Thursday, February 28, 2013

Alpha Blogging

I have the strongest urge to get in my car and drive to the vet, park in front of his office, get out of the car, and call Alpha. If you recall, a week ago I had to send Alpha to Freya and Bast.

It's sitting in my mind that Alpha's spirit may be hovering around the vet office, and that she might not be sure which direction to strike out in to get to my house. I live in one of the most densely-populated counties in America.

Not sure it will make me feel more settled, but I'll do this anyway. My school is on the edge of Camden, it's only a mile or so from the vet.

I've gotten many helpful comments lately from my three readers, and I thank you so much. It's a real bear getting past that captcha thingie, so I really appreciate your persistence.

Regarding rules for a boarding student: I guess I'd better ask Heir and Spare. Can't recall them breaking many rules, especially the ones that get you arrested.

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

O Brave New World!

When Mr. J left his job, we sat around wondering how we could keep our shack in Snobville. The property taxes are in five figures every year. And yet it is our home. We live on the poor side of town (yes! even with five figure taxes!), and there are wonderful, huge old trees and a pond nearby.

So I suggested we take in a boarder.

Little did I know how quick it would happen.

One of my colleagues has a sister who is involved with Chinese exchange students. One of the students in her program isn't happy where she's placed right now. So, on Saturday, East Coast Vulture Day, this potential boarder is coming for an overnight. She is a sophomore in high school, and if she likes us she will get the Spare's bedroom, because it's the only other private bedroom with a closet.

I'll have more to say about this later, but candidly, I am going to make ECVD a go, visitor or no visitor. If this tot is going to move in with us, it's not for party time 24/7. She will have to understand that Mrs. J needs some time at the computer.

Boy, I sure hope I have more energy on Saturday than I do right this minute!

Anyone have happy or horror stories about exchange students? I know my sister went through Hell and beyond with hers.

Monday, February 25, 2013

The Local Moron

Hello, friends, and thanks for stopping by! My name is Anne Johnson, and this site is dedicated to Gods and Goddesses who are lost to time ... forgotten, discarded, overrun ... but still able to make a damned great sunset.

I want to thank all of you who posted kind remaks about the passing of Alpha Johnson. Some of those were so beautiful they made me cry! Blessed be to all of you. I was very comforted.

Well then. On to today's sermon.

My favorite local moron is a high school teacher in Snobville who directs all the school plays. This moron teacher came to the school when Heir was there, and the first thing the guy did was cast his own daughter in the leading role of every play until she graduated. Then there came to the school a family with a whopping six daughters, some of whom had bit parts in various little movies and professional stage plays. Since Daughter #1 became a freshman, no one but the siblings of D#1 has gotten the lead in the school play. Now Daughter #6 is a sophomore (I think), and she has the lead in this year's musical. Her older sister is the second lead.

I suppose Local Moron Teacher felt the need to offer a mea culpa about this constant casting of the same young women, year after year. He told our puffy local paper that these girls are "professionals" and he expects professionalism in his productions.

Since my daughter The Spare was one of the many casualties of Local Moron's slavish devotion to his professional daughter and subsequent sibling juggernaut, I've been wondering about the intentions of a high school play, the level of professionalism, and bald possibility that Local Moron is just out-and-out casting teacher's pets.

I'd like your opinion on this. Should all school clubs work like athletics? In other words, professional athletes are not allowed to play for their high school teams. Shouldn't this perhaps work the same way for dramatics? One would think that a big family of sibling thespians who have a theatrical agent could get paying gigs elsewhere, leaving the school stage open to the kids who don't star in cereal commercials.

Honestly, I felt sorry for The Spare. Possibly she wouldn't have gotten a big role in anything, anyway, because the competition at Snobville High is fierce. But she felt like she never had a chance. She auditioned for every musical and was optioned to the chorus. Unwilling to be hollered at by Local Moron during practices, Spare wound up doing costumes, a thankless job that she did with great "professionalism."

What do you think? If you were a high school director, would you go with the kid who has paying gigs, a voice coach, and a stage mom who cooks you dinner once a month, or would you cast the second-best kid, who is admittedly amateur but willing to work hard and wanting so badly to star in a play?

To finalize this sermon, I will only add that Local Moron's high school plays are anything but professional, from curtain to curtain. He cuts the musicals in half, content-wise ... and everything is a musical. He hasn't staged a music-free drama since 2007.

Should high school plays go for the same actors and actresses, year after year after year? Your opinion is sought on this topic!

Friday, February 22, 2013

Good and Faithful Servant

O dear Goddesses, Freya and Bast, please guard and care for the spirit of my Alpha, sent to You on Thursday, February 21 at 7:30 p.m.

Alpha was a good and faithful servant. I hope to find her in the Summerlands, waiting for me. And if death is all there is, then she and I will be united in that, some day.
Alpha Johnson, 1996-2013

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Free Advice about Creating Passwords

You know what I'm tired of? I'm tired of Facebook and Google asking for my phone number all the time. Do you ever get the feeling that these two entities are the creepy guy at the bar who won't stop asking for your number?

They'll text my phone if "The Gods Are Bored" is ever hacked. Like, if someone steals my password.

A likely story. Google and Facebook just want my phone number so they can spy on me.

It's not necessary to give Google your telephone number! No one can hack anything if you come up with a creative password.

Awhile back, don't know how long, I read an article, don't know where (remember, this is a blog) that said most people just use "1234" as their password. Or their birth date. And then they wonder why they get hacked!

If you like numbers, and you're a Pagan reading this, did you ever think about using 1031 or 0202 as a password? Need a four-digit code for your debit card? How about the year you graduated from high school? (After, of course, removing all that stupid "Class of ..." crap from your home and car.)

Now we get into the thorny thicket of passwords for email and Facebook accounts. You definitely want these to be tricky. Steer clear of the name of your favorite pet or your home town. Chances are you'll lose them both and then be missing them every time you type. For years I used the name of a deceased pet frog as a password, and every time I typed it I thought of the lil guy.

Need a good password? Type out what you'd really like to be doing, all mushed together like cranberries and turkey!




You get the idea.

Recently I had to give a new password to a doctor's office that will now conduct its business online. First I hated the whole idea of that, and then they had all kinds of arcane rules for the freakin password. It had to have a capital letter, a number, and a symbol! So guess what? I created the account, tried three times to get an acceptable password, got it on the third try, and forgot it two minutes later. I've since gotten several emails from that doctor's office. Can't answer them. Can't remember the password. Can't remember it because I was so pissed that they wanted one that I refused to write it down.

If you ask me, there's a vowel too many in "password."

Free advice? Don't hand out your phone number to strangers. And if you must devise an assword, conjure up a really great one and use it with reckless abandon.


Anne Johnson

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Floppy to the Rescue!

Wowsa, did I have a shitty day yesterday! Bad dreams, drama at the office, qualms about Mr. J leaving his job. And it was 52 and sunny, but I didn't emerge from work until nearly sundown!

And then what did I do? I wallowed in self-pity. Oh, please. So not me.

Awhile back, during a similar bout of woe-is-me, one of my readers sent me a golden vulture named Floppy to improve my spirits. Wouldn't you know, Floppy is here with me right now, and he says ... well, let's get an interview! *cue recording device*

Floppy: Anne, stop that right now! You anger the deities when you moan about your wasted potential.

Anne: Don't vultures like it when people are depressed?

Floppy: No, dummy! They like it when people are dead. You're not dead. You aren't even sick. Shame on you!

Anne: You know what my problem is? I had a job I loved for 20 years. I was my own boss, and I really looked forward to work each day. Now I have a job I don't love. I've counted out the days until summer vacation (99).

Floppy: So you think you're going to attract a wide readership complaining about your job when there are millions of people who don't have jobs at all? And millions more who have to drag into Wal-Mart every day and work like dogs, then use their food stamps to feed their kids? Bad form, Anne. I have half a mind to jab my beak into your crushed velvet sofa!

Anne: Oh no! No, Floppy, don't! You know how many hours I spend every month steam-cleaning that sofa! It's my pride and joy!

Floppy: Now, what you have to do is start lining up stuff you can look forward to doing. That will give you the proverbial light at the end of the tunnel.

Anne: Well, one of those psychologist professional types told me that looking forward to specific short events is just a "patch," and that I needed to get all joyous in my everyday soul.

Floppy: I'll bet you paid a bundle for that keen observation, didn't you?

Anne: Yes, these psychologists don't come cheap, unless they're on your health plan. This one wasn't.

Floppy: I'm not going to tell you how to spend your money, Anne, but frankly, you could have gotten that advice from almost any religious text from any pantheon ... for free.

Anne: Oh, you are really cheering me up here! First you threaten my unblemished sofa, then you remind me of misspent ducats! Is this how you go about making a girl feel better? Okay. You tell me. How do I go about getting joyous in my everyday soul?

Floppy: Line up stuff you can look forward to doing! Then do it! Patch, my ass! Every time you do something fun, something you've saved for and awaited with great anticipation, you're filling your soul with spirited adventure that becomes spiritual memory!

Anne (to audience): And you wonder why I worship Thunderbirds.

Floppy: Of course, there's a great deal of soul-joy you could derive from a meaningful daily experience of the bored gods. You don't do much of that, frankly.

Anne: Guilty as charged.

Floppy: So I suggest you put "meaningful daily experience of the Gods" on your list of stuff you can look forward to doing. Then make it happen.

Anne: Floppy, you give great advice! I feel considerably bucked up. You are a very fine bird. I'm glad Kim C sent you to me.

Floppy: My pleasure, most of the time. Now. On that list of things to look forward to. What's for dinner? I'm cold, and I want some comfort food!

Anne: Lucky you. Comfort food is on the menu. Except it will be freshly cooked, and not likely to go rancid for a long time in this weather.

Floppy: I'll lower myself to eating fresh. Just don't serve peanut butter. It glues my beak shut.

Reader, many people find solace in a meaningful experience of the Gods. In my house, sometimes all it takes is a little chat with wise, if goofy-looking, buzzard.Now, if you'll excuse me, I'm going to go look in my fridge to see if there's something in there that's growing a little fuzz -- a treat for my golden friend.

PS - Floppy takes Medicare and most health plans. Call today to schedule an appointment.

Friday, February 15, 2013

Estate Sale Dream

Do you like estate sales? I know some people just love them. They're economical, and the stuff is usually better than yard sale quality, and the prices are right. Me, I just can't get around the fact that I'm buying some dead person's belongings, from the house that person lived in.

Yeah! Go figure! A buzzard-lover like me, skeeved about picking the carcass of a dead person's house! Oh well, la di dah, I never claimed to be logical.

A few weeks ago, one of my colleagues who haunts estate sales told me that there was an estate sale the following weekend in Ocean County. "The ad says there's lots of Wiccan stuff there," she told me. "I thought of you. You might want to go check it out."

Say what?

Now I'm not only buying a dead person's stuff, I'm buying a dead person's religious stuff. No way, no how, not ever! Please feel free to differ, but I could never incorporate into my praise and worship some item that belonged to someone else before me, unless that person gave it to me specifically to use, with his or her blessing.

Estate sales make me sad. It's just how I roll. No free advice from me this time -- you do it your way.

It's no wonder then, that I have been in the pit of depression since early Friday morning, when I dreamed that I was attending an estate sale at my grandparents' farm on Polish Mountain. It was a pretty vivid dream. The new owner of the house had already begun renovations, and scattered about the construction debris was my grandparents' furniture, my grandmother's jewelry, knick knacks (she loved them), and clothing. Spare was in the dream with me, and she and I were just hugging and crying.

When I woke up, I cried. Maybe twice in my life a dream has made me cry.

When I was 20, I was planning to write a great, meaningful, popular novel that would earn me enough to purchase the property and live blissfully in it all my days. When I was 40, buying the farm looked like a bigger hurdle, since I had a mortgage and kids to educate ... but it still could happen. I was still working on that novel, and it still looked good to me.

When I was 52, the novel had been rejected by a dozen agents and editors. I started a new, low-paying job for which I am completely unsuited. There's not enough money for anything. I face growing old in a career that shows no mercy to older workers. You'd think I could put a positive spin on this job, but I can't. It's difficult and thankless. My salary keeps going down. The expectations keep increasing. And the farm is sold. Sold to a local man who bought it for his 18-year-old son. The kid's name is on the mailbox.

Langston Hughes was absolutely correct. What you're looking at when you see me is a broken-winged bird that cannot fly.

Anyone have a splint?

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Interview with a Bored God: Cupid

There's nothing quite like a high school on Valentine's Day. You can practically feel the hormones buzzing in the corridors.

But you know what? I think this holiday sucks. Seriously!

As early as the age of poor Charley Brown, kids start building their self-esteem on the number of Valentines they get and the quality of those Valentines. By the time high school rolls around, all the bright balloons, gifts, teddy bears the size of real bears, and roses, go to the popular girls from the cutest boys ... and the other boys and girls just suffer.

I was one of those sufferers in high school. I know.

What about the rest of us? The older folks who have seen many, many Valentine's Days? It's all too tempting to dismiss this holiday as a shameless ploy for ducats from the candy, flower, and card companies. Don't you feel sorry for the person whose loved one only tells them once a year that they're loved? Once again, how about all the single people ... the widowed ... the divorced. No wonder some people call this "Forever Single" day!

With that in mind, I've cornered the culprit for all this rosy madness. Please give a warm, wonderful "Gods Are Bored" welcome to Cupid, bored god of senseless love!

Anne: Cupid, you are a little kid. A baby, in fact. If not for the bow and arrows, you would look like that tot on the Gerber jars.

Cupid: Tee hee!

Anne: You encourage otherwise thoughtful people to act like babies. Love is blind! And if not blind, then seriously blinkered.

Cupid: *burp*

Anne: Okay, so call me cynical. It's easy for me to fling your arrows back at you. I'm set in my ways, older and wiser. If I happen to see a happy couple somewhere, I don't give you credit. You seem more bent on mischief than meaning.

Cupid: Wheeeeeeeeeeeee!

Anne: Oh, now, there's just what I mean! That boy is so wrong for that girl! They have nothing in common. He will want her to wear high heels all the time, and she will resent him sitting in the sports bar with his bros. Do you give any thought to what you do?

Cupid: Tee hee! Nope!

Anne: I can't believe you have been around since ancient times. Was there ever an era where people had sense? Like, did people ever choose lifetime companions based on compatibility and sensibility, leaving erotic love out of the equation?

Cupid: *snort*

Anne: Oh yes. Of course. That would be any era where you marry someone and then get the hots for someone else. Because frankly, Cupid, that's all you're about. Giving people the hots for each other.

Cupid: SsssssSSSSSSSSSssssssssSSSSSSSSS!

Anne: I guess it perpetuates the species.

Cupid: Party pooper!

Anne: You know something, Cupid? You are so right! I am a party pooper! I'm not going to change this silly species. So, if you can't beat 'em, join 'em. Off to the card shop to scour the nearly-empty shelves!

I know this for sure. When I get to those empty shelves, the rest of the people scouring them will be male.

As for Cupid, He's the ultimate irony, isn't he? Sweet little baby, causing a world of trouble everywhere He turns. Note that he's red. Just another foe for the anxious lovelorn out there.

No! Cupid! For the love of fruit flies! Don't shoot an arrow at that cat lady and the guy with the allergy! Stop! For all that is holy, please!

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

It Goes with the Territory

Well, what do you know? Two people resigned this week: my husband, Mr. J, and His Holiness, Pope Benedict XVI.

One would imagine that Pope Benedict will get the best of everything in terms of a comfortable retirement. Not sure what's going to unfold for Mr. J.

One thing I do know: Mr. J was not the leader of the Roman Catholic Church.

I'll bet you've heard it already. Benedict XVI's retirement is the first such exit-stage-right since 1415. And most of the popes before that died in office as well. (Some, of course, were murdered.)

Far be it from me to tell the followers of the busy god what I think about their leadership, but I'll do it anyway.

Churches that are led by people who are elected in secret and then wear crowns and ride around in armored Humvees ought to have an ironclad rule: You lead until you die. Period. End of story. If you spend nearly a decade of your life dressed better than a king, adored by a billion-odd church members, you ought to be ready to prove, with your own life, that you are a mortal. Are your faculties declining? Is that crown getting too heavy for your aged head? Grow old before us! It goes with the territory.

One of the most important lessons religion teaches us is that we all die. If you're the pope, and you step down because you can't do the duties of your office anymore, you're not getting it. Dying at the helm is one of your duties. Going into a slow and painful decline is one of your duties! If not you, then who?

This is the same pope who re-instituted the Latin Mass. I don't get it. He was supposedly so conservative!

Granted, the Catholic Church has taken a beating lately, with the long-overdue revelation of priestly misconduct. No one will ever convince me that any man could be elected pope without knowing that some of his servants are criminals. But on Benedict's watch there was no denying it. Maybe he's tired of apologizing to victims of his church's power structure. Hey, Pope! It's your hot potato! Don't use the excuse that you're old for dropping it into someone else's lap!

I have never been a Roman Catholic, although Mr. J is one (unpracticing, but not necessarily apostate). Perhaps if I had grown up in that faith, I wouldn't find the lavish crowns, robes, castles, parades, and appearances so distasteful. It seems to me that, if you're representing a god who lived modestly, you should yourself live modestly.

The busy god in question is Jesus Christ. He died on public display, in agony. His representatives, especially the top-tier ones, should be willing to die on public display as well. Just saying that you gotta walk the walk of your deity, or your cred goes bust.

Bad form, Benedict. Unless, of course, you're immortal. Some people will look at it that way.

If you are looking for a bored god or goddess who won't expect you to work until you keel, well! Wow! I'm looking for one, too! Is there a bored god of comfortable old age? I'm in with the Crone. Anyone else?

Monday, February 11, 2013

The Purpose-Driven Holiday

Welcome to this little old web site where no facts are checked and no upholstery is stained! My name is Anne, with a capital "A."

I grew up in the mountains. I loved the mountains. I will always love the mountains. , Heck, pick a verb tense, and I will love the mountains in that, too.

When I lived in the mountains, I went hiking all the time. There was never much purpose to the hiking. I'd look at the view, or climb through the wreckage of old log homes that had fallen down, or take a dip in the crick. But it was sort of a rambling, ambling kind of thing -- mostly. Oh yeah, when I was young and stupid I did some ridiculous rock-climbing. But generally speaking, I didn't head out for a day in the mountains with the idea of coming home with stuff.

Now I'm trying to bond with the beach, and let me just say that the seashore is very different from the mountains. Maybe you have noticed.

First of all, a hike along the surf line ... well, maybe it works for some people, but I can't stick it at any price. It all looks the same to me! Not that it isn't pretty, but for the love of fruit flies, you can walk five miles, and basically it's waves breaking on the sand, seagulls, and maybe a few little wading birds. The cute kind.

So I find myself going to the beach with the purpose of collecting sea glass. Seems like I have to do something at the beach ... either swim or beach-comb. And the only thing at the beach that compels me to lean over and pick it up is sea glass. Shells don't do it for me. I've got rocks from the mountains that have shell imprints in them, and those puppies are millions of years old. Last week's clam is a yawner. Every little pebble at the beach is beautiful. How could anyone ever collect the best ones? So I go for the glass.

Sunday was a beautiful day with a low tide, after a Nor'Easter. These are good conditions for collecting sea glass. So I went, got to the shore at super low tide, and was therefore able to comb some areas that have been inaccessible since Sandy. At least inaccessible to me. The hard core glass-hoarders, you couldn't keep them off those beaches with artillery.

Long story short, I was looking for larger chunks of sea glass, figuring that angry King Triton had flung some up in the storm. And darned if I didn't find a chunk that has a capital "A" on it!

So here's how the beach works for me. I scour the sand for glass, then I gaze out at the water and think, "Ah, that's pretty!" Then I repeat that for a few hours, about as long as I would have hiked back in the day. I say hello to whoever is around, pet whatever dogs are running about, and watch the shore birds. (This time I saw a flock of brant. I don't think I've ever seen brant before. I had to look them up in the bird encyclopedia.)

I always get the nagging feeling that, if I'd grown up along the shoreline, I'd need no purpose for my ramblings there. But I'll never know about that.

I came home with a bag of sea glass. I rinsed it off and put it in jars. And there it sits.

Except for the piece with my initial on it. I took that to work. I put it on my desk. I made a vow that I would keep it on the desk until the day I'm able to walk out of there for good. And then I will fling that piece of sea glass back to King Triton.

It's likely to be a long time before that happens. Hope my flinging arm still has some pep when that day comes.

In the meantime, here I sit with two jars of sea glass, small pieces and medium pieces. What happens when the jars are filled? Do I stop going to the beach?

Does anyone out there want an envelope of sea glass? Email me, luvbuzzards at yahoo dot com. Send me your address. Give me a purpose-driven holiday.

Saturday, February 09, 2013

What Nervous People See

Are you nervous? Me, I'm nervous. I've been nervous all my life -- it's a way of life. Oh sure, I keep my nervousness in check by using all the techniques designed for nervous people. But there's only so much a gal can do.

My school district mandates that we teachers put our lesson plans online, where any parent or administrator can see them. The "coaches" review the plans and make helpful suggestions, also online where any parent or administrator can see.

When the day's lesson meets with approval, it gets a yellow star. When the day's lesson is not approved, it gets a button like Exhibit A:


Can you imagine being a nervous person, and opening your lesson plans online, and seeing this image? No? Lucky you, to be not-nervous!

As for me, I open my online lesson plans, that any administrator or parent can see, I get a glimpse of Exhibit A, and to me it looks like:





I know, I know. I'm over-reacting. My gentle teacher coaches didn't design the web site. I'm sure if they had, they would recall being teachers of sensitive students who would be so crushed to see something like this on their work. No doubt this online lesson plan site was designed by computer geeks who never got a red mark on anything they ever turned in to a teacher or a coach, forever and ever in their lives.

And just like any put-upon student who gets a paper doused in red ink, I have a worthy excuse. I repeated the same lesson three times in the plans ... because I was out with the influenza for three days the prior week and couldn't get to it. So online, it looks like I was teaching the same lesson two weeks running. Duly noted with an angry red dot, without checking my absenteeism of the prior week.

I would laugh this off, except parents can see my plans. And so can the people who will be armed with the draconian tenure-crushing evaluation tools.

There's something about the color red. Apparently I'm not the only person who has noticed. Maybe you like it, but as for me, I'm nervous. The web master created a red dot with an exclamation point. (Exhibit A). When I see it, I see Exhibit B. Not approved. The devil is pissed.

If I could get hold of those website creators, I would make them drink 25 cups of coffee while listening to blaring Residents music sweetly suggest that they revise their "not approval" button. It should look something like this:


Yes! Let's let Fintan, the gentle Salmon of Wisdom, kindly point out our minor errors, having first (being a Fish of Great Wisdom) ascertained, by conversing with us, that the errors were, indeed, errors.

Ahhhh. Just bringing Fintan in here makes me feel so much better! He reminds me that a wise person does not get riled up by red buttons. He steadies my nerves. Well, at least he tries.

Thursday, February 07, 2013

The Company You Keep

Welcome to "The Gods Are Bored!" (Old habit. Sorry.) Call me zany, loony, weird, wacky, or out-in-left-field. Or all of the above. You see, it's my philosophy that everyone has to get out of the box, at least sometimes. While not staining the chintz. OxyClean is useless against a smudge on chintz.

Leaving the chintz aside, anything goes! Get out of that box and look around a bit! You might see something like this:

I purloined this classic photo from the Two Street Stompers Facebook page. It was taken this year, 2013. I love the way my new friends are framed by Philadelphia City Hall. If you missed previous posts, the Two Street Stompers are a Mummers Comic Brigade (I'm a member), and this year's theme was "Gold Rush." Well, if you're gonna have a gold rush, you're looking for the mother lode, right?

Now, seriously, if you don't think this looks like fun, maybe you ought to biff off "The Gods Are Bored" and go find some nice, sedate site -- maybe a streaming web cam out in the middle of the Sahara or something. You might want to knit a scarf, or swim laps, or fold socks. Not me, by golly!  We are here to have a party! Laugh is a bowl of cherries!

Referring back to the Exhibit A photo again, please bear in mind that this is an event held on January 1, which this year was about 40 degrees.

So, today, two things are official:
1. The East Coast Vulture Festival 2013 has ben canceled due to lack of vulture participation, and
2. Mr. J is leaving his job for self-employment.

Some company, you want to keep. Some not so much. Here we go loop di loop, all on a Saturday night!

Wednesday, February 06, 2013

Suicide at the Mini-Mega Church

I've always viewed mental illness as an illness ... and suicide as the fatal form of the illness. If a doctor tells someone they have Stage Four cancer, that person knows he or she is going to die soon. Well, there's Stage Four mental illness, too, and it's just not realistic to expect to save the life of a person who is in that stage.

Having said that, I'll quickly add that most people don't consider mental illness an illness. It's just a bad mood, snap out of it! Or better yet ... Here! Take this semi-automatic weapon! Clearly there's nothing wrong with you -- you look just fine.

 If you take the prevailing American indifference to mental health, and combine it with a philosophy that says you can "pray away" things like depression and homosexuality, you get a volatile mix of toxins.

Last weekend near Sharpsburg, Maryland, a father of four shot himself in the head on Sunday morning after his wife and children had gone into church. This is the same mini-mega church that my sister attended for many years ... the self-same church where my father's funeral was preached by a fire-and-brimstone moron who used the extravagantly ridiculous simile that Heaven is like an amusement park where you have to pay to get in the gate.

One can only imagine how sick a man had to be to end his life with five people dependent upon him. But honestly, knowing what I know about that church, I would have to say that it probably contributed to his demise the way smoking contributes to lung cancer.

If the poor fellow had the courage to speak of his pain at all, no doubt he was told to take it to the Lord in prayer. (Well, I've seen many sick people take their issues to the Lord in prayer, and not one of them survived indefinitely. The Lord fails everyone in the end, no matter how much they pray.)

My completely in-the-dark guess is that the man never told anyone how he felt, because his unanswered prayers for healing made him look weak and sinful.

Churches like that one generally do more harm than good, because everyone that goes to churches like that is so damned sure of everything. Inevitably, when life gets messy and God is too busy to do what moron pastors claim God will do, people become angry, depressed, isolated even within a throng, and occasionally ostracized.

My sister no longer attends that church. She had a major falling-out with the congregation and the pastor (not the same moron who preached Dad's funeral, another moron). And to hear her tell it, the "elders" of the congregation verbally attacked her to the point of screaming at her. I saw some of the bullshit comments she got on her Facebook site from those people, and for the love of fruit flies, I can't even imagine why she had words with them. I'd have just bailed.

The only good I can see in toxic churches like this is that people who attend them, and see through them, often wind up in search of the bored gods. Those of us who believe in Higher Power, but who want to separate that divinity from dogma, get out of Dodge ... leaving behind terminally ill parishioners who can't understand why God doesn't deliver like a pizza man.

Do you think the members of that church will sit down together and do a sober assessment of this tragedy and the part they might have played in it, either through oversight or blind faith? Me neither.

Reality Doesn't Always Bite

Welcome to "The Gods Are Bored," where life is never dull except sometimes! I'm your hostess, Anne, aka She Who Worships Buzzards. Here! take a seat! Just don't stain my upholstery, please. Spotless sofa cushions are top priority in this household.

A year ago I could have canceled my cable and ditched my t.v. altogether. I don't watch much t.v. Five minutes of Bill Maher sends me running for the shelter of my Mother's Little Helper.

Alas, in the past few months I've succumbed to some really, really bad t.v. habits.

Have you seen some of these new reality shows? I'm not just talking about "Here Comes Honey Boo Boo," my 30-minute weekly reminder that many American students are not ready for national testing. No, I'm talking about other evil pleasures, like "Bridezillas" (a show where awful women throw fits as they're preparing to marry) and "Pawn Stars" (three generations of ugly men buying other peoples' stuff).

Lately I've become addicted to a show called "Pickers" about a pair of dudes who go through hoarder houses (and barns) looking for cool stuff. I like that show because the one Picker is a hottie who brims with enthusiasm over rusty tin signs and motorcycles that don't work.

One lazy afternoon I stumbled upon a marathon of a reality t.v. show called "Moonshiners."

As its name suggests, "Moonshiners" is about various men in Appalachia who are making and selling liquor illegally. There's actually a disclaimer at the beginning of the show that says, "This is illegal. Don't do it." So, how do they film it with a big old camera crew, lighting, and that stuff? Can you imagine going to court for making moonshine, and the prosecutor cues up ten episodes of a t.v. show called "Moonshine," all of them featuring you breaking the law?

I suspect that the secret, in this case, is the fact that moonshine is the same color and consistency as water. The viewer sees a clear liquid dripping out of a still, and some hillbillies cooing over it -- but that doesn't make it alcohol.


If you take a look at Exhibit A. some of the cast members of the reality show "Moonshiners," you may be prepared to dismiss this rot as more stereotyping of the Appalachian male. Which of course it is. But at least these fellows really are Appalachian males. You see, they've got the accents. And it's the accents  that hooked me on "Moonshiners." Voices from home, don't you know. Every time anyone speaks in that show, it's like all of my old, dear uncles have come back to life. Or, in the case of some of the younger men, my school chums and cousins.

There was a national park near where I grew up, and for awhile they had an exhibit of a moonshine still. They really could brew liquor in it. Trouble was, enterprising visitors to the site were able to take notes and make copies of the technology. I think someone even had the audacity to activate the exhibit! Anyway, it got torn down.

People commit crimes everywhere, but there's always been considerable romanticism attached to moonshiners. If you ask me, it's the scenery. If you're going to be fascinated with outlaws, it helps to have a nice view of the sunset over the purple mountains' majesty.

Don't judge me for watching "Moonshiners." Everyone needs a little guilty pleasure. Mine is just listening to people talk with a certain regional inflection.

And no, I've never tried moonshine. Hard liquor makes me a wild woman -- I steer clear of the stuff.

Monday, February 04, 2013

You Know You Hail from Baltimore When...

... you remember a great team named the Colts. They got whisked away in the middle of the night back in the early 1980s. In came the Ravens, and I'm very happy for them (and my many friends in Maryland).

I'll stick with the old Baltimore Colts, though. Back in their day, a college kid could afford a seat for herself and one for her uncle (who cheered himself hoarse for the Cleveland Browns without getting his nose caved in).

The Super Bowl is only good for one thing: commercials. Last night's were epic fails. To wipe their blot off the face of the planet, I post below a really fun commercial that, I believe, might have been on a previous Super Bowl. It's adorable!

Keep warm,

MasterCard - Icons (2005, USA)

Sunday, February 03, 2013

Will This One Fly?

Faithful Blogger space! What has happened to you?

My Imbolc post didn't publish for some reason. Oh well, now it's the next day -- but every day is graced with Queen Brighid the Bright, whose blessed silver mantle made our world habitable.

Last night I placed a red candle on the Shrine of the Mists, and it glowed so beautifully through a little dusting of snow. I could feel the Bored Gods warming themselves in its light, having a little mid-winter party in a congenial environment. How many wonderful deities, Goddesses especially, have  been lost to time? Well, they are all welcome here.

I changed my sidebar. It happily now shows my readership, but I lost the links to other peoples' blogs. If you know how to keep the followers and restore the blog links, let me know.

And don't forget  -- March 2,2013 is Virtual Vulture Day! Come here to celebrate the Golden Purifier who sees all and keeps the country clean!

Pinky swear I'll write something funny this week.

PS - free advice ... Don't try to decorate a table centerpiece with Hershey's kisses. Your artful rendering will not withstand a single afternoon.

Friday, February 01, 2013

Pity Poor Pastor. Not.

Did you see this story, readers?

A pastor, having received a hefty bill for a largish sup at Applebees, took umbrage with the 18 percent gratuity that had been tacked on, left $0 for a tip, and asked why a waitress should get 18 percent when God only gets 10 percent?

The waitress who leaked the snarky receipt has been canned by the (largely inedible and comprhensively fattening) Applebees chain.

Well, pastor Alois Bell. This is embarrassing to you, or so you say. How do you feel, having deprived a young woman of her job? That's what should be embarrassing! You should be down there at Applebees, trying to get that stripling's job back for her ... and paying the restaurant-issued gratuity.

Furthermore, here's a news flash for Alois Bell and her ilk from the staff of "The Gods Are Bored":

God is rich.

Yes! Moment to moment, Yahweh is richer than even the richest human on the planet! Just look at all the churches! From magnificent cathedrals to humble Methodist nursery schools, those places cost money! Look at how these pastors clothe themselves! Very few of them take the straight-and-narrow Mennonite view of simplicity in attire. After all, parishioners want their pastors to be gilded up. And yes, I know this is not exclusive to Christianity! It's just blatantly visible in Christianity these days. (My sis-in-law told me that one robe for a Vatican Cardinal costs $30,000.)

We at "The Gods Are Bored" think like this: If you're going to make a living off Yahweh, as all pastors do, you ought not be stingy. Judging by your bling, Ma'am, you are living large off the Lord. If you give Him ten percent, that's ten percent of a salary you're earning off Yahweh in the first place! I call that a kickback.

And Applebees! Gracious gateway to Future Alcoholics of America! Why would you fire a waitress for being frustrated at serving a large party and getting snark for her efforts?

Well, once again, we at "The Gods Are Bored" have an answer to this question: It's easy to fire an employee than to re-think an automatic gratuity policy that leaves diners feeling over-charged. Granted, most people are cheap cheap cheap when it comes to tipping, particularly when the feast is well-attended and the tab sky-high. But we at "The Gods Are Bored" think that a paltry tip is better than zero, and a kind recommendation on a menu or bill is better than a mandatory fee.

Back to Applebees. Hate to tell you this, booze-bucket chain, but the publicity over this may sink you deeper than it does poor, sad, embarrassed Alois Bell. Most of us hard-working Americans will feel far more sympathetic towards the undone waitress than the prickly pastor. And most of us are fed up to the gills with big, impersonal garbage restaurant chains.

To summarize:

1. God is rich.
2. Waitresses are not rich.
3. Alois Bell is a poster child for dwindling church enrollment. She's eating into God's bottom line.
4. Applebee's serves calorie-larded food and drinks strong enough to kill flesh-eating bacteria.
5. Workers should have the right to vent their frustration without fear of reprisal, so long as no one gets hurt and the furniture isn't stained.

The word of Vulture for the people of Vulture. Thanks be to Vulture! (Whose tithe is a dead skunk ... how about that?)