Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Mummer Mayhem!

Welcome to "The Gods Are Never Bored On New Year's Day, because They Come to Philadelphia!" I'm your hostess, Annie of the City of Brotherly Love! There are only six El stops between my house and Market Street, so even though I'm across the river, I sort of feel all Philly-Nilly at times.

Every year on New Year's Day, we Philadelphians get a real treat in the form of the eight-hour-long Mummer's Parade. There's no easy way to describe this satin Saturnalia, this feathered frolic, except to say that many of the thousands of people who participate in it devote their entire lives and fortunes to it. I didn't check YouTube, but if you've never seen a Philadelphia Mummer's Parade, I'm sure there are snippets of it here and there.

I'm a Mummer junkie. Forget doing anything else on New Year's Day. I sit in my lounge chair and watch the parade until the last feathered fanatic struts off in search of his celebratory beer.

And OMBG, this year's parade will have me on the edge of my seat! .... Well, not really. I usually loll like a contented cat. Let's just say I've already picked some favorites in the string band competition.

The Philadelphia Daily News printed synopses of each string band's theme in today's newspaper. No one consulted me, mind you, before the themes were chosen -- but I am intrigued.

Here's the summary for the Woodland String Band (finished in 8th place last year):

"Woodland takes you to a land of wizardry, mysticism, sorcery, witchcraft, and enchantment, led by the Grand Wizard, AL A. KAZAM. Harry Potter serves as the guide as Mummers fans watch and listen to familiar, fantastic sights and sounds played by musical wizards, witches, sorcerers, and druids."

Granted, this performance is likely to reek of stereotype in every conceivable way, but I must say I am interested to see a Philadelphia Mummer take on druids.

Needless to say, Woodland was Anne's early favorite until she read on.

Here's the summary for the South Philadelphia String Band (finished in 3rd place last year):

"Embark on a majestic journey of Native America, where great warriors rule. Experience a celebratory powwow, glide along a mystical canoe down the Shenandoah, witness the majesty of the sacred white-buffalo skull, feel the force of a thundering herd stampeding through the village, and be dazzled by the arrival of the mighty and wrathful Thunderbird."

The capitalization is theirs, not mine.

Okay, by now it should be clear to you that the Philadelphia Mummers aren't exactly subtle or politically correct. But who could resist the prospect of a parade that will include both Druids and a Thunderbird?

The forecast calls for rain. I wonder how that will affect the Thunderbird. It might suspend its wrath and go curl up in a pine tree with its fellow Thunderbirds.

Go ahead and spend your New Year's Day making fancy dinners and resolutions. As for me and my house, we will watch the Mummers!

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

No One's Bitching about This Stereotype

Welcome to "The Gods Are Bored," leaping back into the saddle after a brief bout of flu-like symptoms! I'm glad that's over. On to business as usual!

There's a movie I like called "Lone Star," directed by John Sayles. In the movie, a white Army sergeant proposes to a black Army sergeant, and she accepts. When the guy's buddy says, "Is her family going to be cool with you being white?" The sergeant replies, "They're so glad to discover she's not a lesbian that they couldn't care less what color I am." To which the buddy responds, "It's always great to see one prejudice defeat another."

Back in 2003, the producers at CBS floated the idea of a reality t.v. show that would take some poor family from Appalachia and stick them in a Beverly Hills mansion, and film the results. This was to be a real-life "Beverly Hillbillies."

People from all over Appalachia protested. Some even traveled to New York to stage a rally in front of CBS headquarters. Congresspeople from most of the Appalachian states strongly encouraged CBS not to film such a show. CBS caved, and we were spared an ugly spectacle of stereotype.

Problem is, stereotype sells. Human beings like to feel superior to other human beings. Sucky but true, my friends.

You know how poor I am at linking, so at your leisure, Google "MTV Jersey Shore."

MTV has produced a reality t.v. show about a group of young Italian New Jersey-ites who are spending the summer in a beach house together, their antics being caught on camera. The show is a despicable display of disdain toward people of Italian ancestry who live in the Garden State. Not that these kids behave any differently than spoiled brats anywhere else in the country, but they take pride in being "Guidos" and "Guidettes." Their accents grate on the ear. Their clothing -- when they wear any -- is beyond tacky. They all have nicknames like "Snookie" and "The Situation." They're lazy party animals who run values deficits in the triple digits.

My daughters, both born and raised in New Jersey, absolutely love this show.

I watched some episodes of it with them the other day when I was sick. I tried to recall seeing people like this strolling the boardwalk at the Jersey Shore. Not that I spend a lot of time at the shore -- to me, the beach is best kept at a polite distance. But I do go there, and I'm observant. I can't remember ever seeing anyone like these people at the watering holes in my general vicinity.

Never mind that. The kids in Kansas who watch "Jersey Shore" will come to the conclusion that everyone in Jersey -- Heir and Spare included -- is a spoiled, self-indulgent, values-free Italian with an ugly accent. Obligingly, The Spare has begun to cultivate the accent and mannerisms for comedy routines.

The moral of this sermon is simple. Human nature includes the need to feel superior to certain other groups of people. Modern entertainment will go to great lengths to find these small ethnic groups and display them as if they are the norm. Apply this to praise and worship situations as you like, because there it's just the same.

Ask someone on the street to describe a Wiccan, and they'll probably say ... ugly old woman in black with a pointy hat who hoards cats and then kills them. Ask someone on the street to describe a person from New Jersey, and they'll probably say ... a brainless buff Italian with a bad accent and worse work ethic.

Oh well, at least it takes the heat off West Virginia.

Monday, December 28, 2009

The Gods Are Bored is temporarily suspended pending the duration of flu-like symptoms. Ick.

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Flu-like Symptoms

Welcome to "The Gods Are Bored!" (Insert your snappy opening line here.)

Santa Claus brought us a web cam. Spare already knew how to use it, of course. So she sat down to give me a tutorial. We created a Facebook fan page for "The Gods Are Bored." And then Spare recorded a zippy promotional greeting for the page.

And it was just over the top. Before an hour had passed I decided to take it down.

There are too many problems with Facebook, regarding spammers and viruses. And there are my few Facebook friends who would be utterly astonished at the content of "The Gods Are Bored." And there are creepers on Facebook who would become fans of "The Gods Are Bored" just in hopes of glimpsing the Spare's perfect teeth and frisky wink.

Within an hour I already had four fans. If you fanned "The Gods Are Bored" on Facebook, and you want to be my friend on Facebook, go to my profile and leave me an email with your name.

It wasn't that The Spare's pitch wasn't good enough. It was that her pitch was too good. I hope it didn't go viral in the course of one afternoon. One must watch doing things when one has flu-like symptoms.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Another Interview

Welcome to "The Gods Are Bored!" New Year's resolution: blog more, not less. It sucks being too busy to entertain bored deities with marzipan and petits fours! They go for that stuff like nobody's business.

Did you ever wonder why Christmas is celebrated on December 25? Some people think it's because the date is associated with Mithras, a truly bored god of post-Jesus Rome.

As for me, I don't buy into the Mithras thing. If you're a careful observer of the cosmos, which at least some learned people must have been in the Old Times, you begin to notice, right on or about December 25, that the days are indeed getting longer. This definitely calls for a celebration! I think this holy day must have been far wider spread than the followers of Mithras.

Speaking of the followers of Mithras, I have a treat for those of you who are. He agreed to drop by this morning, having nothing else in particular to do. And how nice! He brought some fine-looking steaks! Say what you will about Mithras, he can butcher like only a God can butcher.

Please give a wild, warm, wonderful "Gods Are Bored" welcome to Mithras, ancient deity of male soldiers and statesmen!

Anne: Thanks for the steaks, Mithras!

Mithras: They aren't for you. They're for your husband.

Anne: But there are enough to share, not only with my husband, but also with ...

Mithras: Your two female children. Forget it. Give your husband the steaks he can eat, and freeze the rest for him to eat later.

Anne: Whoa. It's not only politically incorrect and environmentally unfriendly to eat steaks in the first place, it's also discriminatory not to give them to women.

Mithras: Women don't matter. Except for breeding. Male children.

Anne: Lovely. I could be wrapping gifts, I'm talking to a sexist God with a bloody dagger. Hey! You get that thing near my upholstery, and I'll show you what I know about butchering!

Mithras: Don't threaten me. I'll have my followers squash you like a bug.

Anne: Do you even have any? Seems to me like all the sexist meat-eaters drifted away from you about 1600 years ago. Look, I don't know much about your praise and worship team, but I do know it was only open to men, and the rituals were conducted underground. When you were designing your agenda, did you ever think your team would work better if you admitted the gals too? And maybe had some nice, airy, user-friendly worship spaces?

Mithras: Women don't matter. Except for breeding. Male children.

Anne: (to her readers) Sheesh. You wonder why this one is bored? Some of them ought to be bored! (to Mithras) Your name always pops up around this time of year. Like, December 25 was your birthday, and you had disciples, and all that.

Mithras: Male disciples.

Anne: Male disciples are popular in many praise and worship teams. Here at "The Gods Are Bored," we have a big, broad, flexible outlook that includes women in the practice of Divine Mysteries.

Mithras: Sacrilege! (brandishes dagger perilously close to Anne's pristine wing chair) WOMEN DO NOT MATTER!

Anne: Sez you, Chump. Here's an idea. Why don't you buy yourself an all-terrain vehicle, drink a couple of six-packs, and go hunting?

Mithras: I don't have the money for an all-terrain vehicle.

Anne: Imagine that! And who do you think is to blame for your obscurity and its attendant financial woes?

Mithras: Women! Damn all women! No women allowed!

Anne: I'm a woman. So please don't let the door hit your butt as you leave. Take your steaks with you. I don't know whether this date has anything to do with you or not, but any deity who excludes half the population from his praise and worship team doesn't stand a chance against deities with more decency. Steer clear of my furniture, too! I'm not spending my holiday scrubbing chintz because of a sloppy macho deity!

(Exit Mithras in a huff.)

Readers, if you take anything away from today's interview, it's that some deities are born to be bored, some achieve boredom, and some have boredom thrust upon them. Mithras seems to be to have achieved boredom in spades. They say his remaining temples are interesting, but if I ever have money to travel, I think I'll seek out some cheery spa town instead.

Enjoy some days off, remember the poor (of both genders and all ages), and go in peace.


Monday, December 21, 2009

Winter Solstice 2009 Shameless Parody

'Twas the night before Solstice, and out on the lawn
Dear Annie was dancing ... a snow day was on!
On Solstice, you see, she'd have nothing to do,
Except oh, perhaps, for a small chore or two.
So after The Heir and The Spare she did kiss,
She took several candles to Shrine of the Mists.

But out in the rear of the house, don't you know,
Was an 18-inch layer of crystalline snow.
It blotted the shrine from the ground to the tip,
If you didn't know quite how to find it, you'd slip.
With a broom from the house Annie cleared out a space
Where the candles could sit comfortably in their place.

Just after sunrise the very next day,
Anne lit her candles. For peace did she pray.
Then onward she trudged in search of her mittens,
She had to return to the shelter two kittens.
She had to do laundry, she had to grade tests
How quickly she learned that for her, there's no rest!

Now darkness has fallen upon Solstice Day,
And Annie is tired, as always, oy vay!
When down to this blog she finally did sit,
She'd nearly forgotten the candles were lit.
She glanced out the window, and they were still there,
So she whistled and called to The Heir and The Spare.

For deep in a bowl of dimond-bright snow
A cluster of candles continued to glow.
So close to the ground that you can't see the flames
But the flick'ring reflections are playing bright games.
The faeries of winter will dance in this light.
Merry Solstice to all, and to all a good night.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Love the Stuff

Welcome to "The Gods Are Bored," where the deities of the winter solstice have had a whopper of a pillow fight! The weather outside is frightful.

We at "The Gods Are Bored" live about 50 miles east of the Atlantic Ocean. Usually when it snows elsewhere in the Delaware Valley, it rains here. Every now and then, however, we get these storms called Nor'Easters. If they come in with cold temperatures, it snows like all get out.

Weather forecasts only begin to predict these storms with any accuracy about 12 hours before they begin. Last night we got the call: 12 to 18 inches. And the bored gods have delivered.

Just now The Spare and I took a walk. She hasn't seen this much snow in years -- the last time, she was about eight.

Disruptions: The foster kittens were supposed to go back to the shelter today. Forget it. They're still here. I wasn't willing to drive three miles. My Druid Grove's Solstice Ritual is likewise scratched. In the apparent world, that is.

Heir spent last night in Philadelphia with her beatnik friends, but I woke her at 8:00 and got her on the El before the worst of the storm hit. It was such a relief to see her walk out of the El station this morning, to know she would be here with us.

Tonight the house is warm with smells of roast turkey and oatmeal cookies. There are a few too many cats. Decibel the Parrot is a little flustered. The Christmas tree has been placed and lit, but not decorated. The snow is still falling.

I think I'll put a festive cloth on the table and say a prayer, like Dylan Thomas, to the close and holy darkness.


Friday, December 18, 2009

For those of you in a quandary, today is the day to ask the Goddess.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Change of Heart

Welcome to "The Gods Are Bored," celebrating another day of living! Yeah, yeah. Rock on, geezer friends!

Tonight I drove by the Snobville Library, where there's a lit-up Christmas tree and a lit-up Menorah. Something in me just snapped. (I'm not decent to be around in the dark days). I decided that Snobville ought to have a Pagan display on its lawn too.

Off I went to the local hardware store (never Home Depot). I bought a pine wreath that I could stick into the ground. I bought some more of their weird mistletoe that claims to be real. I thought about the little holly tree growing under a pine, and the tons and tons of ivy in my yard. All just wonderful for a Pagan Yuletide display on public property!

Now it's three hours later. I'm in my warm house. The wreath is outside. The mistletoe is still in the car.

I ask myself: Why would I stick a perfectly good wreath on the library lawn, when I have a shrine to all bored deities right in my own back yard?

What would it prove to stick a wreath on that lawn? Nothing, since Christmas trees are Pagan in the first place.

I have come to my senses and will use the wreath, holly, and ivy to festoon the Shrine of the Mists. There will be an All Gods Eve on December 31, and I want the shrine to be spiffy.

Tonight's question to my legions of superior readers: Do you mind if I use the plural "gods" to describe all deities, male, female, and totemic? If not, can you suggest something more inclusive that is readable?

Heir is coming home from college in an hour. I can't wait to see her!

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

On Guilt

Welcome to "The Gods Are Bored!" Feeling a little guilty about something? Something small, like that extra peanut butter cookie? Or something large, like  ... oh, I dunno. It's you, not me, who's riddled with guilt!

Sin, sin, sin. It's everywhere. Gosh, sometimes I feel bad just stepping on my lawn. It must hurt the grass to be beaten into the dust by feet.

There was a time when I felt guilty about things. I guess. Well, I used to take communion, which is all about shedding guilt once a month, so you can stack it up again for next month.

Don't know when exactly it happened, but my views on guilt changed. Not to the point where I'm going to run down some dear old granny and speed away laughing into the rearview. But just enough that I worry a lot less. Sorry, grass. I've gotta walk over you. Deal with it.

See if you follow me on this. Guilt happens when we strive to be like a deity and fail to do so. What the heck? We're people! We're not deities! People make mistakes. They do stupid, hurtful things. We try not to, but damn. There we go being human again.

I've found the Pagan rule on this to be so completely impossible to follow that it leaps into absurdity. "An thou harm none, do what thou wilt." Exactly what can I do that will harm none? If I eat a carrot, it harms the carrot. If I drive to work, it harms the glaciers. If I eat a peanut butter cookie, I'm harming peanuts, wheat, cows (butter), the tropical environment (cane sugar and those who harvest it), and the glaciers (baked in the oven). Not to mention my arteries.

If I wanted to harm none, I would have to starve to death in a desert. And who's to say that all the Advil I've taken over the years wouldn't kill the vultures who ate my carcass? Wait a minute. If I died, it would harm my daughters -- they still need me! Aaaaghghghgh! See what I mean?

Therefore, once again I fall back on the good ol' tried-and-true big, broad, flexible outlook. Like I said, I'm not going to rob a bank or flatten a granny, but when push comes to shove I'll try to judge the relative level of harm by human, not superhuman, standards.

Perfection happens only with upholstery ... all hale the percale!

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Gods Are There, People Are Here

Welcome to "The Gods Are Bored!" Shop early and save on shipping! We have plenty of fabulous bored deities in stock. Our apologies, but Archangels are on back order and will not ship prior to the holidays. Please browse our collection for an alternate selection!

Prior to today's sermon, I would just like to say that Mr. Johnson was away last week for a few days, and my daughter The Spare and I had loads of fun together while he was gone. Most of it was holiday related, since Spare is 15 -- and you know how young teens feel about certain holidays. The favorite moments for me occurred when we stood in a line of tots and parents to see Santa Claus, just for the joy of seeing the kids all excited. (Spare didn't sit on Santa's lap. I'm sure Santa was desperately disappointed by that.) The next night we strolled the streets of Snobville and saw Santa again. This time, a barbershop quartet was with him. They were singing, "I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus." So of course I did kiss Santa Claus, and Spare did her best "shock face." She is a natural comedienne. We are going to own the Spoutwood Fairie Festival next year.

On to the sermon:

My friend Maebius tagged me to write on the following theme:

What religions do you find most interesting apart from your own? Would you pick one of the major world religions? Say Islam, or Buddhism, or Hinduism or Judaism? Or would you pick something more obscure, like Wicca or Taosim or Rastafarianism or Gnosticism? Would you pick irreligion, say Atheism or Agnosticism? Or if you're not Christian, would you say Christianity?

To me, every path, or tradition, or mystical experience, is equally fascinating. Why? Because I am interested in people.

The vast majority of us feel that Higher Powers exist -- superior beings, if you will. What differs is how we approach the divine. And wowsa, there are so many different ways to approach the divine!

You can put on an Ann Taylor suit and heels and go out on Sunday morning to the Methodist church, where you will be treated to a Bach selection on a $100,000 organ and perhaps a rendition of "The Messiah" by a 75-voice choir ... then a sermon on how to behave wisely and compassionately, which you won't pay attention to because your heels are giving you blisters and it's almost time for the Eagles kickoff.

You can stand in the sun and whirl around until you throw yourself into a trance state.

You can sit in a room and eat some shrooms and wait for your brain to open to higher levels. (Do not mistake this for an endorsement of hallucinogens. Did it sound like I was endorsing the Methodist church?)

You can chant, or meditate, or learn Cabala, or kiss the Torah, or dance in a drum circle, or stand in St. Peter's Square in a throng, waiting for a glimpse of the pope. You can sit at the feet of the Dalai Lama to learn his wisdom. You can work with Maitreya, you can be Asatru, Wiccan, Discordian, Buddhist, or even a Jehovah's Witness. All to me are fascinating.


Why do we seek to commune with Higher Powers? Is it just because we're afraid of death, and we're self-medicating with false promises of something beyond that final breath? (I'm interested in atheists too.)

To me, all praise and worship springs from two sources: the mystical, which some of us experience, and the cognitive, which all of us experience. Our cognitive (thinking) praise and worship depends on our cultural constructs, most especially how our parents or friends or society approach the divine. Ask most Methodists why they are Methodists, and they'll say it's because they were raised Methodist. So for me, what's most interesting is the culture from which the praise and worship springs. That's why "The Gods Are Bored" invites so many ancient deities to visit -- because I'm interested in cultures that no longer exist, therefore their deities have been unfairly relegated to "myth."

What I don't like, as many of you know, is the propensity of certain faiths to proselytize and seek new members in places and cultures where a religious path already exists that is unique to that culture. It's downright disrespectful. Leave those Fiji Islanders alone! They've got it going. They do not need Jesus. Give them the antibiotics, and let them go ahead and praise their deities. Why is yours so much better? Breaking news: He's not.

In summary, we at "The Gods Are Bored" would say that the divine is universal, and the understanding of it is cultural, historical, and subject to change. Those who interpret the divine are people. People are imperfect. To me, it's those imperfections that make us fascinating and infuriating. The religion I find most interesting apart from my own is yes.

Friday, December 11, 2009

I'm Number Three

Can someone tell me why, when you Google the name "Anne Johnson," my blog comes up third on the list? According to the stat counter I use here at TGAB, only about 200 enlightened and superior individuals access this site every day. With so many Anne Johnsons out there, can I truly be the third most popular Anne Johnson in the English-language world?

If so, all the rest of you Anne Johnsons ought to do your share! Live up to your proud name!

May the bored gods be with me today at school. Yesterday was terrible. Some days are like that.

Wednesday, December 09, 2009

Weekly Bigwand Update

Welcome to "The Gods Are Bored!" You've heard of the Mall of America. We're the Mall of the Gods! Check out some of our high-end specialty stores. Deities of ancient Micronesia! Now there's praise and worship for the discerning connoisseur!

For those of you who joined at our last pledge drive and need a short update, My name is Anne. I lost my job of 20 years in 2004 and had to re-invent myself, so now I'm a brand-new, first-year school teacher.

This morning I was so exhausted that I looked out at my first period class and just about babbled. I couldn't form a sentence. But it was first period, and I was surrounded by 15-year-olds who had also been up until the wee hours (not grading papers, though). They babbled right back at me. Jolly good fun!

This Wednesday marks the end of Phase IB of my new teacher training classes. Again for those of you just arriving on the late train, Phase IB is the class I have to take that teaches me how to teach, while I'm already teaching and being thoroughly (and expertly) coached in my classroom. I must endure this punishment until June.

The punishment is significantly enhanced by the instructor, a pompous, self-satisfied retired teacher I've affectionately re-named Mr. Bigwand.

Awhile back, Mr. Bigwand noticed Puck, the faerie I wear to work on a cord around my neck. He asked me what Puck was, and I said it was a symbol of my Pagan path. He immediately assumed I was Wiccan. Not that it matters, but that's like assuming every Christian is Catholic.

Tonight, in a moment when he paused from his self-praise, he said to me, "So. What do you Wiccans do at Christmas?"

(Honestly, I do not make this stuff up. You've just got to take my word for it.)

I replied: "First, I'm not Wiccan. I'm Druid. And the better question would be, 'When are you Christians going to give us our holiday back?'"

Having already told us (three times) that he studied for the Anglican collar, Mr. Bigwand now had to prove his big, broad, flexible outlook, which he did by querying me about which of the O'Reilly-sanctioned holiday activities were actually "more ancient" in origin. I replied that the far shorter list would be those that aren't "more ancient" in origin. Which launched him into a mostly monologue about burning candles all night on the solstice. As he moved on to converse with the next victim, he proclaimed, "I love the opportunity to learn new things."

I'll have to take his word for that, because so far as I can see, the last new thing he learned was how to drive a car.

I don't know if it's bad news or good news, but I will be continuing classes with Mr. Bigwand after the aforementioned holidays. I really don't mind, because like H.L. Mencken, I'm mildly amused by loud morons ... and they make good copy.

Oh yeah ... Did I mention that I got the opportunity to evaluate him anonymously last week? He handed out forms, specifically told us not to put our names on them, and then -- after we had our say -- officiously shoved them in an envelope destined for the New Jersey Department of Education. But did he close the envelope? Oh heck no. I'm sure he didn't even wait to read those evals until he drove home. Funny thing was, I looked around me as I evaluated, and I saw fellow inmates scribbling away in high dudgeon. You just can't save everyone from themselves, so I returned to my own form.

My NJDOE anonymous evaluation of Mr. Bigwand? "Stellar teacher."

Machiavelli's lessons aren't lost on me.

P.S. - Sorry to mention the holiday. I promised I wouldn't. I just couldn't let this opportunity pass to hold up for inspection another boorish Bigwand comment.

"So, what do you Wiccans do at Christmas?"

Have at it, readers. Trust me. Mr. Bigwand is going to wander onto this site some day. Go ahead. Teach him something. He loves to learn new things.

Sunday, December 06, 2009

My Philosophical Difficulties with the Marcellus Shale Deposit

Welcome to "The Gods Are Bored," hosted by an expatriate Appalachian named Anne Johnson. Anne Johnson is my real name. What it lacks in originality is more than compensated for by its fabulous properties of anonymity. I am me, and we are many, and go ahead and Google, try to pick me out from the crowd!

It has long been known that a supply of natural gas exists deep beneath the mountains of Pennsylvania, Maryland, and northern West Virginia. This gas is trapped in a kind of rock layer called Marcellus shale. Recently, engineers have perfected a means of extracting the gas by blasting water through horizontal drills that are somehow plunged deep beneath the mountains' surfaces.

Several things have happened as a result of this little jump in drilling technology:

1. People who own piece-a-nothin' farms overtop the Marcellus Shale Deposit could be potential Jed Clampitts and are already being lured by big-money energy companies.

2. Those big-money energy companies (think Dick Cheney) are trying to do what they do best -- circumvent paying out dough to property owners and low-balling what they do give in compensation.

3. Environmentalists are debating the pros and cons of getting clean energy (natural gas) by doing more mountain-rape, which brings us to the debate that...

4. Drilling for gas beats mountaintop removal mining for coal and brings a similar payoff: energy from a domestic source.

My granddad had a natural gas lease on our 75-acre farm. The farm sits on top of Marcellus shale.

My uncle, who has lived on the farm for the past 25 years, canceled the gas lease long ago.

The farm could go up for sale shortly. I own a share of it, but so do several cousins who are strapped for cash. My sister also has a share in the place, and she wants to sell. I would like to keep the farm, but with two kids to educate and a house in New Jersey, I can't afford to buy a second property -- even though I would only have to pay 5/6 of the agreed-upon price.

Usually I can get a grip on issues pretty quickly, but this Marcellus shale thing has me all at sixes and sevens. Does the gas beneath my mountain make the property more valuable? How would I feel if the Cheney trucks came roaring in and started to drill, baby, drill? Would I rather keep the farm in the family, and reap the potential Clampitt windfall, or sell to some speculator? How much respect do I have for the beauty and purity of my mountain? What happens if my neighbors have differing opinions and open their properties to the Cheney drillers?

It's times like this when one needs a bored god's advice. And who knows the underworld better than Hades? So today I put in a call, and it happened that He wasn't too busy (imagine that!). Here he comes now, trailing a little fire-and-brimstone that smells like Retsina. Please give a wild, warm, wonderful TGAB welcome to Hades, Greek God of the Underworld!

Anne: Welcome, God of the Underworld! How are things down below?

Hades: Oh, man, I'm stoked. Stoked! Yowsa! I've got Tiger Woods!

Anne: You mean Tiger Woods is dead? I didn't see that on the news.

Hades: Not yet. But when he dies, I get him! Turns out he's a cheetah, not a tiger! (Laughs)

Anne: Oh, for the love of fruit flies! I didn't invite you hear to listen to bad puns. I have a serious philosophical issue to discuss with Someone who knows the inside of the Earth.

Hades: I'll show him a thing or two about golf.

Anne: Now. Let's go over this whole Marcellus Shale Deposit thing. Where does the deposit lie in relation to Your kingdom?

Hades: Every time he tees up, I'll melt his irons right out from under him.

Anne: Could we please not talk about Tiger Woods?

Hades: Hey. This is a big catch for me. I've never gotten over missing out on Lou Gehrig.

Anne: You've gotta have a hundred thousand top-quality athletes in your collection, Hades. Not to stereotype or anything, but they're kind of a randy lot.

Hades: Yes, and golfers are no exception. But Tiger. Tiger! Huge acquisition. Huge.

Anne: Just for a moment can You give me some insight on the Marcellus Shale Deposit?

Hades: This also gives me all his concubines. More cuties to keep me warm in the wintertime!

Anne: You know what, Hades? You're not the first bored god I've interviewed from the ancient Greek and Roman pantheons. And to be quite blunt, I can see why it was easy for Christianity to get a toehold in those cultures. You Greek deities all seem to have such flagrant human failings. Try to be serious for two seconds! Please!

Hades: I am serious. I'm a collector. Don't you get excited when you get a valuable new item for your collection?

Anne: I don't collect anything except memories.

Hades: Boooorrrrring! You should collect something! I suggest stamps. You don't have to be rich to own a first-class stamp collection.

Anne: You know what, Hades? I just remembered. I'm alive. And I have a lot to do today.  Look! Watch me move around, shoving the socks into the sock drawer! La di dah. Oh, it's great to be alive, with a wonderful new memory of dancing in the snow with the Spare, in the parking lot of the thrift store in Pennsauken...

Hades: I'll be back for you some day.

Anne: No you won't. I'm booked with another carrier. Thank goodness. Because it truly would be hell to spend eternity watching Tiger Woods try to play golf with molten putters.

Hades: Speak for yourself! I've got Tiger! I've got Tiger! (Dances into the storm drain and disappears.)

Well, readers, you never know what you'll get when you ask a bored god for an interview. Sometimes they help, sometimes they advise you to start a stamp collection. As always I'm open to your suggestions for a serious bored deity to which I can pose my ethical questions on the Marcellus Shale Deposit conundrum. Also, if you are reading this, and you have a personal opinion on the issue, I sure would like to hear that too. Even if you can spell "shale" and do nothing else, you'll offer me more than Hades just did.

Have a great day, and don't forget to look alive!

Thursday, December 03, 2009

Foster Kitten 101

Welcome to "The Gods are Bored," honoring Isis and Osiris through kitten care since 2003! I won't get a pyramid over my bones, or pots of honey and such, but those Egyptian deities are going to roll out the old welcome mat to yours truly anyway! Why, even as I type this I must stop every other word and stroke two tired kittens. Who will shortly be under a lit-up pine tree, waiting for the embrace of a sweet little girl I'll never even meet.

Say what you want about meditation, sweat lodges, magick, prayer, you name it. In my book, a gal who's putting in 60-75 hour work weeks who can still care for motherless kittens is performing an act of worship. (*TOOT TOOT!* That's me blowing my own damn horn.)

Here's a little crash course on foster kitten care.

Kitten Care 101

1. Kittens live in a rabbit hutch.

2. Kittens must stay in the rabbit hutch while humans are not watching them.

3. Contents of hutch as follows: blanket or cat bed, cat box, cat food.

4. If kittens are removed from the hutch for playtime, the cat box should be removed too. That way they can use it.

5. If kittens are placed back into the hutch for safekeeping during a long day when people aren't around, the cat box should be placed back into the hutch with them.

6. If the cat box stays outside the hutch while the kittens are locked into the hutch, things get messy.

7. So, always keep the cat box and the kittens in the same convenient location.

It usually doesn't matter to me whether or not my husband and daughter read my blog. Tonight I rather hope they will.

Tuesday, December 01, 2009

Double Post Below

Anticipating a busy Wednesday with my favorite bloviator, Mr. Bigwand, I hearby offer two posts below: one a video that I must say makes me curious about exactly what holiday carols might be up for singalong, the other a shameful admittance of poor parenting. Have a great Wednesday, my lieblings!

Woodstock Trading Company Announcement

My dear friend Mom and my former foster cat "Monstro" will help you with your holiday shopping!

Terrible Teen Runs Amok

Welcome to "The Gods Are Bored," prompt home delivery of select deities, fresh and willing to accept your praise and worship! Just call us UPS -- Upscale Pantheon Service!

You know it's bound to happen. You leave your teenager home alone, she's going to get in trouble.

I'm talking about my younger daughter, The Spare. (I have two female children, The Heir and The Spare. Heir is in college right now. More on her in a moment.)

Yesterday I staggered in from another long bout of night school to find that my teenager had committed a despicable act. Oh, all bored gods please forgive her!

I think I've mentioned that we took in two foster kittens from the shelter. To nurture and tame them up so that Santa would have them to dole out on Yule. Well ...

... exceedingly difficult to confess this ...

The Spare gave one of the kittens a makeover.

Yes, I know. I know! We Pagans suffer egregiously under the burden of stereotype, much of it based on ritual killings of kittens. How could The Spare not remember that as she gently swiped blush across the cheeks of Reba the Kitten?

I noticed immediately that Reba the Kitten had a subtle rosy glow that was decidedly un-kitten-like. When confronted with the evidence, Spare admitted that Reba had been climbing her as she did her own makeup, so she impulsively gave Reba a peppy new look.

For shame! A kitten wearing blush! I'm devastated that my child, who I have raised to the best of my ability, would actually apply cosmetics to a feline's cheeks!

Fear not, readers. Spare will be punished severely. She will be dragged to Baltimore, to the baby shower of her father's first cousin -- a girl who knows to wait until after she's had the baby to get married, so she'll look better in her wedding gown. Now there's a set of values any parent would appreciate!

I can't bring myself to confiscate Spare's makeup. She would rather have her pressed powder than the keys to the T-bird. And truth be told, Reba the Kitten seems no worse for wear. Not that I want to condone immoral behavior, but ... oh, don't say you heard it here! ... A kitten looks really cute with a little blush, properly applied.

No, Anne! Bad! Bad! No makeup on kittens! Bad! Bad Spare! Off to bed without watching Countdown with Keith!

That'll teach her.

Update on Heir: My daughter The Heir is ill, but she does not like for me to talk about her here at TGAB. Your well wishes and positive energy will be most appreciated. Her doctors feel that if she takes it easy between semesters, rests and pampers herself, she will feel better in time for the spring term. She has a chronic condition, so she has no choice but to learn how to live with it. The good news is that she's joined a band in Philly. She plays the musical saw. Now she wants to expand her repertoire by learning the ukulele.

It's too late to put these challenging offspring up for adoption. I'll just have to muddle through somehow.