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 []. 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 []. 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.