Thursday, October 19, 2017

Do You Know These Gods?

Out here in the Great Blue Northeast, an online resume company named ZipRecruiter.com is very popular. Job seekers can give your email to ZipRecuiter, and if you give a fuck really care about the seeker, you can leave a nice reference. Just this week I warmly endorsed a longtime colleague who is transitioning her career.

This can have its downside, though.

The first ZipRecruiter.com request I got yesterday was from EndodaWorld (see below). Apparently he saw an opportunity, pegged me as a sap, and put his bona fides online in search of praise and worship (and a hot shower).

Then this ashen deity must have recommended me as a hopeless sentimentalist to all his forgotten buddies. Today I was deluged with requests from ZipRecuiter. And the whole thing made me question the wisdom of my forebears regarding religious matters, let me tell you.

Do you know any of the following deities, and, if so, can you give me some deep background before I serve as a reference?

1. BigDiq

2. Shoutnstomp

3. Death Dodger

4. Tardigrade

5. Beelzebabble

6. Mister Softee

(Okay, just kidding about the last one. That's the ice cream truck.)

But for all I know, none of these deities is worthy even of driving an ice cream truck. Never heard of any of them! Why are they cheeky enough to reach out to me for a reference?

Inquiring minds want to know.

Monday, October 16, 2017

Interview with a Bored God: EndodaWorld

Welcome to "The Gods Are Bored!" Oh by all the fruit flies on the watermelon, there's a wild bored god here tonight! He's dressed in animal skins, and he looks pretty dusty. Thank goodness he's content to sit on the floor! I showed him how to use my can opener (I'm old school, I've got a hand-held), and he's opening all the cans in my pantry. Which is, yes, annoying, but he looks kind of hungry.

This deity doesn't speak anything like any language living or dead. Luckily I have Dr. Google. Dr. Google knows everything. It appears that this god is EndodaWorld, sacred to the extremely, extremely, extremely, extremely ancient peoples of the Fertile Crescent. Hard as it is to believe, Dr. Google can actually translate this diced-tomato-fixated deity for us.

Anne: Please, EndodaWorld, have another can of tomatoes! (aside) Glad he likes 'em, I'm too tired to bake a pie.

EndodaWorld: What are these delicious things?

Anne: Tomatoes.

EndodaWorld: Why didn't my people have these?

Anne: Hmmmm. Oh, I know the answer to that! Your people lived in the Old World. Tomatoes are a New World plant. Europeans didn't have them until Columbus sailed the ocean blue.

EndodaWorld: Who is Columbus?

Anne: Some dude. Oh! Ummm, Campbell's soup is better if you warm it up.

EndodaWorld: I don't see a fire.

Anne: I'll get right on that. So, EndodaWorld, tell me about yourself. What's that powder you're wearing? Looks like you fell into a vat of talc.

EndodaWorld: This? It's the stuff that fell out of the sky. For ten years.

[Anne takes a gentle dab with a Q-tip, gives the dust to Dr. Google.]

Dr. Google: Volcanic ash.

Anne: Wow! This fell from the sky for ten years?

EndodaWorld: Sometimes it came down dry, sometimes it came down wet. Either way, it killed a lot of people and a lot of gods.

Anne: How did you survive?

EndodaWorld: I didn't have to survive. I got hired after two years of famine by priests who blamed all the old deities and promised I would get this whole ash thing under control.

Anne: So that was after two years. What happened by Year Eight?

EndodaWorld: I got fired. It was a short tour.  My praise and worship team mostly died.

Anne: Guess you could say they bit the dust.

EndodaWorld: I beg your pardon?

Anne: Never mind. Totally tasteless joke. So let me understand. Some volcano erupted and spewed ash into the air for a decade, and it wasted a lot of people all over the place. I guess animals too.

EndodaWorld: Animals, plants, insects. It got very, very quiet. The people who wanted to survive had to migrate and fight for a spot in the areas that didn't get the dust.

Anne: Was your praise and worship team living in the shadow of this volcano?

EndodaWorld: What's a volcano?

Anne: Whoa! Ash falling from the sky for a decade, and you didn't even live near the volcano? Dr. Google, can you shed some light on this?

Dr. Google: This deity was briefly worshiped during the catastrophic eruption of the Yellowstone Caldera super volcano 645,000 years ago.

Anne: EndodaWorld, you are officially the oldest deity I've ever had the pleasure of meeting! Probably by a factor of ten.

EndodaWorld: Let's not talk about ten.

Anne: I read just the other day that the Yellowstone Caldera could fire up and erupt with just a few decades notice. It could happen any time. And you're here with an evocative name, warning me that such an eruption would be the end of the world.

EndodaWorld: Exactly.

Anne: Except it wasn't.

EndodaWorld: Who are you to argue? I was there!!!

Anne: But if it was the end of the world, there wouldn't be any people anywhere. Or animals, or plants, or insects. But we've got plenty of all of those things.

EndodaWorld: Well, Miss Priss, let me tell you: If you had been there in my time, you would have felt like it was the end of the world!

Anne: I daresay. And if that scary super volcano erupts in thirty years, it will certainly be the end of the world for me. But not for everyone. So long Anne, Mr. J, cats Beta and Gamma, beloved daughters, entire population of Philadelphia ... but not the human race. EndodaWorld, you've got to admit that some tribes of humankind survived the decade of ash rain.

EndodaWorld: Didn't do me any good. I've never gotten even a nibble on my resume, from then until now.

Anne: Speaking of nibble, could you please forego that last can of black beans? I need those for my soup.

EndodaWorld: But .....

Anne: Oh, never mind! Munch away!


I'm going to take a lesson from this hungry bored god. Apparently the shit hit the fan, and people stuck in the catastrophe blamed all of their gods and dumped them. The people drafted a new god, but that god couldn't fix the problem. In fact, it must have gotten a lot worse. Now, what does that remind me of?

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Thalia Paints Goddesses

Welcome to "The Gods Are Bored," still and always dedicated to deities who have too much time on Their hands! What happens to a Goddess when Her praise and worship team falls apart? Can you imagine the stress? Eternal life is so unfair!

There's always an upside, though. A Goddess who has plenty of time on Her hands can sit for an awesome portrait. That's where Thalia Took comes in.

Thalia has been painting portraits of Goddesses since before I started blogging. Her work is phenomenal.

Where do I start? I think my personal favorite Thalia Took portrait is Sedna.


But look at this one of Artemis!


Stirring, no? Let's jump pantheons again!

and again!


Freyja is here for you, Yellowdog Granny!

Thalia has an absolutely amazing web site, where you can see all the bored Goddesses you ever heard of, and many more that get absolutely no press at all anymore. In these particularly trying times for American women, it's nice to be reminded that there are Goddesses just lining up to help us all out of this mess.

Thalia has a patronage link called Patreon. I had never heard of it, but you can basically pledge her a little sum of money that helps her buy nectar and henna and incense and other things that Goddesses crave. If you sign on to Thalia's Patreon account, you can pretty much pat yourself on the back that you're championing the cause of bored deities. (She does male deities too, at least some of the decent ones.)



So, in honor of getting 202 followers myself, I'm asking you to biff on over to see Thalia and all the fabulous work she's doing! Let me know what you think.

Monday, October 09, 2017

The Bully Forgets. The Victim Doesn't.

They say insanity is doing the same thing over and over again, expecting different results. I believe it. How else can I explain the fact that I have attended quite a few high school reunions?

A few weeks ago I went to yet another class reunion for my old alma mater, The South Will Rise Again High School. You know the one. Our mascot was a Rebel soldier, and the school song was Dixie. I do not even exaggerate. (I heard that just recently the school changed its mascot and song. High time.)

Anyway, I've gone to my share of these reunion things, and they are always the same. Most of the people even look the same, which is pretty amazing given the number attached to the reunion.

When I was in middle school, I was bullied quite a bit. In those days, boys taunted smart girls for being too smart, and girls taunted girls over perceived flirtations with boys. I got tons of the former and a little bit of the latter.

In 1970, I had one conversation with a kid in my sixth grade class, and his girlfriend did not stand for it. She organized her posse, and they knocked the crap out of me when no one was looking. It would have happened again, except that the next time they got me in their sights, my dog was with me. He put an end to that bullshit just by suggesting he was going to bite them.

Free advice: You never go wrong adopting a mid-sized mutt.

Whenever I go to my high school reunions, the girl who bullied me is always there. She dropped out of high school, but using a marriage to one of our grads and a lot of revisionist history, she now presents herself as a bona fide diploma-holder from SWRAHS.

And she always comes running up to me and wraps me in a bear hug and asks me how I'm doing.

This baffled me in 1997 and again in 2007. Now it is 2017, and I have learned a lot about bullying from being a high school teacher.

Turns out bullies often forget all about their behavior, if they even perceive it as bullying at all. Did you know that? It surprised me to learn that.

One other thing I learned as a high school teacher that I already knew: Victims do not forget being bullied. They remember names, places, and events in stark detail.

And so, every time this former bully female comes running up and bear-hugs me, I stiffen and exchange the minimum pleasantries, while coyly suggesting that I don't recall her graduating with us. She always says she didn't have the money for senior pictures, so she isn't in the yearbook.

This conversation has been repeated three times: 1997, 2007, and 2017.

Will I be insane enough in 2027 to go back to another of these ridiculous beer-fests in an obscure Moose Lodge on the edge of the Potomac River? Gods! Make me sane! I'm never going to forget that bully, and she will never remember why.

Monday, October 02, 2017

People Are Dying: Trump Is To Blame

Today one of my students told me that her grandfather is in harm's way in Puerto Rico. With no lights and nay to contact authorities, citizens are facing crime along with a scarcity of every basic necessity. "Three people were killed right near his house," she told me. I have no doubt. This would happen anywhere if people couldn't get clean water and food.

According to the man in the White House (he calls it a "dump"), Puerto Rico should just suck it up. According to him, they're just waiting around for someone else to do the dirty work.

Like this.

And now we have a mass shooting that dwarfs the casualties in most Vietnam War battles. It's beginning to look like Americans are safer in Afghanistan than they are in Las Vegas.

But of course, we have every right to our precious guns. Our festering sore of a president ran on a promise of assuring everyone their Second Amendment rights.

As I've said before, this used to be a humor blog. Oh sure, I've always had my say politically on this page ... but betwixt and between, I interviewed bored deities, wrote about my daughters' antics, and pined for my Appalachian homeland.

Seems like another world, that.

Not my president.

Saturday, September 30, 2017

A Modest Proposal for Puerto Rico

Have you ever been to Puerto Rico? I have, and it is beautiful! I've seen the rain forest, and old San Juan, and some of those beaches that look like a commercial for a tropical vacation. I saw pineapples growing in the fields!

Add to this nostalgia the fact that about 15 percent of my students are of Puerto Rican origin, and you'll understand that I truly care about that island.

So, here's a modest proposal for Puerto Rico. Gods know our horrible leader won't heed it -- he's too busy blaming the citizens for not being plucky enough to fix their own power grids.

It's this very power grid that I want to talk about.

From what I hear, Puerto Rico is pretty much a blank slate at this moment when it comes to electrical power. And the power infrastructure was already really poor.

What if we used this tragic opportunity as a way to transform Puerto Rico's messed-up grid with solar and wind? What if we put solar cells on the roofs of houses and set up wind and solar farms instead of the other power plants? Nothing is going to save PR from bad storms (especially moving forward), but perhaps a more localized source of power generation could be repaired and brought back to work more quickly.

I don't know the first thing about power grids. But I do know that when something breaks so catastrophically, it offers an opportunity to try implementing the most cutting-edge technology, just to see how well it works.

My modest proposal won't matter. Poor islanders! When what they should be getting is a star on our flag, they will be getting cheap and shoddy workmanship, third in line behind Florida and Texas, and the dregs that FEMA and the military have left over from other disasters.

Might be different if presidential elections were decided by majority vote.

Readers, if you feel moved to help the citizens of Puerto Rico and you want to donate at the source, send me an email and I'll give you my address. I have a mentee at my school whose mom is going to PR next week. Her family there has asked for Home Depot gift cards. If you send me one, I'll give it to her.

My email is   annejohnson17211 at gmail dot com.

If you don't want to go through me, I beg you to help the island. If you've ever been without electricity for a day or water for a hot afternoon, you can maybe begin to imagine what those people are going through. Then again, none of us has ever had cholera.

Monday, September 25, 2017

My Admiration for Kneeling Athletes is Boundless

On Sunday, Mr. J and I went to see the Baltimore Orioles. We are both huge Orioles fans.

EXHIBIT A: TWO WHITE PEOPLE AT THE BASEBALL PARK


I did something at that game that I have never done before, ever.

I refused to stand for the national anthem.

I've been working with minority teenagers since 2005. I've been teaching them full time since 2009. Let me tell you this, right up front: I cannot stand in their shoes. The gods know I wouldn't want to.

This country is a land mine for people of color, for young Hispanic kids and Dreamers. They're very observant, and smart, and they can see the truth -- how everything is arrayed against them from the day they're born. Don't tell me about affirmative action. It's more mythical than Zeus. Even when minority kids work twice as hard as their Caucasian peers, they are starting out (many of them) with all kinds of subtle and not-so-subtle strikes against them. The strikes follow them right into adulthood. If they live to be adults.

This is where our nation's athletes step in.

EXHIBIT B: THE GREATEST

You want to see courage? Check this out. It's a wonder he lived to pulverize people in the ring.

I'll bet you already knew that Muhammad Ali was stripped not only of his boxing title, but was barred from the ring for three years at the very prime of his career. It's not like he had a trust fund or anything, either. He lived off the kindness of friends, even his opponents for three damn years.

When other people have to worry about their families and their paycheck-to-paycheck salaries, professional athletes can make strong statements about what the world is really like for people like them.

EXHIBIT C: NO FLAGS BURNT, NO PUPPIES HARMED


This is, to me, one of the most compelling photographs of the 20th century. These are American athletes who won running medals in the 1968 Olympics, and they are listening to the national anthem. Is this the frivolous gesture of someone trying to be glib or cute? BAMP! No. Is this a despicable desecration of the greatness of America? BAMP! No. This is a dignified protest of racism. May all the deities of all the pantheons salute these brave men. Because they needed to be brave. They got savage treatment after this incident.

EXHIBIT C: NO SWASTIKA, NO FLAG BURNING, NO FOUL LANGUAGE


So they played the national anthem, and these guys knelt. They were making a statement about police brutality. They are visible members of a minority population in this country.

To me, there is nothing disrespectful to our soldiers, living or dead, in this gesture. (Has anyone asked African American veterans how they feel about this? BAMP! No.) There is no desecration of the flag. There is -- mark my words -- no foul language and no violence urged upon anyone.

I didn't hear these athletes call any policemen sons-of-bitches and demand that they be fired. Did you?

EXHIBIT D: THE REAL UNPATRIOTIC DISGRACE, AND A STAIN ON THE HUMAN RACE TO BOOT


So this guy goes to Atlanta, gathers together some 10,000 of his fellow racists, and dares to call these gracious and principled athletes sons of bitches. How dare he? A man who wouldn't even rent apartments to minorities! Now he is manufacturing prejudice and hate. Whoa, finally successful at manufacturing something.

Everywhere I look on the Internet, I see white people in outrage at the disrespect inherent in kneeling for the national anthem. Readers, I don't know about you, but swearing from a podium and calling for honest, hard-working minority men to be fired is far more disrespectful than kneeling during a song.

One last piece to this rant. We at "The Gods Are Bored" are all about bad form. If our NFL players flipped the bird at the flag, or mooned it, or trampled it or burnt it during the course of a game, I would call that disrespect. But since when is kneeling so damn disrespectful?

EXHIBIT E: SUCH DISRESPECT!


I guess it's a-okay when they do it like this.

The moral of this sermon is simple: Far from being disrespectful, athletes who kneel during the national anthem are exercising their constitutional rights to free expression. They feel keenly the plight of their less fortunate brothers and sisters and want to make a statement about it. Gods bless America that they can't be locked up, tortured, and killed for this behavior! (Even if the Ghoul in Chief wants it done.)

Until the menace Donald Trump leaves office, I will not stand for the national anthem. Nor will I say the pledge of allegiance beyond the first sentence. This is not one nation. Liberty and justice? Ask Colin Kaepernick about justice. It's too late to ask Muhammad Ali.

If I hear the "Star Spangled Banner," I'm going to take a knee and pray to the bored gods to save our land, now, before it's too late.