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.