Sunday, September 29, 2013

Mission Accomplished

I guess cheaters always find a way to justify what they do. Today I did homework for my exchange student. Now I will justify it.

The student's religion teacher required her, for a quiz grade, to obtain a bulletin from any church of her choosing. The student didn't even know what a bulletin was, and a translator is only so much help with a word like that.

Anyway, I offered to get a bulletin for her, because the local RC church is right down the block.

I have literally never attended a Catholic Mass that wasn't a wedding or funeral. Never too old for a "first."

So I went down at Mass time, grabbed a bulletin and a seat in the very back row. It was interesting to see that this church bulletin had advertising in it, two whole pages in color. There was also a damn good screed against the lottery on page three.

Mass got under way with hymns and stuff. It was less ostentatious than the Snobville United Methodist by more than half. But I noticed that punctuality didn't seem to be very important to the congregation. After about ten minutes, with folks still trickling in, it was easy to sneak out the door through which I came.

I gave the following reasons for getting the bulletin to my student:

1. Her parents are paying tuition to the school. Part of this tuition supports the missions of the Roman Catholic Church. Part of it helps subsidize scholarships for kids who are religious. That should suffice the school, regarding my student's involvement with the Catholic faith.

2. Can you imagine China with orthodox Catholics who didn't practice birth control?

I don't care how many times I have to pretend to go to Mass this year. The church is a block away, and no one slobbered over me like they do in so many of the Pentecostal denominations when they see a stranger.

What do you think? Am I committing a sin here?

Saturday, September 28, 2013

The Incredible True Story of a Man's Love for His Monkey

Welcome to "The Gods Are Bored!" This beautiful early autumn weather brings with it cool evenings of high school football. At least once a year, I like to amble over to see Snobville High play with the pigskin. I like to do this in the company of my friend the Monkey Man, and last night he was available, along with his bulldog Butchie and his ever-present monkey.

Someone snapped this photo of the Monkey Man. It really captures him, and his bad monkey. Honestly, reader. Wouldn't you love to have this guy as a friend?

Anyway, prior to the game, the Monkey Man nibbled a few slices of pizza with me, Mr. J and The Spare. And he entertained us with the latest misadventures of his monkey.

It seems that the Monkey Man took his bike on the El from Camden, where he lives near the waterfront, to Philadelphia. His monkey was riding in a basket on the front of the bike. When the Monkey Man returned to the El, he put his bike in a doorway (like you're supposed to do). But then it happened. At the next stop, the door opened on the side where the bike was! The bike lurched, and the monkey fell from the basket onto the third rail.

The Monkey Man jumped off the train with his bike, but in the darkness he couldn't see his monkey. So the Monkey Man took his bike back upstairs and went in search of a store that sells flashlights. He found a hardware store that not only had LED flashlights but also a grabber. Trouble was, the flashlight was five bucks and the grabber $35. No can do on Monkey Man budget. MM bought the flashlight and found a dry cleaning store that had wire hangers. He took the wire hangers and the flashlight and paid again to get onto the El.

I suppose I should mention that our El runs sometimes above ground and sometimes below. In Philly it's a subway.

So... back to the dark tracks goes the Monkey Man. He uses the flashlight and locates his monkey, inches from the electrified third rail. Monkey Man fashions a grabber  from the wire hangers.

It's rush hour. The platform is full of working stiffs waiting to get back to good ol' New Jersey. Also, the trains are running at max schedule. With the roar of an oncoming El train in his ears, the Monkey Man reaches down with his wire hangers and hooks his monkey ...

With seconds to spare, he hauls the monkey to safety and then celebrates in his characteristic way as the astonished commuters looked on.

This monkey has had some adventures. At times he has gone missing for months and months at a time, when he's been stolen. Once the Monkey Man was mugged and beaten up pretty bad (yeah, gotta love Camden), and the monkey was found floating in the Delaware River. Somehow this little monkey always finds his way back to his Man.

The monkey went with us to the football game but mostly stayed secure inside the Monkey Man's little backpack. Football games are the province of Butchie the bulldog, since Snobville's mascot is a bulldog.

(I keep typing bullgod. It would be cool to have Mithras as a high school mascot, don't you think?)

Wow, I have been friends with the Monkey Man for a long time. I don't see nearly as much of him as I would like.

As we walked home from the football game, we passed right under the windows of the house where the Monkey Man grew up. He's a Snobville native, and as luck would have it, his old home is right behind mine. Coincidence. I didn't know that until I met him. His family sold it in the 1960s.

Monkey Man looked through the window into the kitchen. The cabinets his father built are still in the house. MM got a little wistful, I think.

There's not much I can say that's good about living in New Jersey, but we do have the Monkey Man, and he did inspire me to start memorizing Walt Whitman poems. I already knew how to act crazy. That's why he and I make such good companions. Nothing that monkey does surprises me, and I enjoy conversing with the little guy. He does talk, of course, in a kind of high-pitched Monkey Man voice. and he's very good at saying, "oo oo oo AH AH AH!"

O blessed thinning of the veil! All hail Monkey Man's dad, who built kitchen cabinets that have lasted more than half a century!

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Because I Need a Little Laugh

Welcome to "The Gods Are Bored," parochial school edition! I swore up and down I wasn't going to write much about my Chinese exchange student, but oh damn. It's irresistible.

Background: "Extra Chair" is living in The Spare's bedroom and going to the local parochial school. Her parents are paying room and board, tuition and fees to the school, and who knows what else to the agency that arranges for the schooling. Then there's the airfare, and Chair's dad even sent a limo to drive her to JFK at the end of last year. The kid is in the chips, but she's as unspoiled as a spring morning.

Today I had to drive over to the school, Boniface VIII, to pick her up after a club meeting. She had a friend with her, another Chinese student in the same situation.

The two girls were perplexed. Their religion teacher had given out an assignment. All the American kids understood it perfectly, and it counts as a quiz grade.

Chair and her friend gave up trying to pronounce the word they had been given and just asked me if I had ever seen this thing, begins with "b" that you get in church? This is something you can carry home from church at the end of the service. It has information in it.

"You mean a bulletin?" I asked.

That was it. They have to get a church  bulletin, from any church, and bring it to school on Monday. It has to be from a church, and not from online.

I asked them if it mattered what denomination the bulletin came from. They didn't know what that word "denomination" meant, but it doesn't matter. The closest church to my house happens to be a Catholic church, Christ the Despot RCC. So I guess I'll be taking that one-block stroll to Mass on Sunday in search of two church bulletins.

I hope they give out bulletins at Christ the Despot, because I don't want to have to drive to Snobville United Methodist for theirs.

Too doggone bad I didn't know about this assignment early enough to request bulletins from the OBOD East Coast Gathering, but what's done is done. Two bulletins, Sunday. Quiz grade.

Monday, September 23, 2013

What Was I Thinking?

Welcome to "The Gods Are Bored," where the days are longer, the nights are stronger than moonshine! The free wind is blowing in our hair ... seasons flying, no despair ... alligator lizards in the airrrrrr.....

I date the hell out of myself, don't I?

There I was, on Autumn Equinox, ranting and raving about teacher stuff that I can't change ... and it's autumn, and the cool breeze is blowing, there's not a cloud in the sky, and the Spirits are already edging through the Veil.

Ground. Center. Breathe. Laugh!

Here in the Northern Hemisphere, we now begin the slide into cold and darkness. But it's not something to be dreaded. The slope is beautiful, all warm colors of red and gold, and at the very bottom the light returns. This is the season of gathering ... food into the larder, or your wits about you, or both. This is the season of communing with your ancestors and respecting the deities of your place. And it's perfectly all right with us here at The Gods Are Bored if your deities are from multiple pantheons, or even the modern sort of busy gods. The cold weather teaches us humility and encourages us to consider the Higher Powers that exist around and among us.

With that in mind, I, Anne Johnson, do hereby re-dedicate myself to elemental silliness. Witnessed this day by ceramic Halloween pumpkins and lawn gnomes, consecrated at the Shrine of the Mists.

Speaking of the Shrine of the Mists ... it's located under an ancient and venerable pear tree. My devotions are  becoming dodge-ball. Or dodge-pear, more like it.

Three weeks ago, I adopted a cat who is the same color as my floor. I got this picture from Google images... my cat is actually much handsomer than this one.

 He's settling in and seems to have wit enough not to mix it with Decibel the Parrot. As for dear Decibel, he's all healed up! I will devote a post to his treatment shortly, because it was heavily influenced by magick.

The Heir and The Spare are both in good spirits, and Extra Chair is putting America's students to shame with her menu of AP Chemistry and AP Statistics, American history, world government (!) and, of course, religion. Extra Chair has expressed bafflement over why it was so important for Jesus to suffer. I'm afraid I'm no more help with her classwork for religion than I am AP Chemistry.

And so the season changes, the portals open and the faeries slide on through. Greet Them respectfully. They aren't those little buzzy cute things from Disney. They are the messengers of the bored gods. This is Their season.

And mine too.

Sunday, September 22, 2013


There's an effort on to vilify public school teachers. Don't let anyone tell you anything else. This is part of a plan to privatize education so that people can make a profit off of it. Already, scores of people who never darken the doorstep of a classroom are making mountains of ducats at the expense of our nation's students. Who are these people? The creators and propagators of standardized testing and high-stakes evaluations.

I will get to standardized testing next week. I'll have plenty of time. My students are scheduled to take seven school days of standardized testing ... maybe eight ... maybe nine. Same thing again at the end of the year. That's three weeks of school that could be spent reading short stories, or writing poetry, or doing boring but essential grammar exercises. More about that later.

Today's sermon is about high-stakes evaluations. We teachers are being evaluated by more people, over longer periods of time, and with an evaluation tool that is a freak of nature. This tool was developed by some multi-millionaire shrewd lady former public educator who decided that every teacher breathing needs to have a tangible record of every single thing they do all day, every day. And this is especially true of the things teachers do that are "above and beyond" the 8-hour day.

In short, we need "artifacts." Artifacts are something in writing that you put in a binder that show you are making or exceeding the demands of the freak of nature evaluation tool.

Today I went to Snobville's annual used book sale. It's a big affair. In years past, I have cajoled my way to free books for my classroom. Today I paid, and it wasn't a cheap check, either. I spent $32 of my salary on young adult novels for my students. I also bought some classics for one valiant youngster who chooses to stick to the strong stuff.

When I paid for the books, I asked the people running the thing to write me a receipt. They gave me the flier from the sale, with confirmation of books purchased, and a private phone number of a volunteer who will, if called, confirm that a teacher purchased $32 worth of young adult and classic books.

This is my "artifact" of going above and beyond for my students this weekend. I will take the receipt to school, punch holes in it, and place it in a three-ring binder that is already filling with freak-of-nature artifacts.

I'm furious about this. Every year that I have been a teacher, I have gone to the Snobville book sale and either begged or bought books for my classroom. It's been a bunch of years, but some of you will recall that I made a shameless plea here at The Gods Are Bored for copies of The Great Gatsby. Do you know I received almost 30 copies from y'all? Thanks again!

The point here is that I choose to buy things for my classroom. I shouldn't be expected to do it, and expected to have proof of it. That turns something joyful into a fear-induced obligation.

All of this exploitative evaluation is aimed at weeding out older teachers, with larger salaries, who haul their tired but experienced rear ends into school every day and then go home exhausted every night. I am very new to the profession, but I'm not young. And let me just say that I spent three hours on a Saturday afternoon snoring in my bed because I was so tired out from a week of teaching! Dammit, that should be an artifact! Genuine, job-induced exhaustion!

I will end this sermon as I began it. The whole point of the far more exhaustive evaluations engendered by "school reform" is to demoralize public school teachers and pave the way for privatized education. Charter schools are the future. Me, I tend to think of charter schools as "The Minnow." Even though Gilligan and the Skipper were good sailors, their ship took ground on the shore of an uncharted desert isle. Oh, brave new world!

Thursday, September 19, 2013

We Walked on It, but They Looked at It Too

Welcome to "The Gods Are Bored," equinox 2013 ... down into darkness we go!

The full moon is over my left shoulder, bright in the sky, and to my home have come an amazing pantheon of bored gods so very, very ancient that their names and faces have been completely lost to time. This is a complex community of deities, some with human characteristics, some animistic, some ghostly, some ethereal. They've been bored so long you'd think they'd be comatose ... but no. Their pulses quicken.

Over the summer, archeologists in Scotland confirmed the discovery of a lunar calendar that could be 10,000 years old. The next nearest calendar is 5,000 or so, from the Fertile Crescent.

Other bloggers can seamlessly throw in the link. I'm challenged by that, so here it is:

According to the reports, the calendar was aligned with moon phases but also was calibrated to the winter solstice, so that the year could be calculated accurately. What remains of this calendar are pits in the ground.

So now everyone puffs up and says, "Well, this changes how we look at the Stone Age. This is pretty sophisticated. And 5,000 years older than the oldest ones we knew about already."

Well, folks, I am here to tell you that these ancient deities who are visiting me tonight, the ones squinting to see their moon through the light pollution of a North American megalopolis, are 10,000 times better than today's busy god. They are telling me that Their praise and worship team, of whom not a bone splinter remains, used that calendar to plant things in the ground for harvest later. Yes! Word! That's what They're telling me. They say that Their people sang hymns in beautiful tongues, lived in comfortable dwellings, respected the land, and ... yes, believe it or not, were smart.

Honestly, what do we think the ancient people did with their time? The Moon was up there, just like now. The Sun was up there, just like now. Their brain cases were just as big as ours, and they weren't challenged by turnpikes and Teflon poisoning. They figured it out. The Moon goes through phases, and the Sun changes position in the sky, and this is predictable and measurable, and it runs in a wheel. And oh, by the way ... there are Gods and Goddesses, and Nature Spirits, and Sacred Animals, and legends of heroes and ballads of love, and eye-popping paintings on the cliffs! And this is not Sumer, it's Scotland!

When I was a kid, sitting in world history class, I used to wonder what was happening in Scotland and England during the time when "civilization" was occurring in the Fertile Crescent. Prevailing wisdom declared that people in those colder climes were just basically hanging on for dear life, hunting and gathering willy-nilly and ever so much less efficiently than the fancy places in the Middle East. Why would we think that? If a person is smart enough to drop a few seeds on the ground and watch them grow in one part of the world, why wouldn't a similar person be just as smart elsewhere?

What kinds of conceits do we labor under? The venerable and ancient deities visiting me on this harvest moon night say that the world was a happier and better place for Their praise and worship team than for us. Everything we have in the way of art, music, and drama, they had too. And according to these deities, the same level of achievement held pretty steady all over the world. The evidence is lacking because, let's face it, 10,000 years is a lot of years. Given that much time, New York City will be a trackless desert. And the Great I-Am will be just another bored god, mourning and mooning over the passage of time.

Monday, September 16, 2013

New Souls

My daughter The Heir has what she calls "existential crises" when she starts thinking about the whole idea of mortality, our place in the universe, the fleeting nature of good health ... you know, all that heavy stuff. I must admit that these things bothered me more when I was younger than they do now, but it's impossible not to ponder the great intangibles.
What got me thinking about life and death was some things my cousin told me about my recently-departed uncle's last days. My uncle had a chaotic vision when he was near death. He was being harshly judged by some sort of tribunal, and the situation was terrifying. He returned from wherever that place was and reported this with no small amount of anxiety to his children.
There's no proof we have a soul, and there's no proof we don't. As for me, I say that we aren't using enough of our ape brains yet to be able to perceive the soul, except as a concept.
For the sake of argument, let's agree there is a soul in each person. Now, think about this. The population is exploding. Even if souls re-enter bodies pretty quickly, there are going to be more new people than there are souls. So some souls must be in a sort of infant state.
Sometimes you'll hear of someone who is described as an "old soul." To me this means that the person's soul has done the "mortal vale" thing a bunch of times and is getting better at handling the mess. New souls, on the other hand, would (to my way of thinking) be kind of juvenile and self-absorbed, even in adulthood. Do you know people like that? I do. And how long do you think it takes -- how many soul-rides through life -- before souls get their groove thing going? I feel like I'm kind of midway, like Dante as he blunders into Hell. Lots more to learn, but not just off the boat either.
Then there's the whole end-of-life visionary thing. My father and my husband's grandmother, nearing death, both saw diminutive people with red hair, standing in the doorway, beckoning. Call them faeries, call them angels, call them what you will -- I think these are portal beings, working the space between death and life. To my dad, the little Peter Pan he saw was amusing and intriguing. Husband's gran told the little girl she saw that she wasn't ready just yet.
If our species survives its own tendency to lash out at itself, we will some day understand all these mysteries. In the meantime, thinking about it too much makes me a tad anxious. Time to light some candles to the bored gods and hope that my uncle was a new soul who will get some seasoning, some day, in a good way. That tribunal sounded like Hell to me.

Thursday, September 12, 2013

When Sherman Marched

It seems that the American people have no more stomach for intervention in Syria's civil war than the Germans had for intervention in 1865 when General Sherman marched from Atlanta to the sea.
Sherman, if you'll recall, cut a 40-mile path of devastation in which he left nothing standing except the burnt-out shells of some plantations. While I'm not sure that children writhed in agony and died on cold hospital floors, I'm quite certain that women and children -- civilians all -- suffered terribly from Sherman's actions, probably mostly from the (?) less ruthless (?) tactics of starvation and disease. General Sherman put his feelings on the matter out there for the world to see in a letter to the citizens of Atlanta that included the infamous phase, "War is hell." Then he proved it by burning and sacking Atlanta.
Where was Germany during this conflict? Well, it was a pretty big empire. Where was British sentiment about the suffering and death in Dixie? The sun never set on the British empire in those times, but England did nothing to alleviate the dire situation in Georgia.
But, ah. We are America. We are, to quote our most recent Fearless Leader, "the anchor of global security."
The anchor of global security? Really? I think it depends on who you ask. Someone in Kansas might feel that way. Someone in Afghanistan might have a different opinion. (Just to be on the safe side, I wouldn't poll a single African nation on the whole "anchor of global security" thing, even though our president has African ancestry.)
We are the anchor of global security. How very ... Roman.
Far from being the anchor of global security that we might have been in, say, 1944, I would say America is the bully of the globe right now. Mark my words: I'm on the left, and I do sincerely abhor the images of children writhing in agony and dying on cold hospital floors. But when do we holler "uncle" in the Middle East? (I guess when those fracking wells are cranked up and spitting out natural gas and poisoning our water supply, that's when.)
I am bitterly insulted by the man I voted for, who feels he can challenge my commitment to suffering children. I'd like to tell him about suffering children. My students don't writhe in agony on cold hospital floors, but they subsist on diets of potato chips and Pepsi, get mowed down in drive-by shootings, and watch their siblings die from improper or inadequate medical care. America: the anchor of social indifference.
This man who is running our country is not the person I thought I was voting for. Fit him for a Darth Vader mask. He's gone to the dark side. And all the worse, because we soft-hearted lefties thought he would actually care about the inequities in our own nation.
War is hell. Our nation should stop engaging in it. We can't save every baby in some other country while cutting food aid to the ones who live here.
Why don't we let Norway handle this Syria thing? It's their turn.

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Sunday, September 08, 2013

Eulogy for My Favorite Uncle

My uncle Foggy died yesterday. He was not born with the name Foggy, but after a bully called him that one day in his youth, he and my dad and his friends liked it so much that it stuck. Even my grandfather called him "Fog."

He was the product of a teenage indiscretion that led to a hasty marriage ... the marriage lasted almost 60 years. He grew up in Appalachia and was part of what I call the Appalachian diaspora. At about age 20 he married and moved to Cleveland, Ohio. There he raised a family and worked a series of white collar jobs until he was the age I am now. Then he got laid off for the last time. He moved back to the mountains, moved in with my grandparents at the family farm, and helped out as they got older.

In an era not known for six-footers, Foggy was 6'4". He towered over everyone in the family. Maybe that's why the nickname stuck, because we always teased him about what the weather was like up there. When I was a little kid, he would lift me up on his shoulders, and it would be like riding a giraffe.

Foggy and I had tons of fun together. He was my favorite uncle, and the one I spent the most time with as a kid and young adult. Because he was living at the family farm, I saw him frequently. He was always a talkative person, and as he spent more and more time alone after my grandparents died, he became extremely long-winded when I would visit. Still, I loved him. He was quick to laugh and had a keen wit. He loved satire and had no problem poking fun at Appalachia. He was a good cook.

When Foggy left the workforce, he did some pretty rigorous hiking with my cousin. Stuff that I sure would be hesitant to do at this point in my life. He backpacked the Appalachian Trail and hiked along the shoreline of Lake Superior. He traveled across the country numerous times, by car and rail and plane. In this picture he is already well into his 50s, maybe flirting with 60, and he sure didn't get to that spot by some tourist tram.

Most of all, he was self-taught. He attended less than a semester of college, but he was very well-read. Okay, so he specialized in the Civil War and read all those Louis Lamour Westerns, and all that James Michener stuff, but he always had a book in his hands.

I have an old journal here in which I recorded some of our adventures at the family farm when I was in my late teens. We had some rip-roaring good ol' times, especially when we were lubricated with vodka gimlets.

After my grandparents died, my dad and his brother got all of us nieces and nephews to agree to let Foggy live out his life at the family farm, rent free. There was never anything put into writing. It was what I thought of as a blood obligation. Foggy's work history was spotty, and he took his Social Security early, so he had a very limited income much of the time. Even so, he kept up the house and the property. He mowed more grass than my grandfather ever did, and between him and my cousin, the place actually improved instead of rotting, which is what many other similar properties have done.

It was such a fabulous feeling to be able to go to the family farm, see it so neat and well-maintained, hike its woods and fields, and have a cocktail and chat the night away (or, actually, listen the night away) with Uncle Foggy.

There were plenty of kinfolk up in those hills who would have welcomed his company, but for some reason, voluble Foggy didn't socialize much outside his immediate family. In his loneliness he listened to talk radio, and that habit led him to Rush Limbaugh. He fell under Rush's spell, and that became a game-changer in our relationship. I found that it wasn't as much fun visiting the mountains if I had to hear about welfare deadbeats and feminazis. The "Rush-talk" about the social safety net was particularly galling, because if not for that Social Security and our good will agreement regarding the farm (and his own children's generosity), he would have needed far more social support than he got.

Old age closed in on Foggy, and once again he was lucky. I have an able-bodied male cousin who was able to care for Foggy at the family farm, thus lengthening the years that our family held onto the farm. It was only two years ago that the situation became untenable, and wowsa, my sister and cousins closed in to put the farm up for sale and grab the ducats post-haste. I didn't have enough money to buy the place, since some local fellow had been eyeballing it for years and was willing to shell out our asking price, in cash.

The last time I saw Foggy was in November 2011, just a few months before the closing on the farm. In farewell I gave him a huge hug and tried to hide my tears, because I knew it was the last time I would see him in the apparent world. By that time he had drifted into deafness and away from Rush, so he was more like a benign elder version of the rip-roarer he'd been at 60.

Foggy was a very talented cartoonist, and if any of us had known how to get into that business, he might have made something of it. I've shared one of his best pieces here before, but my sister had one that she put up on Facebook that I'd forgotten about. I wrote the poem, and he did the drawing. The artwork is a nod to both me and my sister, since she likes Canadian geese and has a favorite yellow sweater. I can date it to 1981 or thereabouts, so it's pre-Rush, and very un-Rush, in its sentiments.

The poem reads:
We Johnsons are a merry clan
Who seem to lack a Master Plan.
Ambition's made of sterner stuff,
Although folks find us smart enough.
A day of rest's a day well spent.
Just getting by makes us content.

May the Gentry of Sidhe welcome his spirit. May he have found the Summerlands. May he play forever as a happy child, with my father and the faeries of Pan. Now my ancestors have all departed, and I am the elder. It's daunting.

But there's some rip-roar left in this gal, yep.

Floyd H. "Foggy" Johnson, 1926-2013.

Friday, September 06, 2013

I Love a Parade!

What is with me? I love parades. Do you?

I'll take a parade either way. I'll watch it, or I'll march (or strut) in it. Both are amazing.

Next weekend, Heir, Extra Chair and I will go to see the Miss America parade. It's been a long time since the last Miss America Parade in Atlantic City. I'm totally stoked to see one!

I've never had a problem with beauty pageants. I don't think they are demeaning. A pretty woman who is proud of her body ought to have the right to display it for people to appreciate. No one is using coercion here. The contestants look like they're having fun. And they are pretty.

Back to the Miss America parade. It's traditional, as the various state winners pass in their convertibles, to shout, "Show us your shoes!" And most of the contestants have really fancy, campy shoes that somehow artistically represent what's best about their state. For example, a Miss Florida might have shoes that look like orange trees. Other contestants just have the most over-the-top footwear you can imagine. Now, don't think I was born yesterday. I know the idea is to show off legs. Again, who has a problem with that? If a gal is proud of her legs, she should flex 'em!

If I remember correctly, the Miss America parade also has some good bands and drum corps in it too. It's on Atlantic City's boardwalk ... I got western-side seating so we'll see waves crashing on the beach in between the action. Oh, I wish you could join me! Fun, fun, fun!

But it only gets better.

Thursday night we had a very important meeting of the Two Street Stompers, my Philadelphia mummers comic club. In addition to finding a home for multiple cans of Coors Light and announcing the theme for this year, we learned that we will be marching in a Halloween parade! I. Am. So. Pumped! I literally jumped up and down when they announced it.

Not only do I get to wear this peerless suit again, in all its golden glory, I will be participating in the deepest tradition of mumming -- you see, it's done at the New Year. Except to the Celts, the New Year was November 1! So being a mummer in a Halloween parade is reviving an extremely ancient and holy tradition!

I won't lie. I'm a school teacher in a severely depressed urban area. It's a stressful job. Not because of the kids. Because of the ridiculous oversight by state flunkies with agendas. But when I get an opportunity to watch a great parade in September and then strut in one in October, well ... stress? What stress?

Come and join "The Gods Are Bored" at the Miss America parade 2013! Section W73-W75. Be there by 4:00.

Come and see the Two Street Stompers at the Medford, NJ Halloween parade! Gonna have a funky good time! Sorry, no Coors Light will be served. It's a family event.

Ready, set, strut!

Tuesday, September 03, 2013

A Little Up-Catching

Well, howdy! I'm just back from the first day of school, all teacher meetings. Rather than wallow in fury at the bone-headed "school reform" being foisted on our nation's students by numbskulls in consulting firms, I think I'll catch you up on some fun stuff here at "The Gods Are Bored!"

1. The gorgeous red cat has moved in and is now in the basement. He is terrifically affectionate. He's rather nonplussed by the parrot, whose screams could be construed to be a human falling off a cliff. Understandable.

2. A while back I started writing little columns for an ezine called Pagan Pages. On that site I am known as The Neon Pagan. Here's a link to my latest peerless prose:

I will be writing for Pagan Pages each month.

3. Extra Chair, my Chinese exchange student, has arrived for another year of school. She's suffering through Big Spider Season. Apparently there are fewer, and much smaller, spiders in China.

4. We at "The Gods Are Bored" have a little Facebook page, nothing fancy, but we'd love it if you joined us there. Here's the link to that:

5. This is Post 1986 for "The Gods Are Bored." Closing in on 2,000 entries! Also closing in on 200 followers! Invite your friends and family, or worst enemies, or strangers on the street, to follow "The Gods Are Bored!"

6. Autumn is my favorite season. How about you?

Thank you for reading. May the bored gods bless you and keep you and answer your prayers.


Sunday, September 01, 2013

In Which I Undermine Every Principle

I've spent a good deal of time around shelter cats, and I've always worked under a strong, guiding principle when it comes to homeless felines. You could say I upheld a Cat Commandment:

Thou shall not adopt a cat that anyone else would want.

This guiding principle led me to Alpha, a cat who had been living in a cage for two years. She was homely and skinny, but she was so grateful to be let out of that cage that she was a magnificent companion for 13 years. May she have found the Summerlands.
This guiding principle led me to give a home to Beta, a cat who was tamed by The Spare after birthing a litter of kittens in our back yard. I took the kittens to the no-kill (have you paid those surrender fees?) and kept Beta, because she didn't have a knockout personality and was one of the plainest cats I'd ever seen in my life.

I fostered over 70 kittens over a course of six or seven years. I never adopted a single one.

Therefore, you would think I could volunteer at Petco and not throw all good cat sense to the wind in a matter of two weeks.

I caved. I totally caved. The only thing I can say about my seducer is that he's not a kitten.

He's a giant orange longhair with a magnificent plume for a tail, huge and expressive yellow eyes, and a "yes, I'll flop and be petted" attitude about life. In short, the kind of cat that spends a week or less in the shelter, which he has been there a week, because I was there when he came in.

Beta is 11 years old and a cancer survivor. I swore I would not get another cat as long as Beta was alive. Who needs more than one cat? Besides, Beta doesn't play well with others.

But never mind! I have lived long, I have labored in the cat trenches, and by golly, this time I'm going for the good-looking Tybalt of strays who would turn the eye of anyone who ever expressed even a minimal interest in felines! Give me that handsome cat! It's my turn to have the gorgeous one!

And so, having abandoned all of my vows regarding homeless cats, I will be bringing home, on Labor Day, a stupendously handsome cat. His name is Blue.

Freya, you who so love the feline species, please help Beta to adjust to having a new cat in the house. Blue is twice her size, but today he winced when a kitten sniffed him.

Cat Commandment broken. I suppose I will some day go to a Hades where there are only dogs.