Tuesday, December 01, 2015

Decibel the Parrot, 1986-2015

I thought she would live to be 70 years old. That's what I'd heard that parrots do. When the vet told me she was nearing the end of her lifespan at age 29, I couldn't believe it. I wasn't prepared.

Decibel the parrot died of atherosclerosis on Black Friday. She had had a heart attack two weeks earlier, and I rushed her to the vet. That's how I got the diagnosis. She was given an X-ray that showed fatty buildup in her heart. I got her a prescription of blood thinner, and she was taking it very well twice a day, but it wasn't enough to prolong her existence in the apparent world.

Well, she didn't fly, and she did love her sunflower seeds and snack cakes. Just like a human.

When Decibel was young, my grandfather was alive, and my children weren't born. She came to me as a partly-feathered chick and lived with me all her life. I loved her, but I grew to understand that she was a wild animal forced into an unnatural state of living that was not even remotely close to what she should have had or what she might have been. It's great that she could call for my daughter, say my name, chuckle, cry, sing off key ... but what she couldn't do was soar above the rain forest with her own kind, mate, raise her family, and get all the exercise and proper food her little body required.

Life will be so odd now.

It's not like my whole day revolved around Decibel -- far, far from it -- but she was always in my mind, in my reality, part of the daily routine. She was an antagonist, a source of laughter, an obligation, a friend, a needy child. With all of that removed suddenly, there's quite a void. My mind still expects her to be there. I'm sure it will be that way for awhile.

I buried Decibel the parrot with the poppet Mrs. B made for her, under a young oak tree near the infamous Snobville Pond. There's a bench where I can sit and see her well-hidden resting place (didn't want the resident night critters to dig her up).

I'm still in the close-to-tears phase of mourning. I'm racked with guilt that I didn't spend more time with her ... although I did in these ending years.

I owe an apology to Decibel and to Gaia. Goddess, I was young. I didn't know this "pet" should be a wildling. Forgive me.

Decibel, you did good with what you were given. You did real good, ol' girl. May you have found a Summerland that is 100 percent rain forest, 100 percent of the time.

Friday, November 06, 2015

Another Goodbye

Welcome to The Gods Are Bored, where we find our mission accomplished! Many bored deities of many pantheons are no longer bored. They have growing praise and worship teams who are seeking to communicate with them genuinely, humbly, and with curiosity. That's all a deity really wants. I should know, I've interviewed dozens of Them.

I've come to an end of the road. I find I have trouble infusing my life -- and this blog -- with the humor that once animated it. But before you bag The Gods Are Bored, pick a year. Any year. I wrote a lot of funny stuff, and it's all still here online. You could literally read me three times a week for five or six years. Some of the political screeds are stale, but the rest of it, the interviews, social commentary, and Pagan child-rearing, hasn't changed. And maybe I'll re-discover my funny bone. There are many reasons that it has disappeared. I'm hopeful it will return in the fullness of time.

Yesterday I got up at 4:00 a.m. to go to the beach for one of my favorite pastimes, collecting sea glass. When I got to the beaches on Absecon Inlet, they were covered with bulldozers and chain link fences. Somehow, economically depressed Atlantic City has found money to construct a sea wall straight down the inlet, so that the five sea glass beaches will disappear. Two of them were already off limits.

I watched the sun rise over one of the smaller beaches that has yet to be bulldozed. It was so peaceful and beautiful. The tide was going out, and the waves lapped gently on the shore.

 This realm of King Triton and Queen Oshun will be altered because storms like Hurricane Sandy impinge upon the high-end real estate in the area. The sea wall is being constructed by the Army Corps of Engineers, those humans who seek to impose their will on the Goddess, to little avail.

I had bonded with this stretch of beach, pleased that it soothed my aching longing for Appalachia. Now I'm aching for Appalachia and Absecon Inlet. Change, change. Daughters grown, farm sold, beaches bulldozed, aching joints, vultures no longer wintering in the area, dissolution of spiritual bonds. Can't shrug things off like I used to with a la-di-dah.

Yesterday was my swan song at the sea glass beach. The God and Goddess took pity on me and gave me a parting gift that will forever be special in my heart. Where do I go now?

There's one more post I'll put up. Yet another agent has showered my novel, Gray Magic, with indifference. Therefore, my next post will be the PDF of Gray Magic. It's yours, free, to shower with your own indifference. It's not perfect. It needs the editorial hand it never got,because it didn't ever get that far into the process. Still I think it's a good story, with a real ending.

Here's my gift from King Triton and Queen Oshun. It's my fourth and final beach marble. All glory, laud, and honor to the Deities of the Deep!

Blessed be,
Anne Johnson

Monday, September 28, 2015

Pope Party

Well well!  His holiness Pope Francis has left Philadelphia! His plane flew right over Chateau Johnson on the way out of town. And that's as close as I got to him, thank you very much.

However, his presence blessed my little corner of the world in a wonderful way.

About 18 months ago, a gay couple bought a big house across the street. The house had been lived in by a family, probably since the 1960s or even longer ... so it had fallen to a sort of shabby disrepair, outside and in.

Boy, did that house get a makeover! Fresh exterior paint, a fish pond, chain-link fencing torn down, tasteful exterior lighting, and a whole, new, lavish interior as well. That aside, these new neighbors (and their cute kids and their big, happy, black dog) are just a joy to be around. It's always a pure pleasure when a nice family moves into your everyday sphere of existence.

So the pope came to Philadelphia, and the whole city closed down to keep him safe. This disruption in routine reached into Snobville, since we're not very far from the city. It occurred to me that our little block should have a party, since probably everyone would be home. (Turned out they were.) The only trouble with parties is that you have to plan them. Which this Pagan did not want to do.

On Saturday I had just settled into the easy chair to grade papers when there came a knock upon my door. It was the gay neighbors. "Oh! You're here!" they exclaimed. "We're having a party! Come on over!"

So I went.

Reader, those fellows had their back yard looking like Party with a capital P. There were yellow and white balloons in clusters, a life-size cutout of the pope, pope "masks," pope candles, and a big banner that said "MEETING OF THE FAMILIES."

They had a DJ. They had a bbq rib contest, and I got to be a judge! Mr. J came over after awhile, and he had a good time too. When it got dark, they lit the pope candles, and the DJ turned on a portable disco ball. All the neighborhood tots went swimming in the pool (yes, they even have a pool) and then entertained us by dancing and lip-syncing. The adults got gently plastered (self and Mr. J and hosts excepted). The music lasted long into the night.

This was the pope party I wanted to throw, except I didn't have to lift a finger. Gosh, I didn't know about it until it was too late even to cook a church lady casserole! Not that I would have needed to -- the place was chock-a-block with delicious food and icy cold beverages.

The funny thing about organized religion is that it does have a spillover effect. Because we Snobvillains were stuck in our neighborhood, as opposed to running all over the place, we got together as families and enjoyed each other's company. So I would have to thank Pope Francis and the World Meeting of Families for a genuine trickle-down experience.

Regarding the pope's message to Americans, wow, was this Druid pleasantly surprised! Save the planet, cooperate as lawmakers, end the death penalty, families are great, kiss babies ... could have been worse, much worse.

And since I used to be all about humor, I leave you with this very short and completely hilarious article from The Onion about Papa Frankie's experience in Philadelphia. He sure got it right.

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Alban Elfed 2015

Someone asked me, "Under what circumstances would you go to see the pope?"

I said, "Not while there's one tree that needs a hug."

A blessed Alban Elfed to you all! Not long ago we had a wonderful Pagan Pride Day in Philadelphia. How very different from the circus that will come to town with Pope Francis! Here is our altar for the Main Ritual:

Beautiful, huh? Everyone in the circle got to Hail their deity of choice. No one even flinched when I said VULTURE. Pagans understand these things.

This is actually the hardest holy day for me. I don't like to bid farewell to the Sun, the bright Sun, that kisses our fields and brings the fruits of the harvest. It's not a good-bye, though, it's a "see you later." The Southern Hemisphere needs to have summer too.

Therefore, on behalf of all the (not so very) bored deities out there, I wish you and all those you love a bountiful and happy Alban Elfed. May Vulture love you, and keep you, and make His wings to fly above you.

Blessed be!

Monday, September 07, 2015

Labor Day Laundry List

Hello and welcome to The Gods Are Bored, Labor Day 2015!

No one's just joining me now, so you all know how I feel about organized labor.

I can't say one more word on this topic without weeping. Unions have been all but busted. Our only hope is a candidate like Bernie Sanders. Slim hope indeed.

So ... will catch you up on the doings!

Item: I now have 8 chapters of my novel, Million Dollar View. And it appears that yet another agent has tossed the manuscript of Gray Magic into the dustbin. On November 1, 2015, I will put Gray Magic on here for free download. Just because various agents haven't liked it doesn't mean you won't. I'm not going to see all my wonderful characters, who walked with me through a large part of my life, just sit on the shelf like unwanted teddy bears. As for Million Dollar View, I've decided it needs more than the sleigh ride I'd been giving it. I can make it shine, it will just take a little longer than planned.

Item: On Saturday I facilitated my very first drum circle! Yes, I volunteered to do a drum circle at Philadelphia Pagan Pride Day, and by golly, they signed me up, and we had a nice group of seven people ... including two who could drum way better than me! (That was what I was hoping would happen.)

That's me in my mountain hat, far right on orange chair. Thanks for the photo, Cliff!

Item: I met The Heir's boyfriend. He's adorable. I'm happy for her! He had many questions for me about Paganism, since he grew up in a strict Christian household.

Item: Mr. J and I made four excursions to Gunnison Beach this summer. It is a clothing optional beach. It's a long drive, especially in traffic, but the payoff is swell.

Item: School started this past week. I have more than 60 students in three classes (block schedule), all freshmen. We are in the midst of a heat wave here in Philadelphia. My classroom was moved from an air-conditioned room to an older room. It was fully 90 degrees in the room every day last week. I cannot project sound from my computer so that anyone can hear it, even with the fans off. Anyone in the market for a challenging profession?

Item: There is a brand new Extra Chair. This one is male. He will be starting his sophomore year at the local parochial school. If he likes us, and we like him, this is three years of guaranteed monthly income. Withholding judgment on this right now.

Item: Spare is a Resident Assistant in a posh dorm! I trash picked a beautiful love seat for her apartment. She's still working on her web series ... a task more challenging than teaching in an urban school.

That's the news! Thanks for dropping by. Be sure to look here November 1 for Gray Magic, free to many good homes.

Thursday, September 03, 2015

Pope Bait and Switch

Hello and welcome to The Gods Are Bored! If you happen to be in the Philadelphia area on Saturday, come share a drum circle with me at 3:00 in Clark Park! Yes, and if you can really drum, I sure could use your help!

My last sermon concerned a scheduled visit from His Holiness, Pope Francis, to Philadelphia. The pope will be here from Friday evening until Sunday evening. And basically the city is grinding to a halt to cater to him.


Crowd estimates have been hard to come by. Some are as high as two million. Some favor 60,000. Well, that's a big difference, right?

I guess reality has caught up with Philadelphia -- and the pope. Today, out of the blue, the Archdiocese of Philadelphia (had to look up how to spell it) announced that people would need tickets to get close to the pope. Independence Hall, where His Holiness will deliver some sort of speech, is releasing 5,000 tickets at 9:00 Friday morning, online only.

So much for democracy.

What the heck happened? This was a chance for anybody to see the pope! All you had to do was rent a hotel room, or someone's house, and stroll out on the day of the event, and there he would be!

Um, nope.

Nobody asked me, a practical Pagan, to make suggestions about the pope's visit. I'm not sure why they didn't come to me for advice, because, after all, I spent a memorable 12 hours with Isaac Bonewits and Skip Ellison a few years back, so I know all about communing with holy leaders of religious affiliations. My suggestion would have been to announce tickets way ahead of time. Knowing the basic size of the crowd might have saved a lot of people from being put out for a whole weekend.

This afternoon I heard on the radio that many of the booked-up hotels have been seeing a tidal wave of cancellations. I imagine the same might be happening to the good citizens of Philly who put their residences up for rent (at widely varying prices). Nothing could possibly soften the blow of learning that your prospective renters -- who were going to give you $8000 for your efficiency on Walnut Street just so they could see the pope -- have decided to go to Tahiti instead.

This was a bait and switch, pure and simple. People are finding out now that their chances of celebrating Mass with Pope Francis are slim to none. Meanwhile, there's been no talk of scaling back the mammoth road closures planned for the Delaware Valley on Pope Weekend.

I would hate to be a Roman Catholic today. I really suck at being the first in line online, so it would be really, really frustrating for me to think that a man I revere could be six miles away ... without me being able to see him.

If for no other reason than this, being a Pagan is wonderful. If you admire a particular leader in any of our many Paths, chances are you can rub elbows with that person as soon as you want, for as long as you want. Size matters.

Thursday, August 27, 2015

Pope Francis Is a Blizzard

Hello, and welcome to The Gods Are Bored! Guess what? We are going to have an unprecedented event in the Philadelphia region. We're going to have a crippling blizzard -- like, the blizzard of the century -- the last weekend in September!

I know, I know, that sounds weird. But I'm not kidding you.

What do we know about blizzards?

*They shut down highways.
*They close schools.
*They make travel hazardous, if not impossible.
*They cause disruptions in health care and public safety.
*They make people run out to the store ahead of time for bread, eggs, and milk.

All of that is going to happen in Philadelphia during the final weekend in September.

Pope Francis, he of the "everyman" and "feed the poor" ilk, is coming to the City of Brotherly Love for a fluffy thing called World Meeting of Families. We in the Delaware Valley have already been told that Pope Francis will not be including gay people in his definition of marriage and family. That's to be expected.

What's also to be expected is total chaos in Philly. (I wonder if anyone will be able to tell? It's always partially chaotic in Philly.)

This lunatic pope is going to Independence Hall on Saturday and is giving an open-air Mass at 4:00 Sunday afternoon. Anyone -- I mean anyone -- who wants to go see him is warmly invited to do so.

Not that it will be easy in blizzard conditions.

Let's go back over those blizzard prerequisites:

*Shutting down highways -- Every major highway except Interstate 95 will be closed while the pope is in Philadelphia. All highways coming in from the east. All highways going out to the west. Both major bridges into Philadelphia will be closed. (The Ben Franklin Bridge will be open to foot traffic, but everyone has to go through scanners, like airport security.)

*The pope must be guarded by the FBI, local and state police, the sheriff's department, and Homeland Security. They are already at work on plans to erect a fence around a huge swath of Center City Philadelphia -- including Spare's college.

*My school will be closing at noon on Friday and not opening up again until Tuesday. This is because all major thoroughfares in Camden will be closed to traffic.

*Spare's school in Center City will be closed from Wednesday until the following Tuesday. All students are being strongly urged to go home, if possible.

If it disrupts traffic and requires extra police, and closes the schools, it's a blizzard.

Maybe that's why he wears white.

I had the utter bad fortune to have to spend the day with a devout Roman Catholic colleague. She proudly said that this pope will seek out the poorest neighborhoods in the region to visit. He has a lot of ground to cover, if that's the case. But what I think (and I didn't share this with my colleague) is that this blizzard visit is a colossal case of hubris. This pope is asking for a terrorist attack, he's asking for crowds to crush each other in an effort to get to him, and he's basically giving criminals of all stripes a wonderful chance to rob, pilfer, and scam.

La di dah! This will be a funny adventure for those of us at The Gods Are Bored! We'll lay in our stores of milk and bread. We have plenty of firewood and space for Heir and Spare. Gonna hunker down and ride out this storm, praising and worshiping the Bored Gods!

Stay tuned.

Friday, August 07, 2015

My New Job as a Video Production Assistant

Well, I'm not PAID or anything, but ...

My two readers will recall that my daughter The Spare has decided to do a comedy web series called Speed. She is trying to get a 24-minute pilot episode done so she can shop the concept.

Folks, I've always been impressed with my daughter, but you should see her now.

I've helped her the last two weeks, because inevitably someone (or everyone) in her crew can't make it to the shoot. So I have seen her set up expensive cameras and lights, microphones and test shots. I've seen her direct actors and then jump in to play her own role.

She is working her shapely little butt off for this project. To those of you who donated, your ducats did not fall into an abyss.

At least I hope not.

You see, it's not a solo show. There are eight cast members, none of them being paid. Cross your fingers that everyone hits the mark until Spare can call it a wrap and start editing. It's been dicey so far.

So, you may ask, what is my role in this ambitious project? I'm glad you asked!

*I carry heavy stuff.
*I decorate sets.
*I get water from the Rite Aid when the actors are thirsty.
*I take care of wardrobe malfunctions (a reach for me).
*I run errands.

But wait! There's more! Spare has also enlisted the help of Heir! Yes, Heir has a role in the show, and when she's not acting in it, she helps out too. That's how these things get done, after all. It's a family effort!

The moral of this sermon is, I haven't raised a pair of slackers who spend the day watching other people's YouTubes. I'm right proud of that.

Wednesday, August 05, 2015

Frank Talk on Shopping for Folding Chairs

This is "The Gods Are Bored," and this is a public service announcement:

If you go to a nude beach, don't sit on someone else's chair.

Free advice! I'll pay you dearly to take it.

Two weeks ago, at the nude beach, a very vile human unfolded my beach chair and deposited his man-parts on it without asking or even looking around to see who might own the chair.

After that I wouldn't take the thing home, partly because it was gross, and partly because the particular person who used it is particularly loathsome. (In a fair and stable world, I would have taken it home and scrubbed it. But not after THAT guy.)

Anyway, the loss of a perfectly good folding chair led me on a quest to find a new one. Have you done this sort of shopping lately, reader? I couldn't believe my eyes.


I know you won't believe me (and maybe it's still season), but the item above costs $40, no matter where you shop. I wouldn't stoop to Wal-Mart, but all the other stores were pretty consistent in their pricing. Since the chair I was trying to replace had been given to me, I hated like Hell to think of spending $40.

So I went to the camping store.


This is what passes for a camping chair these days. Lord love a fruit fly! A cup holder? Are you kidding me? And some of them have little zipper pouches to put your valuables in. Very handy! The thief will know where to look first! If the simple beach chairs were expensive, these were even more so. And they're kind of heavy. At least to my spindly arms.

You know what I've discovered in the prime of life? (Wait for it -- more free advice!)

The best place to look for affordable, traditional merchandise is a mom-and-pop hardware store.

Thank goodness there's still one of those near me! Home Depot has just about decimated the species.

So I went to the mom-and-pop hardware store, and lo and behold:


This is exactly what I wanted! A good, old-fashioned mesh folding chair. Not so great for the environment, but neither are the other ones. And this unit set me back ... yep ... twenty bucks! I can lift it, and in my experience these puppies last a good long while if you don't leave them out in the weather during the winter.

All that remains for me to do at this point is to make a sweet little sign that says:


At least this narrows it down some.

Friday, July 31, 2015

Lughnasadh 2015

Hello, and welcome to "The Gods Are Bored!" It's me, Anne Johnson, Pagan since 2005, and that doesn't include the years spent in the closet!

This is the time of early harvest. Gardens are full of ripening fruit, the corn is sweet and tender, and the wheat has been scythed and stacked. The cat is asleep in a paper bag, and ...

Oh. Delete that last part! Cats sleep in paper bags at all times of the year!

I'm solitary this year, missing the group I was with last year, but unable to coordinate anything. But I do have a prayer and petition to the bored Gods on this Lughnasadh Day.

Dear bored Gods: Is my old-in-the-tooth fruit finally ready for harvest?

Last week, an agent in New York City asked to see my finished novel, Gray Magic. (I'm working on a new, and very different, novel right now.) Gray Magic has languished for a decade on my shelf, having made it into PDF but no further. Famously, Mr. J took it to St. Martin's Press, where not one but two editors deemed it a superior wrapping for dead fish, should it be in paper form. But I've never lost faith in Gray Magic. I've read all 4,000 or whatever pages of Game of Thrones, and I think my book, at a slender 450 pages, is better.

If this agent turns Gray Magic down, I will post the PDF here on The Gods Are Bored, and you can read it for free, or just send me a donation. That is my Lughnasadh pledge. I'm tired of people telling me this book I worked on for 15 years and four drafts is a sad waste of good words. I'm not buying it anymore. It's a good story.

Time to harvest what I planted, don't you think? Nothing should die on the vine.

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

I'm Back with a Weird Tale about Another Encounter with the Menace Named Michael Divine

Well! It's been awhile! How are you? I'm okay, I guess. You know what would make me feel better? A little laughter, Gods Are Bored style.

Over the weekend, Mr. J and I made our first trip to Gunnison Beach. A picture paints a thousand words:

Yes, Gunnison Beach is New Jersey's only lifeguard-staffed, clothing optional beach. As for the option, the vast, vast majority of people there opt to doff the threads.

I loved the place. Great vibe, good-looking people, beautiful view of Manhattan across the water, happy party atmosphere. I wish it was closer! Anyway, on with the story:

Mr. J and I went to Gunnison Beach because some people I'd met at Four Quarters Farm were going to be there. It was sort of a Pagan/polyamory/bi meetup that was advertised as having a little drumming too. Finally, a reason to make the 2-hour commute and the grueling trudge to the nudie beach! I even brought my hand drum.

We found the folks at the meetup, and after some swimming, and people-watching, and sun tanning, we just chilled and chatted with the Four Quarters folks. Much of our talk was about Four Quarters Farm itself and all the fun we had there.

All of a sudden I looked around, and ... what are the odds? ... I saw the same jerk who was rude to the Spare at the Fairie Festival! Yes, there he stood in his birthday suit, wearing a little hat with a feather in it.

Back story: This person is a show-off drummer. At a drum circle, he asked Spare if he could see the drum she was using, then took it to another part of the circle and dumped it. He didn't want to use it, you see ... he just didn't want her to use it. At least that's how it came off at the time. Who asks for a drum and then doesn't even bang on it? Then, to make matters worse, when we called him on it, he exploded at Spare and shouted in her face. Suffice it to say we found the man unpleasant.

And just about the last person on Earth who I would want to bond with on a nude beach. So I did my best to ignore him. (For one thing, I knew my drum would never leave its travel pouch.)

Thank goodness he didn't sit down in our group! But alas. He did sit down.

How's this for bad form? This guy ... same one who outdid himself at Spoutwood ... saw my folded-up beach chair in the sand. He picked it up, unfolded it, and sat his naked butt down on it without asking anyone! Who does this at a nude beach? Would you sit in a stranger's chair at a nude beach? Without even inquiring who it might belong to?

So he sat on my folding chair for about five minutes, banging his precious drum. Then he got up and walked away.

I liked that chair.

I really liked that chair.

It was a special chair. It was given to me on Ventnor Beach by a Canadian tourist who had bought it for her week-long vacation and didn't want to take it home. It was lightweight and easy to carry. It was also sturdy and a good fit for me.

What are the odds that the same person who threw a dark blanket over the Fairie Festival would rise from the rubble to bedevil me again? Because you know what I'm going to say, right?

No way would I ever sit in that chair again. I'm trying to wipe the very image from my mind!

On my way off the beach for the day, I ruefully paid that nice, lightweight, sturdy chair forward to a group of bathers who needed extra seats. They were grateful for it. I was sorry to see it go.

Today I went out and priced beach chairs. Even though it's mid-season, the doggone things are costly. Oh, by all the bored gods ... I may be faced with the options of sitting on the sand, or shopping at Wal-Mart!

Michael Divine, if you Google your name and find this, please know that I could make concessions for you regarding your behavior in the drum circle. But I can't even imagine how you could show the colossal bad form to use a beach chair -- on a clothing optional beach -- without first asking to do so. Where did you learn your manners, the Planet of the Apes?

And oh, by the way? You're a lousy drummer. A legend in your own mind.

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Why I'm Not Here

Welcome to "The Gods Are Bored," culture vultures and bad-ass buzzards since 2005! I proudly bear the name Anne Johnson and am grateful for its sublime anonymity.

At one point I was up to five readers, so I'll address you as if that's the number.

I haven't been here at "The Gods Are Bored" lately. There are two reasons:

1. Now that the tots are grown and I've settled into a Path that is written about so much better on other sites, I'm running out of things to say.

2. I'm writing a novel.

Yes, after spending 15 years writing a grand, sweeping, historical fantasy that was widely deemed suitable to line a bird cage, I've started a whole new project. This one's not a grand, sweeping historical fantasy. It's a droll little fluffy thing, aimed more at the heart than the head. In short, it's like "The Gods Are Bored," only fiction.

Here's the good part: When I finish this novel, tentatively titled Million Dollar View, I am going to copyright it and post it online as a free read. Oh, there will be a PayPal button, but I'll ask only a goodwill offering, if you choose to do so.

I expect this little confection to be completed within the calendar year. In the meantime I will still be dropping by TGAB with my usual blend of giddy and fluffy.

Speaking of which, isn't this adorable? I've started a garden of these around my shrine. Yard sales are chock-a-block with bowls and vases. The beauty of this craft idea is twofold: First and foremost, it's easy to do. Second, it's impermanent. If you need the bowls or vases, there they are!

Friday, May 08, 2015

Change of Heart

It's funny what's left to learn when you reach your golden years.

I'm not exactly golden yet ... but I'm sure not green.

Last weekend my daughter The Spare and I went to a festival that we attend each year to honor Beltane and the faeries. We look forward to this festival eagerly, all year long. Yes, all through my long and horrible work year I dream of the festival. My work is awful, dreadful, stressful, unappreciated, and unrecognized. The festival is wonderful, awesome, happy, joyous, and otherwise perfect.

Except when it's not.

Spare and I had an unpleasant -- very unpleasant -- experience in a drum circle, featuring a man who acted disrespectfully and then made matters worse by laying the blame on Spare. She was reduced to tears, and I was shocked, shocked I tell you, to see someone act like this in what is supposed to be a nurturing space. But this happens sometimes with drumming. People who are really good at it can become annoyed with people who are not good at it, or only beginning to be good at it. But that's beside the point.

The point: We left the festival rather shaken up.

And then Monday came.

When I walked into my workplace, it looked and felt different to me. What do you know? NOTHING is all good or all bad! I spent 150 work days this year miserable, living only to go to the festival ... and then something stressful happened at the festival!

This week has been different than any I have ever spent on this job. And not because I got a great gift from my school for Teacher Appreciation Week. (Not even exaggerating, each teacher got a 12-ounce bottle of water with a packet of instant iced tea mix tied to it with a ribbon.) Things were different because of the shock I experienced at the festival.

Ask me how valuable it was to spend my Beltane weekend at the festival. I'll tell you: It was Earth-shaking. I am a different person now. I hope it lasts!

As for the festival itself, I now love it more than ever, because I love it a little less, and my work a lot more.

Thanks be to the bored gods for lessons learned in unexpected ways! This week has flown by. It's Friday, and I'm going home to drum.

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

The IPhone Rebellion

Something has changed drastically in our society since I was a stripling.

That "something" is computers.

I can remember when there weren't any personal computers at all. I can remember when telephones were hooked to the wall. I even pre-date cordless phones.

Now everyone has a phone with them, all the time. (Except for me. I either lose or misplace or forget my phone frequently. I have never gotten used to having a phone on me all the time.)

Big Brother and Big Business are watching us as we use our computers. But there's a flip side to that. Equipped with phones that can record video, we are now watching Big Brother.

I call this the IPhone Rebellion.

If a police officer uses unusual or excessive force, someone might catch it on video and post it to the Internet. This has happened frequently over the past few months.

We had a situation in Baltimore, Maryland in which a young man was killed during the initial stages of arrest by the police. Has this ever happened before? You betcha. Has it ever been recorded on a cell phone? Not in Baltimore.

Who among us has not recoiled in horror at the video of that young person being dragged by police, his face twisted in agony? Speaking for Anne Johnson here, I was horrified. And I'm not young or African American. I cannot even imagine how African American citizens are dealing with this emotionally.

There are riots in the streets of Baltimore. I am calling this the second incident in the IPhone Rebellion. Someone snaps a video, loads it onto the Internet, everyone sees it, and some people react. Then we get soldiers on city streets, with armored vehicles and guns.

We also get alliances between urban gangs who have longstanding rivalries.

What do you call this? I lived through the 1960s, and I do know that rebellions are squashed with impunity in this country. But we have the Internet now. What are they going to do? Shut it down?

Sunday, April 26, 2015

Spoutwood Bound!

Welcome to "The Gods Are Bored," humble home of an average human being! Nothing exceptional about me ... except for the way I go on about buzzards.

Every year at Beltane, my daughter The Spare and I sojourn to Glen Rock, PA, where we lead the Mountain Tribe at the May Day Fairie Festival at Spoutwood Farm. We've been going to this festival for almost a decade.

Spoutwood is a beautiful spot, and everyone dresses up like faeries or creatures or free spirits. There's wonderful music, and food vendors, and drum circles, and ceremonies. As Mountain Tribe leader, Spare takes part in a midday ceremony each day that varies little from year to year. We do a lot of shouting, then we march in, then we sing some songs. We have a beautiful leather banner made by one of the artists at the Faire.

This is a picture from last year. The well-dressed fairy with the flute is my sister. Last year she came to the festival and stayed in our hotel room all three days. It was the first year I didn't have a good time. Or, I wouldn't say I didn't have a good time ... I just didn't have as much fun as usual.

The reason for that was that I found myself in a childhood dynamic with Sis. I really resented having her at my side for three days. She didn't want to do anything by herself, and at these things I always crave an opportunity to be alone in a crowd.

Growing up with a very ill mother, I often had to take care of my sister. So these days, even if I'm not really taking care of her, I am taking care of her in my mind. And it's a chore. Especially since, in her mind, I am supposed to take care of her.

Well. That was last year. I didn't invite Sis this year. I shouldn't need to -- it's an open event. She can come and go, and I would even be glad to see her there if I didn't have to care for her!

Just now I talked on the phone to Spare. She says she has a lot of school work to do and will need to curtail her hours at the festival. That's fine with me! I want to do some meditative drumming. I want to walk the land. I want to respectfully acknowledge the bored gods. Just me. Just me and a few thousand other people. Alone in a crowd.

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Can't Get Behind Her

Welcome to "The Gods Are Bored," ten years of joyous romping in the Realms of the Mountain Gods! I'm Anne Johnson, and I used to get far more riled up about politics than I do now.

Pretty much I have given up on the system. I have lived long enough to see how things are now, as opposed to how they were in the mid-20th century, when we actually ousted crooks instead of deifying them.

This is why, although it would be very nice to have a woman running the show in the US of A, I can't get behind Hillary Clinton. If the fix is in, she is one of the authors of it.

I remember when Bill Clinton was president. Hillary was way more than a "First Lady." No tea parties and back yard gardens for her! She set her sights on a Universal Health Care bill and lobbied tirelessly for it. She was unsuccessful.

Bill Clinton signed NAFTA into law. Jobs moved overseas in cartloads. Then he presided over the repeal of the Glass Steagall Act, which set up our too-big-to-fail banks and laid the path for the ruthless hedge funding that is now the way of the world. I don't call that a stellar liberal political record, right there. To say the Clintons, when they were running America, did a better job than George W. Bush, is damning them with faint praise.

I supported Obama because he was a fresh face, and he exploited that fact. Say what you want about him -- and say what you want about Obamacare, because it's sure not perfect -- he did get health care done.

Mrs. Clinton had my tepid support until it was revealed that she used her personal email to conduct the business of state. This should not be done. How do you justify that? If you say it was for convenience, you're lazy. If you say it was to avoid scrutiny, you're a Clinton.

This country should not be run by two or three powerful families. That's how dictatorships are born.

We at "The Gods Are Bored" can hardly believe that we would support a pudgy old white man over a woman, but Bernie Sanders it is. Doesn't matter anyway, because the fix is in. This is a nation run by a few very wealthy families, and they want us to eat cake.

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Ten Years of "The Gods Are Bored!"

Wow. It's our tenth anniversary here at The Gods Are Bored!

There are over 2200 posts.

And a half million page views.

Dozens of bored deities have sat for interviews.

Goats were judged back in the day. Not so much anymore.

We will always love faeries! Remember Puck?

So many adventures with Decibel the parrot!

I couldn't afford to buy the family farm, so I've asked Gaia to reclaim it. This view is already lost due to tree growth!

I love the Goddess Brighid the Bright. She led me to the Light.

One day when they're older, my daughters The Heir and The Spare will come here to read about their lives! Spare was 11 when I started this blog. Tomorrow she turns 21. Oh my.

There's been one magnificent, overriding passion here at "The Gods Are Bored," celebrated with supreme devotion since this site's inception. That passion is the Rich Worship of the Great Sacred Thunderbird! Long may Vulture own the skies!

Thank you, readers, for your comments and support lo, these many years. It doesn't seem like a decade has passed since that day I read an article about a woman who got money to pay her dog's vet bills by blogging. I didn't set out to make money here ... but your generosity through several projects has been heart-warming and well-remembered.

Ten more years? Probably. There are still quite a few bored Gods and Goddesses out there who want their Voices to be heard!


Saturday, April 11, 2015

When He Says He's a Shaman, Believe It!

Welcome to "The Gods Are Bored," a house of hilarity for nearly, almost, shortly, getting there -- ten years! I'm Anne Johnson, that's really my name, and here's a wild and wonderful "Gods Are Bored" story, fresh off just happening.

I couldn't sleep last night, so I got up at 4:30 a.m. to go see King Neptune in His briny deep.

From where I live, at 4:30 in the morning, you can cruise on down to the edge of the continent in about an hour. It was my intention to be on the beach, searching for beach glass, at "can see," which right now is about 5:50 a.m.

When I got to the sea glass beach, it was barely, barely light enough to see. All the casinos were still lit up (and empty, for all I know). When I pulled into a dead end street to park, there was a big rig cab with a dude inside. He was just staring out at the water.

This made me a little nervous, but I've always had a lot of luck being alone places with strange dudes. This time was no exception.

I got on the beach, paid respect to King Neptune and Queen Oshun, and I tucked into hauling in some sea glass.

It pays to be the first one there, because it's pretty much a candy shop after an overnight high tide. I'd never gotten so much glass so quickly. And after a few minutes, I saw the trucker dude, standing on the beach.

When I got a little closer to him, we struck up a conversation. He'd never been to Atlantic City before and was interested in its history. He knew a lot already and was a big fan of "Boardwalk Empire."

When daylight truly emerged and I got closer to where he was standing, I found that he was chock-a-block with Pagan bling: pentagram and Celtic knot rings, Green Man on a cord around his neck.

I said, "Whoa, you are my kinda guy." And then it was like we were long lost pals.

He was from Kentucky. He had never heard of sea glass before. He said he was a Shaman, and that his wife was into minerals and Tarot cards. I didn't press him about what kind of Shaman he was. I figure ... and I know I'm in the minority here ... if you go to the trouble to call yourself a Shaman, well then, by golly you are one.

 I gave the Shaman a nice piece of sea glass to take home and wrap. Then he started looking for sea glass too. (I must warn you, this is an addiction that can happen very quickly. DO NOT START.)

We were chatting about the bootleggers who off-loaded their cargo in the area of Atlantic City where we were. I said, "Yeah, they used marbles as ballast in their ships, and finding them all washed by the sea is a real treat. They're very rare."

He looked down at his feet and said, "Here's one." And handed me a marble.

I've been going to AC for four years now, and I have found two marbles. Well, I found three, but King Neptune wanted to keep the third. It had been a long, long time since I found a marble, and I never, ever found one on that stretch of beach before! And this Shaman had never heard of sea glass, and the moment he heard of it, he found a rare piece!

Readers, the Shaman and I had the beach to ourselves for about 20 minutes. That's all. By 6:30, full daylight, hordes with rakes descended and started beach-combing like fiends. You snooze, you lose.

The Shaman asked me for suggestions as to where he should spend the rest of his day. He certainly wasn't keen on casinos, but he wanted to walk the boards in an "artsy" place, maybe with a few ink parlors. I directed him to Asbury Park.

We said our "Merry meets" and parted paths. I went to another section of beach and combed some more, very profitably, but (predictably) no marbles.

When I returned to the main sea glass beach, the truck was gone. I hope the Shaman found his way to Asbury Park. For my money (and it ain't cheap), Asbury Park is the best boardwalk in New Jersey. Anything beats Atlantic City.

So, who establishes the criteria for "Shaman?" I know you can read a load of books and study up on ancient Celtic lore, and all that. But at the end of the day, the title is nebulous. To my way of thinking, though, the performance of minor miracles most definitely gets you the Shaman badge. For a guy who had never been to AC before, had never even seen sea glass before, to just reach down and find a marble, well. I'll sign off on him.

Okay, okay, do you want to see? This was my best day ever ... even better than the day I found my own marbles!

I found two pieces of red (one is magenta!), a huge chunk of yellow, lavender, a nugget of cobalt, and lots of really pretty, well-rounded nuggets. And someone, I think a Shaman, gave me a marble!

Sunday, April 05, 2015

Eostre 2015

Welcome to "The Gods Are Bored," where we didn't find out what those colored eggs and bunnies were about until we were in mid-life! Yes, it's another stolen holy day! But I'm wise to it now.

Don't you just love Thalia Took's work? This one is particularly beautiful.

Today my daughter The Heir and I got up at dawn, and instead of going to church we went to the beach. We spent five hours hunting sea glass and soaking in the sun. As we stood there staring into King Triton's briny deep, I said to her, "You are so lucky to be all done with church at such a young age. Just think of all the beautiful spring Sundays we spent holed up in a gloomy sanctuary, over-done with dead flowers! And you have your whole life ahead to spend this particular Sunday in some refreshing and bored-god-approved activity."

She said, "Mom, so do you."

And so I do.

The rocks, the mountains, the beach, the woods -- these are my Temples.

Dancing, and drumming, and meditating, and hiking, and laughing -- these are my devotions to the Gods.

It's Spring! Time to be out, to be alive, to shake off the cold and to welcome dear Persephone back into the land of the living. All that falls shall rise again. All.

Friday, April 03, 2015

Real Christians Sell Cakes

Hello and welcome to "The Gods Are Bored," pouring tea and baking scones for bored deities from multiple pantheons for almost ten years! Yes, we've got a big anniversary coming up next week!

Today's sermon: Christians Baking Stuff for Gay People

There's a very famous market in Philadelphia called Reading Terminal Market. It's a big place, and on the weekends it is stuffed to the gills with locals and tourists. You can get a Philly cheese steak  sandwich there, or fried oysters, or the best, freshly made donuts in the city. There are a dozen different ethnic foods, both for raw purchase and already cooked. I'm a total sucker for the crawfish etouffe at the Cajun stall.

Some of the booths in Reading Terminal Market are staffed by the Amish.

The market is open on Sunday, but the Amish booths are closed. On Sundays they are at home, being Christians.

With all this anti-gay bigotry on display in our nation's heartland, I have been thinking about the Amish in Reading Terminal Market. They sell stuff. Lots of stuff. Mostly food, both fresh and preserved.

So, who shops at Reading Terminal?

People. All kinds of people. City people, artsy people, tourist people, gay people, straight people, Goth people, Pagan people, atheist people, drunk people, high people, Jewish people, teenagers, senior citizens, Asians, African Americans, and foreigners of all stripes.

I have never seen an Amish vendor turn away a customer, for any reason.

Why is this? Aren't the Amish really, really super religious?

Indeed they are! They think we are all going to Hell. Every last one of us who isn't Amish. We are all sinners in their eyes, and all doomed.

Then why do they serve us?

They serve us because it isn't their business to care about our souls. It's their business to care about their large families and keeping food on their own tables. Selling to sinners, you see, isn't a sin.

If these extremely strict Christians can sell donuts to drag queens, why should it be an issue anywhere?

It's an issue because many people are just hateful. They don't want anyone to be happy. Boils down to that, folks.

You don't see much hate coming from the Amish. A few years ago, a crazy gunman took hold of one of their school houses and shot a bunch of girl students, even some very young ones. There was no call of vengeance from their community. In fact they comforted the killer's wife. And they steadfastly refused to speak to the press.

In my opinion, the Amish set the gold standard for what Christians should be and do. They keep their views to themselves, they live and let live, and they do not discriminate in matters of commerce. Whatever their expectations for behavior may be, they confine those expectations to their own communities and leave the rest of us alone.

You know what else I love about the Amish? You never get them at your door on Saturday morning, trying to persuade you to become Amish. Live and let live.  Some people -- I'm not saying who -- could sure take a lesson from these folks.

Wednesday, April 01, 2015

A Great Day

Well! Let me tell you, my friends ... being a supporter of the bored gods pays off big time!

Today my principal came into my classroom during home room. He said, "Mrs. Johnson, your services to this school have been unappreciated for too long. Effective immediately, we are doubling your salary!"

My students stood and applauded. That's right, I got a standing ovation. One of the "mean girls" who sits right in front whispered, "It's about time, too!"

Bolstered by this good news, I quickly purchased a brand new gown for this year's Fairie Festival:

I think I'll look smashing in this.

Then I thought, "Whoa! I'm no longer leader of the Mountain Tribe! Spare will need a new fairy gown too!" So I bought her one.

I love how we'll be color-coordinated! (Don't tell her -- it's a surprise!)

After home room, the principal gave me the rest of the day off. So Mr. J and I drove down to Atlantic City. The conditions were perfect for collecting sea glass. Look what I found!

In my whole time communing with King Triton, I had only ever found three marbles before! Today I found four dozen! Aren't they stunning?

When I got home, I got a call from the animal shelter. They needed someone right away to foster a kitten.

I'm going to name her Kimba.

The Gods are good to me! I hope you all have the kind of day I had -- whew! I'm going to sleep well tonight!

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Bad Time To Be Young

I hate to say how long ago I was young, so I won't. Things weren't great for young people then. But as far as learning stuff in a taxpayer-funded building was concerned, it was okay.

Not so these days.

I'm going to do some counting here:

September -- 3 to 4 days
October -- 2 days
March -- 3 days
April -- 4 days
May -- 2 days

That's 15 days this year that young people I am closely associated with will be taking ass --- es --- ments. These are not mere queries from me on topics the young people have recently delved into. These are standard +  ized t and e and s and t and s.

Three weeks of every 180-day cycle are spent on standard  +  ized    material! In one case the young people have to do the same one, exact same one, twice!

And they wonder why young Americans are not performing similar to their peers in Vietnam.

This has great import for the people (like me) who work with the teenagers. The object is not to advance our nation's mental capacities. It is to under + mine one of the few remaining powerful collective bargaining units in this country.

If medicine can be for profit, and pharmaceuticals can be for profit, and energy can be for profit, and college can be for profit, why not learning institutions for younger kids? There's money to be made and pensions to chop!

The victims are the young people. How stifling of all creativity, how anxiety-provoking, how deadly dull their year between Labor Day and Summer Solstice must seem! I feel for them. To Hell with what happens to me. It's them I feel bad for. This country is a joke.

Sunday, March 22, 2015


Welcome to "The Gods Are Bored," swirling in the Moronic Inferno since 2005! My name is Anne Johnson, and I work with young people in a society setting.

Last night I dreamed that I was getting my score back on the life-altering examination that my young people just sat through. I looked at my results, and it was just enough to proceed. Right on the money. But I was red-hot furious. "Look at this result!" I shouted. "I went to Johns Hopkins and graduated Phi Beta Kappa, and this is the best I can do on this thing? What about my young people?"

Pardon me for being so oblique in my vocabulary. But you see, the creators of a certain widespread examination for young people is actively mining social media for peoples' opinions of said exam. Any person who works with young people who says anything about the examination will be investigated for possible discipline. This is an attempt to silence dissenters who feel this examination makes young people sick, not better.

With a respectful nod to Voldemort, I will call this t  and  e  and  s  and  t "The Examination That Shall Not Be Named." And then, as this is a certain sector of society known for copious acronyms, I'll call it SNBN, for Shall Not Be Named.

There are some hallmarks of SNBN that boggle the mind.

One is that it's so hard that young people will be forced to learn more to meet its demands. This is backwards thinking to me. I feel like all the excitement and interest can be sucked out of something if it's too difficult to understand. Young people tend to give up easily on stuff they think they will never get, stuff that they see no point to. Of course, if they do give up and cry "uncle," the burden and blame will fall upon the folks like me who are working with the young people to help them proceed in life.

Two is that every young person who takes SNBN becomes part of a pool of information to be stored by the federal and state governments. We don't know who will be able to swim in that pool; namely, whether or not future employers will be able to see the Score! s. We don't know who the government will sell the information to, either. We do know that the government will use it to ... how can I say this to sneak it past Older Male Sibling? ... map the navigation and chart the course of our striplings.

Last, but to my mind the most pernicious, is that SNBN is being administered and Score! d by computers. Basically where SNBN is concerned, it's not what you have to say that counts, it's whether or not it's said according to arbitrary, hidebound, and confusing vernacular. Although one part of SNBN asks young people to create fiction, it is Judge ing for skills that used to be inculcated using diagrams and smart slaps with the ruler across the hand if not completed properly.

To me, all of this runs counter to the kind of  imagination and spontaneous thinking that has been a hallmark of this nation. Suddenly, young people are no longer individuals, they are d plus a plus t plus a. And what they have to say, no matter how creative, will not matter, because how can you entertain a computer?

Our society is becoming a vicious place where your numbers will drive everything you achieve. If your numbers go down, you will be sacked. A world of mercy and understanding will be washed away as pre-Christmas Scrooges rule the day.

I weep for my young people. I really do. And since it's International Water Day, I'll add that all of this will reach critical mass when that most essential of commodities -- water -- becomes scarce. Hope I'm wrong, but could a day come when your SCORE! on SNBN will determine how many gallons of essential fluids you receive?

Hoping I have foiled attempts to divine my purpose I remain,

Anne Johnson

Friday, March 20, 2015

Bless Me, Ultima

Another day, another winter storm! Welcome to my Equinox blizzard!

Alas, there is no Goddess Ultima. That's just as well, because the weather's not conducive to shopping for biscuits and tea. We were supposed to get a slushy inch of snow, but that was five inches and all day ago. It's coming down in buckets.

This is a good time to argue: Who decides it's Spring, the cosmos or the weather?

We've already picked up about 90 minutes of daylight since the Solstice. The birds are singing lustily in the morning. But there's not a single swollen bud on the trees, and -- at least in my yard -- only the pathetic first shoots of daffodils. When the calendar says Equinox, First Day of Spring, and the elements say Whopping Snowstorm, I come down squarely on the side of the elements.

March is almost always a dreary month around here, and April's not substantially better. The temperatures can vary so much that I prefer to think of Spring not as a date but as a change in the weather. This is why I sometimes minimize the Equinox/Eostre celebrations in favor of Beltane. It may rain on May Day, but it sure isn't likely to snow!

There's a lot of evidence to prove that many animals and birds go less by the elements than by the daylight. Can you spot the bald eagle?

Yes, this was an eagle on a nest on March 6 (we had a snow day that day) somewhere in Pennsylvania. Greater love hath no bird ... I know, right?

There's a pair of sparrows building a nest on my front porch. They're sitting out there right now, with their half-finished hut, looking at each other as if to say, "WTF?"

Anyway, it's been a long, tough week. My students sat for The Exam Which Shall Not Be Named on Monday and Tuesday. I will tell you about that tomorrow.

Keep warm!

Monday, March 16, 2015

Photos from the Flower Show

I'm so lazy I've never hooked my phone to my Wi-Fi. So when I tried to email myself the photos of the Philadelphia Flower Show, the messages didn't go through ... until I went out roaming about and caught someone else's signal.

It's hard to describe the Flower Show. Hard to photograph it, too. The theme was "Movies," and so each display, large and small, had something to do with films. They even had some really cute homages to screen writers! Anyway, here are some pathetic attempts to capture the moment.

This was the sign at the large Peter Pan display. The display was mounted by a grower of orchids. It had a lagoon, all sorts of palms and ferns, and of course -- orchids, cascades of them! Nestled in among the greenery was Peter Pan's hat, Captain Hook's hat, an Indian headdress ... and I am totally sure Tinker Bell was there somewhere, I just couldn't find her.

Obviously I didn't take this one. It is the central display, Cinderella's Wedding. Disney, Inc. lent a glass slipper, which is under a dome on the right side of the photo.

Frozen! This one was appropriate, seeing as how the only reason I was there was because there was a snowstorm that day.

The table top ones are always beautiful.

They're easier to photograph, too!

Patio! Not yours or mine, of course.

Mr. J next to the Nightmare Before Christmas display.

Critter made of flowers! Look at his hair!

This was the entrance.

And of course, yours truly, all decked out in her snowstorm apparel!

I never had more fun at the Flower Show. Usually it's so packed with people you can't move. But hardly anyone was there. Only a lunatic would go out in a major winter storm to look at flowers, right?

Sunday, March 08, 2015

The Dubious Ethics of Performance Art

Hello and welcome to "The Gods Are Bored!" My name is Anne Johnson, it's on my birth certificate (with an appropriate middle name), and I'm the chief loudmouth on this site.

Today's sermon is about a piece of performance art. You be the judge. Is it appropriate? Is it ethical?

My daughter The Heir is an artist. Over the weekend she agreed to photograph a series of performance artworks in the pedestrian tunnels under City Hall in Philadelphia. These tunnels are part of Philadelphia's subway system.

Heir was particularly perturbed by one of the pieces.

It was a younger woman, slightly older than Heir. This woman had cut a slit in her tight skirt where her butt was. And she wore no underwear. Basically she was strolling around the subway pedestrian tunnels with her derriere on display. She also had a paper bag which contained hard core pornography pictures. Occasionally she would drop the contents of the bag and let passers by help her to pick them up, or just see them.

When Heir caught up to this artist, the artist was not in the main pedestrian tunnel, but instead in a side tunnel that is popular with the city's homeless population. It was a cold day, so there were homeless men in the tunnel.

One of the men noticed the woman's butt and began to comment on it. He took out a sweater and tried to wrap it around the woman. Then he tried to get a feel. At that point, Heir stopped photographing and intervened, telling the woman they ought to move elsewhere. As they started off, the man followed them. When they started walking faster, he yelled at them. Then he got into an argument with another homeless man who also accosted Heir and artist. A policeman appeared and began to argue with the loud homeless man. The last thing Heir heard was the homeless man shout, "I DIDN'T DO ANYTHING!"

I think this performance is unethical and inappropriate. My daughter The Spare says I'm victim-shaming, and that this brave artist was bringing attention to the plight of objectified women.

My ethical dilemma with this piece is not that it was being performed, but that it was being performed in a remote place, and its viewers could face police prosecution for their response to the art. I think the woman did not do the right thing by choosing a tunnel where the homeless congregate for her performance. I wonder, however, if she might have faced charges herself if she chose to perform this piece in a more crowded concourse.

Then there's the bag filled with pornography. I think this is also inappropriate.

Personally, I have to be really careful what I look at, because pictures of starving children and gory violence make me physically ill. I think that some people have the same reaction to pornography, especially people who have been raped or sexually abused as children. And again I'm wondering what sort of charges might occur if this artist dropped her bagful of pictures and a policeman saw them.

What do you think of this piece of performance art? Spare would have me know that performance art is supposed to make the viewer uncomfortable. Heir and I feel that people who view performance art by appointment at an advertised event would indeed be prepared for such a piece, but that people just walking, or basically living, in a pedestrian tunnel under a city are not, nor should they be, prepared to see this artwork. It is, in fact, intrusive beyond appropriate bounds.

I anxiously await your take on this.

Friday, March 06, 2015

Interview with a Bored God: Thor

On Wednesday last, I wore my lucky snow man necklace to work. I petitioned the Bored Goddess Sedna for inclement weather. I lit all my candles and did some deep breathing, mostly to dispel the angst I brought home from the work day.

It wasn't Sedna who came through for me, though. It was Thor.

Poor Boston! Like they needed more snow. And things are a mess in the mountains ... flooding from so much water and snow all descending at once. For me and my household, however, Winter Storm Thor was a blessing. So I've invited Thor for lunch ... because today is another snow day. Two days off school for six inches of snow! I tell you. The Mid-Atlantic. Sheesh.

Anyway, please give a warm, wonderful, Gods Are Bored welcome to Thor! (I don't think He needs any further descriptors.)

Anne: Welcome, Thor! All Hail! Have another plate of eggs!


Anne (to herself) These manly deities always seem to speak in caps. (to Thor) Great One, how does it feel to have a winter storm named after You?


Anne: Yes, Your renaissance began way back. For me it was comic books. Honestly, next to Spiderman, you were my favorite. I felt like this little girl, in fact:


Anne: I know, right? I wanted to be You, too, when I was a kid. I don't care what anyone says, inside every person (especially little kids) is a bit of bad ass. It's all in how you manage that piece of your personality. I'm not inclined to exercise my inner bad ass too often. When I was a kid, though, I wanted to be able to whack stuff with hammers.


Anne: Oh, gosh. I guess I have one on the tool table downstairs. It pays to be meek in my line of work.


Anne: Not gonna argue with a Norse deity. I concede the point.


Anne: No! Have it! I sliced it up for Decibel, but Decibel only needs one slice. Anyway, back to the interview. So I had a snow day named after You. Looked out the window, the white stuff was piling up. But it doesn't honor Thor to stay inside, under a blanket by a fire, on a snowy day.


Anne: Well, my pantry was well-stocked, and it was indeed tempting to build a fire and be sluggish. But Thor! It's the first week of March in Philadephia!

Thor: SO WHAT?

Anne: So it's Philadelphia Flower Show week! Ah, the Flower Show! The Flower Show! It's one of the highlights of the year in the City of Brotherly Love.


Anne: Yes! The best florists and landscapers in the Delaware Valley create huge exhibits and turn the Convention Center into a floral paradise! This year's theme was the movies. It was amazing.


Anne: No! It's beautiful! Remember, we must always stretch our concepts of beauty ... just like that little girl who thought You were beautiful.


Anne: It's inside a building. The Convention Center.


Anne: Yes. It's kind of an antidote to winter.


Anne: Again, not going to argue with You. That's a zero sum game. Suffice it to say that I thank you, Thor, for a snowstorm that:
a) gave me a day off school
b) during Flower Show week
c) with weather so bad that the show wasn't packed with people -- or even particularly crowded.


Wednesday, March 04, 2015

Thank You!

Dear readers, The Spare's campaign to raise funds for her web series has ended, and you who visit "The Gods Are Bored" contributed about 75 percent of the money she raised! I am so grateful to all of you.Thank you from the bottom of my heart.

Spare had her first weekend of filming last weekend. She called me on Saturday evening, very pleased at how everything had gone. One actor had been a no-show, but The Heir was on hand, so she got a promotion. For my money, The Heir is quite funny, indeed. She's a fearless kind of funny, not afraid to gyrate and screw up her face into extremes. Anyway, Day One was a success.

Then there was Day Two.

Spare called in tears at about 5:00 p.m. They had filmed all day, and the leading man worked hard. But after he left for the day, he sent a text message quitting the show. He was the leading man. He knew it! Didn't matter. He bailed. He has not answered any messages from Spare and her colleagues.

Well, you know, this is a situation that faces many auteurs who don't have a big budget for salaries. Spare was disconsolate for a few hours, but after that she and her team got started on Plan B. They are moving ahead.

It's evening here at "The Gods Are Bored," and I have been petitioning the Great Goddess Sedna for a snowstorm, yea verily a blizzard. It's very tense at my school just now, and I'm hoping for a snow day. Standardized tests are scheduled for next week, and nobody's happy.

Maybe Sedna will drop by for tea tomorrow! If I'm home I'm going to make muffins.

Thank you again, friends. May the Gods and Goddesses of multiple pantheons from every corner of the Earth bless you and keep you and shine Their faces bright upon you!

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Life of Spare: The Epic Sledding Adventure

In case you're just joining us for the first time, this little piece 'o' nothing web site is The Gods Are Bored, dedicated to the cause of downsized deities, buzzard worship, and plucky tales of can-do spirit! I'm Anne Johnson, your hostess, and today's sermon is definitely a p.t. of c.d.s.

We're walking back in time to the days when my daughters, Heir and Spare, were little fledglings still in the nest. Alas! *sigh* They are grown now.

You never can tell about winter weather in New Jersey. Some years we get big blizzards, some years we get a series of smaller snowfalls, and some years we don't get any snow at all.

One snowless winter occurred when Spare was about five years old. Heir would have been ten.

A certain bitterness settles on a kid who is enduring a snow-free winter. Heir and Spare, and their two best pals (sisters who were also an Heir and a Spare) were bemoaning the fact that they hadn't been sledding all year.

I don't know who suggested it. Might have been the Spare. But someone piped up and said:

"Do you think sleds would work on mud?"

I thought about it and decided that gravity should prevail, so I took all four girls to a steep hill beside the pond with one of those disc sleds that you can't steer. It was muddy. There was a little frozen water at the bottom.

Mind you, this is a hill that would be too steep and short to sled down if there was, indeed, snow. But it suggested itself for this experiment.

The youngsters piled onto the disk, and I gave them a shove. Slowly and pathetically, with many starts and stops, the disk descended the hill. And then we did it again. And again. And again. It was better than no sledding at all.

I still have that sled in the basement. I sold a few of our sleds last summer at a yard sale. Held on to the Epic Sledding Adventure one. To me it represents wanting something so bad that you're willing to use imagination to achieve it -- and you're willing to settle for a partial experience even though it might not be perfect.

It has snowed numerous times since that winter, and Spare has always gone sledding with her chums. Even into high school and beyond, they would sled on a snowy day. But the time that sticks out in my mind is the Epic Sledding Adventure, when we went sledding without the key ingredient you'd think you need to get the job done.

And speaking of key ingredient, my daughter The Spare is even now filming an ambitious web series for your enjoyment -- and after two days of rigorous (and expensive) filming, her leading man bailed. Unpaid performers will do that, with impunity. Spare is deeply disappointed but unbreakable. She's going to sled down this hill with or without snow.

There's a mere week left in Spare's fundraising efforts for her web series, Speed. She's gotten about two-thirds of the money she needs to complete the project. Reader, can you spare a quid for the Spare? Email me and I'll send you some goodies if you donate!

Spare's campaign to finance Speed, the Web Series is here. Please give! It will be on YouTube for all to see!

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

She Will Never Forgive Me

I've been entertaining my six readers with tales of my daughter, Fair Spare. This is an amazing week for her. On Friday evening she will begin to film a web series that she has created with a team of writers. She is starring in it. She got a director, a camera crew, actors, extras, a set ... even a gaffer! Not sure what a gaffer does, but Spare has one!

In fairness (Spareness?), anything involving show business is a team effort. Spare's co-creators have been as hard at work as she has. They are an invigorating lot to be around. I hope they pull this off with panache!

What a long way Spare has come from the memorable day when she was a pancake.

This happened back in the 20th century, probably in the winter of 1995.

In those days I had a stand-alone pantry where I kept my spices and canned goods and such. I had baby-proofed it by twisting a rubber band around the handles that opened it. Now, all you moms and dads out there. You know how this baby-proofing stuff goes. It's Murphy's Law that, the one time when you forget the rubber bands, you also forget that the baby is in the kitchen.

Perhaps I was distracted by something happening to The Heir. I don't recall. What I vividly remember is walking into the kitchen and finding Spare sitting happily in a pool of spilled Log Cabin maple syrup. She was dipping her hand into the syrup and then into her mouth.

"Spare!" I said. "You're a pancake!"

And at that moment, just as I was congratulating myself on not keeping the Drano in the pantry, Spare missed her mouth and shoved her syrup-coated hand into her eye. This glued her eyelashes together. Not surprisingly, she began to cry.

I hope you have to trust me on this. It's a lot easier to wash maple syrup off a baby than it is to mop it up off the kitchen floor. In no time, Spare was all sparkly clean ... but my feet stuck to the floor for weeks. I triple-mopped that kitchen, and the sweetness remained.

Spare has absolutely no memory of this event. (Nor does she remember the time I tripped and spilled a pound of German potato salad on her head. She was still in her carry chair then.) Still, this little escapade has been the source of much laughter over the years. As if that poor little tot somehow set out to play "dress up as a pancake" or something!

The moral of this sermon is simple: Keep those kid-locks on stuff at all times! Like you didn't already know that.

Spare has a little fund-raising activity going on just now. For as little as a five dollar donation to her campaign to finance her web series, I'll send you some sea glass -- and there are bigger prizes! (See below) If you've already donated, email me your address, and I'll put a care package in the mail for you.

Honestly, the bulk of Spare's fund-raising to date has come from you kind readers of "The Gods Are Bored."  Please, if you haven't flung some ducats at her, consider doing it! For the right price, she and I will re-enact The Great Pancake Fiasco on your kitchen floor!

You can donate here.

Thank you, my friends!

Saturday, February 14, 2015

Cute and Short

Welcome to "The Gods Are Bored," where this month we are featuring vignettes about my daughter The Spare! She's rare, fair, and beyond compare!

We have a nice front porch here at Chateau Johnson. It can hold a whole party of people. Front porches are wonderful that way.

There's just one itty bitty problem. The front porch at Chateau Johnson does not have screens. It's open-air.

Nice, right? Well, this is New Jersey, the Mosquito State. No sooner does the balmy, porch-sitting weather arrive than the bloodsucking winged beasties descend in droves. If we're lucky, we get a little bit of unseasonably warm weather in March, before THEY hatch. Otherwise, our porch looks good but can't be used.

We use it anyway. I plug in a box fan, and as long as it's blowing on us, THEY can't land. I learned that trick a few years ago. It works pretty well.

One day long ago, way before the idea of the fan hit me, the Johnson family was trying to enjoy a balmy spring evening together on the porch. In those days Mr. J smoked cigars, and he was puffing amiably on one. A citronella candle was our only defense from THEM, and THEY sneered at it and began their onslaught.

Spare (she probably was about four years old) looked at Mr. J, and looked at the mosquitoes, and said, "GO AWAY, MOSQUITOES! WE'VE GOT CIGARS, AND WE KNOW HOW TO USE THEM!"

I've never forgotten that.

The Spare is raising money for a web series she has written and will star in. It's called Speed, and it's a comedy about speed dating. She has an indiegogo campaign to try to raise money for the production costs.

In order to sweeten the pot of your contribution, I've created a little giveaway/contest, which you can see below. The smallest donation is $5.00! And, in addition to the Annie Giveaway, you will get to see Speed in its entirety, FREE, on YouTube, whether you donate or not!

You can go straight to Spare's campaign here.

Thank you, and may the bored gods bless you and keep you and shine Their faces upon you!