Tuesday, December 31, 2013

It's Mummer Time!

Welcome to "The Gods Are Bored," and Happy New Year! It's time to strut your stuff!

Every year on the first of January I march in a parade. It's a very fun thing to do, marching in a parade. I highly recommend it.

I march ... well, we prefer the term "strut" ... with a sizable group called the Two Street Stompers. We are part of Philadelphia's infamous Mummers Parade.

This is a picture of us last year. Our theme was "Gold Rush." The males (known as "wenches") dressed in ruffled miner dresses. The little kids were the dynamite. We gals were the golden nuggets, and the fat guys were the "mother lode," meaning that they wore gold bikinis and very little else. In the picture, they are the ones lying in front.

This year our theme is a salute to the troops. As you three readers know, I'm an unreformed history snob and a bemused proud member of the Daughters of the American Revolution. So this theme is A-Okay with me. As usual, the suits are a visual splash, and the routine manages to be funny and respectful at the same time. I can't say more because you never know who might be lurking here, trying to steal our ideas at the 11th hour (aka rival clubs like the Jesters).

People sometimes ask me how you get to be a Philadelphia Mummer. And the truth is that many Mummer groups are basically family and friends. When I decided to be a Mummer, I contacted the only person I knew who was in a brigade. His group is called the Vaudvillains. They make their own costumes. When I inquired as to joining up with them, I was told that they weren't taking new members.

Contrast this to the Two Street Stompers, whose informing philosophy is, "the more, the merrier, no sewing required, previous prade experience not necessary."

This is my third march with the Stompers, and they have made me feel right at home, even though most of them are family and friends, and I was a total stranger when I showed up there in 2012. So if you're reading this, and you're a Vaudvillain ... take a lesson. Don't turn anyone away! This is supposed to be fun! You might be overlooking someone with a theatrical flair and a fun personality, a real ham who knows people who can sew like a pro!

Have an enjoyable New Year, reader. If you happen to be awake between 9 a.m. and noon on New Year's Day, the Philadelphia Mummers Parade will be live streamed on PHL-17's web site. Look for us. We are. The Two. Street. Stompers. Fired up!

Friday, December 27, 2013

Hereby Resolved

Welcome to "The Gods Are Bored!" It's nearing New Year's Day 2014, and we Two Street Stompers are getting together for a good ol' time practicing our tootsies off for the infamous Philadelphia Mummer's Parade!

 I am proud to be a Mummer. I had to basically show up at the right place audition strenuously for the honor of being in the Stompers. I'm a good fit for this bunch of crazies seamless performing troupe.

But more about the Stompers later in the week! Right now, 2013 is closing down, and it's time for those important resolutions ... you know, the ones you always make, and then epically fail on, within weeks?

I've never made a single New Year's resolution that I have kept. Not one. Oh, I've resolved this and that over the years, especially when I was younger. Nothing stuck. Let's face it. If you behave a certain way on December 31, and you have behaved that way during the entirety of 2013, it's highly unlikely that you'll suddenly be inspired to change drastically just because you have to remember to put a new number on your paperwork.

Here's a short list of things you should not resolve to do in 2014:

give up chocolate
give up beer
give up swearing
give up having a negative attitude (whatever the fuck that means)
exercise more
work harder
ease up on the caffeine

 Come on, already! If you want to resolve to exercise more, why don't you wait until April 15, when the weather is nice? As for giving up chocolate, well, I can't speak for you, but if I had to crawl to Mexico on hands and knees to get chocolate, I would do it. Even in my most resolute years, I never resolved to give up chocolate. Life is short! Any day spent without chocolate is a day you can't get back!

I've been around the pike a few times, and this is what I will say. Occasions arise when we all have to take stock and accept some lifestyle changes. This stock-taking does not occur on January 1. It happens when it happens. So ditch the resolutions. They only cause you to have a negative attitude about yourself. Resolve to live each day at a time! How are you going to respond when some idiot who's texting while driving rear-ends your car? "Oh, say, I resolved not to swear anymore, but look at what you did to my car, you naughty person!"

The road to Hell is paved with New Year's resolutions. Don't add another brick to that motorway.

Sunday, December 22, 2013


Sitting here on my desk with me today is a little stuffed teddy bear named Fred. Fred has spent the year with me. He spends every odd-numbered year with me. On the even-numbered years he goes to Vermont, where he lives with a dear friend who I used to work with in Michigan.

Fred is getting ready for his annual transit. I honestly cannot remember how many times he has traveled between Snobville, NJ and Snowville, VT.

I have not seen my friend who lives in Snowville since we both left Michigan in 1987. She moved to Vermont about the same time I moved to New Jersey. (Yes, she did get the better end of the location, but it's been tough finding work up that way).

For many years my friend and I were bosom buddies, both happily working from home for a company that produced encyclopedias. We commiserated as changes occurred in our freelancing activities. We conferred on projects. We talked about our hopes for our children, who are about the same age, and our difficulties making ends meet.

Then the bottom dropped out on the encyclopedia company. I went off to teach school, and my friend took courses in medical transcription. I believe I've had one email from her this year.

But I've had Fred. And now my friend will have Fred.

As he passes from one home to the other, from New Jersey to Vermont, year after year, he holds with him a little sign that says "smile" ... and also holds out the hope that the two women who touch him, and love him, will some day be able to achieve their goal of going to Assateague Island together to see the wild ponies. Fred is keeping hope alive.

There are no doubt many magickal practices, backed by tradition and scholarly knowledge, that are intended to produce or protect hope where it is flagging. But if someone were to ask me how to bolster hope, I would just say to buy a small teddy bear and keep passing it from yourself to the friend you want some day to see, the friend who you hope is happy and prosperous and healthy.

Fred isn't just a stuffed animal. He's a talisman whose potential has yet to be tapped. I bid him Godsspeed to Vermont, where he will embrace my friend for me. As I kiss Fred good-bye, I will whisper into his ear about a long, sandy beach with wild ponies splashing in the surf. And Fred will hear. And it will happen.

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Interview with a Bored God: Krampus

Welcome to "The Gods Are Bored!" Hey, is it the longest night of the year, here in the Northern Hemisphere? Are there thoughtful and appropriate celebrations honoring the bored and the busy gods? Well, that's all fine and dandy! But here at "The Gods Are Bored," we're just hanging with the silly, same as it ever was.

In fact, we have an interview guest tonight, taking time out of His busy schedule of whipping little kids and shoving them in sacks to chat with us! Please give a warm, wonderful, Gods Are Bored welcome to The Krampus!

Anne: Wow, you are one scary-looking monster.

Krampus: Sank you. Ze Spare vant me to tell you zat if you make fun of me, you are Number Von on my naughty list.

Anne: Chill! I'm all about giving good press to downsized deities ... even if they don't deserve it.

Krampus: Backhanded compliment. Vatch it.

Anne: Let me be sure I have this straight. These days, You are a nasty badass who travels with Santa Claus.

Krampus: Correct.

Anne: And if a kid has been naughty, he or she doesn't get a nice gift from Santa. Instead, You either steal the gift, leave coal or kindling, whip the kid, or stuff the kid in a sack.

Krampus: Zis is how I roll.

Anne: So basically, when the days get short and the nights get long, parents start telling their kids to be good, or else. Behave, and kindly Santa gives you gifts. Be bad, and mean Krampus whips you and steals your stuff.

Krampus: It pays ze bills, okay?

Anne: Oh, I totally understand! It's freakin' hard for a deity of Pagan origin to find any kind of employment that isn't demeaning or difficult! Honestly, though. How many kids do You actually scourge or kidnap?

Krampus: None.

Anne: Not one single kid? Never?

Krampus: Not one single kid.  Even ze ones who say, "Okay, I know I've been bad, I'm ready for ze Krampus." But I have been known to pinch ze gifts. Not wholesale, like ze Grinch, but here and there.

Anne: There's been a lot of talk lately about the racial origin of Santa Claus. But what goes missing in this dialogue is Santa's agenda. So ... one more time ... You and Santa go hand-in-hand on the gift-giving binge. A kid is good, he gets a gift. A kid is bad, he gets sticks.

Krampus: You are repeating yourzelf why?

Anne: Because I think this is just a rotten way to keep kids well-behaved in the autumn months, that's why! Yeah, it's real nice. Every time little Hans commits some little error, he faces the threat of being bagged and lashed by a furious, horn-rimmed monster! (to herself) I wonder which came first ... the widespread adult-onset anxiety disorders or the childhoods traumatized by savage Christmas monsters?

Krampus: Ze vorst part is, I usually only take gifts from ze poor kids whose parents couldn't afford to buy any. Rich kids can be bad as zhey like. Zhey still get gifts.

Anne: Oh, this just gets worse and worse! So, a kid who has been good can still feel bad if Christmas comes and he doesn't get a gift? He can sit on the stoop and review his entire year, looking for those naughty moments that might have brought the Krampus to his hovel?

Krampus: Blame ze Christians! Blame ze Christians! I vas once a perfectly fine and honorable forest spirit! I punished only the fools who vandered into ze woods with no respect for Nature. Now I gotta pick on ze littlest kids. Look at me! I vonce vas handsome!

Anne: Krampus, I totally and completely believe You. Both You and Santa Claus are basically enforcers of docile behavior amongst those little humans who are naturally the most lively and rowdy. What a bum rap. You have my sympathy.

Krampus: Sank you.

Anne: What do You do the rest of the year?

Krampus: I try to make enough money in November and December to get me through. In the summer months I can find some vork as a substitute Boogey Man. But nossing full-time.

Anne: Well, Krampus, I tell you what I'm going to do. On Xmas Eve I'm going to set out a fine, large stein, chock-a-block with an amber lager of your choice. And a plate of strudel. Don't share it with Santa Claus. He's no doubt the source of your bad press. Would You like apple strudel?

Krampus: Honestly, I love ze black forest cake.

Anne: Lucky day! I have one of those right downstairs in the kitchen! Krampus, let's go drink a toast to rowdy children everywhere!

Krampus: Hip hip hooray!

Anne: Just be careful with that chocolate. I don't want to get any stains on my recliner. I'm just a little bit particular about my upholstery.

Krampus: Anne, zis is known by ze bored gods everyvhere. I vill sit at ze table. Did you say amber lager?

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Sunday, December 15, 2013

I'm Liking Penguin Santa

Welcome to "The Gods Are Bored!" Fa la la la la ... la la la LOL. It's the most wonderful time of the year ... for morons.

There's something about this seasonal holiday, name it what you will, that saturates the atmosphere with extra crazy juice. It makes even the clearest-headed amongst us wacky. That being the case, you can imagine what it does to people who are already walking in a weirder wonderland.

Below I have taken the time and the trouble (unusual for this blogger) to load a viral interview in which Fox News moron par excellence commentator Megyn Kelly assures all young viewers out there that both Santa Claus and Jesus are white. This need to calm the nerves of the Caucasian population came about because some blogger (alas, not me) complained that, growing up, she had felt excluded from Christmas because she is black and Santa Claus is white.

One or the other of those fellow morons talking heads on the panel suggests that maybe we should have a penguin Santa, since penguins are both black and white. Tra la la! What an excellent idea! My three readers know how I feel about birds! Penguin Santa, take a bow!

Now, the sugar plum faeries, who are of no particular racial hue, have composed this little holiday carol for all you boys and girls who either think Santa Claus is a spirit who lives within your heart, or think Santa Claus ought to be a penguin!

Up on the house top, just because
Here comes Penguin Santa Claus,
Down through the chimney with lots of toys
All for inclusion, girls and boys!

Ho ho ho! Fox oughta go,
Ho ho ho! Fox oughta go...

Up on the house top, quick quick quick,
Santa's a penguin, that's the trick!

You know, even as a little kid I found it hard to buy the notion that Santa Claus was a fat old man who covered the whole earth and had toys for everyone out of a sled pulled by a few deer. But gosh ... a happy penguin flying here and there, dropping stuff down chimneys ... that's plausible.

Better yet ... now that Santa is a penguin, Spare can get a job at the mall as one of its "helpers!" Tout va bien.

Megyn Kelly: 'Santa Is What He Is,' Which Is White

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Stalked, but It's All Good

Welcome to "The Gods Are Bored," the sorry platform of a wacky woman named Anne Johnson. Yes, that's me, Anne Johnson, the one with the unique name.

There's news off the pathetic Yahoo wire today about a young fellow in New Zealand who launched a cyber-stalking event as he tried to search for someone named Katie who lived in Washington, DC. Apparently the gent had made merry last New Year's Eve with said Katie in Hong Kong.


My, these youngsters get around, don't they?

Anyway, the young fellow got a great deal of bad press and scolding for trying to locate this young woman by creating a Facebook page and enlisting the help of fellow Facebookians.

I've always loved my name (it's real) for the privacy it affords me online. There are oodles of Anne Johnsons in America. There's even another Anne Johnson living in the next block on my street. It's a hassle for the local pharmacy, let me tell you.

This delight in the anonymity of my name evaporated when my high school boyfriend called Mr. J on Mr. J's land line, looking for me.

Mr. J came in with a phone number. "Do you know someone named **** ****?" he asked.

I did. I haven't seen or spoken to this person since 1978.

Well, Mr. J said, ***** ****** wanted to talk to me.

Frankly I was creeped out. It was unnerving to think that someone could actually find the specific me in all that wide Sargasso Sea of Anne Johnsons. It had to have taken some work, even if he knew my hometown (which I falsified on Facebook), my college, and my parents' names.

I could not imagine in a million years why this man would want to speak to me on the phone. We dated for a year, we were not intimate, and although I loved him at the time in that giddy, teenage way, he would not have been suitable as a long-timer. He was a Mormon. I attended church with him twice. No amount of love could have made that lifestyle palatable to me.

I debated whether or not to call him back and finally decided to do it. I figured he must have something important to tell me, if he spent valuable time stalking my girlish butt across the length and breadth of the Internet.

One day last week after school, I dialed him up and got him on the phone. It was indeed weird. He said he "died and was brought back to life" a few years back, and when he came back to life he dedicated himself to the task of finding and thanking everyone who had made a positive impact on his life. He had tracked me down, he said, because I turned him on to the love of books and learning. I changed his life.

This was an inspiring thing to hear. I remembered watching him play chess, beating my super-smart dad two out of every three games, and ripping through other opponents. He was not stupid, but he could barely eke out passing grades in school. I remember giving him books, most notably Lord of the Rings.

The conversation was pretty short for two people who hadn't spoken since 1978. I'd heard he married. He said his first wife died at age 47. He said he was remarried with a second family. He told me his employment history, and I told him mine. He did not elaborate on the "died and came back to life" issue, and I did not press. It was just too spooky, and yet he sounded pretty normal on the phone.

Inevitably, the conversation turned to how he had found me, Anne Johnson, amongst the plethora of Anne Johnsons out there in cyberspace. He said Facebook had been no help (thank you, bored gods, for that). But he did a lot of other sleuthing and found a very old, extremely old something on Yahoo where I had left my father's phone number in search of a new home for the dog that outlived my parents. Then he got my dad's obit from the Cumberland Times and in it found my married name and current place of residence, Snobville. It would have ended there, except Mr. J has the last listed Snobville phone number in existence.

**** ******** thanked me for making him a lifelong learner, for changing his whole attitude toward education. I told him I was touched by his call and that I hoped some of the karma was seeping into my school, because I was still sitting in the parking lot. He idly inquired how to find the exact me on Facebook, and I told him. But then I quickly added that I use "Anne Johnson" for reasons of anonymity, that not everyone exactly approved of my lifestyle choices. I deliberately left that as vague as his "back from the dead" pronouncement. He has not arrived on my Facebook page, that I know of.

I just did a Google image search of "Anne Johnson" and of my entire name. I'm not there. Doesn't matter, folks. If *** ******* had evil in mind, he found me. I'm just lucky that he's as nice now as he was in 1978. And just as odd.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Faeries at Work!

A scant two months ago, the remains of a young African American man were found in a wooded area near my house. The chopper hovered overhead as the police oversaw the removal of the body. The man was identified ... and that was that. Not another word has been said about him in any news source.

I have lit candles for this young soul at my Shrine of the Mists. He was two years older than The Heir. I wonder every day how he came to his end -- not out of fear of some dangerous "other," but out of sadness that some people mean so little to our society. I feel very sad for this young life taken, for a person discarded in the woods.

Today we had another snow day here in Snobville. I didn't get the text message, so I got up, showered, dressed, and drove to school. When I saw the empty parking lot, I sort of put two and two together. So I came home.

Heir was here, also sidelined by the underwhelming weather. By two o'clock we were both going stir crazy. So we took a walk around our little neighborhood pond, in the vicinity of that unsolved death.

There's mad faerie activity all through those woods. I am not exaggerating, reader.

I will need Spare and her fancy camera to get you photos ... but she's coming home this weekend.

In the meantime, take my word for:

Item: Two gravity-defying cairns of round boulders of a type not found in these parts.

Item: Two dream-catchers crafted completely of autumn leaves and twigs.

Item: Woven autumn leaves in mosaics fanning over fallen logs and skirting up standing trees.

Item: Four miniature cairns in a cleft in a fallen tree, rocks that are found around this pond.

Item: Four magick wands, hanging vertically from another fallen tree, crafted of twigs and vines.

Item: sweet gum sticker balls hanging from a tree branch by unseen string.

Item: Two human-sized lean-to's made entirely of branches, using another fallen tree as a roof.

I hope I'll be able to get some pictures soon.

This is not the first instance of supernatural activity around this pond. Famously (or infamously), a Tiki lived there for months. But a faerie portal is now open, with tangible energy flowing into the apparent world.

Heir and I were blown away by this faerie energy. And you know me well, reader. I'm not a liar. I had no hand whatsoever in this faerie activity. I'm just glad it's there.

Maybe there's a new faerie in those woods. If so, he's a fabulous artist.

Monday, December 09, 2013

Snow Day!

The words, the text, the phone call every school teacher wants to hear: "School is canceled due to inclement weather."

Remember when you were a kid, and you got a snow day? Off you went to sled, or build a snowman, and at least one parent had to stay home to take care of you ... so it was a win/win.

I'm a weather nutcase. I inherited it from my grandfather. I check the weather forecast at least twice a day, even when it's sunny. I watch the local news forecast, because that's the only place where the announcers give a more scientific explanation of the weather.

But everyone got this one wrong.

On Saturday, each and every forecast for my region called for a scant slushy coating of wintry mix, followed by a Noah's flood of rain. So when it started snowing on Sunday, no one thought it would last more than an hour.

It snowed like batshit all afternoon. By dinnertime we had seven inches and counting. The Philadelphia Eagles football game was highly entertaining when viewed from an armchair. Wouldn't have wanted to be in the stadium. Couldn't have seen the action from the nosebleed seats.

I'm glad I had the foresight to haul in a ton of firewood. But I didn't go to the grocery store.The cupboard was interesting ... challenging ... and I'm not a great cook in the best of times.

Of course, there are many, many weather geeks out there who took the forecast seriously. Therefore, when the real weather event arrived, these fine people were out in their cars, on the highway, going places. There were traffic accidents, and lots of them, jam-ups everywhere.

You would think that the world that has given us computers, cutting-edge health care, nuclear power plants and moon landings, would have made significant strides in weather forecasting. Just hasn't happened. Either they call for a blizzard and we get a scant coating, or they call for a scant coating and we get buried.

This time it was personal. I was ready with firewood but not with groceries. The infamy!

Cernunnos just popped by and tipped His helmet. He says that the bored gods have so little to amuse themselves with these days that They deliberately fuck up the weather forecast. He says to pay no mind to the vapid talking heads on the Weather Channel. The white stuff is in the hands of the bored gods. They dump it where They will.

And today I'm home, it's a snow day, and that's like a gift ...I never stopped being ten years old. Thanks be to the bored gods!

Now I'm off to check the weather forecast, in defiance of Cernunnos. Not a wise thing to defy that deity, as I have well learned. Maybe He'll give me a pass this time.

Saturday, December 07, 2013

In Which I See Conspiracies Everywhere

Say what you want about conspiracy theorists. They almost always have it part right, and sometimes they have it all right. I'm going to join their ranks now. And I have some words to the wise for the conspirators. Free advice, if you will, that is free ... because they don't need my money.

On Thursday, one of my colleagues attended a teacher workshop in which some practice questions for the upcoming PARCC (don't know what those initials stand for) national high school proficiency test were revealed. One of the math questions was so difficult that the math teachers in the meeting all did it and all came up with different answers.

Cut to the conspiracy: Big business testing ($$$$) has created an "assessment" so hard that all but a few hardy, Harvard-bound individuals will fail it. When the catastrophe occurs -- trust me, reader, it will occur -- the scapegoats will be public school teachers.

Why would anyone want to vilify public school teachers? That's easy! They have collective bargaining. They have benefits. They are eligible for justly-earned pensions. Private school teachers don't get any of that stuff.

The conspirators hope that the nation's dismal performance on the upcoming national exams will have parents clamoring for charter schools, and vouchers, and "school choice" -- sending collective bargaining school teacher units into oblivion.

How do I know this is a conspiracy? Because our president, himself a graduate of a public school, is in on it.

Here's Anne's veiled threat to the conspiracy dedicated to eliminating teacher pensions: This might be a bridge too far. Our country's parents will indeed become furious when their children don't pass the proficiency test. But they might, just might, blame the test and not the teachers. I guess it might depend on who they like better -- the teacher or Fox News -- but I'm pinning my hopes on parents actually asking to see the test and to require public officials to pass it too.

A math test that even math teachers can't pass is not a test. It's an agenda.

Now to our second conspiracy: The War on Christmas.

No one has any money to spend on Christmas gifts these days. Salaries are stagnant or diminishing, and if you've got a job your credit cards are maxed out from previous gift-giving cycles. Alarmingly aware of this, our nation's retailers have solicited the help of the lunatic fringe in order to drum up business for Xmas 2013. What better way to win the War on Christmas than to buy lots of toys and electronics? Forget going to church. It's all about the swag. The so-called War on Christmas is nothing but a cynical conspiracy to get consumers into the stores. Read it and heed it: Walmart is the reason for the season.

Where this war is concerned, I'm waving the white flag. I have no money. This year it's gifts from the heart. Not that I would shop there anyway, having heard on the liberal t.v. channel that the six Waltons who own the store have as much wealth as the bottom 40 percent of our nation's population...

Six people worth the same amount as a couple hundred million Americans. You don't think there's a conspiracy or two afoot? No, of course you do! Who am I talking to here? Readers of "The Gods Are Bored!" I'm sure all three of you absolutely agree with me ... and thanks. We can all lose the war together.

Wednesday, December 04, 2013

Illiterate, Innumerate, Barbarian

Have you noticed that there are people who just want to bury themselves in books and learn even the most esoteric piece of information in order to better themselves? Have you also noticed that some people would rather just get out there and muck about, willy nilly? Rarely do these twain meet, you gotta agree.

I see, running through the Pagan community, a certain concern on some parts that people who call themselves Pagan aren't really very well-versed in the scholarly underpinnings of their praise and worship teams. The notion, which I hesitantly call prevailing, is that if you don't study up on the proper practices, you shouldn't tout yourself as a particular type of Pagan.

A year or two ago I paid my dues and joined ADF. I embarked on their rigorous course of study, founded by Isaac Bonewits. This course of study included college-level reading and a reflection journal in which I was supposed to record my feelings and thoughts about meditation and rituals.

I attended a few ADF rites and read one very interesting book. But then I saw the list of "don't read" books. And I had trouble setting down in writing (believe it or not) my thoughts and feelings after rituals and meditations. (It doesn't help that I rarely meditate in any conventional manner.)

I can see where some people would just revel in this kind of scholarly thing, but not me. I revel in the smell of wet leaves, a riotous New Year's parade, toy monkeys, vultures on the wing. All of my magick is intuitive and unstructured. It doesn't come from any tradition. I made my wand at a hippie shop. My infamous mother-in-law made my robe. I told her I wanted to look like Obi-Wan Kenobi.

Yes, here I am, that dreadful fluffy bunny, tree-hugging, shortcut-taking, clueless bad example that every good Pagan tries to avoid.

Guilty as charged.

There are ancient Bards who are well worth studying. But my Bard is more recent, and he inveighed heavily against by-the-book folks. When posing for a lithograph for his own book, he took care to shove his hat askew and unbutton his shirt around the neck. He cocked his hip and seemed to taunt the very idea of scholarship.

His name was Walt Whitman.

Walt wasn't a Pagan. He often refers to the busy God in his poetry. But what stands out about his work is its exhortation to leave behind the staid and the studious, hit the bricks, hit the road, love your body, lose yourself in the grass, sing at your work, and take a pass on that astronomy lecture. If you feel it, you are it. Who makes much of a miracle?

Under the subversive tutelage of Walt Whitman, I've become skeptical of esoteric learned practices. Therefore I'm probably not worthy of the term Pagan. Perhaps, sounding a few YAWPs, I should just shrug and be satisfied to be a barbarian.

I, too, am not a bit tamed
I, too, am untranslatable

Study as you will, learn all you can, and may the Gods find favor with you. As for me, it's all in the feeling and the flesh. It's all in the smiles and the sunset. It's all good.

Monday, December 02, 2013

Another New God

Welcome to "The Gods Are Bored," where we celebrate old gods and new gods, and brand-new gods! You just never know when a new god is going to materialize out of the ether. Or the mushrooms. Maybe I'll wait on the mushrooms until another day.

I guess it was about six years ago that I stumbled upon a hilariously vitriolic blog, written by God. And this was God. No use arguing with Him. He'd as soon smite you as look at you.

There were long and very funny threads on that blog, and through them I got to know (vitually) some interesting people. One of those people found me on Facebook and told me that God had moved to Facebook with His very own page.

He was the same old God, though. The same deity who proclaimed that atheism was for pussies and Jesus was disappointing as a son. This God designated Tuesday as "Smite Day" and Wednesday as "Ask God" day, inviting His followers to chime in. He peppered His Facebook page with snarky memes, avoided video, and showed a proclivity for left-leaning and Earth-friendly politics.

God's Facebook had maybe 46,000 followers when I joined. The number grew exponentially. He crested one million a few months ago and now has about 1.2 m.

A curious thing happens when you're God with more than a million Facebook followers. Whether or not you were a God before, you're suddenly a God. A real God with the power to alter life and death.

People began leaving God messages like, "Dear God, I just don't think I can go on anymore. Life is so pointless. No one loves me. I'm thinking of ending it all."

God responded with reassurance and a suicide hotline number.

There have been other instances when God worked on behalf of His Facebook followers, but I feel like He's already experiencing an avalanche of petitioners (like any other busy God), so I hope the above instance will suffice.

Whether He wanted to or not, whether He was prepared or not, Facebook God became a deity. He still smites the unworthy, and He still answers impertinent questions, and He still belittles stupid people who say they're Christians and then threaten to bash in His fucking head if He doesn't take the page down. But a kinder, gentler God has emerged. Some of His posts are right out of the Fluffy Bunny Playbook. It has to be that way when you really become a God.

Well, it's not like this new God is the first human to achieve the status of a deity. Nor is this God the first one to alter His message to widen His appeal. But He might be the first deity created through the holy agency of social media.

Here's to you, Facebook God! I hope Your praise and worship team does You proud.

You can become a follower of Facebook God at this link:

... but don't take this as a Pagan endorsement. We at "The Gods Are Bored" will still stick with the Ancient Ones, thankyouverymuch ... but a good laugh is always worth promotion. And this God will make you laugh.

Saturday, November 30, 2013

My Mother-in-Law Meets Extra Chair

Welcome to "The Gods are Bored!" It's always a pleasure to see you here!

Through some weird alignment of calendars based on ancient deities, Thanksgiving and Hanukkah coincide this year. This won't happen again for 73,000 years, so you have time to plan your activities accordingly.

We aren't Jewish here at "The Gods Are Bored." The god of the Jews is too busy. We prefer deities who have less attention and are therefore more present in our lives.

But we do celebrate Thanksgiving, without the frenzied shopping trips. And every year my mother-in-law joins us from Baltimore. She has been coming for 25 years.

This year we have a new member of our household, a Chinese exchange student who I named Extra Chair, because we had to put another chair at the table to accommodate her. Extra Chair is a very sweet kid, not too happy about our conservative heating methods here at Chateau Johnson, but that's a small quibble. She bought a space heater for the room she's using, and so her needs are met.

My mother-in-law is also a sweet person, but the valve between her brain and her mouth is faulty. Here was the conversation this morning over the breakfast table, just before the eggs and b. were served:

M-i-l (to Extra Chair: Do you have any brothers or sisters?

EC: No, it's against the law in China to have more than one child. It's because there are so many people in China already. Everything is very crowded.

M-i-l: Well, we ought to have that here. There are too many blacks.

Mr. J (from stage right): MOM! For God's sake! (Note the deity invoked here.)

Extra Chair at that point joined me in the kitchen. She whispered that she didn't know that Americans still felt that way. She wasn't sure how to pronounce "racist." I told her that the situation is complicated, and I would have to explain later, because now I had to give Granny her grits.

So we all sat down to breakfast, and after thoroughly reviewing the fact that Mr. J's sister had been lucky enough to marry a nice Jewish boy who had given her the world money-wise, m-i-l returned to querying Extra Chair.

M-i-l: Do they eat dogs in China?

Extra Chair stared, horrified at the thought.

EC: No! That's disgusting! I mean, it's a big country. Maybe somewhere....

Heir volunteered the information that South Koreans eat dogs, she has a friend living there right now who has seen it.

M-i-l: Well, I know they eat monkeys in China.

Again, Extra Chair stared, aghast.

EC: No, I don't think so. Monkeys? (horrified) Monkeys are cute!

M-i-l: Well, somewhere they drink from monkey skulls. I guess that's not China.

EC: No, not China.


Thank goodness we had warned Extra Chair about m-i-l's brain/mouth malfunction before the holiday festivities. I would like to say that my mother-in-law hasn't always been this way, but that wouldn't be true. She has lived all her life in Baltimore, and if you've ever seen a John Waters movie, you'll understand the mindset perfectly.

Enjoy your time off, if you have it, and here's some free advice from "The Gods Are Bored": Save your Christmas shopping for December, and buy from your local or regional artisans. People who rush to get their shopping finished don't check their lists twice. If it works for Santa, it ought to work for ordinary folks.

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Thanksgiving 2013

Are you with me, my dear three readers? Are you home and snug with your families, avoiding those phony baloney Black Friday sales that are a SHAME TO OUR REPUBLIC?

If so, Happy Thanksgiving, our lovely secular holiday, and may all the bored deities known and unknown, stretching into the dawn of time, especially including the Native American deities, receive thanks from us for Their divine existences!

Enjoy the weekend, and remember ... it's turkey you want to eat, not turkey vulture.


Wednesday, November 27, 2013

The War on Thanksgiving!

America, for shame! How dare this nation's retailers -- led by the Evil Empire, Walmart -- open on Thanksgiving!

There is a war on Thanksgiving. Why aren't the usual voices being raised in alarm?

Okay, I'll be glad to do it.

There have always been people who worked on Thanksgiving. Hospital workers, for instance. Police officers. The Detroit Lions.

But let me tell you young whippersnappers: Thanksgiving was different back in the 20th century.

First of all, everything was closed, including gas stations and restaurants and grocery stores. People planned ahead. They got their cranberries and petrol the day before and stayed home on the holiday. It would have been considered a sin, where I grew up, if any kind of store was open on Thanksgiving. I don't think even McDonald's was open on Thanksgiving, let alone the department stores.

I won't say the 1960s were a kinder, gentler time, not by any means. It just wouldn't have occurred to people to shop on Thanksgiving. Now that the Black Friday cat has been let out of the bag, Thanksgiving will very quickly become yet another working day for all of the world except us lazy public school teachers and postal employees.

And yet there's no umbrage about this. No righteous indignation at the cheapening of a national celebration. If Sarah Palin has complained about a clear sign of disrespect for family values, I haven't heard it. No one seems alarmed that rampant consumerism has trumped the one day of the year when we were asked to contemplate what we already have.

I'm almost idly curious about the kind of person who would go out shopping on Thanksgiving. Conceivably, this person would have people to shop for. So why isn't this person with those people? Have we become too unmoored from our ancestral homes?

Ah, I don't think I need to be so philosophical. Stores are opening on Thanksgiving so people can go shopping for poor, besieged Christmas. Maybe this is the way Christmas will win the war.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

The Smallest Quarterback in the World

I could sit here and complain about the faeries, and how they took my reading glasses and one leather boot, just one, the other one is there, thank you very much. Or I could be somber and muse upon the passing of two beloved cousins within weeks of one another.

Or I can sit back and laugh. So you know which one I'm going to choose.

This is that three-day week of school prior to Thanksgiving. Most schools use these three days as a "spirit week," with all sorts of antics, funny costumes, hallway decoration (Spare excelled at this), and pep rallies. Most schools also shorten the week further by giving students a half day on Wednesday, so they can travel if they need to.

The school where I work goes full throttle until the regular closing time on Wednesday. But we are having a dress-down day, meaning that students don't have to wear their uniforms that day. You know how it is with people who wear uniforms all the time, and suddenly they get to don the fancy shopping mall garb they adore. Heightens the enthusiasm ... not for school, but for antics.

On Monday, my co-teacher asked me what I had planned for the week. Heaving the big, broad, flexible outlook at him, I said, in essence, low-key stuff. He wanted none of it. He planned an ambitious week of serious work, culminating in a test on Wednesday. This made me feel as if I was a slacker, so I gladly adopted the game plan.

Today the game plan went something like this: There was a breakfast for honor roll students first period, which yanked three students from class. Then there was a field trip that yanked four girls out of my third period class and four more from my eighth period class. Several students were absent sixth period, plus the aforementioned field trip youngsters. Wednesday, another group of students is going on a similar field trip, so they'll be gone for the test, while the ones who missed Tuesday will be back for a test that they missed the instruction for. All of this is assuming that students actually show up at school at all Wednesday, given the Nor'Easter forecast of wind-driven rain.

Some weeks are like this.

I have one class that is not co-taught, an Honors freshman group consisting of two boys and five girls. We are reading Mark Kram Jr.'s excellent book, Like Any Normal Day. This book is about football. So of course, three of the girls in the class, while highly intelligent, cannot pick out the quarterback in the game footage. Meanwhile, the boy students drool at the mention of the word "football."

Today I pushed the desks back from the front of the room. I asked the students who knew what a quarterback was to help me re-enact a football play. Turns out the smallest girl in the class knew what a quarterback was. When I say this stripling is five feet tall if she stands on her tip-toes, I may be overestimating.

So I was the center, and the other girl who understood football was the running back, and the boys were the defense. I snapped the "football" (actually a small stuffed Donald Duck with many educational uses) to the teeny tiny girl.

That little slip of a kid grabbed Donald Duck and did the fastest end-run around two hulking defenders that you ever saw. Before any of us could blink, she was doing a hot-dog touchdown dance by the classroom door, as the vice principal stared in suspiciously. She slammed Donald Duck on his head, but Donald's okay.

Modern educational theory holds that the students should teach the class. On this day it actually worked. Not only did the girls who'd never understood football before get a quick crash course, our little quarterback's sneak and subsequent rowdy touchdown celebration perfectly prepared the students for a chapter in which an over-confident quarterback named Buddy Miley celebrates with a tad too much cockiness for his rivals to bear.

My Honors class will have a test. Eventually. I think. I'll get back to you on that. Don't tell the evaluators. Or Governor Chris Christie.

In the meantime, if any of you college recruiters out there are looking for a confident, quick, and nimble quarterback, I know just where you can find one. Scout her. I know you'll agree.

Monday, November 25, 2013

War on Morons

They say that it's a good idea to take seriously the opinions of those who differ from you. They say that this is a sign of higher level thinking.

And I get it with most things. But this "war on Christmas" shit is beyond my highest pinnacle of higher level thinking.

It's a little early for this rant, I know. But I caught a little bit on Fox News Sunday morning: Sarah Palin has just published a book about the war on Christmas.

How could anyone, even a smart person, find a book's worth of stuff to say about keeping Jesus in a holiday? I'll be hard-pressed to fill 250 words on this blog before collapsing of exhaustion.

It is painfully, painfully obvious that Christian holidays are based on ancient Roman traditions. Gosh, this is so logical, I don't see how anyone with anything beyond a fifth grade education could argue otherwise. Yet here is Sarah, with her book defending something that needs absolutely no defense.

If you believe in Jesus, say "Merry Christmas." Say it as loud and as often as you like. Tell your kids that Jesus is the reason for the season, and hope they grow up with little to no interest in history. Just please don't waste your breath and your phony umbrage on the rest of us.

To be perfectly honest, I could live without Christmas altogether. Many and many were the years that I nearly worked right through it. Now, as a public school teacher, I'm given a whole week off, which comes in handy as I prepare for the Mummer's Parade but is otherwise a bust, given the weather this time of year. If I had my druthers, I'd just go teach school on December 25 ... and take a nice week off in merry May.

I guess life is slowing down for Sarah Palin. She has to make a buck somehow. Hiring someone to write a book about Jesus and then slapping her name on it must have appealed to some enterprising publishing house.

Last time I looked, I didn't see armed assailants charging wholesale into churches on December 24 and gunning down whole congregations as they belted "Joy to the World." To my way of thinking, that would be a war on Christmas. Calling the decorated tree in your school's foyer a holiday tree is not exactly a war. It isn't even a skirmish. It isn't even a rumor of war. It isn't even a playground tussle.

You want to write about war, Sarah? Write about the war on poverty, Sarah. I dare ya. Moron.

Friday, November 22, 2013

Epic Tragedy

Welcome to “The Gods Are Bored,” where today we walk down memory lane to a tragedy of epic proportions.
Where were you when John F. Kennedy was shot? Still a twinkle in the eye? Well, striplings, I was alive and a tender four years old.
My mother was very strict about television. She would not let me watch it during the day, unless there was an Apollo launch. On this day, however, Mom turned on the set and within moments was crying her eyeballs out.
When you’re four, and your mom starts crying, it’s intensely scary. Mothers aren’t supposed to cry.
What was worse was that the guy on the t.v. was partly crying too. T.V. newscasters REALLY weren’t supposed to cry. I was old enough to understand that this was something cataclysmic, old enough to wonder if I wouldn’t have to wear my black patent leather shoes anymore (which hurt like hell) because my girly nemesis, Caroline Kennedy, wouldn’t be on the t.v. so much. Mom always set Caroline up as the standard for appearance, admonishing me to dress and act like her.
Then there was all this talk about Oswald and Ruby, and Ruby and Oswald. Ruby shot Oswald, and my mother said it was to shut Oswald up, so he wouldn’t talk about who set him up to shoot the president.
Then we watched the funeral, and it was scary. So scary. I wondered if someone would shoot my dad.
It seemed like we watched television for days and days. If I needed any more confirmation that this was serious, there was a cancellation of a Shirley Temple movie that was going to be shown. The only other time Mom let me watch t.v. during the day was when Shirley was on. Oh wow. This event bumped Shirley, Bojangles, and Stepin’ Fetchit!
There was some small consolation in the fact that the new president had the same name as me. It was cool to have a President Johnson. But my dad didn’t like it at all. He voted straight Republican ticket, because that is how his family had voted since Lincoln won the war. It didn’t matter to him if the president’s name was Johnson. Johnson was a Democrat, and they were bad.
If what you’re reading seems a shallow and childish reaction to a presidential assassination, let me explain. I’m viewing it as I did when I was that age. A half century has gone since then. My life no longer revolves around patent leather shoes and Shirley Temple movies, and whether or not I could watch t.v. during the day.
When people complain about America today and how deep it’s in the crapper, I remember the long-ago 1960s. We lost two Kennedys and Martin Luther King to assassination. The world went upside down, especially in the wake of King’s death. We were constantly being told that Red China was going to invade us, and the Soviet Union was going to bomb us into oblivion. The cities erupted in riots, and students got shot by soldiers on college campuses. We were embroiled in a pointless war that had something to do with keeping communism from spreading.
Rush Limbaugh would have had a field day with all of this, but in those years he was hiding under a rock, trying to dodge the draft. Please be aware, striplings: Things are better now than they were a half century ago. This could change any day for a dozen different reasons, but as I reflect on the assassination of John F. Kennedy, I can’t agree with the Talking Heads that it’s “same as it ever was.”

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Methodist Misgivings

Welcome to "The Gods Are Bored!" It's great to see you here! What a sermon we have to tell today! You'll be glad you dropped by.

Two decades ago I was a church lady. My husband's grandfather made me promise I would bring my daughters up in the faith, and at the time when I promised him I would, it didn't seem like a bad idea. Because, of course I didn't have enough moral fiber to instill good judgment in them myself, right?

So when The Heir was a toddler, I returned to church-going after a very long hiatus. By the time Spare was born, I was totally entrenched in the local Methodist church. I volunteered to watch the infants during church services,  because in those years the church got a new, conservative (and boring) pastor ... and I liked tots.

It was thus that I met a young couple with a son the same age as Spare. Since we were all young parents together, we became friendly. Not bosom-buddy friendly, but sitting-together-at-the-church-supper friendly.

Time passed, and Spare started going to grade school with this young  boy, so often I saw the boy's parents at the schoolyard. Then one day it was just the dad. The family had split up. The dad told me his wife had been raised very religious and had decided she'd gotten married too young.

After that I saw the dad more than the mom, because the dad kept bringing his boy to the Methodist church. So I would listen as this dad vented, and I did feel sorry for him.

Then I decided I couldn't stick Methodism anymore, and I bagged that church without looking back. (Well, that's not exactly true. I look back miserably, sorry I subjected my two daughters to that place for so long.)

A year or so later, I ran into my old church/school friend at a local block party. He said he hadn't seen me at church in a long time. I told him I was going to church outdoors now, with a small group of people. (I omitted the fact that the "church" was a Druid Grove.) On that occasion, he snapped a black-and-white photo of Spare and me that is my absolute favorite shot of her and me of all time. The photo is framed and by my bedside.

Whenever something is framed and by your bedside, you tend to think of the person who took the photo. I really wondered what had happened to my church dad friend. I never ran into him, because we stopped having block parties around here, and I sure wasn't going back to that church.

Today I ran into her. He had become a her. Name changed from Sal to Sally. I saw her in our small branch bank, where our eyes could not help but meet.

Sally told me she had seen me a few times ... once at the Gay Pride Festival in Philadelphia. But she hadn't had the nerve to say howdy, because you know, some people can't deal with gender changes, especially some religious people. Sally didn't know me well enough to dare to come out to me.

Now, let's look at this.

In 2006 I didn't know church dad well enough to tell him I'd become a Pagan. I thought he would judge me harshly.

In 2012 he/she didn't know me well enough to tell me about the gender change. She thought I would judge her harshly.

Common denominator: harsh judgment.

Original source of anxieties about harsh judgment: the Methodist church.

And mark my word, that Methodist church we both attended was chock-a-block with judgmental people. The bad attitude toward gays at that place was one of the reasons I began listening for the voices of the bored gods.

But doggone it! It's been almost a decade since I darkened the doorstep of that stinking judgmental church, and all this time I could have had a friend who s me here and there but figured I was just a rank-and-file hater, even if I did worship with a small group of people in the woods!

Well, as you might imagine, I quickly apprised Sally of the nature of my new praise and worship team; namely, that I was a Pagan. And now I'm going to biff off and friend her on Facebook.

Many churches, and I include here Pagan groups, do not encourage the big, broad, flexible outlook. But it does seem to me that Pagans are cool with the LGBT community. So maybe if I hadn't had Methodist misgivings, maybe if I had told my friend I was a Pagan, I wouldn't have lost 8 years of conviviality.

Not gonna hide that light under a bushel anymore, no sirree.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

I Always Look

Well, if this doesn't take the cake. Here I sit in the Cherry Hill Library, having done the kind spousely thing and brought my husband to opening night of the used book sale. He would have gotten up in the middle of his operation to come here, so it's the least I can do.

I don't like used book sales. People pushin, people shovin, and the girls who try to look nerdy... Oh, wait, I'm gibbering. Used book sales and blogging on my pathetic phone do that to me.

I don't like used book sales because authors don't make any money off my purchases. So while I can't resist picking up Pagan books at these things, I always feel guilty about it later. Doesn't keep me from dipping my mitts into the one buck copies of Drawing down the Moon, though.

I have this quaint notion that I shouldn't buy a book unless I plan to read it. And I don't have time to read. Hmm. Why am I here again? Oh yeah. Mr. J hauls books home by the oxcart. And the cart is outside. And he had back surgery last Friday. So the heavy lifting falls to me.

Ah! There goes the teeming throng! With Mr. J in their slavering midst! Tra la la... Must be a first edition of Gulliver's Travels in there somewhere!

This more-meaningless-than-usual post has been brought to you through the courtesy of a device that could render books obsolete. Maybe I should buy a few for old times' sake.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Guest Blogger: Janet D. H. Hinkel

Hello, readers one, two, and three! What a magickal day, if you're into the Christian/Roman pantheon! 11/12/13 ... and the birthday of my favorite granny, Jackiesue of West, By Goddess, Texas!

But today I'm turning the podium over to Janet Hinkel, who has a lofty and bored-god-sanctioned artistic goal. Off you go, Janet!

Tarot of Delphi: Know Thyself
Created by Janet D.H. Hinkel

With much excitement and trepidation, I’ve launched a tarot deck on Kickstarter: the Tarot of Delphi [http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/delphi/1563345036?token=279b1cd2]. Anne has been kind enough – and I am thrilled! – to tell you about it on The Gods Are Bored. 
The Tarot of Delphi is illustrated with Neoclassical Victorian art from 1838 to 1913. The deck features masterpieces and hard-to-find works by over 20 artists, including John William Waterhouse, Henrietta Rae, Dante Gabriel Rossetti, Sir Lawrence Alma-Tadema and George Frederic Watts.
There are many rich themes to explore: Classical mythology, ancient gods, Neoclassical and other art movements, the Victorian Era, historical antiquity, Classical literature, and of course the tarot. Significantly, the knowledge you have about these subjects is a bonus, not a necessity. 
As a fine art deck, you can interpret the cards the same way you would view paintings in a museum: what is important is what you see. What is important is how the art – the tarot card – resonates with you, your memories, thoughts, emotions and imagination.

Bored Gods and Crazy Gods
If the gods are bored today, they certainly weren’t bored in the ancient myths and stories that illustrate the Tarot of Delphi. Gods, goddesses, mythological creatures, legends and enchantresses walk through the deck, imparting wisdom and wreaking havoc. Sirens claw at Odysseus’s boat, threatening his life and crew. The moon goddess Selene descends on a sleeping shepherd, and Cupid and Psyche fight for love.
Demigods and enchantresses match wits with gods – and one another. Circe tests Odysseus. Medea casts spells. Hercules wrestles Death. The cards show more, as well, including goddesses Venus, Fortuna and Persephone; the lovers Andromeda and Perseus; and historical figures like Cleopatra, Diogenes, emperors and the Delphic oracle.
There are also people, like us, trying to avoid the craziness of the gods. The Tarot of Delphi depicts people working in their shops, leaving flowers for a lover, grieving loss, playing sports, tasting wine and writing poetry. Also like us, they celebrate the gods’ gifts. There are festivals and worshippers, maenads and priestesses, inspired artists and tender lovers.
Artistic Vision
My intention has been to create a deck for a diversity of people, from Wiccans and atheists to art historians and fantasy fiction readers. Whatever someone’s beliefs, or non-beliefs, people have rich spiritual lives. I believe great art helps us articulate the experience of living, and even glimpse the ineffable. I believe in the transformative power of art. 

I need help bringing the Tarot of Delphi to fruition, so I’m on Kickstarter for support. Wonderfully, this has opened avenues for collaboration. Kickstarter backers can help choose the final images for several cards, including The Star an the Three of Coins, by joining the discussion on a private website (open to all Kickstarter backers). A few backers can also become associate curators of specific cards (by choosing that reward level).
I invite you to watch the video and learn more about the Tarot of Delphi on my Kickstarter page [http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/delphi/1563345036?token=279b1cd2]. Thank you, and thanks to Anne for inviting me to guest post. This is only possible with such kind support.

Friday, November 08, 2013

Ben's Hospital

In 1751, Benjamin Franklin persuaded the citizens of Philadelphia to combine taxes and donations to open the first hospital in the colonies.

Today my husband, Mr. J, was a patient at the very same hospital. He had surgery. We got to the hospital at 5:30 a.m., he went under the knife at 8:30, was sent to recovery at 9:40, and was victimized by the insurance company was released, woozy and wincing, at 2:00. Kind of breathtaking, especially since it was back surgery.

I have no idea how I will get him up to the second floor. But just now he's feeling no pain, thanks to medication that really should be dripping into his arm as he lies safe and sound in Ben's hospital.

They let me sit with Mr. J until he was ready for anesthesia. Then I went to a big waiting room where other families of surgical patients were waiting. One by one the other families heard from doctors, either by an old-fashioned phone or in person. Finally, Mr. J's surgeon came in and said Mr. J is all fixed up and will be fox-trotting soon.

But then, while I was waiting even more, I heard the phone ring in the waiting room. The attendant answered it and started calling out a family's name. "Anyone here for Smith? Smith? Smith?" When no one responded, the attendant said into the phone, "I think Smith is a lone wolf."

My heart broke for Smith. A "lone wolf." What a term to use for an unfortunate soul who has no one to help him after a surgery!

Friends, please petition the bored gods to stand beside all the lone wolves out there who face tough ordeals all alone. We are a social species, meant to help each other out. Some of us still fall through the cracks. May the Gods and Goddesses be with them.

Thursday, November 07, 2013

Frank Talk on Showing Your Tits

Welcome to "The Gods Are Bored," land of the squeeee and home of the rave! From every mountaintop, let Glee Don King!

Can you tell this teacher has a day off school?

On Halloween, my daughter The Spare wrote a lovely blog post for me. It brought tears to my eyes. So I picked a pretty picture of her (tough choice, there are so many in my files) and posted it with her entry.

A male commenter said, "Great post. Show us your tits!"

I removed the comment.

Now I'm having second thoughts. Not because The Spare would ever show her lovely tits to a drooling mass of testosterone, but because said d.m. of t. has his rights to free expression, and if tits is what he wants to see, he ought to be able to make the request.

I don't object if some women want to show off their bodies for the entertainment and (I love this word) titillation of men. It's a broad and wide world, and people should have the right to make these judgments on their own. For some women, it's a lot of fun, showing off the tits. Others (including Spare, Mr. Commenter) would rather haul off and deck you in the balls eyeballs just for asking. It's a personal preference.

In my youthful days in the sun, I earned many a wolf whistle when I walked past a bunch of construction workers or other lusty males. To me it was sort of like a compliment. Sure, they wanted to see my tits and the rest of me too, but that didn't bother me. Now, if they had grabbed me and tried to get a gander at my anatomy, that would have been different. But whistles and cat calls? Hey, to me it just meant I looked good.

Spare hates being cat called and wolf whistled. And as a resident of Philadelphia, she gets an ample amount of it. She thinks men who do that sort of thing are crude and stupid. And she isn't blind to a fine specimen of male, let me tell you ... but she'll be the first to tell you that she gets awkward, not bawdy, in the presence of a prince. Not gonna hear, "Yo! Show us your abs!" from that gal.

Ladies, if you've got tits and want to show them, rock on! If you've got tits and want to show parts of them through corsets, low-cut shirts, or sheers, rock on! If you'd just as soon keep your tits carefully ensconced in a t-shirt, covered by a hoodie, covered by a North Face ski jacket, rock on! Stand up for your rights.

Gentlemen, I realize it is difficult to distinguish which clothed females would show you their tits and which wouldn't. For your own safety in this day of empowered women, err on the side of caution. Especially in Philadelphia, where even the shortest, perkiest, best-groomed young woman can channel the local mentality and blister you with curse words that would make a stevedore cringe.

And at the risk of losing one of my three readers, just know this: If you see tits on this site, they'll be attached to an ancient bored goddess. For fresh and lively ones, take your tastes elsewhere.

Monday, November 04, 2013

Chris Christie Yells at Yet Another Teacher

Guess what, Chris? We're tired of you too.


1. Teachers in New Jersey now have to give students a beginning of the year test with stuff the students have never seen before, so that the students can be tested later in the year to see if they learned the stuff. Seriously? Nothing like settling in to an end-of-the-year physics test when you haven't had a single day of physics. I. Am. Not. Exaggerating.

2. School districts are hiring people just to evaluate teachers. That's taxpayer money that could go into textbooks and music classes.

3. My school district is seeking to hire a person whose sole job will be to run the standardized testing. Again, I am not kidding.

4. To date, November 4, my students have had eight days of standardized testing. They are scheduled to have four more in December and seven more in April. That's 19 days in a 181-day school year. Let's look at it another way. That's almost four solid weeks of standardized testing. It's more than 10 percent of the school year!

5. This year, we New Jersey teachers had to submit two Student Growth Objectives (SGO). The forms are impossible to decipher. I read the instructional manual twice, went to the union meeting, and then prepared mine as thoughtfully as possible. The supervisor flung it back at me demanding multiple "corrections." So I had to do it over. My guess is that I'll have to revise it at least two more times. I'm not alone in my confusion. Most of the teachers at my school weren't able to complete the SGO forms properly.

6. The whole point of Student Growth Objectives is not to measure student growth. Teachers have already done that with stuff like, oh, I dunno ... meaningful tests? The point of SGO is to turn people into numbers, turn students into "data," and use those numbers as a "gotcha" against teachers who aren't very good at math and statistics (like me).

7. Chris Christie has done a masterful job of implementing the first steps in the Great Path to Evil. What is this Great Path to Evil? The privatization of education.  Public school teachers have been so vilified that they are being blamed for everything from global warming to feline leukemia. The more teachers are abused in the press, the more the students come to school with the attitude that their teachers are lowlife spreaders of verminous infections. This does not improve classroom morale.

Make no mistake, reader. The Great Path to Evil is a plan to dismantle collective bargaining so that everyone is expendable, that the first sign of weakness or age becomes ample reason to fire, that the goal is to get the most work from the fewest people for the lowest wage. Chris Christie is a convenient mouthpiece for this agenda.

Look at the picture above and imagine that person as our chief executive. He is in the process of belittling a school teacher while his beaming wife looks on. Oh my Bored Gods! Where does this man wind up in our national story?

Saturday, November 02, 2013

Day of the Dead

Samhain was very peaceful here at Chateau Johnson after I called the Quarters and smudged the house. Mr. J and I sat on the front porch and doled out treats, letting the sage smoke settle everything down. Sure enough, I dreamed about my grandmother and grandfather last night as if they had returned from a short absence and were now here to sup with me again.

Samhain is all about acknowledging Spirit. It reflects our hope (and for some, the experience) that the dead live on in some altered state. Now, let's be frank. We just don't know. I don't, at least. And I have had my share of existential crises about mortality, all along the way.

Nevertheless, I am strongly in the existential camp when I say that eternal life sounds like a drag. I take great joy in living. I'm pain-free and surrounded by people I love, who love me back. Would I want to live like this, in stasis, for thousands of years? Wow. It's hard to contemplate. When does a gorgeous sunset become the 10,000th great sunset you've seen, so why bother looking?

I bring this up because there's a Time magazine article circulating about Google spearheading an immortality initiative, or some such. I haven't read it, because it will only irritate me. The world is swarming with people, and some of them want to conquer mortality. Really?

So here on Dia de los Muertos, we at "The Gods Are Bored" acknowledge those who have gone before, so that we may be here now, so that we may yield the stage and become altered, so that someone may celebrate us some day.

You know why this blog is called "The Gods Are Bored?" Because deities are immortal, and They're beset by ennui and pointlessness when They're no longer surrounded by loved ones. So my message to the fine young minds at Google is this: Be careful in which fields you play. If you seek to become a God, you may well also become bored. Scared and bored. Bad mix.

Google, if you want a worthwhile challenge, go fix the hole in the ozone. Otherwise, stick to being a glorified phone book. This is the word of the bored gods.

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Guest Blogger: The Spare

The days are getting shorter, there is a hipster wearing every item of clothing in his closet, drinking a pumpkin spiced something or other, and I’ve got a wicked cold. These could all only mean one thing: It’s the beginning of fall. 

 While drinking a spicy gourd is not really my thing, fall definitely is. I love the colorful foliage, and the (to quote my hero circa 2005, Rachael Ray) yum-o food. Being from a quaint, albeit snobby, small town, autumn was our time to shine. I fondly remember not paying attention at the big high school football games. I would even have to work at our pathetic but cute fall festival which showcased horrifying homemade scarecrows and blue haired woman giving out sugar-free candy if you promised to donate to the church.
But there was one special day where we really pulled out all the big guns. Halloween.  
Oh my bored gods, was Halloween the main event of Snobville! Kids went ham, adults used up disposal cameras by the dozen, snapping the best shots of their children in the most up to date costumes out there. Parades, haunted houses, free candy, overly kitschy theme parties, and goofy decorations as far as the eye could see. It was perfect.
Once I got to college, I found myself very sad as Halloween approached. This was a shocking first. Had I become too old to enjoy my favorite holiday? Soon the existential crisis checked in for what seemed like an extended stay. To make things even worse, I had class until 10:00 pm on Halloween so I couldn’t even go home to steal candy from little kids give out candy. My class was late enough that I couldn’t even watch a cheesy Halloween movie afterwards because I had class the next day at 8:30. Talk about mega bummer.
So I put my best foot forward. Put on my classiest pair of cat ears and high tailed it (pun intended) to my six hour studio class. When I came home that night I was blown away by how much of a nut my mother is. She managed to sneak into my dorm room and tee-pee my side of the room, right down to the pictures I had of my cat. She did this through what I could only imagine was a Grade A espionage mission. For the full story check out the blog post on November 1st, 2012.
Readers, if you haven’t picked up on it by now, my mom is incredible. She always finds ways to make life interesting and unconventional. Growing up it wasn’t her activity in the PTA that made her special to me. It was her ability to make even the most mundane things seem silly. To give you some perspective, she used to moo at my sister and our friends, and for some reason we just LOVED this. Even when she was in the PTA she did things that made me feel so special. For our fifth grade holiday party she made a huge batch of my favorite Christmas punch and served it from a fountain! I felt like the most important person in the world that day.
I guess that’s what is so incredible about my mom. When you least expect it, she will do something so amazing that will make that existential crisis go find someone else to bother. When she asked me to do a guest blog post about a Halloween memory, I knew right away that I had to write about my first Halloween in college. Because no matter how many wonderful years of parades and trick or treating I had, nothing will be sweeter than knowing you have a nut for a mom who loves you so much she’ll waste a whole two rolls of toilet paper just to brighten up your day. 

Time To Smudge

There's no mystery to the scary part of Halloween. If good Spirits can cross the Veil and commune with us, so can bad ones. Let's not sugar-coat it. This holy season ushers in the dark days, and some phantoms are dark, evil, and dangerous.

Two days ago a partly-decomposed body was found about two blocks from my house. The remains have been identified as a 26-year-old male from Philadelphia. This young man did not just decide to choose a marshy area surrounded by houses and just crawl in there to die. Somehow he was placed there. And with Snobville being what it is, we residents will never hear another word about this unfortunate fellow.

But it's scary. It's scary to think that someone lay decomposing in a location where he was bound to be discovered -- if not by people first, then by vultures first and then by people.

This will be a different sort of Samhain for me. I am awash in fatigue and anxiety. I have a feeling that the evil spirits are prevailing.

In ancient times the harvests did not always yield enough to see everyone through the winter. There must have been many grim Samhains, with dread misplacing delight.

My personal plan is to deal with the dread. A sense of calm must be restored. A sense of healing must be established. The first step is to smudge the property thoroughly. The second is to light more jack-o-lanterns than ever. The third is to petition Brighid for a safe and tranquil home. The fourth is to acknowledge the faeries respectfully.

The last is to find a home for all the candy I bought that won't get doled out to trick-or-treaters. I have a feeling that very few kids will be on this block looking for loot.

Monday, October 28, 2013

Poor Little Pond

There's a pond of about ten acres a block from my house. It is surrounded by large trees and larger school buildings. It spills into a lower, smaller pond and from there into a sluggish waterway known as the Cooper River.

This pond can't win for losing.

A few years ago, someone released a full-sized cayman into the pond. Animal Control refused to believe the reports until the ducks started disappearing. Then AC put out a dragnet for the cayman and  failed to find it. It may still be in the murky depths, waiting for more ducks.

But I don't think so, because more recently the pond suffered a massive influx of raw sewage when the ancient pipes of Snobville burst. The entire pond area was cordoned off for months while the locals struggled to clean things up.

The pond's fortunes seemed to be reversing somewhat this summer, when out of the blue some kind of funding came through that put aerators into the water in well-regulated intervals.

But alas, this afternoon the poor little pond got more grief. The police started creeping past my house at about 5:30, followed quickly thereafter by one of those very loud helicopters that hovered right overhead, just above the trees. The evening news revealed that a corpse had been found in the shallow section.

The Monkey Man grew up right next to this poor little pond, and he can remember a time when kids swam in it during the summer months and skated on it during the winter months. I've never known it to be in that natural state.

It's hard out there for an urban pond. Don't get me wrong, I'm not cold-hearted. I care about people. But to me, a pond is more alive than a person. It's an aggregate of a thousand kinds of life. Except for my poor little pond, which is visited far too often by the grim vestiges of death.

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Following the Leader

With the Veil so thin, I'm feeling my grandmother within and about these days. They were giving away frozen turkeys at the grocery store yesterday, and I got a 20-pounder. I cooked it today and even whipped up a tasty dessert. That's Grandma at work.

But tonight I'm thinking of my dad and how he led me to my current Path.

Dad was a Baptist his whole life and hardly ever missed church. This meant that I grew up going to church every Sunday. Dad taught Sunday School and sang in the choir. He was always torn philosophically about his faith, though. The scientist in him made him skeptical, and the more he read in the Bible, the less he liked it. Still he persisted because he liked the core message of the New Testament. I think of him as a Thomas Jefferson Christian, cutting out the stuff he didn't like and keeping what worked.

When Dad took to his deathbed, he told me he saw Peter Pan standing in the doorway of his room, with his hands on his hips. At the time I was teetering towards my current Path, and I found this information very intriguing. I felt that Peter Pan was a Portal Being who had come to guide Dad across the Veil. Soon enough, Dad and Peter went off together.

Shortly after Dad told me about seeing Peter Pan, I found myself in the Methodist church I had attended in an effort to replicate my childhood experience for my daughters. I don't remember why I was back in that church that day -- I had pretty much left it emotionally, and Heir and Spare were not with me. Anyway, this Methodist church had a little mini sermon for kids after the opening hymn and prayer. The kids came forward, and from the rafters of the church a movie screen descended. The screen must have been new, I don't remember seeing it before that.

The youth pastor gathered the children around and directed their attention to the screen. And up came the footage of Peter Pan, from Disney, leading his charming Lost Boys through the landscape of Neverland. There's a song in the movie, do you know it? "We're Following the Leader." That's the clip that showed on the screen.

When the footage ended, the youth pastor posed a question to the Methodist tots: "Who is the leader we should follow?"

I stood up. I was in the balcony. I said, "The leader is Peter Pan."

I walked out and have never returned to that church, except once, when I gave blood in the basement.

Peter Pan led my dad away, but I don't think Dad is a Lost Boy. I think Dad is a Found Boy, eternally young, capering at play in the wake of a long, hard life in the apparent world.

Jesus isn't everything. He isn't the Leader. Peter Pan is the Leader, and when you decide to follow him, be sure you are ready to go with him forever. What is more heavenly than eternal childhood?