- More Adventures in Space and Time in the Joe-ma-Tron
- More Bite-Size Joe-Pourri Morsels
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!
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.
As any Facebook user knows, FB uses unfathomable logic to determine the posts you see on your newsfeed. I suspect that the methodology was developed in conjunction with the CIA, the Pentagon, and a wandering mob of preteens who have had no actual contact with real people.
The first thing I notice about my feed is that it’s obvious that Facebook knows which of my Facebook friends (hereafter referred to as Ffriends) I like the most, and which I deeply regret ever having encountered and hope they can’t track me down at my residence (hereafter referred to as Ffiends). My newsfeed is bulging with maniacal posts from Ffiends, and almost devoid of posts from Ffriends. There are also numerous ads (”suggested posts” – hahahahaha!) for bizarre products and services that mankind has spent most of its million-year-plus existence without. I think I can last a few more years deprived of them.
I am Joe’s socks, and I will be the guest blogger in the Joe Zone today. This will give Joe a bit of a breather. You didn’t realize socks did social media? You didn’t know we were that sociable, you say? It’s all relative. Compared to Joe, his socks are raging extroverts. And if Joe behaves, I’ll let him guest-blog on my site, which is much more popular than his.
I spend most of my time in Joe’s sock drawers. Once the number of socks in a drawer reaches critical mass, a sustaining chain reaction takes place, and consciousness emerges, and it doesn’t matter where we are, except for when we’re on Joe’s feet.
You might think being socks is tedious, but you’re wrong. We live as a collective entity, thinking glorious sock thoughts. But did you know that an individual sock has no consciousness? So when one of us slips through the Portal of Oblivion in the clothes dryer, there is no pain or emotional trauma involved. But a large enough group of socks in your drawer essentially becomes a functioning brain, with each sock being a brain cell.
The Games of the XXV Vacation Olympiad began with the carrying of the mythical Vacation Torch up Interstate 79 in the Joe Zone officially licensed SUV. My wife and I, along with our daughter, son-in-law, and grandchildren, were elated to finally be beach-bound. As we approached Erie, we saw ominous storm clouds brewing. Upon arrival at Presque Isle, we used the Torch, with an appropriate dose of pomp and dignity (but mostly pomp – can’t get enough of that pomp), to light the Vacation Flame on Beach 7. A downpour from a mean-spirited thunderstorm immediately extinguished the Flame, but not our spirits. Though I must confess it made them a bit soggy.
Upon relighting the Flame, we launched the first Vacation Olympics event. The entire family sprinted the 100 meter dash across the beach to the safety of a changing station, as a second, even more mean-spirited storm hurled lightning bolts from the sky, and drenched us with apocalyptic amounts of rain. Our fleet and resourceful daughter won the gold medal, for carrying her infant in a protective crouch, while crossing the tape in record time. My wife was unfortunately disqualified, for stubbing her toe on driftwood buried in the sand, and hopping the final 25 meters. Although sand-hopping is a difficult maneuver, it is, unfortunately, not a sanctioned event.
Joe-Pourri is back with the latest news that we see fit, so pull up a digital chair. Whenever news breaks, or at least bends, Joe-Pourri will boogie down the internet runway, to take off and bring you the latest sizzle on events that may or may not actually be happening – just like the major news sources.
In our latest edition of Startling Science News, the Joe Zone Bureau of Science (JZ – BS) has exclusively learned that Dairy Queen is close to unleashing a major advancement in frozen treat technology: they will be able to beam ice cream cakes directly into customers’ freezers. Joe Zone reporters have been working tirelessly (well, maybe they get a little tired when they miss their naps) to out-flank SEE-NN, Fawkes News, and The Bunion, and bring you the straight scoop on this ice cream breaking news. I mean BREAKING NEWS!
The leader in subzero snacks has been working closely with NASA and Disney Studios to perfect teleportation technology, for the benefit of soft serve aficionados. Dairy Queen is conducting a major test program, which has had its misadventures.
Early in the test phase, DQ experienced a recurring problem of missing the freezer, with the cake materializing in the oven. In one instance, the ice cream cake landed in the breadbox, ruining a loaf of rye bread and six hot dog buns. Fortunately, no doughnuts were harmed.
The Millennial Generation has finally overtaken the Baby Boomers as the largest segment of the population. Various press sources reported this, including SEE-NN and The Bunion (including its Midwest affiliate The Bunyan). They seemed barely able to contain their glee. I think they were casting lots to throw the first shovelful of dirt on Boomer caskets.
As a Baby Boomer, though, I’m ecstatic over this development. I’m tired of the BB generation being blamed for humanity’s ills, just because it’s an incredibly bloated, self-centered segment of society that dominated for half a century. Millennials have shown themselves to be worthy heirs to that crown, and I, for one, can’t give it to them fast enough.
As many Baby Boomers discovered, the easy part of life is whining about being mistreated and misunderstood, and proclaiming, “when our generation takes over, look out.” Yes, that previous generation was a bunch of screw-ups who demolished the planet and our country and anything else they could get their avaricious mitts on.
Hard as it is to believe, the Joe-Pourri news feature of the Joe Zone is now one year old. Like most one-year-olds, it can’t speak coherently, but that doesn’t stop it. So here’s your news told straight and true, like no other source will do:
Luckily, that’s all we have time for, as Joe is obviously overdue for a nap. Join us the next time the hands on the Joe Zone digital clock are pointing straight up, for our straight-up news. And remember the Joe-Pourri motto: A half-truth is twice as good as a quarter-truth.
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