* Welcome to The Big Jewel, where helping two beautiful people fall in love is our whole reason for being. That and making sure the lawyers on either side get paid. Say hello to the latest from the cynical yet beautiful mind of Barton Aronson.

(The Terms and Conditions Of) Our Beautiful Relationship

By:
bartonsaronson@gmail.com

Dear Mr. Stone:

I am writing to inform you that my client, Madison Jane Terwilliger (a/k/a “Maddie”), has reviewed all of the materials you submitted. We had difficulty getting the hologram to work, but Maddie has decided she that has enough information to proceed. While candor requires us to inform you that she received offers which exceed yours in various particulars, we found your proposed relationship package highly competitive, with the greatest overall potential for enhancing Maddie’s personal, professional, and spiritual well-being.

Accordingly, Maddie tentatively accepts your client’s offer to be his bae for a period of eighteen (18) months, as well as his offer of the Mercedes-Maybach as a “go public” gift. We look forward to working with you.

As we’ve discussed, Maddie is bound to remain with her current boyfriend through awards season. Be assured that statements from Maddie’s camp to the effect that her current boyfriend is still rocking her world are issued solely to comply with current contractual obligations and will not affect our arrangement. If it is a matter of concern, however, we are prepared to offer an anonymous leak to an outlet of your choice to the effect that Maddie was totally macking on your client at the Billboard Music Awards after-party.

Additional terms and conditions are attached hereto as Schedule A.

Sincerely,

Phyllis Rogers

 

Dear Ms. Rogers:

On behalf of my client, Francis Leslie Forsythe (a/k/a “Show Stoppa”) (a/k/a “Tha Stoppa”), thank you for your response. We are excited to work with you. We want you to know that our entire team of lawyers, accountants, therapists, stylists, web designers, photographers, personal trainers, spiritual advisers, transportation professionals, chefs, publicists, security personnel and professional entourage members are here to support your client and ours, twenty-four hours a day.

We must inform you that the video for Tha Stoppa’s recent single, “Harder They Come,” has been banned in Malaysia, Indonesia and Singapore, and his tour dates there have been canceled. The resulting cash crunch requires that Tha Stoppa substitute a set of quality steak knives for the Maybach. We regret the change.

Once the relationship is public, my client agrees to participate in up to three couple’s profiles, provided they do not involve outlets with which he is in litigation. Unfortunately, we’re unable to accommodate Maddie’s request regarding Miss Fuzzy Paws — recently surfaced video of Tha Stoppa’s participation in his high school choir has adversely affected his street cred, and as a result, he simply cannot be photographed with a domestic housecat at this time. We can offer a photograph with a (humanely sedated) Bengal tiger as an alternative.

Finally, we wish to assure you that Tha Stoppa has the greatest admiration for Maddie’s music as well as her booty. Unfortunately, the settlement terms of a previous relationship prevent him from tweeting favorably about either for the next three months. We regret the inconvenience.

Sincerely,

Benjamin Stone

 

Dear Mr. Stone:

We are disappointed that Tha Stoppa is requesting permission for twelve out-of-relationship intimate encounters during the period in which Maddie will be his bae. We are prepared to consent to six, which we view as the industry standard, provided none involve the women listed below in Column A (friends of Maddie’s) or Column B (known skanks). Please forward results of his monthly STD test results directly to me.

Photos of Maddie appearing in your client’s Instagram feed must be reviewed for compliance with her endorsement contracts before posting. In addition, Maddie’s devotion to a vegan lifestyle requires that tweets by Tha Stoppa mentioning her name not include the bacon, hamburger, hot dog, steak, turkey wing or spare rib emojis.

Your proposals regarding Maddie’s domestic travel are non-starters. Please confirm your client is prepared to provide Maddie unlimited use of his Falcon G-6 or equivalent. For international travel, first class on commercial airlines is acceptable, but see below for a list of carriers from which Maddie’s mother is currently banned.

We wish your client success with his new venture in sports management. However, polling of 7-10 year old girls — currently 37% of Maddie’s fan base — reveal either extreme anxiety over or outright revulsion at combat sports. Accordingly, Maddie will be unable to accompany Tha Stoppa to UFC matches.

We have reviewed your itemized list of proposed acts of physical intimacy. Items 1-9 and 14 are acceptable in principle, but see below for our counterproposal regarding frequency. Maddie does not engage in items 10-13 without a prenuptial agreement. We are unfamiliar with items 15-26.

Thank you for sending along the photo of Tha Stoppa’s cousin. There are no openings in Maddie’s squad at this time, but we will keep it on file.

Sincerely,

Phyllis Rogers

 

Dear Ms. Rogers:

There appear to be only a few minor matters to be resolved. Tha Stoppa agrees to accompany Maddie to Fashion Week in the cities you list, except for Sydney, as he is currently barred from entering Australia.

Tha Stoppa consents to appear, without compensation, in the video for Maddie’s single “Thigh High,” provided his abdominal muscles are featured prominently (75% of the frame or more) for no less than nine seconds.

Our client is amenable to the requested twelve “quiet evenings at home” during the course of the relationship. See below for proposed changes to the definitions of the words “quiet,” “evenings” and “home.”

Please let us know if you have any comments on the letter that we have drafted for Maddie to send to the judge overseeing my client’s probation in Nevada.

Regarding the end of the relationship, Tha Stoppa cannot agree to your proposal that Maddie attribute the breakup to his “lying-ass ways.” We request again that you choose either the “careers going in different directions” or the “never in the same place at the same time” narrative. In either case, Tha Stoppa consents to your request that he cover the lease on Maddie’s Tesla Model X for thirty-six (36) months following the end of the relationship. And on a personal note, Tha Stoppa has asked me to ask you to convey to your client that, even after their breakup, he will always love her.

Sincerely,

Benjamin Stone

 

* Welcome to The Big Jewel, where the hyperbolic and the phlegmatic meet in a weird slow-motion head-on collision, kind of like an Amish buggy hitting an oil tanker. Which brings us to this bit of fun from Graham Techler.

Would You Be Interested In Buying Into My Hype?

By:
graham.techler@gmail.com
www.grahamtechler.com

Ding dong!

Hello! From what I can see of it, you have a beautiful home. As an up-and-coming entrepreneur-DJ, I have been repeatedly told that it is dangerous to buy into your own hype, so I am currently going door-to-door to see if someone else can buy into it for me.

Would you be interested in buying into my hype? I can promise you it’s valuable hype that may even result in a little splashback hype of your very own.

However, you should know that this is a lot of responsibility. An actress from MTV’s Teen Wolf recently liked an Instagram photo of someone (me) wearing the golden sneakers I designed. Would you be willing to saddle the expectation that she and I will get married and live off my shoe-bucks long after her wolf-cash has dried up?

What’s more, the Internet’s “25 to 26 People In Between 25 and 26” recently listed me as a DJ-entrepreneur to watch, in between the ages of 25 and 26. Could you take it upon yourself to decide how many people I should mention this to at my high school reunion or what?

Most importantly, can you share a new headshot every day of the week until my body of work comprises more headshots than new beats or sneakers?

Also, a warning: my hype is a fragile thing that requires an astounding amount of upkeep to keep alive. The slightest disturbance could wreck my hype beyond all recognition. Then I wouldn’t be a DJ-entrepreneur to watch. I’d just be some fucking guy. And we can’t have that.

Just the other day I was mixing beats when, ding dong, a UPS delivery man arrived at my door with an improved pair of my golden shoes. “Package for Jeff?” he said. “It’s spelled Geoff,” I said. If this pedestrian asshole didn’t know who I was, how could anyone? Did I have any hype at all?

So you can see what I’m up against. And, if you choose to accept my offer, what you’d be up against. The UPS incident sent me into a downward spiral and I didn’t mix a single beat all day. This is why I can’t be trusted with my own hype.

I sense you might be reluctant. You’re sliding your glass door shut like it’s weird that I tried the back of your house first. Fine. To sweeten the deal, I’ll let you in on a little secret: my hype is especially exciting and powerful because I basically haven’t followed through on any of it yet. My hack psychoanalyst even says that my hype just a construct I tell myself so I can let myself off the hook for not mixing beats and making sneakers as much as I should. But it’s like how your physicist friends call it “potential energy” instead of just “nothing.”

You’ll need to act fast though. As everyone knows, all hype depreciates in value over time. So what do you say? Can I put you down for twenty shares? Can you open the sliding door? Can I have my fingers back? I need them for two critical activities.

 

 

* Welcome to The Big Jewel, which which has always been a friend to nature, though nature seldom seems to return the favor. When you are done with Michael Fowler's latest and greatest, do check out the link below to purchase his most recent humor collection, "Nathaniel Hawthorne is Dating my Girlfriend."

One Touch Of Nature

By:
mfowl4916@gmail.com
http://www.dpdotcom.com/hawthorne/

I didn’t mean to do it. Nature and I have long had an understanding that, although in some technical and biological way I am part of Her, I nonetheless prefer to remain indoors and the hell out of Her way. All that ended recently when my car skidded off the road in a rainstorm (and really, what is the idea of all that water falling out of the sky so suddenly, hmm, Ms. Nature?) and I had to exit my sidetracked vehicle near some thick population of plant things — bushes and vines and what have you.

The downpour had stopped, fortunately, and airborne aqua, containing who knows what world-altering ingredients, did not spatter my skin and clothing. Instead, water only seeped into my shoes, which I have since burned. But as I climbed from the damp ditch where I had come to rest upon spotting the tow truck come to my rescue, I felt a leaf graze my wrist. A leaf! Yes, one of those greenish, slimy and unclean natural protuberances of raw planthood that spends its entire life outdoors. I was aghast.

My relationship to herbaceous vegetation, in case you haven’t gathered by now, is one of revulsion. As an adult I allow myself to make contact with shrub- or root-like entities only to eat buttered lima beans, and that’s rarely, and the hideous beans have got to be cooked and seasoned just right. I won’t dwell on the horrible viscosity of peas or the unbearable density of carrots. Of salads I say, Why? You might as well pour some vinegar and oil on your yard and graze there like a goat. Yum, that’s tasty clover!

I felt the brief contact of that leaf against my wrist as if some cold-blooded alien creature had swiped me with its outstretched tongue or curled-up hand as thin as a blade of grass. I was aware of the plant’s ill intent and wondered about the consequences. For hours after the accident, as I waited in a garage for my car’s tires to be realigned and listened to my insurance agent explain over the phone the difficulty of suing the owner of the puddle I hydroplaned over, I kept examining the contact spot on my wrist, expecting a red welt to rise up and begin oozing terrible toxins.

All right, so the sticky, moist leaf most likely wasn’t an alien, but who knew what brand of poison ivy or oak or sumac it was? I recalled from childhood the terrifying expectation I felt each summer that my limbs and throat would swell up to huge proportions due to plant life, which fortunately they never did, and the streaming half-closed eyes that I also dreaded but luckily never experienced. These feelings closed in on me again, and I knew that even if the leaf bore no deadly toxin, still it might have coated me with piney resin or scraped my tender flesh with scabrous vegetable follicles. I might stop breathing and my throat and lungs fill with suffocating fluid at a moment’s notice, if I were susceptible.

And I was always susceptible, or so I believed. As a child I was keenly aware of the deadly misnomers “fresh air” and “healthy exercise.” Growing up I always preferred the safety of my home with its indoor toys and TV to the dirt-lined playing fields and filthy streets. Evil flowers in bloom and dangerous budding trees terrified me. Shuddering, I recalled visiting a petting zoo with my elementary school class and becoming exposed to the pathogens of a live chicken. Worse was the day my high school senior class took a communal walk in a park and I trampled a mushroom. I was so upset I almost didn’t graduate.

At home with my rescued and repaired car in the drive, I took a good long hot shower, and then another, to thoroughly cleanse the leaf contact area. True, no skin eruption presented itself, but to be sure I also daubed the affected epidermis with soothing unguents, including a good soaking in both hydrocortisone and anti-fungal creams. Doctors have told me that these creams can be counterproductive when used together, since fungus loves nothing better than hydrocortisone, but I was desperate. I thought of driving to the ER too, or at least making an appointment with my physician, but the absence of an immediate tumor or even irritation on my wrist calmed me to the point of adopting a wait-and-see approach.

That may be my fatal mistake, like waiting to see if the mosquito squatting on my wrist, no doubt bursting with West Nile virus, will bite me or not. Or walking through my tree-lined back yard during tick season, and not running right back inside to examine every inch of my flesh under a flashlight.

That’s the awful thing about Nature: you don’t just touch Her. She touches you.

 

* Welcome to The Big Jewel, the most unabashedly literary of all the half dozen or so literary humor sites. Take that, internet! Listen in as our good friend Jon Sindell introduces some familiar faces at a reading that must be taking place somewhere in the Great Beyond.

Author Bios From An Extraordinary American Lit Reading

By:
jsind@sbcglobal.net
jonsindell.com

Good evening, literature lovers. It is my honor to introduce the famed authors who will read their work tonight in an evening unique in the annals of annals.

Our first reader, WALT WHITMAN, is the poet of the body and the soul, and what is in them is as much in him: the stevedore with his hearty “Heave ‘e’ yo!”…the wagoner with his bulging biceps…the spinster in her chamber, penning poems by the oil lamp’s glow; as well as the whale that rendered the oil; and the harpoonist with his mighty thighs; and the krill swirling in the leviathan’s gut; and also the gut. The krill, the oil, the gut, the harpoonist, all spill out of me — wait, how did I get here? That’s him, not me! He, Walt Whitman, is the poet of the body and soul! Of each several body and each several soul! Sing glory hallelujah, world without end!

EDGAR ALLAN POE, our second reader, must not be thought mad, though his pen drips with fantastic terrors never seen before, severally induced by the Fiend Intemperance, the spirit of Perverseness, and the demon that preys on the melancholic soul. Edgar loathes neither black cats nor ravens, but, frankly, that egomaniac Whitman gives him the fantods.

emily dickinson is at Home tonight, yet far from Home — and has “consented” — better, in Truth, to say “relented” — to her Poetry being read by a bolder Spirit here in her stead, one whose Constitution can abide the Presence of the Abominable Poe.

ABRAHAM LINCOLN has written innumerable spoken-word pieces that charitable commentators have hiked up as “orations.” One of these was a flash hybrid piece that Abe read at a Pennsylvania battlefield to honor the Union war dead. Though Abe is amused by the legend that he penned the piece on the back of an envelope, he thinks postcard prose could well be a thing. A melancholy optimist, Abe seeks through his writing — against the odds, it seems — to arouse the better angels of our nature.

FREDERICK DOUGLASS is the author of Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, an American Slave. That’s slave, people! He hasn’t the time to write dandified bios!

HARPER LEE wrote To Kill a Mockingbird. She also, it would seem, wrote Go Set a Watchman, or a draft that she left in a drawer somewhere with some dried-up Jujubes and a spelling medal. Where’s my water! I can’t swallow this horse pill! Who are you? Sign what? What sequel? What mockingbird? If you see a mockingbird, shut the damn window! Atticus who? What Scout? I’m not in the Scouts! Oh, why can’t everyone leave me alone!

That summer RAYMOND CARVER rented a little house on the north coast with a drinking buddy named Gus. Ray, Gus said. You should write now. Right now? said Ray. Well, Gus said, I mean, write. Write now, or write later. Ray said, Write what? The window was cracked and a breeze came in. It tasted like salt. I don’t know what, said Gus, and waved his hand like he was shooing a fly. Gus had a box of old dry Hydrox cookies from the Safeway. Eat one, he said. Alright, said Ray. It’s a small, good thing.

Where J.D. SALINGER lives or what he does besides writing are none of your damn business.

ARTHUR MILLER married Marilyn Monroe. Have you seen a picture of Miller? Have you seen her? In scaling such prodigious matrimonial heights, the scrawny bespectacled playwright foreshadowed the dreck film Revenge of the Nerds by thirty years. MILLER also wrote The Death of a Salesman and The Crucible, which won major awards, he supposes — but good god, Marilyn!

F. SCOTT FITZGERALD distilled the incomparable milk of wonder into words in The Great Gatsby. He drinks incomparable-milk-of-wonder laced with bootleg bourbon nightly.

ERNEST HEMINGWAY writes lean, supple prose and drinks whiskey straight, unlike that Ivy League pantywaist Fitzgerald.

NORMAN MAILER wrote The Armies of the Night and The Naked and the Dead. He’ll knock Hemingway’s block off if the drunken bastard drops his left.

 

* Welcome to The Big Jewel, where shattering dreams is our specialty. For those who wish to believe in superheroes, Eric Feurer is here to disillusion you. We like Eric so much that this is his second piece in a row for us. Enjoy!

Sorry Kids, I’m Not The Batman, I’m Just A Bat Man

By:
ericfeurer@me.com
www.ericfeurer.com

Ah, jeez, I could hear you kids jibber-jabbering since you got in this cave — you’re looking for Batman. Well, bad news buckos, you found a bat man. Not the Batman. That’s right, you found ol’ dirty Ralph. I am half man, half bat, all disgusting. This is not the Bat Cave, it is a bat cave (and my home), so please leave.

The Batman is an imaginary hero with a cool suit and gadgets to help him fight crime. I am a real mistake of god, with no sweat glands. I am a freak — good day to you, children! Let me echolocate you the way out.

SKREEEEEEEE

SKREEEEEEEE

SKRE–

It’s that way. Check yourself for ticks — I’m absolutely covered in ’em. Kids come in here all the time because someone told them Batman lives here. It is a cruel joke of which I am the butt.

Listen, the only [sneezes]…Excuse me, I’m allergic to myself. Listen, the only similarity between his story and mine is that we are both orphans. His parents were murdered, and one of mine definitely fucked a bat. And that doesn’t make me a vampire — vampires eat blood and need to be invited into your home. I eat cicadas and have never been invited anywhere ever.

In fact, let me take you through my day, and let me know if this sounds like hero material: 7:00 pm — wake up. 7:05 — scream “Why?” at my reflection in a pool of stagnant mosquito water. 8:00 pm — produce nutrient-rich guano, which sounds nice, but is just fancy talk for taking a big shit. Then I eat bugs, hate myself, work on my novel, wash-rinse-repeat. [Sneezes] I cannot believe I’m allergic to bat dander — why do I exist!?

If I can be honest with you kids for a second, Batman has many enemies. The Joker, Riddler, Two-Face. I also fight a two-face: the two faces of manic depression. The silent killer…

Did someone just take a goddamn picture of me?!

SKREEEEEEEE

You sonuvabitch…

SKREEEEEEEE

Get over here — where are you…

SKREEEEEEEE

I’m gonna echolocate my foot right up your ass!

Christ, what’s the point? What if I was the Batman? What if my penis wasn’t corkscrew shaped? What if I had friends, and a butler, and my penis wasn’t corkscrew shaped? Sometimes I imagine my very own Bat Signal high in the sky. A beacon of…

[Sneezes]

Fuck me — never mind, I’m a living nightmare. GO AWAY!

And tell the other kids to stop leaving fan mail for the Batman at the mouth of my cave! “Dear Batman, you are the coolest.” “Dear Batman, thank you for keeping us safe.” “Dear Batman, gross!” Actually this last one is probably for me. Go on, get out of here!

SKREEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE

That’s not echolocation — I’m crying.

 

* Welcome to The Big Jewel, where we often have reason to wonder about the sanity of our contributors, Eric Feurer being just the latest case in point.

I Am No Longer Your Husband, I Am The Cocoon And I Will Never Leave This Bed

By:
ericfeurer@me.com
www.ericfeurer.com

Foolish human, trying to remove me from my bed! Your puny attempts to rouse me from my slumber are worthless! Monday through Friday Roger Smith gets up and goes to work, Saturday is for chores and errands, but Sunday? Sunday there is no Roger Smith. There is only The Cocoon.

Look at you pulling at my blankie. You are so stupid and weak. My body is like an iceberg: there is so much more of me under this blanket, you cannot possibly get me to move! You will never find where the sheets end and the man begins, and in time even I will forget.

Even now your incessant tugging is lulling me into a dream…I’m on a cruise ship made of pillows. The captain is a particularly fluffy sheep. He lets me drive the boat. I sink it. Whoopsie. As we descend into the goose feather ocean, he asks me why? Why? I just laugh, and it turns into a cute yawn —

Ah, stop it, Honey, PLEASE! Five more minutes! No, no, no, no —

Yes, yes, YES! Hahaha! Look at you yanking off my top blanket husk, like that will do anything. You ignorant moron! I have many, many layers, like a very tired onion.

This is not the man you married! Monday through Friday I am Roger Smith, 34, businessman. Saturday I love golfing and embarrassing my children when we go out to eat. But Sunday, when I am in this bed, I am The Cocoon, and I do not recognize the face of my wife. I have no child. Think of me like Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Tired.

I have many defense mechanisms. My breath smells like a horse gave birth in my mouth, and I can make it attack you like a mean dog. My feet are so cold, you will think for just a second, “What if he’s dead?” And that’s when I will lash out with the speed of 1,000 exhausted sloths!

Ah, clever girl. You moved my alarm clock to the other side of the room so I would have to get up and turn it off. Well guess what? That unrelenting high-pitched beeping? It’s now my favorite song. Sometimes I play it to help me fall asleep. In fact I’m beginning to feel drowsy…

I’m the conductor of the Philadelphia Philharmonic Orchestra, but every instrument is a fat man snoring. The audience is throwing bouquets of ZzzQuill onto the stage. I take a bow, and lie down, and —

Ah, stop! Honey, I’m up, I’m up, I’M UP —

Haha, I’m not even close to being up! It would take an act of god himself to pull The Cocoon out of this bed. Give up! I will make you promises and immediately break them. Roger doesn’t want to hurt you, but The Cocoon doesn’t give a shit. I will say some of the meanest, nastiest, most unforgivable things in order to stay in my downy lair, and I won’t remember them when I wake up, so you can’t even be mad at me! Think of me as the little Exorcist girl but an adult and totally zonked out.

They say a restful night of sleep is eight hours. I say quadruple it! I want Rip Van Winkle’s nap to look like a goddamn blink. I’m 165 pounds but my sleep weight is seven tons! To rouse me would be to wake a mountain! A mountain that is tuckered-out, yes!

Oh, I’m dreaming again! I am California King. I am wearing a crown made of the gunk in the corners of your eyes. I have just declared war on the sun… we will attack it at night… it will never expect it…

 

* Welcome to The Big Jewel, the literary humor site that brings lonely people together with people they should probably avoid as if their life depended on it. At least that seems to be what Dan Fiorella thinks we do.

Missed Connection

By:
daf118@aol.com
danfiorella.com

I would never normally try posting on Craigslist Missed Connections, but what the heck — here goes!

I saw you on the 1 Train. You were wearing a red woolen coat and a multi-colored wool hat. I noticed surgical leggings. You were reading your iPhone. You wore those fancy gloves that let you swipe on your phone. Our eyes met a few times and I smiled at you. You had deep, dark eyes. Twin pools of India ink. Is that even politically correct to say anymore? You tilted your head in such a way that your shock of black hair, which contrasted against your light porcelain skin, cascaded over your left eye, brushing up against your classic Grecian nose. You evoked the spirit of a Mediterranean goddess. After a moment, you gathered up your things and got off at the next stop, even though it was obviously not your stop. I returned to my seat.

It would be four or five days before I’d see you on the train again. Fortunately I have the unlimited MetroCard pass. This time I didn’t try to catch your eye or approach you, so you would be more comfortable and get off at your proper station.

Soho. I know it well. It’s a neighborhood in flux. I noticed you in that little vegetable shop on Broome. Then in the Duane Reade buying that laxative. It pains me to think of you in discomfort like that. But I was just too shy to come over and say so! But maybe you should cut back on all that cheese you bought. Just sayin’!

Anyway, after the drug store and the grocer, the hardware store, and the dress shop that apparently has a back entrance, I lost you in the crowd. But luck was with me: I stood across the street from that very same grocer until our paths crossed once again a scant week later! Kismet!

Your doorman seems like the suspicious type and treated me like I had no business coming into your building. First, what’s his problem? And, really, a doorman in Soho? Cheapen the bohemian atmosphere much? Later, much to my surprise, I learned that locksmiths will not simply make keys based on a description of the lock and the address. I cannot believe the ways in which the laws actively court “restraint of trade” lawsuits.

But I haven’t told you anything about myself. I enjoy cooking, deep sea fishing and spelunking, and people tend to forget how much climbing is actually involved in cave exploring, so, really, getting on the roof of your building was no big deal. I will note here that your building security is very impressive and the locks on the rooftop entrances are top notch! It puts my mind at ease to know that you can afford such stellar security. Also, I like a challenge. But I have since decided that a lighter, defter touch may be called for.

Anyway, it appears I’m reaching Craigslist maximum word limit. So, FYI, I’m standing outside your apartment now. Email me. Tell me what color hat I’m wearing so I know it’s really you.

XOXO

The Guy Outside Your Building

 

* Welcome to The Big Jewel, where correcting the omissions of history is one of our passions. That and reading anything new from Candy Schulman.

Overlooked

By:
candy@candyschulman.com

Revisiting 167 years of New York Times history to provide obituaries for female pets who never got them.

 

LASSIE

This Rough Collie could play with equal ease a farm dog saving members of the human race and a loving master to orphaned children. Lassie’s loyalty inspired the term “woman’s best friend.” When she co-starred with Elizabeth Taylor in Lassie Come Home, she “accidentally” knocked over Liz’s cocktails, a futile effort to keep her mentor from addiction. The first feminist canine thespian barked incessantly, demanding equal pay for female Collies. Only after her death was it revealed that Lassie was played mostly by male dogs because their coats were plusher. She and multiple he’s died peacefully in their masters’ beds in 1953, 1962, 1971 and well into the ’80s.

 

TOTO

Born as Terry, she was abandoned by a childless couple who grew impatient with her rug wetting. Adopted by a show business dog trainer, this Cairn Terrier made 13 films, retiring as the wealthiest dog in history. In her twilight years, she founded SAGD, the Screen Actors Guild for Dogs. She suffered from PTSD after her trauma watching Dorothy kill the Wicked Witch of the West. Halloween trick-or-treaters made her freak out in spite of her cocktail of meds. Relentlessly, she entered rehab, attempting to cure her addiction to Milk Bones and recover from her fear of water. Living to 64 in human years, she died by her own paw in 1945, spared from facing humiliating replacement by the Beethovens and Benjis of Hollywood. Her will stipulated that she be buried on a farm, as far as possible from tornadoes and the grave of Margaret Hamilton.

 

DON CORLEONE’S CAT

This stray never imagined she’d be rescued from homelessness on the Paramount lot by Francis Ford Coppola, catapulted into fame in one of the most iconic movies of all time. Coppola wrote her into the script at the last minute, but Tabby hissed when Brando improvised his way back into the spotlight. During filming her raucous purring stifled Brando’s words. He kept reprimanding her, “Quiet down, you stupid slut!” Her ancestors from 15 litters posthumously filed a harassment claim, but it was beyond the statute of limitations. Tabby succumbed to nonstop postpartum depression. Coppola bought a $10,000 Cirpriano urn from Venice to store her ashes. He is determined to leave it to Sofia in his will — even though she’s made it clear that she doesn’t want her old man’s stuff.

 

THOMASINA

Disney created a cat with three lives, beginning as Thomas in 1912. She was renamed Thomasina when her family realized she was a girl. Thomasina was the first transgender feline, which she confessed to Bastet, the Egyptian goddess, on her first trip to the afterlife. The novel from which this overlooked film was inspired, The Cat Who Thought She Was God, had a sequel called The Cat Who Thought He Was A Woman. Unsurprisingly, Thomasina died after her nine lives expired. Her family never accepted her gender identity, but pounced back after her death when they contested her will, cat-fighting for a piece of the royalty pie.

 

DORY

She was probably born on a coral reef across the Indo-Pacific, fertilized among 40,000 spawned eggs. Her parents immediately swam off, and she was raised by a school of surgeonfish. The first blue tang to star in a billion-dollar-grossing animated movie, Dory couldn’t recall being abandoned. Nor when she was born. Therefore it’s unclear how old she was when she died in 2012 of Alzheimer’s. Fishy theories abound that she was replaced by a lookalike from Petco in her custom-built tank in the Pixar studio. Thanks to Ellen DeGeneres, Dory’s strong belief that the ocean is half full rather than half empty will live on, enduring eternally in multiple sequels. Asked once to describe herself, Dory said, “I already forgot your question.”

 

NANNY

President Lincoln’s pet goat was a feisty piece of chêvre, pulling Lincoln’s sons through the Oval Office on kitchen chairs. Nanny and sibling Nanko gnawed everything from the furniture in the Lincoln Bedroom to priceless Civil War maps adorning the President’s office. Her antics caused such friction between Abraham and Mary Ann Todd that the couple had a brief, but highly secret, stint in marriage counseling — abruptly halted due to his assassination in 1865. Mrs. Lincoln got rid of the goats before she even donated her husband’s clothes to Goodwill, according to their head cook Cornelia Mitchell. No one really knows what became of the whimsical duo, and for all we know they ended up braised and stewed. Thank goodness the Emancipation Proclamation was unscathed.

 

GIDGET

The Taco Bell spokesdog stroked out in 2009 at the age of 15 after a lucrative career pushing unhealthy fake-Mexican fast food to inner city teenagers. The talented Chihuahua spent her free time sun worshipping in Cancun. Her career rebounded when she partnered with Gecko, Geico’s advertising icon, who is still alive, wealthy, and feasting on freshly fried crickets. Gecko is currently spearheading the movement opposing the construction of the Border Wall, creating a Go-Fund-Me in Gidget’s honor. At the funeral, the pastor, decked out in a serape and sombrero, opined, “¡Yo quiero Taco Bell!,” insisting that Gidget was not a cultural stereotype.

 

SAMMIE STREISAND

Barbra Streisand defended cloning her euthanized Coton de Tulear Sammie, née Samantha, into Miss Violet and Miss Scarlet. People — especially with $50,000 to burn — are truly the luckiest pee-pull in the world! Streisand’s DNA is currently being stored in an undisclosed location in Flatbush to eventually clone the next Funny Girl. Sammie lives on perpetually and digitally, with a whopping three Instagram followers. Show your love! #samanthastreisand.

 

* Welcome to The Big Jewel, where every week is a reenactment of our love for you, the reader. This week it's deja vu all over again, thanks to R.D. Ronstad.

The Reenactor

By:
ronstadlb@gmail.com

I am a reenactor. Not a Revolutionary War or Civil War or World War I or II reenactor. Not a Colonial America or American frontier reenactor. Not a medieval times or ancient Greece or Roman times reenactor. Just a reenactor — not limiting myself to any time, any place, or any person. Everything that happens is history, right? (Remember the butterfly effect?) It’s sheer arrogance to say only a miniscule number of events and times and people are historical reenactment-worthy.

Taking this approach, I must admit, does lead to some difficulties. For example, when I follow some guy off a bus, am I just another guy getting off a bus, or am I reenacting the guy in front of me getting off a bus? I’m never quite sure myself. Also, by reenacting things that normally don’t get reenacted, could I be messing with the timeline? Doubtful, but who knows? I consider these types of questions only minor annoyances though. I refuse to let them bog me down. The real problem is dealing with people who willfully or in their ignorance fail to recognize my reenactor status.

* * * * * * *

Take what happened during the last baseball season when one fall day I traveled from my home in Chicago to Appleton, WI hoping to reenact a home run (his first of the season) hit by a nondescript Wisconsin Timber Rattlers player the day before. (The Rattlers were having a rough year and I figured they and their fans could use the pick-me-up.) I took carefully considered precautions to avoid trouble. I would not interrupt play, but would perform my reenactment at the sixth inning, while the grounds crew did their stamping and raking and dragging. I wore a Rattlers jersey with the nondescript player’s number on it but with REENACTOR stitched on it* where the players name would normally go. I brought along a yellow plastic wiffle-ball bat of my nephew’s instead of a wooden bat (so no one would feel threatened as I trotted towards home plate carrying it), which I stuffed in my sweatpants so no one, including security, would ask questions. (I wanted my reenactment to be a surprise for everyone.). And when the moment came and I hopped the fence and headed toward the plate while removing the wiffle-ball bat from my pants, I kept shouting: “Living history! Living history! Living history!” so that anyone within earshot would know my intentions were commendable.

Well, just as I was digging in at home plate, I noticed a couple of angry-faced security guys racing toward me from the third base dugout area. I didn’t even have time to raise the bat over my shoulders. So I dropped it immediately and hightailed it toward first base (which further distorted the reenactment, because no real baseball player hightails it after hitting a home run), at which time I noticed two more security guys starting to take off after me from the first base dugout. I did manage to round first base, all the while continuing to shout over my shoulder: “Living history! Living history! Living history!” But all for naught. Apparently the first base security guys had no qualms about tackling living history.

* * * * * * *

Then a couple of weeks after that, one afternoon after watching Monty Python and the Holy Grail for the third or fourth time that day, I decided to walk through my neighborhood reenacting the medieval practice of pushing a cart around collecting dead bodies during a plague epidemic.

I figured my neighbors would play along, because most of them by then would have been clued in to my reenactor status, since I had already made numerous reenactment forays into local business establishments (coffee houses, bars, bakeries, laundromats, etc.) and public buildings (library, senior center), and in addition, there had been scurrilous local media accounts** of the unfortunate incident at the Rattlers game.

So I dragged a wheelbarrow out of my tool shed to substitute for a dead-body cart (good enough, since I didn’t anticipate collecting any actual dead bodies), outfitted myself with a drab sweatsuit I picked up on the cheap at Goodwill and then promptly shredded, fashioned a buff-colored kerchief into limp headgear, smeared dirt on my clothes and all my visible body parts, and started off around the neighborhood chanting: “Bring out your dead!” “Bring out your dead!” “Bring out your dead!”

Everything went as planned for about a half hour. People played along, as I had anticipated. No rude remarks. Some sly smiles. Even some faux weeping and moaning. And a number of “dead bodies” were deposited into my wheelbarrow in the form of cracked portable radios, smashed remote controls, and waterlogged cell phones.

Then I came upon the McJerk*** residence. As I walked wearily and morosely past the McJerks, chanting my dead-body chant, they hauled out their perpetually drunken uncle, whose animate status, I must admit, has always been in question, and insisted I haul him away on my “cart” with all the electronic corpses. I didn’t want to point out the obvious, which I’m sure they knew anyway — that I was, in fact, not a dead-body collector, but a dead-body collector reenactor. I didn’t want to break character. Instead, I got into a heated dispute with them as to whether Uncle McJerk was, in fact, dead (yes, just like in the Python movie!). Well, I don’t want to go into all the sordid details, but I just want to point this out for the record: No matter what the McJerks might claim in the upcoming court proceedings, I DID NOT at any time — I repeat, DID NOT — hit any McJerk on the head with my cudgel****.

* * * * * * *

As I mentioned, I frequently do my reenacting at neighborhood establishments. This is, in fact, my favored form of reenacting — on the spot, “you are there,” spontaneous reenacting in honor of “ordinary” people.

This might involve stealthily following some random subject at the supermarket, mentally noting down all his/her movements and selections, and repeating them as precisely as possible once they’ve left the premises. (Resulting, unfortunately, in frequent unnecessary purchases, since half the items I check out — dog food, baby diapers, radishes, Cap’n Crunch’s OOPS! and so forth — I have no use for.) Or listening attentively to cell phone conversations at my local Starbucks and repeating the half of the conversation I heard into my phone word-for-word (short conversations only, obviously) once the person has left. (Sometimes, although this, strictly speaking, does not qualify as reenactment, I even make up imagined responses on the other end, which can be quite entertaining.) Or, at the library, repeating questions to the reference librarian I just heard someone else ask. (Once, a librarian repeated the question word for word back to me. I high-fived him — twice!)

During these pursuits, I usually meet with little resistance, outside of the occasional quizzical look or icy glare. Partly because I always remain as unobtrusive as possible, and partly, I think, because I always take care to wear my REENACTOR baseball cap and t-shirt — hand-embroidered by yours truly.

But something untoward did happen once on a visit to my favorite watering hole–The Shot and A Tear Lounge. I was sitting at the bar, wearing my REENACTOR gear, having just finished my first attempt at street reenacting, which went quite smoothly, if I do say so myself, except for a minor flare-up with the driver of a beat-up Buick LeSabre. Anyway, I had just finished my second rum and coke when I got it in my head to attempt a reenactment of Ricardo the regular bartender’s bottle-flipping routine.

So, when Ricardo was safely down at the far end, I hopped the bar, grabbed a bottle of Seagram’s in my left hand, and proceeded to flip it over my right shoulder from behind my back. Unfortunately, as I tried to grasp the spinning, airborne bottle with my right hand, I closed my fingers too quickly and knocked the Seagram’s into a row of liquor bottles lining the shelf in front of a large mirror facing the bar, shattering several of them (but, thankfully, not the mirror) in the process.

As he hustled me out of the bar and into the street, I kept protesting to Gerald the bouncer that I had not had “way too much,” as he claimed, but that I was simply a reenactor doing what reenactor’s do. And when I finally stood up and regained some dignity after being deposited like a sack of unwanted diapers on the sidewalk, I looked Gerald in the eye, pointed at the lettering on my t-shirt, and said: “Can’t you tell the difference between a reenactor and someone who has had ‘way too much’?” “No!” said Gerald. “And if you ever show up around here again, I’m gonna reenact the bombing of Dresden all over your face!”

* * * * * * *

You might think that two impending court cases (the Rattlers have me up for criminal trespass) and a lifetime ban from The Shot and A Tear would dissuade me from carrying on with my reenacting activities. But you would be wrong. History is constantly happening — every day, every minute, everywhere. And wherever history is, it is calling out to be reenacted. I will be there to answer that call. Even in jail, if it comes to that. Because that’s what I am. The reenactor.

*$15.95 ($5 overnight shipping) at notripoffs.com

**The media proved to be totally unsympathetic to my cause also. But what can you expect from a crowd of ink-stained troglodytes?

***Not their real name. Not Scots, either

****Meat tenderizing mallet

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

* Welcome to The Big Jewel, where we proudly join our good friend David Martin in trying to eliminate all writers from the world. Starting with your own household. Once you've finished reading his newest piece of absurdity, click on the link below to check out his humor blog.

How To Eliminate Writers From Your Home

By:
david.martin@bell.net
http://davespoliticalsatire.blogspot.ca

Any time of year is a good time to pest-proof your home. Whether you’ve got ants, mice or squirrels, it’s best to take action to keep these critters at bay.

 

There are plenty of websites to help you identify common rodents and varmints and take the necessary steps to bid them good riddance. Despite several Google searches and minutes of offline research, however, I was unable to find any advice on spotting and eliminating a very common household irritant: the writer.

 

But fear not — I have taken it upon myself to fill this void and present you with everything you need to know to identify and eliminate this most persistent of pests from your abode.

 

First of all, you need to determine if there are, in fact, any writers in your house. You may already suspect that you have been infested with one or more of these creatures by such telltale signs as frequent keyboarding clicks and clacks, late night scribbling beneath bedside lamps or the repeated sound of a head banging against the wall.

 

To be sure if writers are about, however, you have to do some simple sleuthing. If, for example, many of the coats and jackets in your closets have two or more pens in their inside pockets together with numerous pieces of scrap paper, you can be pretty sure you have an infestation of at least one writer.

 

Another sign that an unwanted scribbler may be about is the placement of notebooks and notepads next to every phone, desk, bed and toilet. Open them and look for outlines, reminders and half-written articles, which are sure signs that a writer is nearby.

 

Half-read books piled up on nightstands and tables may signal a writer about. But be careful, since such evidence may simply point to the presence of an obsessive yet inefficient and generally harmless creature known as a reader.

 

Similarly, magazines strewn about the house may mean that a writer has invaded your space. Check, though, for the type of magazines to ensure that you’re not simply on the trail of an inoffensive periodical enthusiast. However, if many of the magazines have the words “Writer,” “Writing” or “Publishing” in the title, there’s definitely cause for concern.

 

Once you’ve established that you have a writer, the next step is to trap him. In line with today’s more modern and sensitive approach to pest control, we strongly advise against using any deadly traps. Instead, we suggest you opt for a live capture and release method.

 

Any one of a number of humane cages will serve the purpose. The key element in using such traps is the proper selection of bait. Many folks opt for traditional items like pens, paper or a keyboard. Still others choose old standbys like writers’ books and magazines.

 

The trouble with using such bait is that if your writer falls for it and still manages to avoid the trap, he will be wise to your ways and likely then to avoid the cage. If that happens, you have to resort to more sophisticated items to lure the crafty wordsmith.

 

In my experience, such things as faux reviews and articles featuring the writer’s name (assuming you’ve discovered his name in his various leavings around the house) make excellent enticements. If all else fails, however, the one tried, true and no-fail bait is a phony letter of acceptance from any major publication. No writer can resist such a tempting trap.

 

Now that you’ve caught your nuisance writer, what do you do with him? Some people have made the mistake of attempting to talk the critter out of writing, but that seldom works. Others have tried driving the writer to the country and releasing him into the wild. Although he will sometimes take refuge in a cabin or a lakeside writers’ retreat for a few weeks, he will almost always return to your home.

 

After years of experimentation, I’ve found what I think is the best solution to this difficult problem: give your writer his own room and insist that he do his writing there. You’ll get more peace and quiet and, who knows, with any luck your writer may even start producing an income.