Sunday, December 30, 2012

Mummer, It's Cold Outside!

I'm just back from a more fun than all get out serious and grueling Two Street Stompers practice, in which we danced and partied the afternoon away rehearsed our routine until it reached epic silliness perfect precision!

It was cold as the Devil's cheeks out there, but I like cold weather.

I'm going to date myself beyond all doubt. Back in the day, there was a family called "The King Family" that performed musical specials on t.v. once or twice a year. It was an extended family of about 50 people -- cousins, uncles, in-laws, grandparents. And they all seemed to get along so well together! Anyway, long story short, the Two Street Stompers sort of remind me of the King Family. Most of them are related in some way. Some have been marching since they were kids. They took me in, and I'm glad. I love it.

A local t.v. station did a short piece on the Stompers. I've posted it below. When you see people dancing Gangam style, I'm the one in the black jacket with gold sleeves behind the TNT box. Clearly in my element.

Two Street Gold Rush!

Two Street Stompers

Friday, December 28, 2012

Visit from Bored Goddesses: Bast and Freya

Welcome to "The Gods Are Bored!" Seems like a while since I checked in. Well, we have been making merry here at Chateau Johnson. My daughters Heir and Spare got me the nicest gifts! Heir bought me a portable drum for drum circles, a real one from India, and Spare got me a faerie that I named Yule.

Here is a photo of the three of us that Spare's gentleman caller snapped for Mr. J:


That's Heir on the left, me, and Spare.

We have had some company here in the way of bored Goddesses. You see, my cat Alpha has entered extreme old age and is getting more frail by the day. Alpha has long been blessed by Bast and by Freya (the Latter loving it when Alpha bore Her chariot), and They are here giving solace to Alpha as she dwindles. I cannot tell you how lovely it is to have Goddesses caring for my cat!

Oh well, and yes, Mr. J and I are spoiling Alpha rotten by giving her all the foods she has been denied her whole life, like lunch meat and table spoils.

Bast is also quite tickled about the upcoming 2013 Philadelphia Mummers Parade. I showed Her some film footage from previous parades, and She was quite impressed! She said that Alexandria never had a finer spectacle, even at the height of its power! So, how about that?

This afternoon Bast helped me spray paint my sneakers a shiny metallic gold, Rustoleum reluctantly purchased from my nemesis store, Home Depot. While She and I were busy spraying, Alpha went missing for a time, outside. Of course I thought immediately of faerie abduction, and for the next hour I searched for Alpha fruitlessly. But some time after dark, Bast and Freya found Alpha and brought her back inside.

Tomorrow is Mummers practice. I get my suit! Stay tuned for some photos that will hardly be fit to print!

Monday, December 24, 2012

Results Must Be Measurable

Welcome to "The Gods Are Bored!" The title of this post is "teacher lingo." It means that you must have some written proof that your students have learned what you set out to teach them.

But I think "results must be measurable" can apply to lots of other things as well.

For years I wondered why Christmas came five days after the winter solstice, and not right on it.

Voila! I'm not the quickest thinker, but I might have figured it out.

After the shortest period of daylight each year, we gain a half minute to a minute of extra daylight per 24-hour cycle. I guess it would take five days or so before the extra daylight would be measurable. It's like our ancient forebears had to be certain that the Sun was returning before they threw a party for it.

Yuletide, explained ... at least to my not-so-nimble mind.

On behalf of the staff of "The Gods Are Bored," and all the Ancient Ones whose praise and worship teams marked this part of the year with feasts, I wish you a peaceful and pleasant holiday. Set some mulled wine aside for the faeries, sing a carol or two, and enjoy the company of your nearest and dearest.

Blessings to all,

Crazy Buzzard Lady

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Funny Holiday Banter

Welcome to "The Gods Are Bored!" Do you think this is the most wonderful time of the year? Me neither!

It's dark. It's cold. The traffic is terrible. And it's hard not to overspend when the too-loud Xmas carols mess with your mind.

I've always said that I could gladly go from Thanksgiving to New Year's Eve without stopping for Xmas at all.

Well, problem with that, these days, is that I would miss crucial Mummers practices, mid-month and toward New Year's Eve. So I've become reconciled to the whole Christmas season.

Today Mr. J and I bravely sallied forth to obtain foodstuffs for the holiday feasting. We went to this behemoth of a store called Wegman's. The thing about Wegman's is that they have a lot of stuff that is partially prepared, and all you have to do is bung it into the oven and set the timer. That's my kind of cooking.

Trouble is, that's the kind of cooking that appeals to most people. For the love of fruit flies, that place was packed! It was shopping cart gridlock. Every aisle was impassible. Gods forbid you had to stop and look at something, because you would start a huge bottleneck. Damned good thing that shopping carts don't have horns on them! It would have been honk heaven in there.

After an hour or more of wrestling our way through the store, Mr. J and I had a modest cartful of groceries. We took our place in one of the long lines by a cash register. Then Mr. J went to look for another item. I was on my own, and in my usual friendly Appalachian way, I just started talking to everyone around me.

First I told the checker, "I think you're lucky to be working here. This company is really going gangbusters."

He said, "Yeah, we're doing pretty well."

I said, "Now, the guys at the top might tell you otherwise, but don't believe it. I know success when I see it."

Then he rang up my total, and it was the highest price I have ever paid in a grocery store. My jaw dropped. I gasped. Mr. J walked up, and I tried to shield him from the bottom line.

That's when it got funny. The guy behind me in line, seeing my dismay, started singing, "It's the Most Wonderful Time of the Year." He looked at me and laughed and said, "Aren't you glad it only happens once a year?"

And I said, "Well, I don't know about you, but my family is going to be like the Waltons -- living on love until the end of January."

All of us cracked up. The checker, the other customer, me, and even Mr. J. Then Mr. J and I brought home our modest-in-size, maxed-in-price haul, and I'm set to do some mild cooking.

Wegman's has good groceries, but the real reason to go there is that they consistently stock TaB cola. I paid dearly for needing that today.

Happy Saturnalia! Once a year ... and that's enough.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Write a Letter

Welcome to "The Gods Are Bored," one of the voices of America's Pagan community since 2005.

Speaking of communities, there are very few these days who don't have at least a few practicing Pagans, especially here in the Great Blue Northeast.

I suppose, without a shred of evidence, that Newtown, Connecticut has its small share of Old Religion adherents of various pantheons. I talk to the Bored Gods all the time, but like doctors, they don't reveal names unless the person wants to be known. Nothing worse than being pulled out of a closet when you're not ready to leave it.

One of the teachers at my school secured the address below. The man in question grew up in Newtown and plans to go there on December 28 to distribute letters of condolence.

I wrote one on behalf of the Bored Gods (very serious, which you know is unlike me). On the outside of the envelope, I wrote "Druid/Wiccan/Asatru." Hopefully this message of comfort, naming the deities of those pantheons, will find its way into the hands of someone there who counts himself or herself a member of the praise and worship team for those deities.

If you feel likewise inspired, here's the address. I withhold the man's name so that he doesn't Google himself ten years from now and find this post:


3 Woodmansee Ct

Richmond, RI 02892

I suggest you write "Druid/Wiccan/Pagan" on the envelope yourself ... and "message for Newtown" ... and then we can only hope that this man has an open mind to go with his open heart.

On Monday I handed out index cards to my students and invited them to write anonymous questions or comments about the shooting. I wanted to allay anxieties, since my classroom is the first one beyond the front door.

When I collected them, one of my students had written:" I think that in that type of situation that we are in a great clasroom with the perfect teacher."

I got so choked up I had to daub my face with a paper towel.

Now ... to lighter things ... If you haven't watched the fabulous 3 minute video, "Momma Bird," starring MOI, scroll down and help my talented filmmaker daughter rack up points on YouTube! Leave a comment on YouTube for her, and win a blessing from the bored deity of your choice!
From Anne, the Momma Bird

Monday, December 17, 2012

Here I Am!

Here's The Spare's awesome documentary film on me! Let it uplift us all in these dark hours!

I have just one request of you, readers. Please consider leaving a comment on The Spare's YouTube space. It will make her happy. And the more of you who watch "Momma Bird," the better Spare's rating will be.

If watching this heartfelt testimonial for the Sacred Thunderbird moves you to wish to praise and worship Vulture, our operators are standing by to take your call. (It's only 3 and a half minutes of your day. And it could change your life.)

Momma Bird, starring ME!

Momma Bird

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Twice a month my school has a fire drill. Two or three times a year we have lockdown drills. Everyone takes them seriously.

Once I found myself in a Tier Three lockdown drill with 25 freshmen at 1:30 in the afternoon. There were quite a few snarky girls in that class who excelled in disrespectful put-downs.

As we crouched on the floor in silence, one of the girls started to snicker. I turned around and whispered to her, "If you want to get me fired, keep laughing. If you don't, be quiet."

She stayed quiet after that. They all did.

Once we had a Tier Two lockdown that was unscheduled. We kept on teaching, only with the doors shut and locked. The students were not allowed to leave the classroom. This put everyone on edge, and the inevitable questions ensued:

"Miss. We are the first classroom by the front door. Won't we be the first ones shot?"

"Miss. What will you do if a shooter comes in?"

I've said it before here at "The Gods Are Bored." I don't know what I'd do if a shooter came in. But I hope I would call upon the Great Bored Gods and try my very best to save the lives of my students. They are my kids. And they're just kids. I would try to save them.

We can joke about the end of the world, but if you ask me, things are proceeding not with a bang, but with a whimper. The pace of these horrific mass shootings is accelerating. Our well-regulated militia is not well regulated. Maybe we ought to reconsider who gets to bear arms.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

The End of the World Is Nigh -- Again!

Welcome to "The Gods Are Bored!" I wish I had $100 for every time I've heard that the world was about to end, don't you? We could all go on a joyous summer cruise together!

This is a true story. The first time I heard that the world was going to end was in 1967. I told the neighbor girl that I was going to my cousin's wedding that night, and the neighbor girl said no, I wasn't, because she was going to destroy the whole Earth before I could even get there.

It was a beautiful wedding. My cousin looked stunning in her 1960s-era gown, and the fine man she married has been at her side ever since. It was my first wedding. My cousin took time out of her busy evening to make sure I got a root beer, after someone stuck a glass of champagne in my hand. I was eight years old.

Shortly thereafter, I attended a Pentecostal church for about two years. If you've ever done anything as bone-headed as that, you'll know that people who frequent these establishments wake up every day expecting to be in Heaven by nightfall, sitting in the clouds watching with sadistic glee as the rest of us get sulfurated by demons.

It must be so depressing to spend your day waiting for the Rapture, only to find it bedtime, and your bunion is still hurting and the sinners are still sinning.

Now we have an ancient Native American calendar, endowed as are most Native American things (out of guilt mostly) with tremendous religious and metaphysical import. This Solstice the world will end. Again.

Haven't you always wondered what the end of the world would be like? We could ask cockroaches or horseshoe crabs if they have any deep memories -- their forebears have been through a few, unscathed.

One of the great things about being cool with the bored gods is that I can go straight to the source and get the scoop on Apocalypses Now. In this case I am glad to report, from the lips of the bored God Macuilxochitl, that the world will not end if we all party hearty on December 21, 2012! You see, Macuilxochitl is the God of Partying, and apparently He wants to have a good time that night.

Hmmm. It is a Friday night, December 21. So here's what you do: Line up a designated driver, or fill your home with the nearest and dearest, and celebrate ... it's all right! Macuilxochitl wants you to!

Come on. If Rhiannon wanted you to do it, you would. So go for it! Party away Doomsday!

(Either that, or fruitlessly wait for the Four Horsemen ... or do an overnight meditation on the darkest day in the North, pulling the Sun back with your thoughts and focus.)

Or a little of most of the above.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

The Gods Are Bored

If you've been Googling "The Gods Are Bored" these days, you might be finding a brand new song by a British band called the Datsuns. It's a terrific song, and one cannot fault the band members for their awesome youthful energy.

Since I only have about a dozen readers here, I seriously doubt that the Datsuns checked out my site before creating this epic song. Instead, I will be the interloper and adopt "The Gods Are Bored" and the Datsuns as another bored deity-endorsed musical ensemble.

I don't really share the philosophy that the gods entertain themselves by watching us fuck up, but I'm not discounting it either. Remember, we humans are the ones that endow deities with Their human-like qualities. Since that is the case, surely there must be some embittered Gods and Goddesses who chart our miseries with sadistic glee.

Ladies and gentlemen, please give a warm, wonderful, Gods Are Bored welcome to The Datsuns and their new song, "The Gods Are Bored!"

Pictures of chaos fill our screens day and night

Is this sensational or is it merely playtime?

We're going down down down down at their choosing

Among the heartache, the tears and the bruises

You know the gods, yeah the gods are so bored

We entertain with our lives and our flaws

You know the gods, yeah the gods are so bored

Come get wild tonight

Holy rollers, hypocrites knock on the door

Microscopic, tectonic war

We're going down down down down at their choosing

Among the heartache, the tears and the bruises

You know the gods, yeah the gods are so bored

We entertain with our lives and our flaws

You know the gods, yeah the gods are so bored

Come now die hey hey hey hey tonight

You know the gods, yeah the gods are so bored

We entertain with our lives and our flaws

You know the gods, yeah the gods are so bored

Come now why hey hey hey hey tonight

The Datsuns - Gods Are Bored

Monday, December 10, 2012

Frank Talk about Rapid Weight Loss

Well, here's one you've never seen before on "The Gods Are Bored!" With the exception of a few potshots at Governor Chris Christie, there's not much to be said about weight loss chez moi.

It's tough as all get out to shed pounds once you've put them on. This is especially true if the weight gain is gradual, the accumulation of years of bad eating habits. Once you feel like you're overweight, it's the very devil dieting your way out of it. And once the weight is off, you struggle day by day, hour by hour, to maintain.

There is, of course, one way to achieve rapid weight loss without purpose-driven dieting. You get sick.

Take my cat, Alpha. Alpha is a relic. She has lived with us for a dozen years and was about six when we rescued her. She has no teeth left. Over the past six to eight months, she has lost about half her body weight. Food disagrees with her. She can't bite the hard stuff, and the soft stuff causes digestive issues.

There's nothing particularly novel about this. Very elderly people usually lose a lot of weight too. It's just sad, for me, when I gently pick up my Alpha and feel every bone just barely covered with skin. Yes, readers, we did take her to the vet -- and our vet's office is in Camden, so this doctor knows people on a budget. He said we should just take Alpha home and be nice to her.

I, too, have experienced rapid weight loss since June. At the end of the school year I was about 25 pounds heavier than I am now. People notice and compliment me on it, as if I'm a poster child for Weight Watchers or Jenny Craig. Then comes the dreaded question: "How did you do it?"

How did I do it? I was sick! Still am! It's easy to lunch on a small salad and water when your appetite says, "Oh, just forget it."

Here's how you can tell the difference between someone who is dieting with Weight Watchers and someone who is losing weight because they are sick. The Weight Watchers person talks about it and seeks moral support. The Weight Watchers person cheers when he or she drops pounds. The sick person just shows up in the lunch room trying to hitch up her pants, because they have become too large.

The fact that my malady is not exactly life-threatening makes it even harder to explain.

My complexion is pink, my energy level is normal, my smile is bright, and my teeth are white. I still love buzzards, and faeries, and festivals, and my family. I'm just not hungry. It is a result of anxiety. And since many people think anxiety is something you can overcome by shaking yourself like a wet dog and moving on, it's very, very difficult to explain my rapid weight loss.

The frank scoop on weight loss is this: If someone is getting thinner, assume first that they're sick and let the story unfold. They'll tell you if they're dieting. If the visibly-reduced person says little or nothing about the weight loss, chances are there's some underlying issue. Best to err on the side of ignorance.

The word of Vulture for the people of Vulture. Thanks be to Vulture. Ramen!

Sunday, December 09, 2012

The Fabulous Firebird Festival

Welcome to "The Gods Are Bored!" Some say the world will end in fire, some say in ice ... ahh, I forget the rest...

In these dark days, we automatically feel that the year is coming to an end, and a new one will begin. It's right and fitting -- and bored god-endorsed -- to turn this moment into a symbolic spectacle.

There's a town in Pennsylvania named Phoenixville. Nine years ago the enlightened citizens decided to have a Firebird Festival in honor of the Phoenix after which their town is named. They built a big bird out of wood and set it on fire, with drummers and dancers and music. They did this in December.

Now it's a tradition. If you read this little site at all, you will know that this sort of thing is right down my alley.

Here's a picture of this year's Phoenix. I would say it was 30 feet tall, maybe more. Now imagine a parade of fire dancers and drummers dancing up to it and setting it aflame. And this is not damp wood that smoulders for weeks. It's chock-a-block with accelerant and cherry bombs. It flames up fast and huge, popping and sparking ... and then in collapses into a huge bonfire with coals in every color of the rainbow. There goes 2012! And from the ash heap will rise 2013 ... so long as the Aztecs made some errors in their mathematics. (The bored deities of the Aztec pantheon have been reassuring me frequently.)

For two dollars you can write a wish and have it put in a box that is placed into the Firebird before it goes up. My daughter The Heir and I always do this. Maybe next year I'll invite you to submit wishes from afar. The alchemy consists of turning intention into energy by having your thoughts turned into flame. If you don't believe in this, what are you doing here at "The Gods Are Bored?" Go watch crime t.v. or something.

There is a very nice impromptu drum circle at this event, which gives it even more energy. Before the burning of the Phoenix, they have smaller bonfires and barrel fires and vendors of candles and food.

Some people worship quietly, alone or in small groups. My favorite form of praise and worship is loud, full of people, and dramatic. The Firebird Festival fits that bill. Fire is not my element (I'm a water gal), but the energy is so high that I could feel it in my soul.

2012 I wish I could say this was the best year of my life, but it is a year I want to put into the archives ASAP. The first step toward this end is the Phoenixville Firebird Festival. The last step is a strut at the Philadelphia Mummers Parade.

What apocalypse? The Phoenix has risen!

Monday, December 03, 2012

It Appears that the Constitution Is in Force

Welcome to "The Gods Are Bored!" Do you have any idea how many bored deities there are out there in their respective Heavens? Me neither.

But just imagine if we were to mount a display to honor each and every one at this dark time of the year. After all, the dark days have been with humankind for a very long time. Time out of mind to petition deities to bring back the light.

Suppose government property became egalitarian and allowed every single praise and worship team to erect a Yuletide memorial on the public lawn. Gosh, it would be as crowded as some of these crazy Christmas houses! In fact, if you start inviting the bored gods, you might have to stack displays on top of one another, just to be fair.

Where would it end?

The three of you who read "The Gods Are Bored" all the time will probably recall that, last Yule, a Christian group and a Jewish group both set up lit displays at the public library: a manger scene and a menorah that was 15 feet high.

After Yule had come and gone, I wrote an email to Snobville's mayor and to her two henchmen city councilmen. I politely asked to be notified when the permits for religious displays at the library would be issued. I said I wanted one on behalf of the Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster (a legitimate 501.C3 nonprofit religious order). I said that a dedicated group of FSM adherents was even then crafting a giant Noodly Master out of swimming pool noodles and pasta. In my mind I pictured something like this fabulous shrine from

This year we have no manger scene or menorah on taxpayer-funded property.

First Amendment triumphant! Fa la la la laaaaah!

There is, of course, a Christmas tree, that universal, powerful symbol of beating back the darkness and protecting the wildlife from the harsh ravages of winter. Ramen!

You may be wondering if Snobville is now bereft of Christian influence.

Fear not, o stranger! There's a lovely Baptist church one block from the library, right on the main street. This church has a large, well-lit nativity scene that goes live on Friday nights, thanks to cute little kids willing to stand in the cold dressed like Mary and Joseph. Menorah? I haven't seen one. There are certainly Jewish people living in Snobville, but I wonder ... perhaps some of them didn't like the constitutional issues behind the big menorah, either. Truth to tell, if I was Jewish, I would have hated that thing. It was ugly!

I like to think that my email about the Noodly Master had something to do with Snobville's decision to back off displays of religious origin on public land. However, my daughter The Spare tells me she thinks that probably lots of Snobvillians complained. And hey -- ever since The Spare decided to make a film about moi, I'm taking her word for everything.

My taxes aren't lighting the nativity scene at the Baptist Church. That's how I like it.

Sunday, December 02, 2012

Behind the Scenes on the "Mommy Bird" Movie Set: A Buzzard-Worship Navel Gaze

Welcome to "The Gods Are Bored," about to be immortalized on the silver screen! Okay, well, about to be gobbled up in the maw of YouTube. Any way you shoot it, I'm gonna be in a movie!

You know how it is. The semester is ending at art school, you've got a dozen projects to finish, and a five-page essay ... and one last film to make. This is the sad fate of my daughter The Spare, who has had to scramble for a film idea at the last minute.

Her topic: Why her mom loves buzzards. This is a nonfiction documentary.

As the star of this timeless cinematic masterpiece-to-be, I rather bridled at having to curb my more rowdy impulses for the filming. But I get it. When one has an opportunity to do mission work for the Sacred Thunderbird, one considers the audience. Tamped down on the rowdy. A little.

In order to find Sacred Thunderbirds, Spare, Heir, and I had to drive down to Wenonah, where a flock sometimes 200 strong roosts in the winter. I won't say the town was buzzard-free this weekend, but there weren't nearly as many wretches as there used to be. Nevertheless, there were buzzards on the water tower, and a small flock fussing in a tall pine tree.

It was Spare's idea to set up the camera while I went to the tree and tried to flush the buzzards out, so she could get shots of them flying. Well, this I was very glad to do, especially when I discovered that they were roosting in a tree in the back yard of a house for sale. House for sale! Carte blanche to go screaming and gyrating up to a pine tree in the yard. I leaped. I yelled. I waved my puny arms.

Forty feet above me, the Sacred Thunderbirds regarded me with disdain and went right on with their nightly routines. Not one single vulture took flight.

On the other hand, an alarmed woman in the house across the street opened her door and peered out at me. I said, "Oh, I'm sorry. I'm just trying to get the vultures to fly."

Her response was to slam her door and pull down a blind. Heir thought this was embarrassing. I just felt like you have to forgive the sinner. Poor woman has two dozen vultures right across the street, and she lacks all appreciation! Sad, that. Very sad.

All in all I alarmed two homeowners in my hearty pursuit of the Sacred Thunderbird in the process of providing footage for Spare's documentary. Meanwhile I alarmed not a single Thunderbird. They were too high.

I'm sure Spare will be creative in her use of the footage she was able to shoot. And what fun we'll have here at "The Gods Are Bored" when this film hits the Intertubes!

The best part of being the star attraction in a documentary is the fun you have making it with your daughters. I hope this isn't apostasy, but the buzzards were kind of a sweet afterthought.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Shame of Place

Welcome to "The Gods Are Bored," coming to you from the "Smokestack State" since 2005! I'm your hostess, Anne, and I live in New Jersey, USA. We just had a hurricane, and it was awful.

Lately I have been thinking a good bit about place. What happens if you find yourself living somewhere, and the people there don't share your values ... and you don't share theirs?

I think of this because we Northerners stereotype the American South as if the Civil War was still raging. It's Crackerville, it's the Bible Belt, it's the land of Honey Boo Boo and universities that did not admit minorities until the National Guard showed up with tear gas. It's the locus of violent reprisals against peaceful civil rights marches and the region that gives us country music.

This is partly on my mind because today I was discussing the death penalty with my sophomores, and certain states kept popping up. Georgia. Florida. Texas. Lots of other states allow the death penalty (including Pennsylvania), but it seems like Florida and Texas especially actually pull the switch. Often.

My own forays into the South have ended at the state line of South Carolina. It just felt prudent for me to turn around and head back to colder climes.

After the presidential election, many maps showed a distinct Southern bias against President Obama. (Actually it turns out that the bias is more rural than regional.) Facebook abounds with vitriol against Dixie, and I confess I snicker at it frequently.

Then, somewhere, I read a comment from someone who actually lives in the South and is an ardent Obama supporter. Point of fact, I know that one of my readers lives in the South and is a cheeky liberal.

It must be Hell on Earth to be stuck in an area where you disagree vehemently with almost everyone around you, and the local traditions make you sick, and you feel that you're being discriminated against or at least dismissed. Alabama liberal, I feel your pain. Every time you get into the car, you get smacked with Lynyrd Skynyrd lovin' the guvnor. Every corner a church. Every store a Walmart. And you're wiser than all of this ... maybe even a Pagan ... and you are stuck due to family ties, or work ties, or just inertia. Texas, I feel your pain. Electric chair working overtime, who cares if the poor defendant is guilty?

I used to hate New Jersey because it is so flat (mostly) and so crowded (truly), and so chock-a-block with industrial plants both active and inactive. But at least, in such a crowded state, it's possible to find like-minded individuals (many) and whole sections of roadway that are church-free. I don't think anyone would argue that it's easier to be Pagan in New Jersey than it would be in Georgia.

Am I as much of a bigot as everyone else if I express sympathy for Southerners who don't tear up at the sound of "Bonnie Blue Flag?" Are there more of these people than I think, based on my very unscientific collection of data from individuals?

I don't know, but all I'll say is this: If you find yourself living in a place where you feel like you don't belong, hold up your chin. It's your place too. You don't need to change the world, or change your location. To thine own self be true -- start there.

Hell is not in my future, but if I found myself in Hell, I would work at it until I made the best of it. Trust me, if you can find one thing to like about New Jersey, you could pretty much tolerate any chunk of the entire US of A.

Friday, November 23, 2012

Interview with a Bored God: Mammon

Welcome to "The Gods Are Bored," Thanksgiving edition 2012! We had a lovely feast here at Chateau Johnson. In addition to my hardy mother-in-law, we were joined by the husband-and-wife sculptors who have hired The Heir as an assistant. They snapped this photo of the lot of us, missing only our kitty cat Alpha and the perpetually pissed off parrot, Decibel.

Thanksgiving is remarkable in that it is tied to no particular deity. Oh sure, there's that myth about the Pilgrims and the Indians, but it wasn't until the 1930s that the holiday became official. Having been created by the government, Thanksgiving is open to all the bored gods, as well as the busy one.

Speaking of bored gods, I have a visitor here with me today on Black Friday who thinks He doesn't get credit where credit is due. Please give a tepid and disdainful "Gods Are Bored" welcome to Mammon, God of Excess.

Anne: Hello, Mammon ... I suppose. What's that you're carrying? It looks heavy.

Mammon: These? These are my latest Black Friday circulars. Look, Anne! Deals! Deals! Deals!

Anne: You must really be bored to be spending time with me today. I've got one thing to purchase: a new tire. Why aren't you up at Best Buy?

Mammon: If only! Those idiots in the tents don't know they're praising and worshiping me! They think they're just chasing bargains. I hate being ignored.

Anne:  You must really boil when you see all the wretched excess spending in this nation, and no one gives you credit for it.

Mammon: They could throw me a feast, you know. The Romans gave credit where credit is due.

Anne: ... Thus paving the way for a prophet like Jesus who touted sharing and self-denial.

Mammon: Rub it in, why don'tcha. Greed is good.

Anne: Greed without compassion is a great evil. Trust me, if I wasn't so worn out from preparing yesterday's Thanksgiving feast, I would be picketing Walmart today.

Mammon: Walmart ... ahhhhhh .... Walton clan .... mmmmmm (drools)

Anne: Look what you're doing to my upholstery! Get outta here! Go be bored at the mall!

Mammon: Yeah, I can see this isn't a good fit. I wish the right people would be on the lookout for bored gods.

Anne: I'm the right person for this job. Tough beans, Mammon. I'm not promoting your stinking agenda. It doesn't serve the greater good. Oh, wait! You're a deity! Fix that upholstery stain before you go.

Mammon: Hold on and I'll give you an estimate.

Anne: STUFF YOUR ESTIMATE! Just go! You are in the wrongest of wrong places on a day when there are so many other places you could be! Hey! What are you doing with Mr. J's apple pie! Damn it!

Readers, can you believe it? He ate three quarters of a pie in one despicable gulp. And this deity drool on the chintz... it's a Black Friday indeed!

Monday, November 19, 2012

Oh Please, Like We Won't Have Twinkies!

The companies that bought Hostess face a daunting reality. People just don't buy Twinkies and Wonder Bread like they did back in the day when I was young. But soft (for a millennium), dear reader. Both products are still popular and still rolling off the shelves.

We are seeing here another case of union-busting. Owners make unreasonable demands that workers cannot accept. Bankruptcy is declared, and the "new owners" hire back the old workers with all the concessions and more. This is not good faith collective bargaining. It is despicable.

The workers at Hostess were fully aware of the depressed sales. I'm sure they would have been willing to negotiate a fair collective bargaining agreement. In this national climate, however, they never got a chance.

If the Hostess workers go back to their factories at pennies on the dollar, you should really forgo those snack cakes and Wonder Bread. What, you don't stock your pantry with such toxic waste? Me neither!

Still, we love our sweet stuff, don't we? If the Hostess workers get a fair contract, we'll need to buy Twinkies to support the cause!

How can we do that and not kill ourselves with Twinkies? Which, if you'll pardon me, are about the most unhealthy food product available to humankind.


1. Draft dodgers: Place those puppies end-to-end at the doors to your house to keep out the cold air.

2. Squirrels getting on your bird feeder? Put out a box of Twinkies. A cruel way to end the lives of cute furry mammals, but hey. Birds gotta eat.

3. I'll bet the cream inside those things works just like WD40. Haven't put it to the test, but for a fair labor contract, I sure will try.

4. Create a time capsule for your back yard. Put in ten boxes of Twinkies. Your descendants will wonder why they are so intelligent, if this is what you did in your time.

5. Parrot food. If you are really sick of your parrot.

6. I'll bet crumbled Twinkies would make your sidewalk less slippery in an ice storm, if you scooped out the white stuff first.

7. Target practice.

8. Keep a box or two around to prove that you can bypass bad, sugary, carb-laden food for good, healthy food like turnips. Remember to buy new boxes and throw away the old ones unopened. I don't think there's much danger that vultures will eat Twinkies -- and if they do, they're probably the only creature that could digest the damn things without bodily harm.

9. Adopt one as a pet. They're the size of gerbils and would last just as long.

10. Okay, okay, if you must do something kinky with them, well ... maybe as a massage item, but I wouldn't be keen on oral. Just me, though. If you don't swallow, then maybe.

As usual with my free advice, I'm mindful that this economy stinks. Therefore, as part of my salary and benefit givebacks, I must pay you to take this advice. Send me an invoice care of my email.

Friday, November 16, 2012

Ten Things To Do on Black Friday That Won't Get You Near Walmart

Welcome to "The Gods Are Bored," waging war on Walmart since its first slimy minions slunk out of Bentonville, Arkansas! No sirreee, you will find no support of this despotic, underhanded, and business-killing behemoth here among the Old Ones!

I've just finished reading a few stories about the first stirrings of labor unrest at Walmart. A fraction of the company's million or more hopeless slaves "associates" will stage strikes or walk-outs on Black Friday!

Walmart, you've done it this time. The company has ordered workers to its stores on Thanksgiving Day, in order to sell, sell, sell ... get a foot up on the competitors, who at least have the decency to stay closed until midnight.

We at "The Gods Are Bored" can remember a day when local families owned local department stores. The big spoiler was a retailer named Sears. It started putting older business districts on the skids in the 1960s. And now look! Sears can't keep its head above the water either! On rolls Walmart, the only game in town in far, far, FAR too many places. The company pays so poorly that some of its workers get Medicaid, food stamps, and child support welfare. We're subsidizing that place. So whatever ducats you save getting stuff cheap there, you are putting out in your tax bill.

Enough common sense! Let's generate a list of fun things to do that are better than going to Walmart on Black Friday!

1. Search your house for each and every stray sock. Put them all in a huge pile, and sort them by size and relative color. Fold them neatly. Re-arrange your drawers so that everything is neat and tidy. Then start looking for stray change in the same manner.

2. If you have a cat or dog, comb out every single strand of hair that might get shed onto your carpet (or worse, your upholstery). Don't stop combing until no more fur gets caught in the comb! And don't be a cheater. Use a real cat comb ... not some thing you pull out of the bathroom that you would use on your wet hair.

3. Organize your grocery coupons and clipped recipes. Group the coupons according to product, in alphabetical order, then put them in chronological order with the nearest date of expiration first, and the latest date last.  Recipes should be laminated, alphabetized by category, and carefully placed into file folders. Don't stop there. Alphabetize your cookbooks and put sticky notes on the pages of your favorite recipes. As you do this, study other recipes in case you missed something easy and tasty. (Considering that you will be doing this the day after Thanksgiving, you won't be as hungry while doing it.)

4. Clean out your email queue. Open and read any email that you don't remember the contents of. Make new folders and sub-folders for family, friends, associates, fans of "The Gods Are Bored" and enemies. (Hopefully the last two don't overlap!) Individually contact everyone in your email box just to say howdy.

5. Re-read all the statuses on your Facebook and make new comments on them. Individually contact each Facebook friend you have and write him or her a thoughtful, personal note based on fond memories you share.

6. Oh, look, there's that neglected ukelele! Practice makes perfect! Just make sure that your quickly-departing house guests aren't planning to biff off to Walmart!

7. Try on your Ren Faire/Fairy Festival/Pagan/Steampunk/LARP outfits and model them for an appreciative partner. If your partner is not sufficiently appreciative, sulk. If your partner is appreciative, switch on the Marvin Gaye music and ... mmmMMMMMMMmmmmm! Sexual healing, baby.

8. Repeat #7 as needed.

9. Enough with the factory-made sequins! Hand-sew those puppies onto your favorite costume! You only have 335 days until the next Halloween, so get cracking.

10. Put on your coat, your hat, your scarf, your sturdy boots. Seek out the small, local merchants ... the local farm store ... the local thrift store ... the crafter, the corner pub. Tip liberally. Tie one on in time to go to your local tree-lighting ceremony. Everyone in town already knows you're crazy.


11. If there are job actions planned in your area, buy a humongous bag of bagels (local baker) and distribute them to the strikers. Walmart is the poster child for corporate greed, the visible Scrooge among us. Just in time for the holidays, let's resuscitate old Mr. Fezziwig and do it his way!

Monday, November 12, 2012

Frank Talk about Sex with Your Biographer

Hello and welcome to "The Gods Are Bored!" A little sex talk today. Keeps us all young and grinning, don't you think?

Let me beat around the bush first ... tee hee ... double entendre ... playground humor ...

I'm rather opposed to biographies about people who are still active in their lives. We can't even count all the biographies of Barack Obama, and wow! He's just beginning a whole new four years of lively history-making work! In a previous incarnation I wrote biographies about people, and trust me, they get out-of-date fast, unless the subject of the biography is embalmed, entombed, or otherwise off the radar. Even then people can have a lasting impact on society -- but that is not necessarily the realm of the biographer.

All this is an introduction to my posing a question. Whose bright idea was it to send a married 40-year-old  woman with children to Afghanistan for a year of intense biographizing of General Petraeus? No-brainer, folks. I'm pretty much made of steel where extramarital activities are concerned, but put me in that situation, for a year, and whew! He's a pretty dynamic guy!

Let the record show that "The Gods Are Bored" understands the Petraeus situation to be beyond the capacity of almost any heterosexual couple to endure. Biographers have to be absolutely consumed by their subjects (try that with John Adams ... zzzzzZZZZZZzzzzz). Biographers also have to be single-mindedly delving into their subjects' lives, probing and interviewing, and interviewing, and interviewing. On the other side of the bed table sits the subject, who -- and I don't care if it's Big Bird, for the love of fruit flies -- absolutely loves all that attention.

It's very flattering to be so adoringly scrutinized. Add to that a gender difference and the fact that both biographer and subject are still ambulatory, and you've got a 90 percent fail rate for marital fidelity.

This may sound harsh, but I rather think it's both unprofessional and unneccessary to send a biographer on a year's trek through tough country in order to craft a biography. Presumably the man had a job to do, and to me it seems like no place for close scrutiny by a civilian. (The military's gonna get him on this, I'll bet.)

A little less colorful, perhaps, but just as biography-worthy, would have been the notion of actually interviewing people who worked with the general in Afghanistan. Or talking to the general about his exploits in the cozy anonymity of a Starbuck's. This is called being scholarly and professional, and it doesn't get your picture all over Facebook.

Don't know about you, but the most annoying part of this for me is that General Petraeus is still alive. Alive and kicking. And we're still fighting over there, and he was running the freaking CIA. As a subject of biography, he's not ready for prime time deployment.

To put an emphatic puch upon this sermon, let's just face facts. Biographies are single-focus, and if you're writing it, and you fall in love with your subject, then you wind up having to write about yourself. Because ... oh, you know what I'm going to say ... the next biographer is going to write about you, at length, and probably after your subject is buzzard bait. A tad embarrassing, that.

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Navel Gazing under Friday Night Lights

Welcome to "The Gods Are Bored!" Hope all is well with you.

The more footage and stories that come in about the hurricane, the worse I feel. It's horrible to see so much destruction. I hope that when rebuilding begins, people will think twice about construction right on the beach. But the ruination goes far beyond the barrier islands. We took it on the chin here on the East Coast of the USA. It was bound to happen. The atmosphere and the water and the cold fronts are going to bring stormzillas from time to time.

And then there's the day-to-day living that people do in the danger zone.

Some of you three readers might remember that my best friend in these parts is a street poet that I call The Monkey Man. I call him this because he rides around on a bike with a monkey puppet and is friendly to everyone, especially little kids.

The Monkey Man lives in downtown Camden, New Jersey. Most everyone there loves him dearly. But one evening, as he stood at the foot of the Ben Franklin Bridge admiring the sunset over Philadelphia across the river, someone (or more than one) attacked him from behind. He was severely beaten, and the assailants threw his monkey in the Delaware River. He was not robbed.

My friend required hospitalization. The story made the newspapers, and that is how I heard about it.

Well, that was a wake-up call for me. I've been so wound up in my own business for months that I have lost track of my local friends, principal among them the Monkey Man. So I invited him to dinner on a night when the Snobville Fighting Wombats had a football game. The Monkey Man graduated from Snobville High and retains a sporting interest in his hometown teams.

Last evening he arrived right on time, and I threw on a pretty good feed bag, chicken cordon bleu, topped off with a delicious red velvet cupcake. He was subdued during dinner. It's usually that way. When confined to a house he's mostly quiet.

Then we left for the game: Monkey Man, Heir, and me. And the puppets. Somehow the monkey had survived a dunking in the river and looked better than ever, like new, actually. The other puppet, Butchie the Wombat, is a fixture at football games.

Once out of the house, the Monkey Man got his game on. All of the curbs here in the neighborhood are piled with leaves. We have leaf collection here, and the sucker truck hasn't come yet. Monkey Man began by jumping in the leaf piles, then entertained the kids at the game better than the Wombats themselves. At one point, Butchie was being tossed so widely through the stands I was afraid he wouldn't make it back to the Monkey Man. But of course he did. The monkey chatted with everyone ... as always.

In Heir's era at Snobville High, most of the students were stand-offish towards the Monkey Man. But this new generation of youngsters are wonderful to him! They all seemed to know him, and one very nice student came up, shook his hand, and said, "Hope I'll see you in church soon." That kid's friends were all so kind and respectful. It was a lovely thing to see.

Of course Heir and I treated our Monkey Man like gold. We have known him more than ten years now. How time flies!

Snobville High basically got their hats handed to them by their opponents, the Blue Collarville Fighting Cacti. The Cacti are always a great team, hard to beat, and this game was no exception. Oh well, our cheerleaders were good.

We walked home to my house -- me, Monkey Man, and Heir. On the way we came to a gigantic leaf pile that we had missed on the way to the stadium. With a fine "whoop," Monkey Man fell over backwards into the leaf pile. I followed suit. It was a fabulous leaf pile! The leaves conformed to my back ... and we looked up at the stars. Heir just stood there staring at us. Finally we coaxed her to give it a try, but she was still hesitant. I guess leaf piles are like everything else -- you love them as a kid, you go through a stage where you lose touch with them, and then in late mid-life you re-discover your inner leaf-pile-jumper.

The only thing that coaxed us out of the leaf pile was the fact that the leaves underneath were damp. Finally we de-leafed, walked the rest of the way home, and bid farewell to the Monkey Man, who bundled his monkey and Butchie onto his bike and pedaled off toward Camden.

I'm so relieved that my friend hasn't lost his groove after being attacked. I hope it doesn't happen again. He lives in one of the most dangerous cities in America. Everyone knows him, but there are bound to be some haters ... some punks trying to get props ... some cowards acting on a dare. But so long as no one out-and-out kills him, his fine spirit will prevail. Camden needs him, and so do I.

Thus begins an intention to reconnect with the friends I have in this region. There's a pudgy cat at a local shop who hasn't gotten enough attention either. Time to venture out again with those I hold near and dear.

Friday, November 09, 2012

Mummer Time!

Welcome to "The Gods Are Bored," your equal opportunity blog! I'm Anne Johnson, and this is my space, and girls just wanna have fun!

When the days get short and the nights are long and cold, it's time to pull out the gold spray paint and the comfy shoes and prepare for another strut with the 2012 champion Two Street Stompers New Years Brigade! Now is that time when we gather at the clubhouse to turn in our "suit" money and talk about defending our Number One status.

I moved to the Philadelphia area in 1987 and immediately became fascinated by the annual Mummers Parade, held on New Year's Day. For two decades, this 8-hour-plus event was the perfect excuse to wrap up in a warm blanket by the cozy fire and watch the t.v. to see other people dancing in the streets.

Then something started to shift in my head. I began to think, "Why am I making ten trips to the wood pile on New Year's Day instead of dancing in the streets?"

The weather has gotten milder too, though you might not agree if you've just lived through a long power outage in the East.

Then something else shifted. My hip got so bad that I could hardly walk at all. I had surgery, and when I felt better, walking ... nay, strutting ... became a "must." No more sitting out the party!

First I tried to join a small comic brigade that one of Mr. J's friends is in. They said they didn't have room for me. Well, now, that's just silly. But in hindsight I'm blissful, because in that group you have to make your own suit.

It took me a few calls to the big comic clubs before I began to hear from brigades where the numbers are unlimited. All roads led to the Stompers. I didn't know how competitive they were when I joined. All I heard was the magic phrase: "We supply the suit." Followed by another that was music to my ears: "We only practice a few times."

I did my share of organizing, running, creating, directing, and otherwise managing stuff when I was younger. Now, all I want to do is write a check and be told what to do and when to do it. What a relief!

Here we are, the Two Street Stompers, in all of our 2012 finery:

No, I can't tell you where I am in that picture. Which is the whole point. Other than our handful of front wenches, we are all supposed to blend in together.

We get a new theme and new suits every year. But then we get to keep the suits and all the accessories. I've already started a personal museum in a nice, waterproof container. Let me just say that my grandchildren, if I ever have any, are going to have a treasure trove of amazing Halloween costumes.

I'm going to sign off now, because at last night's Stomper meeting, I bought a DVD of parade footage from 2012. I'm keen to watch it. Time to get pumped up for 2013.

And speaking of 2013, well, I can't wait for it to get here! It shows how little I think of all this "end of the world in 2012" talk, because I've invested in a parade that's scheduled to go off after the end of the world has come and gone.

Getting my strut together ... now.

Photo credit: CNB news.

Thursday, November 08, 2012

The Oily Kitchen Witch: Pre-Holiday Profile

Welcome to "The Gods Are Bored!" Wow, that's a sexy headline, huh? Conjures up some fun times by the warm stove, mmmmm!

I don't do many product endorsements here, but the bored gods (rightly) urged me to bring to your attention the fine cooking oils of Cucina Aurora.

EXHIBIT A: CUCINA AURORA (Cute guy not included, alas!)

Dawn lives in New Hampshire and runs a small business that produces cooking oils that are ritually prepared with spell work.

Last summer at the Central NJ PPD,  I tentatively purchased a bottle of garlic- and herb-infused olive oil for cooking as well as protective purposes. The product is phenomenal. Delicious. Literally you could saute a chicken breast in it with no other seasonings and have a fabulous meal. Lately I have basically been just pouring some of Dawn's oil into a pan and throwing whatever I happen to have in there.

Protection? Also excellent! I often just leave the bottle out on the kitchen counter. This one keeps all kinds of vampires at bay, and other evils as well.

Emboldened by the deliciousness of my first purchase, I spent more liberally on Dawn's products at the Witches' Ball a month ago. Basically I bought one of everything her reps had at the booth. All perform splendidly for both cooking and intentional spiritual work.

If you are like me, with absolutely no aptitude for herbal concoctions of any sort, I do hereby recommend Cucina Aurora for all your infused cooking oil needs! Tell her Anne sent you, and she'll have absolutely no idea what you're talking about, because my endorsements are not purchased ... and won't be until poverty so dictates.

With this post I'm embarking upon a little pre-Yule free advice on where to get good gifts for your near and dear. Cucina Aurora? You betcha! And don't be skimpy with the sundried tomato if you need the next payment on your Mummer suit!

Tuesday, November 06, 2012

Early and Often

Welcome to "The Gods Are Bored," voting through cynicism since 1977! I'm your personal exit poll, Anne Johnson. Results from Johnson voting: Obama/Biden, 4. Romney/Ryan, 0.

This was a big election year for famille Johnson. For the very first time, all four members of this family were able to vote. My daughter The Heir is 23. My daughter The Spare is 18. I am #@@#, and Mr. J is #@@#$. All of voting age!

And it's a beautiful thing. No political quarrels in this cozy nest. Not only are we all blue voters, we are all quick blue voters. I'll bet Heir was not in the booth more than 10 seconds.

Here's how the Johnson voting went:

Mr. and Mrs. J had breakfast and voted in Snobville, our creaky old Chrysler eased in between two black Lexus SUVs. We did not have to wait in line.

Spare voted in Center City, Philadelphia. I think that is special. If we really actually had liberty in this nation, she would have been exercising the franchise in the crucible of democracy. Oh well, let me not be too cynical -- Spare was eager to exercise her rights. She knows her history and has strong opinions. I'm proud of her.

Heir is still registered to vote where she went to college -- a brilliantly red-glowing suburb way to the west of Philly. She and I got in the car and drove out there. Zip! One touch and done. So the Democratic candidates in that area got at least one vote. Can't say any more than that, considering the territory out there.

By the time you read this, you will know whether the Johnsons are celebrating or grieving.

And I seriously cannot believe we are facing another storm here in NJ. It's so cold out that this one will be snow. My heart goes out to all the people who haven't even gotten their power back on from the hurricane yet.

I hope you voted. Some day it might even count.

Monday, November 05, 2012

Those Thingies That Make Sure You Aren't a Robot

What are they called, captchas? All I know is, I have taken a wide poll amongst the bored gods. Most of Them are wary of computers anyway, and They said that, if you can't comment quickly on this site, They know you're here!

A few weeks ago I wanted to respond to a comment while I was here at school. I could not get over how unseeable the characters were on those "make sure you're not a robot" thingies. It took me four tries to leave a comment on my own web site!

In the meantime, I'm getting spam comments just like always, sometimes tied to the content of the post and sometimes not. What, do they hire people to sit around and try to decipher captcha thingies all day?

And speaking of site traffic, here's a good one. A sort of cautionary tale about doing homework and not just looking for key terms and viewer stats.

About a week ago I got an email from a nice young woman who had noted that I reviewed a couple of books on my site. Would I be interested in a new Christian-themed fantasy/thriller?


I told her to take a look at my web site and decide herself whether or not I would be a good fit for her material.

Next day, I heard back from her. Never mind.

Aw, shucks. I would just love to read a fantasy thriller where Jesus saves the day!

Sunday, November 04, 2012

Sandy Relief: The Money Within

They are calling Sandy a "superstorm," but I am calling her "inevitable." First of all, if you're a geezer like me, you can remember an era where we never had 18 hurricanes in a season.  Second, if you're a geezer like me, you can remember a time when seaside tourism was more centered on the big resort towns (Atlantic City, Ocean City, Wildwood in NJ), and no one built houses right at the edge of the raging ocean. We've been lulled into a sense of complacency about waterfront property ... but that's over. The new normal is global climate change, and all the barrier islands, even the big ones like Long Island, are in harm's way.

I understand that on Monday there will be a relief effort for the victims of the storm. Do you have money to send to the people who got socked on the chin? Frankly, I don't. Not a brass farthing.

I can contribute, though. I can give blood.

Don't ask me the monetary value of a pint of blood. I know that some homeless people donate for the cash, but I can't tell you how much dough they get for their plasma. All I know is, the one thing that never goes to waste (one hopes) is blood.

So if you are all tapped out in the old checking account, turn to that resource within, roll up your sleeve, and let the nurses have at you.

Many community blood drives have been cancelled by the storm and its aftermath, so the Red Cross is reporting a shortage. Donate a pint, and the bored gods will bless you with peace and prosperity.

Friday, November 02, 2012

Nontraditional Halloween

Wow, what a world of woe we are experiencing here in the East in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy! If you love big, old trees (which I do), this is a heartbreaking time. All over the place they are lying uprooted, in lawns, on cars, on houses. And of course there are limbs down everywhere, so much so that it's frightening just to walk around. More could come down at any time.

I couldn't argue with Snobville's decision to postpone trick-or-treating until Friday. I would almost agree with Governor Wheezer Christie that it should be held on Monday. Nevertheless, I'm having Mr. J go out today and stock some more candy in anticipation of little cutie pies in costumes. Also, my dear friend the Monkey Man is coming for supper and a home town football game. Go Wombats!

This Samhain was a non-traditional holy eve, and I have to thank my dear father for his spiritual guidance.

Dad was not the kind of man to be sad for long. He found the fun in every situation. My maternal grandmother was much the same, even more so. Therefore, they led me into a shiny platinum prank on my daughter The Spare.

It occurred to me over a cup of tea in the late afternoon. It was Halloween, and The Spare had a scheduled class until 10:00 p.m.

Back story: When I was a teenager, growing up in the country, my gang and I would toilet paper houses. Not just at Halloween, either. All year long. We called ourselves the Wholly Rollers, and we did some whopper jobs. Out where I grew up, everyone had huge trees in their yards, and toilet tissue was affordable. We got such a rep for TP that people "contracted" us to do houses. Maybe I'll blog more about this, if you'd like some anecdotes.

Anyway, I got the idea to toilet paper Spare's desk and bed in her dorm room. Heir supplied the name of a roomie (Spare has three), and as luck would have it, that roomie was home. (Facebook is a marvel in these situations. There was no problem getting in touch with this delightful roommate.)

Mr. J and I drove into Philly. Roomie met us at the guard desk, and we proceeded to Spare's room. There I expertly wrapped her desk, paying particular attention to mummifying the picture of her beloved feline. We moved to the bed ... the extensive jewelry rack ... the full-length mirror ... the dresser. Toilet papering is like riding a bike. You never forget how to do it. I only used one piece of tape.

Photos to come. I'm at school right now.

I also left behind a little jack-o-lantern with candy, and a little bit of paper that college students really need, this one with Andrew Jackson on the front. I also left a "Wholly Rollers" calling card, as Spare knows of my checkered youth in great detail.

Two hours later I got a phone call. "You are the best mother in the world."

On Samhain, the veil is thin. If your family ran high to pranksters, they may stock your brain with notions that would not necessarily occur to you. This happened to me, it raised my spirits in more ways than one.

A happy new year to all. Did you make a resolution? I did. Pass the toilet paper!

For the record, Spare's 2012 costumes:
Rosie the Riveter
Angler fish

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Saved, Randomly, from Sandy

Welcome to "The Gods Are Bored!" Don't ask us how, but we came through the storm without ever losing power. The house is intact, and the basement is dry.

When the hurricane passed by, about 50 miles to our south, the winds were the worst I can remember. The lights flickered a few times, but in a moment they came on again.

After dark was the scariest. We could see flashes of arcing all around us. At one point I went upstairs, and I heard a tree crack and fall at the pond in the next block.

 Watching the t.v. today, I'm seeing big trees down on houses and cars that could be mine. Random, random. I'm not going to sit here and brag on bored gods that protected us here. Who protected the fundamentalist Christians two doors down?

I have blogged before about the hubris of "shore front property." People around here pay high six figures for fancy homes right on the beach. I'm sorry, but my sympathy does not extend to them. During this storm I heard the term "barrier island" used for the very first time on television. Barrier islands exist in order to buffer the mainland from the wrath of hurricanes. Build on them at your own risk. Is your fancy beach block house now six feet deep in sand? Don't blame a bored god. Blame your own bad judgment.

Anyway, Snobville's trick-or-treat has been rescheduled for Saturday. I'm not complaining. Less distraction for meditating. My immediate ancestors are dazed and confused. I must talk to them.

Blessed be to all, and forgive me for my opinions on shore front houses.

Monday, October 29, 2012

It's Bad

I'm getting this missive off because the lights are flickering already, and the worse is yet to come. This is a very bad blow. The sea glass beaches in Atlantic City are gone, and the boardwalk with them. Polish Mountain is having a flash flood. Mr. J's former property near Annapolis is under water.

Heir is here with me. Spare is in Philly, armed with frozen pizza and potato chips. We will all be in the dark soon.

Safety to all during this storm. And happy Samhain!

The Merlin of (submerged) Berkeley Springs

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Bored Gods, Armed for War

Welcome to "The Gods Are Bored!" It's just a few days until Samhain, and usually I would be blogging, blogging, blogging about that. Instead I have a news bulletin, just in from:

Oya, Oshun, Hurracan, and Triton

and, at their backs,

Sedna and Turtle Woman

The message is: Repent, mortals, of this One-God business, or We will show you what's what!

It seems this intriguing multicultural group of deities has gotten together in utter dismay at the nature of modern America. Remember last year (I think it was last year), when that ultra-righty-tighty Christian group was praying for God to save America? Well, that was a puny effort, and completely ineffective. The deities above, over the next week, are going to show all of us what they can do. They are headed straight for Washington, DC and planning to meet up there to whoop ass.

Behold, the wrath of the Gods.

I do not expect to be spared (nor does Spare expect to be spared). I've put a few makeshift rain barrels outside. It's impossible to find flashlight batteries in this county right now, but I've got lots of candles and a fireplace.

If this is the last post here at TGAB until after Samhain, you'll know it's because the juice is out at Chateau Johnson. In that case, have a blessed Samhain, it will be on October 31, storm or no storm. We here at "The Gods Are Bored" will offer praise and worship to the deities above, and to all the others who blow strength into storms because that's how they roll.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

On Typing

Welcome to "The Gods Are Bored," typing in a fast and furious rate since 1974!

Ah, 1974! That was the year my parents made me take typing in summer school. I wanted to set them adrift in a poorly-constructed coracle. They said I would thank them some day.

Thanks, Mom and Dad.

I learned ten-finger typing on a cruddy old manual typewriter, soon replaced by a newfangled electric typewriter that my dad bought me for college. Using that typewriter, I typed papers for a man named Michael Steele, as well as for myself. I was more than ready for the first clunky word processors that offered so much assistance to a quick typist.

Typing is pretty much a given nowadays, but it's not being taught at any specific grade. Students at the Vo-Tech get it, if they are placed in a career program requiring typing, but the others don't get typing at all.

Neither of my daughters learned 10-finger keyboarding. My husband, a journalist, doesn't do conventional keyboarding either.

And yet, just two years from now, most American students will have to take a standardized proficiency test that requires them to type an essay.

Me, I would rather type than write. But that is only because I've been typing away for decades. If my high school diploma depended upon being able to type, and I wasn't very good at it, I would freak.

Well, you know what will happen with this. The rich parents will get their kids ten-finger typing lessons at age three. Public schools with the funding to buy lots of computers will give it to kids in 5th or 6th grade. (Who will teach it? What kind of certification will be required?) Poorer school districts will just have to hope that their kids are spending hours on Facebook every night, writing something besides LOL and ;)

As always, the playing field is about as level as the Black Hills.

Typed respectfully by your faithful servant,
Anne J. Johnson

Monday, October 22, 2012

When One Day Isn't Enough

Welcome to "The Gods Are Bored!" Gosh, it's good to see you! We should plan some get-togethers, don't you think? How about fifty? Oh shucks, let's shoot for 100! And let's give ourselves a time table. One hundred get-togethers in a year. Sound good? Roll up your sleeves, and we'll start planning!

With little else to do Friday afternoon after returning home from work, I glanced at the Snobville Weekly Tattler, which doesn't really tattle -- and if it did, whoa baby, it could tattle like Decibel in a snit.

Anyway, the puffy little Tattler had a long story about the sorry fact that Snobville will turn 300 next year. (For those of your living in other parts of the world, we people on the East Coast of America often get socked with tricentennials like this.)

The people who don't have a life and never will civic-minded citizens of Snobville are planning events to celebrate the 300th anniversary of the founding of the borough. To say they are going overboard only works if you think of the Titanic.

Snobville wants to have 100 commemorative events in 2013. Yes, one hundred. That's almost one every three days! This is overkill so stunning that even a vulture couldn't clean it up.

Funny thing is, anyone, even the most dedicated huckster civic booster, would have trouble drumming up that many celebrations for a town of 11,000 people.

I think I should help. Here are some rock-solid suggestions.

1. Hold the Philadelphia Mummers Parade in Snobville! Wowsa! Nothing like starting off the year with fleets of school buses transporting drunken revelers and/or sequined and be-feathered musicians by the thousands, into the charming Main Street! This would not only put Snobville on the map for all time, it would create a huge mess, snarl traffic even on a holiday, and spread mayhem far and wide, rather than concentrating it in a few homes of wealthy parents who are away skiing while their kids party like rock stars.

2. Allow the teenagers to party like rock stars. This would please a significant portion of the populace, including many parents. This event could be held three times a month, more often in football season. Which brings me to suggestion three,

3. Enough with the "dry town!" Start issuing liquor licenses to the moribund restaurants! We should have at least two big sports bars on Main Street, considering that we're a town of 11,000 people -- with at least 1,000 fake ID cards floating about.

4. Dinosaur day. And day. And day. Snobville is famous for the discovery of a dinosaur, Snobovaurus rex. So, let's have a dino day! But wait. There are 100 event slots to be filled! Therefore, let's do:
     A. S. rex day, as above
     B. Tyrannosaurus rex day
     C. Megalodon day (Spare, you'll handle this one, right?)
     D. Flintstones day (with go-kart race)
     E. Land of the Lost day ... mmmm ... one could argue that every day in Snobville is this day.
     F. Asteroid day -- we all act like it's the end of a geological epoch, which is more or less what this extreme festivity sounds like

Gosh, I'm out of breath, and I only got five dino themes! Help me out, people!

If I can rip my tongue out of my cheek with both hands for a moment, I would like to say that I wonder what kind of religious events are planned for this overdone shindig? The foundress of Snobville, Hortitia Louise Snobbe, was a Quaker. Are the religious events going to be restricted to the Society of Friends? If yes, I'm fine with that. If no, then the wretches who run things City Council should make this clear, in order for multiple Pagan groups to participate in borough-strengthening Rituals.

I am not being funny about that. If 100 events are planned, at least some of them should satisfy some of the people, some of the time.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

The Ancestors Are Sad

Welcome to "The Gods Are Bored!" The veil is growing thinner, and the spirits of our ancestors are seeking us as the year comes to an end. This year I am feeling the sad.

The other night I had a very vivid dream in which my father and I were descending the slope from the car park at our farm on Polish Mountain. There was snow on the ground, and I looked down and saw critter prints in it. Dad was behind me; I couldn't see him, but I knew he was there.

When we got to the door of the farmhouse, I looked in through the screen porch, but I knew we couldn't go in. I said, "Oh, Dad. Our farm. Our farm." And I started to cry.

Which of course meant I woke up crying.

I hope Dad goes back to playing with the faeries and forgets about the fields where he played when he was on this side of the Veil. As for me, it is still winter time in my soul.

Last evening I was frying up some green tomatoes the way Grandma did it. I could feel her there with me. And once again a deep sadness stole into the room. Grandma loved her little farm house, her flower garden, her view of two states.

Well, the house and the view are still there. Can't keep a spirit away. Still, I wonder if she wants to go there and see strangers bustling about ... hunting ... four-wheeling ... smoking. The cigarettes would drive her berserk.

This Samhain I must come to terms with the fact that I moved out of Appalachia to seek my fortunes elsewhere, and thereby sundered my ties to the region. As the previous generations have moved to the other side, I can no longer feel the kinship ties to the mountains. My grandchildren will not know them at all.

A very sober Samhain awaits. Spare is at school in the city. Heir is grown. Decibel shed her cone of shame for four hours and promptly re-injured herself. Worst of all, my ancestors are sad. I'd almost rather the Gods be bored.

Monday, October 15, 2012

In Praise and Condemnation of a Crowded Street

Welcome to "The Gods Are Bored," where we watch the world go crazy and just laugh, because we're all going to die some day, so why get lathered up?

My family lives in a place called Snobville, which, as you might imagine, is a bastion of the millionaire, with a few small fry thrown in -- so long as we're all white or Asian.

Mr. J and I moved to Snobville because it has good schools, and you can walk everywhere on real sidewalks. It's really nice to grab a bag and stroll to the grocery store or the post office. Like Mayberry. (Oh, I date myself!)

Downside of living in Snobville, Mr. J and I had to buy a really beat-up old house on a street where the houses are close together. Do you remember the opening credits for The Sopranos, where he drives through a neighborhood that's densely house-littered? That's us. I can smell my neighbor's cooking from her kitchen. And vice versa. Have to be careful about cursing, because there are little kids living on both sides of us now.

So. Little kids to the left, little kids to the right.

Friday I came home to see the place where I had put the dead possum red-taped. If you're a regular, you'll recall that I brought a roadkill possum to the edge of my property in the hopes of attracting some turkey vultures for the purposes of praise and worship.

Mission failure. The neighbor found the carcass, no doubt deemed it dangerous to his tot (nor do I blame him in this assessment), and probably called Animal Control.

My bad. I do not live in the country. I live on a suburban block that has twelve two-story houses. It was ridiculous for me to think I could entice my Gods to my abode.

Luckily, the neighbors don't suspect me of hauling around dead mammals. I saw them yesterday and did not get frosty glares or a tongue-lashing. Quite the opposite: They were all smiles. Bullet dodged.

A bitter disappointment. The way I feel about buzzards, I was really, really hoping to have one in my front yard, if only for a few hours.

Oh well, la di dah. Disappointment to the right, happy surprise to the left.

Just a few weeks ago, a new family moved into the house next door. This family has two tots. One morning I went out to go to work, and -- oh my Bored Gods! -- This family had created a terrific Crazy Halloween House! They have ghosts hanging from the trees, and huge spider webs with neon-green spiders, and a few faux grave stones. Wowsa! I've always wanted to do that, but this year I was hard-pressed to buy a single pumpkin!

Good will prevails on all sides of Chateau Johnson these days. Neighbors to the right don't know I threw a possum in the ivy. Neighbors to the left do know that I heartily endorse their Crazy Halloween House.

Considering that I curse more and more these days, it might be the right moment for a block party. Before everything goes south and the vultures really come.

Friday, October 12, 2012

The Desert I'm In


Special shout-out to Kim: Yes, indeed, by all means share The Spare's video on Facebook! In fact, all you three other loyal readers, please do the same! Scroll down to my Shameless Plea and work your online wonders ... which totally elude me.

Today's sermon: One possum, going to waste.

Last Sunday I was driving up the main artery through Snobville, and I saw a nice, meaty, and completely dead adult possum on the road. And not splattered like a modernist painting, either. Just lying there intact, except for some obvious head trauma.

A short walk later, I returned to said possum and hefted it by the tail. I'm telling you, reader, this was a fully-fleshed possum -- not some juvey. It took every last ounce of Anne strength to haul that critter up and then hike three blocks home, holding it out at a suitable distance.

Possums have kind of spiny tails. Did you know that? Like, tiny spiky hairs that don't show.

I couldn't just re-position the possum on my street. There are tender youngsters on every side these days. So I deposited it discreetly in the ivy alongside my driveway, very close to the street. There are huge oak trees across the way, just perfect for Sacred Thunderbirds on the search for supper.

Alas and alack. Five days later, plenty of windy weather, and not a vulture to be seen. The possum is still lying in the ivy, not yet stinking to high heaven. (It's been unseasonably chilly here.)

I do see vultures soaring about here in Camden County, and I have even seen a few on streets like mine, dining on squirrels and trash. But I guess the population isn't dense enough to find every Thanksgiving possum that gets placed in a secure location.

I haven't given up yet. Won't do that until the odor forces me to mound some dirt over the carcass. That will be a sad day, indeed ... considering that the same Sacred Offering, placed in a field near the Chesapeake Bay, was consumed within six hours.

O bitter irony, among many in this life of mine: I love vultures and live in one of the most densely populated counties in America!

Alert the Gods. Dinner's ready!

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Big Bird - Obama for America TV Ad

I know this is going to get pulled soon, because PBS declares itself to be nonpartisan. I still think it's funny and should be seen. Sesame Street was created to give inner city kids a sort of day care boost with their language, math, and social skills. The entire PBS budget is not even a blip on the budgetary radar.

Let's hear it for Big Bird.

Tuesday, October 09, 2012

Keep Up the Good Work!

Hey, this is another shameless plea to help drive the numbers for The Spare's new YouTube video. The reviews are in, everyone likes it, and yes, I believe in telling it like it is: Spare is eye candy.

If you aren't sure whether or not your views are added to her numbers, you can go to YouTube and type in
Olivia Kram

Okay, now you know her name. I wanted to name her Anne Johnson, but it was taken. And taken. And taken.

Monday, October 08, 2012

Totally Shameless Plea for Three Minutes of Your Day

Welcome to "The Gods Are Bored," working hard to further the aspirations of two lovely young women named The Heir and The Spare! These two would be my daughters, and you would love them. Different as night and day, but both magical.

I don't know much about how YouTube works, but apparently you get more perks from them if your video gets major hits. Quite a few people make a living from the doggone site.

Long story short, my daughter The Spare needs you, yes you, my three readers, to view her newly-minted video, conveniently located right below this post. It's three minutes long. It will take some of you back to the nostalgic video games of your youth.

Spare put a lot more work into this than meets the eye, because she completely aligned the live action with the game action.

Please hit up her video! And this will also help me to see how many readers I actually have, because I truly have no idea.

Pac Attack, starring The Spare, below:


Friday, October 05, 2012

Give Emily a Break

Welome to "The Gods Are Bored," dedicated fan of thwarted romantic women writers of the 19th century since 1974!

How many times have you read Wurthering Heights? It's a long sleigh ride if you don't care for big gobs of prose.

I have to confess, I have read the whole book so many times I can't count. Definitely more than four. Probably no more than six. There's a lot of years between 1974 and now, so sorry ... I can't recollect.

Wurthering Heights is one of my favorite novels because the central character, Heathcliffe, is so complex. I don't think Emily Bronte meant to make him as sympathetic as he appears to our modern eyes. But damn, girls, don't you root for him ... and then he does something despicable again. Over and over. It's hard not to feel sympathy for a guy who actually digs up his lover, just to hold her again. But then he treats his wife worse than dirt. His daughter-in-law worse than worse than dirt. He's a mess, our Heathcliffe.

For those of you who have never been tempted to venture into this wordy tome, let me catch you up on one plot point. Heathcliffe is brought to live at the titular home on the Yorkshire moor by a kindly father who found Heathcliffe starving in the gutter of London. Emily Bronte describes Heathcliffe as dark and swarthy, a gypsy sort of fellow. And throughout, various characters comment upon Heathcliffe's base origins, whatever they may be.

There have been at least 10,000 movie versions of this story. (Okay, I exaggerate. It just feels like that many.) Now there's a new film out, a Sundance darling, filmed on location in bleak Yorkshire.

In this new version, Heathcliffe is played by a light-skinned African American man.

Abort mission. This does not compute.

There is some evidence that Emily Bronte (who never stirred from her preacher dad's home) actually either knew of a situation like the one in the story, or she saw the tombstones and heard the legends. This novel was written at a time when Africans were, if not everywhere, then at least well enough known that our Emily would have described Heathcliffe as an African. And then the whole story would have gone straight to Hell, because my guess is that a small community in Yorkshire of that era would not have buried a black person alongside their whiter parishioners.

We forget that there was a time of white-on-white prejudice, when certain dark-haired, dark-skinned people were considered lower than our Saxon and Viking-DNA-encoded English redheads.

The review I read of this new Wurthering Heights film heaped scorn on one of the classic Heathcliffes, Sir Laurence Olivier. Yes, indeed the character was sanitized for the old black-and-white movie, but glowering Olivier is, to my mind, an excellent Heathcliffe. There have been others, too.

In closing this sermon, I would like to point out that, as precisely as the rest of Wurthering Heights is written, it is doubtful that Miss Emily Bronte would have been wishy-washy about Heathcliffe's African origins, if they existed. Casting a light-skinned person of African heritage in that role is a crag too far.

Tuesday, October 02, 2012

Vote God for President

At the Seashore with Mannanan Mac Lir

Welcome to "The Gods Are Bored!" Do you need a God or Goddess? Like, a different One that will actually have time to help you through your thorny thickets? You have come to the right place! Let us set you up with deities who need praise and worship. Bored deities who will have plenty of time to devote just to you.

One of my patron bored Gods is Mannanan Mac Lir. I like Him because apparently the early Christians had a really tough time ousting him from Ireland and Scotland. The ousting was so incomplete that Manannan kept a really nice piece of real estate for Himself, the Isle of Man.

I'm not much of an intrepid traveler, but I would love to go to the Isle of Man some day.

Manannan, being a deity of maritime regions, is a great lover of the sea. Often He goes with me on my quick jaunts to the fabulous Jersey Shore. He has never complained about the place -- even about Atlantic City, which (for my money) is one of the premiere sinkholes of America.

Manannan and I have had some real heart-to-heart conversations about life over the past few years. We get along because He is tenacious like me.

Tenacity is not the same as stubbornness. A stubborn person doesn't give up, even when they are wrong. A tenacious person holds on to the right. A tenacious person will sit and wait for other people to catch up to his or her point of view. Manannan is counseling me to do this. And I'm listening, because doggone -- He got an island, at the very least. That's a lot better than some sickly sainthood that covers up His true identity.

This is a true story that follows:

I went to the seashore to look for sea glass. It's a very calming occupation, and I usually find something that's worth the trip. Sunday was no exception.

There's a particularly rocky stretch of beach, totally off-limits to swimming, where the water comes up under the boardwalk. I was looking for gold doubloons sea glass under the boardwalk. It was a beautiful day. Manannan stretched out on a barnacle-encrusted boulder and stared out at the vista, which is pretty much water.

Something caught my eye. What a sight! I could not see the fisherman. I could not see the line. What I did see was a bright silver fish, a pretty big one, emerging from the drink and slowly ascending skyward. Very, very cool.

Okay, so I'm a mountain girl, remember? All this beach stuff is new to me, and a taste that I'm still in the process of acquiring. So this whole caught-fish thing was awesome.

Sometimes Manannan laughs at how little I know about the beach. I hope He keeps me safe there, because I declare I don't know what I'm doing half the time.

Determined to learn, though. It's called tenacity.

Saturday, September 29, 2012

Robot Apocalypse

Welcome to "The Gods Are Bored!" Hope all you good folks Down Under are getting a taste of spring, because here in my part of the world, it's beginning to feel autumnal.

Talk about a surprise! I tried to comment on my own blog yesterday at school. I didn't want to sign in using my email. And oh my, for the love of fruit flies! It has become next to impossible to leave a comment on Blogger. The admins are so concerned that no robots invade that the top secret codes of shame have become rather like an eye chart on shrooms.

I tried three times for the first comment before getting it posted. I tried four times on the second comment before aborting mission. Really. What happened to cute little words like ByRd coan? Now it's numbers, buried in misty blackness. Letters that are even insulting to faeries, who love puzzles and riddles.

Are the robots here? I know they are coming. I expect within two decades you won't need to drive your car, because it will drive itself. (A lot of people who can drive are going to hate that.) I expect that, in the same amount of time, you'll speak into a device that will activate your kitchen to cook Chicken Kiev for you and have it ready at 5:35, as your car drives you home from work. Little droids like R2D2 will run to the grocery and pharmacy for you, where another droid will double-lock your Xanax into the R2D2's delivery system.

Funny thing is, your whole robotic life will probably have a password like 1234.

No. Just kidding. You folks reading this are way too smart for that password.

Most of the movies about robots paint them as sinister. TV shows too. What's more threatening than a Dalek?

Well, young'uns, I would like to use my acquired wisdom to reassure you. Sadly, I can't. I never would have dreamed that the ungainly word processing machine wheeled into my lab at Johns Hopkins University in 1979 would morph into a machine that would bring the end to newspapers, a radical restructuring of education, a fundamental change in how we do business and seek pleasure. To me it was just a box that made typing faster. That's how much I knew.

In conclusion, based on my own personal experience of the past 30 years, I would urge you to worry less about zombies and more about robots. If it's getting next to impossible to keep them off Blogger, it will soon be impossible to keep them out of the most subtle recesses of your inalienable subconscious, i.e., your fine mind.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

The Double Secret Cone of Shame

Decibel and her poppet and I went to the vet this afternoon. It seemed the wily parrot, having nothing else to do for extended hours of the day and night, had figured out how to circumvent the Cone of Shame.

This was of concern, because Decibel's wing is healing. The poppet is holding up its share of the bargain.

The only option was to wrap Decibel in an even bigger cone. Poor thing! And on her birthday too! What a way to turn 25, huh?

I'll post a photo of the new, double-secret probation Cone of Shame when I have a pulse. In addition to everything else, I'm coming down with the flu.

This is a good place to deliver a strongly-worded sermon:

Do not purchase a caged bird. They are not domesticated. They need far more stimulation than they get sitting in a cage all day, and after they bond with you they will want no other owner. Which is a life sentence of wild animal care. Including biting and screaming loud enough to set off the smoke detector.

If you want a nice bird pet, put up an outdoor feeder. Then you will have lots of happy chickadees and no neurosis.

I love Decibel, but I feel awfully sorry for her.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Thoughts on Yom Kippur

Welcome to "The Gods Are Bored," sundown on Yom Kippur!

I have a colleague who is Jewish. She says if she doesn't go to Synagogue on Yom Kippur, she will go to Hell. She has to atone for her sins.

Can you imagine asking the busy god to forgive your sins? That's like asking some Goldman Sachs hedge fund manager to forgive you for pinching a candy bar from a Cub Scout. Even Hitler didn't flood the whole damn world.

I'm not just hurling stones at the busy god, though. I'm hurling stones at the way we look at gods.

We aren't created in the image of God. God is created in the image of us. This is why so many pantheons are populated with jealous, crazy, downright mean, and vengeful deities. They are who we are.

The flip side to that is, every now and then we endow a deity or deities with the better parts of our natures. That's how we get Mother Goddesses who nurture us. Nevertheless, at this point in our evolutionary history, we humans have not achieved the ability to separate the traits of deities from our own imperfect natures.

If this makes sense to you, reader, you might be a candidate for vulture worship. At least we can observe what vultures are like and then model ourselves after them.

Excuse me while I go scavenge through the landfill for some supper. The sun is setting, and the busy god might be real. The only sin I can think of that needs atonement is rage ... a trait that no godly vulture would stick at any price.

Monday, September 24, 2012

Trying Not To Be a Hater, but...

... I hate falling off the map. This is what happens to your brain on the job. Seriously, I am challenged to find the essential time to make tea and biscuits for all the bored deities who visit my shrine.

Anyone out there willing to help? You don't need to take a collection or devise dozens of rules that everyone needs to follow. Just choose a bored god -- one that hasn't been shown any respect since the world was young -- and offer a little respect.

If you need something of the deity, don't hesitate to ask! The more bored They are, the more eager They are to help you out.

To the mighty deity Luna, I petition: Help me with Decibel the parrot. Decibel has figured out how to circumvent the Cone of Shame and is back pecking at her wing. Luna, please bring calm and healing to that bird.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

A Mummer in Word and Deed

I know the season is shifting, because I got my envelope of ten raffle tickets to sell as my share of fund-raising for the Two Street Stompers Comic Brigade, one of many fabulous Mummer units that strut down Broad Street on New Year's Day in Philadelphia. I'm proud to  be a Stomper. We won first prize in our division last January! Our theme was "Wenchtoberfest." You may have forgotten (or I might not have said) that the male comic marchers wear frilly skirts and carry parasols swathed in satin ("wenches"). We gals wear the same thing, only our skirts are a little longer. Anyway, our routine was all about hoisting a beer and rolling out the barrel. I think it lasted 2 minutes, maybe 3. We practiced twice. Twice, I tell you! That's dedication. That's what makes us champions.

That said, being a Stomper isn't a free ride. There's a new costume (we call 'em "suits") every year, hand-made, and better than any Halloween wear you'd find in a store. Then there are transportation costs, a lunch, and a big beer tab. Hence we have to pay out a personal fee and also do the raffle.

I will commence shameless imploring for raffle buyers at a later date.

"Mummer" means someone who doesn't say anything. Today I played the part brilliantly.

The colleague who teaches next door to me is a retired parochial school teacher/principal/superintendent who has a meager pension from the diocese. When asked to fill in at my school last year at a high pay scale, commensurate with her experience, she leaped at the chance. She's back this year, resolutely ignoring our union, and pretty much not buying into our curriculum either.

She is also, needless to say, a Roman Catholic of the first stripe.

I don't go out of my way to avoid this person, but I sure don't seek out her companionship. However, from time to time she comes into my room for a little socialization.

Today after lunch she dropped in to say that Wednesday is her big day. After teaching public school, she goes to church and teaches History of the Old Testament to seventh graders.

She said, "Well, I used to teach it in school, so now I don't mind teaching it at night. I'm glad I don't have to do it on Sunday. I like those three-day weekends."

I may have mumbled, "oh wow." But otherwise I stayed completely Mum.

*I could have said I studied History of the Old Testament at Johns Hopkins University, and that was where I learned that the early Semites were polytheistic, and Baal was one of their deities.

*I could have said I read in Harper's magazine that, try though they might, archeologists have never been able to find any evidence of the Passover, of Israelite slaves in Egypt, of the migration of Abraham, or of the antics of the rest of that early crew.

*I could have asked how she musters historical evidence for Noah's flood, and where they stored the dinosaurs.

*I could have asked if the curriculum includes all the laws about stoning people to death.

Instead, reader, I shook my head gently, said nothing, and began fumbling with my window shades.

If the Old Testament is history, so is Morte d'Artur. As much evidence for the one as for the other.

But I didn't say that. I visualized myself lurching down Broad Street, pumping a satin parasol, and saying nothing. That's how we Mummers roll.