Friday, February 27, 2009

My Week, and Welcome To It

Welcome to "The Gods Are Bored," the blog with the most redundant opening line! Seriously. I think I won an award for it, or some such.

Catching up on the news in Anne Camp:

*Sunday the movie producers came over, and we talked about our script. After they left, Mr. Johnson and I sort of looked at each other and said, "Well, we won't quit the day jobs, but it's good to have something else on the storyboard as well."

*Four hours later, the owner of Mr. Johnson's company declared Chapter 11 bankruptcy.

*Four hours after that, Plantzilla, the amaryllis with attitude, burst into radiant bloom.

*The work week commenced with many anxious meetings about the future of Mr. Johnson's company, which that is the Philadelphia Newspapers. Mr. Johnson works for the most vulnerable of the two papers, the Philadelphia Daily News.

*On Tuesday I came down with the tubercular cold that has plagued Mr. Johnson and The Spare for weeks.

*The highlight of Wednesday was writing about Asherah (see below) and getting such nice comments.

*Thursday I was so sick I felt like I was crawling through a swamp, but I had to go to school. The only reason I'm at the Vo-Tech is to tutor students for the New Jersey High School Proficiency Test. The test starts next Tuesday. Bad time to be under the weather.

*Also on Thursday, Mr. Johnson had yet another anxious meeting with his co-workers. I wish I had a dollar for every anxious meeting Mr. Johnson has ever attended. Wouldn't have to go to the Vo-Tech at all.

*Today we had to sign for our paychecks and show a picture ID. This happens once a year. Only it turned out that my paycheck, which I had to sign for and show ID, was at the other Vo-Tech campus, 15 miles away through heavy traffic.

Now it's Friday afternoon. I am going to go to the thrift store, to drown my sorrows in old polyester.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Asherah Wednesday Again!

Welcome to "The Gods Are Bored!" My, how time flies when you're having fun! Is anyone having fun? Me neither.

This blog has been around for awhile (like its author), and early on it got a visitation from the Goddess Asherah. If you're not steeped to the plimsol line in Old Testament scriptures, you might not have heard of Asherah.

Don't feel bad about that. If you haven't read deeply in the Old Testament, you're probably not as warped as the next dude, who has.

Asherah was God's first wife, before the Blessed Mother. The ancient Israelites, women especially, kept little shrines to Her in their tents or around their cooking areas. (No finer calling than being a kitchen witch!)

Then a priest named Hilkiah decided to muddy the waters a bit. Among his other accomplishments, Hilkiah found the Ark of the Covenant, i.e. the Holy of Holies, sitting neglected by all but some enterprising spiders, in a corner of a poor temple (probably his). Armed with the relic, Hilkiah declared war on some of ancient Israel's forgotten treasures. Asherah got the shaft.

Asherah statues were declared sinful and exterminated. Slowly but surely, Her name became forgotten by Her people. Then she got bored. You would too if you could no longer whip up an innovative little lamb stew while doting on the tots rolling around the tent floor.

Where is Asherah today, you ask? That's a sad one. You see, some Goddesses who were bored have become rediscovered and worshipped again, by their original names and everything! But not Asherah. When last I saw her, she was still selling knockoff Prada bags on a cross street between Park and Madison in Manhattan. Maybe it was 57th. I don't get to Manhattan much, so I can't be sure.

We at "The Gods Are Bored" don't do much preaching, but if you can find a place in your heart and/or on your altar for Asherah, Sacred to the Ancient Israelite Peoples, she would really appreciate it.

This just in: Asherah says don't worry if you can't find a reason to worship Her. This downturn in the economy has produced a bigger market for knockoff merchandise, and her kiosk is doing okay.


Welcome to "The Gods Are Bored," where life is a buffet, and the rich get to eat first! Don't worry. There will be scraps in the dumpster. Maybe.

Last week I wrote about a woman who chose to have eight babies in one delivery. This past weekend I wrote about a quadriplegic man who, after 25 years of disability, chose to visit Dr. Kevorkian.

People and their choices. Wacky, huh?

You could argue that both of these people made bad choices. But who are you to tell them what to choose -- either one of them? The only person you can choose for is yourself.

This free advice comes from someone who had a bipolar mother in the days before lithium. She would be loony as Bugs Bunny on acid, but we couldn't commit her to a mental institution until she tried to inflict harm on herself or others.

As you might imagine, Mom's dilemma led to some mighty dicey situations. If she had owned a firearm, I wouldn't be writing this.

You know what's the worst position in the world -- and the most common? Being in a situation where someone is doing the choosing for you. Oh snap. You're powerless!

I'm not only talking about slavery here. I'm talking about how you feel when you see the pink slip in your cubicle. When you watch a loved one suffer needlessly because they're too far gone to sign a DNR. When the doctor says, "I'm sorry, but it's Stage Four."

We at "The Gods Are Bored" endorse the power to choose, even when the choice is absurd. So long as no one else gets hurt, and the furniture doesn't get stained.

Do not. Do. Not. Do not stain my furniture!

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Hollywood Comes Calling

Welcome to "The Gods Are Bored!" We hold firm to the conviction that if you live long enough, you see it all.

This morning two men arrived at our front door. They are not Mormon missionaries, but rather film producers. They are spending the weekend here, conferencing with Mr. Johnson and myself about a film project.

Mr. Johnson is a journalist. For many years he followed the story of a Philadelphia-area man who was rendered quadriplegic during a football game. The fellow was a quarterback, and he got hit, and the hit fractured two vertebrae in his neck. He could not even move his hands after that.

Some catastrophically disabled people can cope. Others cope for awhile and give up. Mr. Johnson's story subject fell into the latter category. After 25 years helpless in a wheelchair, he arranged to see Jack Kevorkian.

The fellow's brother, after much protest, took the ex-football star to Jack Kevorkian. For years the brother kept secret from the world the role he played helping his disabled sibling to commit assisted suicide. Finally the brother opened up to Mr. Johnson and agreed to have a story written.

So that's what our movie is about. This journey between brothers.

Mr. Johnson and I have worked on the script for several years and have gone through several producers. This most recent company is run by two young, energetic guys with all the artistic bells and whistles in place. Even as I write, Mr. Johnson is taking them over to Warminster to meet the brother and his family. (I've already been over there several times. The houses are small, and I would just be in the way today.)

We are having dinner with the producers this evening, and a script conference tomorrow, here at Chateau Johnson, which hasn't been so tidy in quite some time.

You should see my daughter The Spare. She's eyeballing the fast track to Hollywood, even as I warn her to be careful what you wish for.

As for the movie business, I'm not wishing at all. I'm just watching it unfold, keeping the day job firmly in hand.

Some stories deserve to be told. Mr. Johnson found one, and I agree with him that it's something people would want to see and think about.

Please don't call the Cineplex near you to find out when this ground-breaking piece of movie-making will come to the screen. But I do think this script process will be a nice motif to follow here at TGAB in the months and years to come. Let's go through it together, readers.

Which, I'm afraid, means you'll mostly get to hear me bitch and complain. But maybe not.

Friday, February 20, 2009

Yep, They're Mad

Welcome to "The Gods Are Bored!" I'm your host, Anne Johnson. Anne Johnson is my real name. I was born with it, and I like it immensely.

When I complained about the high cost of FaerieCon 2009, I expected the faeries to seek revenge for the damage to their vanity. Ah, so correct! A family conflict will keep me from attending Fairie Festival at Spoutwood Farm on May 3.

But soft, o ye fae. Who doth this punish the most, pray tell? Me, or thee? Do not lengthen thy punishment to include May 1 or May 2! Else those who suffer will be you!

I've been thinking about fun festivals that I've attended. No, I won't start a meme, but feel free to make a list of your own favorites if you like.

First it might behoove us to define "festival."

A festival is not a fair. Fairs have rides and games and quarter-a-card Bingo. And prize-winning Angus calves. A convention is not a festival. It may have festive moments, but its aims are to extend the attendee's knowledge of a specific topic or interest. The Daughters of the American Revolution excel at conventions. But you would hardly call what they do a "festival." (Alas, even the word "funeral" fits better than "festival.")

In order to qualify as a festival, an event should be held outside, or in an enclosure with easy access to the outside. It cannot get too big, numbers-wise. (Woodstock springs to mind.) Festivals are generally loosely structured, allowing attendees to stroll. Many great festivals center on the product for which an area is famous. There's actually a little town in Pennsylvania that has an annual Mushroom Festival. And Yellowdog Granny writes lovingly of the annual festival held in her town, West, Texas. I am soon to be featured at the East Coast Vulture Festival. Now there's a festive occasion!

What I'm trying to say is, some activities are best left to festivals. Faerie interaction is one of these. You can't tell me that any self-respecting faerie would want to spend a long weekend in a concrete convention center in Philadelphia, or a carpeted, soundproof Mariott in Maryland.

There must be a few faeries who will go anywhere and do anything for some attention. *Anne cringes* But these faeries must have issues. The majority of faeries, given their druthers, would gather in a clearing and dance in a ring, not caring a whit whether humans join in or not.

Gotta fly. Time to teach.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

More on Fests, Faerie and Otherwise

Welcome to "The Gods Are Bored" on a rare double-post day! Get two helpings of drivel for the price of one. In these economic times, who can pass that up?

First, the promoters of FAERIECON 2009 have weighed their promotional email in the balance and found it wanting. For those of you just joining us, the Con is moving to a venue near Baltimore and said in its literature that the site is "safer" than Philadelphia. We at "The Gods Are Bored" must not be the only ones to have taken offense at that particular wording, because here's a tepid retraction sent out by the Con:

"In our Newsletter yesterday we also referred to the new location as being in a "safer and more hospitable city," which in retrospect we realize could be interpreted as a slight to our guests from the city of Philadelphia. We apologize to any of our guests in Philadelphia who we might have offended.

Our true sentiment, was that FaerieCon 2009 will take place at a "safer and more hospitable venue," where our guests, especially with children, won't need to drive or wander in a downtown area late at night after the event and night-time masquerades. We sincerely want to thank the city of Philadelphia for graciously hosting and supporting FaerieCon for the last two years!

As a nearby resident of Philadelphia, I feel so comforted that the folks at FaerieCon don't think the area around the Convention Center and the Trocadero Theater isn't safe to be wandering around in at night. It happens that both venues are bordered by Chinatown, possibly the safest place in the whole city.

Of course, the safety considerations of city life do pale in comparison to a convention held in a Marriott hotel in posh Hunt Valley. (Con says it's "10 minutes to downtown Baltimore." Nope, not even at 3:00 a.m.

Let us leave behind the consideration that FaerieCon 2009 attendees will be more or less stranded in a big hotel, buying big hotel food from big hotel restaurants (as opposed, say, to wandering Philly's iconic Reading Terminal Market, right across the street from the convention center). Let us instead leap right to the bottom line.

How much is a faerie worth?

*Anne says bye-bye to her final pair of glasses*

The hotel is offering a generous $99 per person rate per night for the Con. Two nights with tax, about $225. Add to that the generous pre-registration fee for the three-day event, $75. I'm out $300 before I enter the door. Gas would probably be another $40. Before meals or even a Pepsi from the vending machine!

I would blissfully pay this for a Daughters of the American Revolution convention, but I won't be paying this for a Daughters of the American Revolution convention because $300-$400 will cover a whole lot more festivals throughout the year if I spend it wisely. To whit:

1. East Coast Vulture Festival: One evening, $20 for a ticket, $22 for a gorgeous t-shirt with a huge turkey vulture on it. All drinks and desserts included. The main event is a display of live birds from the Philadelphia Academy of Natural Sciences. And they make a profit that goes to charity.

2. Fairie Festival at Spoutwood Farm: About $40 for gas, $45 for tickets ($15 per day), reasonable eats. Camp out free if you volunteer. And they make a profit that goes to charity.

So that's two fests, one of them three days with free camping, at an expenditure of about $250 (self and daughter The Spare).

I'm still about $130 to the black, so how about a little jaunt to Berkeley Springs? $40 for a year's membership at Four Quarters Farm (Pagan campground, a charity), admittedly $50-$60 for gas, and BYO eats. Oh yeah, I forgot. $25 for a Roman bath in Berkeley Springs State Park, well worth every penny! More math:

The visit to Berkeley Springs will cost me about $150, realistically. But I'm $130 to the black. So it works out I can go three places for just $20 more than I'll spend to sit in a Marriott in Hunt Valley, staring at rooms full of vendors.

Wow. I have more to say about this. Ta ta till tomorrow!

Faeries Send a Message/Moneymakers Send One Too

Welcome to "The Gods Are Bored," where faeries are abundant, not always pleasant, but extremely constant! What is a faerie? Anne's simple definition is that a faerie is a small manifestation of spirit from an alternate level of existence.

Wow. Not bad for 8:36 in the morning!

In the past two weeks, the faeries have taken both my prescription sunglasses and my see-the-computer glasses. I have one pair of glasses left, my night driving prescription glasses.

I think the faeries want me to get my eyes checked. It's high time. Haven't done it in awhile.

Faeries will do this to you. If they detect a problem in your car, they'll flatten the tire. Just to get you wondering what else might be wrong.

So I'll make that optical appointment today, before the "floaters" in my eyes take over and I can't see anything at all.

This Just In: New Site for FaerieCon 2009

For the previous two years, there's been a "faerie convention" in Philadelphia, a mere 20-minute ride on the Elevated Train from my house. I went the first year, all brimming with excitement, mostly because I wanted to meet Brian Froud. He's my favorite faerie artist, although it's Seitou who created "The Rebel," above.

Today in my email I found the announcement for this year's FaerieCon. It will be held in Baltimore, in the Marriott hotel. The Faerie Balls will also be held at the hotel.

Here's what FaerieCon had to say in its ad:


LOCATION: Baltimore, MD
- Easier Access for all of our Fans
- A Safer and more Hospitable City


First of all, Baltimore is NOT an easier access for ALL of their fans, i.e. Nettle and myself. Second (and a really prickly point), Baltimore is NOT more hospitable than Philadelphia. They're both big cities with all the problems therein. Baltimore's tourist district in its Inner Harbor is trashy. Philly's has Independence Hall, the Liberty Bell, and a museum honoring the U.S. Constitution.

I love faeries more than anything, but I did not attend FaerieCon 2008, even though it was practically in my backyard. Why? Because it is strictly a money-making event. Someone's cashing in on the fact that folks like faeries. There were vendors galore, and a few tepid lectures, and long lines to meet poor Brian Froud, who was taxed to the max.

If I go to any convention at a Marriott this year, it will be the D.A.R. conflab in Washington, DC. Marriotts are for blue-haired Daughters of the American Revolution, with their badges, white gloves, and protocols. Or for water pump distributors, or heart valve surgeons. Not for people who like faeries.

If you want to attend a faerie event near Baltimore (as opposed to being in ugly, mean Philly), I highly recommend the Fairie Festival at Spoutwood Farm. It's nonprofit, outside, and if you volunteer, you can party all night. (A promise held out by the con folks re the Marriott).

FaerieCon is a con. If you go, you'll see people trying to make money. Not faeries.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Sacred Thunderbird Blogging

Welcome to "The Gods Are Bored!" When February doldrums set in, it's time for the fabulous, mystical, uplifting and otherwise highly spiritual East Coast Vulture Festival! Get your ticket now, and learn the Secrets of the Sacred Thunderbird!

Tonight I am driving to Wenonah to practice our annual Vulture Shamanic Dance Routine. (It's different every year.) We dress up like buzzards and do a little routine for the congregation. (This is last year's photo. That's me in the front, in the big mascot costume.)

Those of you who've only been here a short time haven't heard about the Monkey Man. Suffice it to say that he's the kind of guy who can dress up like a vulture and do timed wing-flaps at the drop of a jester's hat. So I recruited him to the flock. He's my first official Thunderbird convert. (Okay, well, he hasn't stopped being a Quaker. Yet.) He and I are going to have a slice of pizza, and then we're going to make the trek to Wenonah, do a little sacred flapping, and drive back north again in time to get some decent shuteye.

Yesterday when The Spare and I went to the zoo, we saw the Andean condor. A little sign by the condor's flight cage said: "In many parts of South America, people still celebrate the myths of divinity associated with this bird."

Myths? Myths? Tell me what's more sacred than a Thunderbird. Go ahead. I dare ya.

Wish me luck learning to flap in time to a rap.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Navel Gazing with the Lions

Welcome to "The Gods Are Bored," where we have a breeding program for rare and endangered deities. In that specially-created habitat over there (generously funded by Citibank and our local billionaires) are the final two deities known to have belonged to the peoples of ancient Micronesia. Please don't tap on the glass! It annoys them, just as it would annoy you.

Today dawned sunny and cold. It occurred to me to spend a little quality time with my daughter The Spare, who, even as we speak, is being swept away from me on the teenage tide. So we went to the Philadelphia Zoo.

Zoo animals are just like bored gods. In many cases, their kinds have been wiped from the planet, and the only place they reside anymore is in small cubicles with the right mixture of humidity and nourishment. "Only 30 of these animals are known to exist in the wild," reads one sign. In the exhibit, a spotted paw extends from a den ... some beautiful large cat whose ancestors probably ate Homo erectus for breakfast.

Today I saw the rarest creature of all -- Little Girl Spare, enjoying the cute monkeys and the harvest mice, making her own jokes and laughing at mine, snapping photos and bundling herself against the wind. Little Girl Spare, hoping the Andean condors would not be in their cage, covering my mouth as I worshiped them loudly (this has happened before), mapping our way to her favorite exhibit, the Small Mammal House.

Although I'm usually partial to the Andean condor, and usually to the exclusion of all else, today my favorite sight at the zoo was my daughter. May every endangered God and Goddess preserve and protect her, now and forever.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

House Plants Hate Me

Welcome to "The Gods Are Bored," where nary a green thumb is to be found! For someone who loves the plant world so much, I have a terrible time when it comes to growing anything containing a cell wall.

Just before Christmas, a posh box arrived from my sister-in-law. She's in the chips and always sends a thoughtful gift. This year it was an amaryllis bulb, with potting soil, directions, and a cute little basket to grow it in.

I followed the directions, except I was confused about the sunlight. What is "diffused sunlight," anyway? So I looked up pictures of amaryllis on the Web, and they were almost all sitting in windowsills (or growing outside). So I sat mine next to my bed, watered it a bit, and waited for the pretty flower.

To my astonishment, the thing actually did start to grow, which in and of itself was a miracle.

Almost eight weeks later, it's still growing. And growing. And growing. The leaves are about 18 inches long, some longer. A stalk has appeared with a bud on it. This stalk is also about 18 inches tall -- and growing. And not opening.

The plant is in a sunny window. I put it by my bed because otherwise it would meet the same fate as every other house plant I've ever brought home -- a slow death from dehydration. At the same time I feel like I'm being sized up for the kill by a Plantzilla. The long, sharp leaves are reaching out toward me. The stubborn stem is shut tight as an angry clam.

I just looked again at Google images, and there's a sadist out there who watered his amaryllis with nothing but vodka. And the thing bloomed.

Why do house plants hate me? If it wasn't for silk arrangements, there would be no flowers in my life at all.

Friday, February 13, 2009

Choice vs. Right to Life

Welcome to "The Gods Are Bored," operating between political correctness and blasphemy since 2005! Today we're going to chime in on a minor scandal rather than tackling the big, broad, damaging future awaiting most Americans.

The scandal is that one woman had eight babies. Eight eggs were implanted into her womb, and they all took and grew. Now this woman has 14 children under the age of seven, many with disabilities.

Okay, all of you out there who advocate the right to choose. This woman is a lunatic, but it was her choice to do this. And she should have a say, however bizarre it is, over her body.

However, now that those children are born, they too have rights as full human beings. Living in a two-bedroom house does not, in my opinion, serve their rights to dignity and health. Now they are people, and someone has to look out for them.

The "someone" is the state of California. If I ran that state's department of child welfare, I would assign a social worker to be all over that situation, all the time. Daily, weekly spot checks to see that all the disabled children were being properly cared for. To see the level of hygiene practiced inside and outside the home. I would measure and weigh, open the cupboards and see what food is inside, examine the bathroom.

No way would those adults be found competent to care for that many children.

A cousin of mine had a premature baby who weighed one pound at birth. No one thought the child would live, but she did -- and her life has been fraught with difficulties, including many, many operations. She lives in a wheelchair, nearly blind. But she has her full mental faculties, so her basic life is decent. However, her parents have exerted themselves incredibly for 20 years to help the girl and keep her alive. Now multiply that by eight. Wonder Woman couldn't do it.

We at "The Gods Are Bored" support the right to choose. Once the choice is made and the child is born, we advocate humane and thorough care for that child.

What puzzles us here at "The Gods Are Bored" is why nobody in the Right to Life movement has stepped forward to give this enthusiastic lunatic mama every penny of the financial support she needs -- and a trained staff to care for the disabled children. Isn't that what Right to Lifers are supposed to do in situations like this?

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Big Birthday Week

Welcome to "The Gods Are Bored!"

In case I get busy later in the day, I just wanted to say that this week marks the centennial of the births of both Abraham Lincoln and Charles Darwin. What a coincidence, huh? Makes you wonder what kind of star alignment brought that on.

Two great liberators, both reluctant, both finally bowing to pressure, both changing the world.

I'm in a very large boat when I say that believing in evolution does not mean one need be an atheist. If we didn't understand evolution 300 years ago, why do we believe now that we understand everything that we will ever understand?

We at "The Gods Are Bored" endorse the evolution of species by natural selection. We praise and honor all Gods and Goddesses who are comfortable with our scientific knowledge -- and the people too!

Happy centennial, Mr. Darwin!

PS - If you want to read an interesting memoir, I highly recommend Trials of the Monkey, by Matthew Chapman. Mr. Chapman is one of Darwin's many descendants, and he writes about having such a giant in his personal lineage.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Sweatin the Small Stuff

Welcome to "The Gods Are Bored!" This writer needs a sea change in attitude. Can we get a bored Goddess on that, please?

My problem: I sweat the small stuff. I worry about everything. If my computer isn't working just right, I worry about it. If it is working right, I worry that it's going to NOT work right soon. When daughter The Spare can't find her cell phone, I comb the house. If Beta the cat goes missing for a few hours, I comb the house. Worry, worry, worry!

Here's why this bothers me. It bothers me because right now I'm physically healthy, relatively young, my children are healthy, my spouse is healthy. Heck, even Decibel the Parrot is healthy! So what happens when I get sick? When I really have something to worry about?

Worried about getting more worried.

The worry gene runs in my family. It comes from my father's people. My daughter The Heir has it worse than me. (The Spare, favoring Mr. Johnson's family, doesn't worry enough.)

You know what I need? A ShamWow to soak up all the worry, every last drop! Have you seen the ShamWow infomercial? What a revolutionary device!

I would love to get all this worry under control before the day comes that I have something real to worry about and I find myself saying, "I can't believe I worried about where The Spare's cell phone was and how my computer was acting up."

Where's the Goddess Who Fights Anxiety? I would even take advice on this from the Flying Spaghetti Monster.

Sunday, February 08, 2009

Of Ham Hocks and Facebooks

Welcome to "The Gods Are Bored," finding the funny stuff even when the going's rough. Jobless, hopeless, sad or tense? Call bored gods to get them hence!

This is the time of year when the thoughts stray to a warm, nourishing bowl of bean soup. Forget the unfortunate production of unwanted methane brought on by consuming this commodity. It's still a healthy food.

Yesterday Mr. Johnson expressed an interest in bean soup. So I toddled off to the Snobville grocery store in search of a bag of mixed beans and a couple of ham hocks.

I can't imagine that any of my ten readers wouldn't know what a ham hock is, but to refresh your memory: It's some part of a pig that comes in roundish shapes and is composed of bones, gristle, and fat. Having very little (if any) meat on them, ham hocks are used to flavor other foods, i.e., beans.

Traditionally, ham hocks are the cheapest meat in a grocery store, with the possible exception of that potted stuff and plain old soup bones. Imagine my surprise when the Snobville grocery wanted five dollars for three ham hocks!

I stood in the meat aisle and had a conversation with the air that went something like this: "Can I believe my eyes? Five bucks for a trio of ham hocks? What is this, a ploy to make rich yuppies feel like they're buying something of worth? Next thing you know, this store will be offering Spam at the no-nonsense price of ten dollars a tin! Wait. What do I hear? Oh, by all the bored gods, it's my dear old granny, turning in her grave!"

It's a curious thing I've noticed, that when I get to talking to the air that way, people tend to avoid me. At home in Appalachia, at least three other folks would have joined in solidarity, proclaiming that price for ham hocks to be delusional.

But laugh no longer, Granny. For the same price, five bucks, I got a whole pork shoulder -- much more meat, same smoked flavor, less fat and gristle, twice the weight! As I told Mr. Johnson when I got home, I won't buy five dollar ham hocks until ground beef costs thirty bucks a pound.

Other news of note: Something odd has happened to my Facebook. It's like that site and that site alone has a weird virus. I can't get on it, and if I do, it knocks me off ... and the whole way off the Internet to boot. So if you make a friend request and I don't get back to you, that's why. I guess daughter The Spare or I might have downloaded some junk to my hard drive that's just whacking away at Facebook and (so far so good) nothing else.

If you have a basic comprehension of computers, and you can help me fix this problem, my email is in my profile page. I've tried scrubbing, soaking ... oh wait. That was the upholstery. I've tried running the antivirus scan, cleaning out the cookies, temps, and adware, and re-booting. No luck.

Anyway, I'm glad it's Facebook and not Blogger that's got the stubborn won't-run-blues. But I think the loss of the social site is hitting poor Spare pretty hard.

Enjoy your day!

Saturday, February 07, 2009

Housekeeping Matters

Welcome to "The Gods Are Bored!" Saturday may be the day of rest in some religions, but we Druids have to do housework. The back yard is getting a little messy, don't you think?

Here's a link to that wonderful article about vultures. Actually it was in Slate magazine:

Also, the best way to get to Vulture News is to Google Vulture News. It's part of a big scholarly publishing venture, so its URL is just a big string of letters and numbers. But anyway, I'll give it a little shove, and we'll see if it works:

Remember, we here at TGAB are stinkin at linkin.

Another bit of housework is a change of address for Evn, the Lover of Strife. Get some strife in your life! Fabulous bored god on that page.

Last but not least, my Facebook has been hoppin lately, but sometimes I either can't add a friend or won't add a friend if I don't know the person and we have no mutual friends. So if you want to befriend me on Facebook, I can best be found by my email: And then leave a message: "I read your stupid blog," or some such.

Okay, I can't put off steam cleaning the upholstery one minute longer. Ta ta!

Friday, February 06, 2009

Work For Hire

Welcome to "The Gods Are Bored!" Like so many deities, I'm underemployed. Not under-worked, underemployed. There's a difference.

No matter when you were born, chances are you were on the forefront of some social movement (for better or worse). I have been on the forefront of two.

The first was computer use. When I was a salaried employee at a publishing house back in the mid-1980s, I remember the day when they rolled in the very first word processor. I was the first one to sit down and use it. For a long time it was mine all mine.

The second social change that has influenced my life was the push toward using contract employees instead of salaried workers. I've been an independent contractor since 1987. This was only possible because my husband is a salaried employee at a struggling, but still viable, firm.

If you've never been a contract employee, you probably have great knees. Why? Because contract employees always have to get down on their knees and beg for the check for services rendered.

If I had all the time back that I've spent trying to chase down paychecks, I would have me one hell of a free weekend. Especially in freelance writing, your editor wants the copy on deadline, but he's coldly indifferent to your need for timely compensation.

I worked as an independent contractor for ESPN for two years. And every time I mention it, people say, "Why did you ever leave? Wasn't it a great job?"

Hell no. It was a crappy job. Ridiculous deadlines, keeping me up until 2:00 a.m., 14-hour days five days in a row ... and then ... the check didn't come. Months would pass, and no payment. The payroll guy would never pick up his phone, and if he did he would say, "I never got the invoice." Then he would dodge further phone calls.

This is no way to live. Just ask any bored god who used to get nice fatted calves or whatever, and who now lives on the few and far-between coins tossed in a sacred spring.

The primary reason I sought employment outside the writing world was that I wanted reliable checks that came on the 15th and 30th of the month. So now I'm with the federal government, and guess what? No checkee. I'm now re-engaging the bended knee to a new payroll clerk.

If you get a regular payroll check, I want you to take the next one you get and kiss the print off it. And if you get direct deposit, kiss the bank machine that reveals your paycheck-enhanced balance. Trust me, it's tough as all get-out to run a family budget when the check is always in the mail and never in the mailbox.

I'm Anne Johnson, and I approved this rant.

Thursday, February 05, 2009

Constant Comments

Welcome to "The Gods Are Bored!" Enter by the portal of your choice, but be sure to close the entryway. We're trying to conserve energy.

All ten of my readers must visit me by way of my profile page. How else could I have gotten 17,500 profile views since 2005? That's more people than live in my town! (Or it's ten people, each looking 1750 times.)

Recently I've gotten some fabulous comments.
An anonymous commenter alerted me to a article about vultures. A link below that article (which was fabulous) sent me to a publication I'd never heard of before: Vulture News! Yes. You are reading right. Twice a year, a company in Africa publishes a journal all about vultures! And what fascinating reading! To whit:

1. Scavenging and predation by Black Vultures Coragyps atratus at a South American sea lion breeding colony (pp. 4 - 15)
2. Waste management and Hooded Vultures on the Legon Campus of the University of Ghana in Accra, Ghana, West Africa (pp. 16 - 22)

3. Demography of migratory vultures in and around Jodhpur, India (pp. 23 - 34)

4. Vulture populations in Pakistan and the Gyps Vulture Restoration Project (pp. 35 - 43)
Who could resist such captivating literature! And I have you, Anonymous, to thank for this! What is your favorite kind of pie? Consider it baked, as soon as Sears fixes my oven!

Morning Angel left an interesting comment on my previous post about the dwindling use of oral history in our modern, writing-laden world. The Angel wonders if this de-emphasis on memory has contributed to an increase in Alzheimer's disease, as well as in the disrespect our elders reap from us these days. Angel, I think the latter is almost certainly the case. Not long ago, it was the oldest shaman who remembered the weather from decades past and could predict when the worst storms would come. And do a damned better job than Accu-Weather at that!

I have found that if I turn the "moderate comments" application on for this blog, I'm not able to get comments at all. Therefore, "The Gods Are Bored" remains open to my one and only troll. He can say what he likes about me, but he tends to use my comments forum as a place to spew venom on some of my other readers. Well, it ain't gonna happen, because I'm vain enough to read my comments a few times a day, and if I see his face, I hit the little trash can faster than you can say RAT FINK.

We at "The Gods Are Bored" appreciate your feedback, so long as no one gets hurt and the furniture doesn't get stained. Thanks for caring enough to have a say!

Tuesday, February 03, 2009

Oral History

Welcome to "The Gods Are Bored," mighty in our whitey-tighties! We vastly prefer pajamas to nighties. All righty?

Yesterday I wrote about not reading up on my religion, rather just sort of going with the flow of it and picking up this and that as I move along. This goes along with my experience of religion as an extra-sensory aspect of life. Like, I would rather be in a trance than bake a casserole and go to CCD.

I didn't make myself clear in the previous post. I said that Druids didn't write anything down. This is because they transmitted knowledge orally. The most knowledgeable among them had prodigious memories.

The Celts were not the only culture that used this method. Let us not forget Homer and his ancient pals. Imagine being able to say the whole Iliad from memory! But people used to be able to do that.

This brings me to the benefits of oral transmission of knowledge. The knowledge can change as conditions do. In other words, if you've been taught orally that the Earth is the center of the universe, and some scientist comes along and proves this not to be the case, you can pass along to your students the newly-discovered fact without having to re-publish all your literature.

Druidry appeals to me because, in this modern world, it allows for the incorporation of scientific advances (indeed, encourages these, so long as they're ethical). One doubts that Druids were strict constructionists in law, either. Times change, circumstances change, and the wise person embraces this reality.

Thus it is possible to be a good Druid and also believe in evolution, stem cell research, the abolition of human slavery, and research into stain-repellent upholstery fabrics.

Personally I wish we moderns put more emphasis on orally-transmitted information, be it poetry or family legends or quadratic equations. I fear that this part of our brains is atrophying for lack of use. We can't always assume that computers -- or even paper and pens -- will be around to help us recall things. The Druids depended upon their brains for storage. Not a bad plan.

*I would like to thank everyone who suggested stain removals for the unfortunate accident on my armchair. I wish I didn't have perfect upholstery as a personal goal/obsession, but what are you gonna do?

*Postscript to a pesky troll: Billy, don't comment on my web log. If you call yourself a gentleman, you won't leave comments here. If you consider yourself intelligent, you will not comment here. If you want to engage in spirited dialogue, I highly recomment Stuff God Hates. There's plenty of room for you there.

Monday, February 02, 2009

Druidry and Other Important Topics

Welcome to "The Gods Are Bored," where we write about religion, politics, and upholstery care. On the latter subject, this has not been a good week. The cat became ill on the armchair. Devastating!

A few years ago I switched religions. I had been raised in a religion and knew its written canon fairly well. What I knew appalled me and was no small reason for my departure from that religion.

So I became a Druid. There is no Bible of Druidry, although there are many books about the theology and practice of the faith.

I've decided not to read any of them. This is just me personally, but I find that if I read religious doctrine, I start poking holes in it. The not-so-nice way of putting it is that I'm critical. "But what about..." is my favorite sentence-starter.

There are several parts of Druidry that appeal to a person like me.

1. The ancient Druids did not write anything down, hence no ancient dogma that must factor into modern human relationships.

2. Druidry invites study of just about anything that relates to the natural world, including botany, animal husbandry, weather (a huge FAVE with me), etc. So it's a good match for a person who is scientifically inclined. At the same time, many sorts of divination and magick are available for study in Druidry, all done by personal choice instead of requirement.

3. Rituals are conducted out of doors, in all weathers and all seasons. I find this appealing because Nature is much grander than anything a human can build, and because no one is asking me to pledge to a building fund so we can get better stained windows and a coffee bar in the fellowship hall.

4. The poems and stories associated with the ancient Celtic people are dramatic and romantic and, at least compared to the Christian Bible, far less gory (although not completely gore-less).

5. There are Goddesses.

6. There are faeries.

Sunday I went to an Imbolc ritual. The ritual itself lasted about 30 minutes, but those of us who came out into the woods stood there talking for two hours. We stood because the picnic tables were crusted with ice. But the fact is, we stood talking for two hours. On our feet. and two of us have had surgery on our legs this year.

Then we went out to lunch and talked for another hour. The topics ranged far and wide, from shenanigans at Ren Faires and Fairy Festivals to books read, to stories being written, to plans being hatched, to plans coming to fruition, and to the glorious weather. This is not Bible study, it's World Immersion, with approval from the bored gods.

Now. On to the important stuff. Does anyone know how to get cat vomit stains out of chintz?