* 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


online ppi claim

(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

* Welcome to The Big Jewel, your connection to the workplace of tomorrow. For some random reason, that seems to imply a need to share what your coworkers were up to yesterday, courtesy of Jeremy Harbin.

Staff Bios


Your Dream Job isn’t out there — it’s right here! Unfortunately for you, all positions are filled. But just because we’re not hiring now and never will be in the future, you shouldn’t refrain from poring over the staff bios below and savoring each wave of jealousy as it courses through your body. Here at Your Dream Job, we love it when outsiders look in and ask, “It’s too late for me, isn’t it?” So go ahead and meet our talented, attractive, self-actualized staff. Just try not to lie awake tonight mentally cataloguing every mistake you’ve made to ensure you’ll never be on this list.

Tania Larsen, Director of Creative Inspiration

Before becoming a director here at Your Dream Job, a position you’re definitely unqualified for, Tania held a series of lucrative positions, each one more rewarding than the last. She has a master’s degree in something interesting, while you didn’t even apply for grad school. People write magazine articles about her. In her spare time, she attends a lot of parties (everyone who works here hangs out together during their off hours). You don’t go to many parties these days, do you? You mostly just watch Netflix while waiting until you’re tired enough for bed.

Cassius Lanois-Vizeen, Senior Dreamer

Cassius has made a career of doing all sorts of interesting, fun jobs that seem, frankly, low paid, which makes you wonder how he has enough money to pay rent and buy food. “Seriously,” you’ve wondered aloud to yourself as you sat around staring into your laptop, “did this guy get a large inheritance or something?” No, but he seems to love life anyway, and doesn’t give himself stress headaches thinking about money, like some people. (Update: After these bios were initially posted, Cassius did, in fact, receive an enormous sum of money from an aunt he didn’t even know very well. You’ve only gone further into debt since then.)

Herschel Rimbauld, Executive Heart Follower

We can get pretty bogged down in the details of our creative, inspiring work here at Your Dream Job. It’s nice to have one person around who’s doing nothing but the most important work of all: following his heart. On any given day, Herschel could be researching his genealogy online, filing an LLC for his food truck, or sleeping. Whatever his heart tells him to do that day, he does. You tried that once. Hey, how did playing synth in that band work out for you? Oh yeah, you guys broke up eight years ago.

Che’clark Levine, Coordinator of Fulfilling Opportunities

Che’clark worked her way up to this position in a thoughtful, intentional way. She set goals for herself and worked hard to achieve them. She always knew she wanted to do the really specific thing that she does here at Your Dream Job and started collecting internships as soon as she got to college. That prepared her to work in this field and introduced her to all the contacts she’s ever tapped for favors throughout the years. You didn’t do any part of that. You drank beer and took statistics three times before passing.

Alan Westcott-Herndon, Positive Vibration Designer

While most people can’t help but notice that everyone working here is above-average looking, Alan is probably the most beautiful. People think he should be a model or an actor. They don’t tell him that, though; they usually just tell him how funny he is while reaching out to casually touch his arm. He enjoys that kind of physical contact on a daily basis, while you’ve not felt an intentional touch from another human since your ex-fiancée awkwardly shook your hand when she picked up the last box of her stuff.

Byron Adams, Manager of Operations (?)

Byron manages operations here, or something like that. He’s awesome, everyone loves him, and he’s really funny on Facebook. Before this, he had a job tasting new ice cream flavors, but he never lost his slim figure. His upcoming projects include being sent into space, for free, because someone over at NASA saw him at a concert and was like, “You like this band, too?” And he was like, “These guys are my favorite.” Then the NASA guy was like, “Dude, we need someone to go up into space. You up for it?” He was all, “Yeah man, definitely.” You’ve never heard of the band they were seeing.

Thank you for your self-flagellating interest in Your Dream Job’s staff. Click here to listen to us be comfortable with who we are on our iTunes-ranked podcast. Click here for our Instagram to look at pictures of us being effortlessly stylish while having fun around the office. This link goes to our Twitter account, where we appear to be knowledgeable of and engaged in important social issues. If you’d like to follow your current misery down into a deeper state of existential despair, head over to the webpage of our parent company, Things You’ll Never Have, Inc. Then simply follow the links to visit its other subsidiaries, A Healthy Intimate Relationship and The Last Ten Years Back.

* Welcome to The Big Jewel, where we are on pins and needles waiting for that new royal infant to come flying out. Hearken to the voice of earnest Anglophile Garrett Socol.

Royal Babe


An Open Letter To The People of Great Britain

From Prince George of Cambridge

My official name is His Royal Highness Prince George of Cambridge. That’s quite a mouthful for my contemporaries to say. Sometimes at the playground they can’t remember it, so to get my attention they throw sand in my face. Why couldn’t I have been given a simple name like Tom? Or Ben? Or Max? I would’ve even settled for Dudley.

I turned one year old in July of last year. Despite my impressive royal lineage, I’m a typical one-year-old tot, so keep that in mind, would you? When I’m out for a stroll in Mayfair or Piccadilly Circus, the masses flock to me with such excitement you’d think I was Harry Styles of One Direction. I could do nicely without the bowing and the curtsying. I’ve had it with the endless shaking of hands and the taking of those “selfies.” For goodness sake, stop acting as if I’m the bloody King of England.

Please treat me like a little tyke on his way to becoming a toddler. Make silly faces. Talk to me in baby talk. I’d much rather give you goo-goos and gah-gahs than quote Winston Churchill, as I’m often expected to do. Think of me as the little boy next door (if you happen to live near a 775-room estate with a 40-acre garden, a helicopter landing pad and a lake). If you want to buy me a gift, get me a rubber duckie for my bath, not a first edition copy of I, Claudius. I recently received a gold-embossed invitation to the christening of a cruise ship. Why on earth would I want to christen a cruise ship? I happen to get seasick. Do you really want to watch me upchuck in the English Channel?

The only person who treats me properly is Francesca Cheddar, my Italian nanny. (I’m actually dictating this letter to her.) She plays with me the way you’re supposed to play with a one-year-old, with stuffed elephants and toy fire trucks. She also teaches me everyday skills like how to wash my hands and prepare a good gnocchi. My Norwegian nanny is intimidated by me, as are all the other nannies except Frau Schwanhild from Frankfurt, who is positively infuriating. She insists I sit ramrod straight with my chin out and head held high. Not what I’d call comfort.

Mummy told me that I’ll be devoting my life to serving the unfortunate and assisting the befuddled in my fiefdom. And to that end, I’ve already begun. Every Friday, Francesca and I do the food shopping for a paraplegic paralegal. On Saturdays, we pick out proper wardrobe for our style-challenged members of Parliament. And very soon, we plan to visit England’s poignant leper colony (the moment one opens).

Because the press has written about me since I was in the womb, I learned, post birth, that I gave my mum acute morning sickness. There was nothing cute about it, I hear. She vomited violently every morning, afternoon and evening. How can she look at me and not think about all that throwing up? It can’t be good for the start of a mother-son relationship. And stop asking, “Do you know who your great-grandmum is?” I know she’s some sort of queen. (Elizabeth? Latifah? I can never get them straight.) To me, she’s just the wrinkled old relic who wears a kooky hat and lives in a creepy old castle. Sometimes she rummages through the contents of her leather handbag (lipstick, mirror, lunch meat, smartphone, laxative, bug spray, bicarbonate of soda, binoculars, flask) for a piece of hard candy to give me. More often than not, she comes up empty-handed.

Then there’s my granddaddy’s brother, Prince Andrew, Duke of York. He’s in the midst of a sleazy sex scandal involving an underage prostitute, or as I like to call her, a prostitot. I don’t understand any of it, but I know it’s sleazy because Mummy and Dada discuss it in whispers.

Even at my tender age, I’ve come across some frightfully unsavory characters in this supposedly dignified country. You see, disreputable dirtbags want access to members of my family. But I do my research. Most of these immoral mongrels have pasts peppered with pandering, perjury, battery, burglary, looting, littering and loitering. So I’ll have nothing to do with them. Just last week, I was bribed by a conniving bloke who could coax a kid out of a candy bar. (I know this because I was the kid with the candy bar.)

As the world knows, I’m expecting a sibling. I’ve decided to be present in the delivery room for this momentous birth. That way, if the doctor slaps him (or her) too hard, I’ll encourage the baby to slap him back. If necessary, I’ll remind the obstetrician that this is no ordinary infant, that this crying little creature happens to be the newest addition to the royal House of Windsor.

* Welcome to The Big Jewel, your source for all Matthew David Brozik-related news. After reading his latest bit, you should click on the ad for his book "Whimsy & Soda" on the right-hand side of this page. Or else we might hurt you.

Play The Hand You’re Dealt…At Birth!


It’s no coincidence that there is the same number of whole weeks in a Gregorian calendar year as in a standard deck of playing cards. Each week corresponds to a card, and knowing the card for the week in which you were born can reveal a great deal, so to speak, about your fate. Consider the following examples…if you dare:

January 1-7: Ace of Spades
If you were born in the first seven days of the year, you’re likely to be a natural with a shovel and destined to be a gravedigger — at the very least, a ditch digger. Gravedigger is, of course, a time-honored profession (to say nothing of it as a pastime). Indeed, a gravedigger features prominently in one of the most famous scenes of one of the most famous tragic English plays of the past 450 years! (In the same vein, there’s a scene in one of the most beloved comic American films of the 20th century in which a wise old man says, “Well, the world needs ditch diggers, too.”)

April 9-15: Two of Hearts
While no single human is born with a pair of hearts, it is your destiny to have two tickers, and this inescapable eventuality is likely to come about in one or the other of two ways. In cases of extreme cardiomyopathy, rather than receiving a new heart in place of the one you started with and ruined, you might undergo a medical procedure in which a second heart is grafted onto the first, to share the work. That’s one way. The other way is that you might wake up one morning and discover that overnight you were transformed, Gregor Samsa-like, into an octopus. Octopi have multiple hearts.

May 21-27: Eight of Hearts
You will be a cannibal, with a particular penchant for internal organs, if you aren’t already.

September 17-23: Queen of Clubs
When you get to high school, you’re going to be a busy, busy girl. (And after high school, you’re never going to run out of stories to tell about high school!) You’ll be the first to arrive and the last to go home each day. You’ll be in the marching band and on the cheerleading squad. You’ll be a mathlete and a non-mathlete. You’ll be on the chess team, the debate team, the chess debate team, the student council, and the yearbook committee. You’ll be exhausted by the time you graduate and you’ll probably need to take a year off to “find yourself” before starting college.

September 24-30: King of Clubs
Same as the previous week, except you’re a dude.

Trumptober $-$$$$$$$: The Donald
You were born into privilege, and in privilege you will remain, growing ever more politically connected as you win ever more friends and influence ever more people…until ultimately you attain a position of such global power that you are able to change two of humanity’s most established institutions — the Christian calendar and the standard playing card deck of the Western world — to include references to yourself.

December 10-16: Jack of Diamonds
If you’re born between December 10th and December 16, odds are that you will legally change your name, if necessary, to “John O’Diamond,” but people will call you “Jack.”

December 31: Joker
Born on the last day of the year, were you? Think that’s funny? Ruining New Year’s Eve for your parents and everyone else who had to be there at your delivery? Well, that’s why you don’t get a regular card: you don’t deserve one. You and the weirdos born on February 29. You’re all outcasts, rarely useful, cast aside and forgotten by civilized society — discarded, if you will — as you should be.

* Welcome to The Big Jewel, where we are always interested in whether you enjoyed your dining experience. Er, make that your diner experience.

Dan’s Diner Survey


When was the last time you dined with us?

Today: 7pm – closing

Who was your waiter/waitress?

See, that’s why I’m here. I think her name is Ashley, but her nametag was covered by a piece of flair that said “Burgers 4 Life.” Anyway, do you think you could give her my number?

How many people were in your party?

Just one. I’ve been coming here for a while, trying to work up the courage to talk to…Anna? Maybe it’s Amy. I just call her Angel Face.

How was the quality of your meal?

See, that’s another thing. I didn’t really order any food. I was just trying to sit in Angel Face’s area and work on my opening line. Tell me if this is good: “Are you on this menu? Because I love you.”

What was your total for the night?

$50. I wasn’t aware that your unlimited refill policy doesn’t apply if “you just keep ordering cokes and staring at the staff.” You should really put that on the menu somewhere, along with the “No taking pictures” rule.

How much did you tip your waiter/waitress?

$75 and a poem I wrote about her: “Roses are red/ Violets are blue/ You are a waitress/ Please love me back.”

Would you recommend our restaurant to your friends and family?

I’d bring them in to meet Angel Face. I’d want her to feel like a welcome part of the family and I’m sure my mom and her have a lot in common, seeing as they both bring me my dinner.

How was the quality of service you received?

Like…good, but not “she’s definitely into me” type of good. I mean, I’ve been coming here during her shift for weeks, so she’s must know who I am. I just can’t tell if she’s into me, or if she’s just good at her job. If you could, just casually bring me up one day, just to see what happens. Maybe tell her she’s fired, ask, and then rehire her, just to test the waters.

Was the restaurant well maintained?

The outside is a beautiful work of art, crafted by God himself, while I’m sure the inside is a soft, caring place that needs me just as much as I need them.

Please provide any additional comments to help us improve your dining experience.

Just help me out here, man. I’ve been pumping money into this place nonstop for three weeks now, you can do me this solid and we’ll call it even. This is fate. I came in looking for beef and found love. I don’t know if you guys are set on your slogan, but you can use that one if you want. See, now you definitely owe me one. You can pay me back by giving Angel Face this survey. I’ve attached my phone number, home address, and a spare key to the back. Please give everything to Angel Face, and tell her “There’s no waiting on love.”

Oh, and the chicken sandwich could be crispier.

* Welcome to The Big Jewel, where we are always looking for exotic employees to match our exotic business. Let Andy Millman be your big game warden.

Phil’s Wild And Exotic Animal Park Is Now Hiring


Have you ever considered working with animals? Maybe you liked playing with puppies or cuddling kitties as a child. Perhaps you’ve let a squirrel race up your pant leg or fed a gopher a marshmallow you held between your teeth. If so, this could be the job for you.

We’re looking for a real animal lover to work hand-in-hand with one of Phil’s most popular attractions, Ollie the gorilla. Maybe you’ve heard some scuttlebutt regarding Ollie’s last companion, Jacques Cameroon, and the way his career ended at Phil’s (he died). Don’t let that deter you from pursuing your dream. Monsieur Cameroon knew (or should have known) that Ollie doesn’t appreciate being disturbed between four and five in the afternoon, when he watches Family Feud. On September 8, 2014 (the day of “the incident”) Ollie was enjoying the show and his afternoon cigar when the families were asked the following question: “Name a food you might find in the jungle.”

When Larry Barnes, eldest brother of the Barnes family, pounded the buzzer and yelled, “Apples,” Ollie became understandably irate. Even most idiots know that apples do not grow in a jungle. Why Mr. Barnes did not respond with “bananas” or “coconuts,” or even “small snakes,” is anyone’s guess. If he had, however, Ollie likely would not have become agitated and put out a perfectly good cigar on Monsieur Cameroon’s forehead.

You might suggest (perhaps you went to law school) that Mr. Barnes bears some responsibility for these events. We are impressed with your thinking. We are considering filing some sort of papers against Mr. Barnes (maybe you can help us), but first we need to tend to suits from Monsieur Cameroon’s family, as well as from several patrons claiming they were “traumatized” by their afternoon at Phil’s. Ollie is hoping that Judge Judy will be assigned the case. Our lawyers (once we find some) will prove that: (A) Monsieur Cameroon should not have been in the cage during Family Feud hour, and (B) Nobody was making those “eyewitnesses” watch Ollie rip Monsieur Cameroon’s arm off his body and beat him over the head with it.

Now then, back to our current opening. The preferred candidate should be female, with hairy arms and back, and be of childbearing age. A passing resemblance to Dr. Phil is an added plus. The woman should be a pleasant conversationalist with excellent hooting skills and a large to extra-large birth canal. Ollie desires a nest-builder, especially since his last one was destroyed by the fire hose used to stop him from jumping up and down on Monsieur Cameroon. The cooking is basic, though you should be able to heat up a pizza and smash palm nuts with rocks. The other required housekeeping skills are minimal. Ollie is fairly neat and normally flings most of his feces out of the cage.

As you know, gorillas are social animals — often considered “the life of the party” — so you should be friendly and get on well with large primates. Let’s face it: even the humans didn’t care much for Monsieur Cameroon. He was probably not a “good hire.” That doesn’t mean we condoned Ollie beating his head against the bars to the rhythm of The Brady Bunch theme, but to say that we can understand it. And don’t get us started on what the other animals thought of him. If you’re really interested, stop by for a chat with Gretta the Zebra about the time Monsieur Cameroon took her to the movies. It is a most unpleasant story.

On second thought, it’s probably best for you to put Monsieur Cameroon out of your mind. Rest assured, with the right companion (a hairy hooter who looks like Dr. Phil), Ollie will be as gentle as a baby beaver. He is just a little lonely (especially now that Monsieur Cameroon is gone). Ollie wants what you and I do — someone to share our life with, someone to curl up with and watch Murder She Wrote, someone to push our tire swing and pick bugs off our back.

Could you be Ollie’s special someone? Find out by sending a letter of application directly to him. Use large print and simple one or two-syllable words. Draw some pictures. Tell him if you also enjoy Family Feud and other daytime television shows — except for Wheel of Fortune. Do not even mention Wheel of Fortune. As a matter of fact, it would be best not to apply if your name happens to be Pat or Vanna. You should enclose a picture, but nothing too provocative because Ollie gets “worked up” easily (you’ll have no worries in that department!). A simple photo of your everyday life, such as hanging off a tree limb or fishing ants out of a nest with a stick, should suffice. You may also smear some of your musk on the application packet.

All applications that Ollie doesn’t tear apart, eat or set on fire will be kept on file for six months. Don’t despair if you are not called right away. Ollie’s fingers are a little big for the buttons and he often dials incorrectly. If you are not selected for this position, you may still qualify to work with Alex the Angry Alligator. You must have quick reflexes and not smell like chicken. You can pick up an application for that position at Alex’s cage at any time, except on Wednesday nights, when he watches Top Chef.