Sunday, January 30, 2022

Got It!

 You might have read that the Least Coast got a snowstorm on Friday night.

Here in Haterfield, we got about 7 inches of snow. Most of it fell in the overnight hours. By morning my yard was chock a block with wild birds, all fussing around the feeder.

The snow tapered off by noon, and I went out to shovel. My next door neighbor helped with the hardest part, so I was done in about 30 minutes. 

Then I went inside to bake cookies for my neighbor. But they didn't turn out quite right. I think I put too much sugar in them. So I ate them myself.

The Fair and her boyfriend stopped by in the evening to borrow the sleds. Fair made a snow angel in the front yard.

I built a fire in the fireplace as soon as it got dark.

Best part? I bought a new pair of Altra hiking shoes, and I wore them all day, and they didn't hurt my feet at all.

Best year of my life so far.

Thursday, January 27, 2022

In Which I Report a Rogue Teacher in Narrows, Virginia to the Governor of That State

 Hey, fans! Do you remember when the worst thing about the Commie governments was that they encouraged citizens to snitch on other citizens who were thought to be "subversive?"

Wait. You're not that old? Well, trust me that it's a thing we elementary kids learned about in Social Studies when we were taught about Communist China and the Soviet Union.

The idea of citizen espionage sounded bad in 1966, and it sounds bad now. How awful to live under a regime that would target certain people (almost always intellectuals, teachers, and writers) and persecute them as enemies of the state!

Welcome to Virginia in 2022.

The newly-elected Republican governor of the state has created a special email box for people to report public school teachers who are teaching "critical race theory" or other curricula that makes white students feel bad about themselves.

It's a public email that anyone can write to.

Of course they are asking correspondents to be serious and not to send frivolous emails.

And of course this stricture is being completely ignored.

Someone reported Professor Dumbledore for punishing students who discriminate against mudbloods.

Gods bless America.

However, it's not enough for us here at "The Gods Are Bored" to let other people sneer at authoritarian regimes. So I went to my email address that I keep just for these types of correspondences, and I penned a little note to Virginia. I titled the email REPORTING A ROGUE TEACHER IN NARROWS, VA. Here's the text:

I'm a 63-year-old teacher of English at the high school level. When I was a kid in school, our nation had two enemies: Communist China and the Soviet Union. What we as students were chiefly told was that those societies were evil because they encouraged citizens to "report" other citizens for subversive behavior. Gosh, everyone thought that was awful. Just think, ordinary people spying on each other!

But isn't this tipline exactly that? A tool of an authoritarian regime? It has always been the goal of fascist governments to be thought police and to subvert intellectual advancement. Welcome to the club.

I was just kidding about the Narrows, VA part. My grandparents lived there for awhile. I'm in New Jersey, and so far as I'm concerned, Virginia is off the tourism table as long as you are encouraging people to persecute school teachers.

Anne Johnson

I would have liked to be wittier, but I figured all the good literary allusions had probably already been flung.

I'll bet you would like to report a rogue teacher yourself, wouldn't you? All you'll need is the address and a map of the state, so you can pick out some cute little mountain town to mention in the tagline.

And here's the address:

Tell them Anne Johnson sent you.


Tuesday, January 25, 2022

Don't Look Up Is Weak Broth

 Oh, all my peppy young readers! All you who are up-to-date on everything! I usually envy the fuck outta you, but not today.

Over the weekend, Mr. J and I sat down to watch this new movie called "Don't Look Up." We watched and watched and watched. And then the cable signal went out (as it often does).

Usually when the cable signal goes out, we collectively groan and fuss like two old doddering wrecks.

In this case we were 90 minutes or more into the movie, and suddenly it just wasn't there, and we didn't care.

Sorry, striplings, but that movie was so boring I won't ever watch the rest of it.

I get it, I get it. Filmmakers want to say something important about the flaws in our society. Hey, I do too! I've been writing this blog since 2005! But, as Hamlet said, "brevity is the soul of wit." Drawl on too long, you lose the crowd.

Forced to make conversation amidst the silence, I said to Mr. J: "Anyone who has ever seen 'Dr. Strangelove' would hate 'Don't Look Up'."

EXHIBIT A: "Dr. Strangelove, or: How I Stopped Worrying and Learned To Love the Bomb"

"Dr. Strangelove" was released in 1964 and is about the end of the world. It was written, produced, and directed by Stanley Kubrick before he, too, went off the rails and started making 3 hour movies.

"Dr. Strangelove" clocks in at 95 minutes and covers all the ground that "Don't Look Up" covers except the billionaires, of which there were fewer in 1964. It's a succinct, hilarious comedy founded on the tragic possibilities of nuclear annihilation. And if you minty fresh young'uns don't think nuclear war was as much of a threat as climate change, well. You don't know what it was like in 1964. 

How many roles did Peter Sellers play in  "Dr. Strangelove?" I think three. Yep, I'm counting three.

I'm not making light of climate change here, my pets. I'm making light of heavy-handed, didactic filmmaking. "Don't Look Up" is too long. It loses steam. At the 90 minute mark I was rooting for the asteroid.

If you've never seen "Dr. Strangelove," I recommend it wholeheartedly. I'll bet I've watched it seven or eight times, including as part of some foofy college course I took at JHU.

The moral of this sermon: If you find yourself with time on your hands on a Saturday night and a vague worry about how human fuckups could bring about the end of the world, your go-to film should be "Dr. Strangelove." Not "Don't Look Up."

This is free advice, and it's good. You'll most likely thank me, if you like this blog.

Thursday, January 20, 2022

A Rant about Snow

 I'm Anne Johnson, and I love snow.

I have always loved snow. My fondest childhood memories include feet and feet of the stuff, sledding with my dad, building forts and snowmen, and just watching the fat white flakes fall from the sky.

But that was Appalachia. Now I live in southern New Jersey, 50 miles from the coast.

It's just really great to be able to hop in the car on a whim and drive to the beach in an hour's time. Breakfast ... ZOOM! ... sand under my feet.

But you know what happens in the wintertime? That ocean just 50 miles from my door influences the weather. It almost always feeds warmer air into snowstorms that change the snow over to rain. Or keep the rain from turning to snow. Or, if a storm hugs the coast, it snows like mad on the beach resorts and passes my town by.


You know how frustrating it is to see winter storm warnings for freakin' North Carolina, and rain for New Jersey? Happens all the time.

Take this past weekend for example. The forecasters started their hype days in advance, for a snow event on Sunday night. When the event actually hove into sight, the forecast totals took a swan dive. From 3 - 6 inches we got downsized to 2 - 4. Then, when the precipitation started falling, it snowed beautifully for one hour, turned over to rain, and the rain washed away what little snow had accumulated. Meantime, the Poconos got a swell haul of 6 inches.

A similar scenario reared its head last night. The forecast called for a period of rain to turn to snow and accumulate between 1 - 3 inches. Sure enough, the rain moved in. AND IT STAYED. Around 10:00 it snowed lightly for about an hour, leaving no accumulation. Happens all the time.

Last year was better. We actually had a period of three weeks where there was snow on the ground every day. Unheard of in New Jersey! We actually got snow on top of snow! 

Alas, that was a one-off. This year has brought back the usual hyped-up forecasts that devolve into rainstorms. There's nothing quite so dispiriting as a rainy January afternoon.

You would think that a lady of my age would not want to have to deal with a snow event requiring a shovel. Ha ha! I don't mind shoveling at all! I'll shovel the rare blizzard event with a vim that quite belies my age.

You know what I love? Shaking my fist at the snowplow as it undoes all the shoveling I accomplished. That's my idea of a good time.

The most heart-rending part of this rant is this: A good snowfall means an unscheduled holiday for school teachers and students. O frabjous snow day! Caloo, Callay! Nothing to do but linger over breakfast and shovel.

So far this year we have had zero snow days and zero delayed openings.

Where are the bored deities of snow? Why are they leaving me so rain-soaked this year, when all I ask is a little 3 - 6 inches of white loveliness?

It's the damn ocean. Remind me, next summer when I blithely set out for it with my beach bag, that it ROBS ME OF SNOW.

Friday, January 14, 2022

I Stand Corrected

 January 6 was not, as I scoffed last week, a bunch of drunken yahoos run amok. It was a group of terrorists with a plan who drew in a bunch of angry, whipped-up ill-informed rubes.

New indictments handed out (finally) by DoJ. A long article in New York Times Magazine about the officers who were killed or injured due to that riot. Those are the two things that changed my mind.

One can only hope that this country includes enough citizens who don't want to see the government overthrown by bad white men with guns. One can only hope that this country includes voters who don't want their elected officials to glad-hand terrorists in support of an unhinged dictator.

What we need, to keep this from happening again, are some serious penalties. All these goobers have gotten off easy, except the one that was shot. But when you think that we have kept a number of Islamic men in Cuba for decades without a charge, shouldn't we be preparing similar accommodations for the people who planned this Capitol attack?

I have asked myself what these people would have done to Nancy Peolosi, or AOC, or Mike Pence, if they had laid hands on them. Would they have had the nerve to actually kill them? Well, they damn near killed a dozen Capitol police officers and injured dozens more.

So for the record, I went way too easy on the Capitol terrorists. Now the American justice system is doing the same. Pack them off to Gitmo. Deny them shade and Bibles.

Tuesday, January 11, 2022

Adopt a SadCloud!

 My daughter The Heir is fostering a bank of SadClouds. You could say The Heir made these from scratch and has nurtured them right along. They are now ready for adoption!

If you haven't heard of SadClouds, they are very useful and a lot cheaper to own than a mammalian or reptile pet. SadClouds exist to absorb depression and to soften anxiety. Because they understand completely. The world leaves us floundering, especially in these dark times of the year. SadClouds get it.

EXHIBIT A: Bank of SadClouds

The thing about adopting a SadCloud is, you don't have to care for it. It cares for you. Everything you are feeling is immediately recognizable to the SadCloud. It understands completely, whether you're just seasonally depressed or literally battling for a toehold. SadClouds feel you. You can look at them and see it in their eyes.

These SadClouds are immediately available for adoption to a good home. Their fee is $35, which includes all shots and examinations, postage and handling.

If you want one, you can email me at annejohnson17211  at  gmail  dot  com.

Here are some closeups of each individual SadCloud. Alas, they have no names yet. That would be up to you.

EXHIBIT B:  Blue SadCloud

Photographed in its current foster home in West Philadelphia.

EXHIBIT C: Purple SadCloud

Those eyes. Those eyes.

EXHIBIT D: Half and Half SadCloud

This SadCloud, so I'm told, is for someone who has up-and-down cycles and is never sure what the day will bring.

EXHIBIT E: Pink SadCloud

This pink SadCloud draws energy from light sources and then distributes it like a cooling rain.

Any and all of these sweet little SadClouds can be had for the fee of $35 each. They have been lovingly hand-fed with no resort to machinery! Organic, free range, ethically produced, locally sourced in West Philadelphia. Crafted in the USA.

Contact me if you or someone you love needs a SadCloud in their life!

Friday, January 07, 2022

My Case of COVID is Postponed

 Welcome to "The Gods Are Bored!" I'm Anne Johnson, working at home again until January 18. Because flattening the curve has been so very successful in the US of A.

Well, maybe it will be this time. But my guess is that I will return to school on January 18 to a miasma (great word) of Omicron variant and no N95 mask for my mug.

I do have the paper mask I wore at the Mummers Parade, and lots of microfiber cloth masks. I'll double up.

Yesterday, January 6, there was a lot of hoo hah about the riot at the Capitol last year. CNN and MSNBC have been harping on this event nonstop for 365 days, so it's not surprising they were slobbering all over the anniversary.

Here is my two cents on that awful event:

1. This was not a well-organized, well-planned attempt to instigate a coup d'etat. This was a rabble of stupid white men (mostly), many of them liquored up*, all of them fired up by the hateful rhetoric of the person who was president at the time.

2. These people had been encouraged not just by the former president, but also by his "superstar" propagandists, to expect "something big," or to cause it to happen. It happened organically, maybe driven by a few individuals who weren't drunk and had read Crowds and Power by Elias Canetti ... oh wait. A few individuals who felt like they could get something going and weren't drunk.

3. The most despicable piece of this is the recent news that the former president sat in a White House dining area and watched with glee while the attack was occurring. Sat there, apparently re-ran parts of it, and refused to speak against it even when begged to by the superstar propagandists.

4. The even more than most despicable piece of this is that the entire elected Republican party, except for two members, has made peace with all the lies, deceit, and violence behind that day. Some of them even say the thing was a false flag, or a happy tourist romp, or no big deal -- let's move on. Elected Republicans don't believe this bullshit. They're just too craven to tell the truth.

5. Liz Cheney loses nothing by losing her seat in Congress. Her father is richer than God, and she'll be all over CNN and MSNBC even though her conservative bona fides should put her under a general gag order. And while I'm ranting, have you noticed that Wyoming has two Senators and one Congresswoman? Tell me why Wyoming should have that much senatorial power. I'll wait.

6. The liberal news media is beating 1/6 to death. By the crucial election next November, people will be sick of hearing about it. So shut up, already. We've seen the footage. Let it marinate until election season instead of re-running it every night. Here's a tip: Talk about how efforts to unionize are meeting with success. That would be refreshing.

*My evidence for the drinking is this: I have one Facebook friend who attended that debacle. When I saw her plans on her page, I started following her posts. And those planning to attend with her bragged not about bringing firearms, but about bringing Fireball. Which makes men mean, for sure.

Tuesday, January 04, 2022

Triumphant Return of the Two Street Stompers

 On New Year's Day 2021 I sulked around the house and watched reruns of past Mummers Parades. Not so 2022! Back on Broad Street with the Two Street Stompers!

Considering that Christmas was 50 percent here in Chateau Johnson, a 100 percent Mummer experience was welcome indeed. The parade was delayed one day by rain, so we stepped off on January 2 under cloudy skies and balmy temperatures.

This year our theme was "Not All Heroes Wear Capes." It was a salute to essential medical workers. Our suits were designed to look like scrubs, and we all had surgical caps and - yes - masks! (Well, I wore mine, except for photos.)

Sorry, but I don't have a video of the routine. If it's posted on YouTube by someone, I'll show y'all at another time. It was a touching show. We all wore the same color satin, and the kids came out in front and did a little dance (which was eye-popping adorable). Then all the health care workers in the club came out of the ranks and waved to the crowd.

I have to hand it to our captain. It's hard enough to get 230 sober people to move in straight lines and follow some dance steps. When your troupe has been liberally lubricated and still can bust the moves, you're doing something right!

We did our routine at City Hall and then headed down Broad Street. The crowds were sparse, needless to say, but my daughter The Fair and her boyfriend came down to watch. When we finished up at Broad and Washington, we made our way down to the Mummers Museum on Two Street for a group photo.

EXHIBIT A: Two Street Stompers NYB 2022

I'm in there somewhere. Aren't those dresses gorgeous?

From the museum, we strutted all the way down Two Street to Oregon Avenue. It's a long hike, but that's where the real mumming occurs. That neighborhood is steeped to the gills in Mummers clubhouses, and the people love seeing us.

EXHIBIT B: Two Street Strut!

That's me on the left, and looking over my shoulder is Mummers Hall of Fame member Ed "Buzz" McLaughlin, basically my brother from another mother. Buzz's grandfather was a Mummer, and now Buzz's grandson is a Mummer too. Generational wealth!

The day finally wound to a close in our home base of Gloucester City, New Jersey. It was an 11-hour strut, and every second of it a pure joy.

EXHIBIT C: But Wait, There's More!

Guess which club made the local newspaper, above the fold, on January 3? Bing bing bing! The Two Street Stompers! And this is a huge honor, given how elaborate the string band costumes are.

Another parade is in the history books. I'm so stoked that I can dance that much and strut that far at my age! I love being a Two Street Stomper. Such fun.

Working from home the next two weeks, I remain

Your correspondent from the City of Brotherly Love,

Anne Johnson, Fired Up!