Saturday, January 30, 2010

Synchronous Brighid Poetry Blogging

Welcome to "The Gods Are Bored" on this weekend before Imbolc! Brighid of the Mantle, enfold us!

Queen Brighid the Bright is the Goddess of creativity, but she has not endowed me with the power of poetry. However, in recognition of the fifth annual Brighid Poetry Blogging (don't ask for a link, just do it), I want to contribute somehow.

Brighid blogging
On a snowy Saturday.
It would be most excellent
If I had something of worth to say.

Alas, this little site
Is short on sobriety
Humor's what you find here.
It's just my form of piety.

Laugh loud, smile more,
Brighid you will please
Excuse me if I stop now,
I think I have to sneeze.

Friday, January 29, 2010

Laughter in the Ninth Circle

Welcome to "The Gods Are Bored," deep in the heart of Suck City without a GPS! I'm your driver, Anne Johnson. What's your destination? Never heard of it.

Wednesday was the kind of day when my sense of humor got stretched until it snapped. But luckily it snapped on the right person -- Mr. Bigwand.

I had a long day of teaching and then had to go straight to night school. Where I sat through a 90 minute lecture on Bloom's Taxonomy, which is the first thing teachers learn on the first day of orientation before the first day of school. There's nothing quite like being exhausted and yet having to act interested in learning something you already know.

But the best was yet to come.

This term we are all expected to teach a 15-minute lesson, complete with lesson plan.  You know what's hard? Try teaching something in 15 minutes. Bigwand sure as hell can't do it.

So, after enduring 90 minutes of training I've already had, I prepared to listen to had four presenters scheduled to give 15 minute lessons. That's an hour right there, before even adding the post-lesson critique.

The first dude gave a PowerPoint presentation about the peripheral nervous system. Fairly simple science, a few vocabulary words. More than 15 minutes. Two days later I can't tell you anything about it.

We critiqued that puppy, with no one being impolite enough to say that it was boring as dirt. Then the next presenter stood to give her 15-minute lesson.

Her lesson required that we arrange all the chairs in a small Catholic school classroom into a circle. This alone took five minutes.

The lady put on Celtic music, littered the floor with paperbacks with titles like "Christ of the Celts," lit a nauseating Yankee Candle, and placed it on the floor in the center of the room. Then she turned out the lights and asked us to meditate on the nature of humanity.

This meditation was a short respite. The lady announced that she was going to explain the tenets of Celtic Christianity to us. First, we needed to share with a partner what we thought made human beings special.

I turned to the fellow student to the right of me, a nice Hispanic lady who teaches fourth grade. I said, "Can I take a pass on this? I don't like the direction this lesson is headed already."

The Hispanic teacher said, "I'm a born again Christian, so I'm not sure I'm going to like this either." Then the fumes of the candle made her sick, and she had to run from the room.

Our presenter gave a less-than-brief introduction to Celtic Christianity, light on details and heavy on how great it is. Then she said, "I became a Celtic Christian when my daughter was born. I couldn't believe that an innocent baby could have original sin. I had to get out of a religion that loaded me with Catholic guilt."

Readers, more than half the teachers in this night school class are working at parochial schools. To put it succinctly, they are practicing Roman Catholics. And they were pretty blunt in their criticism of the Celtic Christianity lesson. I don't blame them. It wasn't a lesson, it was a polemic ... offered to an audience guaranteed to be hostile to its message. Heck, I didn't even have to mention the bored gods! I let the rest of the people gripe for me!

When all was said and done, the lady's presentation and subsequent critique from the audience took FORTY MINUTES.

Bigwand adjourned the class, declaring that the other two presenters -- who were all ready to do their lessons -- would have to wait a week.

As we shuffled toward the door in exhaustion (and in some cases high dudgeon), I was near Bigwand. He said, "My goodness! This time just flies by, doesn't it?"

Could not help myself. I looked him in the eye and asked, "What did you DO all day?"

Defensively he responded, "I supervised student teachers."

I just turned and fled.

Yesterday I wrote Bigwand an email and apologized. I can offend him anonymously on here, but it's not good form to alienate your night school professor.

What could that presenter have been thinking to insult the Catholic Church and present a Jesus who bears no resemblance to the one in the Bible ... to a room full of Catholic teachers?

A lesson on foster kitten care is looking better and better all the time.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

The Few Bad Apples

Welcome to "The Gods Are Bored!" Help me today, Ogma. I have to sound wise.

My previous post sparked some debate about teachers and their safety net, better known as tenure.

I will grant you that some tenured teachers cruise. They couldn't care less about their students. Yes, this is true. I see it in my school.

However, tenure exists to protect vulnerable, underpaid workers from being fired at whim by new administrators who want to hire their own people. Tenure protects older workers from being fired because they cost more to insure. Let's see ... is anyone in any other industry being fired right now because they're getting older and sick? Uh oh! Widespread practice!

As an untenured teacher in my first year, I have been formally observed four times already. If the people who observed me also had to observe every teacher in the school four times before mid-year, it would be the vice principals burning out, not the teachers!

Tenured teachers are observed and critiqued. They are expected to participate in at least 20 hours of professional development per year. It is to be hoped that they will continue to have high professional standards for themselves after achieving tenure. Most, almost all, of my colleagues do.

If I didn't think I could get job security within a few years, I would not be able to do this job. I've never had a more stressful occupation in my life. And I love my students. I love my subject matter. I do well on my evaluations. But I just couldn't face year after year after year of such constant scrutiny. Not that I plan to slough off, but I need to feel safe.

Anyone who does not like public schools can take advantage of the immense amount of home school teaching opportunities offered in this computer age. In my opinion, however, a student is always better off at school, with peers. School is where students learn to co-exist with one another, to deal with authority in a mature manner, and to earn praise from someone who is impartial. When my students impress me, they aren't impressing their moms or dads. They're impressing the teacher.

I have a lot to learn about teaching, but I think in three years I'll about have it nailed. Either that or I'll be dead, because this is tougher than writing an encyclopedia, tougher than building chimneys out of limestone, tougher than alphabetizing cards in an Ivy League university library, tougher by far than interviewing Michael Vick upon his return to pro football.

Some nights when I get home from work (typically a 12 hour day), I literally fall asleep in the driver's seat of the car. Would I be willing to work this hard if I could be canned in ten years because I'm no longer spry? I'm not a pre-Wobbly factory slave. I'm a professional!

We at "The Gods Are Bored" support tenure in public schools, recognizing that the system isn't perfect, but also that children would be served far more poorly if the tenure track did not exist. Just like any other industry, education would love to hire a new crop of college kids every year and let the older workers go. How would that help students to learn?

Monday, January 25, 2010

More for Less

Welcome to "The Gods Are Bored!" Are you overpaid and under-worked? When you go home at night, do you say to yourself, "Gee, I could have done so much more today besides play video games! And this paycheck -- it's just so fat! Hmmm?

Me neither.

Today the new Republican governor of New Jersey posted his wish list for educational spending in the Garden State. It happens that at this moment in life I am earning a starting salary as a school teacher.

The governor wants to freeze my salary.

He wants me to work five years before achieving tenure, not three.

Once I get tenure (if I or anyone could), he wants to make it easier to dump me.

Does any of this sound familiar? "Work harder for less." It's the mantra of the age, our precious legacy from the vile Ronald Reagan.

Why can politicians make such demands? Because anyone who has a job is desperate to keep it. Who am I kidding? If my salary got frozen, could I quit? If it took me five years to get tenure, would I quit?

I. Can't. Quit.

Where does it end, this attempt to freeze, downsize, maximize individual performance? Are we drifting back into the days of Dickens? I think we are.

Lincoln freed the slaves, but Republicans have been trying to reverse that mandate for 30 years. May the bored gods show them no pity.

PS - Correction. The first Star Wars movie was released in 1977. We at "The Gods Are Bored" pride ourselves on encyclopedic perfection when it comes to fact.  FACT: The rich man is dancing, and the poor man's paying the band.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Hollywood Loves Us

Welcome to "The Gods Are Bored," your instant cure for the Monday Morning Blues!

Okay, I know. Yeah. Even TGAB can't cure the Monday Morning Blues. But we do try.

My Sunday afternoon options were two: get groceries or go to the movies. Wow. That was a tough call. The Spare and I went to see Avatar in 3-D.

I had to drag The Spare. She doesn't like science fiction. For that matter, I don't either. Unless it has an underlying message that is anti-corporation, anti-missionary, and pro-Goddess. For the love of fruit flies, Avatar delivers on all fronts! No wonder it has so many right-wing pundits foaming at the mouth!

Do movies influence the way we look at the world?

I'm old enough to remember the very first Star Wars movie. I was a teenager when it came out in 1975. I remember seeing Obi-Won Kenobi in his brown robe with his Wisdom of the World demeanor, and at that moment I began to question the status quo. To this day, when I'm at the end of my rope, I say, "Help us, Obi-Won Kenobi. You're our only hope."

To that famous quote I will now add: All hail Ewah. Long may She reign. Let us be kind to our own Rock, and to the Rocks of others.

I'm Anne Johnson, and I approve Hollywood's liberal bias.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

The Voodoo House in Philly

Welcome to "The Gods Are Bored!" I'm your host, Anne Johnson. And my new sidekick is Lil Scratch, the netbook that lets me blog from school!

I could blog from my school computer. But honestly, given the content of this site, would you do that? Maybe when I'm tenured.

A few weeks ago a lurid story emerged from Philadelphia about a house full of animal bones, and an altar made of turtle bones, and all sorts of weird animal abuse on display. The "experts" on the Philly police force concluded that some sort of ritual slaughter was going on there. Duh. But the implication is that the so-called ritual slaughter was for the purposes of a religion of some sort.

We at "The Gods Are Bored" have no idea what exactly was happening in that house. We're just ticked that so much hoo hah was made over it.

In a city the size of Philadelphia (especially when you add its suburbs in PA and NJ), nary a day  goes by when someone, somewhere, is torturing an animal. You've got your dog fighting, your cockfighting, your road kills, your pet hoarders, and your research labs. You've got cats half starved in dumpsters and poorly-bred puppies in posh pet shops. For the love of fruit flies, you've got Vietnamese fighting fish in 6-ounce cups! can't even move their fins!

None of this makes the news ... unless the hoarding is severe. But stick an altar in it, and wow. That's news.

We at "The Gods Are Bored" go on record as saying that we live in the 21st century, and animals should be treated humanely by all religious and secular people. Does your deity need a bloody dove to make Him happy? If so, find a new deity. If you are using worship as an excuse to torture animals ... get a life and a new deity.

Aren't there at least a few praise and worship pantheons out there that don't need the screams of dying animals to appease them?

In the meantime, the Philly press should be covering better stories and not making a fuss about an empty house with some bones in it. This is a city that records more than 300 murders a year. I guess writing about that gets boring.

The moral of today's sermon: Be kind to animals, and if you're not, don't blame some deity. Times change, and smart deities change with them.

Now it's time to go to night school. Smart money says Mr. Bigwand will be bragging about living through a massive earthquake by using his superior ingenuity.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

High and Lonesome

Welcome to "The Gods Are Bored," Appalachia dreaming on such a winter's day!

Last night I dreamed I was home at the family farm. I was writing an ad for the newspaper, looking around and thinking how I would feel when the farm wasn't mine anymore.

As a Druid, I feel that ownership of land is spiritual, that no one can "own" a mountain, no matter how much barbed wire surrounds a place. However, ownership of houses is different than ownership of land.

There's a house on the side of a mountain that I've spent many long weeks of my life  in, through the early decades at least. In subseqent years I've made less frequent visits, but I've never let go.

I wish I could go there now.

Winter is a cold time in that little house, but some of my happiest times there were in the winter months. In winter you can see so far in the mountains -- the views stretch out through the bare trees. It's quiet at times and raging at others, when the north wind whips across the crests.

Tonight I want to be at home. Where the heart is.

Monday, January 18, 2010

When the Going Gets Tough

Welcome to "The Gods Are Bored!" Please pardon our appearance during remodeling!

I am working on my new netbook. Her name is Little Scratch. She is very quirky. She has eaten my copy three times.

This afternoon I did a little buzzarding down in Wenonah. I forgot to take Little Scratch along. When I learn how to use her, I will be able to film the Wenonah buzzards on her. But that will take time. Lil Scratch is quirky.

My desktop got a virus that mined my addresses and sent problems to some of my addressees. If you got an email from me regarding Facebook, delete that puppy.

 One of the people who got the email had her computer crash on her. So she sent me a nasty email, as if I deliberately sneezed on her and gave her the grippe. Would I purposefully seek to destroy other people's computers, trashing mine in the process? Bamp! No.

It's baffling to me that people sit around thinking of ways to harm other people's computers, but some people are like that. We basically stink as a species. You don't see a rogue buzzard ripping the roost branches out from other buzzards' feet. I guess they fight over carcasses, but that's logical. Not much logic to people. Not much at all.

It has taken me 30 minutes to type this short post, so I will close by thanking the Goddess Luna for her exquisite delicate thin curve. And by reminding you, my dear reader, that when the going gets tough ... go watch the buzzards.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Home for the Hopeless

Welcome to "The Gods Are Bored," an internationally approved, fully certified sanctuary for downsized deities since 2005!

Here at TGAB we are experiencing technical difficulties in the following spheres:

1. Personal life
2. Personal health
3. Home computer

I got a netbook for Yule. I hope I can send this notice with it. My home computer has come down with a disease called "Home for the Hopeless." I can only hope that my trusted computer guru can fix it, or at least retrieve the data I've failed to back up.

In the meantime, I got this little netbook for blogging, so I hope it works. Here goes the test .

Thursday, January 14, 2010

On the Causes of Earthquakes

Welcome to "The Gods Are Bored," always glad to be of service when you have pressing questions to be answered!

At 4:00 a.m. on January 14, my daughter The Spare woke me up, and her dad too. She said, "Can't you smell that strange odor in the house?"

I can't smell anything much anymore. I have cat allergies, and two felines in the home. At 4:00 a.m. the nasal passages are totally clogged, sometimes to the point of headache.

Mr. Johnson does not suffer from the same, and he acknowledged that he smelled something weird. He got up (prince among men) and checked all over the house. Spare told him to be careful when he went into the basement.

By this time I realized that I wasn't going to get any more sleep, so I got up too. And I remembered where I live -- New Jersey. So I opened the window a crack, and it was immediately apparent that the odor was coming into the house from outside. Oh, those pesky chemical spills!

The stink had just a tad of brimstone mixed in, and I realized that my former playmate who calls himself "Mr. Applegate" was lingering outside, enjoying the toxic breeze.

For those of you just joining TGAB, "Mr. Applegate" is a fallen angel of the Judeo-Christian pantheon who rules the place where bad Judeo-Christian people go when they die.

Who are you going to talk to at 4:00 a.m. when the house smells like rotten eggs from outer space, and outside it's worse? So I invited Applegate in for a chat.

As usual he was wallowing in self-pity. This time because he has been blamed in certain quarters for the earthquake in Haiti. (Sorry. I don't link. It was Pat Robertson who said the devil caused the quake. Take my word for it, or Google it.)

I don't have much tolerance for Applegate's whining. In previous blog posts he has woven a long, sorry tale of being new to the god business and signing onto a pantheon without reading the fine print. Fine print, indeed! Excuses are for losers.

On this particular morning, I was able to pacify Applegate with a cup of coffee and a granola bar. We got to talking about what really causes earthquakes; namely, plate tectonics.

I learned all about plate tectonics at Johns Hopkins University, in a geology-for-nonscience-majors course called "Structure of the Earth." (The course was better known as "Rocks for Jocks," since all the lacrosse players took it.) Strange as it might sound, there's hot liquid inside the earth, and big plates of rock slide around on the liquid, and sometimes these plates collide. This causes earthquakes.

Applegate has read up on this topic. He's quite an expert. He predicts that some time in the next 32,000 years there's going to be a whopper of an explosion where Yellowstone Park is now.

What he can't predict, he says, is whether or not he'll be blamed for it if humans evolve to the point that they have sense in their heads.

I gave Applegate a box of Pop Tarts and sent him on his way. When he was halfway across the back yard, he turned around and admitted causing the industrial accident that blanketed Philadelphia and points east with stench. He said no one was at fault, he just felt like pulling a prank.

Would someone shove that whiner into a Subduction Zone? Please?

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Passing on Mr. Bigwand

Welcome to "The Gods Are Bored," where the stress of a new job has aggravated old low-lying ailments in the Johnson system! A little under the weather we are, Yoda.

I am able to work, but I'm not feeling great. The doctor has ordered tests.

Well, one can hardly study for two kinds of tests at once, so I stayed home from night school this week. I sent Mr. Bigwand an email, and he excused me with an imperial "feel better."

Immediately I did. Missing night school is like a tonic.

There are some nasty bored gods whose sole existence is to cause earthquakes. What a tough way to make a god-living! Everyone hates and fears them. Which makes them Machiavellian deities of great power and cunning.

We here at "The Gods Are Bored" grieve for earthquake victims of every nation. If you have some spare change to send to Haiti, they always need it, not just in the time of earthquake.

If you don't have any spare change, we at TGAB suggest giving blood. It doesn't cost anything, it takes less than an hour, and you can feel good knowing that someone is being helped because you overcame your fear of needles long enough to get pricked.

Must go now. Sleepy and ill. Being observed in the morning by the school principal. Calgon, take me away!

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Navel Gazing at the Varsity Basketball Game

Welcome to "The Gods Are Bored," where it's root, root, root for the home team! If they don't win it's a shame. Perhaps there's a faerie to blame.

Tonight there was a varsity basketball game rather later than usual at the Vo-Tech where I teach. I'd had a tough day in the trenches, so I ambled down to see the action.

It's a funny thing about high school students. When they come to school as freshmen, they're often tiny little runts. Especially the boys. A few years pass, and the testosterone ramps up, and all of a sudden ... runts no more!

On the morning announcements I kept hearing a name of a student I had as a freshman. He is now a junior varsity point guard. I never would have picked this fella to be a terrific basketball player -- when I had him he was tiny. Even now he's not LeBron James, but he's one fabulous point guard, all muscle and movement. Best of all, he's an "A" student. The colleges will line up for him! Bravo!

It was fun going to the game. Our team won handily over one of Camden's charter schools.

I suppose that after awhile, teachers get used to seeing their students grow up from kids to adults. For me it's still a novelty, at least with the boys. I raised two daughters, so I never went through the whole male hormone thing.

Anyway, in the case of my former-student-now-star-point-guard, it's growth that's not lost on a bad plant. He's a winner, in every way.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Passing Gas

Welcome to "The Gods Are Bored," ranting and raving and generally misbehaving since 2005! I'm your host, Anne Johnson. From a long line of Artemas, Pennsylvania Johnsons.

Seriously. If you write "Johnson" and "Artemas, Pennsylvania," and the Zip code on an envelope and send it, the letter will fall into the hands of someone related to me.  Probably my uncle Foggy. They send all the weird stuff to him. He drew this picture of our homestead. Isn't it nice?

This past week there was a meeting in Artemas, Pennsylvania at the community center for all the residents of that area. The topic: drilling for and storing gas from the Marcellus Shale Deposit, a repository of natural gas that sits about 2 miles underground deep beneath Pennsylvania, mountain Maryland, and West Virginia.

The meeting was held so that residents could talk to a representative of Columbia Gas Transmission and Geokinetics USA Inc., the company that has been browbeating and misleading ... errrr ... trying to browbeat and mislead locals into allowing it to do seismic tests for natural gas on peoples' properties.

I don't think Columbia's hired hack was quite prepared for the reception she got in Artemas (permanent population, 7). Sounds to me like the entire lower half of Bedford County turned out to give the corporate shill a butt-kicking, richly deserved.

First, the good people of Artemas demanded a "town hall"-style format. Then they let fly. I'm sure that shill was surprise to find herself among a hostile crowd that would rather have pure drinking water and a nice view of the sunset than pockets full of Big Oil money.

The last time I posted about Marcellus Shale drilling, I was on the fence about it. No more.

First of all, I'm grateful that this process is occurring in Pennsylvania, because the Philadelphia Inquirer has been covering it. Today, in a pro-business article meant to ease fears that the drilling would foul local watersheds and personal wells, the newspaper printed a graphic of how the drilling process works, what is sent into the ground, and what comes out.

Thanks, Inquirer. This gas drilling looks to me like just the latest creative rape of Appalachia. NIMBY, bitches!

Second, this corporate entity, Columbia Gas Transmission etc. etc. etc. USA Inc., has used tactics that were based on a snobby certainty that Appalachian people can be easily fooled and manipulated, lied to with impunity, and otherwise trod upon.

CGT, etc. etc. etc. sent letters to residents of Bedford County and its neighboring Maryland county, Allegany, basically telling people that they had to sign on for seismic testing on their properties, or it would be done without their consent under an eminent domain kind of thing.

With the rich history of corporate greed all around them, the residents of southern Bedford County said, in essence, "Take your briefcases and lawyers and go back to Texas." There's a recession on, and no one's buying boondoggles anymore.

Thank goodness, because based on these drawings in the Inquirer, the earnest collection of natural gas from the Marcellus Shale Deposit will create a wasteland and call it progress. Yes, there is a lotta gas trapped deep beneath those craggy mountains. But it's not nearly enough to make a serious difference in our country's energy needs.

It's kind of whacked when you think about it. The sun beams down every day. The wind blows every day. And yet we've got to drill miles and miles deep into ancient mountains to get the power to cook our grits?

Am I missing something?

In conclusion, as a taxpayer in the township for which Artemas serves as community center, I put down my dainty foot and say ... no. The only thing that will be drilled on my property during my ownership will be a new well. For baths and drinking and such. That kind of well.

Not. In. My. Back. Yard. Bitches.

And I'm glad my neighbors and kinfolk agree.

Thursday, January 07, 2010

Lazy Dumbness

I had a feeling the Stone of Scone had been returned. Sorry, Scotland! Now, where is Bonnie Prince Charlie?

Who Gets Wallace's Letter?

Welcome to "The Gods Are Bored!" I'm your host, Anne. I've always been Anne, since the day I was born. Guess I'll be Anne until the day I die. Okay, that's fine!

It takes me a mere 9 minutes to drive to work. In that particular block of time on my news radio station, I hear:
1. weather
2. traffic (which takes awhile ... it's Philly at rush hour)
3. sports
4. some dumb thing called "Rewind" about entertainment. (I usually turn it off.)

Then I go to work. So I get no news. The much-awaited Apocalypse could be underway, and I would still be grading papers and planning lessons. I'm out of the loop.

So it's funny where I'll pick up a tidbit for your interest here at "The Gods Are Bored."

Today's tidbit comes from the mass email I get from the Fairy Festival at Spoutwood Farm. The email reports the death of David Ross, a dude I'd never heard of, but nevertheless a seemingly worthy champion of a cause I also support, home rule for Scotland.

This same email also contained a link, which I will not pass along because I didn't like the Google Ads on it. That link invited people to petition the English National Archives to return to Scotland the letter of transit William Wallace was carrying when he was arrested in 1305.

The letter in question is a safe passage document signed by King Philip IV of France. It was seized -- along with Wallace -- in a shady sell-out by some sneaky snitch.

I was a fan of William Wallace before Mel Gibson made William Wallace into a movie star. But I wonder if Scotland really needs Wallace's note from the king of France.

Think about it. If Donovan McNabb (quarterback of the Philadelphia Eagles) was sneaking around Dallas, with a letter of safe transit signed by Andy Reid (coach of the Philadelphia Eagles), and McNabb was picked up on a DUI or something, would the Dallas police send Andy's letter back to Philly?

That was a rhetorical question. Any self-respecting Dallas cop would send that letter one place: the crapper. I'm frankly amazed that Wallace's jailers didn't do the same with King Philip's note.

Anyway, Scotland wants Wallace's letter back.

I don't particularly care about this weakly smoldering issue. Heck, Scotland got Wallace's body ... chopped up into four pieces.

However, there are some artifacts that I would like to see returned to their countries of origin.

I, Anne Johnson, hereby petition all museums in Group of Eight nations to return all archeological artifacts to their countries of origin. This means every Greek statue, every Mesopotamian grave good, every pottery shard of Inca or Maya manufacture, right down to the last little miniature jade elephant brought back from Burma by Marco Polo! Send that stuff back to the bored deities who inspired its construction, and to the people of those lands!

I've ranted about this before, but it bears repeating. Say what you will about our American/British/etc. etc. museums being filled to the plimsol line with superior scientists. Phooey! Send the stuff back where it belongs! The gods have been robbed!

When you think about all the treasures stored at the British Museum -- treasures of the bored gods -- a little piece of mail from the king of France ca. 1305 is just trifling.

Message to England: Keep Wallace's letter. Send back the Stone of Scone.

I'm Anne Johnson, and I approve this message.

Wednesday, January 06, 2010

Night Class Resumes: Gremlins Seize Phones, Tix

Welcome to "The Gods Are Bored," dedicated to the proposition that no human makes it through life without being somehow annoyed by something inconsequential.

If you know someone who has never been annoyed, I sure would like to meet that person. The first thing I would do is try my damnedest to annoy. Sour grapes and all that, don't you know.

Tonight was the first meeting in a dreary round of night classes that will stretch all the way to June ... and include six Saturdays as well. Returning as our teacher is the infamous Mr. Bigwand, who has lost none of his power to pontificate due to holiday revelry.

Those of you just joining "The Gods Are Bored" need a little back story. Mr. Bigwand is a retired teacher of Advanced Placement history classes at a posh suburban school. He has been hired to teach people like me (not formally trained as teachers) who are employed by urban districts struggling to meet state standards. In other words, he knows not of what he speaks ... and speaks ... and speaks...

I didn't like Mr. Bigwand from the evening of his first sermon back in September. But he sealed his fate when, the Wednesday before Halloween, he bragged for 15 minutes about terrifying little kids with expensive, theatrical-grade horror masks. Apparently this is his favorite Halloween activity.

Tonight Mr. Bigwand waxed eloquent about the fact that "gremlins" have stolen his cell phone. Worse, they also walked off with five tickets to Wing Bowl, Philadelphia's most toxic annual show of moronic slobbery.

It was all I could do not to fall from my undersized Catholic school right-handed desk.

Our house furnace is broken, but I'm toasty warm thinking about Mr. Bigwand having to buy five more tickets to Wing Bowl. He also has to buy a new phone. Did the faeries ... errrr ... gremlins do this?

Well, we can rule out faeries. No faerie of any stripe would attend Wing Bowl. It's disgusting. And since gremlins rather enjoy watching big, mean men scare cute little toddlers, I think I will point the accusatory digit at the gremlins.

Good job, gremlins!

During this term I will be expected to conduct a 15-minute class for adults, complete with lesson plan. I can choose my topic. Of course at first I thought I would give a class on faeries. Then I thought twice. Fifteen minutes is hardly enough time to do justice to faeries.

I have fallen back on Plan B, which will be a snap to do, won't require any research, and will only demand a minimal outlay of cash.

Ladies and gentlemen (Bigwand's favorite phrase ad nauseum), I will conduct a lesson on the acquisition, care, maintenance, and relinquishment of foster kittens. I'll have them weeping in the aisles!

Wait a minute. Maybe I should give a presentation on the East Coast Vulture Festival! Drum up some business for a worthy event!

No, scratch that. The thought of seeing Mr. Bigwand at Buzzard Day is not appealing.

Cute little kittens it is.

Tuesday, January 05, 2010

A Little Nose-Picking

This will be a new feature of "The Gods Are Bored" -- frank talk about important issues, give or take a few bad habits.

Sunday, January 03, 2010

Gods Are Bored Music Review: Blown Away and the Kinky Boot Beasts

Welcome to "The Gods Are Bored," from fun, fantastic Philadelphia!

Ah, Anne. Cut the hype. Welcome to "The Gods Are Bored," from the City That Throws Snowballs at Santa!

That's more like it.

I believe I might have mentioned that my daughter The Heir has become part of a small, multi-media musical group called Blown Away and the Kinky Boot Beasts. One of the things about living in or near a huge metropolitan area is that there are so many talented people out and about. It's only a matter of time before you meet the ones that fit you best.

Last evening, Blown Away and the Kinky Boot Beasts gave a brief performance at the Dumpster Divers Art Collective on South Street in Philly. The venue was splendid -- a gallery full of art work made from scavenged junk. Every piece from paintings to sculptures radiated the positive energy of something that was once lost but now found and put to a greater use. The colors were vibrant and each artwork was fabulously original.

The same can be said for BA and the KBB. The group works as follows:

The Kinky Boot Beasts provide music. (Heir on the musical saw, spoons, toy thrift store piano and tamborine. The other Boot Beast sings and plays guitar -- terrific original songs reminiscent of Joni Mitchell.)

Blown Away is a visual artist. While the Kinky Boot Beasts are making music, he draws a visual representation of the song on his computer, which somehow projects onto a screen.

What surprised me other than the beauty and quality of the songs was The Heir's ability to keep the musical saw on pitch. Usually it just sounds like some kind of space alien radio frequency, but last night it was actually musical, and a big hit.

I'm a great believer in Fate throwing us into a mix of people with whom we can make magic. The Heir has known Blown Away for years, but she only met the other Kinky Boot Beast relatively recently. And yet they work in sync as if they've been doing weird street music since preschool.

You can become a fan of Blown Away and the Kinky Boot Beasts on Facebook. Do it now and beat the rush, because once they hit Vegas they won't have time for such trivialities as social networking.

Seriously, readers, I wish you all could have been there. If you like this little column, you would also like Blown Away and the Kinky Boot Beasts.

(Navel gaze aside: The Spare sat next to me during the performance, and on my other side was a life-sized sculpture with a light post top as a head, various gears and old shards of lumber for organs and limbs, and a little blue Christmas light strategically located between its legs. I discovered that the little blue light could be turned on and off. When Spare drifted away to look at the artwork, I turned the light off. When she returned, I turned it on again. I don't know why she didn't find this funny. No one else noticed.)

Below, a sample of a Philadelphia staple. Keep in mind if you watch this Mummers clip that these are amateurs who even have to design and pay for their own costumes.

2010 Woodland String Band " PhilharMagic"

If I told you this was the 8th place finisher, can you imagine what is better?

Saturday, January 02, 2010

New Year's Resolutions

Welcome to "The Gods Are Bored," where we hereby resolve to quit drinking, lose weight, complain less, spend more time with the kids and less at work, and shower the spouse with love, love, love!

That, and we're going to buy the Brooklyn Bridge. Your donations will be appreciated.

Occasionally I've made New Years resolutions, usually having to do with weight reduction. And some of them have lasted until Girl Scout Cookie season. In case you haven't noticed, it's cunningly timed to trip up the most disciplined resolver.

Gosh, I can't even resolve to keep my upholstery spotless! Accidents happen, you know?

Making (Roman calendar) New Year's resolutions is fun, though. So, let's do it!

In 2010, I, Anne Johnson, hereby resolve to:

1. love buzzards.
2. pick any hangnail until it falls off.
3. take Advil any time I get a headache.
4. scratch any place that's itchy while in the confines of my home.
5. teach school.
6. feed the cats and the parrot.
7. curse when I get lost in the car
8. encourage the eco mish-mash in my back yard.
9. block the insulting troll who still comes here occasionally.
10. go see The Residents, even though they're performing on a school night.

Well! I'm proud of myself! Ten New Year's (Roman calendar) resolutions, and not one of them involving giving up cookies or cleaning my car! Life is good.

For those of you interested in the Philadelphia Mummer's Parade, I'm sorry to report that the South Philadelphia String Band managed only a 4th place finish with their Native American theme that culminated in the captain riding on a mustard-yellow, fierce-looking Thunderbird that seemed about the size of six elephants. Woodland String Band finished back in the pack with its Harry Potter theme, although I thought it was well done. My favorite part was when they took banners of the four Hogwarts Houses and turned them around to reveal a panoply of a wise old dude standing under a crescent moon. Fodder for those who hate Potter!

Oh yeah ... blogging resolutions. I haven't had as much time as I'd like to keep up this little site. That could change, since Santa brought me a Netbook. I'm just waiting for my computer Yoda to give the Netbook a little once-over and protect it from viruses, and then I'll have a means to blog from school without the Big Brother school network watching! So -- while it's not a resolution -- I hope to pick up the pace a bit.

Did I miss any New Year's (Roman calendar) resolutions that you think I ought to keep?

Friday, January 01, 2010

Saturn Is the Reason for the Season

Welcome to "The Gods Are Bored!" A new decade, a new dream!

We live and die by the Roman calendar, and January 1 began their new year. From what I've read, this date was the occasion for lots of costumed revelry and associated slurping of alcoholic beverages. As if we need a reason to do those things!

Like the other Roman Gods and Goddesses who have planets named after them, Saturn isn't as bored as most "myths." In fact, His planet rocks, if you ask me. All those rings! Too cool!

Let us also not forget that Saturn is the God of Saturday. I don't know about you, but that's my favorite day of the week. Except when there's laundry to be done, or Druid Grove to attend (we do that on Sunday).

I saw Saturn last night out in my backyard. He blew out my candle to Cernunnos. Why are deities so jealous of one another? We don't have a Cernunnosday, for the love of fruit flies!

It's Mummer's Parade day here in Philly. I'll check in tomorrow, which is going to be Cernunnos Day if Saturn blows out one more candle on the Shrine of the Mists.