gentle snowfall heralds the coming of winter, its glistening white magnificence, its happy calls of children as they sled on the neighboring hill ... or gather in a jolly band to create a snowman.

Ah, snowmen! Can any other icon capture the true spirit of the Yuletide quite like a portly snow fellow? See the bright stocking cap someone has donated for his shiny pate! The bright orange carrot, so tempting to the forest creatures as a tasty tidbit. Two eyes, made out of coal, twinkling like the diamonds they could have become ... in time.

Now you ... yes, you, can combine all these fabulous holiday sensations in one precious package! Our magnificent Yankee Candle Fragranced Porcelain Ornament will enliven your tree and infuse your dwelling with the gracious scents of a gay and merry Yule. Yankee stands alone among the makers of fragranced candles. Yes, none can compare to Yankee. And our Yankee Candle Fragranced Porcelain Ornament is a proud product of the superior Yankee brand!

Best of all, this one-of-a-kind collectible fragranced ornament can be yours. Free!

Here's how it works: All you need to do is leave a comment, begging for the unique item. Pull out all the stops, spare no compliment, because if you are the most eloquent petitioner, you will win this coveted prize!

Competition is sure to be keen for the Yankee Candle Fragranced Porcelain Ornament, so make your comment early, make it earnest, nuanced, and inventive ... and cross your fingers! You just might be the best among the best, a true creative genius vastly deserving of this unparalleled offer!

Good luck ... and have a wonderful Yuletide, perhaps made even merrier by your very own Yankee Candle Fragranced Porcelain Ornament!

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Why I Love Peter Pan

Welcome to "The Gods Are Bored," merry faeries and chocolate covered cherries, and mistletoe with waxy berries!

Please don't mind me. I rhyme to please the fae.

Hecate has a post up about Peter Pan. Who exactly is Peter Pan? Do we understand him?

It would be easy to dismiss Peter Pan as a figment of J.M. Barrie's imagination, a hero who appeals to kids because they're kids and to adults who remember childhood with nostalgia. It's equally simple to scorn Peter Pan because he's so blythe, so inconsiderate of the females who swoon over him, so wrapped up in being the leader of a gang of boys who refuse to accept adult responsibility.

There's a forgotten component to all of this. Peter Pan is immortal.

Peter Pan refuses to grow up. He is therefore unlikely to die of age-related issues. He lives in the suggestively-titled Neverland. Never gonna die. Nope, not me.

It's a tragic fact that many youngsters have horrible childhoods, marked by terror and abuse, by over-work or neglect. But in an ideal situation, where they are loved, human children enjoy a period of ecstatic happiness in their early years. They play with their peers, they snuggle under the covers with beloved toys, they run to Mom when something goes wrong ... and she fixes it. Dad takes them sledding, and to the ballpark to see the Orioles, or to the marsh to see the herons. They've got dogs and cats who love them and grandparents who spoil them.

If you consider that immortality will contain vestiges of the human to it, and not consist of some amorphous otherworldy positive energy, how would you like to live forever? Is it a coincidence that so many depictions of angels and faeries are of children?

To me, Peter Pan is not a bad little boy who's mean to girls and just likes to fight and take charge. He's immortality idealized. As a kid I loved Peter Pan, even went through a phase where I wouldn't answer to any other name. It never occurred to me that I couldn't be Peter Pan because he was a boy. I didn't even think of him as a boy. I just thought of him as a kid.

Now I know, of course, that Peter Pan exists in the ethereal world, that many cultures have met him and befriended him, and that he's ancient as the universe but still playing, playing like a happy child, mothered by Goddesses when necessary. Always his band of Lost Boys grows larger, because you see, they aren't lost at all. They're saved.

Our operators are standing by to take your call.

Monday, December 08, 2008

Great Christmas Giveaway Continues: Stupid Little Thingy

Welcome to "The Gods Are Bored," giving Santa Claus a hand this season! Due to global warming, his workshop disappeared beneath the waves early this summer, and he's set up on a temporary barge in the North Atlantic. I graciously volunteered to help him out, poor fella.

First, congratulations are in order for the richly-deserving Mrs. B, who won last week's Giveaway, an authentic, members-only 2009 calendar from the Daughters of the American Revolution. Twelve boring photos of colonial samplers on cheap paper. What a great gift!

This week's Great Christmas Giveway item is even greater. It's a stupid little thingy.

You know how stupid little thingies work. Someone gives you a Christmas gift that might have been given to them by someone else. That probably was given to them by someone else. You do your part, passing it along to the next person on your lengthy Christmas list.

I got this stupid little thingy the last time I bought a Yankee Candle. I love Yankee Candles, but they're costly, so I don't buy them often. But a local store was having a 20 percent discount day, so I got one for the holidays. And the clerk gave me this stupid little thingy along with the candle.

The thingy in question is a Yankee Candle Porcelain Ornament with fragranced oil. The ornament is a kind of stupid-looking snowman. He is accompanied by a vial of oil. You drop a few drops of oil on the back of the ornament, and it smells good. (Or so they claim, I haven't opened it.)

These items were so popular in 2007 that Yankee Candle didn't sell a doggone one of them, so the stores are giving them away this year.

I'm past the age where I have kindergarten teachers or choir directors or crossing guards upon whom to bestow stupid little thingies. But I'll bet you could use one. Leave a comment between now and next Friday, and you'll be in the running for this awesome, never before re-gifted stupid little thingy!

(If you don't have a blogger account, be sure to leave your email so I can contact you if you win.)

During this upcoming week, I will embark upon a search for the ultimate, no-holds-barred best Christmas Giveaway Item: an UGLY CHRISTMAS SWEATER! Can't ever have enough of those.

In the meantime, a thingy can be yours ... You know what to do.

Sunday, December 07, 2008


Welcome to "The Gods Are Bored!"



*two people (one who knows how to cook)
*lots of flour, sugar, butter, oil, baking chocolates, flavorings, various morsels and tidbits, eggs, and baking powder
*wonderful kitchen equipment
*neat old oven
*cookie sheets, measuring spoons and cups, cooling racks, storage containers
*radio playing holiday music


Make cookies. Listen to music. Depend on the person who knows how to cook to make all decisions and suggestions. Thank that person profusely for her help, her wonderful old oven, her Kitchen Aid appliances, and her companionship.

Eat raw cookie dough. Eat finished cookies. Eat more cookies. Feel queasy. Laugh about it.

Bring cookies home and hope the faeries don't steal them all.

Serves 12-16 people, depending upon faerie pilferage.

Friday, December 05, 2008


Welcome to "The Gods Are Bored," sowing the big, broad, flexible outlook since 2005! If you want some seeds, just holler.

A very curious thing happened today. I got a job.

I've always worked, ever since the summer I turned 16. But in all that time (and it's a lot of time, baby dolls), I've only been a salaried employee for six years. Otherwise I've freelanced it.

This new job is still only part time, no benefits, vacation pay, or sick leave. You know the drill. But it is a regular, dependable paycheck ... not a big one, but dependable.

I will be tutoring small groups of students at the Vo-Tech in language arts and literacy to help them prepare for New Jersey's impossibly rigorous (and mandatory) High School Proficiency Test.

I like the students at the Vo-Tech. And there's no better way to work with them than in small groups. So wish me and my faeries luck as we embark upon this new venture!

Rest assured that "The Gods Are Bored" will continue to publish. I love this doggone blog. It's helped me to connect with so many top-notch individuals. Like you!

Thursday, December 04, 2008

I'm Glad It's Fun

Welcome to "The Gods Are Bored" ... a slap of this ... a dash of that ... sprinkle generously with affection, do not overbake. Cool completely before serving. Six generous portions.

Don't mind me, I'm just playing in the metaphors again.

Maybe some of you who read "The Gods Are Bored" regularly will recall that I was anticipating the publication of my novel this fall. It appears that the publishing date will be delayed due to economic recession.

I'm willing to wait. Anyone who would write a novel purely in search of monetary gain would be far better served to buy a metal detector and go beachcombing where the tourists flock.

My chief joy in this life has been reading and writing. My mother taught me to read before I entered school. She said she had to teach me, because all I did was follow her around and ask her to read to me.

As a kid, the highlight of my week was the arrival of the Bookmobile. Even the cranky guy who drove it smiled when he saw me coming, my skinny arms crammed with dusty, well-thumbed library lit.

I became complete as a human being the summer before my freshman year of high school. That summer, much to my fury, my parents enrolled me in a typing class. Off I trundled to the school each day, and by August ... I could type! Fast!

When you're a teenager and people ask you what you want to do when you grow up, and you say, "I want to be a writer," they either scoff, laugh, or try to talk you out of it.

When you're an adult and people ask you what career you follow, and you say, "I'm a writer," they gape in amazement. Aren't all writers supposed to be rich and famous, with loads of autograph engagements on their calendars? How can someone be a writer and also clip coupons? Because if you're a writer and you're not famous, then you're not a writer.

For me as a writer, it's always been about the process and never about the product. Which is why I have to clip coupons.

I love dreaming along in my head, watching characters I've imagined as they gain depth, undergo trials, fall in love, overcome obstacles, make idiots of themselves, stand up for what they believe in ... the list is endless.

The novel I have completed (it took 15 years) is entitled Gray Magic. There are five major male characters in Gray Magic. I had a love affair with every one of them ... and never cheated on my spouse. They were in my head, you see, in all their glory.

If someone were to ask me to name the most fascinating person I've met outside my family since 1987, I would say Pierre de Bologna. Except I never met Pierre de Bologna. He was a Knight Templar. He disappeared in 1310 and was presumed murdered. The most comprehensive scholarly books on the Knights Templar might devote two or three pages (out of 300 or 400) to this man, but I feel like I have known him, and loved him, as much or more than anyone of his era knew him or loved him. Furthermore, I know my love was rightly bestowed, based solely on the few words Pierre de Bologna uttered that have passed into posterity.

I've been to Paris, but I've never been to Paris. How can that be? Well, I've immersed my imagination in Medieval Paris to such an extent that I've got no burning desire to see the Eiffel Tower. Paris? Been there ... in 1310.

Some people write brilliant novels, and recognize them as brilliant, and can't get them published, and commit suicide. This I find a little bit baffling. Because if you know you can write a brilliant novel, and you finish one, can you not just start another, damn the torpedoes?

This is my way of saying I'm starting a new novel, just exactly the same way I started the one that took me 15 years to write. For me it's not the destination, it's the journey. If I'm alone in the tour bus, worried about paying the bills, well ... at least I'm on the doggone bus, taking a journey, falling in love, rooting for heroes, designing villains...

Maybe I'll put a Bookmobile in this one. Its working title is My Merlin.

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

A Few Things Anne Wonders About...

Welcome to "The Gods Are Bored," where it's dusk at 4:30, and that feels completely appropriate.

You ever get in a mood where you start wondering about a bunch of weird stuff?

1. I wonder if vultures are always hungry when they're flying. Do they ever just soar for the fun of it, or is there always intention behind it?

2. Why do they put commercials for prescription drugs on t.v.? They didn't do that when I was a kid, and people got sick then too. Every time I hear one of those commercials, I swear never to take the drug ... do you listen to those side effects?

3. Why do my hands feel so grimy after a day teaching school?

4. Which bored deity sees to it that you're never home when the FedEx guy has something you have to sign for?

5. Wouldn't it be nice if you could stash romantic love in a jar and stow it away somewhere, and when you were depressed, you could get the jar out and let a little out into the air? Even if you weren't the intended target of the romantic love, wouldn't it be fun to see two chipmunks suddenly stop hauling acorns and start rolling together on the lawn?

6. You know those people who don't seem to have any problems? I'd like to get them really drunk and press them on it. At least if it's true that they don't have problems, they'd still feel shitty and hungover the next morning ... a small victory for the troubled amongst us.


Tuesday, December 02, 2008

With the Naked Eye

Welcome to "The Gods Are Bored," and it's nice seeing you! Yes, I'm looking at you! Not closely. So you don't have to worry about that big pimple. Oh wait! Sorry! Well, it does show up to the naked eye.

Two things I absolutely love: birdwatching and star-gazing.

Two things I loathe: binoculars and telescopes.

Somehow, the moment I separate myself from the reality of the moment by gazing into a piece of equipment, I lose all interest. This is particularly true in bird-watching. Even if the bird I'm watching is tiny and far away -- so tiny and far away that I can't even identify it -- I don't want a pair of binoculars.

Yes, that makes me deficient in the warbler department. Guilty as charged. With warblers, you at best see a blur of yellow feathers scoot through a glade.

On the other hand, I've seen cedar waxwings, indigo buntings, scarlet tanagers, and yellow-crowned night herons without resort to technology. I can look at a bird soaring in the sky and tell you whether it's a hawk, an eagle, or a vulture. (Not a reach for me on this.)

Once I had the great privilege to be at the very northern end of Long Island during a prime waterfowl migration weekend. We're talking Montauk Point -- oh, what a lovely sight on its own! The whole area was plastered with birders, shoulder to shoulder, with the world's best telescopes, all primed and posed. Since I was young, pretty, and friendly, I got invited to peer through many of the finest scopes ... at scaups, I believe. But when I pulled away and took a stroll, far more exciting to me was that steady line of who knew what kind of bird, flying low across the waves, furious to beat it to the warm South before winter set in.

(No few of the birders, up close and personal, were a sight for the eyes as well.)

Having grown up in Appalachia, I have the same philosophy when it comes to stars. For the love of fruit flies, the mountain skies are so brimming with stars, how would one ever pick just one to gaze at?

Telescopes are no good for meteors. I am therefore a huge meteor addict. Give me a meteor shower, and I'm happy for days. It's also heartening to be able to pick out the constellations, which show up even in brightly-lit New Jersey. Orion is my favorite.

I write this because, last evening, an unusual celestial event occurred. A crescent moon was paired with both Venus and Jupiter. The clouds cleared just long enough for me to glimpse the spectacle, then it disappeared behind another front of rain.

The article I read alerting me to the event said that if I had a telescope, I could actually see some of Jupiter's moons.

That's okay. The moment was stunning to the naked eye.

In a way, my primitive star-gazing connects me to the Ancients, who had only this method at their disposal. They did pretty good with both birds and stars, and perhaps they felt more a part of the universe than masters of it. At least that's the way I feel by depending upon my naked eye.

Monday, December 01, 2008

The Great Christmas Giveaway Continues!

Welcome to "The Gods Are Bored," Pagan humor and essential upholstery maintenance tips since 2005! Damask? Just ask!

Ahhhh. Thanksgiving is over, and that means one thing ... time for the hog-wallow, hard-to-swallow, flee-or-follow debacle known as Christmas!

I call it Christmas because I'm afraid if I don't, Bill O'Reilly will rear-end my car.

First I'd like to congratulate Yellowdog Granny on her big win of the neon-colored candy canes! Use them wisely, Granny.

Today's Christmas contest item is far more practical. In fact, you may crave it to the point of grovelling.

Every family has an Auntie Em whose dearest goal in life is to qualify for the Daughters of the American Revolution. Even though she's searched her family tree back to a cluster of Armenian refugees who arrived at Ellis Island with nothing but a work ethic, she's still tugging at the roots of the old ancestral bush, hoping to find just that one Minuteman who fled at the first sound of gunshot from the highly-trained and well-equipped British Regulars of 1777.

Auntie sighs whistfully as she scans the Society Page and sees all the D.A.R. poobahs at their teas. Oh, to belong! To have a sash, a ribbon, an insignia pin!

Yours Truly has all those things. Except the sash. You gotta be a Grand Poobah to earn a sash, and I'm not even a Marginally Functional Poobah. I just pay my D.A.R. dues every year, hoping one of these days to be brimming to the plimsol line with empty hours to fill by sipping tea at luncheons.

Ah, but help is on the way for Auntie Em! And you will be her favorite niece/nephew for an entire year! (If that Armenian work ethic has paid off -- probably has -- you might get some nice $$$$$ out of this.)

This week's Great Christmas Giveaway is ... a 2009 Official D.A.R. calendar!!!!

Yes, folks, it's the annual calendar the Daughters of the American Revolution sends out to all its membership, hoping to glean a little extra donation over and above the dues.
This year's calendar features full-page color pictures of elaborate samplers created by young females in the era of the Revolutionary War and beyond. Imagine your eight-year-old daughter, sitting by a sunny window for eight hours straight, stitching away at a slice of linen, just to prove she can do pretty work!

Field hockey practice is starting to look good, huh?

But anyway. Auntie Em will just faint over this calendar. She can hang it in a prominent place, and everyone who visits her will assume that she belongs to the D.A.R. -- how else would she get the free calendar? It's sent exclusively to members!

All you have to do to be eligible for this superior freebie is to leave a comment between now and Friday next. I'll choose a winner at random. Be sure to put your email address on your comment if you don't own a blog of your own.

How can I be this generous with such a fabulous (cheaply printed) calendar? Well, not to brag or anything, but my family is chock-a-block with Minutemen who cowered behind rocks. And my calendar needs are filled by the school/community calendar that Snobville produces each year and mails to me (requesting a donation).

Take advantage of this incredible largesse! And if you can't think of anything to comment about, tell me what you think of Bill O'Reilly.

Sunday, November 30, 2008

International Anne Johnson Day

Welcome to "The Gods Are Bored!" Are you tired of a religion so crowded with followers that people get stomped at 5:00 a.m. just trying to bust their way into the church? Step aside from that madness! There's a kind bored Goddess who will shower you with serendipitous gifts, just if you smile at Her. Stand aside from that throng! It's evil.

There are so many holidays, and the biggest ones fall in the darkest months. That's a tough sleigh ride, my friends. Think about it. Do you ever see anyone stressed out over the Fourth of July? Even if your large and dysfunctional family gathers on that day, they all seem to get along.

Not so for Thanksgiving and Xmas. Why is it that these two pustules on the holiday calendar bring out the very worst in everyone? And not just your mother-in-law. You can understand that. But how about the dude in the car behind you, honking his fool head off because you dare to obey the speed limit? What happens to people this time of year?

I know, I know. It's the short days, the dark months, the lack of sunlight, the cold. Which brings me full circle to my first question: Who decided to schedule big family gatherings at this time?

I've given some serious thought to this, and I've decided to create a new holiday. About a year ago I plugged my name into some computer thingy that told me there are 341,000 Anne Johnsons in the United States of America. (I wish I'd bookmarked that.)

So, all you Anne Johnsons out there, let's get together and choose a date, and on that date we rule.

Personally I'm not in favor of scheduling this holiday between October 31 and February 14. My preference would be some time in August. Beach weather. So that, on International Anne Johnson Day, all the posh seashore resorts will be sprinkled with delighted Anne Johnsons, soaking up the sun and reading an improving novel, occasionally venturing into the surf, and then spending the evening strolling the boardwalk with nary a family member in sight!

If your name is Anne Johnson, please contact me to help me secure a date for International Anne Johnson Day. For the purposes of this occasion, we will graciously include Ann Johnsons as well.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Alpha Female

Welcome to "The Gods Are Bored" on Thanksgiving 2008! Don't forget to set a place at the table for your ancestors, and/or the bored god or goddess who leads you through life.

I am now the Alpha female in my husband's family, which means that Thanksgiving is at my house, and I am responsible for the lion's share of the chores. This is fine with me ... but the problem is that I was preceded by two extraordinarily formidable Alpha females, and both of them are here today with me.

Mr. Johnson's grandmother is now 95. When I picked her up yesterday at her waterfront home near Annapolis, she wasn't sure what holiday we would be celebrating. But I can remember a time when she served 25 people Thanksgiving dinner in her home ... and I didn't so much as bring rolls.

Mr. Johnson's mother is 75. She's still feisty enough to want things to be done her way, and to mess in and see that it happens. Again, in her heyday she was a Grade-A chef, which I've never been. When I picked her up at her condo in Baltimore yesterday, she stuck me with yet more dime store decor ... she wants to redecorate my house.

Yesterday I drove a round trip of 250 miles to pick up these two ladies, including a one-way transit of the stunning Chesapeake Bay Bridge.

Wish me luck as I navigate today, hopefully having washed the dishes in time to see the Eagles receive yet another drubbing.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Twilight, as Seen by Anne

Welcome to "The Gods Are Bored," celebrating the return of the vultures to Wenonah, New Jersey! More and more buzzards appear each evening as winter settles in. You see, here in New Jersey every bit of countryside has been cleared for development ... leaving old Wenonah, with its large, mature pines, as the buzzard roost of record.

My daughter The Spare wanted to see this vampire movie Twilight over the weekend. What was remarkable was that she agreed that I could come along. (This is a huge concession when you're 14.) Then she invited two of her friends who I can actually tolerate. Off we toddled to Twilight.

You get to be a certain age, and some things occur to you that pass right over the head of a 14-year-old audience. Like, the entire cast of vampire high schoolers looked like they ought to be sipping pina coladas at Trader Vic's. And who applied the makeup? Little heavy on the white powder, eh? If I were the school nurse, I'd be sending home sharply worded letters about anemia.

How do you go to high school without touching anyone all day, every day? Without being openly OCD, I mean. Surely you're going to rub against someone in the crowded corridor. And if that someone is as cold as a corpse, you're gonna say, "Whoa. Dude! You feel dead!"

I know this about crowded corridors. I work in a high school. I wish they would call me more often.

But the school is one thing, and locking lips with a vampire for purposes of snogging is another.

Hopefully you were never shoved over to an open casket and ordered to give dead Granny a goodbye kiss. I think that kind of thing went out of vogue with the Victorian era. But if his fingers are cold as ice, what about his lips? Is that as easy to overlook as morning breath?

Turns out vampires can be killed by being beheaded and set on fire. Which leaves nothing behind for Sacred Thunderbirds. Objectionable content.

A word about the acting. Sucks, except for the dad. He was pretty good. Furthermore, it is very easy to find the real James Dean on DVD, and whoa, doggies, he is sexy like Saturday night. Our dear Edward in Twilight is a pale -- very, very, very pale -- imitation.

So, when it comes to Twilight, we at "The Gods Are Bored" say, "Save your money." Unless you've got a 14-year-old who allows you to go along, and joke afterwards with her pals at Friendly's. Her pals who say you're the coolest mom around ...

Wow. That was a great movie!


Monday, November 24, 2008

Christmas Contest Continues!

Welcome to "The Gods Are Bored," where silence is golden and leafblowers are compost! Give me a break. I mean, a rake!

Warm and hearty congratulations to Sageweb, winner of our first weekly Christmas contest! Sage won herself a hopelessly tangled string of Christmas lights, and I'm sure she'll find plenty of uses for it!

This week we have another fabulous prize for a commenter drawn at random from the chat chart between now and Black Friday. You will win....

Yes, readers! Look upon them and weep! Rainbow-hued candy canes by SweetTarts, radiating all the colors of Mardi Gras just in time for Christmas! You get the whole box, still in its cellophane wrapper, because I am not the slightest big interested in tasting one of these.

But maybe you are! Maybe you decorate your house with bold, summery colors during the Yuletide season! Or perhaps you have a tot who has bellowed for a box of these every time you've gone to the grocery store since September. Take a chance! Think how your child's eyes will light up (and teeth will rot within) when you dole these confections out.

Increase your holiday cheer by leaps and bounds by entering our Great "Gods Are Bored" Christmas giveaway now! Just leave a comment, and if you don't have a link, leave your email. And then plan how you will use these Day-glo candy canes in a tasteful and appropriate manner when they arrive at your doorstep! Good luck!

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Interview with a Bored Goddess ... about Feet!

Welcome to "The Gods Are Bored," where downsized deities dig in during Depressions! Yes, there are many wonderful gods and goddesses in need of praise and worship stimulus packages. Do your part!

It's been ages since we had a guest speaker here at "The Gods Are Bored." But today I have a perplexing problem, and so I sought a helpful Goddess for advice. This Goddess is not only bored but pissed off as well, so be kind to Her. Let's give a warm, wonderful "Gods Are Bored" welcome to "Fair Ankled" Nike, Ancient Greek Goddess of Victory!

Anne: And it's not a coincidence about your name being on those overpriced sneakers made with slave labor, is it?

Nike: No! Damn profiteers! They stole My name, stuck it on an athletic shoe, and all they do is exploit! Oh, don't get me started... *gnashes teeth*

Anne: Given the sorry history of that product, You should really be glad, O Goddess of Victory, that so few people know where the name came from.

Nike: Yes, but recall that I'm a member of the Greek pantheon, and we Greek Goddesses like to be lavishly praised and worshipped. So I would like some airtime. For instance, would it have hurt Michael Jordan just once to have said, "I owe this championship to Nike?"

Anne: He sure did his part to peddle ... the shoes.

Nike: Wait till he gets to Hades. We'll see who the victor is then!

Anne: Emmmm. Let's move along. Great Goddess Nike, I've asked you here today because I have a rather unusual problem.

Nike: You're not victorious enough, I guess, and you'd like me to change that?

Anne: No, that's okay. When you get to my age, the definition of victory widens considerably. Like, if I get to the Vo-Tech on time in the morning, that's a victory. If the computer works, that's a victory. No, actually I want to ask you about my daughter The Spare.

Nike: Oh, she's a cutie!

Anne: Yes, and a goddess in her own mind, trust me. But Nike, The Spare has a problem. She keeps hurting her feet! I mean, little bumps and bruises and cuts and warts and such usually get spread out all over the body. But every one of The Spare's injuries, great and small, have occurred to her feet.

Nike: Very odd. Examples?

Anne: Well, she had an ingrown Plantar wart that required painful surgery. She got her foot stuck in the spokes of a bicycle wheel -- emergency room for X-rays. She stepped on broken glass. Antibiotics. She got a sore that wouldn't heal. More antibiotics. And last night, at the homecoming dance, someone trampled her with a stiletto high heel. She had to come home early. Which was like death to her, believe you me. What can I do to keep her feet safely stuck to her legs?

Nike: This is a no-brainer, Anne. As one of the many bored Goddesses who regularly follows your blog (and thus tags along as you go through life), I have noticed that your daughter The Spare doesn't like to wear socks.

Anne: Yes, she is often a sockless wonder. Today I forced her into a pair, because it's 20 degrees outside.

Nike: She needs to wear socks. And not just any socks. Magical socks.

Anne: I don't know where to buy Magical socks. And if you say Wal-Mart, I'll opt for the continuance of the foot injuries ... and so will she.

Nike: No! Any socks will do. You buy them, I will infuse them with Magic. Oooopa! End of problem!

Anne: You would do that for me, O Great Goddess Nike?

Nike: Of course! It has not passed my notice that you have never purchased a pair of Nike shoes, even when they were a bargain and you sorely needed athletic footwear.

Anne: I don't think I've ever seen a bargain pair of Nikes, but you're right, I do not purchase anything that has a swoosh on it, even from the thrift store.

Nike: Go get the girl some comfy socks, and I'll do the rest.

Anne: It's on days like this when my job here is so rewarding. Goddess-speed to you, Nike the Victorious! And please take a fresh bagel with you on your way back to Olympus!

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Hoping for the Future of Eco-Burials

Welcome to "The Gods Are Bored," o ye who seek guidance from the Sacred Thunderbird! If Samhain is over, guess what is right around the corner??????

Oh, poo poo to Christmas! The East Coast Vulture Festival 2009 will soon be upon us! More on that later.

I read in the newspaper yesterday that some people are demanding "green burials": wooden or cardboard coffins (or no coffin at all), a hole in the ground, no marker, no lawn maintenance.

Don't know about you, but the idea that my mom is embalmed and lying in a steel coffin at the bottom of a waterproof steel shaft is troubling. Trust me, scientist of the future. You do not want to revivify that person. Seriously. What is the point of all that preservation? So she can be shocked back to life and become a bipolar redneck badass again?

My personal preference has always been cremation. Until now. I'm going whole-hog for this green burial idea. You know why, don't you?

If green burials take off in popularity, it won't seem like such a reach if someone requests to have their body just dumped in the woods on top of the ground, with all organs inside. The better to be consumed by the Sacred Thunderbirds.

Sounds impossibly progressive, doesn't it? Yeah, right. Native Americans did it all the time. Except they made it even easier for the Sacred Thunderbirds by building platforms in trees.

So, reader, root root root for green burial! The Sacred Thunderbird you feed may fly you to the stars.

Gorgeous black vulture picture comes from The Birdchick Blog.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Remembering Jonestown

Welcome to "The Gods Are Bored," coming to you from the border between Rationalville and Lunatictown. Where do you live?

Thirty years ago today, more than 900 followers of religious leader Jim Jones committed mass suicide at their compound, "Jonestown," in rural Guyana. The prior day, Jones had ordered the assassination of California Congressman Leo Ryan, who had flown in to investigate "Jonestown" at the urging of concerned relatives in his district.

Jones, a charismatic faith healer who attracted followers with a message of racial equality and socialism, had become a psychotic manipulator, a drug addict, and a despot with full powers over those foolish enough to join him in his jungle "utopia."

At Jones' orders, his followers drank cyanide-laced fruit drink, either killing their children first with the stuff or shooting the children and then drinking the stuff. Anyone who protested was shot. Jones killed himself the same way ... although his son was safely in Guyana's capital and so escaped the massacre.

I wrote here recently that religion soothes us, makes us feel that we're in concert with Higher Powers. That does not mean that we should accept religious practices or religious leaders that make unreasonable or irrational demands. And the vast majority of us are capable of seeing the distinction between rationality and lunacy. Sadly, some people -- for whatever reason -- opt for the lunacy.

And it's an invisible boundary line that runs between Rationalville and Lunacytown. Where does it begin? With the Mormon divorced mother of five who gave ten percent of her welfare check to the church? (I knew her.) The young guy who sells flowers 14 hours a day at the airport? The parent who trusts her young son to the guidance of a kindly priest? The couple who marry without ever having met before, because they were "paired" by the leader of their church?

The Jonestown Massacre is a radical example of what happens when groups of religious followers surrender all rationality. But this happens all the time in more subtle fashion. If church authorities are out to capture your mind or your body, leaving you unable to make your own choices, or afraid to do so, then brothers and sisters, you are in a cult.

We at "The Gods Are Bored" are all about finding a praise and worship framework that encourages freedom of the mind, body, and spirit. If you fear your deity or the leadership of your religion, get a new religion. There are so many religions! And so many sects within religions. Act now! The sanity you save could be your own.

Peace to the children of Jonestown. Peace to the people of Jonestown. Lest they will have died in vain, we say: "Freedom of the mind is what every good person should have."


Monday, November 17, 2008

Little Annie's Orphans

Welcome to "The Gods Are Bored," sacred to the Egyptian pantheon! If there's a Goddess of Cats out there, She is Mighty.

Just the other day I fretted that my three foster kittens would languish in the shelter like enemy combattants, times being what they are. Nevertheless, on Sunday I had to take them in. When they start galloping, it's time.

On the way to the shelter in their coop, they did every single gross thing a kitten can do. I will not elaborate. Let's just say I was glad that the shelter stocks plenty of hand sanitizer.

So I told them goodbye and good luck. And some bored goddess was listening.

Four hours later the shelter manager called. All three had been adopted. Two went to a couple newly moved into a home. The other one went to the couple's mother-in-law, who couldn't stand the idea of breaking up the litter.

Two or three times I've had people come to the house to see foster kittens prior to adoption. But this was the first time I ever dropped a litter off and saw them adopted out before they had to spend a night under the shelter roof.

Here's to happy beginnings!
Don't forget to participate in Anne's Great Christmas Giveaway! Sign up now to receive a free strand of hopelessly tangled Christmas lights! See below.

Cheesy Christmas Stuff for You!

Welcome to "The Gods Are Bored," where it's beginning to look a lot like Christmas, everywhere you go!

Some retailers used to hold off until after Samhain to get their Christmas gear out and spiffed up and hung. No more. I've been seeing fake trees and garland in stores since September.

When Geezer Annie was a girl, you saw nary a wreath until the day after Thanksgiving. Snow, yes. Christmas decorations, no.

It's understandable, I guess. The retail stores are all feeling the pinch, since the rest of us are pinched. They want to bombard us with pine, get us feeling desperate to fill those loved ones' stockings.

Have no fear! Annie is here to help you this year! And she's not waiting until after Thanksgiving, even though she knows it's the proper thing to do!

Taking a page from Mrs. B's playlist, I'm going to be giving away essential Yuletide items once a week between now and December 22! All you have to do is leave just one little comment sometime between now and Friday, and you'll be entered in this week's contest!

(If you don't have a blog account, be sure to include an email where you can be reached.)

The first giveaway is that all-important holiday item, the one you just can't live without: a tangled strand of 100 multi-colored lights!

Yes! This one-year-old strand of multi-colored lights will come to you a tangled mess, just like they all do when you pull them from last year's storage box. Because that's where they'll come from -- my storage box!

You know you want this, reader. It's what Christmas is all about!

Future Christmas giveaways will be just as wonderful, so stay tuned. I may even step up the pace of giving, if I sense a genuine need to do so.


Saturday, November 15, 2008

Playing with Fire: Please Respond!

Welcome to "The Gods Are Bored," purveyors of perfect pantheons! I'm your host, Anne Johnson. It's a wonderful name, and I'm proud to bear it.

There's a faerie living in my computer who will not allow me to post YouTube videos on this blog. That's okay. I'm more or less a word person.

But just yesterday, my awesome friend, the computer Yoda, handed me a DVD that had been rendered from an old VHS that had in turn been rendered from reel-to-reel footage from the early 1960s.

That footage shows my beloved father setting stuff on fire.

Dad taught high school chemistry in Appalachia. He was a hands-on kind of guy, someone who taught science with dramatic flair. His students remember him fondly as someone who expected them to maintain flawless lab books, but who in turn allowed them to do many more experiments (and much more dangerous ones) than would ever be allowed in these ergonomically correct times.

At some point it occurred to the Powers That Be in my hometown that they could put Dad on closed-circuit t.v., and he could set stuff on fire while being watched all over the county. And thus to me has been bequeathed two of my most precious possessions: video of Dad, and the black mortar-and-pestle that he uses in his videos.

If someone were to ask me, "What exactly is a Druid?" I would give them my father as an exemplar. He was college-educated. Fascinated by nature. A believer in -- and teacher of -- science. He loved to sing. And he was extremely skeptical of much religious teaching, being at heart a scientific rationalist.

Remember that Druids were the educated class of people in Celtic society, not just religious leaders.

At the end of his life, Dad told me he saw Peter Pan standing in the doorway of his hospital room. So I know the faeries claimed one of their own. His daughter says, "Pish tosh on that scientific rationalism!"

So, readers, please do me a favor. Go on over to YouTube, search "Principles of Combustion," and watch "Principles of Combustion 3." It's only three minutes long. Then give me your honest opinion of my dad, the Wizard of Western Maryland.

PS: I'm not sure how long the federal government will allow this footage to be on YouTube, so time is of the essence!

Friday, November 14, 2008

What Does Religion Do For People?

Welcome to "The Gods Are Bored," waxing philosophical until your brain sparkles and shines! It's the soft cloth and the elbow grease that really make a difference.

I am back substitute teaching at the Vo-Tech, and darned glad to have a job in this "economic downturn." (Funny, it looks like a recession/depression to me.)

Yesterday I covered for a teacher who I was in for long-term last year. The subject: World History. The topic of the day: World religions.

Hoo boy.

This school has a little task they call "Do Now," that the students are supposed to complete when they enter the room. Yesterday's "Do Now" question (supplied by the missing teacher, not me) was: "What does religion do for people?"

After the students write out a written response, the teacher is supposed to ask the question again and gather voluntary answers from the class.

So, after asking how many of them went to church at least a few times a year (smattering of hands), I said, "What does religion do for people?"

Most freshmen-aged kids are not eager to speak up in a classroom. But it was early in the day when a student said, "Religion soothes you."

Religion soothes you.

Okay, Karl Marx, maybe it is the opiate of the people, but if you're in pain you need an opiate. So religion soothes you.

It is perhaps a tad too soothing to think there's some Higher Power out there who has already decided how your life is going to go -- or who you think will fix every little bump in the road for you. But to me (and to this student, perhaps), the feeling that Higher Powers exist is soothing.

To me, meditating on the divine and all goodness is soothing.

You could argue that even the terrorists who bombed the World Trade Center found their religion soothing. They thought they were going on to some heaven of some kind. So, what soothes one person might be dangerous to another.

That's where we hope some common sense will prevail. Some set of rules of decency.

Rules. That was the other, more common response at the school to the question, "What does religion do for people?"

You. You along the road. Must have a code that you can live by. If none of the codes you're aware of suit you, consult the bored gods. They have theirs -- some quite good ones, in fact.


Thursday, November 13, 2008


Welcome to "The Gods Are Bored," coming to you from the Vo-Tech! Back to substitute teaching, and glad to have the job in these times!

I have just begun a new daily blog called "Six Word Blog." It's in my sidebar. If you go there and you see an entry in italics, that means it's a short story. A very, very, very short story.

Have a nice day. Praise the deity you love.


Wednesday, November 12, 2008

The Simple Life

Welcome to "The Gods Are Bored," where deities come to laugh at us moderns who think we know it all!

Here's a fascinating topic: Computer problems.

No, no, don't leave! I'll try to make it funny!

Mr. Johnson bought me a brand new printer last summer. It was always finicky. Right around the beginning of the school year, it broke for no apparent reason. It claims to have a paper jam. I examined its guts the way a buzzard would dissect a cow carcass. There's no paper jammed anywhere. Numerous attempts to get the thing up and running have failed, and I learned that bringing in an expert repairman will cost more than a whole new printer.

Of course all this gets me longing for the good ol' twentieth century.

Why? Because my daughter The Spare, never the most organized student, needs to print stuff out all the time for school.

Let's look at 20th Century v. 21st Century High School Homework.

High School Homework, 1976:

1. Read textbook, answer questions on mimeographed handout, using #2 pencil or ball point pen.
2. Make sure name is on paper.
3. Take to school.
4. Hand in.

High School Homework, 2008

1. Check eboard for assignment.
2. Download any worksheets needed for assignment.
3. Complete homework using Microsoft Office applications.
4. Make sure name is on homework.
5. Save homework to course name folder within personal name folder.
6. Print out copy.
7. Take to school.
8. Hand in.

If printer is malfunctioning:

9. Call up sister's email, attach homework to message to mother's email.
10. Send backup email to school teacher with homework as attachment.
11. Send second backup email to school teacher with homework copied and pasted into message section.
12. Sign off email account on home computer.
13. Go to local public library.
14. Scan library card to get next available computer.
15. Log onto library computer (six steps).
16. Open email account.
17. Open attachments, send them to library printer.
18. Scan library card into library printer.
19. Call up print jobs, pay fee of ten cents per page to activate printer.
20. Take to school.
21. Hand in.

Computers have made life so much easier! I can hardly stand how easy my life has become! What did I do in the twentieth century, without all this fabulous technology?

Used to be that your dog ate the homework. Now the computer eats the homework -- and the teacher believes it.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Les Mouserables

Welcome to "The Gods Are Bored," where darkness falls at 4:55 but gloom springs eternal.

This is one of the three foster kittens that I have at home. He's slightly older now than in the photo. In fact, he and his siblings are ready to go to the shelter.

Here in Chateau Johnson they've been cossetted and spoiled. They're allowed the run of the house (because they've learned where their box is). They fight and play, eat, curl up and sleep, wake up, run around, fight and play, eat, curl up and sleep. In the evening they crawl up on me and Mr. Johnson and fall asleep in our arms.

But they have to go to the shelter. If we kept foster kittens, this house would be overrun with cats ... and we'd be off the list as foster parents.

It's always hard to part with kittens that you've bottle-fed, or tamed, or just nurtured through an illness. But right now it's especially hard.

I read in the newspaper today that some people who have lost their jobs or their homes, or both, have been forced to surrender their pets to animal shelters. This has made the over-crowded shelters more crowded than ever.

The shelter I work for is run by a lady who won't put a dog or cat down unless they're:

1. Very old.
2. Terminally ill, or ill with a communicable disease.
3. Wild without hopes of being tamed.
4. Proven to be dangerous.

And so, her shelter is becoming crowded with incoming litters of kittens (typical for this time of year) but also incoming household pets with nice dispositions. And in these hard times, people aren't adopting new pets.

Over the years I have seen several of my bottle babies go to a cat cage in the shelter and grow up there, cooped and wretched. They always get adopted in the end, but sometimes it's a long stay in the cell.

Two of the three kittens I have now are polydactyl, meaning they have six toes on their front paws. This will make them more adoptable because they look silly. But the other one, the little wretch pictured above, is just another run-of-the-mill gray tabby cat.

There are so many.

If you know someone who is having a hard time financially, maybe you might want to leave a big sack of dog or cat food on their doorstep. If you know someone with feral cats living (and breeding) under the porch, you might want to help that person trap and spay them. At least in New Jersey, you can get a coupon from any vet that will spay a feral cat for $40.

Sorry for the downer post, but I feel the weight of all these unwanted pets on my shoulders. May the bored gods of Ancient Egypt help my foster kittens ... and all shelter cats ... find happy homes.

Monday, November 10, 2008

The Incredible Ordeal of Decibel the Parrot

Welcome to "The Gods Are Bored!" But sometimes it's hard to feel sorry for the bored gods. At least they aren't caged parrots.

Back in my foolish youth, I purchased a baby macaw. When I got him, he was the size of a peep. He grew fast, topping out at the size of a kestrel.

Decibel the Parrot isn't one of your largish, bright-feathered macaws. He's smaller, and his feature of interest is a brown unibrow. When he unfolds his wings, he's magnificent: every shade of blue known to the eyeball, plus some red plumage, all usually hidden beneath his solid green exterior.

In the spring and summer, we put Decibel out on the front porch. The squirrels climb his cage and eat his food. He lets them. Otherwise he seems pretty content outside, for a creature that's lived in a cage for 22 years.

Twenty-two years in a cage. And just like the Count of Monte Cristo, he committed no crime.

When the weather turns cooler in the fall, we bring Decibel to a halfway point near the front door. His cage sits in our dark foyer, just in case we have a mild day when he can go outside.

Decibel hates the foyer. And when a parrot hates, it hates loudly.

Yesterday there was nothing any of us could do or say to shut Decibel up. He screamed at the top of his lungs from early morning until after dark. We tried food, we tried talking to him, we let him out, we covered him up. Nothing worked.

This morning I decided to move Decibel to his winter quarters, our bright, bay-windowed dining room that looks out over the back yard.

It's not so easy to move Decibel around because his cage is so big and heavy. So I had to wait for Mr. Johnson to be available to help me. In the meantime, Decibel got it in his head to stroll around a little. So when I came down to begin the move, Decibel was on the floor.

I startled him, and he took off flying, which for him is like the stress test that the hospitals do on cardiac patients. Flying, for a biggish bird like Decibel, takes a lot of energy. Soon he was clinging to the living room curtains, puffing and heaving like some old fat dude trying to play hoops with his college pals.

In addition to his prodigious noise-making abilities, Decibel also bites. And when you've been bitten by a beak that can crack a walnut, you know you've been bitten. So I tried to scoop Decibel up with a bath towel. He would have none of it. Bath towels usually mean he's getting a bath, and it was cold inside today.

Finally he scurried over to his cage and climbed up on it and stood there looking at me as if I was an underperforming hired hand.

For my part, I was questioning yet again why I ever bought a parrot. I liken the decision to the bad marriage you make in your youth, or a stint doing some really addicting drug, like crack. This bird is the mistake that won't go away ... maybe never in my lifetime.

Mr. Johnson and I carried Decibel to his winter quarters, where he can easily be moved to see me while I'm making dinner, and otherwise he can look outside all day. Decibel lost no time in trying to take a chunk of flesh from Mr. Johnson. But hey. A man doesn't live with a flesh-eating parrot for nearly three decades without learning how to avoid contact.

Decibel has been sitting quietly all afternoon, watching the foster kittens cavort and listening to the wind blow. I try to do right by him, but it saddens me to think what his life might have been, had his parents not been wrenched from Costa Rica and plunked in an aviary in Michigan.

Does Decibel talk? Yes. He calls for The Heir, using her real name. The Heir went away to college in August. Decibel doesn't understand that concept. Oh, how it cheers me to hear him calling the daughter I miss so much! (Yeah. Uh huh. Right.)

At least I had the good sense not to teach him to curse.

Sunday, November 09, 2008

Foot Make Good Eatin'

Welcome to "The Gods Are Bored," on the second consecutive gorgeous autumn Sunday in the Great Blue Northeast! Oh, it was beautiful here this morning. I wasted six good words on it before setting out on a walk.

There are several strings of dreaded words in every parent's life.

First there's AR (assembly required).

Then there's NI (needs improvement).

Let us not forget SAT (you know what that is)!

And the ultra-dreaded PDT (project due tomorrow).

Today's project for my charming daughter The Spare was to create an animal cell, somehow being creative about it. So she decided to make a cake, cover it with homemade fondant, and use candies as the organelles.

This necessitated a trip to the latest blot on the South Jersey landscape, a mega-supermarket called Wegman's.

Wegman's tries to be everything at once. It's a full buffet restaurant. You can buy lavish prepared foods that only have to be warmed in the microwave. Artisan breads. Gourmet desserts and chocolates. Organic. Greek olive bar. Cheese island. Flower shop. A model train chugging around overhead for the kiddies. And the biggest regular grocery store in the county ... except they don't stock TaB cola!

There's also a candy aisle.

This whole multi-acre spread has a metal ceiling painted some grisly hue of burnt goldenrod. Seriously the ugliest color of paint I have ever seen in my life. The lack of windows makes it dark inside, like a casino.

And the place was packed.

People drive across the bridge from Philly to shop in this over-the-top emporium. And I swear that today the whole Fourth Ward was in the store. Carts bumping together, people dodging other people, babies wailing, kids cajoling. And The Spare, blithely charging through the many aisles she needed to visit in order to get all her($$$$$) supplies.

Finally I just stopped pushing the cart and leaned my head down on it. The Spare didn't care. She wanted me to stay where she could find me.

So I guess I was just resting there, with my head in my arms on the shopping cart, maybe about two or three minutes. I felt someone tap my arm.

It was a young woman in jeans and a jacket. She said, "Are you all right?"

And I said, "Well, honestly I hate this store, and it's really extra-crowded today, and I'm alright, I was just resting."

She said: "There are chairs and comfortable sofas up in the restaurant area. Why don't you go sit down?"

And I said, "This is where my daughter expects to find me. So I'd better stay here. And honestly, I find all parts of this store equally repulsive, so I don't really care where I am in it."

She asked me again if I needed her help, or did I want her to call someone? I said no, really, I was fine. Just trying to escape the immediate reality.

At which point she said, "We're so sorry to hear you feel this way about our store. We try hard to make everyone happy here. Sometimes it's just not possible, especially when it's this crowded."

Oooooooops! She didn't have on one of those sappy uniforms! I had no idea she worked there! Must have just ended her shift or something! Lord love a fruit fly, I sure was embarrassed!

I didn't apologize, though. I meant it. Wegman's is a blight.

But the next time The Spare scampered into view, I told her I was going to go and sit down on a chair in the coffee section. Which I did.

Then we searched the checkout line for the hottest cashier. That cheered me up considerably. Because not only was he good-looking, but the employees are judged harshly if they're not super-nice. So he even smiled.

Then we came home, and the dreaded PDT commenced. What a day.