Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Here, Sharky Sharky

Hot off the press! Just in time for Memorial Day, a great white shark is tootling up the East Coast, no doubt looking for two scoops of ice cream rather than one.


Don't you just want to call this lil cutie and offer him a banquet of nicely-aged millionaire meat?

I know, I know, I shouldn't have so much hate in my heart, but it's just so tempting to round up the chief executive, his scary Barbie doll daughter, and a couple of cabinet appointees (okay, well, all  the cabinet appointees and the new Supreme Court justice too) and take them for a nice boat ride off the Jersey Shore. They could take in all the sights -- all the pizza parlors and arcades and Ferris wheels and gift shops and tattooed gibrones and bikini-clad cutie pies -- and then dive off the ship for a refreshing swim in the drink. Jaws would do the rest.

I wonder if rich people taste different from poor people? I mean, rich people can afford the best quality health care, which means they probably have expensive prescription pharmaceuticals in their bodily tissues. Heck, if you wait a few years, it might be that poor people won't have any pharmaceuticals in their systems at all, possibly making them more palatable to ol' Jawsie. But we're talking about now, right now, because that shark is bearing down, and everyone these days can get the medicine they need. Taste be damned, Jaws would no doubt savor the cabinet secretaries and Barbie.

As for persuading el presidente and his charming family and staff to ditch Trump properties for a jaunt to the Jersey Shore, well, is there anything more all-American than a beach visit over Memorial Day? It's not like any of those people plan to honor the memory of soldiers who died defending America. Let's get a boat, round them up, and do a little reverse fishing!

Oh, who am I kidding? Sharks are notoriously omnivorous, but even a famished great white would probably pass on a platter of Trump. Sharks aren't buzzards, after all. They don't want food that's rotten to the core.

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Old and Ugly

I got up this morning at 6:00 and was at work by 7:00. I left work at 3:45 and drove home. I collapsed in a chair, and all I can think about is where I'll get the energy to make dinner.

I'm 58 and tired. So what does that make Donald Trump?

I think in the minds of many morons taxpayers, Donald Trump is a permanently youthful figure, invigorated by his years of sexual conquest and macho bluster. It's quite easy to perpetuate this myth when you're standing behind a podium, and all you've done that day is a 60-minute tirade political speech.

But the presidency? That's a different story.

I'm slender and in great health, but my mind boggles at a 9-day trip through a half dozen countries, out of my time zone and language competency. Oh, I could do it, but it would age me prematurely (as it does most presidents).

Donald Trump is 70 years old and overweight. Nothing in his previous work history has prepared him for the pace of governing one of the world's largest and most complicated nations. It's no wonder that he retreats to his golf courses and country clubs when he can -- the job is wearing him out.

This fact, not his horrible personality, will likely be his downfall.

Will he resign? Will he be impeached? Or will he just fall ill and need a very long vacation? I know the old fart isn't a quitter, but I'll bet even now he wishes he could ditch the day job without losing face.

I don't wish bad health on anyone, but hey, I don't have to. Donald Trump asked for it himself. He didn't sit down and think, "Wow, I'm going to be hella busy at a time of life when most rich men just hit the links." Yes, there's money and power in the game for him, but at the cost of his golden years.

Donald Trump's last bad deal was winning himself the presidency. Now he has to do the job. It just might kill him.

Sunday, May 21, 2017

Just a Few Chores

Welcome to "The Gods Are Bored!" Have you ever opened your eyes onto a sunny, springtime Sunday morning and thought, "Oh! I have absolutely nothing to do today!" Yeah, well, having absolutely nothing to do is actually a curse. It's something devised by bad faeries under a dark moon with much muttering and wicked giggles.

I woke up this morning in my own bed, having driven home from my mother-in-law's funeral because both the Heir and the Spare had to be back to Philly on Sunday. Mr. J stayed behind in Baltimore, which meant ... me ... all alone in the house in Philly with no plans!

Now factor in cats.

We know what cats do. They wake us up early, because they are hungry. Mine were hungry. It was 7:00, and they wanted breakfast.

EXHIBIT A: GAMMA WANTS BREAKFAST



So you know where that goes. You get up to feed the cats, and you decide to have a cup of tea. Then you look in the fridge and find some of those Pillsbury cinnamon rolls that should have Surgeon General warnings on the side, and -- looking for something to have with your tea -- you flick on the oven.

Then, when they are freshly baked, you eat four of those sugar bombs, only pausing to realize that now you'd better work off those calories.

So you open all the windows to air out the house. You re-arrange closets. You drag stuff to Goodwill. You wash towels and clean cat boxes and re-pot plants and fold laundry and throw out day-old newspapers, and go grocery shopping, and drive an extra 5 miles for local strawberries. You hang pictures, re-arrange furniture, hose the pollen off the porch,

Suddenly it's 2:30, and you're famished. Off to Chipotle for another repast that probably packs enough calories for a pride of lions.

Then you come home, fold the towels and clean up the kitchen.

What a beautiful thing! I got all of this done, and it was only 3:45! There I was, having accomplished multiple chores that didn't particularly need to be done, with plenty of hours left to read the New York Times!

The moral of this sermon is, if you want to thwart bad faeries who seek to ruin your weekend, get a cat. The cat will get you going so early that, on a long spring evening with lots of daylight, you'll still have time for your porch and your op-eds.

Of course, now it's 8:00 and I'm ready for bed. Does this mean the faeries win?

Friday, May 19, 2017

Isolation

La dee dah, another evening at home, watching MSNBC even though I can't stand those smug preppy hosts. The empty nest encompasses me like a desert. I have few friends, and they are far-flung. These days I have no social life at all.

"Anne!" you say. "You're such a lively, spunky old thing! Why are you sitting around? You've got 50 colleagues at your school, and you live in a walking community full of educated people!"
The simple answer to this is twofold: I don't drink, and I'm tired at the end of the day.

There are a lot of swell folks where I work. Many Friday afternoons, they go out to happy hour. There's nothing stopping me from accompanying them except for the fact that I'm a recovering alcoholic. Being a recovering alcoholic in a bar is like being a diabetic in a candy shop. You can resist the urge, but the effort makes you miserable.

Fatigue is the real killer. I get to work at 7:00 in the morning and return around 3:45, if I don't have any errands to run. By 7:30 I'm nodding. By 10:00 I'm asleep. I used to go to a drum circle, but half the time I bagged it because I was too tired to go. Now I don't even try.

You want to hear something weird? When I'm actually with people and socializing, I'm awkward. It's like I've lost the talent for conversation. I used to be the life of the party (probably because booze was the fuel), but sobriety has brought me shyness and isolation.

These thoughts are occasioned by the rites surrounding the services for my dear mother-in-law. Her funeral is tomorrow, and the reception afterwards promises to be chock-a-block with guzzlers. This would be a time I would love, getting together with my husband's family (who have always been very kind to me), but the thought that everyone -- including my daughters -- will be imbibing just makes me sad. I expect I'll find a quiet chair somewhere by myself and take a nap.

The moral of this sermon is, can someone suggest a few diverting dramas I can watch on Netflix or online? Rachel Maddow gets on my last nerve.

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Free Advice on Spotting Fake News

How do you know that your news is coming from a trustworthy source? How do you know if it's true or not? That is the question.


I, Anne Johnson, am here to tell you some tips that will help you to distinguish the truth from the falsehood! Just remember these handy rules, and you'll soon enough know whether your news is fake or not.

1. If your mother tells you, it's not fake. This should be obvious. Mothers may lie like egg-sucking dogs, but not to their kids. Well, most of the time. If you want 100 percent verity, then ...

2. If your grandmother tells you, it's not fake. Mom may occasionally stretch the truth, but Mee Maw? OH no.

3. If you see it with your own eyes, it's not fake. I know, I know, we all try to fool ourselves, but at the end of the day, most of us face the truth. Most of us.

4, If it comes to you from the Gods, it's not fake. Be careful which deity you call a liar, because some of Them will smite you! Don't all the preachers say, "Trust God?"

5. If the results can be replicated in a controlled experiment, it's not fake. Science, bitch.

6. If you can wrap a fish in it, it's not fake. Yes, there are tabloids, and they are outrageous. But most newspapers have reputations to uphold. Take it from the wife of a journalist: Reporters have their pride. Like, George Washington and the Cherry Tree pride.


On the other hand ...

7. If the person delivering the news is wearing makeup, it could be fake. What are the talking heads trying to cover up with all those grain-fed faces? If the person you're getting your news from is on t.v. but could star in an action flick, no problem, you better fact check. You may be getting some stretchers.

8. If the news is free, it could be fake. Someone's paying for it! If you don't know who, it could be a baldfaced, egg-sucking, lowlife liar. Unless it's this blog, which is 100 percent true, 100 percent of the time.

9. If the news comes through the grapevine, it could be fake. Notice I said could be. I mean, the dude in the song did find out his gal was planning to make him blue with some other guy she knew before. That turned out to be true. So judge the grapevine carefully. If it includes Mee Maw, it's probably trustworthy. If it includes two or three of your co-workers, BAMP BAMP BAMP! Red flag.

10. If the news is good and will have a pleasant and uplifting effect on your life, it could be fake. Play it safe. Be a pessimist. When did anything ever turn out to be all for the best?

11. If the news is on the Internet, it could be fake. Except this blog, see above #8.

12. If the news involves some vast, complicated, and secret conspiracy, run by provocateurs hidden deep within the recesses of daily life, it could be fake. Do you know how hard it is to keep a secret? Okay, the Illuminati have been very successful at hiding Tupac, but ... other than that one instance, it just doesn't happen.

The moral of this sermon is, evaluate your news sources carefully! Trust your grandmother first and foremost. If she's out to tea, you can depend on The Gods Are Bored to get the straight scoop. The Gods tell me everything! See above #4.

Supposedly the economy has improved to such an extent that I no longer have to pay you to take my free advice! Now it's just free. What a relief to my fraying wallet!

Monday, May 15, 2017

#We

Did you hear that Donald Trump posted a tweet that said nothing more than "We?"

As in:

We

This would have remained very mysterious had he not deleted it a few minutes later. But you know the Internet. Lots of people saw it.


I sat down with my dear friend, the faerie Puck, to try to decode this tweet, as it seemed to be an intelligent attempt to get people to finish his thought for him. What could be behind the impulsive We?

Puck betrays my age as he helps me to translate.

are the champions.

Easy and obvious.

will, we will rock you.

No fair, Puck, that's the same song.

all went down to Montreaux, on the Lake Geneva shoreline.

Whoa, Puck! You heavy metal faerie, you! You might be on to something there. Here's what I think:

are stardust, we are golden.

Puck says that's absolutely the last possible one that Donald Trump would choose. He thumbs his nose at me and says Betsy DeVo$$ was using Trump's device, and she meant to tweet

don't need no education.

Thanks, Puck. I love you too. Well, it was Mother's Day ... perhaps he meant

are family. I've got all my sisters with me.

Does he have sisters? I'm not gonna look it up. Instead I'll pump my fist, resistance-style, and say

are strong. No one can tell us we're wrong.

Puck says it could be an early Christmas tweet. Maybe he meant

three kings of Orient are,

or

wish you a merry Christmas.

Wrong time of year, Puck! Nor is it Thanksgiving, so ditch

gather together to ask the Lord's blessing.

I guess we could go on and on like this, especially if you start adding apostrophes:

're off to see the wizard, the wonderful Wizard of Oz.

've only just begun ... to live ... white lace and promises ... a kiss for luck and we're on our waaaaayyyy.....

Okay, okay, Puck! I'll stop singing! I know that last one hopelessly anchors me in Geezer Bay!

There is only one ending to that elusive We that I can completely rule out, because the tweeter in question is a hard case, seriously interested only in his map of his electoral college victory and his ratings on the nightly news shows. There is no way, sadly, that Donald Trump would have followed that We with

shall overcome.

What do you think? Help Puck and me out here!

Sunday, May 14, 2017

Mother's Day 2017

My goodness, they are both all grown up.

When I started this blog, one was still in grade school! That one made brunch for the whole family, in the house she just moved into in Philadelphia.

EXHIBIT A: THE SPARE


The other one was in high school when I started blogging. She doesn't like to have attention drawn to her. But if you need someone to pour molten aluminum into a mold, just ask her.

EXHIBIT B: THE HEIR


Of course, these posed shots don't capture their personalities very much ... so I have to add ...

EXHIBIT C: YEP


Mother's Day isn't happy for everyone. Maybe you've lost your mom, and you miss her. Maybe your mom didn't have very good parenting skills (or any at all ... I can relate). But just remember that we all share a Goddess Mom who we can feel under our feet. She says bring Her some sweet tea, She's had a long day, and She's overheated.

Take care of your Mom!

Happy Mother's Day from Philadephia, where it's always sunny!

Saturday, May 13, 2017

I Scream, You Scream

Welcome to "The Gods Are Bored," vulture worship and ice cream for everyone! Tonight's flavor is Dead Skunk, which sounds like it will please the deity a lot more than the congregation.

I don't know about you, but I am crazy about ice cream. Any flavor will do. I don't go much for all the extra stuff they fling on the top, but a big, solid ice cream cone? Yasssss.

EXHIBIT A: HUMBLE ABODE



This unassuming little shack is the home of the Scottish Highland Creamery. You don't have to take my word for it. This place has the best ice cream in America. It's small batch, made by a nice gent and his wife, and I'm not kidding when I tell you that Mr. J and I plan our summer vacations so we can go and shovel in fistfuls of the stuff.

EXHIBIT B: SINFUL WARES


Well, you can't get sex in plastic containers, so this is the best product ever packaged. Mr. J and I always get some dry ice and haul home a cooler full, since we don't live anywhere near Oxford, Maryland.

My Scottish Highland Creamery stash is sacred to me. I don't share it blithely. There's still a little bit in the freezer from a run back in April, and as soon as I'm through with this sermon, I'm going to partake.

If I were to have a dinner party at which I served Scottish Highland Creamery ice cream, I would not have two scoops while my guests had one. I might want it to be that way, but I'm not insane. You don't serve everyone else less ice cream than you're having yourself, unless you are the only adult and you're scooping for three-year-olds.

Can we believe that our commander in chief serves his dinner guests one scoop of ice cream when he has two? Oh, yes, sadly we can. And I'll bet it's not from his personal stock of Scottish Highland Creamery, either. He's probably got tubs and tubs of artisan confections in the White House fridge.

The moral of this sermon is this: If you can mandate one size dessert for yourself and another size for your guests, without asking how much they want, you're a despicable reprobate who ought to be packed in dry ice and shipped to Bora Bora on a slow boat.

Chocolate, or butter pecan? One scoop or two? Or shall we just scream?

Thursday, May 11, 2017

Fairies in the Rain

Old-timers who visit this blog know that every year I go to the May Day Fairie Festival at Spoutwood Farm. Spoutwood is a charming property in south-central Pennsylvania, complete with a vintage farmhouse, adorable outbuildings, and a burbling brook. Every year on the first full weekend in May, the owners at Spoutwood open their land to anyone and everyone who puts their hands together for the faeries.

My daughter The Spare has attended this fest for a long, long time.

EXHIBIT A: SPARE AT HER FIRST FAIRIE FESTIVAL



EXHIBIT B: SPARE AT SPOUTWOOD 2017


She's a little taller these days.

The first inkling I had that this would be no ordinary Spoutwood was while driving there. It was raining. Not just raining, but pouring in great torrents. We all know what happens to burbling streams when they are visited by torrential rainstorms, right? So I was a little bit worried about the stream. But, when I got there, the rain stopped by some miracle. The brook mostly stayed in its banks and didn't rise like it had in the past.

Another obstacle remained, however. We all know what happens to spongy spring ground when it gets saturated, and lots of people walk over it, don't we? Maybe you're too young to remember Woodstock, but things do get muddy when a lot of people get together in moist weather to have fun.

Cold, rainy, muddy, and ... well-attended.

Many people sojourn to Spoutwood for happiness and healing. When we assembled on Friday, quite in the numbers, we all looked at each other and said, "Never mind the weather. We need this." Not saying every single person there was traumatized by the election, but every single faerie there was traumatized by the election, and They needed healing too. So we healed each other.

EXHIBIT C: ANNE ENJOYS SPOUTWOOD, 2017


This is me, telling the faeries that everything will be okay! Thank you Casie A. Chilcote, for the photo!

Long story short, the muddy conditions on the farm and in the parking grounds caused the festival to shut down on Sunday. It was so sad that I didn't get to see some of my friends and Mountain Tribe members, but safety first!

Seems like a good many events I've attended this year so far have been weather-challenged. Must say, though, that I will take a rained-out Spoutwood after the Women's March came off on a day that was way milder than seasonal, with not a drop of precip. Maybe the faeries had something to do with that. I'll have to ask Them.

Tuesday, May 09, 2017

An Open Letter to the Squirrels in the White House Tree

Dear Squirrels I just saw climbing a tree on the White House lawn:

I understand, although I've never seen it, that rabies is a terrible disease. I wouldn't wish it on any squirrel. After all, you little fluff bombs don't really do all that much damage. Yes, you get into crawl spaces sometimes and make a hell of a racket. Yes, you gnaw off the fruit tree buds in the spring. Yes (and you really should work on this as a species), you do sit on the bird feeder and eat every damn seed. But that's not enough to deserve a case of rabies.

And yet... are you in any way patriotic? Do you, the squirrels on the White House tree, feel deeply about the health and happiness of squirrels elsewhere? Would you consider making the ultimate sacrifice for your country?

Listen, squirrels on the White House lawn! The squirrels of America (and the people too) call out to you! Take one for the team!

Think about it. If you contract a case of rabies, and you bite, oh, say, anyone with weird hair who lumbers by, you could go down in history as the greatest, most wonderful, most magnificent squirrels ever to tear around the trunk of an ancient oak! Imagine our troubled nation, saved by a case of rabies that won't even be noticed right away because the human you need to bite already acts rabid.

Squirrels! Squirrels! To arms, citizens! Sacrifice yourselves for the greater good! Just take on a case of rabies, bite a few humans (especially those with weird hair who lumber), and wrap yourselves in the flag.

We, the humans of America -- as well as all of squirrelkind -- plead with you to do your duty, for God and country. If you commit this magnificent act of self-sacrifice, I personally will see that you get a statue in Yellowstone National Park. A big one, with fresh peanuts doled out daily to all visitors.

Please, please! So much is riding on your fluffy little tails!

Sincerely,
Anne Johnson

Sunday, April 30, 2017

Cram It All into One Post

You know it happens. Your computer is tooling along, purring like a kitten, and then it does a little burp. From the burp it goes into slow motion, slower and slower, and that's how come I'm spending Sunday afternoon at the Snobville Public Library.

My school blocked Blogger. It was a dark day. Now it's laptop or library. And whoa, this library got a million dollar face lift since last I blogged from here! It's all done over in muted grays and white pillars, and I'm in a teen room that has bean bag chairs and neon pink squares of carpet. And teens, reading. On a Sunday afternoon. Somehow I find this hopeful.

On Saturday April 29, my daughter The Heir and I attended and participated in the Peoples' Climate March in Philadelphia. I think there might have been a thousand of us. We were way dwarfed by the NFL Draft festivities on Benjamin Franklin Parkway. Probably more than a million sports fans who don't care about the climate attended that. Boy, did we get stares from the NFL fans! At least everyone was polite ... maybe a first for Eagles followers, who notoriously booed Santa Claus and still keep a judge and courtroom on site at the stadium.

It was April 29, and it was hot. Like, July hot. I understand it was like this in Washington, DC as well.

When my computer recovers (which it is sure to in the hands of my very capable Yoda), I'll post the photos I took.

After the march ended, appropriately with chanting, "Water is Sacred. Water is life" on a bridge over the Schuykill River, I made my way home and curled up with the New York Times Magazine. Call me a dinosaur, but I love my paper copy of the newspaper. Anyway, the whole April 23 issue was about climate change, and by the time I finished reading it, dear bored Goddess Gaia had joined me on the front porch. Indeed, She does look feverish and irritable these days.

I made Gaia a nice cool smoothie, and we chatted a bit. Folks, it made me feel so much better! She told me all about how that big meteor hit the planet back in the dinosaur days, and how many species were totally wiped off the face of Her in the blink of an eye. She reminded me that, even though She is not everlasting, She is still in Her prime and very very resilient.

Gaia admits that humans are not a great contribution to Her history, but She says it will all work out, because it's inevitable that some virus or bacterium will evolve to wipe the slate clean. She's not drawing up blueprints, but She darkly hinted that, if we drive the horseshoe crab to extinction, she will assemble an advisory board to assess the whole "person" thing. (When she said "person," She rolled Her eyes. Not a good sign.) Gaia is a huge fan of horseshoe crabs. Can't say I blame her. They're basically adorable.

I loaded an ice pack for Gaia and told Her, sadly, that most of the people at the Climate March didn't know Her name. She wasn't surprised. She says that it all started going downhill when Her praise and worship team got shoved out by Daddy Gods and hordes who came to conquer. But She assures me She will have the last laugh. I don't doubt it for an instant.

This is a busy week here at "The Gods Are Bored." My daughter The Spare just signed a lease on a house in Philadelphia. She will be moving away from home, probably Friday. Oh my goodness! What will I write about, if not The Spare? I feel like Gaia must have felt when the last pterodactyl bit the dust. So ... a few nights this week I will be helping Spare prepare her new living space for habitation. To put it another way, there were two dudes living there, and the place is a shambles.

I also have to take my computer to my Yoda. He's a great Guy.

And then, on Friday, it's the May Day Fairie Festival at Spoutwood Farm! Spare and I will be there for the weekend, celebrating the Ladies and Gentlemen of Sidhe. If you're in the vicinity, please join us!

I end this lengthy epistle on a light note ...

I made a sign for the climate march. It said, "This Druid Loves Gaia."

A lady came up to me and said, "Oh! Can I take a photo of your sign? My dog is named Gaia."

"Sure," I said, holding it up. "I have a dog too. His name is Jehovah."

Every dog has his day, right?

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

The Standardized Slump

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

It was raining outside.

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

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

How many posts have I written on this wretched subject?

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

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

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

Good night!

Saturday, April 22, 2017

"Science Is the Poetry of Reality"

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

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

Spare, of course, is more flamBEEant.


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



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


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

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

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

And of course we chanted as we marched:

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

As I said, it was a rather strange march.


Wednesday, April 19, 2017

More Marching Philosophy

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Saturday, April 15, 2017

Tax March Philly

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


This should be an outrage.

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


This should be an outrage.

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

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

Friday, April 14, 2017

Job Opportunity

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

We Interrupt the Regularly Scheduled Ranting

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

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


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

EXHIBIT A: WINDOWS 98 (Spare on far right)



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

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

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

Monday, April 10, 2017

On the March Again

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

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

EXHIBIT A: TRUMP, RELEASE YOUR DAMN TAXES



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

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

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

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


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

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

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


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

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

Sunday, April 09, 2017

Palm Sunday Jackass

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

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

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

"Jesus!" Spare exclaimed, rather taken aback.

"What a douchebag!" I responded helpfully.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Saturday, April 08, 2017

Haiku

A Haiku about the New Supreme Court Justice


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

Sunday, April 02, 2017

Afoot and Lighthearted

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

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

Video below.

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

Friday, March 31, 2017

This Pagan Says Prayers

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

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

Until Thursday night, when there was no shrubbery option.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

May she have found the Summer Lands. Indeed.



Wednesday, March 29, 2017

For a Beloved Grandmother from The Spare

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sunday, March 26, 2017

Sunday with Walt

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

EXHIBIT A: PRETTY GIRL WITH GOOD TASTE IN POETRY



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

EXHIBIT B: YOU THOUGHT I WAS NUTS, RIGHT?



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

In the meantime, here's a little bit:

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

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

Friday, March 24, 2017

Vulture Psalm

A vulture psalm.



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


Thursday, March 23, 2017

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

But wait. There's more.

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

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

Sincerely,
Anne Johnson

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Riveting Conversation

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

ANNE TALKS TO HERSELF

Me: Anne? Anne?

Me: Huh? *yawn*

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

Me: *mumble mumble yawn*

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

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

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

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

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

Me: Well then, you clean it up.

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

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

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

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

Me: I'm too tired to remember anything!

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



Me: I suppose I could glam it up ...

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

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

Me: Anne, you need a glass of wine.

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

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

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

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

Me: I know. Thanks all the same.


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

Friday, March 17, 2017

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

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

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

Get ready for it. VULTURE IS PISSED.



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

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

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

Vulture. Is. Pissed.

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

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

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

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

MISER HELL

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

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

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Postcard Day

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

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

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

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

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

I wanted to keep things short. And secular.

Drum roll ...

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

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

Monday, March 13, 2017

My New House Guest

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

"You've read my work!"

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


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

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

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

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

"Johnson. Anne Johnson. Really."

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

He looked stricken. "Am I a ghost?"

"You sure don't look like one."

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Saturday, March 11, 2017

Human Conceit

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



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

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

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

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


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

Quite simply, they keep the country clean.

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

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

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


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

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

Thursday, March 09, 2017

Ben Carson is a Total Disgrace

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tuesday, March 07, 2017

Day Without a Woman

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

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

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

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

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

EXHIBIT A: ANNE IS A TWO STREET STOMPER


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


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

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

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

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

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

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

Friday, March 03, 2017

Vulture is PISSED

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

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

Vulture deems this an abomination.

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

VULTURE CURSES HUNTERS WHO USE LEAD BULLETS

1. Your spouse and children will not respect you.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

LEAD BULLET HELL

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

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

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

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


Wednesday, March 01, 2017

Can't Even Joke about the New Job

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

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

Their jaws dropped.

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

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

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

They believed it.

Sorry, but that is scary.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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