- More Adventures in Space and Time in the Joe-ma-Tron
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You're traveling through a wondrous dimension of humor and shadow, of imagination and mist. Welcome to my website! Wander around a bit and see what’s up. If the mists get too thick, well, some things look better in the fog anyway. So come back often to The Joe Zone – and bring your friends. That way, if you get lost, or marooned here, at least you’re together. Not that people get marooned here. Very often. For very long. Signpost up ahead, your next stop – The Joe Zone!
Regular Zoners know that we usually celebrate the arrival of each new season. So once again we unholster the Joe Zone nuclear-powered microscope, and examine the season of autumn, which sneaked in on tiny little fall-feet in the northern hemisphere yesterday afternoon. Did you hear it? Me, neither. I think it’s hiding in my basement.
Ah, autumn! It’s often the fairest of times, with mild breezes and pleasant temperatures. This year, in my neck of the woods, it’s very hot and dry. (In the spirit of transparency, I should point out that I don’t live in the woods, or in any kind of neck for that matter. I don’t even know what that means. If any of you are neck-dwellers, please let me know.) That’s fine with me, as I had grown weary of seeing the rabbits and squirrels being swept down the stream in my backyard from the flooding rains this summer.
Autumn is sometimes referred to as “fall.” This is because come September and October, so many things are falling – leaves, temperatures, raindrops, hems, footballs, meteors… Also falling is the number of daylight hours, which of course means that the number of nightlight hours is increasing.
My wife showed me a photograph of an attractive model and announced that she wanted to look like her. This is dangerous ground for a husband. Walking through quicksand, then leaping into a viper pit seems a safer alternative. I deftly spluttered my way through a response. We both agreed the model was flawless, though I’m sure she’s insecure about her looks, and approaches each modeling session with sufficient angst to fill a boxcar.
Our American culture certainly encourages us to emulate the famous, the wealthy, the stars. Who doesn’t want to live the lives we see glamorized on the screens, small and large. After all, our lives are crushingly monotonous compared to theirs, or so we are told. Just look at the fun and good times the celebrities are having. Who wouldn’t want that?
I remember as an adolescent seeing Cary Grant in the movies, and thinking, surely, here is the epitome of suave and class. I want to be like him. I want to BE him. But how can Mortimer Snerd become Cary Grant?
After I ate lunch like a boss, I was drowsy. I did the only thing that made sense – I took a nap like a boss. Then I sat down at the keyboard and pounded out this blog like a boss.
Popular expressions come and go. Some of them are thunderstorms that pop up suddenly, engulf a region, then disappear. Many of those expressions deserve to disappear. Those that stay are often like mosquito swarms that annoy everyone and refuse to go away. Nobody really likes them, but you don’t want to be the only one not swatting the mosquito.
Cleverness or charm has nothing to do with an idiom’s shelf life. Dreadful little word clumps sometimes last for generations, outliving the originators, inflicting pain on millions of innocents. The origin and meaning of the phrase are lost or twisted beyond recognition, but still it refuses to die, and there’s no lifeline to unplug.
Today in the Joe Zone’s Reflections in a Misty Mirror blogspot we present, for the first time, the ever-popular question and answer forum. Questions for future sessions may be submitted by blog comment, email, or Pony Express, which stops at the Joe Zone thrice per fortnight. In the meantime, we begin with questions that Joe Zone readers previously submitted by mental telepathy. At least, I imagine that’s how these questions got in my head.
And a special JZ shout-out and thank you to Little Zone, for suggesting this format.
Q: We hear so much about fake news these days. Is the Joe Zone blog fake news?
A: We can guarantee that, unlike much of what is on the Internet, the Joe Zone is 100% bogus, including this statement. JZ readers can rest easy and not waste one second worrying about whether they’re reading fake content, knowing it’s all quality, fabricated original news, sourced exclusively in the Zone.
Q: Do you have a goal for your blog?
A: Yes. Just to spread a little laugh and make people feel happy for some part of their day. And galactic domination. I want to have the first blog with more readers off-Earth than on. It’s a process; right now, my interim goal is for my blog to reach more people than I can by reading it door-to-door.
Q: Is the world a different place because of your blog?
A: You know, it’s a very stressful world we live in. We have so much to worry about – terrorism, North Korea, Iran, Russia, Kathy Griffin.. How can we find relief? I like to think the Joe Zone helps by making the world a more boring place.
Q: Is there a particular time of day you like to blog?
A. Well, blog me down! Any time is the right time for blog-a-licious meanderings in the Joe Zone. We usually try not to interfere with critical world events, though, such as The Price is Right, afternoon naps, or kitten treat time.
Q: Is the blog actually written by you? Do you employ ghost writers?
A: All of my blog is 100% homegrown homogeneous simulacrum, augmented with pasteurized semolina bull durham sorghum, with a trace of radioactive additives to give it, and you, that healthy glow.
Unlike many other blogs, no part of my blog is out-sourced to China for the purpose of keeping down costs and quality. I’m perfectly capable of that myself. We use 100% American-sourced words, grammar, and sentence structure, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.
I do occasionally doze off at the keyboard, and one of my cats may finish and post the blog. Usually, those are the most popular ones. But I don’t tell them that, as they already have an inflated opinion of their literary prowess.
As for ghost writers, they are so passé. All the top bloggers these days use zombie writers, which are cheap and plentiful. I imagine they leave the keyboard a mess, though.
Q: What future blog topics can we look forward to?
A: Not very many of them, I think.
Q: How old is the Joe Zone blog? And when can we look forward to its demise?
A: Funny you should ask. The JZ’s fifth birthday is coming up this October, and we’re planning special events, that may or may not include cake, Frisbees, light saber duels, and ginger ale balloons. Bookmark this site, or better yet, buy another device to leave constantly on our blog page.
Q: Are we through?
A: I certainly hope so.
As you may have noticed, my blog is called “Reflections in a Misty Mirror.” Today, let’s reflect on mirrors.
Mirrors are wonderful devices, and have a smidgeon of magic in them. The mirror reflects back to us an amalgam of what we see, what we want to see, and a strange, unverified concept called reality. I mean all mirrors, not just the “mirror, mirror, on the wall” kind. There may be the occasional bad actor mirror, such as at an arcade, but for the most part, they do us quite a service.
I began to notice this when I reached the age when sags and bags and wrinkles and kinks began to distort my once-youthful face. Come to think of it, Saggs, Baggs, Wrinkles and Kinks sounds like a law firm in a decrepit part of town. But I digress. Not that digressing’s a bad thing. In fact, some of my best thoughts occur during digressions. Such detours also distract the reader from the fact that I have nothing interesting to say.
Digressing from my digression, I had noticed that photographs of me seemed to indicate that I had recently passed away. As time went on, photographs seemed to indicate that I had passed away, been buried for three weeks, and exhumed. But I still looked great in the mirror. Maybe rather gray, and a little tired, but certainly decades younger than that stiff in the photos.
With April 15th upon us, Americans are once again facing the income tax dragon. Time to don the armor, draw our swords, and battle the beast. Due to calendar peculiarities this year, the deadline is actually the 18th of April, the day that hardly a man is now alive who remembers that famous day and year – well, never mind. Paul Revere is so passé.
A recent survey (not conducted in my head, as are most Joe Zone surveys) showed that over 50% of Americans pay someone to prepare their tax returns. Think about that – this means it costs us money to pay Uncle Sam the taxes we owe. Does the phrase “insult added to injury” come to mind? How many of us would pay someone to recruit a stranger to come to our house and take our money? That, in effect, is what we’re doing.
Ben Franklin, long before there was a federal income tax, said that time is money. How much time do you spend on income taxes? Be sure to include recordkeeping throughout the year, gathering records to prepare our tax return, time spent procrastinating, hours huddled whimpering in the corner in dread… And all that before we fill out the return, or meet with a third party who will do it for us.
For all sad words of tongue or pen,
The saddest are these: “It might have been!”
John Greenleaf Whittier wrote those words in 1856 in his poem “Maud Muller.” Many people understand the regret and sorrow that unfulfilled dreams of youth can engender. A corollary that I hear expressed is “I should have been born when…” Fill in the blank as suits – before this, after that, when men were men, and so on. A corollary of that corollary (would that be a corollarylary?) is, “I should have been born someone else.” I’ve been known to use that one.
What’s at the core of all this regret? Why aren’t we happy with our station in life? In my case, I feel like I was dropped off at the wrong station, and the train disappeared down the tracks with a belch and a billow of smoke. I may look at this station and not like it, but am I being fair? Is it really such a bad little station? Am I focusing on the negative? I mean, just scrape off that peeling paint, add a fresh coat, sweep the dusty wooden floor, or tear it up and replace it with marble, and add a skylight or two and a Starbucks and a couple of valets and an ATM, and…
Well, maybe I’m spiraling down the metaphor hole, but I think you see the point. Some of us may have a tendency to take the good things in our lives for granted. Nevertheless, I find myself pondering (and those who know me know I love to ponder) what life in a different time period might have been like. Would we have flourished in a different epoch?
One of my daily pleasures is to check what happened on this date in history. It’s fun, informative, and almost painless. There are many resources available for finding such facts. The newspaper (which I still read – mainly because it uses words instead of emojis) has a “highlights in history” column, and there are numerous sites online that cater to history or trivia buffs. The disturbing thing is that the sources often don’t agree, either on who did what, or on which day they did or did not do it. Of course, Americans don’t agree on anything these days, including who won Best Picture, so I suppose it shouldn’t be a surprise.
Recently, I was innocently scanning the historical facts for something juicy, when this startling item leapt off the page and smacked me in the head:
On this day in 1824, J.W. Goodrich introduced rubber galoshes to the public.
Much to the chagrin of American school children of the 20th century, as it turned out.
As regular Zoners know, we often toast and roast the arrival of a new season. So once again we fire up the Joe Zone nuclear-powered microscope, and objectively examine the hated season of winter, that abysmal time of year when death would be welcome relief. I can feel myself curling up like one of the dry, lifeless leaves shriveling and shivering on my lawn, under six inches of ice.
Of course, winter isn’t all bad. Some people actually like winter, and in fact look forward to it. They enjoy the cold, the snow, the lack of light, the misery, the depression, the soul-sucking numbness that winter brings. Scientific study has shown that many of these people have actually had their brains freeze into a solid block of ice. Either that, or they live in Hawaii, and just enjoy saying that they like winter.
Welcome or not, the winter solstice occurred Wednesday, December 21 at 5:44 AM Eastern Standard Time, marking the start of winter. Sol, of course, is what we call the sun (at least, those of us on a first-name basis with it), so it’s easy to figure out that the word “solstice” comes from shortening “Sol stuck in ice.” Similarly, “December” refers to the “declining ember” of the sun in the winter sky. English is actually a very easy and obvious language, if we just pay attention.
Writers through the years have, for reasons both innocent and ignoble, employed pen names. Yes, the old nom de plume, a pseudonym, an alias. I hear it beckoning to me. Or do I see it calling me? Either way, I like the idea.
At a writers’ seminar I attended, a well-published author said that it can be wise to take a new name if you have experienced significant failure under your current name. Being well-versed in significant failure, my ears shot up immediately. She warned us to avoid the curse of “stank name,” though she phrased it more gently. Getting published is hard enough without having a name associated with high levels of toxicity. Some authors go so far as to enter the Writer Protection Program, taking a complete new identity, and moving to a new town or planet.
I thought what she said made excellent sense. It’s great advice for both writers and fugitives from justice, who, after all, have much in common. Both are known to skulk about with a furtive countenance, fretfully peering back over their shoulder. Both carry their hunted and haunted look with them like a sack of rubbish they can’t bring themselves to lay down.
So I’ve invested a large amount of time (at least 15 minutes) in search of the perfect writer’s name. The name that guarantees success. The Name Utterly Transforming – which through a fluke of acronym-ism, we seem to be forced into calling the NUT name.
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