Friday, May 31, 2013

I Could Not Make This Up

For 23 years I sat on the sofa on New Year's Day, watching the Philadelphia Mummers Parade. It's a fabulous parade. It lasts all day.

About 15 years into the watching, I started to think it might be fun to be in the parade. I just didn't know anyone who was a Mummer. I had no idea how to seek one out.

About 20 years into the watching, my hip failed and I could hardly walk. Then I got my hip fixed, and I could walk again.

At year 22 I became determined to become a Mummer. I'd been living in the Delaware Valley since 1987. Surely that made my Philly bona fides acceptable!

I called around. One group did not accept me because they already had too many members. That's when I contacted the large comic clubs in South Philly and discovered that for most ... nay, the vast majority ... of comic clubs, size is not an issue. The more, the merrier!

During this exploratory phase, I got gracious phone calls from the presidents of the two biggest comic clubs. Through the Goodtimers, I got connected to a South Jersey unit called the Two Street Stompers. I officially became a Stomper in November of 2011.

I marched with the Two Street Stompers on January 1, 2012. Our routine, "Wenchtoberfest," won first prize.

I marched with the Two Street Stompers on January 1, 2013. Our routine, "Two Street Gold Rush," finished fourth. Honestly, I thought we got robbed. It was hysterical.

Next week is the first meeting of the Two Street Stompers aimed at the 2014 parade. You can best bet I will be there with bells on.

Here's where all of this begins to feel like a blessing from the bored gods.

Back in April, my daughter The Spare learned (quite by chance) that her university has a scholarship specifically for the child of a Mummer. This sounds far-fetched until you understand that Spare goes to the University of the Arts, which is chock-a-block with musicians and performers and dancers. Some grateful graduate must have gone on to have a wonderful career as a Mummer.

Well, Spare applied for the scholarship. But frankly I didn't think she would get it, because on the totem pole of Mumming, comic clubs are closer to the bottom than to the top. I figured there must be a second-generation Mummer at Spare's college, someone who actually performed music in a string band or something.

You know where this is headed, right?

Spare got the scholarship. And it's not chump change. And instead of deducting it from her financial aid package, the university applied it to her tuition.

My daughter got a college scholarship because I dress up in sequins on New Year's Day and go out and perform a funny routine with a big, well-organized bunch of people who absolutely personify the monnicker "Goodtimers."

You can't make this up. Mummers are supposed to be speechless. I am.

Now, before I finish bragging about my role in this, I would be remiss if I didn't mention that my daughter The Spare ... drum roll ... made dean's list both semesters of her freshman year. That might have had a lil' bit of influence on the Mummer scholarship committee!

Happy birthday to Walt Whitman! I don't know about you, but right at this moment I'm really feeling like sounding a barbaric yawp over the roofs of the world.

Thursday, May 30, 2013

Train Wreck Hatred

Well! A heat wave has settled over the Delaware Valley, and my eastern-facing classroom is now a balmy 85 degrees. But the school year is almost over. We've had a nice, cool spring.

Just now one of my students cut me a piece of cheesecake that he had made in Culinary Arts. Wow, it was delicious! It had some orange flavor somehow ... never had a cheesecake quite like it before.


We at "The Gods Are Bored" are limping into modern social media one misstep at a time. We now have a Facebook page, which is (I think) I can't double-check because I'm at school, and as you might imagine, school computers block Facebook.

Nor can I check the all-new "The Gods Are Bored" Twitter feed @TheGodsAreBored. Both of these platforms might come in handy if I actually do something interesting, which does happen every now and then.

In order to get started with Twitter, you've got to find some stuff to follow. I'm pretty boring, so I don't have a slew of t.v. shows or entertainers or politicians whose every word I hang on. I thought it might be good for some dudgeon if I "followed" the Westboro Baptist Church.

You know these morons par excellence. They need no introduction. They're probably one of the best things to happen to the modern American Pagan movement. Still, it's not worth it if a million people leave Chrisianity because of them. Which is a real possibility.

Geez, talk about haters! I've never seen such a thing. They tweet all day long, reveling in each and every disaster that befalls our nation, small and large. Pretty sophisticated Tweets, too, with links (which I don't follow) and pictures and the works. If I set myself the goal of hating, loathing, despising and abominating at the very peak of my energy, I couldn't even hate through the whole rest of my life the way these people do in a short afternoon.

Step aside, Galactus. You are no match.

If I think about it, I cannot find any fictitious villain as bad as the Westboro Baptist Church. Gotta turn to real life for that. In the context of human history, WBC doesn't even register on the radar. But ... who's with me in thinking that, if they somehow grasped the reins of power, they could rank right up there with Adolf and Josef? I totally see that possibility.

Basically, if you're out in your garden, and you step on an earthworm and crush it, that worm died because God hates fags. My dear kitty cat Alpha passed away a few months ago. Wow! I thought it was from old age. Turns out she died because God hates fags. (I guess God must love parrots, because Decibel is rocking on.)

Last night I went on Twitter, and there must have been a train derailment near Baltimore. Yes, you guessed it. That train went off the track because God hates fags. Everything, everywhere that goes wrong, even a little bit wrong ... even if it leads to the death of a single bacterium in the eyelid of a chubby, happy infant, that bacterium died because God hates fags.

So, who is the train wreck? God, or WBC?

Actually, though, if you flip-flop the logic, it's marvelous. Julian cut me a piece of cheesecake because the bored gods love fags. I saved a baby blue jay from the jaws of Beta cat because the bored gods love fags. Some sick child is just being told that she is going to get better ... because the bored gods love fags. The bored gods love fags! Yes, truthfully! This whole anti-homosexual business is a product of the Judeo/Christian mindset. Other cultures and their deities don't hate fags!

I'm not often on a computer that supports Twitter, but I think "The Gods Are Bored" could have a lovely, purifying presence on there if all I do is Tweet about happy stuff, credit the bored gods, and send it to the Westboro Baptist Church.

Ah, summer plans! Come one, come all, downsized deities ... let's have a Jellicle ball!

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Sometimes It's Hard Not To Be a Hater

I think everyone ought to practice a religion that allows for a little hate, so long as it doesn't harm anyone. It's enormously difficult to love everyone all the time. As for that part about hate being bad for you, as in making you stressed or sick? Well, I'm not talking about being a seething ball of unrelenting hatred. I'm talking about taking a genuine look at some people and having a healthy dose of dislike.

I don't have to want to inflict physical or emotional damage on people just because I hate them. However, I believe it is actually healthy to admit that you hate someone. If you ask me, it's more stressful to find love in your heart when there isn't any, and shouldn't be any. Rational people will inevitably find certain individuals to be worthy of hatred. To me, that is perfectly okay. Just don't release the hounds.

Case in point: There is a married couple, man and wife, who are related somehow to one of my brothers-in-law. Every time we have a family party, this couple comes to it. They have been coming to every family get-together for 23 years. And they drink heavily.

As with anyone who drinks heavily, eventually these people get loud and lose track of politeness.

This past weekend Mr. J and I, Heir and Spare, and Extra Chair went to a family gathering. As usual, the repellant couple was there. As usual, drinking heavily.

Late in the afternoon, the female portion of this couple, when introduced to Extra Chair, began grilling EC on forced abortions in China. As you might recall, Extra Chair is a Chinese exchange student who is boarding with us. Before we could stop the hard-drinking female, she had shrilly peppered poor Chair with nasty questions about Chair's native land. Chair is 16.

Can you imagine being taken to task for your country's political positions as a teenager, in a language you don't entirely understand? Now, reader, let me ask you. Would you pose hard questions about Chinese public policy to an exchange student who was just standing there, minding her own business, awkward to begin with?

I hate this couple. I hate this woman. I hated her before this past weekend, and I hate her now. My reasons for hating her extend beyond her bad behavior toward Extra Chair. In my judgment, she and her husband pose a threat to my brother-in-law's safety.

Notice a few things about this hatred:

1. I am not asking anyone else to hate these people.
2. I am not obsessed with them.
3. I do not wish them harm, nor would I inflict harm upon them. Hatred does not presuppose bad behavior.

I spent about 50 miles of I-95 apologizing to Extra Chair for the drunken tirade she experienced at our so-called lovely family get-together. She was very kind about it and said it didn't bother her. Well, it bothered me. I might not like or agree with Chinese public policy, or how the country provides for its citizenry, but I'm not going to expect Extra Chair to understand her homeland's woes or fix them. She just needs to read The Great Gatsby.

Yes, I'm a hater. No, I don't think it's bad, so long as no one gets hurt and the furniture doesn't get stained. Feel free to argue with me in the comment thread. I speak only for myself and a few warlike bored gods.

Monday, May 27, 2013

Gods Bless America

I don't care where you go, or who gives the speech, or what the occasion. It's just fashionable these days at any patriotic event to end with "God bless America." I mean that politicians say it, or the crowd sings the song, or both.

The phrase "under God" appears in the Gettysburg Address as it's chiseled on the side of the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, DC, but there are some versions of the speech that leave that out.

I don't like the phrase "God bless America." Obviously, as a Pagan, I feel that it isn't inclusive enough. But it goes deeper than that.

The idea that God blesses America presupposes that He damns other countries, especially our "enemies." There's also the idea that, as "people of God," we Americans are nicer, kinder, and more loving than other people in other parts of the world. Well, we all know that this isn't true. There are wonderful people everywhere, and the Christian god is believed to bless all of them who ask for it. I don't think a particular deity should be tied to a particular nation, especially a secular nation where lots of people who are nice, kind, and loving don't believe in deity at all.

On the other hand, I can understand why Memorial Day ceremonies include so much God stuff. The vast majority of Americans, especially those who attend Memorial Day ceremonies, are Christians or Jews. For them, the whole "God bless" thing is a comfort and solace. I wouldn't deny people that comfort at a Memorial Day ceremony, but it's pretty annoying at other times and in other political venues.

Snobville holds a Memorial Day ceremony every year, and it is exactly the same every year. The local American Legion post rotates its invite amongst the local churches. This year's official church leader was the local Catholic priest, who, in his Invocation and Benediction ended with "the God who made us all." Pretty cheeky if you ask me. Does God make Hindus and atheists, too? If so, why?

Another perennial tradition in Snobville is to sing "God Bless America." Now this is more my speed. One can easily pluralize the "god" part of it and feel mighty patriotic while singing along.

Gods bless America. Gods bless people who deserve blessings everywhere. Bored gods, don't bother blessing evil people. But do look out for our fallen soldiers. And the soldiers on the other side too. Most of them are just kids who need a job and do what they're told to do.  What a shame we can't use them more wisely.

Friday, May 24, 2013

A Shameless Plea for the Jersey Shore

Yes. It's an ugly stretch of real estate, with rough surf and bad food. Yes, there are indeed drunken idiots of both genders on certain boardwalks. And yes. The accommodations are overpriced. And yes, its governor is a big-mouthed moron who lets the invisible strings do the talking.

Having said all that, won't you please visit the Jersey Shore this summer?

Last fall, Hurricane Sandy walloped Jersey really hard. People have been working like bees in a hive ever since, trying to prepare for the summer tourism season.

What I'd like you to keep in mind, my three readers, is that tourism is a big employer, especially of college-aged students. A summer job at the Jersey Shore has paid many a school year tuition bill. Many year-round small businesses depend upon these three short months ahead, too. We at "The Gods Are Bored" are all in favor of helping out the little guys. In this case, the Jersey Shore is full of such folks.

Well, it's a long stretch of beach, beginning at Cape May and ending within spitting distance of Manhattan. Along such a vast expanse of seashore, it is possible to avoid Snookie and her ilk. Here's a helpful "free advice" guide to the Jersey Shore (which, as I said, desperately needs your tourist dollar this year):

1. Asbury Park -- great run-down but hipster boardwalk, decent beach (tags a bit pricey). Stay for the concert at the Stone Pony! And let me know when you'll be there. If I'm not working, I'll meet up wicha.

2. Ocean City -- this is a nice place for families, especially if you've got those pesky tweens that complain about everything. If you want to gain three pounds in three days, this is your spot! I dare you to avoid the Johnson's Popcorn. (no relation).

3. Margate -- You gotta see the house that's shaped like an elephant. It's so cute! And Margate (and neighboring Ventnor) are beaches tailor-made for lounging and reading a good summer book.

4. Cape May -- Victorian charm, if you're drowning in ducats. Also great birdwatching.

5.Avalon -- This is a nice, laid-back kind of town with a great beach and not a lot of places for people to get in trouble. You can get an intimate little rental property for you and 25 of your best friends, beach-front and everything!

6. Seaside Heights -- because maybe you really do want to see 5,000 Snookie wannabes partying like rock stars.

"So, Anne," you ask. "What about all those hypodermic needles in the sand?"

Oh, ye of little faith! Have you no trust in King Triton or Queen Oshun? Would your bored gods let you step in medical waste? Seriously, with all the beach replenishment that goes on, particularly in the wake of Sandy, there are hardly any seashells on the shoreline, let alone discarded surgical sponges.

I spent a good bit of time at the Jersey Shore last summer, and while it will never hold a place in my heart (for many reasons), it is enjoyable, refreshing, and a great place to sit and read. One of my first criteria for a vacation spot is the ability to sit and read unmolested. For this, I cannot recommend Ventnor enough. I'll see you there, because I just started Game of Thrones.

Images: Jersey shoreline by Maggie Magee Molina; "Lucy" the Elephant by

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Paper on the Bulletin Board

You would think, with a mere 18 days of school left in the year, I would be rather chipper. But for the second late spring in a row, I've got the blues.

For many, many years I sort of peaked in happiness on June 8 every year. I began celebrating June 8 on the day I got out of middle school for the final time. That was June 8. Just about 40 years ago. It's funny how long that date hung with me as I went on in life.You see, I hated middle school with the white hot passion of 10,000 suns. This makes me pretty average, I think.

Spare was born on June 1, so I guess that sort of put a little damper on June 8. We always have a nice little party for Spare, and sometimes I overlook Middle School Liberation Day a week later.

Other events in the interim have made the first week of June less a celebration than a moment of mourning. Although this bluesy feeling has nothing to do with putting newspaper on my classroom bulletin board so it doesn't get messed up for the summer, it's kind of gotten linked in my mind with that activity.

I'm wondering how long this new feeling will last. Hopefully not 40 years. Nah, wait a minute. In order for it to last 40 years, I'll have to be creeping up on 100.

Here's one thing I'll say. Even if you really want to be a wonderful person, and nice all the time, sometimes life just doesn't let you be that way. If the meek inherit the Earth, they deserve it. Try living a long life meek every single moment of the time. Jesus Christ didn't make it to 35.

We at "The Gods Are Bored" have a modest Facebook page, on which we post blog links and other little tidbits germain to the topic of polytheism and archeology. If you want to join us there, try this link:

If that doesn't work, I can't help you. I can hardly tie my shoes. Scary thing? They're slip-on sandals.

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Team Mascots Redux

I'm absolutely sure I have written before on the thorny issue of school and sports team mascots. If you've read all about this on "The Gods Are Bored," you are excused today, but please stop by again later in the week.

I have attended two schools and worked at one. Two out of the three had inappropriate mascots.

The high school I attended was three miles from Antietam Battlefield. Our mascot was a Rebel soldier. Our football games began when the "mascot," a young man dressed in a Rebel uniform and carrying a large Stars-and-Bars flag, ran onto the field. Our school fight song was "Dixie." This was a public school with about 25 percent of the students being African American. Full half of the football team consisted of African American athletes.

About a decade ago, a politically correct group tried to get the mascot changed. The school received bomb threats, and the individuals seeking the change received death threats. The idea was scrapped. My high school is still the Rebels. The only change I can see is that they've ditched the Civil War imagery on the spirit wear.

This pales in comparison to the school where I work. Its mascot is a tornado.

Even as I speak, my classroom door is decorated with a large, bright drawing of a happy tornado, holding its arms out in warm welcome. As a Pagan, I am physically ill about this. It is so disrespectful of Mother Earth, of people who have lost everything in these weather events ... I just cannot find words. I've never liked a tornado as a mascot.

This being Spirit Week at my school, there are tornados everywhere. On every classroom door. On posters. On sweatshirts. For the love of all that is holy, does a stinking sports team have to be this destructive?

You know why we have a tornado as a mascot, right? This is Camden County, New Jersey. It's not impossible for us to have a destructive tornado, but it is highly, highly improbable. The odds are in our favor. Once a month, at noon on a Monday, Snobville tests its tornado warning horn. It has never sounded out of necessity.

My college, Johns Hopkins University, has a blue jay as its mascot. This is more like it, to my thinking. Then again, I watched two blue jays peck a baby bird to death and eat it in my back yard two evenings ago. I kept trying to save the baby, but those jays were incredibly persistent, and I didn't want to take the baby inside (wouldn't have helped anyway, the jays are incredibly persistent). So eventually I had to let nature take its course.

Just now, instead of doing my work, I was checking the schedule of an A-level pro baseball team in Jersey that I like to go see sometimes. Its mascot is a blue crab. Next to a vulture, I think this is about the best mascot imaginable. A crab can claw the hell out of you, but it can't kill you, and (like the Sacred Thunderbird) it will only eat you if you're dead in the water.

To conclude this sermon, I must say that I'm expecting a dose of dour punishment from the Goddess because I'm neither taking down the smiling tornado from my door or complaining to the higher-ups about the mascot. I selfishly need my job, more now than ever. But trust me, I'm looking for a well-deserved smite.

Monday, May 20, 2013

Despicable, Heartless Woman!

Welcome to "The Gods Are Bored," a voice crying out in the wilderness for collective bargaining since 2005! Today's sermon is about a sermon I heard over the weekend. Sadly, I can't produce the text of that sermon for you, because I couldn't find it on the news radio web page. But tra la la! This is a blog! I can say anything I want and not attribute it, because I'm not being paid!

The sermon I heard:
I was driving, so I didn't catch her name, but her title was dean of the School of Business at Drexel University. The news radio, KYW, billed the sermon as a "business commentary."

The dean spoke to the topic of "disgruntled employees." Here is the gist of her sermon, and I am not exaggerating:

*If you have a disgruntled employee, he or she can ruin workplace morale. Said employee will complain to others who will also then become disgruntled.

*If one of these employees comes to your attention, take swift action. Delaying can only make matters worse.

*The first step you should take is to warn the employee sternly to stop such behavior.

*If the employee does not heed the warnings, swift termination is recommended.

That was her sermon.

I almost drove into a ditch.

Nothing about having a chat with the disgruntled employee to see if there actually is a problem at the employee's level of the administration that could have a negative impact on the company's profitability.

Nothing about having a chat (or having human resources conduct a chat) to find out if the employee is having personal, relationship, health, or mental problems that could be addressed in a compassionate manner.

Nothing about talking to other employees about the impact the disgruntled employee is having on them and to gather opinions as to the damage the disgruntled employee is doing to company morale.

Basically scold 'em and screw 'em. Quickly.

And this moron par excellence is Dean of the LeBow School of Business at Drexel University, where tuition is $62,000 a year. This woman is influencing future generations of business leaders.

Annie's Swift Response to the Sermon:
When I got home from the grocery store, I went to the news radio web site to try to find the text of the commentary and the exact person who delivered it. I was unsuccessful. Everything I searched for "Drexel School of Business" brought up ads for the school.

So I went to Drexel's home site, and sure enough there was a female dean at the LeBow School of Business. She had an email that consisted of a string of numbers and letters, something like this:
z39QZT46 at Drexel etc. etc. etc.

So I sent z39QZT46 an email. It went like this.

Dear z39QZT46,

I happened to be driving along, and I heard your advice on how to handle disgruntled employees. I can't agree with you enough. I've been involved in business and industry for decades, and I think your practical advice should be heeded by everyone and anyone in a position of decision-making in a company.

You should be very proud of yourself. Our nation needs more forward-thinking professors like you, to guide the young people who are going into management positions so that they can assure a productive workforce. Jolly good show.

God bless America,

Anne Johnson
Triangle Shirtwaist Factory

The email didn't get bounced back to me, so someone over at Drexel got it. May the entire place be damned for its despicable heartlessness.

Friday, May 17, 2013

When Cold Dread Fills Me

There's one word in the English language that fills me to the brim with cold dread. That word is


You give me something and tell me to decorate it, my hands will go clammy. Then I'll flail helplessly. Then I'll petition the bored gods. Who scoff at me, because every last one of Them has had fabulous decoraters at one time or another.

This is my back yard. After my neighbors demanded that I decorate it, I did the best I could.

Last Monday, the dreaded word reared its ugly head. I'm in for it, folks.

My school has never held a Spirit Week decorating shindig before. But there's a first time for every fiasco thing. Alas, we teachers were told that our students would have 30 minutes and a piece of bright red paper, and they had to decorate the classroom doors with a suitable theme based on our deplorable mascot (a tornado *cringe*)!

I have the first door across the hall from the Main Office. You know the Main Office. That's where the principal hangs out, in her posh office with fresh plants and an air conditioner.

We teachers were not supposed to devote instructional time to this project. The only time we could put anything up is during home room announcements on May 20. I must admit, readers ... I cheated. I let my home room students spend 40 minutes on the big slab of red paper Friday morning. As with everything else, they needed more time. Which they didn't have.

I am lugging everything home with me, crossing my fingers that The Spare will channel her former Spirit Week prowess and do the doggone thing for me. If she doesn't, it's gonna suck. End of story.


1. I would rather be stuck in an 8-mile traffic jam on the Jersey Turnpike with the tank running on empty.

2. I would rather eat fried scorpions.

3. I would rather watch The O'Reilly Factor. Indefinitely.

4. I would rather find my favorite finger within the beak of the aggressive, nut-cracking Decibel the parrot.

5. I would rather come to school without my mug of hot tea.

6. I would rather use the same towel throughout the summer without laundering it once.

7. I would rather split firewood. In July. With a hatchet.

8. I would rather take a pleasant ride around all the dirt bike trails the new owner of my farm has bulldozed into the landscape.

9. I would rather go two whole weeks without seeing a single vulture.

10. You might actually be able to convince me to renew my interest in the Methodist Church. Txt me.

So, Annie. How will you spend your weekend? @#$@#@#$@#!$!@@#!!!

Spare? Spare? Are you there?

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Like Any Normal Day, by Mark Kram Jr. Goes into Paperback

Hello, smart people!

Today marks the paperback launch of Like Any Normal Day: A Story of Devotion, by Mark Kram, Jr. This is a great opportunity for those of you who haven't read this wonderful, powerful story. The paperback is quality, gentle on the hands and stimulating to the brain.

To refresh your memory, this nonfiction tale follows the tragic life of Buddy Miley, a promising high school athlete rendered quadriplegic in a football game. The story traces Buddy's life and the lives of the people who cared about him the most, chiefly his devoted family. It's very thought-provoking and full of "what if" moments. This is an ideal choice for a book group or for serious summer reading.

Like Any Normal Day has been optioned for film by the producer of Glee and American Horror Story. These busy Hollywood types don't waste their time on shoddy material, so right there you have an endorsement for the book that might at least make your eyebrow twitch.

Fresh on the heels of this moment comes the sad news that Bert Miley passed away on Monday afternoon. One by one the members of "The Greatest Generation" are leaving us, and as they do a certain community spirit goes with them. Bert served in the Pacific theater and saw his share of tough action, yet he lived into his 90s and raised a large family, all of whom are fine folks.

So, while you're drawing up that list of summer reads, heave Like Any Normal Day to the top of the heap. Leave me a comment if you want a signed copy.

This public service message is brought to you by "The Gods Are Bored." On Facebook: TheGodsAreBored. Join us there!

And congratulations to Mark for this milestone!

Monday, May 13, 2013

Clothes for the Fool Kids

Have you ever shopped at Abercrombie & Fitch? If so, I have some great free advice for you. Go to the nearest Goodwill, find the sloppiest Size Small clothes, take them home and beat them with a rake, and you can claim they're Abercrombie & Fitch while saving enough to treat yourself to dinner!

And enjoy that dinner, knowing that A&F only wants to attract the "cool kids."

These are the exact words of A&F's CEO, Michael "Beanpole" Jeffries:

"We go after the attractive all-American kid with a great attitude and a lot of friends. A lot of people don't belong [in our clothes]. And they can't belong. Are we exclusionary? Absolutely."

The largest size A&F carries is a 10. If you need a larger size, you aren't welcome. "Those companies that are in trouble are trying to target everybody: young, old, fat, skinny. You don't alienate anybody, but you don't excite anybody, either." (Again the gallant Jeffries)

You know what alienates us here at "The Gods Are Bored?" Seeing a bunch of spoiled, rich, skinny girls, all attired nearly (but not completely) identically from Abercrombie's shelves. I've gone into that store once or twice to gawk. The price tags for carefully destroyed-looking clothing are ridiculous. And the stuff is about as exciting as organic paper towels.

People are making much of the exclusion of fat kids in this Abercrombie equation. It's despicable. But I find it even more despicable that this CEO says his company is going after "the attractive all-American kid with a lot of friends." A&F is going after nothing of the sort. They're going after insecure young people who want others to make decisions for them. At a very high ticket price. Where he sees "a lot of friends," I see "a herd of sheep."

The growing hipster movement is a backlash against this kind of overpriced, uniform slopwear. More and more I see young, artsy-looking people shopping at the Goodwill, trying to find a look that is unique and affordable.

My daughters The Heir and The Spare have been way ahead of the curve when it comes to fashion choice. No Abercrombie for them! Urban Outfitters? You kidding me? My daughters can't afford to look like everybody else! And they like a little color in their lives. A little lace. A Size 14 top with a great pattern, belted! A nautical hoodie from who-knows-where with cute flags on it! You know where they get their stuff? Goodwill!

No one has more friends than Spare, and a favored girls' night out in her posse is a trip to ... yes, indeed ... Goodwill.

Abercrombie & Fitch sells clothing to kids who are afraid of themselves and others. They want to be thin, because that's what they see in the fashion magazines. They want to be young, because old people are gross. They want to be frumpy, because their friends are all frumpy, and if they can't afford to pay for frumpiness, they'll be unpopular, unattractive ... un-all-American.

Who are you attracting, Abercrombie? The cool kids or the fool kids? MORONS.

Sunday, May 12, 2013


Love your Mother.
Love your children.

Be kind to buzzards.

Image: "Fairy Godmother," Brian Froud, Good Faeries, Bad Faeries.

Thursday, May 09, 2013

Free Advice on Creating a Fairy Festival in Your Home Town

Welcome to "The Gods Are Bored!" We hand out free advice and then pay you to take it ... because that's the kind of give-back society we live in these days. Please let me know if you haven't taken a single pay cut since 1990. I'll be amazed.

I somehow can't leave comment replies when I'm at work, so today I'm addressing a commenter who wishes there was a festival in his or her area.

The Spoutwood festival began with a group of close friends who gathered on May Day for a picnic. Everyone brought something, and fairy attire was optional. Through word of mouth, the picnic grew year by year. The key is that it didn't remain one little clique, and all were welcome.

My free advice to those of you who have no faerie/Pagan events in your area is to invite all of your friends and acquaintances to a picnic in some benign (and shady) local park. If you're really motivated, you can rent or reserve a pavillion. Facebook would be helpful to get the word out. Start with modest but festive attire, and bring any instrument you know how to play.

From such humble origins grew one of the largest fairy festivals on the East Coast. If you ask me, the key is to find a terrific location where people can socialize and then wander around enjoying the beauty. I would also choose a date in May or June when the weather is at its most benign. (Earlier in the South if it's very warm.)

Perhaps another key is to minimize the Pagan element of the gathering, acknowledging Beltane but not omitting your Christian friends. There's no way a May Day event will ever turn Christian, so you can add rituals as the thing gets traction.

So, there you have it! At the very least a fun picnic, at the most the beginning of something that will spin major.

Blessed be,

Tuesday, May 07, 2013

May Day Fairie Festival at Spoutwood Farm 2013

Welcome to "The Gods Are Bored!" Story time! My story, that is. Annestory. Sometimes it just happens that I have to open my shirt and gaze into the ol' navel for the sake of future reminiscences. This is one of those times.

Every year my daughter The Spare and I go to the May Day Fairie Festival at Spoutwood Farm. There are more and more faerie festivals popping up all the time, but Spoutwood is one of the oldest and best situated for pleasing the fae.

If you pop around YouTube or any other image place, you'll find an abundance of video and photos of this annual event. What follows here is a written narrative, from one person's point of view. So maybe I'm doing this for more than just my own sagging memory. Maybe there's a niche for words about Spoutwood.

I had my little Dodge all packed to go last Thursday night when I got a call from Spare. Here's how it went:

Spare: Mom, please don't scream at what I'm about to tell you.


Spare: It's good news. But you've got to promise not to scream.

Anne: I'll do my best.

Spare: I won a scholarship at my school for the child of someone who marches in the Philadelphia Mummer's Parade!

Anne: SQUEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE!!!!!!!! *gets all teary*

Spare: Yes, pretty much I'm being rewarded because of your crazy antics.

Anne: *teary* All's right with the world!

The moment I clicked off the phone, I went to my Two Street Stompers treasure trove and fished out this year's suit, my slippers (Adidas spray painted gold), and my parasol. For good measure I pinned on the 2012 championship ribbon we got this year as well. I hadn't planned on rocking Spoutwood in my Mummer's suit, but I was too proud of dear Spare not to.

Anne's List of Portables to the May Day Fairie Fesival at Spoutwood Farm:

1. Stuffed dragon, "Big Red." Goes every year.
2. Wearable faeries, Puck, Chance, and Yule. They go every year.
3. Blindingly neon tie-dye t-shirts and yoga pants from Woodstock Trading Company. The pants were new this year.
4. Mountain hat, also from Woodstock. Pin on hat, "My Heart, My Soul, and My Grave are in Appalachia." Goes every year.
5. Druid cloak. Goes sometimes in cooler weather, glad I had it this year.
6. Money. Because money spent at Spoutwood helps artists, performers, and an organic farm.
7. Drip-dye camisole made by Spare.
8. Comfortable sandals.
9. Comfortable boots.
10. Quartz crystals. Take them every year.
11. Mountain tribe flag made by Pam and Rita Kryglik. Second year.
12. Star Wars Day sign, made by me and Extra Chair.
13. Drum.
14. Sunscreen.


*Sat at a standstill on the Pennsylvania Turnpike for 30 minutes, feeling sorry for whoever had the accident that caused the backup (note the Spoutwood frame of mind already asserting itself).
*Driving through the verdant Pennsylvania countryside on the way to Spoutwood, I noticed a dead deer at the edge of the road. A portent of deity?
*Arrived one heartbeat shy of missing the opening event at which I had to represent Spare and Mountain Tribe. Had to barter my way into the festival by leaving my Mummer parasol as surety.
*Bid hello from the Mountain Tribe on behalf of Spare. Nick of time.
*Looked out over the landscape and cried for joy at being there.
*Retrieved parasol and paid for a 3-day pass.
*Ate lunch with Michael Bull.
*Drum circle with King Trolland. Forever after known as Drum and Mum.
*Said hello to vendors, old and new. This year Cucina Aurora was there! Squeee!
*Party at the Hampton Inn where we stay. All visitors, performers, vendors, and volunteers were invited. This was a lovely way to get to talk to otherwise very busy people.
*Spare, Mr. J and Spare's friends arrived.


*Nice buffet breakfast at the Hampton Inn. I'm too old for camping, and Spare is pretty prissy.
*Driving through the verdant Pennsylvania countryside on the way to Spoutwood. Wait! What do I see? A DEER CARCASS COVERED WITH VULTURES!!!!! Oh, blessed festival that is sanctioned by Sacred Thunderbird!
*Arrived at Spoutwood full of Mountain Sass.
*Greeted incoming guests with Star Wars Day signs, to whit
                     Help us, Obi-Wan Kenobi
                     You're our only hope
                     May the Fourth
                     Be with You
(Okay, nerds, I know I got it wrong. But it's the thought that counts.)
*SISTER! With her cutest dog!
*Mountain Tribe friends! Wow, we are getting clicky! Big Red makes friends for keeps! Maebius and his fantastic son, Jeff, Sis, Jeff's friends, Spare's friends, and (as always) a few people strolling past who were offered the bribe incentive of a token if they would march with Mountain Tribe.
*Tribe Ceremony to Crown the Spoutwood King and Queen. This was Spare's first year as leader. Oh, my three readers, if you only could have seen her strut! In her shiny white Winter Faerie tutu, she's the perfect counterpart for the leader of the River Tribe, who smears himself with mud from head to toe. She was so poised and beautiful. The mountains are proud to call her theirs.
*Drum circle
*Musical interlude -- watched Telesma with Sister, danced to Cu Dubh with Sister.
*Healthy hot dog and smoothie
*Drum circle
*Closing ceremony, where everyone who cared to said how long they had been coming to the festival, and why they like it. I said it was good to have a farm to come home to, now that I'm no longer an Appalachian landowner. Now Spoutwood is my farm.
*Supper with Spare and her posse at Ruby Tuesday, literally the only restaurant approaching real food in the general vicinity.
*Nightcap with the sprightly Bibi!


*Caught a set of Cu Dubh before Tribal Ceremony.
*Mountain Tribe! Maebius and Sis not there, Pam and Rita there, Jeff and friends there again, Spare's posse taking photos and toting banners! Spare and the other Tribe leaders each got a flute. They are challenged to learn a song (or bribe encourage some musical friend to do it) for next year's ceremony. Whew. Sis plays every kind of flute known to humankind and the Bored Gods! River Tribe boasting they have two professional flute players ... well, I'm sure they're no match for the piccolo soloist for the Williamsport Community Marching Band!
*Hugged the Moss Man.
*Pictures and chat in the soft spring grass with Pam and Rita.
*Another nice healthy hot dog! I'm gonna live to be 100!
*Final drum circle. Some dude proposed marriage to his sweetheart in the middle of the dancing throng. (And for the record, this was the very first year I had my own drum. Heir gave me a drum for Christmas, a little, portable bongo drum. So sweet of her, and the perfect instrument for someone like me who is challenged by the idea of counting to four.)
*Stood on the hillside with Spare, hugging and crying because the festival was over.
*Drove back to the city via Pennsylvania Turnpike. Dropped Spare and roomie off in the city, took Spare's other friend home to Snobville.

There's a magic word that everyone says at Spoutwood. It's "Kubiando." The word is original to the festival and was coined by a little girl who went there, many years ago. The faeries gave this word to this festival so we would all have a way to channel great energy from the Earth into ourselves and out to the sky. So we say "Kubiando" a lot at Spoutwood. Sometimes in large groups, sometimes just as a greeting, sometimes as a cheer.

There are other Beltane observances at Spoutwood as well.

  • Love your Mother.
  • Love the faeries.
  • Be kind to yourself.
  • Be kind to the Earth.
  • Be kind to each other.

Now I will finish this narrative with a thanks to Rob and Lucy Wood, Spoutwood's owners, for throwing open their lovely, stream-fed farmland to 10,000 guests every year. May Kubiando be with you two wonderful people, and to everyone who volunteers their time and trouble for the festival. Those who work on behalf of the fae will be rewarded by the fae. So mote it be.

To friend this blog on Facebook, search The Gods Are Bored. We're still learning how to tweet, not ready for prime time yet.

Thursday, May 02, 2013

On Parenting Princesses

Well, my lieblings, I am off tomorrow to the May Day Fairie Festival at Spoutwood Farm! Won't you join me? I'll be easy enough to find. Everyone else dresses up like a faerie, or a steampunk, or a Ren Faire. Me, I'm the gal in the neon tie-dye, neck to ankle. I'll be hard to miss, even in such colorful, glittering surroundings. Look for me! Come say howdy! I'll even have a little gift for you, if you tell me you read "The Gods Are Bored" and think it stinks up the joint is uncommonly witty and par excellence!

The other day an article was circulating on Facebook about women who are making a goodly pile of ducats by dressing like princesses and going to little girls' birthday parties. Of course, not everyone likes the idea of little girls dressing up like princesses. Princesses, in seems, are needy and greedy and helpless hand-wringers in the face of danger.

Tell it to Elizabeth I of England.

I suppose these same princess-haters would feel that little girls dressed up like faeries isn't a good idea, either. To which I say, "pish tosh." In exactly that order.

Have you ever seen a team of soccer players take to the field? Are they routinely dressed in drab gray? Are they never needy (even when injured), or greedy (when pursuing a victory), or helpless hand-wringers (when losing)? Have you ever seen a kid's eyes light up when they are handed a varsity jacket all decked out with embroidered school lettering and mascot?

People like to dress up. You choose a tribe, or a team, or a social set, and you dress to the nines for that group of people. If there are numerous little girls who want to dress like princesses, or faeries, what does that determine about their futures? Maybe that they'll have some imagination? Maybe that they'll shop at Nordstrom's? I think the former and not the latter.

It might just be me, but I am up-to-the-brim irritated with the more rugged type of parent who bemoans the "bad influence" of princess parties on their rugged little offspring. I have outfitted female offspring for hiking and biking, and let me tell you, it's expensive. One of the most costly clothing items I ever acquired for either of my daughters was a pair of hiking boots. I got them for Heir, and thank goodness they fit me, because she grew out of them!

Speaking of Heir, she dressed like a princess when she was a tot. It didn't last. Two summers ago she found herself ascending the craggy peaks of Norway, like some ancient and fearsome Viking. She lugs her bike onto the El train so she can ride through downtown Philly to get to her job. She considers herself dressed up if she puts on a clean pair of jeans.

Spare dressed up like a princess too. It stuck. She's a thrift store fashion plate, the sartorial envy of her peers. And she will be at the Fairie Festival in a radiant, gooey faerie gown with iridescent wings. She is 19.  But a word to the wise. This gal is no helpless hand-wringer. She takes charge. Like a boss. Like a princess.

The moral of this sermon is, don't be so quick to disrespect a princess party. You go right ahead and buy state-of-the-art scuba gear for your tot instead of sequins and toille. She may yet grow up to be a princess, having cut her teeth on the brave and exhilarating notion that she is a living Ariel.

Wednesday, May 01, 2013

May Day! May Day!

Ah! The lovely month of May! A blessed Beltane to each and every one of you! This is the time of year when the blood quickens, when the land springs back to life, and when all good and nourishing things go into the ground as seeds to be harvested when the cold winds blow.

It's also the time for making love, and more making love, and having happy, healthy, nourishing sex with someone you love! Remember, the poet Walt Whitman counted as a miracle "sleeping in the bed at night with someone I love." What greater miracles are there?

This is also the weekend of the May Day Fairie Festival at Spoutwood Farm, the annual revel that Spare and I enjoy so much. This year's festival will feature the Celtic band Cu Dubh ... I can hardly wait.

I just want my three readers to know that I do read each and every comment. I don't respond usually, but I will start. That's how we can get a dialogue going, and, after all, a blog should be about give-and-take.

So, happy May! Do a little dance, make a little love ... get down tonight!

From Anne
Leader emeritus, Spoutwood Mountain Tribe