Tuesday, April 25, 2017

The Standardized Slump

Welcome to The Mumble Mumble Mumble *yawn* Is it over yet?

Ah, friends, friends. It's Standardized Testing Season.

Last week was spring break at my school. The week before that was PARCC testing. If you don't know what PARCC stands for, it's Perfectly Awful Repugnant Corrupt Claptrap. My students have to sit through this every year, and they've done it every year of their lives.

Our current incarnation of standardized testing is so evil that teachers are not allowed to look at it at all. We can't so much as glance across a student's shoulder, let alone point out an errant comma. Students themselves are not to be trusted either. All cell phones are silenced and collected. Students have to sign a pledge that they don't have their phone. Students must be escorted to the bathroom, and only one student is allowed in the bathroom at a time.We wouldn't want anyone to give anyone else an answer, now would we?

Except, if that's the case, why is so much emphasis put on group work in the classroom?

This year my students endured three math tests of 90 minutes apiece and four language arts tests, two 90-minute and two 110-minute. Can someone add this up for me? How many hours is that? I keep wanting to say more than ten hours, but my brain won't let me. Clearly I wouldn't have a prayer of passing those math units!

Anyway, most of our testing occurred before the break. But today -- Tuesday -- on the second day back from break, we had one final 110-minute language arts unit.

It was raining outside.

The testing is done on chrome books. Testing began at 8:00 a.m.

Within the first 40 minutes, half the kids had fallen asleep. By 60 minutes, the slumber was universal. Even yours truly, the proctor, had to pinch herself to stay awake.

How many posts have I written on this wretched subject?

Back in the previous century, I had to take a high school proficiency test. It consisted of balancing a checkbook, using a train table, and following the directions to bake a cake. There might have been a short story and a couple of easy math problems. I particularly remember the train schedule and the checkbook.

Now, students taking the PARCC test have to write three whole essays based on long-winded passages of "classical" literature, much of it from across the pond. Need I say how unfair this is to urban youngsters of color? Nah, you already know.

I've been asleep on my feet since 8:00 this morning, so it's time to hit the sack. Like a ton of bricks. With sweet dreams of a world without standardized testing, where students are judged on their unique and particular abilities. On the content of their characters.

Good night!

Saturday, April 22, 2017

"Science Is the Poetry of Reality"

It's a very odd feeling when you participate in a March for Science, out of concern for the anti-science sentiments in government, and you find yourself marching in the footsteps of Benjamin Franklin and Thomas Jefferson. This was the principal thing on my mind as I took to Market Street, with Spare and her friends, for the Earth Day Science March.

My simple sign was a photo of my dad, in his lab coat, with a beaker and an equation on the chalk board behind him. I also included his birth and death dates. In this way I felt that he was marching with me.

Spare, of course, is more flamBEEant.


This was the strangest crowd of marchers I've ever been in. I guess you could just say that these were all smart people. Call them geeks or nerds if you will, but you could almost feel the intelligence beaming off of everyone. Honestly, the signs weren't as creative as at the Women's March (Spare being the exception), but they were sincere. No one is taking this lightly, is I guess what I'm saying.



We barely got to Penn's Landing before it began to rain. It rained in earnest. Spare and her friends floated off, but I had a rain slicker, so I puffed out my chest and stayed for the speakers. I stayed and stayed. You remember how boring those chemistry lectures were in college? Well, those were the people who were speaking. It doesn't matter, though, because all the sentiments were the same. Science made this country great. Science has unending potential to benefit humankind. Science brings progress. Inventors should be respected. Energy should be renewable. We can all be scientists, even in small ways like monitoring our local creek. We should run for office, call our government officials, keep the pressure on. Vaccinations are a good thing, de-funding the EPA and Planned Parenthood isn't. Not all scientists are atheists. Geology is a helpful predictor of history. And I forget the rest, there were lots and lots of speakers.


Spare is in a dark place just now, so it was good to see her engaged in this worthy pursuit.

Benjamin Franklin was very much on my mind as I marched. Funny thing, as I was walking back up Market Street after the event was over, I passed a historic landmark that I'd never noticed before -- what's left of his house. So I walked back there to what might have been his front door. I thought about knocking, but I couldn't bring myself to do it. How could I look a Founding Father in the eye and say that the same great nation that put a man on the Moon is now dumping data and denying climate change? I let him rest.

The title of this sermon comes from a sign I saw but couldn't get a good picture of. It said "Science is the Poetry of Reality." Okay, well, poetry is the poetry of reality too, but I thought it was a good slogan anyway.

And of course we chanted as we marched:

What do we want?
SCIENCE!
When do we want it?
AFTER EVIDENCE-BASED PEER REVIEW

As I said, it was a rather strange march.


Wednesday, April 19, 2017

More Marching Philosophy

The March for Science, being ... well ... scientific, asked everyone who has committed to march to explain why they are doing it. No doubt this is data gathering for further targeted political activity, so I was only too glad to do it. Besides, the George guy paid me $200, again. Talk about the gift that keeps giving!

I am participating in the March for Science because my grandfather and father were scientists. Two of my uncles were doctors. I have a cousin who is a doctor as well, and another who is a chemical engineer. (All male, which for me is another issue.)

Science runs deep in our family. My grandfather grew up in a tiny house on a farm in Appalachia. He was the first to attend college, and he was only there two years. All the same, he learned to use a microscope. He went on to design microscopic drill bits for a company called American Celanese. The synthetic fibers he helped to create went into gas masks that were used during World War II.

Dad taught high school chemistry. He loved teaching. I've posted his closed-circuit t.v. lessons on YouTube, and they are still being watched!

For me, going to this march is rather (believe it or not) a Pagan practice. My ancestors were scientists. If they were alive, they would be appalled by climate change and by efforts to squelch research and data. That would infuriate them. Ancestral work is part of the Pagan path. This fits the bill. Dad and Granddad aren't here to express themselves, so I'm going to do it. I'm going to take one of my photos of Dad in his classroom and tape it (gently ) to a sign. So he can be there.

Dad and Granddad both voted Republican their whole lives, because Lincoln won the war. I fervently believe that neither one of them could have pulled the lever for Donald Trump -- Granddad because of his deep and genuine Christian faith, and Dad because, well, science.

I'm going away for a few days but will return in time for the Science March in Philadelphia. You'll see the photos here.

Anyone who tries to undermine science is a villain. In the Shakespearean sense.

Saturday, April 15, 2017

Tax March Philly

We have a leader in this nation who has refused to reveal his personal finances. We therefore cannot judge whether he is working for the American people, or working for foreign governments, or working to enrich himself.


This should be an outrage.

We have a leader in this nation who has absolutely no experience in governance. He has filled his inner circle with others -- including his own daughter -- who have absolutely no experience in governance. He has, with the help of a majority party in thrall to Big Business, set in motion efforts to dismantle public education, scientific research, health care and social services for the poor and elderly, and pollution controls.


This should be an outrage.

Know this: If you can't walk, I'm marching for you. If you care, I'm marching for you. If you believe, I am working the Work for you. If you are worried, I will worry with you. And I will act.

My feet are sore, but thank you bored Gods, I can still walk. The cause is just, the time is now.

Friday, April 14, 2017

Job Opportunity

Welcome to "The Gods Are Bored," where our good fortune is your good fortune! Let's face it. None of us have all the money we'd really like to have, right? An extra Benjamin for a half-day's work always helps, huh?

I'm Anne Johnson, here to share with you a fool-proof money-making opportunity. For those of you nine-to-fivers, this still works because it is always on a Saturday!

About midway through last December, I got a phone call from a nice man who asked me just to call him "George." He made me an offer I couldn't refuse. And now he's making it three more times this month. Whoever he is, this George has, as my students would put it, "stacks and stacks and stacks."

George offered to pay for me to go to the Women's March on Washington. He paid for my two-night stay in a Hampton Inn, two tickets on a Rally bus for myself and the Heir, and he paid us each $200 for the day to march. Pretty generous, huh? I think so too!

At first I didn't want to take George's money, but he assured me that he was paying everyone who marched the same amount. This means if I hadn't needed to stay in a hotel or take a bus, I would have earned $500 for the day! And actually, at the Women's March, I met dozens of ladies who were equally impressed by his generosity. Many of them got all cash, since they lived close enough to take the Metro.

I asked them, "Do you know who this George guy is?"

"Who cares!" they chortled. "He's got stacks and stacks and stacks. After the march, we're going on a spa vacation!"

Seemed like everywhere you looked at that march, you saw a woman happily clutching a few Benjamins in her fist. One told me, "This is great, because I really don't want to work. I can just do this and get some money the easy way. I intend to spend it on drugs."

Who am I to tell people what to do with their money?

Long story short, George called me in March and asked what I was doing on the weekends of April 15, 22, and 29. I said, "Well, sir, you tell me. What am I doing?"

He hired me to march all three weekends. Heir too. We get a little less since we're staying in Philly -- $200 each -- but the math is still compelling. Between us we will earn $1200, just for protesting Donald Trump. George, it seems, does not like the sitting president.

At the Women's March it didn't occur to me to crunch the numbers and see just how much George actually pays for these events. Doesn't matter. I suck at math. I can't count that high.

For these April marches, George even sweetened the  pot. He gave me a clothing allowance! I bought a Union Thugs t-shirt and a baseball cap with the meanest-looking pussy you ever saw on it. Sent the bill to George.

Any of you who want to protest Donald Trump and earn some pocket change, give me a holler. I'll set you up with George. I think I even get a referral fee, so sign on and come aboard!

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

We Interrupt the Regularly Scheduled Ranting

... asking you to click the link and vote for my daughter The Spare's improv team. They want to get back into a competition they were eliminated from by one lousy vote!

Her team is Windows 98
https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/DTRC57D


One of the good things about living in a big urban area is the opportunities it affords for chasing your Muse. The Spare's Muse loves to laugh!

EXHIBIT A: WINDOWS 98 (Spare on far right)



Don't ask me why, but Spare is convinced that my blog readership will push her team over the top in voting. I heard her boasting to her teammates: "Yeah, we'll put it on my mom's blog." Like I'm some kind of presence on the Web.

Won't take you a minute. No sea glass on offer this time, but if you stay tuned I'll tell you whether or not her team returns to the competition, and how well they do.

They are a hoot. She gets her talent from me, of course.

Monday, April 10, 2017

On the March Again

The rest of April will be a busy time for marchers. I guess I'll be flinging on my golden sneakers again ... not once, but three more times.

On Saturday, April 15, I will be in Philadelphia for the Tax March, sponsored by one of my all-time favorite nonprofits, Jobs with Justice. Look at this brilliant balloon we'll be floating over Market Street!

EXHIBIT A: TRUMP, RELEASE YOUR DAMN TAXES



I hope I can get my picture taken with this fine creation.

Having left my protest sign in Washington, DC during the Women's March, I need something new to carry. Okay, I suck at art. Luckily, my gig as a school teacher has provided me with inspiring signage.

Last fall I taught my students about symbolism. As most unimaginative teachers do, I Googled "how do I teach symbolism." I got a list of children's picture books that have symbolism in them. One of them was

EXHIBIT B: IT WAS PUBLISHED IN 2013 BUT IS OH SO RELEVANT


This is the cover! It's a picture book, so it's larger than a conventional book. How perfect is this to carry in a march that features a giant golden rooster?

The Snobville Public Library carries this riveting little volume. The story is so completely pertinent that when I used it to teach symbolism, my students were blown away. In this timely tale, a hedgehog wanders into the barnyard, slightly alarming the chickens because they've never seen one before. But the chickens are all ready to adapt until the rooster (who wants more attention) incites the chickens to be afraid -- very very afraid -- of the hedgehog.

EXHIBIT C: DID I SAY THIS WAS PUBLISHED IN 2013?


This is the rooster, exhorting his chickens to construct a huge, tall wall to keep out invaders. Does life imitate art, or what?

I won't give away the end of the story, because we are going to live through it. Suffice it to say that The Chickens Build a Wall will travel with me to the Philly Tax March. When we all get to the People's Plaza at Independence Mall, it may just be story time.

Sunday, April 09, 2017

Palm Sunday Jackass

I'm sure you've noticed. People who drive luxury cars are more reckless than people who don't. They're more likely to run a red light and to speed on the expressway. It's entitlement, of course. The fact that they deserve such a nice vehicle also means that they deserve to get where they're going faster than the rest of us.

This morning my daughter The Spare and I went out for a little tootle in my 2001 Saturn, which belonged to my dear mother-in-law before it came to me. I have a whole philosophy of driving. First of all, no matter how slow you go, it always beats walking ... so why hurry? Second of all, the good state of New Jersey posts signs telling you how fast to go, and if there's a single house on the street where you're driving, the limit is likely 25. At best, 35.

As I said, Spare and I were tootling along, in an ancient and sputtering machine, when suddenly a gleaming black Lexus passed us on the right on a two-lane road!

"Jesus!" Spare exclaimed, rather taken aback.

"What a douchebag!" I responded helpfully.

Then, as befits the slight differences in our worldview, Spare complained about men and I complained about rich people. (She's a feminist, I'm a socialist.)

We watched this luxury automobile as it tailgated the next car on the road, a car that was no doubt minding the speed limit the way I was.

And then the entitled driver reached his destination: a church. He fairly leaped into the parking lot.

I looked at the clock in my Saturn. 5:00. (I can't get the Saturn's clock to work. It's always either five or six hours fast.)

Of course. Palm Sunday. The entitled driver was rushing to Mass! Jesus likes his rich people to be on time to church!

I believe that Jesus was a historical figure. I also believe he thought he was the Messiah. I believe the account of Palm Sunday that is in the Bible, and the crucifixion too.

I also believe that Jesus disdained the rich. His followers included well-off intellectuals (How else would we know about him?) but consisted mainly of ordinary, everyday kinds of people. Those people, and Jesus himself, would be flabbergasted to see what passes for a Christian these days.

This is the holy week of the bored Goddess Eostre the Christian calendar, so what better time to take a barometric reading of American Christianity? It's a topic I've explored at vast length over the years at The Gods Are Bored, but it never gets old. It only gets scarier.

One Christian got his butt into a pew on Palm Sunday by driving with reckless disregard for the other people on the road. Hallelujah! The jackass is important to the narrative.

Saturday, April 08, 2017

Haiku

A Haiku about the New Supreme Court Justice


no no no no no
no no no no no no no
no no no hell no

Sunday, April 02, 2017

Afoot and Lighthearted

Last week I was sitting watching something on the t.v., and I saw a commercial for a high-end Volvo. "Hey," says I, "that narration sounds very familiar."

Volvo liked the commercial so much they made an extended version. My students liked it too. Never before have I had such an easy time getting them to like "the bridge guy."

Video below.

Volvo S90 Luxury Sedan | "Song of the Open Road" (Extended)

Friday, March 31, 2017

This Pagan Says Prayers

Welcome to "The Gods Are Bored," where we've always had a healthy respect for Plan B. This is especially true when choosing our praise and worship team. Mainstream might work for media, but it's less appealing in matters of the soul.

I left the Christian church in 2005 after a long period of disenchantment followed by a sudden and profound glimpse of the Other Voices in the Other Rooms. Since then I have hardly set foot in a Protestant church, but having a Roman Catholic husband, I have occasionally had to do the Mass thing. And by doing it, I mean showing up, sitting in the back, and suddenly becoming absolutely fascinated by the shrubbery outside when the going gets meaty.

Until Thursday night, when there was no shrubbery option.

If my mother-in-law had been a devout Catholic who tithed and attended, she would have found it easier to get a priest to say her last rites. She made it clear that she wanted one (and her siblings separately made the same request -- stridently). My Catholic siblings-in-law, whose children have attended parochial school from K to 12, set about the business of drumming up someone who could fit the bill. Mind you, we were in Baltimore,  the only one of the Thirteen Colonies set up specifically for Roman Catholics. How hard could it be?

It took awhile, but the specimen who finally arrived was a fine one from central casting. Tall, white-haired, well-groomed, and with a soothing baritone voice that was perhaps lost on my poor deaf mother-in-law in her state of semi-consciousness. And the guy was efficient. A cursory shake of the hand all around, and he got right down to business.

There was one problem. The only purportedly Catholic person in the hospital room besides priest and patient was my husband. The other Catholic siblings had melted away, leaving

weeping husband
Pagan self, and
Jewish brother-in-law,

(America is a wonderful place at times, don't you think?)

Things were proceeding as these things do ... you know, oil, and signs and such. But then the priest turned around and motioned for all of us to hold hands. And he tucked into an "Our Father" expecting us to be fully participatory.

Acutely aware of my husband's grief, and my dear mother-in-law's need for these rites, I intoned an "Our Father," carefully remembering that the Catholics cut theirs a little shorter than the Protestants. I had fortunately learned the "Hail Mary" from listening to my mother-in-law say it over the years at this and that occasion. I don't know what my brother-in-law did. Guessing he melted into the medical monitors.

You know, a lot of people who follow the jealous God are very tolerant towards those of us who don't. Fortunately, my mother-in-law was one of them. This is why I had no problem joining a prayer to the jealous God for the salvation of a soul who was so worthy of Heaven she wouldn't even have had to ask my Gods "pretty please."

The priest biffed out as quickly as he came, and shortly thereafter we moved my mother-in-law to hospice. She died about six hours later, of a broken shoulder. Those of you who have had elderly relatives with multiple health problems know how this can happen.

I had some misgivings about the last rites. I don't know if the jealous God will release my mother-in-law to come see me in the Summer Lands, so I offered up my own rite (no oil, no signs) petitioning the bored Goddess Queen Brighid the Bright to open the portals so that Mom in law can visit me from time to time. Seems only fair. My mother in law was full 50 percent Irish.

I echo The Spare's sentiments (below) about her grandmother. I've heard it through the grapevine that many people do not get along well with their mothers-in-law. I'm not one of them. Mine was a prime specimen, top notch.

May she have found the Summer Lands. Indeed.



Wednesday, March 29, 2017

For a Beloved Grandmother from The Spare

Hello Gods are Boreders, it's me the Spare. It's been quite some time since I've last written anything on here. If I can recall, the last time I was a guest on The Gods Are Bored was when I was 18 and had just had my heart broken. Well I'm 23 now (or just three weeks shy of it), and I'm coming to you all with something much more important than a silly boy.

All my life, I've been told just how much like my grandmother I am. Growing up she had a real knack for entertaining. Readers, if you'll recall, I throw a mean party. More than that though, she dedicated all her life to taking care of the people she loved, getting almost nothing in return. This is where I see myself most in my grandmother. When I love you, you'll know. Taking care of people was what she wanted to do and when her heath declined, it's clear that this is what she struggled the most with. 

One summer I spent the week with my grandmother and I ate a whole box of strawberries in two days. I don't even remember really liking strawberries. I guess I was simply hungry and growing. Every summer for the next eight summers, the first thing she'd say to me when I got in the door was that she had just purchased a couple boxes of strawberries for me. She'd bake me strawberry cupcakes when she'd come to visit me. She'd always point out any recipes with strawberries in them. I love strawberries now. I love my grandmother. 

It was hard watching her struggle with her heath these past couple of years. The grandmother I remember who was once so vibrant and sassy molded into someone who was plagued by sadness. She's always been my hero. I'd say this after I heard her say something brash or unbecoming, but when I think back on it there's a deeper reason that she's my hero. My grandmother is the most genuine, selfless, and loving person I know. I will be lucky if I can ever become half the woman she is. 

Today my grandmother was put in hospice. I got the call at the end of my work day. They said it could be hours, days or weeks before she passes. She's going in an out of consciousness, My brave beautiful mother does not want me to be there to see her. She doesn't want me to remember her like this. She's smart - she knows my heart is hurting right now (I've just been dumped again, things never change readers). In truth, no boy could ever hurt my heart more than knowing that very soon my dear grandmother and I will no longer exist in the same realm.
Here is my call to action. Please pray for her readers. I don't care who it is to and I don't care how it is done. All I want is her to be comfortable right now and for her to know how much she is deeply loved. I have a beautiful vivid memory of singing George Gershwin's, "Someone to Watch Over" about 10 years ago on a night much like tonight's. I'd like it if someone could watch over her tonight. 

Please excuse any typo's. My copywriter is at a hospital in Baltimore. <3

Sunday, March 26, 2017

Sunday with Walt

March 26, 2017 is the 125th anniversary of Walt Whitman's death. I found out, recently, that he actually isn't dead at all. He just stopped somewhere, waiting for us. We need him again.

EXHIBIT A: PRETTY GIRL WITH GOOD TASTE IN POETRY



This is my daughter The Spare. She's more photogenic than me. We went into Camden today to a special reading at his tomb. And he was there. He gave us a few verses of his work. I think he would have said more, but it was a bitter cold day for the end of March. Death does not seem to have fazed him at all, which should be a solace to all of us.

EXHIBIT B: YOU THOUGHT I WAS NUTS, RIGHT?



Some people took videos of the event -- alas, I forgot my phone (I used Spare's to take this photo). Perhaps in a few days someone will upload a video so that you can all see the great, gray poet speaking to us.

In the meantime, here's a little bit:

Love the earth and sun and animals,
Despise riches, give alms to everyone who asks,
Stand up for the stupid and crazy,
Devote your income and labor to others,
And your very flesh shall be a great poem.

This week I will be teaching my students about Walt Whitman. They only know him as a bridge.

Friday, March 24, 2017

Vulture Psalm

A vulture psalm.



If you're feeling sick
It's really a bitch,
But you ought to have health care
Even if you're not rich.


Thursday, March 23, 2017

An Open Letter to the Jackass with the Donald Trump Bumper Sticker

(Apologies, y'all. I've been watching a lot of really, really terrific spoken word poetry. I'm not a poet, but I did steal the "open letter" concept.)

An Open Letter to the Jackass with the Donald Trump Bumper Sticker

Yes! I saw you in the east bound lanes of Route 70 Thursday afternoon! You pulled up parallel to me, honked your horn, and held up your TRUMP bumper sticker that you must have had handy on the passenger seat next to you.

It was handy because you had no passenger. No one to fill the empty seat in your snowy white Cadillac Escalade. No one to hold your tiny hand or your TRUMP sticker. Lonesome boy!

I couldn't help noticing that your Escalade, while painted snowy white, had a thickish coat of gray grime. You know why, jackass? YOU LIVE IN NEW JERSEY, the Smokestack State! Your tags give it away! Who buys a white car in New Jersey? My guess is, a racist.

And now I have another rhetorical question. Why isn't the TRUMP bumper sticker ON YOUR CAR? I have my RESIST sticker right where everyone can see it. That's how you knew to flash me your TRUMP.  You saw RESIST and pulled up beside me.

Holding your bumper sticker in your hand. In your Escalade. Where you were alone.

Could it be that you aren't proud enough of your candidate to put his name on your SUV? No, wait. It's not that. YOU LIVE IN NEW JERSEY. This state voted so blue that you can't tell the sky from the ground. This state is so blue that Elvis sings about it at Christmas time. It's so blue  it needs Prozac. This state is so blue it could be a Viking's eyes. In this state, Dorothy and Toto go to the Sapphire City. NEW JERSEY IS THE FREAKIN PAST TENSE OF BLOW.

So while I can tootle around in my decrepit Saturn with my RESIST bumper sticker proudly displayed, You, jackass, run risks putting TRUMP on your Escalade. Your prissy truck could get keyed at the mall!

But wait. There's more.

You moved into my lane and got in front of me. You have a Cadillac. And yet when we got to the exit for Snobville, I was the one who exited, and you kept going down Route 70 toward Cherry Hill and its eight large synagogues. Was that your destination? Jersey tags, you must live in the area. But you don't live in Snobville. I do! Tra la la, Snobville went 65% for Hillary Clinton! I used to hate Snobville, but since those election results came in, I've been quite happy in my snobby home.

Stupid conspicuous consumer in your ugly high-end gas guzzler! Drive on. Alone. Right to the end of the road ... and then into the ocean. Because you should be shark food.

Sincerely,
Anne Johnson

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Riveting Conversation

Hello again! It's me, Anne Johnson, and this is "The Gods Are Bored," a sort of deity diner. Yes, the bored gods are becoming restless and snarly again and are itching for me to return to my agenda. Today, though, I had a fascinating conversation with myself that I thought I would share with you.

ANNE TALKS TO HERSELF

Me: Anne? Anne?

Me: Huh? *yawn*

Me: Remember last September when you swore up and down that you wouldn't come home and flop down in your barca-lounger like some sloth on quaaludes?

Me: *mumble mumble yawn*

Me: Remember you said that you were going to embark upon vigorous housework and other heart-strengthening activities the minute you walked through the door? I do vividly recall that you vowed to visit Decibel's resting place twice a week or more.

Me: Leave me alone, Me! I'm exhausted!

Me: Whose fault is that? Go to bed at bedtime!

Me: I do, dammit! It's just the getting-up time that's ridiculous. Especially now, with daylight savings time. Feels like it's the middle of the night. *yawn*

Me: Whine Whine Whine! Look at this house! It's a mess!

Me: Well then, you clean it up.

Me: Me? Why? I'm tired too! I stayed up late too!

Me: Uh huh, you sure did! And let's not forget why you stayed up late. You were looking at fairy clothes again! You don't have a brass farthing for a new fairy outfit! Why are you even looking?

Me: Get off my case. I've been wearing the same shirt to Fairie Festival for ten years!

Me: And there's not one damn thing wrong with it. Besides, the coffers are low. You've been marching, remember?

Me: I'm too tired to remember anything!

Me: You should have thought about fairy clothes when you bought that Union Thugs t-shirt. News flash: Why don't you wear that to the Fairie Festival?



Me: I suppose I could glam it up ...

Me: ARE YOU FUCKING KIDDING ME? I WAS JOKING!

Me: How the hell am I supposed to know when you're joking? Do you think I'm a mind reader?

Me: Anne, you need a glass of wine.

Me: We gave it up, packed it in, vowed to live sober. You surely remember that.

Me: Yes, alas, I do. But it's okay, because to get a glass of wine I would have to move out of the barca-lounger.

Me: Which, under the circumstances, I would never ask you to do. I have an idea: Why don't we go to Etsy and shop for fairy clothes?

Me: I give up. Anne, you're right. In fact, you're always right. Everyone says that about you.

Me: I know. Thanks all the same.


Tune in for another session of "The Gods Are Bored," where we'll go see Walt Whitman, or Decibel's ghost, or have Asherah over for scones. You never know.

Friday, March 17, 2017

Vulture Doesn't Want To Eat Cold, Starved Senior Citizens

It's a little known fact that the construction of the Great Wall of China led to a severe famine in the country constructing the wall. All the able-bodied people in the nation were called upon to help with the wall. Between the cost of it and the lack of workers to do other things (like, for instance, plant and harvest crops), the country plunged into decline.

So now our government has money to build a wall, but not to finance Meals on Wheels?

Get ready for it. VULTURE IS PISSED.



Vulture does not want to dine on emaciated senior citizens! Vulture would vastly prefer a diet of ultra-wealthy fat cats who are harvesting ducats on the backs of the rest of us! Vulture likes his carcasses to be brimming with the finest caviar-crusted entrails!

The Great God Vulture would like me to add that He (just like a person) likes His food squishy and fleshy, not rock-solid frozen.

Before you get the misguided idea that you should point out to Vulture that Meals on Wheels is state-financed, let me tell you that I did some due diligence here. Some of the financing for Meals on Wheels comes from federal Community Block Grants, which have been around for decades and are used to prop up the poorest, neediest communities in all kinds of ways. You guessed it. The block grants will be gone. They are "failing."

Vulture. Is. Pissed.

So, how do the starving senior citizens also become frozen? Federal money also props up state grant money that helps the poorest among us to keep their furnaces lit all through the cold months. This I heard on the local news radio. Our local LIHEAP office is afraid that they won't be able to help poor folks next winter, due to the budget axe being wielded by our Carrion in Chief.

What kind of heartless scoundrels prey upon the weakest and most vulnerable citizens? Vulture cries foul! Vulture is not a predator -- He disposes. He does not kill. Governments that cut social services while increasing the budget for weapons of mass destruction ... those are the killers.

Thus sayeth Vulture: Oppose the draconian measures that are being contemplated with glee in the halls of power!

Anyone who begrudges poor people nutritious meals and warm homes deserves to die and go to

MISER HELL

Where they will be helplessly obese and overheated, trying in vain to avoid being pelted by those heavy-ass rolls of quarters you pick up on your way to the laundromat! All the while, perfectly polished mirrors will allow these miscreants to view themselves being taunted by Santa Claus and his righteously indignant elves!

The word of Vulture for the people of Vulture. Thanks be to Vulture.

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Postcard Day

 Here we are again at "The Gods Are Bored," where the only Goddess joining us today is Sedna. She gets a kick out of the fuss we make in New Jersey whenever it snows. She has seen it all: No amount of sleet and freezing rain ruffles Her fur.

In our last installment I told you that Walt Whitman was joining me for dinner and an overnight stay. Fortunately I had a day off for stormy weather, so before the sun came up the next morning, I towed the Great Gray Poet into Camden on a Flexible Flyer sled. I deposited him at his home, which is now a museum. So as not to disturb him too much with our modern ways, I stayed along the Cooper River until we got into the heart of Camden -- and from there parts of it don't look much different, just way way more run-down.

I wish I had kept him handy, though, because I nearly forgot ... today is the Ides of Trump! I had to send my postcard to the White House!

With a deep sadness I unearthed one of my "Greetings from Asbury Park" postcards. And there was even greater regret when I had to affix a nice little "forever" stamp with a cardinal on it. Worst money I ever spent. But these things must be done.

It's important to be succinct on a postcard. There's nothing I hate more than getting a card from someone who has the money to travel someplace that I would like to go, and I'll never get there, and it looks so good in the picture, and how come I never have any money to travel? Wait. Emmm. Off topic. Re-direct: I don't like postcards where the person runs out of room at the bottom and writes extra small, or curves the text around the side. Pet peeve, you know?

I wanted to keep things short. And secular.

Drum roll ...

I'm not gonna cuss ya
You puppet of Russia,
But I want to know why
You put tape on your tie.

The beauty of this is, neither Walt Whitman nor Sedna helped me with this fine verse! I did it all on my own.

Monday, March 13, 2017

My New House Guest

Welcome to "The Gods Are Bored!" It's me, Anne Johnson, sitting here awaiting a Nor'Easter. I've got my bread, my milk, my candles, and my firewood. It's all good.

I also have a house guest, at least for one night. Let me tell you all about it.

Some of you old-timers might remember that I had a parrot named Decibel. Poor Decibel keeled over from heart disease a little more than a year ago, and I buried her near a pond that lies just behind my house.

With a storm approaching, I thought I would go by Decibel's grave and spend a bit of time before it starts snowing.

Decibel's grave overlooks the pond (it's a smallish number, home to some snapping turtles and a fractious mallard or two). As I stood there I looked toward the water, and I saw a man standing on the bank.

At first I thought it was my friend the Monkey Man, done up in his Walt Whitman attire. But the Monkey Man never grows his beard as wild as this guy's was.

Doing Walt Whitman impersonations is popular around here, so I guessed I was looking at one of those sorts of people. I'm softhearted for reenactors. You see truckloads of them in Philadelphia. So I climbed down the bank and hailed the guy.

"You called me," he said. And damn, he was the best all-time Walt Whitman reenactor I ever, ever saw! He looked just like -- I mean just like -- the last photo taken of him.


This is the guy. Except it really is the guy.

I've watched a little bit of Doctor Who, enough to know that he has some kind of time machine and he changes faces conveniently every few years. Must say I felt a little bit like I'd stumbled into an episode. Walt Whitman was standing there, along the pond, staring at me.

"I heard you calling," he said, "but I'm a trifle lost. Is this Camden?"

"Camden's about three miles to the east," I said. I was genteel enough not to add, and your mausoleum is right on the edge, I go there all the time.

He took off his hat like a gentleman, extended his hand, and said, "I'm Walt Whitman. Maybe you have heard of my poem, 'O Captain My Captain.'"

"Oh yes, I've heard of it," I said. Then, just because I can, I said

The spotted hawk swoops by and accuses me
He complains of my gab and my loitering.
I too am not a bit tamed, I too am untranslatable
I sound my barbaric yawp over the roofs of the world.

And this is how I knew it was really Walt Whitman. You say that to a reenactor, you get a knowing nod. You say that to Walt Whitman and you get a hungry look, like, "Has this person bought my book?"

"You've read my work!"

"I've got some of it by memory, too," I said. I wondered if I should tell him about this:


Then I decided against it. No predicting how an old dude is going to react when you tell him a major steel bridge linking New Jersey and Pennsylvania across the Delaware River is named after him.

He said, "I heard you calling, but I didn't know you would be a reader."

Except I didn't call him. I was just standing by Decibel's grave, looking for him under my boot-soles.

"What can I do for you, Miss ... Miss ..."

"Johnson. Anne Johnson. Really."

"How can I help you, Anne Johnson? You can see, I suppose, that I'm not in a shape to help anyone with physical labor."

Okay, now I was skeeved. But I soldiered on.

"I'm not sure why I hailed you, exactly," I said. "It might be because of your great, unbridled optimism for this land and its people."

He shook his white locks at the runaway sun. "I lost much of that optimism during the War."

"I know," I said. "Somehow, some way, I want you to keep America out of another civil war. We need to hear America singing Her great, varied carols. We need to celebrate the body electric. We need to believe that every hour of the light and the dark is a miracle."

"By my soul, you really know my writing," he said.

"Everyone knows your writing. You've wandered into the future, Mr. Whitman."

He looked stricken. "Am I a ghost?"

"You sure don't look like one."

He seemed doubtful, then mournful. "How did I die?" he asked.

"You aren't dead," I said. "You are as alive as Sophocles, as Shakespeare. Name ten famous poets of your time, and I can honestly promise you that you are more famous than any of them. Don't dwell on death." I started steering him toward Chateau Johnson. "Here now. Come home with me. I'll make you some dinner and take you home in the morning. Please tell me you have your house key."

He fumbled in the pocket of his ragged great coat and produced a key. It perked him up.

I'm so forgetful," he said. "It's good to have this."

Damn right, I thought. Because I have no idea how I'd get you in that museum otherwise.

Well, reader, there you have it. Walt Whitman is up in my book room, holding two separate editions of Leaves of Grass in his hands and staring at one, then the other. Wait until he reads the learned analysis in the front of the paperback! It will go right to his head.

At the height of the Nor'Easter, I'll use the old Flexible Flyer to pull Walt Whitman into Camden. I'll take him to his home, which is right across the street from an incarceration center. Then I will call on him, frequently. We'll walk together. Maybe he has some words for us in these dark and dreadful times.


Saturday, March 11, 2017

Human Conceit

Welcome to "The Gods Are Bored," dedicated to deities as old as dirt! This is another entry in Vulture Saturday, highlighting a sacred, totemic creature whose stature has fallen at the hands of modern American conceit.



Most people, if they think of vultures at all, think of them as ugly and disgusting. It hasn't always been that way. Some Native American cultures still venerate Vulture,

One thing Americans do brag about is being at the top of the food chain. It's all about us.

I'm sorry to disabuse random morons about this, but the actual pinnacle of the food chain is the vulture. By definition, the food chain is organized by what you will and won't eat. Aphids don't eat ants, so ants are higher on the food chain. Ants don't eat anteaters, so anteaters are higher on the food chain. And so on.

People don't eat vultures. Vultures will eat people. Therefore, vultures are higher on the food chain. They are, in fact, at the top. (I'm talking about complex organisms here, not the tip-top organism, the bacterium.)


Of course, the human race is all about, "What's in it for me?" What can vultures do for people?

Quite simply, they keep the country clean.

Just ask the citizens of India how it's going for them since their farmers used an anti-inflammatory medication called diflocenac to keep cattle alive. When vultures consumed the carcasses of animals treated with the drug, it killed the vultures. A huge die-off of native vulture species has led to rampant rabies among animals (big uptick in cases in people), an explosion of dangerous wild dogs, and garbage reeking everywhere. It will be decades before the vulture population regains its numbers, as they breed slowly.

Here in America, vultures serve the same purpose. They consume carrion. Rabies has no effect on them. Salmonella has no effect on them. They remove from the environment toxins that are dangerous and disgusting. In return, how do we treat them? Shabbily.

Vulture the Sacred joins all American citizens who care deeply about the environment we are creating for future generations. Future generations of people also presupposes future generations of vultures. Restoring forests, reducing CO2 and other pollutants, and designating wild areas will help not only our children, but those baby vulture chicks being hatched this spring -- who, in the absence of lead in their food -- could live 40 years.


The next time you see a vulture, think humbly about it. Promise it you will do what you can to keep it safe. Then notice the grace and, indeed, beauty of this apex creature. How can we humans claim any kind of superiority?

The word of Vulture for the people of Vulture. Thanks be to Vulture.

Thursday, March 09, 2017

Ben Carson is a Total Disgrace

 How in the name of all that is holy did Ben Carson earn an advanced degree in anything? I've never heard one educated person say so many boneheaded things.

According to dictionary.com, an immigrant is "a person who migrates to another country, usually for permanent residence."

The definition seems to imply personal agency. As in, a person who chooses to get in a boat and go live somewhere else.

When a hostile power puts you in a boat and forcibly moves you to another country, for permanent residence performing slave labor, that hardly (to me) suggests "immigrant." Is there a word for this kind of profound and soul-stealing dislocation?

I got my DNA done by Ancestry.com. Spare gave me the little kit for Yule. Turns out each and every one of my ancestors was an immigrant to America. The vast, vast majority of them came willingly. Maybe one or two were sent here penal-style. (They all came hella early.) But yeah. They chose to come to America. The ancestors of my students did not.

Someone who can sugar-coat slavery as if it's just another steamboat full of hopeful Italians should be consigned to the basement of some dusty bowling alley and left there to set the pins.

Tuesday, March 07, 2017

Day Without a Woman

Welcome to "The Gods Are Bored!" I'm Anne Johnson, and last time I looked, I was a woman. So I guess I still am..Give me five seconds to confirm ... yes. Still female. This makes me eligible for March 8 Day Without a Woman protest!

Sadly, I must decline this opportunity to sound my political voice.

It's one thing to put on your pussy hat and go march in Washington, DC on a Saturday. It's another thing to participate in a general strike and call out from work. I'm a school teacher. I have 66 students, and it's my job to teach them to read and write.

I'll be wearing red, though. And I won't buy anything. I've got to save my money for future marches.

Speaking of marches, I was in a parade this weekend! It was so much fun.

EXHIBIT A: ANNE IS A TWO STREET STOMPER


If you think I look good in this satin, you should see it on the men! Oh, wait! I can show you that!


Back to a Day Without Women. I think this is a bridge too far.

Asking women to step away from their jobs for a day implies that their work is just a job, with no intrinsic value. I'm sure there are a lot of people (both genders) who just put in their eight hours every day, but I don't quite look at my work that way.

As I gaze out across my classroom, taking in the bored-stiff visages of my students, I feel that I am not making one damn bit of difference in their lives. I could leave tomorrow, and they wouldn't even miss me. Half of them forget my name or call me some other teacher's name. They would much rather look at their phones than at me.

But if I stay home from teaching on a general strike, then I become the kind of teacher that the creature Betsy DeVos claims all public school teachers are. To hear the voucher pushers tell it, we public school teachers are just in this profession for the paycheck and the tenure and the health insurance. Taking a day off on a whim is just the sort of thing we would flock to do.

So I'm not doing it. Red shirt, yes. Day off, no.

Spare is going to be disappointed, but I think even the thrift store counts as shopping. Maybe not? Your thoughts? I do need some new candles.

Friday, March 03, 2017

Vulture is PISSED

Welcome to First Church of Vulture, Apostolic and Unreformed. Hear the voice crying out in the wilderness for the family of Vulture!

The great God Vulture has learned that a minion of the Satan with False Hair Growth has, with the stroke of a poison pen, re-instated the use of lead ammunition in the nation's wild lands.

Vulture deems this an abomination.

Lo, Vulture has spoken unto me the curse He will visit on those who propel poisoned metals into the flesh, fields, and waterways of our land. Hear the word of Vulture!

VULTURE CURSES HUNTERS WHO USE LEAD BULLETS

1. Your spouse and children will not respect you.

2. You will worry about making enough money for all of your days.

3. Your private parts will be the smallest and ugliest in any locker room.

4. Your descendants will wait eagerly for your death, so they can have your stuff, yea most especially your guns and ammo.

VULTURE CURSES CABINET SECRETARIES WHO LEGALLY ABET THE USE OF LEAD BULLETS

1. The horse you came in on will shit on your shoes.

2. Your private parts will be the smallest and ugliest in the entire Western Hemisphere. Babies will laugh.

3. You will have the boss from Hell. He will torment your days, and even when you no longer work for him, your former people will remember. And hate you.

4. You, and all of your lead-loving buddies will die and go to

LEAD BULLET HELL

Where demons in the guise of Disney Princesses will make rude jokes about your private parts while pelting you with molten base metals, the more pustular skin diseases, and the ragged remains of Remington rifles.

Thus sayeth Vulture: READ THIS WHILE YOU STILL CAN, AND REPENT! The fate of the California condor is at stake!

If the California condors don't survive this wretched setback, I can double guarantee and promise you that Vulture will lay a SMITE on this wretched nation that will make us all beg to become carcasses.

The word of Vulture for the people of Vulture. Thanks be to Vulture.


Wednesday, March 01, 2017

Can't Even Joke about the New Job

All hail, and welcome to "The Gods Are Bored!" Put on your best frown, because there's nothing funny here tonight.

Today I was in a teacher's meeting with a few of my colleagues. After lunch as we were settling in to yet another wrestling match with curriculum, I turned to them and said, "Well, I won't have to do this much longer. I got a new job, $1500 a week to be a paid protester."

Their jaws dropped.

"Yes," I continued. "It's $1500 a week, and all I have to do is march in protests and go to Congressional town hall meetings and disrupt them."

And my colleague, holder of a master's degree, said, "Really?"

And the young student teacher, working on multiple certifications, looked at me and said, "Really?"

They believed it.

Sorry, but that is scary.

My colleague said that she believed me because I am trustworthy. I've never told a lie before, so why would I start now?

Then the student teacher took out his phone and started punching in numbers. "That's $71,000 a year," he reported.

"Yes!" I said. "Now multiply that by all the other people who have been 'hired' after the Women's March: 500,000. Not even George Soros is that wealthy."

Tonight I was going to come into this space and tell you readers all about my "new job." I know you wouldn't have believed me, because my job description would have gotten more outrageous on here. But I'm so shaken by the belief I saw in my colleagues that I can't even joke. They believed that such a job, at such a salary, could be possible.

Oh my goodness, this is a hard time to be funny.

I was also going to write a blog post about how Donald Trump tortures puppies. Again, satire. But have you heard that federal records on animal welfare were deleted from the USDA web site?
How can I joke about something that might be true?

When the situation becomes sufficiently grim, satire is no longer possible. It could very well be that we are reaching that point.

Oh, and I might as well add that it was 75 degrees here in Snobville today, and my forsythia is blooming. This is not satire.


Monday, February 27, 2017

Lottery Ticket

Let me introduce you to my student. I will call her Sweetie Pie for reasons that will soon be obvious.

Sweetie Pie has perfect attendance. Every morning she says hello with a sweet smile. She gets her work and settles right in. Reading is very hard for her, but she tucks in and tries. It takes her longer to do her assignments, but she never misses one. She takes work home to complete it, if she doesn't finish during school time. At the end of class (I have her in the morning), she tells me, "Have a nice day!"

Sweetie Pie's written work shows elements of struggle. "Even though" in her writing comes out "even doe." She writes what she hears, of course. But she does write. She'll fill a page, and if the grammar and spelling aren't good, her ideas are. I probably wouldn't do much better at writing a page if I had to do it in a foreign language, and the people speaking that language around me didn't speak it so well.

I've got to hand it to Sweetie Pie. She wants to do her best at all times. She wants to be her nicest at all times. Everyone likes her. She is an angel.

Today I asked my students to do a free-write about the lottery. They had several options. One option was to imagine what they would do with the money if they won the lottery.

Sweetie Pie chose that option to write about. Then, in search of another bright sticker for her binder (I buy these myself), she read her one-pager. My blood ran cold.

What would Sweetie Pie buy with her lottery winnings? Citizenship.

Readers, how can we deport such a one as this? And she is one of many where I teach.

What will I do if I come to school one day and she isn't there?

I'm crying about something that might happen. What a world.

Saturday, February 25, 2017

Saturday Sermon, First Church of Vulture, Apostolic

Hearken unto me, U.S.A! For verily I am a voice crying out in the wilderness (what's left of it). I am the humble and not-so-great I Am, namely, Anne Johnson. Look upon the prophetess of Vulture and take heed!

For upon this day, Vulture sulketh upon His holy fence post of Wenonah. He gnashes His beak on said post, which hurteth, and maketh Him even more petulant.



Thus speaks Vulture: "Hsssss Hssssss Hssssss."

(This, of course, is why religions always need prophetesses.)

Vile sinners of the U.S.A! Vulture hath hissed! And in his hsss is a message unto the people. To whit:

He who groweth hair unnaturally upon his head, lo, he is an abomination.*** Unto him and those who follow him will be a plague of those little biting flies that hover around beaches and bays in the summertime! For I am Vulture, and My ways will be followed. I am a jealous Bird, quick to rise to righteous rage. And this should be familiar unto ye who have come to My Holy Church from other venues.

Anyone who asks the High Prophetess (self) how so much meaning can be read from a few short hisses -- ye of little faith! Humble thyself before Vulture! Okay, just a suggestion, but if you know what is good for you...

 No, wait. I'm rusty.

HUMBLE THYSELF OR WATCH THY NATION CRUMBLE TO DUST UNDER THE WEIGHT OF TYRANNY.

That's better! It's been awhile.

The Great Vulture hath asked me to bring a sorry nation to heel. Verily, every Saturday during which I am not marching unto that end, I will deliver here a sermon, in obedience and submission to Vulture.

Vulture is the Highest of Holy. He killeth not. Nor doth he sound harsh calls unto the air. He keeps the world clean. And it is Vulture's expectation that His servants, the human race, likewise keep the world clean as a whistle. This is why He now gnashes His holy beak on the holy fence post of Wenonah and becomes petulant. U.S.A., we are failing Vulture.

O dreadful turn of events!

Vulture makes demands, which we must meet. Yea, verily the possum on the shoulder of the road is the smallest and most inconsequential of Vulture's demands. My Saturday sermons will acquaint you with the Great God Vulture and how to please Him, thereby bringing LIGHT INTO THE WORLD for everyone!

Don't miss one single Hsss, my flock. A world fit for Vulture is a world fit for humankind.

The word of Vulture for the people of Vulture. Thanks be to Vulture. Hsss Hsss




***Except should he or she be recovering from an illness which removeth hair due to medicinal treatment. But only then.

Friday, February 24, 2017

Top It Off!

I have 199 followers, thank you very much Deborah!

If you have been thinking of pushing that follow button, here's an incentive:

Push the follow button, then send me an email at

annejohnson17211 at gmail dot com,

containing your home address, and I will send you ...

a lovely piece of Atlantic sea glass in the color of your choice! (White, green, brown -- there are your choices.)

In addition to your genuine, not fake, Atlantic sea glass, you will receive first-hand posts about protest marches in Washington, DC, hateful humor by the fistfuls aimed directly at the current cesspool of politicians and the Christian hegemony, and free advice on all sorts of subjects!

I also often sit down for candid conversations with bored deities ... and they are getting restive.

Come along and follow me, all the best is yet to be!

Thursday, February 23, 2017

Hateful Humor Can Trip You Up

I started this blog in 2005 as a way to make myself laugh. I read lots of other blogs by other people who were just trying to make themselves laugh. Let me tell you, it's easy to get nasty and step over the line. Today's sermon will consider what should and should not constitute humor. Basically, you've got to watch how you hate.

Take the new guy, for instance. Only recently did I become aware of this young fellow named Milo Yiannopoulous. I heard there were some heady protests out in Berkeley when the stripling planned to deliver an address that he promised was simply humorous, and quite within his First Amendment rights.  Then I saw him myself on Bill Maher. What I heard from the two of them got my quills in an uproar.

This Milo person (or Bill Maher, I can't remember which one) said that no one ever got offended by Joan Rivers, and she insulted everyone, yes everyone, and no one was safe.

It happens that I saw Joan Rivers live in Vegas back in the 1980s, and yes indeed, she insulted a whole lot of people in a very short time. But there was a difference between her humor and the humor you hear from people like Milo and Bill Maher.

When did you ever hear Bill Maher poke fun at himself? Call himself stupid, or complain about his looks or sexual abilities? The first half hour of Joan Rivers' live show -- and it was the filthiest 30 minutes I've ever witnessed, short of a John Waters movie -- was completely and utterly self-deprecating. Once she had insulted herself to the ninth circle of Hell, she moved on to others. But it was from a place of shared foibles. Not from a perch.

Rule #1 for Hateful Humor: Hate Yourself Hardest, Longest, and First.

Myself, I am a firm believer in freedom of expression. If ugly white men want to wrap themselves up in robes and claim racial superiority, oh well, look at those three-eyed morons. At least they aren't trying to sell their worldview by making jokes about it.

Rule #2 for Hateful Humor: Don't Try to Win Converts by Making Them Laugh.

You know what? Even the most depraved and degenerate humorists -- now I really am thinking of John Waters -- have lines they won't cross. Anything that could harm a child isn't funny. Anything that mocks a disabled person isn't funny. Any humor that could make a listener feel shame is not funny.

Rule #3 for Hateful Humor: If Your Target Can't Retaliate in Kind, It's Not Funny.

I didn't hear much of Milo's "humor," but seeing that he resigned in disgrace due to comments about child sexual abuse did not surprise me. And I'm sorry I didn't post Annie's Rules for Hateful Humor in time to save him! But heck, I can't be everywhere and on top of everything. I'm a school teacher.

But it's not too late for Bill Maher.

Bill, I know you're reading this! Say what you want about politicians. They are fair game. But if you are going to make jokes about whole swaths of the American populace, take aim at yourself first. Hop off that perch and question your own perfection. That's what made Joan Rivers funny. That's what gave her carte blanche to ladle out the hater-aid.

Rule #4 for Hateful Humor: Politicians are Fair Game.

My Congressman, Donald Norcross, is so stupid that he has to put lipstick on his forehead to make up his mind. Honestly, the guy tried to kill a bird by throwing it off a cliff. But that's okay, because Donald has a brother who can do the thinking for both of them -- and does it early and often. Funniest thing of all? I voted for the asshole. Twice.




Monday, February 20, 2017

I Want a Name When I Lose

 Everyone has a moment when they either realize their life's ambition or understand, irrevocably, that they never will. For me that moment came last summer, 2016.

On the fifth of July, at 5:45 in the morning, I found myself getting in my car to go to my school. I had landed a job painting the school for the summer. It was 8 hours a day, five days a week, at $13 an hour.

As I drove to work that morning, I felt that moment when all my youthful ambitions died, forever and ever.

Painting is hard work. Painting for an 8 hour day is really hard work. I had plenty of time to ask myself how I, Anne Johnson, Johns Hopkins University Class of 1981, Phi Beta Kappa, came to be painting 100-yard-long corridors in 90-plus degree heat.

EXHIBIT A: Anne Paints a Ceiling in the Auto Tech Shop, Summer of 2016


There's an old Steely Dan song with the lyrics, "They got a name for the winners in the world. I want a name when I lose." It kept running through my mind all day.

There's also the Langston Hughes poem:

Hold fast to dreams
For if dreams die
Life is a broken-winged bird
That cannot fly.

Some afternoons in the summer of 2016 I came home from my shift feeling like that broken-winged bird.

Then a curious thing happened. Not overnight, but slowly.

It started when I was lugging two full paint buckets up the two flights of stairs in my school. When I got to the top, I wasn't out of breath. I always used to get out of breath climbing those stairs, even if I wasn't carrying paint.

One day the buckets didn't seem as heavy anymore. It wasn't as hard to hold up that ceiling pole (still daunting, though).

One weekend when Mr. J was out of town. I phoned up The Heir, and we went hiking. Only we didn't just go hiking. We chose a waterfall crawl, on a trail rated difficult where a number of horrible hiking accidents have occurred. Heir is intrepid, and a stripling at 27. I am way older than that, and when I saw the trail (which was really only a steep boulder tumble) I almost bailed. But I didn't.

EXHIBIT B: Anne at Glen Onoko Falls, Like a Boss, Summer of 2016


I could not have made this hike without first spending five 40-hour weeks painting shop ceilings.

If you do anything 40 hours a week, you will learn how to do it well. I spent the summer of 2016 learning how to paint. As another year of teaching loomed, further corroborating my certainty that all hope of realizing any youthful ambition was gone, I came home from painting and looked at my house.

The walls hadn't been painted in over a decade. In some rooms, they hadn't been painted in 20 years.

I bought some supplies -- brushes, a paint bucket, rollers, spackle, frog tape -- and started painting my house.

Not everyone can achieve their life's ambition. I wanted to be a novelist. Well, I did write a novel. It got rejected by a half dozen agents and almost everyone who read it. Okay, at least I tried. I'm still a loser, though.

But I am a loser with a great new paint job in the foyer of my house.

Our current head of state likes to proclaim himself a winner. When you look at winning and losing through his lens, being a loser doesn't sting so much. This consoles me.

I want a name when I lose, and it might as well be "house painter." Maybe I can broaden it to include other home repairs. I've got some caulking to do in the dining room.

And Pennsylvania has a lot of waterfalls.

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

My Working Wand

Boy, is my working wand busy these days! There's so much tension and strife in the air. So much dark energy. Can one little stick make a difference?

Years and years ago I went to a workshop and made a magick wand. It is indeed a beautiful and wonderful wand -- oak from the second-oldest tree in New Jersey, a vulture feather, wire-wrapped all up and down with minerals and beads and a Goddess medallion. A fine wand. Only trouble is, I can't work with it. The piece has too much going on in and of itself to send energy outward.

Enter my working wand.

My daughter The Heir actually found my working wand for me. We were on a trip to Woodland Beach, Delaware, and the wand had drifted up on shore. It is perfectly smooth and a little less than 12 inches long. Fits right into my purse and feels good in my hand.

Even though I knew I had found a working wand the minute Heir gave it to me, I still energized it with the elements. It came from the Delaware Bay, so it didn't need any more Water. I took it home to Appalachia, to the property on Polish Mountain that belonged to my family from the 1800's to 2012 and stuck it into the rocky soil, infusing it with Earth. Then I took it to a gathering at Four Quarters Farm, where a friend named Tony used a magnifying glass to endow Fire from the Sun. One magnificent drum circle supplied all the vibrant Air this slender wand will ever need.

I often take my working wand to work with me and sit it on my desk. If I feel myself getting worked up, or if my students are getting worked up, I roll it in my hand. Wands exist to funnel inner intentions outward to the world. A driftwood wand is particularly helpful in drawing out peace and distributing it where needed.

I took my working wand with me to the Women's March on Washington and held it in my hand the entire day. Most of the time it felt like the wand was taking in energy rather than radiating it. However, I did put the most fervent prayers through the wand and into the bricks of the Environmental Protection Agency. The spell was very simple. Two words. "Stay put."

Stay put, EPA. The energy of my wand is with you. My intentions are holy, without hatred or guile. The Earth will be protected as long as the EPA does its work, so ... can I help it stay put? I have faith.

Sunday, February 12, 2017

Postcards from the Hedge

Welcome to "The Gods Are Bored!" At risk of alienating my newer audience, I've got to make an admission: I'm a Pagan. Ask me what I believe in, and I'll ask you, "What have you got?" I'm big on forgotten and overlooked deities -- hence the name of this blog.

Push comes to shove there's a good bit of hedge witch in me. I will cast a spell when I feel it necessary. (Never anything negative.) I carry a working wand, and my teacher's desk has a very VERY discreet altar, just sitting right there for anyone to see.

As I embark upon a new chapter in my life, a chapter in which I will be marching and demonstrating and engaging in political activities, I plan to practice the kind of magick for which I am universally known. This would be trickster stuff, humor as a weapon.

It recently came to my attention that there are plans to inundate the White House with postcards on March 15, the dreaded "Ides of March." Everyone who is anyone is being encouraged to send a postcard (or two or ten) to 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW, Washington, DC 20500.

Ha ha! I love postcards! Every time I go to Asbury Park, I always buy a few.


Some of you who have heard from me via snail mail have gotten one of these.

So, nice front, right? All that remains is to think of a nice message for the back. It has to be short and simple, both because there's not much space and the chief executive doesn't like to read.

Between now and March 15, I'll run some ideas past y'all. And do feel free to leave me any messages you would like to send in my comments section! I can lay my mitts on stacks of Jersey Shore postcards.

What does a hedge witch put on a postcard to Donald Trump?

Roses are red
Violets are cute
You will look great
Turned into a newt.

Nice! I feel the creative juices flowing!

As above, so below
Donald Trump has got to go.

Help me out here. We've got four weeks until mailing day, and I just bought a new book of stamps.

Wednesday, February 08, 2017

The Last Time

Welcome to the spruced-up and modernized "The Gods Are Bored!" I'm your host, Anne Johnson -- it's not even a pen name. It's a measure of anonymity in the age of 15-minute fame.

One blessing I have received multiple times in this life is the gift or purchase of a splendid car at a bargain price (or for free). My grandfather gave me his glittering Oldsmobile when he could no longer drive. When that wore out, I bought a  Ford Escort hatchback from a church lady who had used that car so lightly it was just begging to be driven. More recently, my mother-in-law gave me her car, a dubiously road-worthy relic that reluctantly creeps from Point A to Point B.

In the great state of New Jersey, we must get our vehicles inspected every two years. The relic (I affectionately call this vehicle "The Bucket") was up for inspection last month. The only thing they inspect in NJ anymore is emissions, and the "check engine" light had been on in this car since Mother-in-law purchased it in 2005. For the record, it's a 2001 Saturn. Vintage!

The mechanic said he would fix an emission sensor that might be the problem, and if we drove the car 100 miles without the light coming on, it would pass inspection. Voila! Done! In fact, I've now tootled 200 miles, and the light has not returned!

That's a big deal. The car was free. And the insurance is cheap, since the only thing I would pay for is damage I did to someone else's car.

To celebrate the Rite of Inspection Passage, I took some time this afternoon to clean out The Bucket and spruce her up a bit. While I was doing so, my next door neighbor pulled up in front of his house, showing off his new bumper sticker because he knew I would be jealous as fuck. And I was. He felt so sorry for me that he went inside and brought out an identical bumper sticker for my Bucket!


Even in New Jersey I'm courting slashed tires. No matter. I believe in putting my views out there to be scorned or embraced.

My neighbor and I inevitably began talking about these tense weeks since the Orange Menace assumed office. He said he couldn't remember any time like this in his life, and -- since he's younger than me -- I agreed that it was the worst in his time.

However, I do remember something worse. It was an awful time.

I remember when Dr. Martin Luther King was assassinated, and the cities erupted in rioting. I was still a kid, maybe about 10 years old. I remember how scared everyone was. I grew up south of the Mason Dixon basically, so I was surrounded by white people who thought black people were just biding time until they could unleash fury on the very fabric of society. So everyone around me was scared.

It was an extremely tense time. There were soldiers on the move, and curfews, and martial law, and other stuff that sounds extremely frightening to a kid. This went on for a few weeks, and then life resumed a tense state of near normal.

Yes, I can foresee similar behavior on the horizon, but this time I don't think it will emanate from the ghettos in the big cities. This time I think it will start in the country and move toward more populous areas. It's scary to contemplate. A lot of people have guns. Remember what I said about guns: production for use. It's easy to imagine many, many itchy trigger fingers out there in the hinterland right now. All they need is a word or two of encouragement from someone who feels he isn't being given enough respect.

Nevertheless, my car identifies me as a member of the resistance. If it goes ill for me, well, who wants to be the last one standing when the world goes to Hell? I cede the future to my daughters. I'm scared as all get-out, but someone has to go down with the ship. Hope it's not me, but oh well.

My blog has received over 800,000 views since 2005. Post by post, I've become a best-seller.

Monday, February 06, 2017

Handy Guide to the New Presidential Cabinet

Welcome to "The Gods Are Bored!" It has come to my attention that many of my new readers are sliding in here from She Who Seeks. This means that you have the great good fortune to live in Canada. Do you need major renovations on your house? I'll do them, if I can live in your basement for a few years.

Anyway, if you're looking at the US of A from a safe distance, you may be having trouble keeping track of all the new cabinet appointees being introduced by the Orange Menace our esteemed head of state. Fear not! Here's a quick and handy guide to the new cabinet! Some of the have not been confirmed yet, but it'$ only going to take a $hort time to $ort them all out and $eat them.

ANNIE'S HANDY GUIDE TO THE NEW WORLD ORDER!

Exhibit A: Secretary of State Rex Tiller$on


Mr. Tiller$on used his charm and his wide knowledge of the fossil fuel hegemony delicate balance of international affairs to win the enthusiastic support of the nation's duly elected supervillains. With his steady hand on the wheel of state, we are sure to ride right off the cliff and plunge, like Wile E. Coyote, to a puffy death on the canyon floor.

Exhibit B: Attorney General Jeff $e$$ion$


The law of the land rests in the sooty hands of Mr. $e$$ion$, who will be the first to tell you that the South will Rise Again, just as soon as we require all African Americans to have notarized letters from Abraham Lincoln, personally attesting to their right to vote. We don't want just anyone voting, now do we? Equality is for snowflakes, not He-Man Republican$!

Exhibit C: Education Secretary Betsy DeVo$$


I'll be posting this a day before Ms. DeVo$$ is set to be confirmed, but the bet is safe. Never mind that hordes of taxpaying parents have deluged their senators' phone lines, inboxes, office fronts, and Twitter feeds begging them not to confirm her, Ms. DeVo$$ is very popular with Republicans. Does it matter that she personally feels that public schools are breeding grounds for criminal minds, egged on by evil, unionized teachers? Ah, no. She'll fix it. It's her mission!

Exhibit D: Director of the Environmental Protection Agency, $cott Pruitt


This photo is metaphorical. Think of the planet Earth as the coast of Florida, and Pruitt as the force pictured above. Any questions?

There were so many promises heaved about during the election season. One of them was to get big money out of government and "drain the $wamp." Honestly, it seems like the swamp is not so much drained as deluged. Which is all good, because you don't have to call it a swamp anymore. Now it's a lake, which isn't a swamp. So there!

Yes, I am sucking my thumb. Can you blame me?


Thursday, February 02, 2017

If the Women Don't Find You Handsome, They Should At Least Find You Handy: A Gods Are Bored Tribute to the Red Green Show

This is "The Gods Are Bored," and we are thrilled to be participants in the 2017 O Canada Blogathon! The time is right for a chuckle or two, so here and now the Bored Gods will pay homage to the funniest show on America's Public Broadcasting network ... The Red Green Show.

If you've never heard of The Red Green Show, well, wow. How would you know how to turn a washing machine into an easy chair? You've got some catching up to do.


The Red Green Show has over 300 free episodes on YouTube, so if you've never seen it, you're going to have a great year! Biff on over and take a look.

If you have seen it, you will be interested to know that numerous bored Goddesses absolutely adore it. Really! I should know, I'm the one who got them hooked.

It all started when my daughter The Spare and I would curl up in bed together to watch our DVDs of The Red Green Show. Gosh, we really enjoyed that. Even if we'd seen the episodes ten times. Anyway, I suppose our hearty guffaws caught the attention of a deity or two. Before you could shake a serpent out of an apple tree, we found ourselves joined by some of the highest quality Goddesses of yore. If there's anything a Goddess can't get enough of, it's men making fun of being men. Goddesses find that refreshing, you know, because they generally have to associate with Gods who are super insecure and also unfamiliar with the versatility of duct tape.

Word of this silly show passed from pantheon to pantheon, and it seemed like every Goddess chose a favorite Red Green character. (Goddesses love to play favorites, but you already knew that.) I particularly recall that Athena had a mad crush on Hap Shaughnessy. She said he reminded her of Odysseus.


 Athena wanted to make Hap immortal, or at least buy him a decent skiff. But you know, Her skills are a little eroded these days because she doesn't have a wide following. The best She could muster was a fan letter, which for Hap was damned good enough -- he already owns the Parthenon and more statues of Zeus than the British Museum.

Turtle Woman couldn't get enough of Edgar K. B. Montrose, the explosives expert. He's not in very many episodes, so she made us play his bits over and over.



 The neighbors still accuse Spare of blowing up their dog house, but it was actually Turtle Woman, making a futile bid to win Edgar's scorched heart. Have you ever tried explaining a bored Goddess to irate neighbors with a singed Corgi? Trust me, blaming it on the Red Green Show won't work.

I thought Aphrodite and Freya were going to arm wrestle for the right to seduce dorky young Harold, Red Green's nephew and sidekick.



 This should not surprise any of you readers who already are familiar with the ways of ancient Goddesses. Nothing bores a Goddess quicker than a buff, handsome man. Heck, they can craft a buff, handsome man out of a couple ounces of Tang and a half-chewed pencil! But you find yourself an awkward, bespectacled and buck-toothed Canadian geek, and the Celestials swoon. Can't just craft those dudes from tree bark and prayers.

The worst, by far, were the dryads. Oh my bored gods, they went nuts over Ranger Gord!



Just the thought of that guy sitting, lonely and horny, in a fire tower all by himself, made them giddy with desire. With great effort I was able to convince them that it was just a television show, that he wasn't really spending his long days ogling a log through binoculars, thinking it was a woman named Samantha. But wouldn't you know? They went out looking for real forest rangers and came back bitterly disappointed by how well-adjusted they are. Art doesn't always imitate life.

You know, when push comes to shove, what the Goddesses love best about The Red Green Show are the aphorisms. "Keep your stick on the ice?" They eat that up. "I'm a man, but I can change, if I have to, I guess?" They howl themselves silly. They know men can't change, and don't want to, and never will. It's fun to see a few men try, and fail, and try again. And fail again.

Well, that's what the Goddesses like. As for me and my household ... we love Red Green. The creative uses of duct tape. The gravelly voice. The plaid shirts and mismatched suspenders. The timeless beard. We're nuts about him. We want to bake him a pecan pie and leave it on the windowsill at Possum Lodge.

Whenever I'm feeling down and out, Red Green's cheery slogan sees me through:

"Remember, I'm pulling for you. We're all in this together."

So might it be.