Sunday, May 31, 2009

Sunday Adventures at Walt Whitman's Tomb

Welcome to "The Gods Are Bored," on this, Walt Whitman's 190th birthday! If you ask me, he and Emily Dickinson run neck-and-neck in the Best American Poet race.

Twenty years ago today, I was as wretched as I've ever been in my life. I was two weeks overdue with my first child. The temperature hovered around 90 degrees, and our house had no air conditioning. I was so enormous I could hardly move. The lazy thing inside me seemed in no hurry whatsoever to breathe the clear air of New Jersey.

Today I stood in Harleigh Cemetery at the tomb of Walt Whitman, with my daughter The Heir at my side. We were there to honor Walt's 190th birthday. Heir only missed sharing Walt's birthday by one single day. On June 1 she turns 20.

Most of the people attending the informal Walt Whitman anniversary were our usual suspects from the poetry group Heir and I belong to. The Monkey Man presided, but we all said a few words about how we became interested in Walt Whitman and where Walt fits in our lives today. So of course I spoke about telling my students from Camden that the city once was Whitman's, but now it is theirs, and they should write about their Camden. They are ready to do it, trust me.

One of the people there was not a regular. He was a young dude with a day's worth of stubble and a funky urban t-shirt. When our homage to Whitman ended, this dude struck up a conversation with The Heir. And it occurred to me suddenly that the baby who was reluctant to breathe New Jersey air in 1989 is now taking huge gulps of it in 2009 and is a magnificent human being.

When The Heir was born, her grandparents and great-grandparents on both sides of the family encouraged me to get her involved in a good church, so that she would grow up with strong moral values. And I followed that advice for many, many years. It was disastrous. Heir wanted no part of choir, youth group, acolyte, Sunday School. In all her years as a budding young Methodist, the only thing she ever did that meant anything to her was go to a homeless shelter to mop the floors. Asked by the pastor how she would describe God, she said, "Temperamental."

So, has this failure as a Methodist turned into an immoral reprobate? Bamp. No. Quite independent of any praise and worship system whatsoever, she has grown up sober, hard-working, compassionate, and trustworthy. And beautiful. She's the very model of the modern secular humanist.

There are 517, 234 citizens in Camden County, New Jersey. The Heir was the only one under 21 to go to Walt Whitman's grave and honor him on his birthday. If that doesn't beat youth group by a country mile, I don't know what does.

Pagan values? Honor your local Bard.

"As for me, I know nothing but miracles."
-- Walt Whitman

Saturday, May 30, 2009

Pagan Values: The Clinic

Welcome to "The Gods Are Bored!" If it's a beautiful Saturday morning with perfect temperatures and blue skies, it only means one thing. The abortion protesters will be out in numbers. Rain keeps them away.

I like to get out to an exercise class on Saturday mornings. My drive takes me past a women's health clinic about a half mile from my house. This morning the clinic was surrounded by protesters (most of them men). As I passed, I saw an old man with a white beard approach a young woman as she got out of her car.

It's probably a very good thing that this clinic is on a busy roadway with no streetside parking. Because if I could have stopped, I'd have done a knee-jerk reaction thing and gone after that dude.

But my Pagan values prevailed, and I drove on.

It works like this. If you respect freedom of the mind, and human rights, then you have to grant the bearded guy the right to speak his mind. He feels strongly about what he is doing. I couldn't possibly agree with him less, but the U.S. Constitution protects his right to behave badly.

If I get out of my car and go over there in defense of that woman he's bothering, I might actually step on his rights by giving him the whuppin he so richly deserves. He's not touching the woman, she's not touching him. If I intervene, the cops haul me away. And rightly so.

So, what is a Pagan to do about freedom of speech at the women's clinic? Do I go there with my wand and call peace from the Quarters? Frankly I think that would be as freaky to the clinic patients as the abortion protesters.

Except if I do it when no one is there.

One Pagan value, I think, is to do what you can to make yourself feel good about a situation. Driving past that clinic on Saturday mornings gets my weekend off to a horrible start. So I need to work some personal magic that will get me past that spot without sucking in the negativity. In the process, I also want to endow the property with protective spirits that will confound the protesters' abilities to prey upon women they don't know who haven't asked for their attention.

White magic can be as simple as endowing a place with an essence. It can be a seen essence, such as plastic dinosaurs on a playground, or an unseen essence, such as incense that disappears into the air. It can even be prayers or incantations.

Personally I like to leave something tangible behind -- something that people will find and puzzle over.

It happens I've got a nice sack of quartz crystals on hand right now. A judicious placement of crystals in the shrubbery surrounding the clinic will, at the very least, make me feel better. Quartz imparts calm. This clinic is a place that needs to have its energy level tamed a bit.

So there you have it. One Pagan's response to a troubling Saturday morning scene.

If you would like to send a crystal or other small stone to place on the property of the Cherry Hill Women's Health Center, please email me for address.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Pagan Values Month

Welcome to "The Gods Are Bored," where we make a dollar holler and a dime sublime! We're always searching out the best values here. Hey, you can't be both rich and good-looking, can you?

Almost everything the Pagan community does in this country is done informally. And so it is in a very informal way that some bloggers have designated June to be "Pagan Values Month." In which we're supposed to talk about the deep philosophical underpinnings of our behavior, and how Paganism shapes that.

Except, ahem. Very little deep thinking goes on at this site. As you know if you visit from time to time.

We don't want to be left behind though!

Oh wait. Yes we do want to be Left Behind. Just number us among the meek who will inherit the Earth. Tweak a cheek, it's great to be meek!

In the interest of being participatory, we at "The Gods Are Bored" will address the issue of Pagan values in the upcoming month of June. Specifically, we are going to take a tour of the Bored God Thrift Store and see if we can find some deities that are good bargains, worth our praise and worship, and totally overlooked!

If you think this is a waste of time, let me just tell you that I asked the bored Goddess Cloaca to guard a pretty little dry run stream in Allegany County, Maryland. And by golly, she's been so happy for the work that nary a stone of that stream has been pushed by the bulldozers that were supposed to route it into a reservoir!

So join us as we look for the best deity at the lowest price.

Halve a grate day,

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

They Finally Saved the Fort

Welcome to "The Gods Are Bored!" Do you believe in ghosts?

***Here's where Anne planned to put the picture of Fort Mifflin, but she can't figure out how to load it since she just cleaned her C Drive***

Do you believe in ghosts?

Wow. That's a loaded question. We haven't discussed ghosts much here at TGAB, because first of all we would have to define the concept of "ghost," and proceed from there. And we haven't got all day, for the love of fruit flies! There's furniture to be cleaned.

For the purpose of argument, let's just say that "ghost" is a catch-all word for paranormal phenomena that includes the extrasensory perception of departed people whose spirits linger between dimensions.

Whew. Forget the upholstery. That's a damned good definition!

There's a Revolutionary War-era fort on the Delaware River just downstream of Philadelphia. It's name is Fort Mifflin. The fort has been preserved as a museum, but I must warn you: Its official web site has annoying sounds of cannon shot ... and its location is right next to Philadelphia International Airport. Whether you plan a virtual or a real-time visit, you're going to hear some really really loud noise.

If you Google "Fort Mifflin ghost" about a gazillion sites pop up. The fort is notorious for its paranormal activity. During the Revolutionary War, American patriots were killed defending it (fruitlessly). During the Civil War, it served as a less-than-sanitary prison camp for Rebel soldiers. Bound to be a few ghosties hanging out there.

Last year, not surprisingly, Fort Mifflin ran into financial difficulties. Its staff got laid off and its bills went unpaid. Finally the only remaining employee put on his thinking cap and asked himself, "How can I save this museum?"

Answer: Reach out to the psychic community.

A year later, Fort Mifflin is chock-a-block with funds, it's open every weekend, and many special events are scheduled for the summer of 2009. This is because, through psychic and paranormal Web sites, the Fort's director was able to raise donations to balance the budget.

What the American soldiers couldn't save in 1777, they've saved in 2009.

The fort will be holding a paranormal investigation from July 31 through August 2. If you want to register for it, you can email to make a reservation. Or turn down your speakers and hit the fort's home page.

I haven't had an extra-sensory experience in 34 years. Truth be told, my five senses sometimes let me down. But I'd like to go to Fort Mifflin sometime this summer, and that weekend sounds like a promising one. A bevvy of psychics trying to communicate with deceased Revolutionary War soldiers would sure beat a bunch of fat, old, drunken men in polyester re-enactor uniforms, pretending to be something no one would ever choose to be -- a doomed young man, cut down in the prime of life.

A toast to the ghosts of Fort Mifflin! Haunt on, elusive phantoms. There are bills to be paid.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

A Modest Proposal

Welcome to "The Gods Are Bored!" You're looking well today. Hope you had a restful weekend.

Jonathan Swift once wrote a satire called "A Modest Proposal" in which he suggested that the children of poor Irish peasants be gathered up, cooked, and served to the wealthy Irish elite as a gourmet food. This, he said, would solve the problem of poverty in Ireland, as the poor mothers would be paid for their "crops."

My proposal is just as modest but a bit more serious.

There's not a drop of Irish blood in me, unless one of my Ulsterman ancestors married outside the clan. Which I doubt. Nevertheless, I'm aghast, but not surprised, by the news of abuse by Roman Catholic teachers of generations of poor students in "schools" for the underprivileged.

Honestly, did we not know this was happening? Even as it happened? Even as it continues to happen?

So, what is an Irish Roman Catholic to do about this?

Here's a modest proposal. DUMP THAT SATAN SECT.

Cast off your pope, your priests, your sadist nuns! Turn your back on those stone churches and walk onto Tara, where the deities of your ancestors wait for you!

Ireland, take back your bored gods. They will not allow your children to be abused!

Ask for them by name: The Dagda, Morrigan, Aine, Danu. Plead for their help in removing the shackles of a religion that does more harm than good. Worship the deities who have no Book of Right and Wrong, just a code of basic morality that can change with the times: do no harm.

Ireland, return to The Ancient Ones. They are waiting for you. With open arms.

Monday, May 25, 2009

Memorial Day 2009

Welcome to "The Gods Are Bored" on Memorial Day, 2009! If you're stuck in traffic, I told you not to go to the beach!

When U.S. troops invaded Iraq at the instigation of George W. Bush and Dick Cheney, I vowed not to attend a Memorial Day service while they were in office. You know us Scotch-Irish. We can be a stubborn lot.

Today we have a new president in office, a new Supreme Court justice about to be appointed, and the sun is shining brightly. So my daughter The Spare and I re-joined the ranks of the Snobville Memorial Day service.

Spare actually placed the flag for the veterans of the Revolutionary War. I'm in the D.A.R. (Daughters of the American Revolution), and she's in the C.A.R. (Children of the American Revolution).

There was a small parade, but a big crowd to watch it. We handed out more than 250 American flags. First time I've felt like touching one in about eight years.

Between my last Memorial Day service and this one, I've become a Pagan. And so it was interesting to filter this community service through Pagan eyes. Of course it opened with a "God the Father" prayer by our local Methodist minister. We sang "God Bless America." (Well, they sang it. Spare and I didn't.) Of course there's that flag pledge that ought to be edited. And then, amidst the patriotic music, our local band (pathetic) played "Amazing Grace."

The mayor noted how our armed services are all voluntary. And those servicepeople are white, black, Hispanic, Asian, Jewish, Christian, and Muslim...

Is it clear yet? Daddy God rules this stuff. Never mind that more and more servicepeople are Pagan.

If I live to hear a mayor include "Pagan" in the list of soldiers serving their nation, I will feel that this is truly the land of the free and the home of the brave.

In the meantime, Spare and I agree that all the Daddy God stuff goes down well with the World War II vets, who are -- gulp -- now doddering men in their 80s.

Even scarier than the WWII vets ... The Vietnam guys have always stood on the margins of these things, almost defiantly refusing to participate. And they still do. But now they're a cluster of gray ponytails and "I dare ya" scowls, back under the tree across the street.

Time has flown. In the fullness thereof, some day a mayor will say, "Jew and Christian, Muslim and Pagan." And the Gulf War vets will dodder to their feet, and someone else's Spare will lay the flag.

For those of you who have been following TGAB for awhile, you'll recall that my family pays calls at the cemetery in Lawnside, New Jersey, where repose more than 100 Civil War veterans of color. (Note to Snobville's American Legion: Lawnside's bugler blows you whiteys away. Word.)

This year my daughter The Heir and I drove down the White Horse Pike (Heir loves the White Horse Pike) until we found a garden store that sells gooey Memorial Day wreaths. We bought one and placed it in the Civil War section of the Lawnside Cemetery. We did it Saturday, thus missing the awesome bugler. And happy day ... the Obama/Biden sign is still there, among the graves!

Time does march on, and peoples' minds get changed slowly. Then the paradigm shifts. A guy named "Obama" moves into the White House, certain states approve marriage for everybody, and women retain the right to choose how to care for their health. Can the day be coming when we won't hear "Amazing Grace" anymore, but instead "My Country, 'Tis of Thee?"

Friday, May 22, 2009

Another Controversial Dog Blog

Welcome to "The Gods Are Bored," where we love all domesticated animals, from hamsters to horses! If it purrs, barks, or squeaks, we're all for it.

However, we think owning pets should be governed by a certain logic.

The other morning I caught a snippet of some news show (don't you love the way I link?) in which a 70-year-old woman was denied the adoption of a puppy by a pet shelter. The shelter suggested that the woman adopt an older dog, because, well ... do the math.

The woman claimed that she had a 40-year-old son living at home who could take care of the dog if and when she couldn't. Why she didn't send that man to adopt the dog is a puzzlement. She didn't say what he might have done or not done that would be considered unworthy of pet adoption by an animal shelter.

This is personal for me. When my parents were in their sixties, they adopted a strong young hound -- the long-legged kind you see baying after foxes in the English countryside. The animal shelter people loved the dog and wanted to see him adopted at any cost. They didn't look at Mom's lazy fatness and Dad's incipient but noticeable Parkinson's disease. They just found a home for a favorite doggie.

Then Dad had to walk doggie. On countless occasions, the powerful animal pulled Dad off his feet. Once it happened in a remote area near an abandoned barn.

Heck, that dog was even too big for my parents' little house. His hound-baying could be heard a block away, and he seemed to fill any room he entered. Nor did age wither his abilities to bark or lunge on his leash unpredictably. It's lucky that the only person he ever bit was me, because any stranger would have pressed charges.

I don't blame the hound. I blame the shelter. I stand on the side of reason here. A 70-year-old should not adopt a puppy. It's not fair to the puppy. Pups belong in houses with young parents and little kids, so that the kids grow up with a trusted friend at their side. Or with young singles who want to jog every day.

The same goes for kittens. I've raised more than 50 foster kittens, but I've never kept a single one. My two live-in cats are of mature years. When they go (and I hope it's not for awhile), I'll adopt a mature cat, if I adopt any at all. I'm still in mid-life, but I don't want to be saddled with a young cat when I have to move out of my house.

So, facing the wrath of some, we at "The Gods Are Bored" go on record as being against the adoption of puppies by people of retirement age. There are so many grown dogs languishing in pens ... dogs that would live a decade with less exercise and less space, and be happy the whole time. And considering that Woodstock Training Company just lost a cat that was 19 and had lived in the store her whole life, I strongly suggest retirees pass on kittens as well.

Remember, it's not just about you. It's about the pet as well.

This free advice comes from the owner of a despicably loud macaw that will outlive its owner. Ask me what I would do if I could make that decision a second time! Talk about a ball-and-chain.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Another Pilgrimage

Welcome to "The Gods Are Bored," your deity daily! Pay close attention to the "Worship Wanted" section -- we have some discount coupons for bargain pantheons.

Yesterday the weather was about as good as it gets in the Delaware Valley. There wasn't a cloud in the sky, the temperature stood at about 75 F, and a cool breeze blew up from the southwest. My daughter The Heir and I went to a Walt Whitman pilgrimage in Camden.

I'm sure you know who Walt Whitman is, but did you know that he spent the last years of his life in a two-story row house in Camden, New Jersey? He arrived in Camden in 1873 to be at the bedside of his dying mother, and he just stayed. His house is a museum now.

Our old friend the Monkey Man led the pilgrimage. He channeled his inner Walt and was dressed for the part. He can recite long sections of "Leaves of Grass" and "Song of Myself." He started the evening with "Crossing Brooklyn Ferry," since our pilgrimage began on the shore of the Delaware River, facing Philadelphia.

I wondered what Walt Whitman would think of Philadelphia, with its skyscrapers and huge steel bridges, one of them bearing his name into the here and now. I wondered what he would think of the giant tanker that edged up the river, and the busy little tugboat that arrived to guide it to shore. I suppose toward the end of his life there must have been ships that big. Not certain on that.

From the river we walked to Stephen Street, where Whitman's brother and mother lived. The house has been torn down. There's a plot of grass where it used to be, and a vacant lot across the street. The Monkey Man said a friend of his came upon the demolition of the house as it was commencing and snatched some architectural pieces from the property before it disappeared.

It is impossible to walk even a few blocks in Camden without being reminded that it's one of the most impoverished and desperate cities in America. The citizens who watched our progress looked grim or stoned, or they ignored us altogether (more googly-eyed white people, frothing over Walt Whitman).

Walt's house has been nicely restored. It wasn't open, so we lingered on the street, sharing poems. The Heir pointed out a nest of starlings in the eaves of the adjoining building.

What's most remarkable about this wonderful poet's house is the view from the front steps. The home of Walt Whitman is across the street from the Camden County Jail. This is the facility where prisoners are processed before they head off to the penitentiary. The Monkey Man pointed out that the last part of the real world the felons see is Walt Whitman's house.

He also mentioned another phenomenon, and while we were there, it happened.

Family members of the incarcerated come and stand in the street and use their own personal sign language to communicate with the prisoners, high up in the tower, peering through small windows. A woman and a girl about nine years old crossed in front of us and then stared up at the heights of the building and waved. Well, the woman waved. The little girl just stood there. After about two minutes, they turned and walked away in the direction from which they had come.

The Monkey Man, who spends a good deal of time in that location, has written a poem about the signers. I wouldn't presume to publish it without his permission, but I'll ask. His poems are wonderful, but they're best when he reads them aloud. He's quite dramatic.

The image that will stay with me from this pilgrimage is not that of Walt Whitman's quaint abode, but of the blight surrounding it, the hopelessness and dissatisfaction, the eerie quiet of deserted city streets that could be bustling with people, the woman waving good-bye. What song would Walt Whitman compose for this Camden? His ghost must mourn.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

We Sell Them Short

Welcome to "The Gods Are Bored," where we're always for the birds! And guess what? For once we're not going to talk about buzzards!

(Okay, you in the last row! I heard that! Get out. Now!)

My sister recently moved across the Potomac from West Virginia to Maryland. She had a nice little house in West Virginia, but it was in one of those endless subdivisions that sprout up and grow like a zit on a teenager's cheek.

Sis lived in the house quite awhile. At first the little trees she planted were just that -- little. But gradually they grew until they became fit for bird nesting.

One of the trees had some kind of berry on it that mockingbirds like. Sis started telling me about this mockingbird (she called him Fred) who had taken residence in her yard and would battle other mockingbirds to the quick in order to lay claim to that berry tree.

Sis had a bird feeder (also dominated by Fred). She enjoyed watching Fred rule the roost. And speaking of roosts, he raised several broods in the berry tree.

One day Sis said to me, "You know, I think that bird recognizes me. When I come outside he hops right to where I can see him and goes through his whole repertory of bird calls."

Crazy to think a mockingbird could recognize an individual? I just read a Yahoo story that says scientists have done a study on mockingbirds. Not only do they recognize individual people, they recognize those people no matter how the people are dressed, and no matter what direction the people walk towards them from. According to the story, it takes an adult mockingbird about three days to learn a person's face.

Must have been a cinch for Fred to recognize my sister, the only person at home on the whole block during the day. And no wonder he feted her with song! She was good to him.

We humans sit so high and mighty on our thrones of cognition. To that I say, "Phooey!" We'd be a lot better off if we gave other critters some credit for their intelligence. Take vultures, for instance...

... Oh snap! I said I wasn't going to talk about vultures today! Okay, I'm finished.

Monday, May 18, 2009

The Broad Brush Misses Sometimes

Welcome to "The Gods Are Bored!" All in all we're just another brick in the wall.

Today at the Vo-Tech the juniors got their High School Proficiency Test scores. Those who passed were cheering out loud, hugging each other, brimming with happiness. You see, it's extremely difficult for the student population at the Vo-Tech to pass that test. The test is a cornerstone of "No Child Left Behind," laden to the plimsol line with tough math and literature exercises.

We don't want to leave any children behind. But I have to wonder what they mean by "behind."

When you figure that there are immigrants who can hardly speak English running convenience stores and making good money, while there are blue-bloods with Ph.D.s driving taxis and hardly making ends meet, what is behind?

When I graduated from high school, there were some graduates in my class who could barely read. So, if you can barely read, are you unemployable?

Suppose a kid starts working at McDonald's at age 15 and shows a good ethic. The kid stays with McDonald's, gets older, moves up to shift manager by age 18. But the same hard-working kid doesn't pass that high school test. Can't get a diploma. What does McDonald's do? Do they fire the kid, keep the kid in the lowest rung, or keep promoting a hard worker? All snobbiness aside, it is possible to earn a middle-class living from a McDonald's restaurant if you own it or manage it, or both.

I am a tutor who helps prepare students for the high school proficiency test. Most of my students will tell you they need the tutoring. And I'm glad to help them improve their reading skills. We are a reading culture after all. For now.

But I have a student who is kind, punctual, and quiet. He's slightly disabled in the lower limbs. And he can hardly read. He says he doesn't like to read. My guess is that this student will struggle mightily to get that high school diploma, if he does get it. He is the child in danger of being left behind. And if he is, that's just a disgrace. It means that we measure students by the correctness of their tests, not the content of their character. Nice means nothing.

I don't know how this could be done, but here's what I think should happen. I think any student who can't pass the standardized testing required for a high school diploma ought to be given the chance to argue his or her case for the sheepskin, mustering any evidence of worthiness. Perhaps a student would fix a broken car or build a shed. Perhaps a student could bring testimonials from employers, pastors, teachers ... I don't know. The devil's in the details.

But I do know that using standardized tests -- The Spare took another one today, and said it was hard -- lets some good apples go to rot in the barrel. Let's expand that high school evaluation to include some intangibles. If you met some of the people I know, you would see what I mean.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Is Your Family Like This?

Welcome to "The Gods Are Bored!" Do you have in-laws? Do they drive you bonkers?

No, they don't drive you bonkers? Don't play the lottery, because you've already maxed out your good luck.


Introduction: Caller #1 lives in Baltimore. Caller #2 lives in Philadelphia. Over a period of five days, they plan a picnic for a family member who has just earned a master's degree.


Caller #1: We'll have a really nice time. It will just be your family and theirs. I'm making potato salad and baked beans. We'll grill some hamburgers.

Caller #2: Oh, that's great! Our family hardly ever gathers, just us. The kids will love it! What would you like me to bring?

Caller #1: A cake, maybe. And some fruit.


Caller #1: Oh, I guess I should tell you. They've invited Sally and her five kids.

Caller #2: That's fine. The kids all get along.

Caller #1: Maybe you'll want to make some cupcakes or something, for the kids. And bring some kid stuff. You know, chips and pretzels and cookies.

Caller #2: Okay.


Caller #1: The party starts at five. There's your family and their family, Sally and the kids, Jim and Jessie and their family, and a few other people.

Caller #2: Wait a minute. The party starts at five? And now Jim and Jessie are coming, and maybe some other people? We thought it was just going to be our two families, an afternoon thing! We can't come at five, it's too late! Mr. Johnson has to work on Sunday.

Caller #1 (huffy): There's plenty of daylight left at 5:00! What's the matter with you people? I'm really angry!

Caller #2: Okay, I'm sorry if you're angry, but we can't do an evening party. Mr. Johnson has to work on Sunday...

Caller #1 (huffy): Well, if you invite people over at lunchtime, then you wind up having to feed them two meals!

Caller #2: Oh! The clothes dryer just beeped! I don't want to waste any energy! Better go get those clothes... Bye bye! (Click.)

I suppose it's uncharitable for me to not want to attend a party 100 miles away that begins at 5:00 p.m., especially when I was led to believe it would be a small family event and was told at the 11th hour that it had morphed into a typical big-group affair. But I'm tending to think that the people who invited us knew darned well we would balk at the start time and back out. It's just a hunch.

I'm not going to bother "Dear Abby" with this one.

Friday, May 15, 2009

Moron du Jour

Welcome to "The Gods Are Bored!" I read the news today, oh boy. About a lucky man who made the grade...

Actually this is the first morning that I haven't read the news in any form. Mr. Johnson canceled both the Philadelphia Inquirer and the New York Times. The only paper we're getting now is the Philadelphia Daily News, which is terrific for sports but a little thin otherwise.

Yesterday Mr. Johnson brought home the circulation numbers for all the local newspapers, from the biggie, the Inquirer, to the regional dailies that serve the suburbs. Every newspaper has lost circulation. But the biggest loser is the Philadelphia Inquirer.

About three years ago, the Philadelphia Inquirer and the Philadelphia Daily News were bought by a group led by a local man named Brian Tierney. Mr. Tierney promised the staffs of both papers that he wouldn't interfere with the editorial decisions of the papers. Then he slashed 150 Inquirer employees from the payroll.

Mr. Tierney, a devout Roman Catholic who had made a portion of his fortune working for the Philadelphia Archdiocese, did not keep his promise. He hired Rick Santorum for a bi-monthly column ($3400 a month for two columns). Yes, this is the same Rick Santorum who lost his last Senate election by a landslide, earning about 10 percent of Philadelphia's votes.

Santorum, favorite moron of "The Gods Are Bored," has used his bully pulpit in the Inquirer to berate liberals (of course), to berate Roe v. Wade and call for it to be overturned (of course), to skewer Barack Obama (who won Philly by about 89 percent of the vote), and to question global warming, and to tout Roman Catholic family values.

The Inquirer already had two conservative columnists, the repulsive Kevin Ferris, whose work is about 50 percent unreadable, and Jonathan Last, whose name says it all.

But this week Mr. Tierney got the final fist to the gut. Keith Olbermann named the Inquirer one of the "worst persons in the world" for hiring torture proponent John Yoo to write columns. Turns out Tierney and Yoo were college chums.

Oh, did I mention that the Philadelphia Inquirer and the Philadelphia Daily News are in bankruptcy? Tierney owns both.

We at "The Gods Are Bored" support fair and balanced reporting and opinion pages. We do not mind reading the likes of Rick Santorum occasionally. But what kind of decision-making goes into hiring conservative -- even controversial -- columnists in a market that is at least 75 percent liberal, probably higher among newspaper readers? What do we get next? Lavish coverage of the Dallas Cowboys?

I miss my newspaper! But I stand with Mr. Johnson on this. It was possible to buy the Inquirer with Rick Santorum in it. Not possible with Yoo. Sorry. Not possible.

Funny thing is, the creditors seeking satisfaction from Mr. Tierney will probably demand that one of the newspapers close down. Which one do you think it will be ... the one alienating its readers by hiring Bush era goons, or the one that everyone turns to for sex advice and in-depth sports coverage?

You know who ought to be let go? Brian Tierney, right-wing moron par excellence. I don't know how the man can even walk. He's shot himself in the foot so many times it must be down to a stump.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

One Tiny Faerie Blows Down a Door

Welcome to "The Gods Are Bored," fair to faeries and kind to minds since 2005! My how times fly when you're halving sums!

Perhaps three of my four readers go back so far with "The Gods Are Bored" that they know about my sister and her happy Pentacostal church. Sis became a deeply religious Christian after getting a job at a Christian radio station. Before she got the job, she was your average joe religion-wise, and very, very funny. But listening to that music, and those talk shows, day after day after day started to alter her view of the world. It was like a willful brainwashing. Even after she was encouraged to quit her job because she got married, and married women weren't supposed to work outside the home, she carried this faith with her like a hiking staff that propped her up.

It's still possible to hear Focus on the Family as a murmuring undercurrent in Sis's house. But now it's the murmuring undercurrent, not the crashing waterfall.

What's happened? My sister found a faerie left behind in a dresser drawer. One little glo-in-the-dark faerie, the kind you might get for a quarter from a gumball machine.

Sis's house is now full of faeries. Faerie houses. Faerie statues. Faerie books. And yesterday, Sis spent the entire day building a faerie hostel in her backyard. She neglected her housework to do it!

Readers, this is huge. Not too long ago, my sister would neglect her health before she let her house get messy.

Last night she called me to tell me all about building the outdoor faerie hostel. She never sounded happier. And she said, "You know, when the door of imagination blows open, a lovely wind just strikes everything."

It's my experience that people who step through the "door of imagination" never feel satisfied by simple answers anymore. The rosy glow of multiple possibilities begins to seep in.

Thus it has been for my sister, and I needn't tell you that our relationship has done a 180. I love this new person I see. It's like she's been toting around a rock on her back and has shifted it and stood upright for the first time in 20 years.

She is planning to build a faerie habitat on the grounds of her church. Does anyone else feel that a circle might be closing that was first set in motion 1600 years ago?

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Waiting for a Monster

Welcome to "The Gods Are Bored!" So nice of you to drop by! Come on in and sit a spell. No, not there! No one ever sits on that chair. But isn't the upholstery gorgeous?

Have you ever noticed that when you're waiting for a monster, it doesn't arrive? And then, when your back is turned, there goes the monster, gobbling everything in sight.

Take it from me, Anne Johnson. Monsters always arrive unexpectedly.

I've been downstairs, doing housework. Waiting and watching for the UPS truck. You see, I'm expecting a monster to arrive today.

He's late.

The monster's name is GULP.

Yesterday I wrote about Otter the River God, kahuna tribal leader of the Spoutwood Fairy Festival. When Otter isn't gathering together his vast River Tribe, he and a co-host run puppet shows at the fair.

One of his puppets is a monster named GULP.

My daughter The Spare and I caught one of the puppet shows while we were at the fair, and afterwards we couldn't stop laughing about GULP. So I asked GULP to come and live with us.

After 21 years of Decibel the Parrot, a monster that says nothing but "Gulp" will be a welcome addition!

UPS promised GULP for today. It's almost five o'clock and ...

Wait a minute. Is that the dog across the street who hates the UPS driver???


Oh man. No mistaking that rumbling zoom of the UPS truck!

What ho! There's a box on the porch!

Mmmm. I should have asked Otter the River God what GULP eats. If I'm lucky, the thing will lust for live parrot.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Otter the River God

Welcome to "The Gods Are Bored," where we threaten every day to write about upholstery maintenance, and then we always find something else to talk about! One of these days. One of these days, we're going to trot out everything we know about crushed velvet. It's a considerable store of knowledge.

Okay, my ten readers out there. Today you must make a choice. You must choose a Tribal Leader.

On one hand you've got me, Anne Johnson, pictured in Sidebar clutching a toy turkey vulture to my cheek.

On the other hand, here's Otter the River God.

Oh, don't worry. You won't hurt my feelings. Heck, with competition like this, I don't even feel like following myself!

Otter is the Leader of the River Tribe at the Spoutwood fairy festival. He's held the position for many years and has built considerable loyalty in the ranks of annual attendees.

All Tribal Leaders must compete for Tribe members. Otter is quite good at it. Some of his devotees follow his lead and douse themselves with mud, so as to better reflect the spirit of River.

This was the first year that my daughter The Spare and I had to go head-to-head with Otter in competition for tribal recruits. The Spare entered the fray with vigor. Otter dismissed her with the flick of a hand. At that point I was ready to slink away like an egg-sucking dog. But when Otter weighed her in the balance and found her wanting, Fair Spare responded with a twitch of her well-plucked eyebrow and a flash of daring in her eye.

The Spare loves a challenge, and she's brimming to the plimsol line with moxie. (Don't ask me where her grandstanding comes from. She must have been switched at birth with some more sedate and pensive child.)

If Spare was switched at birth, I want to thank the nurse who did it. It's wonderful having a tag-team partner who doesn't shrink from a challenge.

And won't this look good on Spare's college applications: "Co-Leader, Mountain Tribe, Spoutwood Fairie Festival, 2009--." I bet some bleary-eyed recuiter will look twice at that.
Alone, I am no match for Mr. River. With Spare as my strong right arm, he has possibly met his match.

And so, together Spare and I will challenge all of the other Tribe Leaders, but especially the vivacious and popular Otter. We've got eyebrows, and we know how to use 'em.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Pilgrim's Progress, or Lack Thereof

Welcome to "The Gods Are Bored," pleasant chit-chat on the nature of the universe and the proper protection techniques for exotic upholstery! Just settee and forgetee!

Today I mulled two topics:

1. Know Your Professional Dry Cleaner, or
2. Making Pilgrimages to Sacred Shrines

The winner is #2!

One of the regular attendees at the Spoutwood Fairie Festival is a fellow named Andrew Steed. What a fascinating man! Andrew is the official bard of the festival, and his activities there run the gamut from extreme silliness to deeply moving Alchemical Fires. Perhaps you've met people like him who can dance from alpha to omega and be comfortable every step of the way.

Andrew gave a talk at the festival about spiritual pilgrimages to ancient sites in England, Scotland, Ireland, and Wales. He leads tours to these places and is given access to shrines that are otherwise off limits to the general public.

Who among us wouldn't just love to venture to the Old Country, to commune with the Ancestors on the very ground they held sacred?

Um, me.

Okay, okay. Go ahead and say it. Sour grapes, Anne! You don't have enough bread to go to Luray Caverns, let alone Stonehenge! Stop kvetching and start saving your milk money!

Seriously, it's not the money. Although I must admit that if I had the money, I sure would sign on the dotted line with Andrew and toddle off with him into the Yorkshire heath. But as he talked about pilgrimages, I began to ponder the nature of a pilgrimage and whether or not I'd ever taken one.

Turns out I'm an intrepid pilgrim.


My family has lived in the Appalachian Mountains for twelve generations. I don't have a single ancestor on either my mother's or my father's branches who arrived in America after 1740. The story is the same on both sides:

*Ride in little wooden ship to a Tidewater port.
*Move west.
*Stop at the first batch of mountains, set up camp, and breed.

Andrew talked about visiting the site of the Battle of Culloden (1746). By the time that conflict took place, my people were busy building farmhouses for their grandchildren in Pennsylvania and Maryland. There were Johnsons in the Revolutionary War, the Whiskey Rebellion, the War of 1812, and the Civil War. Members of my family participated in the Underground Railroad. A few are buried at Andersonville Prison. Granddad designed filters for gas masks used in World War II. Dad made the tires they put on the Jeeps.

And so, though my DNA traces back to the British Isles, my heart remains in Appalachia. Having been the first generation of my family to move away from the mountains, I have always been willing to crawl back to them on my hands and knees if necessary.

Appalachia is my pilgrimage destination, the place where I honor the Ancestors, the ground I crumple in my hand and kiss before I throw it to the wind.

Perhaps this spiritual link to Appalachia has been the inspiration for "The Gods Are Bored." My philosophy has been influenced by an author named Rodger Cunningham, whose book Apples on the Flood: The Southern Mountain Experience talks about how the core people of Appalachia survived on the margins of "civilization" not just in America, but in the British Isles, not just from the time of King James, but for millennia. And one of the hallmarks of these people is a modicum of adaptation, meaning that whatever deities are worshipped around them, they'll more or less accept.

Professor Cunningham did not apply his thesis to spiritual search, but I have. I don't know if my ancestors arrived in the Isles as Celts, or as Britons, or as Fir Bolgs, or maybe they were even there when the Ice Age ended and the English Channel formed.

This leaves me with two options on the spiritual front.

1. Adopt the popular deity of Appalachia, Jehovah, or

2. Interact gently with all deities.

I guess you know by now which choice I've made!

But when it comes to making pilgrimages, my footsteps forever and always will return to Appalachia -- to the graveyards with unreadable stones. To the rocky gaps too steep to be timbered. To the springs and the streams, and to the the winter ridges where you can see for miles and miles and miles and miles. And miles.

If you want me to broaden my horizons, by all means send me a check, and I'll blissfully go tramping with Andrew. But only after I make that trip to Andersonville, Georgia. That's as far as I go beyond the mountains, unless the Goddess Fortuna plans otherwise.

Tomorrow: Chenille or Jacquard: Essential Fabrics or Passing Fads?

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Always Need a Spare

Welcome to "The Gods Are Bored!"

This has probably happened to you. You're cruising down the Interstate, just under the radar, and suddenly there's a big POP, and then thump thump thump thump, and your car lists onto the shoulder.

You get out, and if you know anything at all about cars (which I sure don't), you get out the tools and start changing the tire.

Of course, in order to change the tire and go on your way, you need a good spare. At least something that will save you from the danger of whizzing traffic and the odd Jason or Freddie who might cruise by and know a sitting duck when they see one.

Spares are handy. They can be lifesavers.

I'm thinking of this today because it's Mother's Day. My daughter The Spare created a PowerPoint for me and left it up on the computer for me to see this morning. Each slide is basically a slice of what she likes about me:

*Slide One: Vultures, of course.
*Slide Two: Snowscapes, caption: "Don't say the word, or you'll jinx it!" (It hardly ever snows here.)
*Slide Three: "Road Trip Anyone?" Fun shots of things we've done in our limited travels -- limited by money, not by imagination.
*Slide Four: Cats. Our resident cats, Alpha and Beta, our foster kittens, some cute kitty shots.
*Slide Five: "I Do Believe in Fairies" -- no more description necessary!
*Slide Six: "Mommy, I love you!" From The Spare

When we were at the Spoutwood Fairie Festival and some of my blog readers came up to me, The Spare introduced herself as "The Spare." I'll bet a lot of people wouldn't like being called such a thing.

But when you're on that highway, and the tire blows, you realize how badly you need a Spare. Mine keeps me road-worthy. I love her to death.

Saturday, May 09, 2009

Let Us All Now Praise Hippies

Welcome to "The Gods Are Bored," one foot firmly planted in the previous century, and cool with it! If you can't remember the twentieth century very well, you're either a whippersnapper, or you had one hell of a good time prior to 1999.

Do the math. If you were 20 years old in 1969, you are now ... emmm. Oh, look at the pretty azaleas! I think the rain has made them especially beautiful this year, don't you?

In all seriousness, the original hippies and beatniks are forging toward senior citizenship, full steam ahead. But they have blazed a beautiful trail. Hippies never represented the majority of people their age. Nor do today's young tie-dye Summer of Lovers represent their generation. But they're out there, in numbers. Personally I think Goth may come and go, but hippie is here to stay.

Today I attended the annual Maypole celebration at Woodstock Trading Company. As its name implies, Woodstock is a store where time stopped in 1975 and has never resumed. If what you need is a Bluetooth, look elsewhere. But a Hendrix t-shirt? Ten styles, small/medium/large/x-large.

Woodstock doesn't just have a Maypole. They have an iron Maypole, about 15 feet tall, that screws into the ground with intricate pipe fittings. They have probably a mile or more of ribbon all told. And they always engage a hippie band of some sort to provide music for the event.

The attendees of Woodstock's Maypole are not Pagans. They're original hippies and new generation hippies, swathed in tie-dye and hemp jewelry. For them, Maypole has no religious significance, it's just a colorful, fun way to spend a few hours on a sunny afternoon.

Today I got to thinking. If not for the original hippie generation, Maypole might have been lost. During an era when there were far fewer Pagans than there are now, hippies celebrated May Day and danced Maypoles ... just danced in general in a way seen nowadays at drum circles.

The owners of Woodstock Trading Company didn't turn a flagpole into a Maypole, they deliberately set out, 15 years ago, to construct a very sturdy Maypole. (It's so sturdy that we needed to borrow a pipe wrench from a nearby auto shop just to get it pulled apart after the dance.)

This tiny little snapshot shows a Woodstock Maypole from, I think, 2006. I must have been there, because I've been a regular Woodstock customer for awhile.
It's always refreshing to go to Woodstock for Maypole, or any other outdoor concert, and see all the young kids who seem to have fallen out of a time warp, straight from 1970 into 2009. Perhaps it's the universal, unending love of the Beatles, perhaps there's a remnant of rebellion in the mix, but hippie ain't going away.

If you can find the line between hippie and faerie, show it to me. As far as I can discern, the faeries love these exuberant young folks in their bright colors, skipping pell-mell around a Maypole to Grateful Dead covers.

As someone too young to have been an original hippie and too old to be a newbie hippie, all of this is great fun. Welcome, May. And excuse me while I kiss the sky.

Thursday, May 07, 2009

Spoutwood Fairie Festival: Getting It Right

Welcome to "The Gods Are Bored," where today we begin with a spelling lesson!

You'll see the word "fairy" spelled three ways. Let's peruse them:

1. "fairy" -- easy way -- think Tinker Bell and little kids learning to put letters together.

2. "fairie" -- pretty way -- more elegant, suitable for festival use.

3. "faerie" -- ancient way -- Anne's preferred usage, sounds firey.

Any way you spell it is okay here at "The Gods Are Bored!" Remember, we specialize in the big, broad, flexible outlook.

Make no mistake about it, faeries are quite happy to come indoors. Who do you think hid your potato peeler? The dog?

When it comes to celebrations of faeries, however, the venue of choice is outdoors. Faeries are elementals. They blend into the natural world seamlessly. They especially like a varied habitat that includes air, fire, earth, and water.

Spoutwood Farm provides all of these in an extremely faerie-friendly setting. The farmhouse itself sits in a bowl surrounded by two moderately steep hills. There's a meadow, through which runs a fetching little stream, the kind that begs you to shuck your shoes and wiggle your toes in the water. Part of the farm is woodland with trails that pass faerie houses. Rain or shine, this place honors the fae splendidly.

Research and personal experience shows that the longer you work on something, the better you get at it. Spoutwood Farm has hosted Fairie Festivals for 18 years. The final kink that hadn't been worked through by this year was how to deal with a day of steady rain. Okay, so it wasn't ideal, but still a good time was had by all. Now that the festival has been held in the rain, it's like the final spell has been broken, and the weekend will endure ... at the faeries' whim.

When I say a good time is had by all, I really mean it. I spoke to some of the dudes responsible for keeping things jiggy behind the scenes. They were proud of their work. And when push comes to shove (which I hope it never does), even the Christian protesters have a great time. If you're inclined to berate other people for their personal lifestyle choices, you're not going to get a better opportunity for direct engagement:

Christian protester to Fairie Festival attendee: You're going to go to hell!

Festival attendee: HA HA HA HA HA HA! Nope.

If you live in a part of the world that is nowhere near Pennsylvania, why don't you get a few friends together and start a faerie festival of your own? All you really need is cool clothing, a few drummers, and a picnic lunch. Maypole optional but recommended. It doesn't have to be fancy, though. Heck, my Druid Grove used a bent sapling that was rooted in the ground.

We at "The Gods Are Bored" will be glad to act in an advisory capacity to anyone who wishes to organize a faerie festival. Well ... to a point. When you get to setting up electricity for french fry vendors and music stages, we'll be totally and permanently lost.

Wednesday, May 06, 2009

Portrait of the Awesome Dragon, Big Red

Welcome to "The Gods Are Bored," where we've always depended upon the kindness of others!

A professional photographer caught this fabulous shot of Big Red the dragon in action. That same photographer shot more than 400 pics at the Fairie Festival, so you can browse his whole gallery ... emmm ... pay no attention to that crazy woman in the bright green shirt ...

Tuesday, May 05, 2009

The Very Awesome and Serendipitous Acquisition of Big Red the Dragon

Welcome to "The Gods Are Bored," dragon-friendly since birth! Keep your doggone springer spaniel. As for me and my house, we will follow dragons!

In the weeks leading up to the 2009 Fairie Festival at Spoutwood Farm, I found myself searching for special ornaments I could wear for my extremely important position as Leader of the Mountain Tribe. Little did I know that my most important ornament would be a dragon named Big Red.

One of the bad things about being important at a festival is that I didn't get any pictures. So you'll just have to conjure Big Red in your imagination. I will help you:

* He is about the size of a lemur.
* He is very bright red with sunshine yellow on his belly and around his eyes.
* His tail is about three feet long and curls around itself. It too is bright red with yellow spines.
* He is extremely kid-friendly because of his big, wide eyes and kissy face.
* Like all good mascots, he doesn't talk.

How I Got Big Red, Version One:

One afternoon I went to the thrift store to find costume components for The Spare. I saw Big Red hanging in a special spot among the stuffed animals at the store. I went over to him and said, "I'll be right back for you."

When I finished shopping, I went back for him, but he was gone.

Man, was I ever disappointed!

I went to the checkout line. The man in front of me was in the process of purchasing about 100 stuffed animals. The clerk had already filled three bags and was beginning a fourth.

Putting two and two together, I asked the man, "Did you buy the big red dragon?"

He just smiled. Couldn't speak English.

The only foreign language I speak is hillbilly, so I was momentarily stumped. Then I made the "money fingers" and said, "Big. Red. Big. Red." I held my hands far apart and then made some hissing noises.

The man caught on. He said yes. He took his bags to a nearby bench and began to rifle through them. Lo and behold, he extracted Big Red. I got all excited and said, "I will buy from you."

He just handed Big Red to me and started to walk away. But I caught up with him and tried to give him more than Big Red cost. He wouldn't take more than the sticker price. He gave me change. (Money is the universal language. So is kindness.)

And so I left the store, carrying Big Red on my arm, just as I would at the festival, and just as I always will at the festival. I will never go to Spoutwood without Big Red.

How I Got Big Red, Version Two:

It was a dark and stormy night. The wind howled in the trees, and a dreadful feeling of foreboding stole over me as I stood at the portal of the Almost Home Dragon Shelter. Mustering my courage, I grasped the gargoyle-studded knocker and pounded on the door.

A troll of fearsome aspect answered my summons. "What do ye desire, mortal?" he boomed.

"If you please, o mighty troll," I answered, "I wish to adopt a homeless dragon."

The troll snorted as only trolls can. "We don't just hand out dragons to any mortal who asks!" he bellowed. "Prove your worthiness, stinking human!"

Trolls have adapted to the times. This one had a state-of-the-art Macintosh laptop, fully loaded with all the latest upgrades. I called up "The Gods Are Bored" and scrolled through until I found some of my peerless writing about faeries.

Another good thing about trolls. They're quick readers. He perused my efforts and looked me up and down. For a moment I thought he was deciding how to cook me. A chill ran down my spine.

"What need have you for a dragon?" he inquired.

"Mighty troll, I need a dragon to lead the Mountain Tribe at the Spoutwood Fairie Festival, to be the Tribe's mascot and spokesdragon. Therefore, sad to say, a fire-breathing dragon is out of the question."


(I thought I was done for at that point.)

But then he took me to a poster board with the pictures of all the homeless dragons currently residing in the shelter. Of course none of them were purebred dragons. All of them showed some sign of muttiness. You know ... forked tongues made of felt, pasted-on spots, bean bag butts. Since I could never afford a purebred dragon, none of this bothered me.

"Do you have one with personality?" I asked.


Another dumb question. Might as well throw myself at the troll's mercy.

"Okay, do you have one that wouldn't incinerate cute little girls in fairy dresses?"

The troll grinned. "That would be Big Red," he said.

An attendant brought Big Red from the kennel, and it was love at first sight. Yes, Big Red is a mutt. He has plastic eyes and really cheesy fabric in his mouth. His wings are made of the same cheap, cheesy fabric ... and they could never lift him off the ground. But that tail. That tail. It swings and sways, it curls and hugs. It is as prehensile as any New World monkey's.

I said to Big Red: "You can't breathe fire on mortals if you come with me."

He responded by hissing out a little cough of steam, as if to say, "Whatever. Just spring me from this dragon pound!"

So I filled out the paperwork in triplicate. The troll called my references and the vet I use for Decibel the Parrot, and I was cleared. Big Red came home with me, where he immediately hopped into the suitcase, trembling with delight at the thought of being prominently displayed at a Fairy Festival.

Ending to Version One:

This is one of the cutest stuffed dragons I've ever seen. The kids at the festival adored him.

Ending to Version Two:

Big Red doesn't eat like a horse. He eats horses. Please send me any horses you have that you don't need.

I promise I'll post some pictures some day. In the meantime, there's a little footage on my Facebook that shows just a bit of Big Red. And a bigger bit of Anne in her element.

Dragons rock.

Monday, May 04, 2009

Spoutwood Fairy Festival 1: Found a Niche

Welcome to "The Gods Are Bored," offering beachfront property to deserving deities worldwide! And we know They will take care of it too. Can't imagine Poseidon ordering the construction of a mammoth casino at the surf's edge, can you?

I am just back from the Spoutwood Fairy Festival, which I attended over the weekend with my daughter The Spare and my dragon, Big Red. The three of us had enough adventures to fill a bevvy of posts, so ride along while I reminisce!

About two months ago, Bibi, longtime leader of the Mountain Tribe at the festival, decided she wanted to step down. She was searching for anyone willing to take over the tribe. I guess I slept on it, but it didn't take me long to decide I'd love to do it.

I have learned this about life. Sometimes when you dread something, it turns out to be even worse than your anxieties warned you it would be. But the flip side of that is, sometimes your high anticipations of a task are exceeded by the joy of performing the task.

Thus it was with Anne, Spare, and Big Red. All three of us absolutely reveled in the leadership of Mountain Tribe.

You would never guess this if you read this blog, but I'm an extraordinarily outgoing person with a show-offy streak and a flair for the dramatic. The Spare shares these traits. Big Red did too, but he added an affinity for little kids. We were a potent trio.

On Saturday, when our Mountain Tribe entered the festival field, we had:
1. Dragon, Big Red
2. Four princesses (Spare being prominent)
3. A magician
4. A ferret (lovingly transported by its owner)
5. A Herald -- none other than my sister, who is slowly becoming infected with the big, broad, flexible outlook!

We also had gorgously dressed-up fairy folk, cute dudes by the handfuls (Spare's work again), a boatload of festival-goers who love the mountains and just wanted to make noise, and plenty of tribespeople who recalled their loyalty to Bibi. And we had Bibi, leader emerita, as always the most fantastic faerie fan in the throng!

It has been years and years since I climbed on a stage and held a microphone and led anybody to do anything. Usually when I'm on a stage, it's in a big old buzzard costume. But by golly, I had the moxy to lead the Mountain Tribe! Can you believe it? Little old me?

I wouldn't venture a guess as to how the faeries felt about my performance, but I tried to channel the faerie attainment of eternal youth. I think it worked.

And blessed be, it was fantastic to meet some readers of "The Gods Are Bored!"

Over the next few days I'll be writing about various topics related to the festival, its sacred aspects, its whimsy, and its joys. I also need to introduce you to Big Red. Whew. Fingers, hit those keys!

PS - If you greeted me at the festival, please leave a comment! I want to thank you again.