Wednesday, January 29, 2014

One Damn Sturdy Tomcat

Welcome to "The Gods Are Bored," where we lasted six days between hair-washes and only shampooed this morning because the supervisor was scheduled to come in for a pre-observation conference. Did I feel like washing my hair when it was six degrees outside, with two inches of new snow? Hell no!

But this sermon isn't about hair. It's about a tomcat that I asked Freya to look out for. She has been right on it!

This tomcat has been hanging around my neighborhood for at least two years. He's just a generic tabby, with that chunky tomcat face. Except that somehow the skin got pulled clean off the right side of his face, so now he's decidedly less chunky in the mug. It's a wicked bad injury, and I got some antibiotics from the cat lady at the PETCO, but this frisky tom wouldn't eat the food laced with the medicine.

Right there's a tip-off that Freya's got Her hands on this cat. If he's really and truly homeless and unloved, he would eat cat food with red pepper flakes on it.

Sweet Goddess. The tom pulls her chariot, I'm sure!

Anyway, to make a long sermon longer, yesterday the tom was having a trash talk extravaganza chummy chat with my trophy feline through the barrier of the basement window. This drives the trophy cat crazy, because it's boring in the house.

We've had the coldest winter in recent memory here, and snow was again in the forecast. So I put out a can of food for the tom, without the medicine. He ate it, but not like a starving cat eats ... more like a pampered pet nibbles daintily. Then he went away.

Awhile back I put a little shelter together for this interloper, out on my front porch. Other than the fact that it smells like tomcat, I had no evidence he was crawling in there to keep warm. (The neighbor feline, Mestopheles, was spied napping in it during the day.) But this morning, when I went out in the pre-dawn, six-degree cold to go to work, I saw a set of footprints in the new snow. They began near the shelter and proceeded down the porch stairs, down the sidewalk, and off into the distance. It seems the tom is indeed camping in his lean-to. At least occasionally.

Through all of our bitter cold, this intrepid puss has rocked on, with half his face pulled off. I can't tell you how many nights I've gone to sleep listening to the roar of the wind and imagining the critter slipping into mortal hypothermia. Oh, me of little faith! I petitioned Freya for her help, and She is caring for this cat.

On Freya's day next, I will have a dual-purpose party. Extra Chair, not surprisingly, wants a bit of the old home culture for Chinese New Year. So we'll eat hot pot, but I'm going to decorate everything in red and then set off some sparklers. This will honor Freya on Her day and perhaps bring a little holiday cheer to poor Chair, who had two weeks off for a meaningless holiday last month and now must work through her country's biggest fun time.

Hail Freya, the great not-so-bored Goddess!

Sunday, January 26, 2014

Frank Talk about Clean Hair

Welcome to "The Gods Are Bored," free content, always and forever, which is a great value for you! And now we're going to save you more money yet! Stick with "The Gods Are Bored." We make a dollar holler.

Last night I was browsing through Facebook, and I saw a post from a friend in West Virginia who has been without usable tap water since the chemical spill. She wrote about going to the grocery store and seeing all the local people with scarves over their hair, or caps hiding the locks they can't wash. It's been two weeks or more since that spill, and I don't blame anyone for not wanting to wash their hair with Charleston's water.

But it is saddening to think that people are embarrassed about their dirty hair.

Before I go one step further with this, I want to add that people in any region of the country would feel this way under similar circumstances, so this in no way impugns the character of West Virginians.

How often do you wash your hair? What products do you use? Do you buy conditioner? Moisturizing shampoo? Ever asked yourself if you really need all that stuff?

I reveal my geezerhood here when I tell you that, when I was a kid, no one I knew washed hair more than once a week. Women who could afford a visit to the beauty parlor got a wash and a set on Saturday, in time for looking good at church the next day. After that, women slept and showered in hair nets to protect the set of their hair until the week was out.

Something happened in the late 1960s. From a source unknown, people began to believe that they needed to wash their hair almost every day. The market became flooded with daily shampoos and conditioners. All of a sudden, you could find products for oily hair, dry hair, straight hair, curly hair, and colored hair. Where before you had basic regular or dandruff shampoo and cream rinse.

This coincided with changes in hair style. It became vogue to blow-dry your hair after that daily shampoo. The styles began to require blow-drying. Which meant more washing. And more conditioning. Which meant more buying of specialty shampoo. Conditioner. Mousse.

News flash: Somewhere, a handful of entrepreneurs have become billionaires selling us on the idea that we need to wash our hair frequently. It just isn't true. In the absence of cooties, no one needs a daily hair-washing, or even two times a week.

I have a specialty haircut that looks best when it's washed and gelled. But a combination of laziness and the sneaking suspicion that all that hair-washing is actually bad for my hair often leads me to go days and days without a hair wash. I'm writing this on a Sunday, and I last washed my hair on Thursday. I'll probably go at least two more days before I wash it again. That's almost a week.

As if this admission won't lose me two of my three readers, I confess even further. I don't shower every day. I don't use deodorant. Basically, the only part of me that gets daily cleaning is my pearly whites. The rest? Situational. I heed the need, not the norm.

So, Anne ... what's it like to go a week without washing your hair?

Admittedly, the roots start to tingle a little, and it does get a bit oily. But a headband is a terrific concealer. No one has ever sniffed disdainfully at my tresses. Ever noticed? Dirty hair doesn't smell bad. It just looks greasy (sometimes) or frumpy (Anne).

I find it terribly sad that people would cut their hair or be embarrassed about it if unsanitary water conditions did not allow them to wash it in a couple of weeks. This represents not a reasonable reaction to uncleanliness but a triumph for the hair care industry.

In solidarity with the citizens of Charleston, WV, I, Anne Johnson, will only wash my hair once a week for the next three weeks at least. When I get to Day One, I'll start posting photos.

If you wish to avoid me due to my dirty locks, I live in New Jersey.

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Visit West Virginia: Harper's Ferry

Welcome to "The Gods Are Bored," offering free advice, and I pay you to take it! Send me an invoice after you visit Harper's Ferry, West Virginia.

There's not a single image on Google that begins to capture the beauty and majesty of Harper's Ferry. I've been around a little bit (not much, I must admit), and I have never seen a place more magnificent. Three states and two mighty rivers converge there, amidst roiling white water and sheer cliffs, with a quaint hysterical little town on the West Virginia side and pretty much rugged hiking/climbing on the others. I chose this modest photo as a teaser.


My sister, who never left home, taunts me regularly with photos from one or the other clifftops of Harper's Ferry, usually accompanied by commentary on the local, abundant vulture population. Her husband popped the question on one of those cliffs. He knew what he was doing: No one could take in that vista and say no to anything.

My first job was in Harper's Ferry. I worked for the Park Service, as a visitors' guide in the general store exhibit. And here is that very store, by golly! But you can't smell it, which was the best part. We kept seasonal produce there, and a barrel of biscuits, and sides of cured ham, and coffee beans.

 My employment was part of a federal initiative called the Youth Conservation Corps, which was axed with great glee by Ronald Reagan a few years later.

Oh, happy summer so long ago, spent in blissful contemplation of the most stunning mountain scenery east of the Mississippi River! There is just. Literally. No describing this place. I'm not even going to try.

Harper's Ferry is about 50 miles west of Washington, DC. These days you park your car in a big lot outside the town and take a bus into the hysterical part. At first I was appalled to hear this, but when you visit and see how wonderful the town is without all the traffic congestion, it makes abundant sense. And of course, that's the easy, touristy way. You more rugged types can park at various places below the cliffs and hike your way around. Honestly, the climbs are steep as hell but not very time-consuming. When you get to the top, you are literally in the realm of the Sacred Thunderbird. You can look down upon them as they ride the thermals and bathe from the rocks in the rivers.

As for the rivers, they are, in no particular order, the Shenandoah and the Potomac.

I know my three readers, and you are all far away from Washington, DC. But if you ever do find yourself in that area, know this: Just 50 miles away is one of Gaia's utmost wonders. Go there. Remember the John Denver song, "Almost Heaven?" Ditch the "almost."

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Play Misty for Christie

Welcome to "The Gods Are Bored," coming to you from New Jersey, the Smokestack State! If you ever watched "Jersey Shore" and saw those morons on there, you will understand how this state got saddled with the sorry nasty head case known as Governor Chris Christie.

You would have to be living in a cave to have missed Governor Christie's recent scandal, in which his closest advisers went entirely behind his back and, without any knowledge on his part, altered the traffic patterns on our nation's busiest bridge, the George Washington Bridge from Jersey to Manhattan. Poor Governor Christie! Imagine being double-crossed by the people you trust the most!

Well, if you believe his story, then talk to me. I'll sell you the George Washington Bridge, and you can manage the traffic. Good luck with that, by the way.

You know what, though? I'm going to give Governor Christie the benefit of the doubt on this. Maybe he is just a really poor leader who pays virtually no attention to what his staff members are doing, even when it makes headlines. It could be as simple as that. But what I read in the Sunday New York Times  about him did give me pause.

According to the Sunday Times, this recent scandal has forced Mr. Christie to change his schedule somewhat. He was supposed to take a tour of Europe to improve his grasp of foreign policy. And then he had planned to do major fundraising for the election of other Republican governors. Both of these duties baffle me. What could they possibly have to do with running the state where I live? How could a tour of Europe make the lives of my Camden students better? Are the Swiss going to set up chocolate shops on Haddon Avenue?

It sounds like, if this scandal hadn't happened, I would be paying a salary to a guy who would be spending more time off the job than on it.

It's no surprise that Mr. Christie wants to be president, even though he's been too coy to say so. But just now he's supposed to be running the government of New Jersey, and he is supposed to do so with competent staff, and he's supposed to be polite to constituents. He's not, and he's not, and he's not.

Yes, the left wing media is overdoing its skewering of Chris Christie. But take it from one of the citizens of his state: After a thorough evaluation using the Danielson Model, I find him ineffective as a public servant.

Stop Chris Christie right here at the gates of New Jersey! Don't let him bring his bully tactics and abrasive personality onto a wider platform. The man is not fit to govern. If he thinks the first duties of the governor should be a whirlwind tour of Europe, he's clearly out of touch with his voters.

Hey! I'm here, serving a life sentence in New Jersey. Send me some orange cones, and I'll be glad to block the lanes that would lead Chris Christie onto the highway to Washington, DC. I would consider this the first act of a patriot. The man is a menace.

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Saving West Virginia

Welcome to "The Gods Are Bored!" Do you have bumper stickers on your car? I have one on the rear bumper. It says "I (heart) Mountains." I bought it in West Virginia.

There's been a great deal written about West Virginia in the past week, some of it by Pagans who see the Mountain State as a microcosm for our rape of Gaia. Well, they are dead-on correct about that. And it's nice to see the collection plate going around to buy water and supplies for the thousands of people affected by the recent chemical spill. But sending packs of bottled water to residents of the Elk and Kanawha watersheds is akin to doling out broth to starving kids in Africa. Until the root reasons for environmental disaster are addressed and remedied, West Virginia is a region where calamities can happen and will happen.

Why would anyone want to live in West Virginia? It's a mess, isn't it?

I can answer both questions.

As an expatriate Appalachian, I can tell you exactly why people want to live in West Virginia. It is beautiful. If you can step out on your back porch and lose your breath in awe of the vista beyond your house, you live in West Virginia. Many of the people who live there have ancestry going back centuries. I could wax poetic, as some bloggers have, about the ecosystem, and the sense of place, and the grounding in tradition, and all of that. I'm not a poet. I tell it like it is. West Virginia is beautiful. If you live there, you don't want to leave ... especially for some big city in some flat tidewater state.

But West Virginia is a mess, isn't it?

West Virginia has been ruled by big monied interests since the first tunnel was dug into the first mountain in the pursuit of coal. The politicians are on the payroll of Big Coal, and they have been since that first tunnel was dug. The current crop of Democrats are only Democrats because Lincoln won the war ... they act like Republicans and are often the serious movers and shakers behind efforts to squelch the EPA. How do they get by with such antics? By persuading their constituents that the EPA will raise the jobless rate, and environmental activists are by and large replants from other areas of the country. (That is certainly not true in either case, I'm just giving you the politicians' talking points.)

Today's Sunday New York Times reports that only 4 percent of West Virginians are employed in the coal industry. Seem low to you? Be advised that you need far fewer workers to rip the tops off mountains with bulldozers than you do to go deep into the underground and blast the coal out. Nor is there a great need for a vast workforce to sink natural gas wells. The extraction of coal for our nation's energy needs is more and more done efficiently with machinery and a few people who know how to work it.

Fracking is also coming to West Virginia, big time. Once again, people who love the mountains will be convinced that they will have good jobs that will keep them in the mountains if they extract natural gas, and never mind how safe or unsafe it is, who cares?

So, Anne. Do you have any free advice on how to save West Virginia?

I sure do. Go there.

The whole state doesn't look like the picture above. Most of it is gorgeous. Do you love Gaia? Do you love the outdoors, the majesty of the land, the joy of exerting yourself on a hike, on a bike ride, on a raft? Would you love to spend an afternoon having a spa treatment at a mineral spring? Do you live in that great megalopolis on the East Coast, or in the Rust Belt? Take your tourist dollars and spend them in West Virginia. Heck, if the one-percenters can do it at The Greenbriar (to which I could not successfully link you *conspiracy*), you can do it at Spruce Knob.

Most of the Appalachian mountain states have vibrant tourism industries, but West Virginia lags behind, possibly due to the ridiculous and insulting notion that the entire state is an environmental wasteland peopled by violent, inbred, three-eyed hillbillies. What utter nonsense! By the same line of reasoning, New Jersey is nothing but gun-toting mafia dons plotting murder over plates of linguine.

Visit West Virginia, reader. Make your vacation plans. You'll find that, if you avoid the above-mentioned one percenter hideaway, you'll make a dollar holler. My personal favorite part of West Virginia is Berkeley Springs, pictured at the top of this post, and the adjacent Cacapon Mountains. If you're more of the rugged type, try hiking in the Alleghenies.

Pagans, if you want to help the Earth, West Virginia should be a pilgrimage destination. Every dollar you tip a waitress, every campground you reserve for a Ritual, every piece of original artwork or crafting you bring home, will help the state far more than a package of plastic water bottles, shipped and forgotten when the next disaster hits elsewhere.

But Anne ... I live thousands of miles from West Virginia. What can I do?

Turn down your heat, turn off the lights when you leave the room, power off your electronics when you aren't using them, live close to your workplace, take mass transit, use the laundromat, eat local and seasonal produce, have a small family. Notice I don't say write to your Congressman. That is whistling in the wind. I visited a coal-burning power plant this past summer, and I heard it right from the foreman's mouth. The plant burns less coal when there's less use of consumer electricity. Vote with your thermostat.

I moved away from the mountains when I was 18. I have lived in big cities or their suburbs ever since. But the lion's share of my tourist money has gone back to Appalachia. I will move home some day, either as a live person or in an urn. Either way, the mountains are my final destination. Fourteen generations of my ancestors are waiting for me there.

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Hitting the Wall with Floppy

Welcome to "The Gods Are Bored!" A few minutes ago, I hit the wall. That means, I reached a point past exhaustion where nothing much makes sense, and therefore everything is funny. At this point it's either laugh or cry ... tears roll in either case.

It's a good time to visit with my friend Floppy, who came here to live one day when I was low-down and blue. Floppy is an Egyptian vulture. Quite a snappy friend, don't you think? Anyway, I think Floppy has some news for me, so let's find out:

Anne: Floppy! You look excited!

Floppy: Oh, you betcha, Anne! You're going to love this too! I've been named to the Committee for Ranking Appalling Putridity!

Anne: Seriously? You made CRAP? Congratulations! But please re-acquaint me with the aims of this worthy association.

Floppy: Well, we smell things and rank them according to their foulness. The aim is to get everything stinky into one long line of stinkiness, leading up to the worst stench on the planet.

Anne: I can't imagine many creatures who would know more about rancid odors than a vulture. Still, you must have beaten out a lot of vultures for this honor, Floppy.

Floppy: Can't really answer that, Anne. The balloting is highly secretive.

Anne: I'll bet they're all about secretions on that committee ... *hitting the wall laughter* So, Floppy. Tell me a little bit more about CRAP. And I mean a little bit, because I don't have a strong stomach.

Floppy: Well, you've got your basic stink bugs, your skunks, your hagfish, that tomcat in your back yard ... gee, I wonder if he helped me get the nod!

Anne: No doubt. So your committee sits around and sniffs stuff and then votes on what smells the worst.

Floppy: Correct.

Anne: I hope these aren't home-based meetings.

Floppy: No, CRAP is scheduled to meet next week in Trenton. Right up the road!

Anne: Just so I know for sure ... it is literal and actual stink you're measuring, not metaphorical or figurative stink, right?

Floppy: I think it's literal stink. Otherwise, why would they appoint a vulture?

Anne: Well, Floppy, it's like this. In the world of metaphorical stink, vultures get appointed all the time. Trenton is lousy with metaphorical vultures. If I were you, I would take a quantity of stink bugs as security. And fly there. Don't commute.

Floppy: Oh, I intend to fly. These roads in New Jersey ... you just can't trust them to get you places on time.

Monday, January 13, 2014

Welcome to "The Gods Are Bored," winning a wide readership one meme at a time! My name is Anne Johnson. Really. I couldn't make that up. I'd have left off the "e" or added a "t." Something stupid like that.

This lovely honor was passed on to me from Yellow Dog Granny, who loads her page with so many laughs that your floor better be nicely padded. You're going to do some serious rolling, don't want to snap any bones.

I'm supposed to choose other blogs to bestow the honor upon. I'm thinking about that. I'm sure I'll have a long list in a day or two. But in the meantime, if you're just showing up here for the party ... well ...

 We at "The Gods Are Bored" feel that laughter is not only the best medicine, it's sometimes the best religion. Let's face it. The time of life is short. It seems longer if you're serious all the time. So blaze a bright path through the unknown universe, with a tra la la!

Many a good religion is built around the philosophy that it is holy to be miserable. Now, see, I'm a conspiracy theorist. I think these sorts of religions are created by The Man to keep poor people satisfied with their lot. Rage against the misery! The bored gods don't want you to be the richest person in town, but They do want you to be the happiest person in town. But be careful out there. If your happiness causes suffering to others, the bored gods will take due note and deal with you harshly. Be good and kind. Laugh abundantly. If you don't have anything to laugh about, read the comments under any Yahoo! news story. You'll be laughing in no time.

"The Gods Are Bored" has been around since 2005 and has dumped more than 2,000 posts into the World Wide Web. The vast, vast majority of these posts are both nonsensical and prose-based. I like to write because in 1973 my mother made me take a typing class in summer school. Once my fingers learned to skate across the keyboard, there was no stopping me. (Sometimes I wish Mom had forced me to take auto repair in summer school. Think of all the oil changes I could have done since then! I would probably still be driving my grandfather's Oldsmobile!)

Here's a quick cast of characters who serve as fodder regularly feature in the action on "The Gods Are Bored":

*The Heir and The Spare (my daughters, thus nicknamed because that's what the press has called Prince William and Prince Harry)
*Beta and Gamma, my cats (Alpha has gone with the faeries.)
*Decibel the parrot, the only bird in America with his own personal poppet
*Puck and Princess, faeries
*Sacred Thunderbird, aka Vulture, my totem
*Morons ... They rotate.
*Bored deities who drop by for tea and chat

The setting for most of this mayhem is my current abode in Snobville, New Jersey. Except, of course, if there are mushrooms about ... and then the setting is Alternate Universe. I'll let you know.

Some days around here, it's blog or go nuts. So I blog. Welcome to the show.

Friday, January 10, 2014

Conversation Overheard in the Back Yard

Did you know that many bored deities can speak Cat? One very venerable ancient Goddess from what is now the forested regions of Transylvania left me this little dramatic conversation She overheard the other night. She even knew the names of the cats in question: Gus, the wounded tom cat; Mestopheles, the jet-black snob who lives down the street; Beta (my itty bitty tabby); and Gamma, my indoor "trophy feline."

Here's the report:

Scene: Anne's tiny back yard in Snobville and the surrounding, equally tiny yards.

Time: 7:30 p.m., Wednesday, January 8. Temperature: 25 degrees Fahrenheit. Winds out of the north.

Mestopheles: Gus! How they hanging?

Gus: They're here, that's all that matters. But this wound on my neck hurts like a sonofabitch.

Mestopheles: Listen. Steer clear of the free food out front of the house. It's a trap. I went for it and got caught in a box. It took three humans to get me out! And Beta was laughing at me the whole time.

Gus: Ha ha ha ha ha ha! You idiot, that's a Have-a-Heart trap! If I walk into that thing, it's bye-bye ballsI would never get fooled by that.

(Great sounds of commotion in the back yard. Human calls "Kitty kitty kitty! Here, Gamma!"

Mestopheles: Snap, Gus! Look! That pampered, indoor pretty boy has escaped! Look at him run! 

Gus: Life of Riley, that one. Warm roof over his head, all the vittles he can eat...

Mestopheles: Yeah, but look. He's inside all the time. And neutered. And right now, he's outside. At our mercy. Let's corner him and kick his butt.

Gus: Not sure I'm up to much butt-kicking. But it's too good of an opportunity to pass up.

Gus and Mestopheles melt into the darkness to watch two hysterical humans trying to catch Gamma, who is running scared, but still running. Finally the humans give up and go in the house. As they go inside, they let Beta out.

Beta: Hey, you guys seen the orange slacker?

Gus: He's hiding behind the discarded windowpanes beside your neighbor's shed.

Beta: Scare the shit out of him, willya? This back yard is mine. I don't want him jackin' my style.

Mestopheles: When we're finished with him, he'll hide in the dark corner of your basement for a week! C'mon, Gus, let's go put some Chris Christie on that pretty boy!

Gus and Mestopheles surround Gamma, pinning him behind the panes of glass. Beta watches, satisfied, from the back porch. Ten minutes pass. Beta asks to be let back inside. Her wish is granted. Another ten minutes pass, and out the back door comes a human, in a warm winter coat, with a flashlight from a smart phone. The human begins calling for Gamma (who doesn't really know his name).

Mestopheles: rrrrrrrrRRRRRRRRrrrrrrrrr.......

Gus: rrrrrrrrRRRRRRRRrrrrreeeeeowwwwwrRRRRRRrrrr

Gamma: rrrrrrrrr...... rrrrr ...rrrrr..r......rrrrr

Human: Gamma? Gamma? Where are you? Here, Gamma!

Mestopheles: rrrrrRRRRRRRRRrrrrrrrRRRRRRRrrrr...

Gus: rrrrrrrRRRRRRRRRrrrrrreeeeowwwwwwRRRRRRRRRRRRR! Oh, damn, Mestopheles, the human is finding the pretty boy by listening to us!

Mestopheles: Yeah. Oh shit. Here she is.

Human (to Mestopheles): Thanks for helping me find him, but get outta here!

Mestopheles: Call it off, Gus. The human has located her boy toy!

Gus: Don't bad mouth that human too much, Mes. She made me up a swell lean-to.

Mestopheles: Which is more than you deserve, marking every square inch of her yard.

Gus: I'm a tom. It's how we roll.

Mestopheles and Gus peel off, watching in amusement as the human tries to pry her house cat out from behind jagged panes of glass, finally chasing him back into his own yard, then enticing him with the one thing he has learned ... the sound of a spoon clicking on a cat can, and the sound of the can being opened. He inches just into the human's reach, and she grabs him by the scruff of the neck and hauls him back indoors.

Mestopheles and Gus roar with laughter.

Mestopheles: Well now, that's about the most pathetic thing I've seen in a month of Sundays.

Gus: Yep. For all this wound ... and it's a doozy, might be the end of me ... I wouldn't give up my freedom to come and go where I please, when I please, horny all the time.

Mestopheles: I've got the best of all worlds. I have a warm home and owners who let me run wild.

Gus: Yeah, but for all that, don't brag on yourself too much. You're the one who got nabbed in the trap.

Mestopheles: Oh, go spray the wood pile!

Beta (from the back porch): Thanks for your help, homies! Pretty boy's hiding in the basement with his plume-like orange tail between his legs!

Gus: Tell that human to leave out some food without the trap, will ya!

Beta: Right on it, handsome!

Monday, January 06, 2014

Hello? Hello?

Dear Goddess Freya,

I hope you can help me with a problem here in my neighborhood. It's getting very cold out there, and so time is of the essence.

I'm sure You know our local tomcat, who I have affectionately named "Gussie." Gus announces his presence with a spray of scent and a "hello" that sounds almost human. He makes his rounds in an orderly manner, and most times I just greet him and go about my day.

But on the night it snowed, I could have sworn I heard him say "hello" most pathetically at 4:30 a.m. I got up and looked outside ... no footprints. But it got me thinking, "What does Gus do on these cold nights?"

Well, Goddess, You know that better than I do. You also must know the identity of whoever is feeding Gus to plumpness. Because he just isn't your typical feral tomcat by any means. He's fat and friendly.

Freya, Gus has sustained a very bad injury. He has a laceration on his neck, two inches square. The PETCO cat lady says she'll keep him in her basement and give him antibiotics if I can trap him. But he's too plump to be enticed into the trap by Fancy Feast and catnip. He even let me pick him up and hold him, but he balked big time when I tried to put him in the cat carrier.

Dear Freya, someone is caring for this cat, but not caring enough. Please send Gus back to my house, so I can get him into a warm shelter and get him the antibiotic he needs for his cheek. It's cold as the upper reaches of Norway out there tonight. Gus could fend for himself, if not for that injury. But it's a bad, bad scrape.

Yes, Freya, I know that I'm bigger than a cat and that I should be able to shove one into a carrier. But these big males, they can do some mighty fancy squirming. So please help me out on this. Give Spare and me another chance to collar this kitty and get him the help he needs.

Affectionately Your servant,
Anne Johnson

Sunday, January 05, 2014

If It's All Poison, Why Can't We Choose?

Welcome to "The Gods Are Bored," day three of a snow day weekend! Oh, by all the bored gods, it's so nice to be sort of, a little bit, okay somewhat, caught up on some things!

Here's a nice photo, taken by a man named Bruce Lin, of some of the wenches in the Two Street Stompers. This is just about the best photo I have ever seen of the "rank and file" members of our club. It's hard to describe men in dresses to people who've never seen the Mummers Parade. This helps bundles, so thanks, Mr. Wonderful Photographer!

Today's sermon sort of begins with the Mummers, but it diverges quickly, so settle in.

The Mummers Parade is sponsored by one of Philadelphia's big casinos. There are now casinos in Philly, Atlantic City, Allentown, and Valley Forge. The Philly casinos are expanding. A new one will soon be built just two blocks from Independence Hall. These casinos advertize on radio and television. Needless to say, if you want them to, they will email you early and often.

I grew up in genteel poverty. My father, who was not particularly religious, thought gambling was a sin. He said it ruined lives. And you might say, "Well, yes, it ruins people financially ... puts perfectly good families out on the street, breaks up relationships, and is addictive to at least some of its users." Let me tell you, congregation: I know someone who died of gambling. Died of it. She was so addicted to casino gambling that she ignored every sign of sickness in order to keep playing poker. On her premature deathbed, she begged her family to take her to Atlantic City.

Do I need to go into the many and varied woes associated with alcohol? I think not. Some people can drink all they want and never have a bad day. Other people aren't so fortunate. Blah blah blah ... this is a tired re-hash. I'm moving on.

Both gambling and booze are bad for some people, but our society accepts them.But now the plot thickens.

The state of Colorado has legalized the recreational use of marijuana. The state expects a financial windfall from taxation of the product, and there's no way to project how this legalization will affect tourism. And from many quarters there is loud lamentation and hand-wringing about how dangerous weed is, how it will fall into the hands of teenagers and contribute to fatal automobile accidents and cause a whole generation of Colorado youngsters to become brain-damaged, listless stoners with no future.

I'm not going to hop on a jet and go out to Denver for a Rocky Mountain high anytime soon, but I honestly applaud Colorado for this move. It has never been difficult for teenagers to obtain marijuana. There is no difference between stoned driving and drunk driving. As for young, developing brains, well ... they've already been under siege from booze and pharmaceuticals, both of which can usually be found in Pop Pop's kitchen cabinets.

Smoking reefer is exactly as perilous as gambling and drinking. I do not see one iota of difference. Most people will be able to light up the occasional doobie and enjoy themselves immensely without harm to themselves or others. Some people will have problems with it. To be completely candid, however, I will say that I've seen people really, really drunk, and I've seen people really, really stoned. The stoners get my vote. They're not likely to pick a bloody fight over the relative merits of the Philadelphia Eagles and the Dallas Cowboys.

Brothers and sisters, many things that are legal and pleasurable are bad for us. No one has proven that weed is worse than the legal poisons of booze and gambling. Therefore, why are these cash-strapped states depriving themselves of a taxable product that would be regulated for its purity?

I say, give us freedom of choice with this all-natural pleasure-enhancer! And I am not saying this because I use weed. I'm saying it because it's no worse than the highly-taxed alcohol and casino industries.

When it comes to picking your poison, I say we should have extreme latitude. How would legalization of pot in my state affect me? Oh my soul. Have you ever rolled up to a turnpike toll booth without enough money to pay your way ... because they just raised the rates again?

Rocky. Mountain. High.

Thursday, January 02, 2014

Navel Gazing on the Mummers Parade 2014

Maybe it was the arthritic hip. Maybe it was my daughters growing up. All I knew was that I had spent too many years sitting on my perfectly-upholstered barcalounger, watching the Philadelphia Mummers Parade. So I had surgery on my hip and joined a comic club.

Here I am with fellow Two Street Stompers at this year's parade. Our theme was "Salute to the Troops." I'm the one without the nurse cap.

I will have a few more pictures to upload over the next few days, as fellow Stompers put images up on Facebook. There's no link yet to the performance. It was magnificent. We were patriotic and funny at the same time ... something that was lost on the judges, who awarded us 8th place.

It might not sound like fun to get up before dawn on New Year's Day and go outside in the cold for twelve hours or more, dressed in satin and dancing with a parasol. But trust me, it's fun. It's really fun. If you've ever had a period of your life when you could hardly walk, and then suddenly you could walk, and dance, through a city in a parade, it is fabulous fun.

Here's a photo someone snapped of us as we came north on Broad Street toward City Hall. The nurse in this picture isn't me, but we all basically looked the same.

The television announcer said that the Philadelphia Mummers Parade is the longest-running folk parade in American history. It began in 1901. There's a competency level for everyone in this 12-hour extravaganza, from people who just want to walk down the street with an umbrella to professional dancers, costumers, and musicians.

Anyway, I felt considerably lively today, thanks to the post-parade happy high. I want to thank the Two Street Stompers for having me. I want to remember the upscale dad and baby daughter in the crowd that I chatted with while we waited for our turn in the judging area. I want to honor the Red Cross nurses who cheered for us gals as we went by in our white satin.

And as for the window cat on Two Street who watched, fascinated, as we floated by with our sequins shining and our ruffles floating ... Happy New Year, cat! Bet you don't see the likes of us every day.

Two Street Stompers 2014 ... starting the year with a smile and a strut.