Joe's first (and most likely last) Mailbag!

Joe's mailbag 1.png

Months ago, I asked my readership to submit questions for me to answer on the blog. In theory, it was a brilliant idea—I’m sick of the legwork that comes with doing my own original writing. I don’t have any interesting ideas, hobbies, passions, talents or skills, so placing the creative burden on your collective shoulders felt like a stroke of genius.

So here it is. Nine months later, for the nine people who will read and enjoy this, (Joe’s Nine! It’s a thing! t-shirts in the works!) I give you Joe’s mailbag.

Leave me more questions here. Maybe I’ll get to them before 2020. Or maybe not.  

Do you like strategy games?

Yes. Next question.

I want a blog post ranking the preparations of potatoes. AND SWEET POTATOES BETTER NOT BE ON THERE!

Thank you for your pleasant submission.

I pretty much prepare sweet potatoes only one way, which is pretty standard for me. I put very little thought into my meals. Food is food. And when I committed to eating like some dirty granola hippie a few years ago, the idea of really LIKING what I eat kind of went out the window. Food isn’t fun now. There’s no joy in it. It’s just fuel—boring, joyless potential energy that I mindlessly cram in my face every few hours, carrying me from one task I don’t like to the next.  I basically eat five tedious meals on a continuous loop. And I imagine I’ll stick with this regime until death or marriage, whichever comes first. So yeah, 5-meal loop until I die, I guess. Cool.

So back to your question about sweet potatoes. First, I dice them up. And be sure to reach for the sharpest knife you own. I cut myself A LOT when I’m in the kitchen, and if I’m ever going to lose a finger, smart money is on me slicing off a digit whilst trying to muscle through a sweet potato with a dull knife. They’re as close to a rock as a root vegetable can get.  I know it sounds counterintuitive, but yeah, just reach for the sharp knife. It’s safer.

Once diced, I dump them in a frying pan coated with olive oil and then cover them in an absurd amount of chili powder, onion powder, and cayenne pepper. The key to sweet potatoes—and all healthy food that tastes like crap for that matter—is  to dowse them in enough seasoning and/or hot sauce to mask the true taste of what you’re eating.

Thanks again for your question. 

Do you believe in dragons?


Why do you hate dogs?

How much time do you have?

I’m serious, I could go for a while on this one.

I should probably start with a qualifying statement here: I don’t hate all dogs. In fact, if you set up 5-minute meet-and-greets between me and every dog on earth, I’m fairly confident I’m going to come away feeling neutral about most of those encounters.

And that’s where my problem starts.

I am sick and tired of being vilified by my peers for showing even the slightest bit of resistance to the idea that all dogs are precious, cute, adorable, must-have little gifts from heaven.  #dog #pup #puppy #cute #dogs_of_instagram #petstagram #ilovemydog #instagramdogs #dogstagram #dogoftheday #lovedogs #lovepuppies #hound #adorable #doglover #istapuppy #instadog #pupsquad #tongueoutdontcare #pawtytime #wheresmyball #whywontyouplaywithme #dogmom

I don’t know when us millennials all got together and collectively decided we can’t go anywhere in public without being accompanied by the dogs we’ve purchased (Oooo!!! Or rescued!), which apparently all now require constant attention and affection (a really cool new feature), but apparently, we did that. 

And to all the dog mommies and daddies in this camp, which unfortunately contains just about everyone in my Nielsen age bracket, I have this to say: Shut up. Forever and always, shut up. Guess what? IT’S A DOG! It’s happy when you come home because you feed it. Because it can’t feed itself. BECAUSE IT’S A DOG.  Replace yourself in this man/beast relationship with any other decent human being with access to a can opener and I guarantee the dog is going to be cool with it, in like, a week.

This isn’t a fight I was itchin’ to start by the way. I know I’m an outlier here, and I’m fine with that. The truth is, I’m almost always happy to play the contrarian. It’s where I’m comfortable. It’s what makes sense. I mean, most people are stupid, so it stands to reason the things they like are stupid too, right?

 Anyway, I digress. To answer your question, I don’t hate dogs. They seem to make decent companions. And if I ever have a pile of money I was considering throwing out or feel the need to find a girlfriend in 48 hours or less (puppies!!!), perhaps I’ll get one.

How can I be more like Joe?

This is the kind of important question I was looking for, people. You should all be interested in this.

Now I want to be very clear about this from the start. You probably can’t pull this off. I mean, I’m all about self-improvement, and striving to be more like me is probably a worthwhile exercise, but I don’t want anyone to come away disappointed when they fall short. I’m amazing. Like, startlingly impressive. And there’s just no tried and true recipe to achieve that. If there was, everyone would do it. I’ll use a reasonable analogy to hammer home the point I’m trying to make here. Consider Lebron James.

Lebron is far and away the best basketball player in the world. It’s not even close. He’s an all-time great. Maybe the all-time great. And there’s a lot of tangible attributes one can point to that contribute to that, like Lebron’s freakish combination of size, speed, and agility.

But there’s a lot of big, fast guys in the NBA. That’s kind of what the NBA is.  

The things that truly make Lebron stand out are the things that are harder to nail down. His Einstein-like basketball brain, his commitment to being great and how that manifests itself in the way he trains and takes care of his body, his ability to adapt his game to the players around him and the circumstances on any given night.

The point I’m trying to make here is that true greatness always has an ethereal quality to it. It can’t be defined. It can’t be duplicated. It just is.  

Which brings me back to me.

We can try to nail down all the discrete traits and qualities that make me who I am, but ultimately, this exercise in reverse engineering is going to come up short.

So, let’s focus on what you can do.

The biggest thing you can do for yourself here is to change your attitude. You need to get really negative really fast. And don’t be afraid to lean into it either. Everything is now a chore. Everyone is now annoying. Live by that. I really can’t overstate how important it is that you become someone who is generally unpleasant to be around.

Step two (and this is where Joe-ness really starts to take shape) is to develop an enormous ego. But there’s an important subtlety here that can’t be missed. That giant ego can’t be supported by any actual talents or attributes. Deep down, WAY deep, you must know you are kind of a fraud and you must be at least somewhat disappointed in yourself over that fact. This doesn’t work if there isn’t some level of self-loathing here. But, the outward self-confidence must win the day. It’s a tough tightrope to walk. Not everyone can do it.  

Make those adjustments and you’re probably 90 percent of the way there. The last 10 percent is some combination of stardust and probably just eating more cauliflower.


This was fun! If you want me to do another one, leave me some more questions. Or just tell me how much you hated this—that could be fun too.