* Welcome to The Big Jewel, where nostalgia for even the most hideous PBS productions reigns supreme. Brian Boone shows you where the honey pot is.

The Most Salacious Passages From “Berenstained: My Life As A Berenstain Bear,” By Sister Bear Berenstain

By:
baboone@gmail.com

It was always something with Mama.

“The Bear family eats too much junk food!”

“The Bear family watches too much TV!”

“The Bear family never picks up after themselves!”

No matter the fleeting problem of the hour, Mama would lay waste, armed with a trash bag and a smug sense of purpose, making some grand pronouncement about how our lives needed to change and immediately. How she’d shriek and scream about how we, as children, were deeply flawed.

Reprehensible. Shameful. Then she’d unplug the TV, or sweep up all our toys on the ground into a trash bag, or load a trash bag with all the junk food in the kitchen, which we’d only rarely eaten, as Mama had made it well known that the Beary Snacks and Bear-E-Os were “Mama’s special bad-day treats.”

Invariably, in the middle of it all, Papa would hear the yelling from down in his woodworking shop, and, taking a good hour to steel himself with liquid courage for one more showdown with the monstrous, sneering and intimidating shell of the woman he’d married, would calmly come in and offer up a solution that didn’t involve shrieking, insulting the character of his children, throwing away all of the Beary Yums or losing out on TV for a week. Something sensible, reasonable and obvious, like offering to build a shelf so our messy room could have some storage, or merely suggesting that we buy less junk food.

Then Mama would calm down and act as if everything was fine. We’d all go to our bedrooms and lie awake for hours, shaking. Papa would go back down to his shop, but really down to The Honey Pot, and Mama would quietly rustle around in the kitchen, seeing if she maybe hadn’t thrown away all of the Grizzly-Dee-Lites.

* * * * * * *

I am often asked if “Sister Bear” is my real name. The truth is that I was never given a name.
What kind of parent doesn’t name their child? It’s so necessary, even compulsory, that few even consider its importance. Mama couldn’t be bothered. I was born in the woods of Bear Country in an upstairs bedroom in a hollowed-out tree, so it wasn’t like she needed one for a birth certificate, but still. A name symbolizes so much.

She never even came up with a nickname, or some kind of term of enbearment. Just “Sister,” which is damaging to a girl’s sense of worth and identity, that her only excuse for a name is contingent on that of a man, in this case, my brother, Brother. He may have had it even worse — before I was born, our parents just called him “small bear.” After I was born, he was suddenly “Brother” and I was “Sister.” Only in retrospect can I see how disturbing it is to name your offspring “Brother” and “Sister.”

* * * * * * *

Maybe she had an OCD-related fear of something happening to the hundreds of jars of rotting honey she kept in the basement. Maybe she was embarrassed that she had to walk with a cane by the time she was 30. Maybe she was ashamed of being morbidly obearse. Whatever the reason, my mother only left the treehouse once or twice a year. I now recognize that most of these problems — the brain damage, the weight, the neuropathy — had something to do with undiagnosed and uncontrolled diabeartes.

Not only did she rarely leave the house, but when she actually got out of bed she never got dressed. She wore that same blue-with-white-polka-dots housecoat and matching floppy nightcap all day, all night, every day, every night, for decades. On the extremely rare occasions that she did leave the treehouse — to get more honey or to force the family on a walk (“The Bear family needs to get some exercise!”) — she still wouldn’t change, dressing up that stained, crusty, putrid smock by trading out her sleeping cap for a straw hat with a feather in it. As if that would fool the Bear Country gossips.

* * * * * * *

I realized that my situation was not normal around the time pubearty began, and that my only solution was to get out as soon as possible. Rapid changes to my body let me in on a shocking truth that had been hidden since my birth from everyone. Including me.

I wasn’t actually a girl.

Even then, at 11 years old, I knew instinctively that this had something to do with Mama. When I confronted Papa about it, he simply said he didn’t want to talk about it, then choked back a couple of sobs, then hightailed it out of there, right back to his shop (or The Honey Pot).

I tried to ask Mama about it, waiting until I could score her on one of her good days, which meant less of a chance that she’d accuse me of having a bad case of “the gimmes.” I grew impatient, and, expecting a grand pronouncement that “the Bear family is too impatient!” I asked her anyway.

“Mama, why did you pretend I was a girl?” I asked her, bearly above a whisper. She rocked in her chair, pretending to knit a scarf but really just wiggling the needles around in a pile of yarn.

“Mama Bear needs little girl cub. Mama needs girl cub. Girl cub. Girl,” she said distantly, over and over.
From clues ascertained from old pictures and what Brother can remember, I’ve been able to piece together a few scant details of my birth. She went into labor while she was alone. Papa was out chopping wood with Brother to make him a big-boy bed, as his old one would be needed for me. I believe that this afforded her the opportunity to deliver me, check my gender, and, when it wasn’t what she wanted, slap a pink bow on my head and name me Sister. And that was that.

The night I figured it all out, I couldn’t sleep; I was angry and confused and trying to process everything. While lying there, awake, praying Mama wouldn’t come in and proclaim that “the Bear family asks too many loaded questions!” I heard Papa clomp in. After some shouting, I heard a door slam. And then, according to Brother, he took the roadster into town to buy a pack of beargarettes. That was the last time anyone in Bear Country ever saw him.

If you’re out there, Papa, I’d love to see you again. Lizzy Bruin and I have three cubs now. They’d like to meet their grandfather and give him a great big bear hug.

* Welcome to The Big Jewel, where we are very fond of any sport in which grown men get to beat each other with sticks. Our good friend Bruce Harris has the Stanley Cup story you've been waiting for.

Reasons Why Your Name Is Not Engraved On The Stanley Cup

By:
marxman@comcast.net

You can’t skate — even if you are a goalie, you need to be a skilled skater. Let’s face it, slipping and sliding on the ice isn’t going to get you very far in hockey. On the other hand, you may be the world’s best skater with tons of awards and ribbons to prove it. That won’t help, because…

You don’t play hockey — while this will greatly reduce the chances of your name appearing on the Stanley Cup, it does not totally exclude you. There are a number of non-players (coaches, for example) whose names appear on the Cup. Did I hear you say you are a terrific skater and a fabulous hockey player? Tough luck…

You played hockey prior to 1892 — bummer. You were one of the star players of your day, your team won championships year after year, but all pre-1892. The Stanley Cup was as real then as Al’s Jiant Jewel Warehouse in the cloud. The good news is you have a job. The bad news is…

The National Hockey League does not employ you in any capacity — unless your pockets are deep and your hobby is buying and selling team franchises, if you fall into this category, you’re done. Your name will not appear on the Stanley Cup. You have no chance. Give it up. Try another sport. Take up golf. There is always the Master’s and a chance to wear the green jacket. Go for it. It doesn’t matter if…

You are female — Interestingly, this does not automatically disqualify you from having your name live on in the Hockey Hall of Fame. No sir. A number of females have that honor. However, if your name isn’t Marguerite Norris, Sonia Scurfield, Marie-Denise DeBartolo York, Marian Ilitch, Denise Ilitch, Lisa Ilitch, Carole Ilitch Trepeck or Charlotte Grahame, you’re not smiling. Smiling is good, especially since…

You have a full set of teeth — like being female, this does not automatically prevent your name from being listed on the cup, but it certainly doesn’t help your chances. Something else that will not help your chances…

You pronounce the word “about” as “a bowt” rather than “a boot” — the odds are long enough that you’ll ever see your name on the Stanley Cup. Why decrease your chances more than necessary? Speak properly and keep your hands to yourself. Be a goody two-shoes. You’ll be able to brag…

You’ve never spent time in a penalty box — no, the doghouse doesn’t count. What’s so bad? You sit and watch the action like the rest of the fans, only you get paid not to play. What’s a mere two minutes or more out of a lifetime? Especially a long life, except…

You can’t pass a physical — you have bigger problems than worrying about a name inscription on a cup. If you fall into this category, you might seek a lifestyle change, one that involves a higher calling, one where…

Father, Reverend, or Rabbi precedes your surname — religion and sports, like religion and politics, don’t make good bedfellows. Usually, but not always, a decision to pursue the clergy precludes a career on ice, especially when…

The word “puck” makes you salivate — the problem is, you associate “puck” with “Wolfgang,” and ‘Game Day’ means Mini Prime Burgers with Remoulade and Aged Cheddar Cheese. Still, that’s nothing if…

You suffer from Pagophobia — Google it. That’s a really bad inhibitor. If you suffer from this affliction, it’s likely you don’t know about back-checks, fore-checks, cross-checks, and…

You define “check” as a form of payment — really? Banking is probably more your cup of tea and you are probably from the good old USA. Baseball is your sport. What? You’ve never seen the Toronto Blue Jays play? I don’t believe it…

You’ve never heard “O Canada” — you don’t deserve to have your name on the Stanley Cup.

Okay, you are not only an expert skater, you are a highly skilled hockey player in the year 2014, you are a male gainfully employed by the National Hockey League, you are missing a number of teeth, especially front teeth, you pronounce “about” as “a boot,” you are in peak physical condition, you are not the least bit religious, you’ve spent over half your life in a penalty box, you are as comfortable on the ice as you are in your own home, “puck” has only one meaning and it has nothing to do with the digestive system, you live to check, you check to live, and you’ve known the words to “O Canada” since you slept in a crib. But, your name is still absent from the Stanley Cup. The rub is, you’ve been playing your entire NHL career with the Blues, Sabres, Canucks, Capitals, Sharks, Panthers, Coyotes, Predators, Jets, Wild or Blue Jackets. Demand a trade!

* Welcome to The Big Jewel, where humor goes to die, but sometimes also to be reborn. Our good friend Kent Woodyard has long written the "Non-Essential Mnemonics" column for McSweeney's Internet Tendency. Now the best of those columns have been collected into a book. And we are publishing the introduction to said book. Life is good. To order, please click the link in our blogroll on the right-hand side of this page.

Non-Essential Mnemonics: Just The Essentials

By:
kent.woodyard@gmail.com

(Note: Today’s feature contains excerpts from Kent Woodyard’s first book Non-Essential Mnemonics: An Unnecessary Journey Into Senseless Knowledge, out now from Prospect Park Books.)

Here’s a question for you: what did you eat for dinner on this day, three and a half weeks ago (Thursday)?

Assuming the night in question wasn’t the scene of a cataclysmic breakup, a violent spectacle of bodily fluid, or some combination thereof, and assuming you weren’t at a Presidential inauguration, Cirque du Soleil show, or some other similarly transformative event, I’m guessing you have no idea.

And it’s not just dinner three and a half Thursdays ago, is it? If I were an irresponsible gambler, I’d bet you can’t remember most dinners that occurred before, let’s say, yesterday. And I’m not picking on dinner either. If you’re anything like me (and why wouldn’t you be?) you probably can’t remember most of your life that predates the last moon cycle.

Sure, you’ve got a cracked cell phone screen, some unread e-mails, and a growing collection of scars and receipts giving evidence to the passage of time, but the lion’s share of your life experiences — the ones that didn’t occur in emergency rooms, national parks and police stations — have likely dissolved into a fog of half-imagined recollections that may or may not have happened in the way you remember, but which almost certainly involved a Taco Bell drive-thru at some point.

I once heard that people forget 80% of the things they learn in college. Most people take this to mean that 80% of college is a waste of time, which is generally correct. The broader point here, though, is that all of us will forget nearly everything we ever learn, and there’s no point in getting all weepy about it.

But what if there was a way to stop forgetting? What if there was a way to capture those fading memories and imprison them forever in the musty cellar of your brain? What if we could all acquire a Good Will Hunting-esque level of long-term recall that would amaze our friends and foil our rivals while scoring numbers from vaguely exotic coeds at college bars?

Well, scrape your brains off the ceiling — there is. They’re called mnemonic devices and they’re magical.

Mnemonic devices are insidious little tools used by educators to ensure information stays lodged in students’ brains decades after it is needed or desired. Depending on your attention span during grade school, and your tolerance for unnecessary consonants, you have likely met dozens of these devices over the course of your formal education. “Dozens” could mean “at least two.”

Mnemonic devices are the reason I can still recite the order of biological taxonomy and the colors of the rainbow fifteen years after I have had cause to do either. They are the reason I can name more Schoolhouse Rock songs than United States Senators. They are the reason I know that the Great Lakes spell “HOMES,” but have to request a new password every time I use PayPal.

Don’t ask me how they work. It’s got something to do with science, and — like all science that hasn’t been narrated by Morgan Freeman or turned into a condiment — I have little interest in it. What I’m interested in are results, and the results of mnemonic devices speak for themselves.

Think I’m exaggerating? Finish this sentence: “‘I’ before ‘E’ except…” Every third-grader knows that one. Or how about this one: “now I know my ABCs, next time…” Every first-grader knows that one. And this one: “‘More rum,’ demanded the matador…” What, you don’t recognize that one? Well let’s get started then.

“More rum,” demanded the matador. “Damn the tequila. Just rum — Jamaican and bitter.”

And there you have it: a mnemonic for the names of Matt Damon’s twelve made up brothers in Good Will Hunting. (Marky, Ricky, Danny, Terry, Mikey, Davey, Timmy, Tommy, Joey, Robby, Johnny, and Brian)

But why stop there? How about this one:

After leveling Ukraine, Genghis Khan marauded across the Urals leaving tattered “Khan Rules” banners everywhere.

This one you surely recognize as a brief (and mostly false) history of the Mongol Empire’s westward expansion. But did you know it is also a mnemonic for the countries of the former Soviet Union? I bet you didn’t. (Armenia, Latvia, Uzbekistan, Georgia, Kyrgyzstan, Moldova, Azerbaijan, Turkmenistan, Ukraine, Lithuania, Tajikistan, Kazakhstan, Russia, Belarus, Estonia)

Got time for one more? Of course you do. You’re on the Internet.

Screen Actors Guild

You know SAG as the principal labor union responsible for representing American film and television performers. But why would you ever need to know that? Why is that in your brain? Let’s repurpose it for the work it was born to do: to serve as a mnemonic for the members of Simon & Garfunkel. (Simon and Garfunkel)

Look at that! You now know the members of Simon & Garfunkel and I’ve got a good feeling that you won’t forget them again for a long time. That’s how it is with mnemonic devices. Once read, each of them will immediately and indubitably transform itself into acquired knowledge that no amount of drinking or professional football playing will be able to erase.

Whether you are a graduate student, a homeschool mom, an aspiring community college professor or merely a weekend memory enthusiast, I encourage you to begin nurturing your affection for mnemonics today. Then and only then can you be certain that, while you may never remember what you did last weekend or what you had for dinner three and a half Thursdays ago, you will always remember the names of Will Hunting’s imaginary brothers.

And isn’t that enough?

* Welcome to The Big Jewel, where we are always receptive to those who wish to reinvent themselves. Especially when they have the power to torture us for all eternity.

Satan, Rebranded

By:
brozik@gmail.com
@spidermensch

Thank you.

Thank —

If I may have your attention…

SILENCE!

That’s better. Now, you’re probably wondering why I summoned you all to this brimstone pit. I’ll be as brief as possible — I know we’d all like to get back to torturing and being tortured, as the case may be, for all eternity.

I have news, likely the most significant news to come out of Hell in centuries. Please hold your applause until the end.

As you are no doubt aware, I am referred to by several names and epithets, some more accurate than others. Lucifer, for example. Mephistopheles. Iblis. The Prince of Lies — now, that’s just hurtful. The Dark One. Lord of the Flies…even I’m not sure what that’s supposed to mean.

Most people call me Satan, though.

What you might not know is that Satan was my job. That is, when I was first created, I was given a position on the Divine Counsel as a prosecutor-of-a-sort. An adversary. The adversary, in fact… in Hebrew: ha-Satan. It was my responsibility to tempt humans to renounce God. Remember Job?

Job, are you here…? Ah, that’s right. Never mind.

But I wasn’t the only adversary, as it happened. There were others…and each one was a ha-Satan. So, really, I was ha-ha-Satan — Yeah, yeah. It was funny…five thousand years ago.

Anyway, there was some…unpleasantness, and I left the employ of Heaven. I landed on my cloven hooves, though, and promptly set up my own shop. Since most people knew me as just Satan, I let the moniker stick — and I leveraged my goodwill in the name to build my practice.

That was then, however. This is now. And the time has come…for rebranding.

The public relations consultants I engaged, at the recommendation of one of the law firms I do business with, have convinced me that even “Satan” is too…well, let me not sugarcoat it: too ethnic.

Evil is universal. No, it’s more than that: it’s global! So the Master of Evil needs to be accessible to all, and to do that, I must shed my old, third-world-weary name in favor of something new…and youthful.

But you’re thinking, “The Devil you know…” and all that. And I don’t disagree with you. I mean, I certainly had grown quite accustomed to my name, of course…but those consultants twisted my arm until I agreed to a compromise.

(Drumroll, please? Keith Moon, would you do the honors?)

The demon before you…

…will henceforth be known…

…as…

Stan!

I know, right? It was so…obvious! Stan!

It’s the same as before…only different. Better. Sleeker. Faster!

Stan!

Come on, join me, everyone:

Stan..! Stan..! Stan…!

Now just the murderers:

Stan..! Stan..! Stan…!

Now just the rapists:

Stan..! Stan..! Stan…!

Now the humorists:

Stan..! Stan..! Stan…!

I will now take questions.

* Welcome to The Big Jewel, where the squared circle of wrestling meets a round peg named David Henne who doesn't quite fit in. But we think you'll love to see him get body slammed anyway, even if only metaphorically.

Address To Graduating Class At Bennington College Of Wrestling

By:
henned@gmail.com

I hope you will all be very happy as members of the professional wrestling class in America. I myself have been rejected again and again. Mostly from consciousness. By unforgiving steel chairs.

As I said at the Royal Rumble in Pittsburgh not long ago, it isn’t often that a WWE referee is invited to speak in the springtime. I predicted that outside interference would plague the main event of WrestleMania, and outside interference has plagued the main event of WrestleMania.

One trouble, it seems to me, is that the majority of wrestlers who compromise the title, who wield brass knuckles and kendo sticks, are giants or degenerates. The giants want to chokeslam every authority out of existence. The degenerates want us to act as though hair tugging and closed-fist strikes are just a part of life. These are not always the best solutions — particularly in the fields of pompadour maintenance and general cognizance.

And I urge all of you to please notice when you are awake, and exclaim or murmur or think at some point, “If this isn’t nice, then I don’t know whose sledgehammer this is.”

Recently I was a graduation speaker at a little preparatory school for wrestlers who were reliant on foreign objects. I told the students that they were much too young to brandish steel steps, boa constrictors and deviancy.

I often hear managers say to their green talent, “All right, you see so much that is wrong with the jobbers in the back — go out and swing a 2×4 at them. We’re all for you! Go out and crack them over the head with this megaphone!”

You are four years older than those prep school wrestlers but still very young. You, too, have been swindled, if a manager has persuaded you that titles can change hands as the result of disqualification.

It isn’t up to you. You weren’t raised under the tables-ladders-and-chairs desperation of the Attitude Era. You don’t have the appearance of grave maturity — even though many of you wearing masks today may be gravely mature.

Do not take the entire division on your shoulders. Do a certain amount of skylarking, as befits wrestlers of your age. “Skylarking,” incidentally, was the original term for the moonsault, which was a minor offense under the early laws of the luchador.

What a charming crime. I would love to have a dishonorable discharge from the lucha libre sanctioning body — for skylarking not just once onto a dazed opponent, but again and again and again.

Many of you will undertake physically grueling work this summer, helping the heels and the ignorant and the awfully old get over. Good. But skylark off the top rope for a decent pop of your own, too.

Before I leave, I should like to give a motto to your class, a motto to your entire generation. It comes from my favorite event, which is the 1993 King of the Ring. In the first match of the Pay-Per-View, you will remember, Papa Shango — Kama Mustafa, who would later become The Godfather — enters with Adam Bomb, who would later become Wrath. They arrive at the entrance ramp and immediately receive news that the third member of their three-man tag team has been blinded by the atomizer of The Model Rick Martel. Papa Shango says this, among other things, and this is the motto I give you: “To weep is to make less the depth of grief.”

Again: “To weep is to make less the depth of grief.”

We already have plenty of sound suggestions as to how we are to act if things are to become better in the squared circle. For instance: clasp a downed combatant’s wrist, raise it skyward thrice, and you’ll be amazed at the transformation you inspire.

All that is required is that we become less selfish than we are. Because after all the fanfare and pyrotechnics fade, there’s only one rule that I know of, babyfaces — Goddamn it, you’ve got to be kind.

* Welcome to The Big Jewel, where we are always ready to consider after-the-fact plans to kill Hitler, especially plans involving time travel. Just take it outside, boys, and don't get any blood on the carpet.

I’m Going To Kill Hitler

By:
jon.wolper@gmail.com

If I had a chance to go back in time, I would kill Hitler. Good thing, too, because these scientists are putting a jelly on my body — it’ll stop me from vomiting when I get to the past. They’re also attaching electrical pads to my head and body. Guess why. Go ahead.

That’s right. I’m going to kill the Führer. You heard me: worthless old Tom Lucynski is making good!

Sorry, killing the nastiest sonofabitch in history gets me all excited. How’s prep work going, guys? Good. Pretty pumped over here.

To be honest, I’ve been thinking about this for a while, ever since I was hanging with Jimmy behind the Wendy’s on State Street and he asked me what I’d do if I could hit up the past. I thought about going back five years and avoiding Crazy Callie, or inventing fire, but I figured Hitler was the better choice.

And here I am. Most likely to be a burnout? How about most likely to kill Hitler! High five, Science Man.

I got made fun of a lot in school for being a deadbeat, or whatever. But now I get to be the biggest badass in history. Okay, Jim Thompson from economics class, you have a six-figure salary. But did you kill Hitler? Screw you. And to that couple that lives across the street with their private-school kids, always giving me the stink eye when I’m pounding beers on my front lawn: your kids might have killed their competition in lacrosse, but you know who they didn’t kill? I’ll give you a hint: Hitler. The answer is Hitler.

What? 30. I’m 30 years old.

What’s this? A special time travel jumpsuit? Rock on. So I’ve been meaning to ask you guys about the gun I’m going to use to kill the bastard. I know it’ll be something awesome, like a submachine gun or a plasma rifle, but do I take it with me to the past, or do I have to get one when I land in Austria-Hungary? Oh, and speaking of which, why am I going to Austria-Hungary? Isn’t Hitler, like, Mr. Germany?

Doesn’t matter. I’ll just bust in there, like during an evil meeting or something, and give him a good rat-a-tat-tat. Maybe I’ll catch him goose-stepping in front of the mirror and just unload on the guy. There’ll be more bullets in him than girls I nailed in high school. Nice. Still waiting on that high five, Science Dude. Now you owe me two.

Wait, no one told me I’d have to use poison. Really, guys? I wanted to go Rambo on his ass. I was going to shoot Hitler, return to the present and piledrive my neighbors’ kids right into the pavement. And they wouldn’t be able to stop me because I killed Hitler. I can hear you whispering over there. Stop keeping secrets. What’s this about a little kid? Don’t be jealous.

That reminds me — do you guys have a party planning committee, or something like that? I mean, I’d expect at least a Fudgie the Whale cake when I get back safely. Obviously, a full-blown parade would probably be more fitting. I’m thinking floats, an army of clowns making balloon animals of my likeness, and I’ll make a grand entrance at the end wearing a pope hat and driving a Maserati. And make sure there’s a Jim Thompson dunking booth — I bet I’m not the only one who wants to see that guy underwater.

Now that it’s on my mind, how exactly am I getting back to the present? Like, I know this time machine is pretty new-tech, so who’s going to build one to get me back?

Wait.

Wait.

So, let me get this straight. I’m going to go back in time. I’m going to land in Austria-Hungary in 1900. I’m going to find some deadly poison — just, y’know, find some deadly poison — find an 11-year-old boy named Adolf Hitler, become a friend of his family, and use my access to kill him before he does all the bad Hitler-y things.

And then I’m going to stay in that time period, because there’s no way for me to get back. And then, because Hitler didn’t go full Hitler, no one will know how much of a hero I am. Jim Thompson won’t get dunked.

Look at me, Science Guy. Look me in the eyes, and tell me that Jim Thompson won’t get dunked.

Oh man, this is going to suck.

* Welcome to The Big Jewel, where we take our life advice wherever we can find it. Sometimes with a complimentary bag of white powder.

Life Advice I Have Received From The Local Drug Dealer

By:
tyk329@gmail.com

Always ask for cash up front. Or in a few days. You know, when they can get it to you.

Always carry a weapon. Under no circumstances should you leave the house without a weapon. Look at me: I’ve got this nice little rolling pin I keep in my coat sleeve that I can use to club somebody the fuck out, at any damn moment. I can make cookies with it too whenever I need some sweets and there’s an oven or a hotplate nearby. Be safe. Don’t get caught off guard with your pants down.

Make sure you’ve got an alibi. My go-to and personal favorite: “I was hanging with my buddies when all that stuff went down, officer, I swear! We were playing pool, then, next thing I knew, my friend Tommy, my cousin twice-removed, has his leg blown off by some divine will. We had to take him to the ER, which makes you wait for hours just to have some nurse lady ask for insurance, which, by the way, nobody has, and then tell you to wait for an even more ungodly amount of time. Long story short: he lost the leg. So I couldn’t have been at Sal’s Pizza Place when it was held up by that handsome man with the pink stockings and the dashing 42-inch chest duster on and the limited-edition passion fruit aftershave coated on his neck that makes all the ladies purr!” Make up your own. I guarantee it won’t be as good as mine, but it will probably get you off the hook.

Keep your money somewhere safe, like behind that loose brick under your mom’s window where you used to keep the Polaroids you snapped when you were in seventh grade of your neighbor Mrs. Lefkowitz when the gout made it so that she could only wear loose-fitting clothing around the house. Boy, those were the days. You could see everything — let me tell you, everything. It was beautiful.

If you ever get hitched, ask for a receipt and make sure she doesn’t bite in her sleep. And check to be sure she’s not hiding anything. With the world the way it is, you can never be totally sure if somebody’s tucked away a penis.

If you’re ever strapped for cash, pay a friend to have their dog attack you, then sue the local government for having a shitty dog catcher. It worked for my cousin Gary. Now he’s in Cabo, selling insurance. It works — trust me.

Don’t sell meth. Tony does that already and he’s got a mad fierce hatred for competition.

Don’t sell crack, either. If you do that, you’ll get yourself killed. Just know you will. Maybe you won’t. I don’t know — I’m high. Just don’t do it.

Invest in Nikes.

The government hates everybody, especially old people. Don’t vote. Don’t pay your taxes — they’ll never know. I’ve never paid taxes and I’m okay.

Kung Fu can be listed as a special skill on a job application. So can cross joint rolling and speaking patois.

You don’t really have to speak patois. All I ever do is pretend and say “bumbaclot” a few times. It seems to work, although I’ve only done it during two high-stakes deals and both ended with my taillights being knocked out with baseball bats.

Never, under any circumstances, allow somebody to sell you a leprechaun. You will always be very disappointed. They’re not real, they’re just fictional. Trust me — I found out the hard way.

Arsonists make great lookouts. They’re also really good in a pinch. Just don’t give them matches or have them sign a lease on a storefront. They’re also horrible cooks.

If there’s one place you should aspire to visit one day, it should be the La Brea Tar Pits. Did you know they found a yeti there? They really did! Plus, there’s a load of tar and an old airplane I saw crash there in a documentary about World War II. It’s a great place. That’s where I want to retire!

I know I’m going to heaven! I’ve been sending God $1000 a month through the USPS for VIP poolside seats in the afterlife. You could do it too!

Never trust the Nigerian Prince e-mails. Besides, there are some I get sometimes from the son of a major former dignitary from Gambia that promise far better returns and a palace that overlooks a sustainable super-grotto. I don’t have any money I can give right now, just ’cause I don’t have a bank account, but if I did, I’d give it to the Gambian.

You should try your hand at inventing a snorkel that lets you eat underwater. You’d have to fix that whole stomach cramp problem, but I think it can be done. You’d make a fortune. You should give me 10% because of all the advice I’ve given and because it’s technically my idea. This advice is worth a pretty mint alone. I should write a book. I could be the next Joel Osteen or Sham-Wow guy. What did you want again? An eighth? Okay. I’ll see you Tuesday. Take care. Remember: next time I see you, tell me how this week’s Wipeout is! I still don’t have TV!

* Welcome to The Big Jewel, where we are a little more cautious than the Vatican in granting sainthood to the dearly departed. Deity, yes, but not sainthood. Please say hello to first-time Big Jewel author David Guzman.

I’m Not Quite Ready To Deify The Dead Leader Of Our Post-Apocalyptic Clan

By:
david.j.guzman@gmail.com

m4s0n501

The world we used to know is gone. In this burnt-out landscape, nearly wiped clean of humanity due to a raging, merciless pandemic, our small group has survived a brutal winter, near starvation and attacks from other roving tribes. Even though there’s little evidence of a higher power or any larger meaning to this meager existence, I’m not about to give up. We must endure. We must carry on. We must never lose hope.

I’m on board with all that. What I’m hesitant about, though, is elevating our former leader, who died only a week ago, to the status of demigod. I think our group jumped on that a little too quickly.

There’s no doubt Reynolds united this group. He saw that each of us had a strength and a talent to contribute to the whole and pulled us together. But it’s not because he was psychic and could see events before they happened, as some here have started to surmise. When I heard that, a mere day after he died, I was like, “Whoa, we’re giving this guy magic powers all of a sudden?” If he were psychic, wouldn’t he have foreseen that our deer meat had gone rancid and would lead to his death? Some people have great managerial skills, and can bring out the best in their team. And that’s what Reynolds had. It’s in no way clairvoyant, and it won’t necessarily stop someone from eating rancid venison.

Reynolds was a fine leader, that’s for sure. We wouldn’t have made it through the mountain pass without his command. But he wasn’t infallible. There was that time he called something “gay” and he could see that we were not cool with it. When we met him he had two severed fingers that he laughed off as “the cost of once owning a pontoon boat,” and he severed a third finger while making a catapult we didn’t need. And it took him a good week to realize that we had two Kimmies in our group, and a few more days still to know which one was Kimmy Matthews and which one was Kimmy Gunderson.

But hey, that’s human. What’s not human is the ability to shapeshift, as some are now claiming Reynolds could do. Chet has insisted he’s seen it happen, but remember, Chet also used to make money participating in clinical drug trials. When Chet says he often saw Reynolds morph into a giant worm at night, he probably just saw Reynolds bundled up in a sleeping bag. Chet is great with a crossbow, but let’s not listen to Chet on this one.

Nor should we take stock in the rumor that Reynolds had a pack of wolves who obeyed his every command. And that those commands were communicated via an ancient tonal language. He did occasionally have to chase off stray dogs that were being a nuisance where we had set up camp, but it’s a real stretch to attribute that to anything miraculous or supernatural. Besides, those dogs and other animals wouldn’t have been scouring our site if we had stored our deer meat properly.

I’m just saying give this the proper time to gestate. You can’t force it so soon. It takes generations for myths and religions to develop. It’s very possible that my great-great-grandchildren will one day speak of Reynolds and his power to separate from his shadow, the regeneration of his severed fingers, his magical hacksaw, or his emergence from a cocoon — again, Chet, probably just a sleeping bag — but it’s not credible to buy into those things a mere week after his death.

I know how dire things are. We just may be the last of humanity left alive. But it’s best that we turn to one another for hope and inspiration, and not the so-called “Reynolds Bible” or “Book of Reynolds” that’s been going around. Seeing as how it’s basically a binder of men’s fitness and muscle magazines that Reynolds carried, I don’t hold it sacred. I’ve got nothing against the article about getting better biceps in three weeks, I just don’t read it as the parable of mercy and forgiveness that most of you do.

With that said, I won’t be partaking in Reynolds-based rituals. I’m afraid I can’t help you exhume his body a third time to see if his fingers have grown back. And I’m going to have to excuse myself from tonight’s recreation of the Last Supper of Reynolds — which, by the way, is taken from a well-established practice from another religion.

All right, I’ve said my piece. All I ask is that at the end of the night you please properly store all the food. If you need me, I’ll be naked in my hut, singing songs of worship to Doogan, a discarded carnival bumper car, our one and true Lord.

* Welcome to The Big Jewel, where we believe if you see something, say something. Preferably you should say something even more twisted and disturbing than whatever it is you think you see. Like Walter Bowne.

Suspicious Activity

By:
the4bownes@gmail.com

Transport for London (TFL) released the following recorded messages from its database of confidential hotline tips during the week of 14 April, 2014. Names in the messages have been edited.

#1 Right, I am on the Circle Line…is this the correct number? We just pulled out of High Street Kensington Station towards Edgeware Road…A young man in a black hoodie is sitting across from me holding a bag…There is something inside the bag. What type of bag? It’s beige and canvasy. It has the words Waterstones of Gower Street…He’s…Now what is he doing…He’s…pulling something weighty from it…wait…he’s reading a book, and it’s not any book, oh my! It’s Oliver Twist! Is it a cover? The book hollow? Oh my God! He’s pulling something long and slim from the book. It has string!…A fuse? A fuse? No, no, is it a bookmark? Could it be a bookmark? The bookmark reads, “Words cannot do justice to the pleasures of a good bookshop. Ironically.” What? A young man reading a book! I’ve never seen anything like this!

#2 This is Retired Major…, 3rd East Anglian Brigade. I am seated in the third carriage of an East Coast train, bound for Newcastle, and I’ve been overhearing for an hour what I can only term “highly suspicious activity.” Two young women, of indeterminate ethnicity, have been engaged in animated conversation since York. One said she “was feeling rather drake” after that “bombacaceous night” with her most “crazsian Bombadee.” The other replied that she had a “blast” with some “trigger milf.” Are they planning a terroristic threat? Bomb! Blast! Trigger! Milf! What’s a milf? Help! Help! I’ve never heard anything like this!

#3 Yes, hello, I would like to report highly unusual behavior. A man wearing a turban is concocting something in his lap. He seems rather secretive. I’m on the 20:45 outward train to Bath Spa. Now, it may some chemicals. It smells. I mean, I have lived 65 years, and I’ve never smelled anything like it! No, it doesn’t smell like sulfur, or kerosene. No, no. It smells remotely aromatic. Perhaps even like roses. With a hint of cinnamon and perhaps even…what? Saffron? What’s saffron? He’s filling the contents in his lap in some sort of envelope. It’s yellowy. And pasty! He’s measuring very carefully now! Should I attack him? What? I said, should I throw his package out the window! Wait! Wait! He’s eating it! He’s a human bomb!!!!

#4 This may be none of my business, but I think I need to do my duty and report what is happening. I couldn’t live with myself, if I do indeed live beyond the next five minutes, if I didn’t tell the authorities that a man and a woman are seated next to me. We are on the 70 bus to Queensway/Westbourne Grove. Neither one is texting. Neither one is on a computer. There are no earbuds dangling from their ears. They are not reading books. They are seated, with eyes wide open, gazing at each other, hands entwined, as two becoming one, gazing upon the greater glory that they will both share once they make it to heaven. I have never seen such devotion — I’ve only read about the devotion of those sad, misguided individuals who give up their lives for some greater cause. I have been married now for 33 years, and I’ve never felt such blind passion for my Harold. Do you think the couple may be up to no good? I highly think so.

#5 Right? Yes. Is this the number for a suspicious transaction? A horde of young punks with tattoos and alarming studded belts and black leather boots and black jeans are engaged in what seems like some ritual. I’m standing on the platform of Wimbledon. They seem pagan, as if engaged in some ritual. I’m afraid they plan to kill someone. Like they are looking to sacrifice someone. One is saying, “We are the Knights who say Ni.” And the other responds, “We demand a sacrifice!” And then another says, “We will say Ni again to you if you do not appease us.” What? What? Monty Python! What kind of snake is that? Is it poisonous? Should I be concerned? I’ve never experienced such scary shenanigans!

#6 Please, this is an emergency! I am on the Kings Cross Platform. Number two. A woman is standing next to me with a rather large package concealed underneath a billowy blue blouse. No, I’m not trying to alliterative, you imbecile! I can’t see what she’s hiding. She looks animated. Happy, even. I’m not sure why. No, she’s more anxious, maybe nervous. I don’t know. The look scares me. Is this what fear tastes like? I’m walking away from her now. What? Yes, yes, I’m still here…I’ve been telling people to clear the area…Wait…A girl is running towards her with open arms. The woman is pulling out a package! It’s wrapped! Oh my, it’s a white teddy bear!

* Welcome to The Big Jewel, where the graduates of today are the leaders of tomorrow...um, except where time travel is involved, because that always makes everything complicated and confusing. Just ask Nathan Thornton.

Commencement Remarks From Dr. Chronos, Time-Traveling High School Graduation Speaker

By:
nrthornton@gmail.com

Congratulations, Class of…looks like sometime in the 1990s?…No? 2014? That’s fine. There’s virtually no difference.

Thank you for that warm and generous introduction, Principal Whidmer! And let’s have a hand for Principal Whidmer, who is celebrating his eighth year of leadership, out of a total of 12, when he resigns in disgrace, under investigation for illegal cockfighting before becoming horribly maimed shortly thereafter in a Cheesecake Factory bar fight.

As your principal mentioned, I am Dr. Chronos! Whom you all know from my many journeys into the very bowels of time!

Today I’m here to tell you that no matter how crazy or unrealistic they might be, you must always follow your dreams. It wasn’t that long ago, I was sitting right where you are. That’s right, I was once a student here myself, Class of 2078! Can I hear a “Go Fighting Indians!”? In the future, we aren’t called the “Fighting Indians,” of course — we’re the “Fighting Space Indians.” You see? Some things never change all that much!

Maybe you dream of becoming a famous astronaut, ready to cower in shame at the might of the powerful Tsyll’nl Armada. Or the President of the United States, bowing in terrified reverence before Ulgrakk the Destroyer. Or of one day visiting South America (not Europe, Asia, or 80% of the land mass of Africa, obviously). All you’ve got to do is believe in yourself.

Do you think I listened to the naysayers when they told me I’d never invent time travel? No. I believed in myself. Did I give in to the doubters when Chronosphere 1 exploded on the launch pad? Never! Did I pay attention to the so-called experts who told me to line the inner shell of Chronosphere 2 with a thin film of tungsten to protect myself against Time Madness? Of course not!

I should’ve, though.

But you can’t change the past. Or the future. Especially when clots of Time Madness cloud every synapse of your brain, rendering you unable to tell one from the other.

That doesn’t mean you won’t become a famous basketball player simply because the rise of the Dunkmotrons make human players obsolete in 2029. And it doesn’t mean you’ll never defeat Santa Anna at the Alamo, or watch a dinosaur making out with a robot, or assassinate President John F. Kennedy, or invent fire, or whatever your dream may be. I’m here to tell you that anything’s possible. Except inventing time travel. That job is taken.

I look around this auditorium today and I see all your friends and loved ones, here to tell you to follow your passion, but please, I beg of you, don’t do it. The chemicals in passion cause type 12 diabetes. But dreams, my young friends! Dreams are what make time travel possible. As you may well know, Chronosphere 2 is powered by the stolen dreams of orphans and prisoners. Orphans and prisoners have some pretty big dreams, and I’ll bet many of you do, too.

So when you pass through the hallowed halls where you’ve spent the last four long years… The last four long years, I said. Those seemingly endless four years? Such a loooong period of time. Nothing on this? Okay.

When you leave this auditorium today, do so knowing that you will be walking into a future that is bright with promise. Perhaps today, you’re the senior class president. And perhaps one day you’ll be the president of a Fortune 500 company! You won’t, Emma, but you will help cook and kill the last living giraffe! And they’ll let you keep some of it after you help wash up!

And you, Cayden! Today you’re the star running back, with dreams of blasting off to the stars. And you sort of will! Parts of you, anyway. And not the parts you’d expect!

Maybe you’re our valedictorian, with dreams of a physics degree from Pepperdine University! And accomplishing that dream in just four years, even after getting your girlfriend Madeline pregnant sophomore year. And maybe you dream of raising a child who will raise his own son to share your love of science and not be the kind of dick scientist who repeatedly tells his colleagues that time travel is “for pussies.” Well, Tyler, I’m here to tell you that that least a portion of those dreams will indeed become a reality.

Because students, it is you who are our future. Wait a minute, that’s not right. If there’s anybody here who’s the future, it’d be me, right? Were any of you guys born in or after 2050? No? Just me?

Class of This Current Year, if you recall just one thing from the words I’ve just spoken or am about to speak, I hope it’s this: Nothing is impossible, except changing the past or the future. So keep following your dreams, except for most of you.