Avoid The Cue Stick Day
Marchipelago 3, 41 A.B.


     When I was a boy, my mind was often intrigued by the damnedest things.
     The idea that grown men might make their living twirling plates atop long poles.
     The suspicion that JFK and Marilyn Monroe had faked their own deaths just so they could live together quietly in Michigan's Upper Peninsula.
     Truman Capote.

     But of all the things that set my fever-prone mind a-feverin', nothing ever quite equaled The Magic 8 Ball.
     I'm not now sure exactly when I first encountered this most mystical of juvenile pastimes.  Probably about 1965 because that is when the lady who introduced me to it was our neighbor.  
     This was the same woman who introduced me to Christmas tree bubble lights.
     And took me with her to the inner recesses of her Moose Lodge when nobody else was around and she needed to prepare things for an upcoming meeting.
     If you've never explored a bar, a boardroom, or a ballroom all alone save for whatever giant stuffed moose heads cared to look down upon you, you really owe it to yourself to do so sometime!
     But I digress....

     I'm not sure why this unmarried, 30ish woman had an 8 Ball in her possession, but I'm glad she did.  And I'm even gladder that she didn't keep it all to herself as I would have.  
     Oh, how I loved to ask it questions!
     How I thrilled to read the answers!
     When it confirmed my JFK-Monroe suspicions, I felt exactly as if I'd become a bit character in Ray Bradbury's exceedingly creepy short story, "The Jar" (which I knew as an episode of "Alfred Hitchcock Presents")....

     Oddly enough, the name of the neighbor who'd introduced me to this thrilling world was Helen Ball....

     Ms. Ball wasn't our neighbor for very long - virtually no time at all, in fact, when one remembers that the earth is about 4.5 billion years old.
     And when she left for whatever places people named Helen Ball go to once they're done transforming the lives of little boys forever, she took her 8 Ball with her.
     Needless to say, she was hardly out of sight before I began to beg my mother to get me one of my very own.
     And when mom told me that there was only one in the whole world and that she was powerless to honor my request, I asked her to get me a Magic 8 Ball of my own instead....

     As luck would have it, I grew up in a very poor family.
     Magic 8 Balls simply were not something my mother thought as important as food, clothing, and shelter, and in retrospect I can see how a simple woman who had never made it to college might think that.  At the time, however, her attempts to substitute meat and potatoes for the portal to The Great Beyond that I craved left me feeling very depressed and portal-deprived.

     And then - miracle of miracles! - she came through for me!
     Well, almost.
     She gave me a Pseudo-Magical 3 Ball.

     To this day I'm not sure if she mistook the 3 for an 8, simply grabbed whatever was on sale the day she went shopping at Goodwill, didn't think I was worthy of a full-fledged magic ball, or made a conscious decision to toy with my heart and mind.  At the time I was just thrilled to get anything at all, rather like those caged baby monkeys on the nature shows which will grab any old rag doll and cling to it for dear life after being separated forever from the rest of their troop. 
     It took me awhile, being somewhat duller than a baby monkey in many ways, but eventually I came to realize that there's a difference between a living oracle and a cold, dead orb....

     In hopes of helping others avoid making at least one of the mistakes of my mother, here's how the two things compare:

9 out of 10 surgeons prefer 8 Balls to Ouija Boards in the operating room

Magic 8 Ball

- 20 Possible Answers -

    Outlook Good 
    Outlook Not So Good 
    My Reply Is No 
    Don't Count On It 
    You May Rely On It 
    Ask Again Later 
    Most Likely 
    Cannot Predict Now 
    Yes Definitely 
    Better Not Tell You Now 
    It Is Certain 
    Very Doubtful 
    It Is Decidedly So 
    Concentrate and Ask Again 
    Signs Point to Yes 
    My Sources Say No 
    Without a Doubt 
    Reply Hazy, Try Again 
    As I See It, Yes 


Actual, retouched photo of a 3 Ball after 6 days on a Jenny Craig diet!

Pseudo-Magical 3 Ball

- 21 Possible Answers -

I'm Sorry - I Wasn't Paying Attention
NO!!! And Don't Ask Again!
Don't Be Silly
Who Do You Think You Are To Ask?!
Go Away - I'm Busy
Can't You Figure Anything Out Yourself?
HA!  In Your Dreams!
I'd Tell You But You Wouldn't Understand
Who Told You To Ask Me This?
Dammit, We've Been Over This Before!
You Don't Need To Know
What A Stupid Question!
You Like Barbie So Much - Go Ask Her!
Didn't You Pay Attention In School?
Do You Really Have To Ask?
HEY - Can't I Get ANY Peace?!
What Part Of NO Didn't You Understand? SHUT UP!
Like I'm Going To Tell YOU!


     Fortunately, I only had to make do with that 3 Ball of mine until 1997.  That's when I got my PC and found the real deal online and available whenever I want it.  
     And I'm even willing to share!  

Simple Version
(Just type in a question and get an answer in seconds!)

Virtually Real Version
(An ACTUAL ball, a webcam, a robotic arm - how can you just sit there and not click??)

8 Ball Autopsy
(For the incurably curious - well, the incurably curious 
who have strong stomachs, anyway!)

Full Autopsy Report
(Complete with explicit close-ups and how-to instructions!)

Joe's Magic 9 Ball
(Tired of the way I mess with your head?  See if you like Joe's way better!)

     Mmmmmm!  Seems all this talk of Magic 8 Balls has built up quite an appetite in me for some serious consultation, if you know what I mean.
     And OMG!  My favorite oracle has just now agreed that I should shut up and indulge!

     Sometimes it's all just too spooky to be believed, isn't it?

Back To Slapping A Few Quiz Shows Around
In Hopes Of Finally Getting 'Em To Confess
To Their Scandalous Ways


Forward To Whatever Subject My Little Round Friend
Indicates I Ought To Tackle Next

(©Now by Dan "YES! YES! OH, YESSSSS!" Birtcher)


Please get your dirty little cursor off my shiny ivory finish!

~~ Helpful Hint ~~

For the freshest answers possible,
ALWAYS store your Magic 8 Ball
in the best working refrigerator you can find!