Saturday, December 31, 2011

Philadelphia Mummers Parade Live Stream

Wow, I am not sure this will work, but the Mummers Parade should be live streaming on the channel that broadcasts it to Philadelphia.

The Mummers will be cleansing Philadelphia of the negative energy brought into the city by the Dominionists and their DC40 campaign. In the grandest tradition of the bored gods, we turn everything upside down, break all the rules, and have a wonderful time doing it!

I am a proud member of Two Street, an award-winning Comic brigade. We will be marching second overall ... virtually opening a parade that lasts more than eight hours! Our routine is based on Oktoberfest (another grand festival of misrule). If you see us perform, send me a four-star review! Best viewing time would be between the hours of 10 and 11 a.m. New Year's Day.

If you get the stream later in the afternoon, be prepared. Those string bands you see? Amateurs. Word. You won't believe it either.

Here's the link, but best to copy and paste or Google: 

Thursday, December 29, 2011

In Which I Paint My Shoes Gold and Change My Life

Welcome to "The Gods Are Bored," 1702 posts strong! Lord love a fruit fly! The freakin War and Peace of vulture worship on the Web!

Today is a watershed moment in my life.

As I write this, a man from Cumberland, Maryland is driving to Bedford, Pennsylvania to finalize the paperwork and set down the money for my family's property on Polish Mountain. The property from which my great-great-grandfather marched to the Civil War.

The buyer is a nice man who has gone out of his way to let me know that I will always be welcome to "come home." He's not even changing the lock on the door. But part of his relentless protesting about my still being a part of the farm is the tacit understanding we both have that this will not be the case. In our modern culture, a signature on a piece of paper has enormous emotional and temporal significance.

Yesterday I read in the New York Times that the kind of titanium hip replacement I have has serious design flaws, and that these devices are wearing out and jeopardizing the health of many people who have them. Well, my surgeon was honest when he said I would get 20 years out of the hip. I was 49 at the time.

So, what do you do with 15 years of quality life remaining, when you can't go home again because home ain't there anymore, when your lack of ambition has led to epic failure, when your kids are nearly grown and your husband doesn't really need you so much as all that?

First you ground. Center. Breathe. Then you dedicate your life fiercely to the bored Tricksters.

In short, time to stop worrying and learn to love Philadelphia.

And so it was with reverence and a feeling of oneness with the Gods that I took a worn-out but comfortable pair of sneakers into my back yard and spray painted them gold. For most people who do this, it's just another pre-Mummers Parade chore. For me, it's a rite of passage.

On January 1, 2012, I will step out with my possibly bum hip and march in Philadelphia's biggest and longest parade. I will revel with the other participants in the neighborhood that hosts their antics. I am really and truly ringing out the old and ringing in the new.

Now I must go and put anther coat of paint on those shoes. I hope they will be just as comfortable now as they were when I used them to walk the land. Look for me in the Two Street Stompers New Year Brigade. At home with Loki and the ghost of Benjamin Franklin.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Buzzard Blogging, for a Change

Welcome, brothers and sisters, to the Church of the Bountiful Buzzards! I'm Pastor Annie, priestess of the putrid since 1975! Wing it! The sky's the limit!

With wind speeds in excess of 40 miles per hour today, the time seemed right for a little worship of the Holy Sacred Thunderbird, Golden Purifier, a.k.a. buzzard. So I took my little Dodge, and my daughter The Heir, and we went to Wenonah to praise and worship. (Well, I praised and worshiped. Heir just went along for the ride.)

Wenonah is the winter residence for a huge flock of turkey and black vultures. They scour the countryside during the daylight hours and then return to Wenonah's mature pines to roost. There are easily 200 birds in this cohort. Maybe more.

It's funny how you don't see a buzzard for miles around, but the minute you pull up in Wenonah, they are chock-a-block everywhere. Today they were positively playing in the wind. Figure it out. If the wind is gusting at 40, and a bird is flying with the wind, how fast is that bird going? Those buzzards looked like they were having fun. All hail!

When Heir and I left, most of the flock had settled into the pines, where they pack themselves in tightly. (I haven't figured out yet how I can persuade Mr. J to move to Wenonah, but I want to do it.) I said a prayer to them, to make me healthy, wealthy, beautiful, and carefree. And like anyone else who prays, I expect them to deliver.

Now, secure in the vigilant care of the Holy Sacred Thunderbird, I'm going downstairs to read a front page New York Times story about faulty hip replacements, courtesy of the company that supplied the one inside me. But I have no fear. I'll carry on until I'm carrion ... and then, home to the vultures I go.

Friday, December 23, 2011

Putting the Hollandaise in the Holidays

Welcome to "The Gods Are Bored!" Right on time for the holiday break, my computer has sprung a leak and won't hold content. So this post is being done on the fly at school, and I don't know when I'll be able to post again. Maybe from the public library/church in my borough.

Update on the First Amendment: The menorah that I thought had been taken down out of a sense of reason was, in fact, stolen in the deep recesses of the night. Police are baffled. Durrrrhhhh. A five-foot aluminum menorah? Have they checked the prices being paid for scrap metal lately?

Apparently, as predicted, many citizens of Snobville (particularly at the high school) are weighing in against the religious displays on public property. The Snobville Weekly Tattler reports that the displays were done after permits were issued to Hay-bad (not the proper spelling, this is the Jewish group, they are very conservative) and a society called Citizens for Keeping Christ in Christmas. According to our lovely mayor, such permits are legal because they can be issued to any religious group.

Promptly and efficiently, I applied for a permit on behalf of the Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster. (I can't copy the text of the email here. School computers have so much security on them they could double for CIA.) I described the beautiful holiday display the Church would do, using suitable pasta products, a Santa hat, and a sign that reads "Seasoning Is the Reason for the Season." I linked to the FSM home page and warned that failure to issue this nonprofit organization a permit would be deemed religious discrimination.

Readers, you know I'll do it. Given the sentiment at the high school, I'll have plenty of creative help.

Spare was the one who coined the phrase "Putting the Hollandaise in the Holidays." I think that is so beautiful! Won't that be inspirational on a waterproof sign?

To close -- for how long I don't know -- I would just like to say that I don't want to put up a Druid symbol on public land. I don't want any symbols on public land. Xmas trees are universal; to me, they don't really have a religious affiliation anymore. Even my school has one in the lobby.

Religious displays belong on religious property. Which is why you see so few for Druids and Wiccans. Where would we leave stuff? We worship in the woods.

A blessed Yule to all, especially the Flying Spaghetti Monster, a new God among us! Next winter, get ready for Spaghetti!

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Reason Prevails: The Menorah Is Gone

Welcome to "The Gods Are Bored," waging a bittersweet war for the U.S. Constitution during this holiday season. Gains have been made.

The gain is that the Jewish group who erected the large menorah on public property has taken it down.

I'm sorry they had to do it, but they had to do it. My guess is that they did it with a clear understanding of the importance of keeping church and state separate.

Is there any living group of people in the Western World who has suffered more than the Jews in matters pertaining to religion? They are the only people who can connect, in living memory, to a time when their people were systematically and brutally exterminated simply because of their religion. If you can remember a time when you or your family, or all of your family and friends and distant cousins, were rounded up and killed, you might be more amenable to our national Constitution's protections and strictures.

It only took three copies of the U.S. Constitution, with the Establishment Clause highlighted in green marker and the tract folded to that page, to get the Chabad synagogue to reconsider the placement of its electric menorah.

The manger scene is still under the Christmas tree on borough property, but this morning when I dropped off the fourth copy of the Constitution, I noticed that the display was not lit up by the spotlight that had been lit for the past week. At least they've pulled the plug on my taxes illuminating baby Jesus.

Knowing Snobville as I do (it's chock-a-block with lawyers, for one thing), I'll bet the nativity scene gets pulled right after December 25. Then it will only be a matter of going to a city council meeting and respectfully reminding the burghers that they must abide by the rules of 1787, like them or not, during future holidays.

Solstice ritual tomorrow. Gosh -- public property! The local grove of oaks along the pond! Well, I just won't leave any trace behind of the work that is done.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Fa La La, Okay, I Enlisted!

Welcome to "The Gods Are Bored," waging the War on Christmas since this afternoon at 3:30!

Yes, yes, I am now a Constitutional Navy Seal, and the word is out. Trust me, the word is out.

Yesterday I wrote about a nativity scene that is displayed on public property in my borough, close to the street. There's also a menorah about 50 feet away. I guess the big ol' committee of three (mayor, two councilmen) decided that if they included the menorah, there couldn't possibly be an outcry about a religious display on public property.

Well, my lieblings, I'm a taxpayer here in Snobville, and they don't call it Snobville for nothing. Next year my property taxes will crest $12,000 (yes THOUSAND) a year. And I live in a modest house! For real! This is New Jersey. The people who live in Camden's Tent City have to pay high-roller taxes. I can't imagine what the real snobs in Snobville pay. But I guess it doesn't matter to them. Once you're rich, you're really rich, and you can afford any unreasonable tally.

I'm not that rich. I may have to move.

In the meantime ...

It was a cold, crisp afternoon, so I decided to walk up to the grocery store. I shoved a few copies of the United States Constitution into my pocket and set out on my walk.

On my way I passed a Roman Catholic church and school. In front of the school was a very modest nativity scene.

Two blocks later, I arrived at the public library grounds.

There was a woman on her knees, photographing the nativity scene. This seemed weird to me, because it's not a special, expensive nativity scene like the one up on Main Street in front of the Baptist church. It's just a mid-sized nativity scene in 1970's era plastic.

When she noticed me, she turned around and said, "Oh hi, isn't this great? They didn't used to have this in Snobville. I'm a Catholic, and I think this is great!"

To which I replied: "I'm a Pagan, and I don't think it's great at all."

I opened my copy of the Constitution, read the Establishment Clause out loud, folded the little tract so it would fall open to said Amendment, and placed it in the "stable." I said to the astonished female. "I don't see a Pentagram on this property."

She said, "But it's Christmas."

I said, "I pay taxes in this borough, and this is unconstitutional."

Then I walked up to the menorah and placed another tract, similarly folded, at the base of the lights.

Readers, you have to trust me. I have nothing. NOTHING against the religions in question. They just don't belong on property that is paid for by my big, fat Pagan tax bill!

Here's how the war starts.

I walked on to the grocery store, made my purchases, and walked back past the library. No surprise at all, the copies of the Constitution had been removed from both the menorah and the nativity scene. But the funny thing was, the woman was still there, illegally parked, texting away in her car!

All hands on Deck the halls! I can just imagine the content of those texts. War on Christmas! Evil Pagans on the march! Gotta protect the Jesus shrine!

They have met their match.

First of all, I have about 100 copies of the U.S. Constitution in a bag in my room. They were free. Every day I leave for work at 6:30 in the morning. It will be a simple matter to add another 8 minutes to my commute to drop off a Bill of Rights for Jesus and Yahweh before Father Sol rises in the east. Figuring I get off work at 3:30, I can drop off another set around 4:00 p.m. And on nights when the daughters and I are out looking for Crazy Christmas Houses, I can make a third foray.

I'll leave this next part up to your discretion, readers, so please reply.

It would be a very simple matter for me to create a Flying Spaghetti Monster out of pasta and some cocktail toothpicks The Spare bought for her dinner soiree that she held last night. What do you think? Should I place Our Noodly Master on the stable roof on December 24? Your call.

My walk home brought me back past the nativity scene in front of the RC Church. NO FREAKIN PROBLEM, LIEBLINGS. That's where it belongs! My taxes don't support that church!

Tomorrow morning I will send a strongly worded letter to our mayor and city council regarding the religious displays on public property. I will NOT request the addition of a Pentagram. It doesn't belong there any more than the creche. I will say that there are taxpayers in Snobville who object to religious displays on public property, please do not include these displays in the future.

You know what? I'm on solid ground with this here in Snobville. I'm sure there are many taxpayers who feel the same way, and many of them are monotheists.


Saturday, December 17, 2011

Gonna Teach Jesus To Read

Welcome to "The Gods Are Bored," old friends and new! If you're just happening on this little love fest, please be forewarned: 'Tis not necessarily the season to be jolly around here. This is New Jersey. It gets dark at 4:30, and people's hands rest perpetually on the horns of their cars, pressing violently as needed. Fa la la HONK HONK! Humbug.

We had some road work done in Snobville this summer, and they lopped a little bit of land off the public library property. Our borough Xmas tree is now closer to the street.

Today, when I drove past, I noticed that someone had erected a nativity scene under the tree. Not far away there was a menorah, wishing everyone a Happy Hanukkah.

It was the same last year, but the displays were not so close to the street. And somehow it didn't bother me, because, after all, the tree itself is Pagan.

This year it bothers me.

Snobville has a Jewish population but no synagogue. Snobville has a charming Baptist church on Main Street with a huge nativity scene. Do we absolutely, positively need religious symbols on public property? No one asked the Garden State Pagan Alliance for a holiday sign. I would make one, but I suck at art.

Time for Plan B.

I've got 500 little pocket-sized copies of the U.S. Constitution. Tomorrow a dozen of them are going into the nativity scene, all propped open at the First Amendment. Over the protests of the Spare, one will also be posted at the base of the menorah.

I have no objection whatsoever to religious-themed displays on religious or private properties. But my taxes pay for the library, and I don't see a Pentagram on the grounds.

There have been highly-publicized fights about this in other towns of every size. I don't prefer to exercise my snit in a big public forum. It's so much easier to give Baby Jesus a little light reading to brighten his stay in the manger.

If you need some copies of the Constitution for your own community, contact me, email me your address, and I'll get some off to you. I'd have given you more notice, but the nativity scene just went up in Snobville -- so I can't promise delivery by December 25.

But I will deliver.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Occupy Camden

Welcome to "The Gods Are Bored!" Fresh off the wire: The war in Iraq has ended. The American flag has been lowered. Our troops are coming home.

And in all of these nine years, no one has been able to explain to me why the soldiers went there in the first place. Did you believe all that crapola about the WMD? Me neither.

I've been watching the Occupy movement from the sideline, principally because, in order to be effective, groups need to have a plan of action along with a reason for protesting. For awhile I wondered why the big labor unions didn't get behind Occupy. The cynical part of me says that unions have their money invested at the big banks. (But in Wisconsin, the teacher's union pulled their money from the bank that had Koch money behind it.) Realistically, though, the organized labor movement, for all its flaws, has an agenda, backs candidates, and seeks to make social changes through conventional means.

Occupy sort of reminds me of the student protesters in Les Miserables. Which is worrisome, because they may meet the same fate.

As for living outdoors in a tent, well, I could make a suggestion to Occupy.

There's a top 1% and a bottom 1%. Some of that bottom 1% live in tents already.

In a wooded area of Camden, about 50 yards from the Admiral Wilson Boulevard, there's a tent city of homeless people (if you don't count their tents) who have chosen to remove themselves from society. They have leadership and a set of rules. And they live in their tents all year around, year after year. They have no social agenda beyond being allowed to stay in their tent city, because that's where they want to be.

Occupy would do well to meet with these veteran tent-dwellers, both for handy tips on winter survival and for public relations purposes. Seems to me that a country that can send soldiers to multiple nations to fight counter-productive wars could also create suitable living conditions for even its most dedicated outsiders, the bottom of the bottom of the pile.

Camden has been Occupied for years. Think of the jobs that would be created if we spent less on soldiers and more on carpenters who could fix up row houses. Then maybe no one would be tempted to live in a tent for any reason other than back country hiking.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Rick Rant

Welcome to "The Gods Are Bored," a happy home-sweet-home for anyone who believes in any deity who isn't attracting followers who are either stupid, dangerous, or numerous! Welcome, likewise, to those of you who don't believe in deities at all. Hey, we are in this together. Your vote keeps the ship afloat.

Below I've posted possibly the most despicable, anti-American political ad I've seen since the days of Willie Horton. Our moron du jour, Rick Perry, has openly allied himself with the most radical of Christian sects. But this just takes the cake.

Here's a guy who doesn't know how many people sit on the Supreme Court, let alone their names. News flash: Immigrants wishing to gain citizenship know the answers to both of those questions. Basically there's a man running for president who knows less than the refugee from Nigeria who's been here since 2009!

(*Anne snaps knuckles, returns to her rant*)

I've watched at least 40 speeches by Barack Obama, and in almost every one of them (including his Inaugural Address), he has ended with "God Bless America." So how exactly is he waging a war against Christianity? Has he sent his daughters to burn down the National Cathedral? What am I missing? Maybe he doesn't go to church every Sunday. Maybe he doesn't go at all.  Shame on him! Richard Nixon went to church all the time!

You know what I would really love to see? Right now, while they can openly serve in the military, I would like for every gay Navy Seal to go on YouTube and post his or her credentials ... then flex his or her muscles ... then shoot a crash test dummy through the "heart" from 500 yards away. What is the big deal about sexual orientation in the military? Oh please. It's not like people are lining up to head off to Afghanistan and get shot. We should be grateful for anyone who is willing to serve in this era of nebulous enemies.

And you can tell this is a holiday ad, because here it comes again. The war on Christmas! Prayer in the school! Okay, someone wave the white flag! Armistice Day for the war on Christmas, already. We'll just put Christmas into the curriculum and discuss its origins. We could do the same for Easter. I'm so freakin willing to do this! I think I'll submit a petition to my principal!

Ads like this one call upon us to have faith.

We must have faith that the majority of Americans who vote are rational, reasonable people. We must have faith that there are Christians aplenty out there who would be uncomfortable with this alliance between church and state. We must have faith. Faith that moves mountains.


(*End of rant*)

Here's a nice, light ending. This picture is circulating on Facebook, and it's just such a hoot! Rick's trainers not only dressed him up in a jacket in what is clearly the middle of the summer (note the greenery in the background), but they chose from the Warner Brothers "Brokeback Mountain" wardrobe. This would be an easy mistake to make, but Rick would have been way safer wearing a choir robe from the Crystal Cathedral.


Sunday, December 11, 2011

New Experience Saturday

Welcome to "The Gods Are Bored!" Wake up, all of you zombies! Festival in the air!

The final full moon of the calendar year is/was upon us, shining vibrantly in the sky. What better time to put an old year to bed and start thinking about 2012, Apocalypse Now?

Ah, forget the Apocalypse. Some little species always survives ... and life goes on.

Do you ever have one of those days when there are two "must-not-miss" events on your calendar? Saturday was one of those days for me. At noon: my very first ever Mummers rehearsal. At dark: The fabulous Firebird Festival in Phoenixville, PA! And only 40 miles of busy freeway between the two!

I'm a ham at heart, and so I have always watched Philly's Mummers Parade from the comfort of my recliner with a little bit of yearning. The parade is eight hours long, held at the coldest season of the year. And yet, the people in it seem to be having so much fun! How long was I going to sit out on this spectacle? Well, I've done just that for 25 years. But now I'm off the recliner, shopping for Under-Armor and gold paint for my run-down walking shoes!

I joined a comic brigade. Our first of two rehearsals was Saturday. And I must say that everyone there made me feel right at home. Mumming is a very proud tradition in these parts, and it just happened that the closest brigade to my house is a big one that has finished in the top ten every year for a decade. The rehearsal was fun and well-run, the routine is a hoot, and the 20 little kids will send it over the top in cuteness. I can't say any more now, because I don't want to give our secrets away to the opposing brigades. I'll get you a YouTube on January 2.

After practice ended, I drove over to Phoenixville. Given the town's name, it's not surprising that they would have a Firebird Festival. But what is surprising about the thing is how they don't do much at all to minimize the Pagan undertones. It is held close to the Solstice, and the crowning event of the evening is the immolation of a huge wooden bird-shaped structure, with Native American drummers and fire-dancers creating the build-up atmosphere. Many of the children were carrying long wands with a fancy bird on the top.

The object of the Firebird Festival is to send the old year out in a blaze and to begin a new one with renewed intent. For a small donation, you can write a wish on a slip of paper that gets put into a box. Just before they light the firebird, they put the box inside. Your wish goes up into the sky on a bright tongue of flame, to your deity of choice! Since I have so many to choose from, the sky must have been cluttered with happy bored gods!

I don't know how many little towns would set a bonfire so big you can see it two miles away, with minimal firefighting presence and maximum crowds of people. All I know is that the phoenix must have had some big-time accelerant in it, because with one touch of the torch it started to flame in dramatic fashion. By that time the somber Native American drum circle had become a lively multi-cultural drum event of epic proportions.

You go, Phoenixville! This was a blast with a big ol' B.

Holiday preparations are under way, so it might be a light week here at "The Gods Are Bored."  If you come here, and you've already read my drivel, check out the great bloggers in my sidebar! Not a dud among 'em.

Thursday, December 08, 2011

Graduate School

Welcome to "The Gods Are Bored," learning life's lessons the hard way since 1959! Have you spent some of your life in the School of Hard Knocks? Me too! Maybe we were in the same class but just didn't share homework.

This fall I have been given a master's degree class in reading by my school district. Since I took a pay cut, I figured I ought to recoup some of it by enrolling in the class. I had to drive to our sister campus for the classes (up to an hour commute one way during rush). Overall I would say I learned a few helpful classroom tools. But the teacher aggravated me in the extreme.

(Yes, yes, yes! My three most loyal readers will remember that I have it in for teachers! There's the prissy Mr. G at Spare's school, and the memorable Mr. Bigwand, who could talk for two hours without clearing his throat.)

This latest teacher, whose shapely butt I was glad to see leave the classroom at the end of the term, seems to have forgotten the first rule of teaching: namely, show your students what you want them to do. She assigned "masters degree level" papers to a cohort of teachers (including self) who had never taken a graduate class before, without giving clear guidelines or (gods forbid) showing us a sample of what she wanted!

I'm not kvetching on my part. I got good grades on the papers I've gotten back so far. But many of my colleagues were not so lucky. Some of them might have to reimburse the school for the tuition, which I'm thinking might run to $1500. That's a heck of a hunk out of an already-reduced teacher salary.

My feeling is that the professor will grade on a curve. My other feeling is that some people just didn't bother to work as hard as they could have.

But this class brought me to a big-time reckoning.

My days in the apparent world are numbered.

I want to continue learning. But the learning must feed my soul, not my stomach.

There's one more free class I can take in the spring before I would have to enroll in the master's degree program formally. That class sounds like it will be useful for my professional development. I plan to take it. (Different professor. Probably won't like him either.)

After that, it's on to Soul School. Probably modern Druidic studies. As Shakespeare put it, "The time of life is short. To spend that shortness basely were too long."

Sunday, December 04, 2011

Free Advice to Store Clerks

Welcome to "The Gods Are Bored!" I've got some things to do today, so I'll be brief.

See this pretty thing? It's called a "Lampe Berger." I bought one last year as a holiday gift for Mr. J. It's a product from Paris. You fill the base with alcohol infused with fragrance (ergo, not the kind you drink). There's a wick. You light the lamp, and the fragrance gets wicked up and out into the room.

I love the thing. It's the bomb. (Well, I guess if you dropped it while it was alight, it would REALLY be a bomb!) It infuses scent better than a candle, and it purifies the air to boot.

You can Google Lampe Berger and buy one it for that certain someone. I highly recommend the product. Their official site is a bit user-unfriendly, so try some of the American retailers.

I bought my Lampe Berger at a store on Snobville's charming Main Street -- a trendy little boutique that mostly sells the kind of thingamagiggies you throw around your house if you've got money to burn. But the lamp appealed, because I love it when my house smells good.

Anyway, long story short, this fancy store can't seem to keep the fragrances in stock. I've gone there at least ten times, and in eight of those times I've walked out empty-handed. Once I only got the product I asked for after having to make a special trip, when they had it shipped down from their other store in ... geez, I don't know where the other store is. Surely some place just like Snobville.

Today the weather was glorious, so I walked up to Main Street, went into the store, and requested a fragrance. They were out. I requested another frangrance. They were out of that too. They offered me "Polynesian Sunrise" or some other non-wintry scent. I walked out empty-handed.

And came home. Sat down here at the old desktop. Ordered $75 worth of fragrance that will be delivered right to my door.

I try, readers. I really try to buy local. I don't want to see empty stores on my Main Street. But if the store owners aren't stocking the items a customer wants, it's all too easy for that customer to go online and get the item. Sure, it costs a little more for shipping, but I'm a busy woman. I can't be hiking to Center Snobville three times a week, after the store calls me and tells me they got what I wanted.

So here's my free advice to store owners everywhere. If you have a product that you believe in, that you sell with all the ferocity of our old departed friend, Billy Mays, you had best lay in a good supply of any supporting products required to run the original product. In this day and age, it's way too easy to find Lampe Berger oil online. Local store owner, you needed that sale to pay your rent. You can only sell so many $300 embroidered throw pillows in this economy.

I would go up and pay the store to take my free advice (in the true spirit of TGAB), but there's that pesky shipping charge I wouldn't have had to pay if the store stocked the oils I needed. So, forget it, Snobville High-End Emporium of Generally Useless Gewgaws! The "For Rent" sign will soon hang from your door.

Friday, December 02, 2011

Mercury, That Bastard

Welcome to "Some Gods Should Be More Bored Than They Are!" My name is Anne Johnson (really), and I've had a Retrograde Week so abysmal in its retrogradeness that I'd like to assign Mercury to the retro-bottom-dollar thrift store!

You know Anne's having a bad week when she doesn't blog. Blast you, Mercury! Poisonous hazardous deity!


*Formal teacher observation, SO ... the bulb in my overhead viewer burst with a resounding POP! It gets better. The warning label on the side of the machine said, "Bulb contains Mercury. Handle with caution. Hazardous Waste."

*Well-planned lesson for formal teacher observation, SO ... observer calls at the last minute and cancels. Students nail the lesson. Overhead viewer had been fixed JUST in time.

*Observer comes the next day, same time. SO ... Same students don't have the foggiest notion of what I'm trying to teach them, so they decide to chat about the Eagles and stroll around the room.

*Chosen to attend literacy workshop at Kean University. More than 70 miles up the NJ Turnpike. Didn't take GPS. Forgot cell phone. SO ... Got lost in Elizabeth. At 7:30 in the morning. Made it to the conference in the nick of time. Name not on the list of invitees.

*Master's degree class professor tells the class that all the assignments we'd turned in previously (aced by self) don't mean diddly. SO ... Suddenly, the most important one is the one we haven't done, which I have no idea how to do because she didn't show us how she wanted it done. (This is freakin CLASSIC Mercury Retrograde, folks.)

*Spare mistakenly took some change from the grocery store thingy that belonged to the customer behind us in line. When Spare offered to give it back, the woman declined. Spare asked again. Still a decline. Then, when Spare did not dump it in the Salvation Army bucket outside the store, the crazy woman yelled at her all the way across the parking lot. Called her a thief! Said she could at least have given it to the Salvation Army! (Note to TGAB subscribers. Anne does not give a dime to the Salvation Army. No one should have to believe in Jesus to get a turkey dinner.) Damn Mercury! Usually I would have been up to this challenge to my daughter's moral character, but I'd just driven 130 miles on the New Jersey Turnpike and gotten lost in Elizabeth, and had to finagle my way into a conference! Too tired to give chase and fight back.

*Decibel the Parrot got moved into this room over Thanksgiving holiday and is still here. Living up to his name. Send money for hearing aids.

*So far as I know, the buzzards have not returned to Wenonah yet.

There are other mitigating factors, all dumped on me by that flighty deity, but keeping to the basics. One more:

*Discovered that Sis "bought" her new children from a Christian puppy mill that is not state-sanctioned! Ergo, she's freakin RETURNING one who is DANGEROUSLY FUCKED UP, while KEEPING his brother!

Bite. Me. Mercury.

Oh, wait. You already have.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Helpful Shopping Tips from "The Gods Are Bored"

The weather outside is anything but frightful today ... but if that music on the radio is subliminally activating your need to spend money, we at "The Gods Are Bored" can help you out!

You see, "shop local" only works if you live in a place where the merchandise is affordable. I hardly ever buy anything in Snobville except wedding presents. All else is beyond my means.

Therefore, I have a few merchants listed in my sidebar who can help you get your shopping done -- and they're also super nice people. In fact, I chose them for my sidebar because they are nice people who deserve to make a living from their stores.

*Jules Enchanting Gifts* has the biggest selection of faerie gifts you'll find anywhere, plus tons of other collectibles. The owner of Jules is a young woman named Happy. Happy is her real name, sure as I'm Anne Johnson. Either she grew into the name or it fit her from birth, because Happy is happy! Her jovial nature infuses every purchase from her site.

*Woodstock Trading Company* Channel your inner Dead Head! Or satisfy your need for esoteric incense that you dream about but can't find anywhere. Dr. Seth will either have the incense you need, or he will find it for you. If you phone them, tell them Anne sent you, and ask how "Monstro" is doing! Your order will be shipped promptly! Nicest family on earth, great little shop.

*Molly* Molly is a sculptress of faeries and dragons. Her work is unique and beautiful. Once again, she's one of the nicest human beings on the planet. If you want something extra-special,  I highly recommend Molly. Follow her links. You won't be sorry.

*Moonstone Jewelry* Guys, this one is for you. As a courtesy, I'll remind you on December 24.

Ah, joy. More papers to grade, and then I have to run The Heir back to college. Not sure "run" will be the correct word. Expecting gridlock. Worth it to have her home.

Friday, November 25, 2011

Thanksgiving 2011; Or, How I Learned To Love the 21st Century!

Welcome to "The Gods Are Bored," Thanksgiving edition, 2011! This century is now more than a decade old, and I have been less than impressed. But now I'm totally down with the 21st. Read on to find out how a "Dazed and Confused"-era teen finally went techno with success!

I have two daughters, The Heir and The Spare (pictured). I have a very close friend, the Monkey Man (pictured). All were invited to my table on Thanksgiving. Blessed be, they all accepted -- and Monkey Man brought his sister and another friend!

Alas, there was a snag. Mr. J, being a sportswriter, is often called upon to write at the holidays. He had a deadline. So I had to drive to Baltimore to pick up his mom. And back to Snobville for the feast.

It's a 200-mile round trip, all on a Thanksgiving morning.

Well, you have your Travel Wednesdays, and you have your Back Fridays, and in between people manage to have dinner with family and friends. I figured the traffic would not be bad on I-95 on Thanksgiving Day itself.

BAMP!!!!! Wrong. Wrong. Wrong! Deduct 50 points from Anne's score!

As I was traveling south on I-95, I noticed the traffic volume moving north. When Mom-in-law and I began our return journey from Baltimore to Snobville, the traffic on I-95 was unbelievable. You could not have squeezed a Handi-Wipe between my car and the one in front of me. You could have tried, though. At the rate the traffic was moving, you'd have been clear to make about 25 attempts.

I'm a veteran traveler of I-95, and I know how to circumnavigate it. Will I share this information with you? Hmmmmm. Email me.

I got off I-95 and took an alternate route. Here's where the plot thickens.

It was after 11:00 in the morning. I had told my guests that dinner would be ready at 4:30. The reason I had made this audacious boast was that I had full confidence in my sous chef, The Spare. You should see some of the fabulous meals she whips up! Caught in traffic? No problem! Spare at the helm, all systems go!

At a red light, I phoned up Spare. Conversation went something like this:

Anne: Hey, have you made the stuffing?

Spare: No, but I'm getting around to it.

Anne: Have you peeled the potatoes?

Spare: I was just getting ready to do that.

Anne: Listen. It's going to take longer than anticipated for me to get home. I need for you to put the turkey in the oven. The directions for preparing it are on the sheet I left on the kitchen counter.

(Very long pause.)

Anne: Spare? Are you there?

Spare: I can't handle a turkey carcass. It will make me puke.

Anne: What are you talking about? You cook stuff all the time!

Spare: Yeah, but ... look, I'm not reaching into a turkey and pulling out the ... parts. Like, I can't do that.

(Anne thinks of a contingency plan.)

Anne: Put your sister on the phone.

(Heir comes to the phone. Mind you, she can boil water for tea and toast a PopTart. End of her cooking ability.)

Anne: Heir, will you help Spare put the turkey in the oven? The directions are on the kitchen counter.

Heir: Ummmmmm. Uhhhhhhh. (No enthusiasm) I guess .......


(Green light. Phone off.)

Long story short, Mom-in-law and I crawled to a stop in front of my house at about half past never. The turkey was not in the oven. It had not been removed from the fridge. To her dubious credit, The Spare had made the stuffing and peeled the potatoes.

Time for a desperate contingency plan!

My oven is a modern, computerized gadget that has had its share of glitches, let me tell you. The oven has a "convection" option that I have never quite figured out. When you use it, time and space become altered as if it's an episode of Doctor Who gone awry. When you cook with convection heat, you dial down the temperature and dial back the time. It must save energy, doing that. But it's damned tricky.

I had no choice.

Slapped that bird in the oven. Convection heat, 300 degrees, 2 hours. Can you believe it, readers? That gobbler was ready for the table by 4:30! Sixteen pounds! Welcome to the 21st century, bored deities!

Monkey Man arrived, bearing home-made cranberry bread and a pumpkin pie. His sister arrived with the classic Green Bean Casserole, which was really and truly invented by a citizen of Snobville who worked in the test kitchen at Campbell's.

We all had a lovely dinner. Even the famed Monkey was happy, because I had a whole bunch of bananas set aside for him. We drank a toast and all said what they were thankful for. (Monkey Man's sister said she was grateful "that my weird brother always manages to find lovely friends.")

My mom-in-law was particularly impressed that the turkey was ready in the nick of time. During Thanksgivings past, she had been renowned for hounding me about when I was going to put the bird over the fire.

I saved the best for last. After dinner, the Monkey Man presented me with a gift. It was like 25 Yuletides came in one single second! Here's a picture of him, modeling my gift earlier in the day, at the annual Snobville-Snob Heights football game ...


I am blown away by this fabulous headgear. It bothers me slightly that the thing was probably made in some poor Third World country, but man-oh-man. Never has product met consumer with more satisfaction!

We at "The Gods Are Bored" hope you had a happy Thanksgiving. We hope you took a pass on Walmart on Black Friday. If not, don't ask us to feel sorry for you if you were trampled, shot, or pepper-sprayed. (Seriously. Look it up. People got pepper-sprayed at Walmart.)

This Thanksgiving was really special. We all missed Great-Grandma (who is still hovering), but we delighted in new friends and family. I have to work on Spare's gag reflex, but that can wait for another day.

I hope your holiday was special too. If not, let me know. I could set a place for you next year ... and save a few bananas back for your monkey puppet. It's how I roll.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Return to Sender

Welcome to "The Gods Are Bored!" Last night was a big night here in Snobville. It's "Spirit Week" (wow, just got the double meaning of that!), and the classes at Snobville High participated in their usual competitions, which encourage rivalry in the name of making money for charities and food banks.

My daughter The Spare is a Senior. She has always lived and breathed Spirit Week, but never more than this time -- her swan song as the driving force of the Spirit Week Committee, Class of 2012.

Spare's class chose "Lord of the Rings" as their hallway theme. And she buckled down to work. And they won.

Her contributions ran from the sublime to the ridiculous. In no particular order:

1. Both of my formal Druid Ritual robes. With my warm blessings.
2. A beautiful hand-crafted leather mask I just bought, giving to my sister for the holidays.
3. Costumes made of sheets and tablecloths from the thrift store.
4. A large piece of Astroturf from Lakewood High, Lakewood, Ohio ... scavenged from our property on Polish Mountain.
5. The contents of my china closet, more or less. I hope she didn't take the champagne glasses.
6. Each and every piece of colonial "kit" wear we amassed over a decade of doing Revolutionary War encampments.
7. Faerie wear, all of it.
8. An old bottle we scavenged from Polish Mountain, as above.
9. Two enormous banners that she painted without any help.
10. A Treebeard costume that could go right onstage.
11. Our outdoor fire bowl AND firewood!
12. Kid-sized furniture that has followed me through life somehow, and
13. An enormous amount of sweat equity.

Spare may not rock when it comes to cleaning her room, but tell her to make a hallway look like Middle Earth, and she will deliver! I was extremely proud of her!

On to the sermon:

November 23 marks the end of the Dominionist assault on the Goddess Columbia and our First Amendment rights, at least in its formal stage. I'm not much at math, but I can't understand how they got so far ahead of me that they were able to spend Samhain in Washington, DC ("C" as in Columbia) and eleven days in Philly, while I'm only up to Missouri!

I don't know how you roll, but I'm seeing some synchronicity between DC40's ruthless prayer vigil and the Occupy Movement. It's almost as if people everywhere are feeling the negative vibe of theocracy and are stepping up to stop it, in the name of democracy. Occupy is about more than unemployment and unfair business tactics. It's about bringing our nation into balance through the right to peaceably assemble, which (by cracky!) is also in the text of the First Amendment!

I'm sure to have lots to say about Occupy in the months to come, but this sermon contains an effort to diffuse dark magick.

I found this lovely and effective spell on Facebook. The more of us doing it, the better. The best times for it will be from midnight Wednesday to sundown on Thursday. This is close enough to the Full Moon to effect a new beginning, but far enough from a Mercury Retrograde to enact any unforseen consequences.

This is a send-back spell, meant to contain no more malice than you would expend upon a pair of shoes you ordered online and need to return because they don't fit. The merchant usually makes these returns very easy, so that you feel no bad humor. Please enter into this spell with that mindset: Something has come to you and your state. That something doesn't fit. Return to Sender, postage paid.

You can say this spell or write it on paper that you consign to air, fire, earth, or water. Pay heed to your sense of calm. You are diffusing ardor, and calmness is the best way to do that.

Spell as follows:

By the Power of (Insert favorite matron/patron/nature deity here) all negative prayers and curses issued by the New Apostolic Reformation, including all so called prayer intercessors who took part in the DC40/51 Days of Reformation Intercession campaign between October 3rd, 2011 and November 22nd, 2011 shall be returned to their source and origin intact exactly as they were sent. By the Power of (insert favorite deity here) and the Powers of The Queen of Heaven, Columbia, Lady Liberty and Nemesis, so mote it be. 

"Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances."

First Amendment, United States Constitution, 1791

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Worst Family Illness Ever

So many of us walk around with illnesses we don't know we have. Just this week I learned that the brother of my dear friend Celeste has a malignant form of brain cancer with a three percent survival rate after just one year. The way he found out was that he lost use of his arm. No prior symptoms. How fragile we are.

My family has an illness that is easy to spot if you're looking in from the outside, but hard to accept if you have it. The illness is bipolar disorder, and it can ruin the lives of the sick person and everyone around him or her. All the while, the sick person is protesting that there's nothing wrong, how dare you tell me I need help?

About six years ago, my sister and her husband sold their ranch house in West Virginia and moved across the river into Maryland. They purchased a lavish 4-bedroom home with cathedral ceilings and mountain views. Sis bought all new furniture and decor for it. When I first walked in, it looked like a palace.

Sis and her husband received two large inheritances, one from my side and one from her husband's. I figured the big bequests bankrolled the new house. But then Sis started buying stuff. Expensive stuff. Lots and lots of it. And she acquired pets. She started with one dog. Now she has three. She started with one cat. Now she has five. She started with one bird that she had for 22 years. That bird flew out of its cage recently and hit its head on a wall and died. So now she has two new birds.

Last spring, my sister and her husband (ages 47 and 49) adopted two boys ages 5 and 8. My sister paid a private Christian adoption agency $30,000 for the adoption. The boys have behavior issues, especially the younger one.

This is what my sister told me when last I spoke to her: She and her husband (he has a very well-paying job) are living paycheck to paycheck. They have exhausted both inheritances and their retirement account. The house, once spotless, is now awash in dust and mayhem. She is trying fruitlessly to sell some of the expensive stuff in a desperate effort to recoup losses. I offered to buy a statue she has of a Pan faerie, only to be told it cost $800.

Many nights Sis gets four hours of sleep. Many evenings she deals with wild tantrums. This is all I will say here about the children, but I'll bet you get the picture.

I wondered how an adoption could be arranged without an agency contacting next of kin for a report. Now I know. This "Christian" agency either heard from Sis that I was a Pagan, or it didn't hear about me at all. I would have told them not to place young children with her. I would have told them I didn't think she was stable enough to be saddled with a ready-made family.

Several times in the past few years I have warned Sis that she was showing symptoms of bipolar disorder. Each time she lashed out at me. On one memorable occasion she denounced Druids for being cold-hearted, as if my faith had influenced my discernment.

One of the classic symptoms of bipolar disorder is profligate spending of money. I figured my sister's husband was making big bucks, but he's not. They have blown through a fortune and inherited a whirlwind. I say "they," because her husband is the enabler. It was incumbent upon him to get her ... them ... help.

The moral of this sermon is this: If you know someone who is bipolar, don't blame yourself when that person's life goes awry. Bipolar disorder is a terrible illness. It is incurable but can be managed with medical treatment, constant monitoring, and medicines. But first the victim needs to see the illness. When that doesn't happen, the legal system protects the person until he or she becomes a danger to self or others.

Light a candle for my sister, please. I think she is quickly approaching the danger zone. It's like a car wreck that I don't want to look at, for fear of what I will see.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Not Blaming Arkansas for This!

Welcome to "The Gods Are Bored," dispensing the wisdom of the ages since 2005! Well, okay, not really. No one here is wealthy or wise ... or old. We still have fun, though.

Speaking of healthy, the poor dude in this famous painting had failed his health test completely. But it didn't stop artist Thomas Eakins from creating the masterpiece, "The Gross Clinic."

Eakins lived in Philadelphia. The painting depicts a group of students in Philadelphia. The painting was on display at Thomas Jefferson Hospital in Philadelphia until someone tried to buy it from the cash-strapped TJ.

That someone was Alice Walton of Bentonville, Arkansas. Ms. Walton wanted "The Gross Clinic" for a new museum she was building on her vast fortune gained from Wal-Mart.

Let me plainly state my case here. Wal-Mart mistreats its employees. It encourages the production of shoddy merchandise by poorly-paid workers in far-off lands. Its low prices are offset by the way the merchandise wears out quickly or doesn't work as well as it should. A poor person can't afford to shop at Wal-Mart. He would be better served to pay more and get a pair of shoes that will last three times longer.

At the top of the Wal-Mart pyramid sits the Walton family, esconced in luxury, trolling for iconic art treasures for a museum in their backwater lair.

I keep going back to this story of "The Gross Clinic," because I love it. When the citizens of Philadelphia learned that Alice Walton wanted the painting, and had offered a giant wad of cash for it, the citizens fought back. Together we pooled our resources and paid TJ more than Alice would have. Now the painting is in the Philadelphia Museum of Art (which I affectionately call "The Rocky Museum.").

Alice Walton is not a representative of Arkansas any more than Bill and Hillary Clinton are. But she is a poster child for greed. Is there a religion out there that encourages greed? Not on paper, by golly!

Look closely at your praise and worship team. Does it foster a climate of over-acquisition? If so, resign and relocate. Greed is not good. I don't have to live in a tent to tell you that.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

What Remains of Us Is Love

Welcome to "The Gods Are Bored," celebrating the joys of home and hearth since 2005! We're putting aside the First Amendment again tonight, because we would always rather talk about love.

If your deity or deities are haters, drop that subscription and look around some more. There are plenty of praise and worship teams that won't expect you to think the other guy is going you-know-where.

It's going to be a lively Thanksgiving at Chateau Johnson! The Monkey Man is attending, and he's bringing his sister! When we start sounding our barbaric yawps in the back yard, we're likely to attract some stares. The houses are close together where I live.

From the Monkey Man I learned that a former resident of my house just went to the Summerlands. I used to get mail addressed to this longtime resident. I never met her, but I have met her son. He is a wonderful person, a poet, and he has fond memories of growing up in the house where Mr. J and I raised our daughters, The Heir and The Spare.

Do you believe in spirits? I do, and I fully expect this former residence of my home to re-visit on her way to the Summerlands. With that in mind, I will light candles for her, and even talk to her if I feel her presence.

And what I will tell her is this:

"Vera, whatever you did in this house before I moved in, you must have done with love. Ever since I've lived here I have felt a positive warmth here. This was confirmed by your son when I met him. He described an idyllic childhood and begged me not to cut down the pear tree. Well, the pear tree is still there, and beneath it is a faerie portal. If you choose to sit with my family awhile before you go to the Summerlands, we will be honored to have you.

"When people sell a house and move away, they take their belongings with them. What they leave behind is the aura, the feelings, the happiness or sadness that informed their days while they lived under that roof. Vera, you were happy. Thank you for leaving that happiness behind. I will pay it forward, not forgetting that I'm building on what you began."

The carpet went to the curb, but the love lives on. Blessed be Vera, 1914-2011.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Michigan: What Are You Thinking?

Welcome to "The Gods Are Bored," resuming in a less structured way our push-back against the ultra-fringe Dominionists who would like to insert God into our government. Thomas Jefferson would order these people deported back to the countries from which their ancestors fled (escaping religious persecution).

I lived in Michigan for four years, and while I was there I was treated extremely kindly on more than one occasion by Christian people. I found, as a white Detroiter, that I was occasionally in a situation where I got bullied for being white. One of those times was when I went to hear Archbishop Desmond Tutu speak at the Ford Arena. While waiting outside, I was told to leave by a group of men who thought I shouldn't be there. A lovely bunch of church ladies, dressed in their best hats, took me in and invited me to sit with them. I have never forgotten that. They even took the trouble to scold the guys who were trying to keep the white woman from hearing Desmond Tutu! And trust me, I still remember Tutu's speech. What an awesome man!

Now, I was going to begin and end with this happy story. But the peerless Jason Pitzl-Waters (see link in my blog, The Wild Hunt) has alerted us to "anti-bullying" legislation in Michigan that would exempt bullying of a religious or moral nature.

For the love of fruit flies! Those guys at Ford Arena would have had the right to bully me right out of seeing Desmond Tutu! They proudly told me that they had marched in Selma, and this was their moment. That certainly is moral grounds for me not to be there.

This is more serious than my own little story, though.

How easy would it be for a dedicated bully to find moral or religious grounds to whomp a kid?

Well, I dunno ... Let's ask Hitler.

I would submit that a good bit of bullying occurs over religious issues, or at least it already gives bullies a pulpit for their actions. Michigan, your law has a big hole in it that you had better patch. Pagan, Arabic, and Jewish Michiganders had better get on this one, or it will be their kids who get jumped, harassed, intimidated, and hazed.

New Jersey has one of the strictest anti-bullying laws around, and as a teacher it makes my job way harder. I have to be alert to every kind of bullying, not exempting trash talk to the kid who comes to school wearing a pentagram. Come on, Michigan. Get real. Go get your trowel and a good batch of cement, and plug that hole.

Here's a fun thing we did in Michigan that I have also never forgotten. When someone wanted to show you how to get to Saginaw from Detroit, he or she would hold up the palm of his or her hand and point from the wrist bone (Detroit) to the lower thumb (Saginaw). If you wanted to go to Traverse City, that's on the pinky.

Okay, got to run. Teacher meeting on bullying!

Sunday, November 13, 2011

I Don't Have the Cake, but I've Been Offered a Slice

Hello and welcome to "The Gods Are Bored!" Here at this site we believe in Higher Powers. Lots of them. The more, the merrier.

I can't believe I'm about to write this, because it will feel like I'm starting a novel or some sort of salacious anonymous tell-all, but here goes:

The opinions expressed at "The Gods Are Bored" are solely those of the author of "The Gods Are Bored" and do not represent the opinions of any other individual, group, race, creed, or shoe size."

You would think something like that would go without saying, but by golly, you would be surprised.

I used to believe that coincidences were just that. Then I read the work of Robert Anton Wilson, and afterwords I had a whole new view of coincidence. A mystic can manipulate coincidence. So can Ancestors and Higher Powers. When a human manipulates coincidence (with or without the assistance of Higher Powers), this is called magick.

Last spring, when the sale of my family farm on Polish Mountain became inevitable, I walked into the woods on the farm. I tore a binding off a quilt made by my great-grandmother. I tied the scrap of cloth around a tree and asked Great-grandma Annie to help bind me and my descendants to the land, by whatever means she felt was the best.

Simultaneously, my dearest cousin, who worships another God, was praying that he could be relieved of the burden of caring for the farm, so that he could go and witness for his faith.

Two people, two different strategic plans. One result.

See if you think all of this is a coincidence, unaffected by my cousin's deity and my great-grandma:

1. About a week after my cousin put up a "for sale by owner: 75 acres" sign with a phone number, he heard from a man who was so determined to buy the property that the man begged to be able to take down the "for sale" sign.

2. The buyer is a local fellow who has hunted in the area and has admired our property for more than 25 years.

3. He is paying cash.

4. He will take the property "as is," which means that he's aware he's buying a piece o' nothing cabin with a multitude of structural issues, but he doesn't care. He'll fix them himself. He even wants the furniture.

5. He does not plan any tear-down. He will never subdivide. He does not want to cut timber.

6. Coincidence? This man feels strongly about family ties to the land. He will not change the locks. I will be welcome on the property any time, and if he's not there, I can stay in the house. He has already told me this 20 times!

7. Because he is local, he will be able to maintain the house (which he loves). Most of the surrounding houses have gone to rack and ruin with their absentee owners letting them fall to pieces. Ours will be kept up. The buyer is 58 with a 22-year-old daughter and a 17-year-old son.

This farm is about 80 miles from Baltimore and Washington. Usually when properties in the area go up for sale, they're either bought by people from those cities who want a getaway, or they're bought by developers who section them into 5-acre plots. Our buyer is a retired railroad worker from Cumberland, Maryland with sufficient income that he has invested in the land for his own family legacy.

Yesterday I met the buyer and his family. He again reiterated in the most ardent fashion his desire that my family come and visit as often as we like. I liked him immediately, especially when he and his son discussed buying a goat to keep the pasture clear.

He says he's going to frame the "for sale" sign and hang it in the house. He says he feels like Christmas came early for him, that owning the "Johnson farm" is a dream come true.

And speaking of Christmas, the sale will close in mid-December. Hoo boy! Santa Claus's sleigh is going to be crushed under the weight of "must-haves" that this family needs but has been unable to purchase.

As I bid farewell to my cousin yesterday and started back for the big city, he and I had to agree that some sort of Divine Intervention has occurred. So what if we disagree on the particulars? Something good happened. Everyone is happy!

I will return to my super-snarky dissing of the Dominionists tomorrow. I must say, if any of them are reading this and wishing me to develop boils or bad luck, they're SOL. I'm keeping the key to my farm, and now I won't even have to pay my share of the taxes! La dolce vita.

Oh yeah! I almost forgot! I had some medical tests done, and the doctor said that I might live forever with so much good cholesterol flowing in my veins. His only warning was to not take cell phone calls while driving on the Pennsylvania Turnpike.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Time To Work

My friends, I will be traveling to Polish Mountain today. On Saturday I will meet the family who will be purchasing the farm. Over the phone they sound too good to be true -- except that I did some Work on the property last spring, so I'm confident it's coming into fruition.

On this Full Moon I bid goodbye to an old era and await a new one. I'm walking on with the Old Ones. May They guide your feet as well.

Anne Johnson

Tuesday, November 08, 2011

Talking Sports, Politics, and the Sunshine State (Whew!)

Welcome to "The Gods Are Bored!" Busy slate tonight.

1. Rest in peace, Smokin' Joe Frazier. May you find the Summerland. I copyedited my father-in-law's book about you, Ghosts of Manila, and boy, was that an eye-opener! Philly loves you, Joe. We always will.


2. Smokin' Joe's passing is being dwarfed around here by the Penn State scandal. It's a long, ugly story. Apparently, the sainted Joe Paterno knew about child rape going on in his locker room and felt he'd done his civic duty by reporting it to his boss ... once. There's always special outrage reserved for figures of such public eminence who are shown to be, at the core, egg-sucking dogs.

Last weekend, a Penn State victory made Paterno the winningest college football coach of all time. His record beat a long-standing coaching "best" held by the late Eddie Robinson of Grambling State University. There's nothing humble about my opinion in this matter. Robinson should keep his record, and Paterno should be removed from his position, effective two weeks ago. And if the Nittany Lions felt the wrath of the Big Ten before this, they are about to get showered with disapproval far and wide. Deservedly. Shame on you, Joe Pa. Creature.

3. Today was election day. My local assemblyman voted with Chris Christie to make teachers pay more of their health care and pension funding -- money that the state should have been setting aside for its workers lo, these many years. My local assemblyman is a Democrat. So I voted for Sponge Bob. It was fun typing in a write-in.

4. Continuing our purge of the scourge, we turn tonight to the Sunshine State, Florida, home of all things warm and sunny, including teams that beat Penn State. Tonight we're not interviewing a bored deity of the Seminoles or anything like that. We're just going to suggest a tour of Florida from one of its most caustic observers, author Carl Hiaasen.

I am crazy about Carl Hiaasen's books. This is my favorite. I've read it five times. In Carl's world, evil politicians, lobbyists, con artists, and criminals are thwarted by crazy-assed eco-terrorists. In more than one Hiaasen novel, the bad guy gets eaten by buzzards in the end. My kind of fiction!

It's not a reach for me to imagine a world where the 1%, buoyed by Dominionist laws against lewd reading material, would put Carl Hiaasen out of business. If ever there was a writer who inveighs against Big Business, it's my man Carl. The fact that he can do it and make you laugh at the same time is phenomenal.

Hiaasen's take on religion is best seen in his book Lucky You, in which a group of connivers compete to get the most tourists to their Jesus shrines. What's funniest about such things is that you can totally believe them. No one could make up what Hiaasen writes about. He was a reporter for the Miami Herald. I suspect that he saw firsthand much of the idiocy that makes its way into his novels.

Candles lit for Smokin' Joe, tar warming for Paterno Joe, and thumbs up to Carl Hiaasen for showing us how politics works in the Sunshine State!

And I hope Sponge Bob wins in District Six, New Jersey State Assembly.

Sunday, November 06, 2011

The Indifferent Faerie

Welcome to "The Gods Are Bored!" Pinky promise that regular dispatches from the front lines will return next week.

This past weekend I went to FaerieCon, a sort of convention thingy like other convention thingies where people with like minds and deep pockets gather to enjoy their mutual interests. I went to FaerieCon mostly to see my peeps from the Spoutwood Fairie Festival (save the date ... May 4, 5, 6, 2012) and to help sit the booth they put up to promote Spoutwood.

It's gratifying work, manning a Spoutwood Fairie Festival booth at a faerie convention about 30 minutes from Spoutwood's location. More than half the people who passed the table had either been to Spoutwood, or knew about it but never had come, or were keenly interested in its nearby location. No hard sell on my end, and Big Red always enjoys seeing the children.

But you know, I have "teacher brain." I call it "teacher brain" because in order to learn the names and key facts about 150 new people every year, you have to let some other cognition slide. In this latest case of "teacher brain," I neglected to note that FaerieCon now has its Good Faerie Ball on Friday night and its Bad Faerie Ball on Saturday night.

I thought I was coming to the Good Faerie Ball, to spend an evening dancing myself to exhaustion. I packed accordingly.

When I arrived at the con, and discovered that I would be seeing QNTAL, a Medieval fusion band, at the Bad Faeries Ball, I was distraught. I've got nothing against QNTAL, they're great, but it's like being told that you're going on a haunted hayride instead of attending the Halloween dance. Both hayrides and dances are swell, but they come with different sets of expectations.

Readers, I did what I could to make my lavender Druid cloak look "bad." Alas, the first con attendee who saw me headed for the Bad Faerie Ball told me, "You don't look bad at all."

Which in many contexts would be a compliment. In this case, not so much.

So I decided to be an Indifferent Faerie. Maybe I'll let the "good" and "bad" in me fight it out for a few days while remaining indifferent. And in the future, I will pay more attention to dates when attending balls, buzzard fests, and bazaars.

The date of the Mummers Parade is easy to remember. But oh, snap! When are those rehearsals?

Friday, November 04, 2011

Free Advice on How To Get Ahead in the World

Welcome to "The Gods Are Bored!" A quick update tonight, and a pinkie promise that we at TGAB will return to our state-by-state disaster repair next week. The creepers from Planet Left Behind are supposedly right here in the Delaware Valley even as I write. Haven't seen them. Sneaky devils, I know they're around. Gonna send Jackal out to patrol.

Tomorrow I venture south to a Fairy convention in Maryland. I've been to these cons before and am not a big fan. It gives me the shivers to see some shadowy outfit (try getting a refund from these people) making money off of faeries. However, many of my friends from the real fairie festival will be there -- so pip pip, I need a road trip!

If you are going to the Fairy convention in Baltimore, you can find me at the Spoutwood Fairie Festival booth, 4-6 on Saturday and 10-12 on Sunday. Notice how I took the hardest times! Mountain Tribe is dedicated.

Postscript: I'm losing the family farm, but must I also lose followers? Number 156, where are you? I can't help it if I can't be witty every day! How about every other Thursday?

Toodle-oo for now,
Anne Johnson, Appalachian emeritus

Thursday, November 03, 2011

My Heart, My Soul, and My Grave

News reached me today that the property I co-own on Polish Mountain has been finalized for sale. Of my six cousins and sister, I was the only one who did not want to sell the farm.

I am no longer Appalachian. I am formerly from Appalachia. Only when I die will I become an Appalachian again.

Primary Colors: Iowa

Welcome to "The Gods Are Bored," celebrating our freedom to fringe since 1776! Remember, the Vietnam War wasn't lost until the mainstream middle class said it was. Before that, fringe groups opposed it -- but no matter how loud they are, fringe groups rarely influence the large mainstream of ordinary Americans.

We Pagans, and gays, and atheists, and Occupiers, and a bunch of other concerned citizens simply cringed when the moronic Rick Perry looked like a promising presidential candidate. Rick's big confab with all the fringe fundamentalist Christian groups earlier this year sent a collective chill down the spine of those of us in non-mainstream religious practices.

Can you imagine me not being able to worship buzzards in public? Hmmm. Well, actually I keep this little activity pretty private now. But at least I can't be arrested for doing it. Stared at, yes. Persecuted, no.

While the One God for Our Nation fanatics prayed over Governor Rick, the rest of us petitioned the bored gods to do something, and do it in a hurry! This is why the busy god Yahweh is so jealous. He has competition, and when properly petitioned, it surges.

Just two months before the Iowa caucuses, our friend Perry appeared in New Hampshire for a stump speech. Oh my goodness. I have seen people drunk, I've seen them stoned, I've seen them on pain meds, I've seen them ranting in the streets for want of psychiatric treatment. It's really hard to pin down what was happening with the gov that night. Alcohol would have slurred his speech more. Pain meds would have made him more mellow. (Then again, large quantities of opiate painkillers didn't mellow Limbaugh, did they?) Nevertheless, I am ruling out pain meds, and I doubt very seriously that Perry would have dared violate the unreasonable laws against use of weed.

This leaves only two possibilities: He was possessed by Loki, Jackal, Anansi, and other Trickster deities in order to turn him from his destructive path, or

He actually goes into rants that should be treated by a competent physician.

I vote for the first option. All glory, laud, and honor to Trickster deities in every tradition!

Iowa is a pretty mainstream place. Can't see the people there voting for a wackadoo. Can you?

Rick Perry's drunken speech (3 minute edit)

Wednesday, November 02, 2011


I am not dead. I'm not even sick. I left off at Iowa and will resume mop-up soon. All is well, all is well, and all that can be well is well.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Our Holy Days

Welcome to "The Gods Are Bored," Samhain 2011 edition! I'm your hostess with the ghostess, Anne Johnson. Honestly, that is the name I was graced with at birth. Its anonymity is brilliant.

We interrupt our state-by-state magickal clean-up behind Cindy Jacobs and her army of blood-flinging Crusaders in order to do some more immediate damage control.

On Samhain Eve, Ms. Jacobs is live-streaming a prayer event for the whole evening. A coincidence that she picked our holy night? BAMP! This clueless female looks out on Halloween and sees evil, evil, evil. Poor thing. Someone should buy her a blankie.

In the rare possibility that some of her warriors are checking out this site (and with the comfortable knowledge that a few Pagans visit here from time to time), I'm just going to do a quick outline of the holy days that General Jacobs deems evil. I'll write on a really readable level so any fighter for the busy god can understand.

1. Do you miss your dearly departed grandmother? I sure do. On these first frosty nights of the coming winter, the veil between worlds grows thin, and a discerning person can feel Granny's love all around. In the kitchen, by the stove. In the yard, by the garden. Granny, I can feel you. That's what Samhain is really all about, Charlie Brown.

Now, Christian readers. Tell me you have never felt your departed loved ones at your side in times of need. Right. You do. We all do. No evil involved. None.

2. Samhain recognizes the reality of death, of crossing over the divide. This is the fear factor: ghosts, skeletons, spider webs, scary costumes. What we are really coming to grips with here (and what we're inviting our children to do) is to face our fears and accept them as a normal condition of life. Without the inevitability of death, and the curiosity about what lies beyond, we would not appreciate life. But we don't want to walk around scared all the time, so we set aside the scares until Halloween.

Christian readers. Tell me that you are not one bit afraid of ghosts. Well, guess what? Neither am I! Death and the Beyond are part of every tradition. Don't believe me? Go to church on Good Friday.

3. Samhain marks the moment in the year when the crops have been brought in from the fields. Remember, our traditions come from Northern Europe, where the growing season was pretty much as it is here. But this is not a harvest festival. This is a stock-taking moment. This is that exact instance when we look in the larders and know whether or not we have enough food to get us through the winter. If we do, we're happy. If we don't, we pray to Cernunnos to have pity and spare us over till another year.

Christian readers. Tell me that you don't pray to your god when you lose your job, when you don't have enough money to make ends meet. Is this evil? Or do you petition on behalf of your loved ones, the people whose lives depend upon you?

4. Samhain is the original New Year's Eve and is thus celebrated as a favorite holiday throughout America. Go ahead and try to shut it down. This isn't May Day with a few pretty girls weaving ribbons around a pole. This is Halloween. It's a huge, huge industry of costumes, decorations, candy, party goods, and traditions. Cancel Halloween, and the Navajo Nation will lose the enormous income it derives from planting and harvesting pumpkins. And that's the tip of the iceberg.

Christian readers. If you choose not to celebrate Halloween, all hail. You do what you gotta do. But don't make other American families feel guilty and evil if they want their kids to have a good time. This is a sensible celebration with roots so deep you will never pull them out of our collective soil. Don't even try, except within the walls of your own wacky community.

5. One final shot across the bow: Halloween is celebrated in schools! If you don't want your kid to dress up in a costume and go eat sweet treats with friends, you have to keep the kid home that day. Might cause a little resentment in your tot. You know why? Because there is absolutely no harm, none none NONE, in Halloween! When did socially-sanctioned fun become an evil thing? Oh pleeeeze.

The moral of this sermon is that most Christians celebrate Halloween just in the way that they live and think, without even knowing it. It's a time to assess the harvest, face the alterations brought about by death, and celebrate the dearly departed loved ones whose lives made you what you are today.

Cindy, get over it. Your antipathy for Halloween stems from your own praise and worship team's tendencies to co-opt the holiday for their evil purposes. The rest of us have moral values and common sense. Pray all you want. You look ridiculous.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Wisconsin Came First

Welcome to "The Gods Are Bored," proudly serving the 99% since 2005!

Unless you're an ostrich, you have noticed a growing swell of unrest in our country. The unrest stems from workers being downsized or gouged for wage give-backs ... and the educated unemployed (many with onerous college loans) demanding more equitable treatment.

This isn't going to go away. When you don't have a job -- or you are off for a few weeks in the summer -- you have plenty of time to protest.

In my humble opinion, the images of Wisconsin teachers rallying in the state capital in protest of attacks on their collective bargaining rights was the shot fired over the bow that started the whole Occupy movement. Madison, you gave us an image of hard-working people, people who hold the future of America in their hands every day, becoming furious at broken promises and wealthy string-pullers behind the scenes.

I am old enough to remember other protest movements. They were successful. The more strident the reaction to protesters, the more sympathy the protesters accrue. Trust me, every school teacher everywhere watched the news out of Wisconsin every night, or read about it in the few remaining newspapers. More importantly, other labor unions were watching too.

We are entering a period of instability, and as with all protests, the most active ones will be young people -- college graduates who feel duped by the high tuition, untenured adjunct professors, and zero job prospects in the real world.

In keeping with our state-by-state mop-up after the black magicians seeking to destroy democracy, I pose a rhetorical question: What would Jesus say about America's plight right now?

Here's what I think. I think he would wring his hands and try to drum up enough food for the people around him in his little sphere of influence, hoping that these people -- inspired by his example -- would themselves go out and pay it forward.

I don't get the sense that the DC40 crowd considers itself part of the 99%. I don't get the sense that they care about the poor, the tired, or the huddled masses longing to be free. (Duh! Of course they don't! That's what's engraved on the Goddess monument in New York's harbor!)

As in Madison, so in the rest of America. It cannot go on like this. We don't want to burn down mansions. We want equity. We want to work for a decent wage. We want our children to work and to live in a country where they can assemble for redress of grievances.

If we took all the God stuff off the table, even the Tea Party would be with us. All we want is for things to be fair.

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances. --Full text, First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.

On, Wisconsin. We are the 99 %.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

California Condor: God of the Skies

Dispensing with the formal greeting today. Moving right on to worship of the Sacred Thunderbird.

First, a little navel-gazing.

I have worshiped vultures since I was a teenager. For many years (and even now) this religious devotion has run parallel to whatever other deities I praise and worship. However, having achieved the wisdom of a half century, I now choose to center my most important devotions around Vulture.

This puts me more within the Native American worldview than the European. There are numerous songs and dances, stories and Rituals, surrounding the Peace Eagle (aka Vulture) among Native American groups all across America. Especially in the Pacific Northwest, where the California condor was once widespread and majestic (wingspan of 10 feet -- think about it).


In 1984 I went to the San Diego Wildlife Park, where a captive breeding program had begun for California condors. I wrote an article about the efforts for the Detroit Free Press. Since I had a press pass, the biologists let me go see the "Condorminium." It was a huge, netted area where they kept the condors they were trying to breed.

Needless to say, even a glimpse of these deities from afar, in a flight cage, had immense meaning for me. (We couldn't go close, because the biologists didn't want the condors to become used to people.) Mr. Johnson could hardly live with me for weeks thereafter. Rapture? Forget about Rapture! Give me a Raptor!

At its lowest point of population, the California condor dipped to just 27 individuals. They were rounded up and kept in San Diego. Some creatures might not like being in a flight cage, but the condors are pretty happy with their dependable supply of carcasses. They have been making whoopie for 25 years.

We can be cautiously optimistic about this deity. The Sacred Thunderbird of California now is represented by approximately 400 individuals, some of them in the wild. They have been released in the Grand Canyon, where there are no power lines or hunters. Efforts are underway, partly funded by the Yurok Indians, to release condors in the woods of the Pacific Northwest, where carcasses are abundant and there are traditions of condor Ritual worship.

Angels and faeries are purported to be able to fly. Vultures can do it visibly and gracefully. No skeptical atheist can scoff at the flight of Vulture. It is magnificent.

None of us will live to see a California condor pair soar over our heads in the rugged wilds of America. But it's a comfort to me to know that the species is making a comeback.

Honestly, think about it. If you looked up and saw a bird with a ten-foot wingspan glide silently past, wouldn't you feel that you were in the presence of something greater than yourself?

I can ony speak for myself, but ... As for me and my house, we will worship Vulture.

Congress shall make no law respecting the establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof. First clause of the First Amendment of the Bill of Rights of the United States Constitution.

Hail Vulture, the visible Higher Power!

Monday, October 24, 2011

Brief Chat with Freya about Minnesota

Welcome to "The Gods Are Bored!" Sorry for the lateness on our most recent state in need of protection, but I was at a Ritual yesterday making mournful.

And this morning, I'm really busy with school work. So I'm going to chat briefly with Freya, Great Goddess of the Norse People (who is always rather busy too).

Anne (to her cats): Alpha! Beta! On your way! Shoo!

Freya: Oh, no, Anne. I adore your sweet kitties!

Anne: And it's mutual. Once You're gone, they'll sleep all day in a patch of sunlight, dreaming of You. Freya, the state of Minnesota has the largest population of Norwegian-descended people outside of Norway itself. What does this mean in terms of praise and worship?

Freya: Well, we of the Norse pantheon are working hard there, and elsewhere too, to re-vitialize our praise and worship team. It's working, too. Asatru membership is on the upswing everywhere!

Anne: You go, Goddess! Long may You reign! I've only ever been to one Asatru outing. It wasn't really a Ritual. There were just libations to You, and Odin, and Thor, which consisted of drinking beer out of a horn. I'm all for that!

Freya: Thank you. We are much more serious than Flying Spaghetti Monsters.

Anne: And much more ancient and sacred. Well-documented, too. Your praise and worship team kept records. Does it bother you that Thor is the subject of comic books and movies?

Freya: Does it bother you that King Arthur is the subject of movies? Anything that gets Us into the public eye is fine with Us.

Anne: I know you have to fly, Freya. (To her cats) No, not with you girls! Stop rubbing that chariot!

Freya: Yes, I want to go to Minnesota to sweep up after those evil would-be God-killers. We're going to prevail on this one, Anne.

Anne: From Your lips to Your ears, Goddess. All glory, laud, and honor to You!

I would be remiss here if I didn't note that Minnesota has a very well-organized and public Pagan community. Their presence on the Pagan Newswire Collective is a boon to us all.

Remember your First Amendment, folks! Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof. Hail Freya!

Friday, October 21, 2011

Treatise on Oregon

Welcome to "The Gods Are Bored," bringing you the Pagan-est Paganinity since Pagan came to Pagantown!

To answer your question ... No. I cannot be serious for a minute. I've tried, and the best I can do is 43 seconds. And that was the day my mama died. Someone stole my Cloak of Seriousness decades ago. Must have been that faerie I played with as a kid. "Serious" and "Anne": ne'er the twain shall meet!

I mean, if you want me to, I could get all depressed and angry and shit. Easily enough done, if you consider the tragic story of Sacagawea, kidnapped as a teen, sold into slavery to a French trapper, and then sent as a guide for an expedition half a continent wide with a friggin baby on her back.

What would Lewis and Clark have been without Sacagawea? Buzzard bait, that's what. The tribal areas through which they passed considered them harmless because they had a woman and child with them. Sacagawea knew how to speak Shoshone, thus paving the way for her fussy "captains" through the rugged Rockies and beyond.
For her long expedition and devotion to the white men through thick and thin, Sacagawea was awarded with ... nothing. Nada. Zip. Her husband got five hundred bucks and a farm. She died at 25.

I will cut to the quick and be done with this.

We need Goddess worship. Women should be honored and cherished and given leadership roles. They should have sovereignty over their bodies and the fruits of their labor. They should reject any religion that:

1. Casts them as the villains in the history of humankind.
2. Fails to recognize their equality by honoring them as equal priestesses in religious devotion, and
3. Expects them to have a new, tasty casserole for every gathering, no matter how hard they've worked all week.

If you don't think Sacagawea had to whip up the casseroles on her way from North Dakota to Oregon, you just aren't thinking.

When we consider Oregon as a metaphor, it ought to be in the context of female equality. Being a polytheist, I'll add: You show me a religion without a Goddess, I'll show you a praise and worship team full of exhausted females.

Before you start wagging your finger at me and tsk tsking, bear in mind that I was a Methodist for 16 years. I may not have been Sacagawea, but on the Sundays when the childrens' choir did their big musical, it sure felt like I was negotiating for horses with a bunch of ferocious native warriors on a wind-swept mountaintop. 

Women, listen to me. Choose a religion where you are valued. Don't fall for that "okay, you can be a deacon" shit. Go for the path that lets you climb to the top.

Do it in the memory of Sacagawea. Do it in the name of religious diversity. Whatever. Just. Do. It.