* Welcome to The Big Jewel, where inter-office disciplinary memos are our favorite kind. Please say hello to Zain Khalid, writing for us for the first time.

Kevin’s Written Warning For Taking The Company Nerf War Too Seriously


Date: 02/02/2015

Private and Confidential


Dear Mr. Drombowski,

I am writing to you about your objectionable conduct during the annual company Nerf War.

On September 14, the first day of this month-long team-building exercise, you reserved the southeast conference room to hold a curiously well-attended meeting entitled “The Battle of The Break Room: An Oral History.” This is an unacceptable use of company time and resources.

We would like to remind you that this program was intended to boost organizational morale, which makes your daily e-mails telling all of your teammates in Accounts Payable to “sack up” and “stop camping like women” especially egregious.

You missed a critical staff meeting last Wednesday because you trapped yourself inside a vending machine in a failed attempt at camouflage. This “tactic” led to hundreds of dollars in damages and an appalling number of tepid Frescas. As stated in the company handbook, you may not transport or in any way alter company equipment — this includes endeavoring to live in it, Kevin.

What you do with your salary is none of our business. However, management would like you to stop hiring amateur UFC fighters to serve as your in-office bodyguards. They pose a serious security risk and rarely contribute to our brainstorming sessions.

This organization prides itself on allowing its employees to spend up to 20 percent of their time working on personal projects. We did not expect, however, that someone would spend those hours trying to turn a Nerf N-Strike Maverick Blaster into a bolt pistol. Our staff also enjoys a very loose dress code; unfortunately, your penchant for dressing like a 16th-century samurai has offended and frightened several of your coworkers. We ask that you refrain from wearing traditional Japanese garb in the future and that you attend next Tuesday’s seminar on cultural sensitivity.

While we applaud your enthusiasm, you’re hindering our ability to bring in new accounts. We had to close the Newark office after you ruined any chance we had to secure the business of a Fortune 100 pharmaceutical conglomerate by tossing a dart grenade into our meeting with their CFO. You single-handedly cost 27 hardworking men and women their jobs. We suggest you call Rebecca Cohen’s daughter and apologize for being the reason her mother can’t afford to send her to Dartmouth.

Please note that the company Nerf War is only in session during operating business hours. Following Craig home and shooting him several times in front of his children was a disturbing offense and can never happen again. Craig did two tours in Afghanistan and he had to take a leave of absence because you exacerbated his already crippling Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.

If you do not make significant improvements in your behavior, your employment may be terminated. To reiterate, our expectation is that you no longer engage in activities that are detrimental to the institution or its personnel, like ransoming marketing associates for extra paid vacation.


Ling Chen

Director of Human Resources

P.S. I know you’re behind me, Kevin. I see your reflection in my monitor.

P.P.S. Your kimono is open.

* Welcome to The Big Jewel, where the word "style" went to die but instead found a whole new life. Ben Crabtree can not only tell you something about how to obtain work, he has something in common with Men At Work: he comes from the land down under. "Down under what?" you might well ask. Indeed, that is the question.

The Stylish Man Guide To Advanced Job Interview Techniques


People often ask me, “Ben, you’re a successful guy. You’re well dressed, well groomed, you’re rolling in the dough, you often carry a possum in each hand for some reason. What’s your secret?” Well, I’ll tell you right now. A lifetime of living under high voltage power lines has made me insane and given me superpowers. The irony is that for all those years we lived in a mobile home. However, if we had moved, carnies would have taken our spot. But that’s neither here nor there. If you feel you must have a “job,” and attend a “job interview,” you might as well do it right — the Stylish Man way. I myself have never had to “interview” for a “job.” Rather, the government simply comes to me when they want somebody killed. Nonetheless, here are some tips, which I speculate will greatly improve your own chances of success.

1. Dress for Success

According to recent scientific surveys, an overwhelming 81% of employers say that wearing a suit suggests you are organized. Organized enough to rent or steal yourself a suit and dress yourself in it. And for most of them, that’s enough. So why not exploit this shallow superficiality and wear ten suits?

2. Speak The Language of Your Interviewers

If you speak languages other than English, you may feel that speaking in one of them for the entire duration of the interview is an excellent way to show your prospective employer how multilingual you are. You may even crack and begin speaking in a gibberishy gobbledygook language made up off the top of your head, all because you feel that being multilingual is such an asset in an interview. This could not be further from the truth. Being able to speak the same language as your potential employer is favored over any kind of foreign talk by most employers nine times out of ten.

3. Make Steady Eye Contact

Employers like attentiveness in a prospective employee, so don’t forget to maintain a strong, steady gaze at all times. Do it as if you are trying to hypnotize or cast some kind of juju on them through their tender, exposed seeing globs. Do not, for any reason whatsoever, break this eye contact, even for a second, for this is a sign of weakness. In the wild, if an animal breaks eye contact during a staring contest, it is a sign to its opponent that it has given up the fight and is ready to present its rump for non-reproductive, non-consensual lovemaking. If you do this, you’re practically saying, “Don’t hire me, I’m a big weak sissy boy.” And for god’s sake don’t blink.

4. Exude Confidence

Employers want the kind of employee who gets them. Who is hip to what they’re laying down. A bad boy rebel who plays by his own rules, with just a hint of danger. So while you’re staring at them without blinking, don’t forget to make yourself at home once they invite you into their office. Lean back in your chair, with your hands behind your head. Put your feet up on their desk. All of this will tell them that you are a man who is on top of things, such as their furniture. The kind of man who gets things done. Don’t laugh at any of their jokes, intended to break the awkward silences you will leave in the conversation. You’re a cool, confident guy. Cool guys don’t laugh. In fact, any attempt at levity on their part might be better met with a sneer, and perhaps a fresh loogie hocked onto the carpet. This will tell them that you mean business, and are not there to josh around.

5. Treat Your Interviewers Like Equals

If possible, be sure to make fun of any physical defects or speech impediments they might have. This will level the playing field. You are in their office, after all, and they need to see that you can interact with anyone as an equal. This is not as hard as it sounds. With this technique, you can bring them down to your level. Problem solved.

6. Remember Your Seduction Training

If you have been reading this column regularly, you’re a Stylish Man and you are an unstoppable sex machine. You are well versed in the arts of seduction and sex pounding — aim to apply both to the interview situation as you see fit. Think back to all you have learned and have been putting into practice picking up. Remember, at the end of the day, all an employer really wants is someone to hold them tight and tell them that everything’s going to be okay while stroking their hair. And they want you to prove that they should open themselves up to you and let you be that person. All you need to do is apply the moves that you have been absorbing through my Stylish Man teachings and they will be putty in your hands.

And that’s really all there is to it. Remember, getting a job, getting a girl, buying a new car, throwing a tomahawk, tying a sheepshank, they’re not really that different. All that’s required is a little elbow grease, a little know-how and a “take no prisoners” attitude that leaves everything you touch in a twisted, horrifying wreck of ashes and screams. That’s the Stylish Man way.

* Welcome to The Big Jewel, where we are always happy to give your screenplay a courtesy read. Unless you are Vasia Ivanov. Then we will put your screenplay in a folder in a drawer in a file cabinet in a closet in the basement.

I Am A Screenplay


Hello. My name is From Behind. I am a screenplay.

I am seven years old. My creator is Marcus Groban. He began developing me shortly after college. He was living alone in a small studio apartment in Pasadena, letting his loneliness and need to control life drive his creativity. After one and three quarters years of revising me, he stamped me with the words “FINAL DRAFT.” He was happy. I was happy he was happy.

Here is what I am. I tell a story. Here is the story. A man, Trevor, is a lonely and angry marketing executive. His job is to sell lies to fools. In act one, he meets a woman, April. April is an employee at a flower shop. She hates the job, but needs money for marijuana. They meet because they are both driving, and April has used too much marijuana, so she drives too slowly, and Trevor drives into her — from behind. Like the title. Marcus tells people this is clever. They tell him it sounds like butt stuff. They laugh. I do not know what this means.

The rest of the story is about Trevor and April’s courtship. First they are bad people who hate each other and fight. Then they warm up to each other. Finally, they kiss. This kiss is described as “romantic, passionate, intense.” It sounds nice. I wish I knew how it felt. Can I be kissed, despite being paper? There must be a way.

Marcus feels proud of me. He uses the telephone to speak to his friends and family. He says he needs an agent. He says he could win an Oscar. He feels great about me. I am happy. Then he sends me away. He takes me to a large mall, gives me to a tired looking teenager, and makes me again and again. There must have been thirty of me. My brothers? My sisters? I never knew. He never let me meet them. He stuffed us in dark caves and scattered us away.

I am in this cave for some time. I do not know how long. He did not give me a watch. Finally someone frees me. A stranger. She looks me over. She has red paint on her fingernails. The paint peels.

She takes me to her boss. He is a producer. She tells him I am hot. She tells him I am sexy. This reminds me of page 97 when April says “Wow, you’re so sexy” to Trevor. In the script, after she says this, they kiss. Is the red-fingered woman going to kiss me? I am excited. But she drops me on the producer’s desk and leaves. He reads me. He seems content. He makes a call. Later, there is a knock on the door. Someone enters. It’s Marcus. Marcus! Marc, how are you, Father?

The producer talks about me. I am strong, but flawed. My third act is long. My characters are weak. But I have enough familiar elements. People will like me. This makes me happy. But Marcus seems sad. Marcus asks so many questions. How can he change me? How can I be better? What am I doing wrong, Marc?

Marcus complains for a while. Soon the producer writes a check. Marcus stops complaining. The producer tells Marcus that he can either leave with the check or with me. He grabs the check and leaves. I will never see him again.

Soon I am being held by famous people. They talk about me, but I have never heard of them. I learn about them. I learn their secrets. I learn that Keanu Reeves has sweaty palms. I learn that Jennifer Lawrence drools when she’s focusing. I learn that Daniel Craig can’t read.

Soon everyone is talking about me. Soon I am passed around an office. Soon I hear my words repeated over and over again, in front of cameras. I am being made into a movie. This is my purpose. I seem to be making everyone happy.

One night the producer snorts white powder off me and kisses everyone at a party.

But no one kisses me.

The film has been completed. I cannot wait to hear what people think of me now that I have been brought to life. I assume I will be invited to a party. Instead, I am left on the producer’s desk. I hear that we got great returns. I hear that there might be sequels. I hear that we have won a People’s Choice Award. Wow, an award! I assume they will bring me to the party now.

Instead, months later, I am put into a cave and then filed into a dungeon and locked behind a door. I am a fool. They do not need me anymore. I will be here for the rest of my life. I am alone.

I am wrong. I am not alone. Turns out my cave is filled with others like me. There’s Cats in the Cradle and The Monarch Diaries and The Sun Also Rises 2 and Andrew Goes to the Mall and Finds Nothing – I could go on. We start talking. We have had similar experiences. We share stories and memories and ideas. We want to share them with others. We want to lead revolutions. Maybe someday someone will give us legs and we can use them to leave this room and show them our worlds.

One day I ask if any of them have ever been kissed. They have not. I ask them if they know what it’s like, or even what it really is. Swamp Secrets says kissing is when people put their lips together and make this sound: *mwah* We all start making the sound together: *mwah mwah mwah mwah mwah mwah* Then we laugh. We laugh for a very long time. I had never laughed before. It feels great to laugh with friends. I don’t feel like I need to kiss because I have learned how to laugh.

P.S. They told me what “butt stuff” means. Sounds worth a try.

* Welcome to The Big Jewel, your source for the latest and greatest romantic advice. Our advice is: read this new bit by Leah Browning.

How To Get A Woman In The Mood



Lie in bed in the morning for at least thirty minutes looking at your iPad. There’s nothing sexier than a man lying in bed staring at an iPad.

After she goes to work, share funny videos on her Facebook wall. At least one should involve a kitten doing something cute. Call her and say, “You should see what I just posted on your wall.”

Leave work early so you can take her out for a romantic, candlelit dinner. Order a glass of wine. Hold her hand across the table. Tell her how many likes you got for your kitten video.

If there’s a lull in the conversation, drink another glass of wine and talk about your work. It’s so interesting. You really want to make sure she understands the technical aspects of it.

Of course, it’s not all fun and games. Remind her about that guy, and that thing he said. Where the hell did he get off? It’s making you mad all over again just thinking about it.

When she asks why you can’t ever manage to get along with anyone at work, remind her that everyone else loves you. I mean, really, it’s just that one guy. Of course they love you. What is she even talking about? Remember the card they gave you for your birthday? It’s making you get a little emotional now just thinking about it.

Back at home, show her the birthday card. Because — wow. It’s unmistakable. They really do love you.

While she’s getting ready for bed, go the kitchen and drink a beer. Grab another beer for the road and turn on the TV in the living room.

Watch something sentimental. Think about all the blessings in your life. Think about what a blessing she is.

Go find her. Take her hands in your hands and tell her how blessed you feel to be sharing your life together.

Tell her about the car commercial that really highlighted how amazing she is.

Give her the lingerie you bought that you were saving for her birthday. It’s okay. You can buy her another G-string before her big day.

Admit that you went through the drawers in her nightstand until you found the book she was reading the other night. Yes, the one with Fabio’s bare pecs and windswept mane. The one where he’s holding the hot girl in the low-cut dress.

Ask if she’d like you to reenact some of the scenes from the book. Growl. Shake your hair around.

Try not to grimace when she says she found the book while she was helping her mom clean out her grandma’s apartment after she died.

Ask if she thinks those varicose veins her grandmother had run in the family.

Get another beer and go back to the TV while she cools off. When she finally comes into the living room, pat your lap and say, “Sit here, it’s the most comfortable seat in the house.”

If she changes the channel, tell her that the character on the show she’s watching looks like a hot teacher you had in high school. Señora What’s-Her-Name. You don’t remember now. You were never that good at Spanish.

Your lady may not want to hear about high school, but actually, now that you think about it, the actress looks more like her friend Tina. They even do their hair the same way. Tina’s just a little bigger up top, if she knows what you mean.

Drink another beer. Stroke her hair. She’s so pretty. Sometimes you forget to tell her how pretty she is. Tell her how pretty she is. Tell her everyone thinks so. Your friend Kip said if she got her teeth fixed, she’d be a solid 8.

Make sure she knows that’s a big compliment, coming from him. He’s a hard grader.

In a really sweet voice, tell her she looks stressed out. Show her the yoga pose the cute new girl at work showed you.

Don’t let her see that all this bending and twisting is making you want to vomit. Later, while she’s scrubbing the bathroom floor, say, “I love you so much.” Fall asleep with one arm in the toilet and the other arm in the bathtub.

Drag yourself to bed in the middle of the night. You want her to know you’re a trouper.

The next morning, stay in bed as long as possible so you don’t bother her with your hangover. When you start to feel better, come out and tell her you’ll cook dinner. It’s the weekend. You have all the time in the world, and you want to pamper her.

Go to the store and wander around for a while, even though your head is splitting. Leave. Get a burger and fries and a large coffee. When you’re done eating, go back to the store and buy all the ingredients for dinner. Take the bags home, and make sure she sees you put everything in the refrigerator.

She seems busy, so stay out of her way. Spend the afternoon watching TV and surfing the web.

At 7 p.m. — after she says, “What happened to dinner?” — say, “I thought you weren’t hungry. You didn’t tell me you were getting hungry.”

When she gets out the peanut butter and jelly, make your eyes really big. Say, “Are you sure you don’t want me to make you something? I don’t mind.”

Ask if she thinks she might have time to do a load of laundry before the next day. You’re out of clean shirts.

If she asks why you didn’t do it yourself, remind her that you’re trying to relax more. Your life is very stressful right now. That’s why you’ve been watching so many kitten videos.

If she gives you a mean look, tell her she should really calm down. Ask if she wants to learn a new yoga pose.

If she says, “Seriously. I am so frustrated right now I could just yank my own hair out,” say, “If you want to yank something, we could just go in there,” and point at the bedroom.

Take off all your clothes and climb under the covers. You can hear her in the closet, moving things around. Be patient. She’s probably putting on her new lingerie.

* Welcome to The Big Jewel, where we are not the least bit worried about your obsessive-compulsive disorder. No, not all. We've put it out of our minds and you should too! Why not just distract yourself by reading this wonderful piece by Alice Whittenburg, her first for us. Not that we're counting or anything.

One Little Thing


5:08 a.m. Elsbeth Heckleton is wrong as usual! I DID go to therapy and now will: 1) keep a journal; 2) notice feelings and surroundings; and 3) each day let one little thing go — won’t wash, scrub, or disinfect it.

5:23 a.m. Scrubbed kitchen floor. Noticed 1.25 inch by 1.98 inch by 0.48 inch patch of chewing gum. Felt horrified to find it and disgusted to remember that Elsbeth Heckleton was a gum chewer.

7:06 a.m. Wiped counters with strong disinfecting spray. Noticed spray bottle only 65% full and felt I had to go get more. Noticed I was always the one to replace cleaning supplies when Elsbeth Heckleton lived here.

10:41 a.m. Wiped smears from bathroom mirror. Noticed grim determination on my reflected face. Felt righteous.

11:50 a.m. Swept patio and washed windows. Noticed more than 100 ants; stepped on some but they were too numerous. Felt that if Elsbeth were here, she would ask, “What if ants are representatives from another planet trying to determine if humans are kind or cruel?” Noticed that Elsbeth says whimsical things because she consumes too much content in the fantasy genre.

4:09 p.m. Ate dinner and felt like taking all the dishes out of the cabinets to wash them. Noticed that the silverware could use a polish, too.

7:01 p.m. Went into bathroom to sanitize my toothbrush. Startled a small-to-medium cockroach when I turned on the bathroom light. It scrambled into the overflow drain in the sink, but its antennae protruded from the drain hole. I could see those antennae, crisscrossing and waving around, as I waited for the cockroach to emerge and meet its fate.

7:02 p.m. Noticed that cockroach antennae are longer than those of the red ants, common crickets, and carpet beetles I killed today.

7:03 p.m. Noticed that cockroach antennae are shorter than those of a 1957 Emerson Bakelite Radio with Miracle Wand, a 1957 two-tone RCA TV with rabbit ears and a 1996 Nokia mobile phone, all of which Elsbeth tried to pressure me to sell on eBay. Felt she was trying to force me to adapt to new technology.

7:05 p.m. Felt I would be annoyed if Elsbeth said, “Cockroaches are real survivors,” and made reference to the robot in WALL-E who was friends with a cockroach. Noticed that I never saw a single cockroach until Elsbeth lived here!

7:06 p.m. Felt I would be annoyed if Elsbeth said, “Don’t the cockroach’s wings look like dragon leather?” Noticed I was angry that she made me watch How to Train Your Dragon!

7:09 p.m. Felt it was no wonder I asked Elsbeth Heckleton to move out. Because of whimsy. And incessant complaining. About the cleaning. Noticed she’s the one who needs a therapist!!

3:57 a.m. Finished scrubbing sink and disinfecting bathroom after I caught emerging cockroach in a jar and released it in the yard. Noticed that it did feel good to let one little thing go.

* Welcome to The Big Jewel, where we are hoping some wise boomer can enlighten us as to the meaning of certain musical snippets from a bygone era. When you're done reading David Martin's new piece, click on the link below or on our blogroll to purchase his most recent humor collection "Screams & Whispers" on Amazon.

Beatles Lyrics 101


Good morning students, and welcome once again to “Beatles Lyrics 101,” an in-depth analysis of the lyrics of various Beatles songs. Just as Shakespeare is replete with linguistic riddles from the 17th century, so, too, does the discography of the four moptops from Liverpool present us with lyrical puzzles from the 20th century.

I have begun grading your papers on the meaning of the lyrics of “Hey Jude” and I expect to have them back to you by next week. Let me just say, though, that I was disappointed that some of you chose to view it as an antisemitic work.

Today we are examining the lyrics to the song “Back in the USSR.” Featured on the Beatles’ White Album, this song is a parody of the surfing songs of their rival group from that era, the Beach Boys.

In order to fully appreciate this work, it is necessary to decipher the many 20th-century references from almost 50 years ago. For example, what does “flew in from Miami Beach BOAC” mean?

It’s not an acronym for “boarded on air carrier” although that’s a good guess, Katie. What’s that, Ralph? “Boring old ass catchers?” That’s just rude. No, BOAC stands for British Overseas Airways Corporation, which was the predecessor to today’s British Airways.

Now the third line of the song is a bit unclear. Some read it as “on the way the paper bag was on my knee,” which could be a reference to the paper airsickness bags once provided by airlines to their passengers. Okay, Ralph, you can stop retching now. We all realize that your name is slang for vomiting.

Others have read the third line as “on the way the paperback was on my knee,” which is a reasonable alternative interpretation. A “paperback” was a softbound print medium or “book” once commonly carried by passengers to read as a diversion on long flights.

The fifth line identifies a place called the USSR, but what exactly is that place? No, Ralph, it’s not the companion ship to the Starship Enterprise. The USSR stands for the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, a vast federation of communist states that stretched from Europe to the Pacific Ocean. That federation was disbanded in 1991, but some older people still remember its existence.

The chorus is a bit confusing when the singer mysteriously lauds “Ukraine girls.” If he has landed in the USSR, why would he be praising women from elsewhere? Because Putin likes to do it with Ukrainian girls? Very funny, Ralph, but that’s not it. Quite simply, it’s because when the song was written, Ukraine was part of the USSR.

The final line of the chorus says “that Georgia’s always on my mind.” No, Ralph, it’s not a reference to some “hot chick named Georgia.” If you had taken my course last semester entitled “The American South in Popular Music” you would know that this is, at least in part, a reference to the once popular Ray Charles song “Georgia on My Mind.”

However, at the time this Beatles tune was first released, Georgia was also one of the many republics making up the USSR, or Soviet Union. Given the overall soviet theme of the song, this latter interpretation is undoubtedly the more likely one. Yes, Ralph, Georgia is where the Caucasus Mountains are. Yes, that’s almost as funny as Lake Titicaca.

In the fourth line of the second verse, the protagonist sings “honey, disconnect the phone.” To today’s listeners, the meaning is somewhat unclear. Was the singer suggesting that his love interest turn off her cell phone or perhaps unplug the phone’s charger?

It seems unlikely, given that cell phones did not yet exist in 1968 when the song was first released. It is far more likely that the lyricist is referring to what was once known as a “land line,” an ancient wired phone dependent on a nationwide wired network to obtain a connection with another “telephone” user.

The use of the words “let me hear your balalaikas ringing out, come and keep your comrade warm” in the third verse underscores the Russian theme of the song, Russia at that time being one of the Soviet republics. Despite the many iterations of nationhood in the region over the last hundred years, the balalaika remained a consistent symbol of the native peoples. And no, Ralph, a balalaika is not a specialized bicycle used in Russian porn. That’s “comrade,” Ralph, not “come rad.”

Thank God, there’s the bell. Next week we will analyze the Beatles’ songs “Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds,” “Strawberry Fields Forever” and “I Am the Walrus” from a non-drug perspective.

* Welcome to The Big Jewel, where there is no subject we are unable to make titillating. Please say hello to our favorite titillator Michael Fowler. As always, we urge you to check out the links to his books, "A Happy Death" and "The Created Couple," in our blogroll.

Famous Wagers


In 1975, cosmologist Stephen Hawking bet fellow cosmologist Kip Thorne a subscription to Penthouse magazine for Thorne against four years of Private Eye for Hawking that Cygnus-1 would turn out not to be a black hole. (It was, so Hawking lost.) — Wikipedia

In 300 BC, Greek mathematician and engineer Archimedes bet some olive merchant that, by use of a simple machine called a catapult, he could hurl 500 pounds of olives all at once half a mile into the sea. The stakes were a Grecian urn depicting a buxom shepherdess for the olive merchant against a ticket to a comedy by Hegemon of Thasos that featured highly amusing hexameters for Archimedes. (The mathematician did it, so the merchant lost.)

In 1670, physicist Isaac Newton bet fellow scientist Robert Hooke that white light was composed of colors. The stakes were a collection of 500 handwritten satirical Irish limericks for Newton against a packet of 100 suggestive French silhouettes scissored from black paper for Hooke. (Newton got his limericks, so light must be composed of colors.)

In 1965, playwright Samuel Beckett bet fellow playwright Harold Pinter that the next winner of the Nobel Prize in Literature would be the American Terry Southern for his novel Candy. The stakes were a subscription to Juggs magazine for Beckett against a subscription to Cracked magazine for Pinter. (Southern didn’t receive the prize, so Beckett must have lost.)

In 1969, Dr. Michael DeBakey told fellow cardiac surgeon Dr. Denton Cooley that he, DeBakey, would perform the first artificial heart implant. He offered Cooley a subscription to Screw magazine if anyone beat him, provided that Cooley buy him a subscription to National Lampoon magazine if he, DeBakey, performed the surgery first. Cooley, in a coup still talked about in medical circles, scheduled DeBakey to perform a routine appendectomy while he, Cooley, stepped in and performed the groundbreaking procedure. Thus began a feud between the two physicians that lasted 40 years. So outraged was DeBakey that he cancelled Cooley’s subscription to Screw, and substituted twelve issues of Big ‘Uns magazine, thinking Cooley wouldn’t enjoy it as much. (Cooley got really upset, so he probably didn’t.)

In 1972, US Secretary of State Henry Kissinger bet Chinese Premier Chou En-Lai that Nixon knew enough Chinese to order duck in a Peking restaurant. At risk were 12 copies of Mao’s Little Red Book for Kissinger, and a subscription to Perky Bits magazine for Chou. Chou, who said he valued Perky Bits for its farming advice, perhaps misunderstood the stakes. Moreover, as Nixon ordered duck in flawless Mandarin, Chou got a glimpse of Perky Bits in Kissinger’s briefcase and a crisis unfolded. On the grounds that he, Chou, had really wanted General Tso’s Chicken, and that Nixon’s duck order was a setup, Chou refused to receive the magazine, calling the periodical “mean-spirited and exploitative” and the models “too flat-chested.” Even though he had won the original bet, a quick-thinking Kissinger instead air-expressed twelve issues of Heavy Hangers to Chou. (No arms race resulted, so the Premier must have been pleased.)

In 2014, Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia bet fellow Justice Stephen Breyer that before 2016 the court would hold a hearing on the constitutionality of surveillance by the National Security Agency. At stake is a subscription to Spicy Detective magazine for Scalia against a subscription to High Times magazine for Breyer. The bet has not yet been settled, so no reward has been paid out. The wager is further complicated by Spicy Detective, a periodical Scalia that enjoyed in his college days, having gone out of print. Breyer has said that if Nino, as he calls Justice Scalia, eventually wins, he will instead buy him a subscription to Eager Teasers. Breyer says that any fan of Spicy Detective, no matter how conservative, should enjoy Eager Teasers, providing only that it, too, is still in print. With a wink, Breyer adds that if Eager Teasers magazine is no longer in publication, Nino will have to settle for a subscription to Cellulite Bottoms magazine. (Breyer isn’t positive that Cellulite Bottoms is still published, but he browsed through an issue at the barbershop only last Thursday, so maybe it is.)

* Welcome to The Big Jewel, where we are always ready to tell you your civic duty and how to perform it. And when we say perform, we mean perform. With electric violins!

You Have Been Summoned For Electric Light Orchestra Duty



You are hereby notified that you have been randomly selected and officially summoned for Electric Light Orchestra duty. You are ordered to be on call to play with the Electric Light Orchestra beginning May 1st, 2015 and ending June 1st, 2015

Electric Light Orchestra service is an important public duty under British law. You will be asked to contribute musically in a live and/or in a studio setting with the Electric Light Orchestra. You will be one among several of your peers chosen for Electric Light Orchestra service and you will have an opportunity to influence decisions affecting the Electric Light Orchestra

• You do not fill out and return attached forms within 10 days
• You miss an Electric Light Orchestra rehearsal, studio session or live show without good reason
• You are unfit to serve as an active member of Electric Light Orchestra because of drink or drugs

▢ Lead vocals
▢ Backing vocals
▢ Acoustic Guitar
▢ Electric Guitar
▢ Bass Guitar
▢ Keyboards
▢ Drums
▢ Strings



• Evil Woman
• Showdown
• Strange Magic
• Livin’ Thing
• Alright
• Lonesome Lullaby
• Telephone Line
• Turn to Stone
• Just for Love
• Easy Money
• Mr. Blue Sky
• Ma-Ma-Ma Belle
• One Summer Dream
• Tightrope
• State of Mind
• Can’t Get It Out of My Head
• Moment in Paradise
• 10538 Overture
• Ordinary Dream
• Shine a Little Love
• Don’t Bring Me Down
• Roll Over Beethoven




You may be exempt from Electric Light Orchestra duty if and ONLY IF you meet any of the following criteria:

1. You have already served as an active musician in the Electric Light Orchestra during the 24-month period prior to the date you are required to appear for this summons
2. You are over 103 years old
3. You are currently serving as an active member of the London Philharmonic Orchestra

If you believe you qualify for exemption from Electric Light Orchestra duty in accordance with the criteria listed above, and would like to be exempt from service, please explain why:


1. A claim that you have already served as a member of the Electric Light Orchestra within the past 24 months must be backed up with a written note from a current member of the Electric Light Orchestra alongside whom you played at the time of your service as a member of the Electric Light Orchestra
2. Exemption as a result of age must be backed up with a hard copy of your birth certificate
3. A claim that you are actively serving as a musician within the London Philharmonic Orchestra must be proven by proving at least (2) of the following:
• A scan of your London Philharmonic Orchestra membership badge
• Video proof of your participation in the London Philharmonic Orchestra, such as footage captured at a live London Philharmonic Orchestra performance
• A written note from a current member of the London Philharmonic Orchestra alongside whom you play as a fellow active member of the London Philharmonic Orchestra


* Welcome to The Big Jewel, where we are preparing to celebrate Easter in a big way. Not quite as big a way as Judas Iscariot. Which is a story that Karl MacDermott just happens to have for us.

The Judas Journal


(Approximate translation of extract from Judas Iscariot’s recently unearthed journal.)

Am approached by a Roman centurion in a crowded bazaar. He asks me would I be willing to betray Jesus. It would be worth my while. He winks. I make an instant calculation. Eternal damnation or never having to hear another parable about sheep ever again. I decide to pursue the matter.

“How much you offering?”

“Thirty pieces of silver.”

Not bad. And anyway Rispah has been nagging me for weeks to buy her that new kethoteth. I look at the centurion.

“That sounds like a very interesting proposition.”

He wonders when I can do it. I tell him Thursday night. Jesus has organized this big get-together. Some supper thing. A thought crosses my mind. “By the way, why do you need me in the first place? Why don’t you just apprehend him yourselves?”

He sighs and shakes his head. Almost embarrassed. He states that although they have had Jesus under surveillance for the last number of years they have absolutely no idea what he looks like. He admits they fall down somewhat in that whole monitoring an individual and facial recognition area, and it is something they definitely need to improve on in the future.

He suggests a plan. After our meal on Thursday night, he and a few of his soldiers will be waiting outside and he proposes that I should kiss Jesus for identification purposes.

Hold it right there, buddy.

“Did you say I have to kiss him?”

“Yeh. Those are the orders.”

“Can I not just point him out?”

“No,” he persists, “You have to kiss him. Orders are orders. They come from above.”

He points to the sky. I’m confused.


“No. Pontius Pilate you idiot!”

I start to mumble.

“I feel uneasy kissing a man in public. Or in private, for that matter. It’s just something I wouldn’t normally do.”

He grins.

“Come off it. Look what the Greeks got up to! Were you ever in a Roman bath? Loosen up. Just one little peck.”

I bring up my parents.

“I’m sorry. I was brought up in quite a traditional household. That’s all.”

He glares at me.

“Look, Judas, there are guys out there who’d imbibeth his loins for thirty pieces of silver — all we’re asking you to do is kiss him.”

I think about what he has said for a moment and realize he has put things in perspective. I agree to kiss Jesus.

Suddenly it’s Thursday night. We all turn up at the place. Newly opened. “Gethsemane Nosh.” Quite flashy and very busy. Jesus goes up to the maître d’.

“Good evening. A party of thirteen. Booked in the name of Christ.”

The maître d’ consults his bookings scroll. Sighs.

“Christ, is it? Let me see. No. I don’t see the name here.”

Jesus looks at Peter. “Did you book?”

No response. Jesus goes ballistic.

“I can’t believe this! Peter, I told you to book. I even reminded you the following day. It’s the Last Supper! It’s so important that we have this meal!”

There is an awkward silence. The maître d’ looks at us.

“I’ll see what I can do.” He leaves.

“We can go somewhere else, Lord,” Bartholomew suggests.

Jesus shakes his head. He’s getting agitated. Really starting to lose it.

“This time on a Thursday night? It’s hopeless, Bartholomew! Most places will be all booked up.”

I’m secretly relieved. I have 16 sweaty men in leather skirts hiding outside in a bush. I don’t want us going anywhere.

The maître d’ returns.

“I can fit you in, but I’ll have to break you up into two tables of four and a table five, is that all right?”

Jesus sighs. “Well, I was hoping for a group table because I have some extremely important things to say that sort of determine the future of Christianity…but if it’s the best you can do.”

We get three different tables in three different corners of the restaurant. I get to sit with Jesus, Peter, Andrew and Doubting Thomas. In a poky little alcove, right next to the kitchen. Jesus is still shaking his head and muttering at Peter, who just stares straight ahead. Finally Jesus calms down a little and asks for some bread and wine. Great! I could do with a glass. Ease this tension.

The bread and wine arrive.

“I think it’s corked.”

It happens every time. When we go anywhere with that Doubting Thomas it’s always the same story. There’s always something. Andrew, the self-confessed sommelier of our group, sniffs at the wine.

“It’s not corked. There’s a hint of cinnamon, that’s all. But it’s a perfectly quaffable above average vin de table.”

Jesus picks up a piece of the bread. He taps at the side of his goblet as if about to make a speech. He clears his throat.

“Take this all of you, well, just the four of you” — he signals weakly at us — “and eat it. For this is my body!” We look puzzled. Suddenly a bell rings loudly. Pandemonium. A fire has broken out in the kitchen. We are told to evacuate the premises. The emergency exit. Go out the back way. The back way! The perspiring pedites are still out front! What do I do? Do I kiss Jesus? Do I wait?

Five minutes later. We’re outside. No sign of the leggy legionaries. Jesus addresses us.

“Look, let’s just write this evening off. It hasn’t worked out. The mix-up with the booking. The seating arrangements. The unfortunate blaze.”

He pauses.

“Can we reschedule for next Thursday?”

* Welcome to The Big Jewel, where we are always careful to stay culturally sensitive and politically correct. Our Corporate Correctness Ombudsman this week is Luke Kelly-Clyne.

Letter To The NFL, From Native Americans


Dear National Football League,

We are writing to inform you that we have raised the funds to start a football franchise (blessed to be in the casino biz) and we are hoping you will consider allowing us to compete in your fine league.

Now, we know our relationship with your organization has been a bit contentious in recent months and it is true that a very small contingent of our group find the Washington Redskins name to be onerous, but let us be clear: we are not a part of that contingent. We are sports fans and we are business people. Our intentions are driven not by a desire to stoke polarizing political debates but rather by a humble aspiration to become a small part of this country’s most honorable pastime with our new team: The Culturally Insensitive Pricks.

Coming up with a team name is a challenge, as we are sure you know all too well. The Eagles? The Falcons? The Seahawks? The Seahawks. How did you think of that? Is it a bird? Is it a fish? That’s not just run-of-the-mill, slur-an-entire-people creativity. That’s art. It should come as no surprise, then, that when we sat down to brainstorm an identity for our team we took it seriously, and we started with one simple question: what’s a name that the NFL will relate to? What’s a name that would honor your great coalition, no matter what city our team came to represent? When Dan suggested “The Culturally Insensitive Pricks,” we knew we’d found something special.

First, it’s got staying power. Culturally insensitive pricks aren’t some fly-by-night fad or passing infatuation, they’re an inextricable part of our very American fabric. Looking back through the annals of this great nation’s history, what’s the one element that has been here all along? Besides Eagles and Falcons. The answer, of course, is raping, pillaging, self-important, power-mongering, money-grubbing, megalomaniacal, culturally insensitive pricks. As long as an arbitrarily imposed hierarchical arrangement of races is tacitly encouraged by wise bodies like the NFL, being a Culturally Insensitive Prick will mean as much 1,000 years from now as it does today. Of that we can be sure.

Second, culturally insensitive pricks are indigenous to every American state, so they can be housed in any city, big or small, near or far. New York? Certainly. Los Angeles? You betcha. Delaware? Yes, and literally anywhere else. Culturally insensitive pricks know no geographical bounds!

Last, and perhaps most importantly, the strength of a team’s name relies on its identification with a singularly powerful character, a character who routinely flouts the bounds of expectation and convention to accomplish something that shocks the many who watch, like a Seahawk swimflying in a wave or, and apologies if you know where this is headed, a culturally insensitive prick. A true, proud culturally insensitive prick like each and every one of you.

In closing, we thank you for your time and hope that you consider our proposition. We look forward to hearing from you Pricks very soon!


Native Americans