* Welcome to The Big Jewel, where you may be wondering why we didn't run this piece last week -- you know, in time for St. Patrick's Day. Well, mind your own business. And drink your craft beer!

Choosing The Perfect Craft Beer — A Guide For The Perplexed

By:
jtrapani@hushmail.com

Buying beer used to involve as much choice as shopping in a Soviet supermarket, and Budweiser and Miller loved it that xy. But these days, with the explosion in craft beer, the selection is overwhelming. Choosing a beer can be stressful enough to drive you to drink! Here are suggestions to help you find the right beer.

Style
Scientists recently concluded that the number of craft beer variations exceeds the number of atoms in the universe. There are more seasonal pumpkin ales alone than there are people in China. Not to mention more dubbels and tripels than in major league baseball, more porters than Stanley and Livingstone ever had, and more stouts than you can find in the food court at the Mall of America. If you’re stumped by the variety, ask the clerk for help. Through his smirk, he’ll happily recommend his favorite IPA, which retails for the bargain price of $18.99 for a four-pack. Enjoy. Note that after two sips you’re already hungover. Don’t worry — the heart palpitations will cease within 36 hours.

Taste
Beer taste is described by International Bittering Units. Don’t confuse IBUs with IOUs, IUDs or IBS, though too many of the first can certainly lead to the others. Think of IBUs as the beer metric system. And just like the metric system, no one understands it. Here’s the truth: remember the Hall of Justice from the Superfriends? It was based on IBU Headquarters, located in The Hague. Inside, in a secret room, sit a dour red-faced German in lederhosen, an Irishman bearing an uncanny resemblance to the Notre Dame mascot, and a smug bearded hipster from Brooklyn. After tasting each beer, they hold up cards with scores scrawled in magic marker, like judges at a local figure skating competition. The average score, multiplied by a closely guarded proprietary factor, becomes that beer’s IBUs. I hope this explanation helps!

Strength
The alcohol by volume of most beers is in the five to six percent range. But lately there’s been a trend toward stronger beers, with some beasts clocking in with double digits. Look out for these super-strong beers. It’s cheaper to guzzle a bottle of Popov, and the results will be pretty much the same.

Color
This one’s a nonstarter when you’re at the store. Unless you’ve got x-ray vision. Duh.

Learn More Online
If you’re still flummoxed, pull out your phone and check out a site like BeerAdvocate.com. Every beer you might conceivably buy has been rated by dozens of proud beer snobs — people who, if you met them in real life, you’d want to punch in the face. You’ll learn in excruciating detail about their beer-drinking experiences: the ambient latitude, longitude, altitude, barometric pressure and temperature to the nearest tenth of a degree Kelvin, what type of glass they drank from, what they had for lunch beforehand and the last time they got laid. They’ll also discuss features like “mouthfeel,” “palate” and “nose.” And provide narrative descriptions like “Tastes of strong spicy hops, slight pale caramel malt, clove, grassy citrusy sour, floral pine, hint of shoe polish.” It’s like Proust let loose in a brewery!

Visit a Brewery
Speaking of breweries, if you’re interested in exploring craft beer more deeply, you may wish to visit one. Simply head to the farthest corner of the bleakest, most godforsaken industrial area of your city and there, between the lead paint plant and the parking lot for municipal garbage trucks, you’ll no doubt find a brewery. Try as many of their 17 varieties of IPA as you like while sitting on a backless wooden bench and listening to the owners — two twenty-something guys with handlebar mustaches and tattoos on their calves — engage in a heated discussion about whether it’s better to utilize the rest of their rented space for hide tanning or manufacturing crystal meth precursor chemicals. Upon inquiring, learn that each month, on the first day of the waxing gibbous moon, a food truck from which you can buy raspberry crepes parks outside the brewery from 3:00 to 3:45 pm; besides this, there’s nothing to eat within three miles. Enjoy your experience at the brewery. Then go home and remain in bed for the next week until your massive headache dissipates.

Label Artwork
If you’re getting desperate, pick a beer based on label artwork. Looking at craft beer labels is reminiscent of browsing the heavy metal section of Tower Records circa 1982. Some breweries clearly spend more on art than on quality control. An experienced craft beer drinker can tell a bottle of Rogue from a bottle of Ballast Point at a distance of 50 yards. Each brewery has a distinctive style. 21st Amendment brewery, for example, is known for line drawings depicting scenes from American history. Uinta brewery, in Salt Lake City, uses western landscapes. Flying Dog’s bottles appear to have been drawn by Berkeley Breathed on peyote. Don’t worry about what’s inside — just pick whichever one you think would enhance the feng shui of your fridge.

Making Your Final Selection
If none of this helps, here’s a last-ditch solution. Head to the back of the store. Keep going. Farther! There, in the last refrigerator case. At the bottom. No, not the spring-themed cherry gose that’s somehow still sitting around a week before Thanksgiving. Behind it. There you go: a clear winner. Ignore the clerk’s raised eyebrows as you pay.

Enjoy your Bud Light.

* Welcome to The Big Jewel, where -- when we aren't making funny prose available to this and every other universe -- we can usually be found helping our local superheroes fight crime. You know, just like Lee Blevins.

Schedule Of Events For National Superhero Police Confidant Convention

By:

Day 1 / Monday

 

7:30 am – 8:00 am

Registration

* Includes compulsory shapeshifter screening.

 

8:00 am – 8:30 am

N.S.P.C. President Renee Montoya: Opening Remarks

* There will be no QUESTIONs at this time. She insisted on the capitalization.

 

8:30 am – 9:00 am

In Memoriam

 

9:00 am – 9:30 am

Barry Allen: Forensics in Shifting Timelines

 

9:30 am – 10:00 am

How to Spot an Off-Duty Superhero

 

10:00 am – 10:30 am

April O’Neil: Their Girl Friday, or Journalism Ethics in the Age of Ooze

* The “their” in the above presentation title refers to four anthropomorphic turtles who live in the sewers beneath New York City and fight mostly ninjas.

 

10:30 am – 11:00 am

Mass Prison Escapes and You

 

11:00 am – 12:00 pm

Eustace Dolan: My Daughter Fell in Love with a Masked Man

 

12:00 pm – 1:00 pm

Lunch

* All food and drink has been tested for Joker venom.

 

1:00 pm – 1:30 pm

Nelson & Murdock: Civil Rights and Vigilante Justice

 

1:30 pm – 2:00 pm

Tactics to Restrain a Mind-Controlled Citizenry

 

2:00 pm – 2:30 pm

Supervillain Safety Drill

* Courtesy of the reformed supervillain team known as the Thunderbolts. ** Anyone who has had a loved one murdered by a Thunderbolt in the past is asked to leave the room for the duration of the drill.

 

2:30 pm – 3:00 pm

Afternoon In Memoriam

* Afternoon In Memoriam only to be held in event of non-drill supervillain incident resulting in significant casualties.

 

3:00 pm – 3:30 pm

Dr. Jeremiah Arkham: Mental Health – A Troubling Subtext

 

3:30 pm – 4:00 pm

Frank Castle: I Ain’t Sorry

* Note: Frank Castle a.k.a. The Punisher is currently incarcerated and will be speaking to us via videoconference. There is always a chance his presentation will be cut short by a prison riot or maybe a shanking.

 

4:00 pm – 5:00 pm

The Spectre: I Used to Be a Cop (Now I Cop for God)

* Warning: The Spectre is a nigh-omnipotent entity with a strict moral code. Attendee discretion is advised. Last year he turned someone into a toad for a minor traffic violation.

Day 2 / Tuesday
8:00 am – 9:00 am

Col. Nick Fury: Interagency Relations in Intergalactic Crises

 

9:00 AM – 9:30 AM

Vampires, Werewolves, Witches: Not Your Jurisdiction?

 

9:30 am – 10:00 am

Police Sketch Artist Showcase

* Copyright notice: all sketch art is done as work for hire. No sketch artist has any future right to any sketch or any subsequent adaptations of said sketch. Especially Jacob Kurtzberg.

 

10:00 am – 10:30 am

George Stacy & Jean DeWolff: They Died for Spider-Man’s Sins

* A special presentation paid for by J. Jonah Jameson.

 

10:30 am – 11:00 am

If a Mad God Takes Over Your Precinct

 

11:00 am – 12:00 pm

James Gordon: Why I Need Batman (And Why Batman Needs Me)

 

12:00 pm – 1:00 pm

Lunch

* All food and drink has been tested TWICE for Joker venom.

 

1:00 pm – 1:30 pm

Hank McCoy: Mutant Lives Matters

*Note: Hank McCoy a.k.a. Beast looks like a big blue cat. Do Not Shoot! Repeat: Do Not Shoot! (Unless he goes feral, of course.)

 

1:30 pm – 2:00 pm

Harvey Bullock: Good Cop, Bad Cop, Mediocre Cop

 

2:00 pm – 2:30 pm

Supervillain Safety Drill

* Courtesy of the explosives-attached-to-neck controlled supervillain team Suicide Squad. ** Anyone who has had a loved one murdered by a Suicide Squader in the past is asked to leave the room for the duration of the drill.

 

2:30 pm – 3:00 pm

Closing Day In Memoriam

* Closing Day In Memoriam only to be held in event of non-drill supervillain incident resulting in significant casualties. Historically, this is the more eventful of the two afternoon In Memoriams.

 

3:00 pm – 3:30 pm

Guardians of the Galaxy Q&A

* Please don’t attempt to arrest the Guardians of the Galaxy for any of their many crimes unless you have jurisdiction in the sectors in which said crimes were committed.

 

3:30 pm – 4:00 pm

Tony Stark: Iron Boar Presentation

 

4:00 pm – 5:00 pm

Judge Dredd: How We Do Things Where I Come From

* The views of Judge Dredd as regards police states and summary justice are not necessarily endorsed by N.S.P.C. ** Special thanks to Reed Richards for creating the interdimensional portal that brought Judge Dredd to our conference. *** Mr. Richards would like us to note that the incident last year when he brought Groo the Wanderer by mistake wasn’t his fault but the fault of a fight that Ben Grimm and Johnny Storm had about the last piece of angel food cake.

 

* Welcome to The Big Jewel, where we are always looking for a better bargain in air fare, no matter what the consequences for life and limb. Heed the terrifying airborne ravings of our good friend Luke Roloff.

Scary Cheap Flights

By:
lukeroloff@hotmail.com

Welcome aboard, and thanks for risking your life on the cheapest airline you could find! Rest assured, here at Scary Cheap Flights, safety is our top priority after anything related to making money.

We’d like to extend an extra special welcome to our regular survivors. We appreciate your business while it lasts!

We’ll now play a brief in-flight safety video prior to takeoff — because if you think about it, nothing can go wrong while we’re just sitting here. And we want you to feel safe even though you aren’t.

(Cue video)

Hello! The following presentation has not been vetted by our safety department because we don’t have one, but marketing says, “It’s got a lotta legs.”

First, please ensure all aisles and exits are clear for the inevitable race against time.

Put away all electronics — you don’t need those where we’re goin’.

Be sure that all carry-on items are wedged tight enough in the overhead bin to shatter. And you can misplace your small items in the black vortex by your feet.

You’ll see that the seat pocket in front of you doesn’t exist. Surely you’ve noticed by now that we don’t have a lot of things — like razor-thin blankets or clumpy baby pillows or a dependable airplane.

If you’re sitting in an emergency exit row, there’s a slim chance you might make it out of this alive. If you are not able or willing to assist in the event of an emergency, join the club.

As we push back from the gate, make sure your seat belt is properly fastened, or not. No difference.

If at any time this ole bag-a-bolts starts-a-shakin’, do not be alarmed, but be ready to work when we divvy up the duct tape and rope. And if the windows bust out, do not try to grab a goose — it’s nearly impossible.

(Video pauses)

We’ll now be coming around to peddle $12 trail mix and credit card offers. Also at this time, we’re looking for volunteers to push us onto the tarmac. Thank you.

(Video resumes)

Please remain seated any time the “fasten seat belts” sign is on, and at all other times also, because things gets real when there’s nothing separating you from a 30,000 foot free fall except metal and fear. And please note, if we descend into one of our trademark pelican dives, additional fees may apply.

(Video pauses)

One other thing, if anyone has any experience flying an airplane, please come up front ASAP.

(Video resumes)

In the likely event that cabin pressure changes, AKA part of the plane is ripped off, oxygen masks will go like hotcakes. Probably should take a moment to see who you can muscle one away from. If your Darwinism kicks in, and somehow you don’t get sucked out of the plane like a rag doll, we have not thought that far ahead.

Water evacuations — despite sounding terrifying, they’re far worse. For those of you who’ve crashed with us before, you know what we mean — ha! You’ll find a life vest underneath your seat if you brought one from home. Rip ‘er open, strap in, and pray we don’t hit shark-infested waters again. And please, no flare gun fights before setting up teams.

(Video pauses)

Okay folks, just a quick update that we don’t have a clue. Our company is literally run by feral monkeys.

(Video resumes)

More importantly, smoking is not allowed if you can’t get away with it. Federal law prohibits any tampering, disabling or destroying of a restroom smoke detector — so you got to get creative. If you happen to be working with explosives, try not to let the cigarette smoke get in your eyes and mess up what you’re doing.

When we begin crashing, feel free to help yourself to a complimentary beverage — one per customer, please. This is our way of saying “goodbye.” And if you care to watch a movie during this frightening time, try filming the crash with your phone or just watch your life flash before your eyes.

Before we see if this big bird can fly, please put your seats in the upright position, put your tray table up, slap on your chute, pop some pills and get right with God.

On behalf of everyone at Scary Cheap Flights — hope to see you again in the next life!

(Video concludes)

This is your captain speaking. Please sit back and relax — I’m as scared as you are.

 

 

 

 

* Welcome to The Big Jewel, where sometimes we publish things about God and sometimes we publish things about Donald Trump, because we're curious to see if our sharper-eyed readers can spot the subtle differences between the two. Please say hello to our good friend Bruce Harris.

Who Is The World’s Worst Negotiator?

By:
marxman@comcast.net

The 45th president of the United States authored (co-authored, sort of), The Art of the Deal. His campaign decried that America doesn’t win anymore and that the United States makes bad deals. He billed himself as a master negotiator. Let’s take him at his word and go under the assumption that the 45th president is the world’s best negotiator. If he’s the best, then who is the worst? That ignominious label was earned during the world’s first negotiation, in biblical times…

Genesis (18:1) – translation in parenthesis

Then the LORD said, “The outrage of Sodom and Gomorrah is so great, and their sin so grave! (God is having a bad day and intends to destroy Sodom and Gomorrah.)

I will go down to see whether they have acted altogether according to the outcry that has reached Me; if not, I will take note.” (Not really sure what this means.)

The men went on from there to Sodom, while Abraham remained standing before the LORD. (First smart move by Abraham. He’s observing. Learning. Listening. These are proven successful negotiation tactics.)

Abraham came forward and said, “Will You sweep away the innocent along with the guilty? (Abraham asks a rhetorical, closed-ended question.)

What if there should be fifty innocent within the city; will You then wipe out the place and not forgive it for the sake of the innocent fifty who are in it? (Abraham begins the negotiation process with an opening offer of fifty.)

Far be it from You to do such a thing, to bring death upon the innocent as well as the guilty, so that innocent and guilty fare alike. Far be it from You! Shall not the Judge of all the earth deal justly?” (Abraham personalizing the decision for God. In other words, he’s asking God if God has really thought this thing through.)

And the LORD answered, “If I find within the city of Sodom fifty innocent ones, I will forgive the whole place for their sake.” (Whoa. Wait. God, what up? You cave that quickly? You agree to Abraham’s first offer? Good thing you are not in the market for a new car.)

Abraham spoke up, saying, “Here I venture to speak to my Lord, I who am but dust and ashes: (Abraham playing to God’s vanity. And, kills time while he recovers from God’s foolish and unexpected acceptance of his first offer.)

What if the fifty innocent should lack five? Will You destroy the whole city for want of the five?” (Abraham regains composure. He applies more pressure, tossing out an offer of forty-five.)

And He answered, “I will not destroy if I find forty-five there.” (Is he for real? The number five principle in The Art of the Deal is to “use your leverage” during a negotiation. God seemingly has all of the leverage in the universe, but doesn’t seem to be taking advantage of it.)

But he spoke to Him again, and said, “What if forty should be found there?” (Abraham ups the ante. Heck, why not? God agreed to forty-five. Why not offer forty instead? Are there no limits to which God would agree?)

And He answered, “I will not do it, for the sake of the forty.” (Oh my God. Do you hear yourself? You’re making one concession after another without getting anything in return. Ask for something. That’s basic Negotiation 101.)

And he said, “Let not my Lord be angry if I go on: what if thirty should be found there?” (Now Abraham is feeling it. He’s down to thirty good people and practically toying with God. Where will it end?)

And He answered, “I will not do it if I find thirty there.” (God gives in yet again and gets nothing in return. A more appropriate response would have been, “Okay Abraham, I’ll go down to thirty, if you tell me your secret for impregnating Sarah when you were 100 years old. How on earth did you do that?”)

And he said, “I venture again to speak to my Lord: what if twenty should be found there?” (Nice and steady, down goes the count. Abraham appears to be in control of this deal.)

And He answered, “I will not destroy, for the sake of the twenty.” (God, do you know something we don’t?)

And he said, “Let not my Lord be angry if I speak but this last time: what if ten should be found there?” (Abraham is on his way down to zero. He knows nothing can stop him now.)

And He answered, “I will not destroy, for the sake of the ten.” (Is this really happening?)

When the LORD had finished speaking to Abraham, He departed; and Abraham returned to his place. (That’s it! So, what all along looked like a slam-dunk for Abraham winds up in a tie? No contest?)

Is God the world’s worst negotiator? Maybe, maybe not. A case can be made for Abraham. He inexplicably stopped at ten!

 

* Welcome to The Big Jewel, where we don't have as much money as God but we do have him as a columnist, thanks to first-time contributor Ryan Wolin.

A Column Written By God For NewYorkTimes.com

By:
ryanwolin@gmail.com

EDITOR’S NOTE: God has graciously agreed to write a monthly column for this website. We’re beyond thrilled to provide a forum for Our Lord to share His divine wisdom, sage advice and profound insight into the people and events that have shaped history. It’s sure to be illuminating and humbling for all of us. His Holiness has free rein to muse on any topic He sees fit, completely unedited. This is the first installment of the series we’re calling “God’s Eye View: A Heavenly Perspective on Life.” Please enjoy.

EDITOR’S NOTE: After receiving many, many emails from readers, we’ve decided to give this column a quick editorial pass. In the interest of transparency, we’ll note any changes we make going forward. In the meantime, please enjoy the column. It’s not every day that The Lord puts the eternal glory of life into words.

EDITOR’S NOTE: In an earlier version of this column, God referred to The Twelve Commandments. The mistake has been corrected.

EDITOR’S NOTE: We’ve corrected the frequent misspelling of the word “apossles” throughout the column. We regret the error.

EDITOR’S NOTE: We’ve removed several offensive remarks and offer our sincere apologies to the women of the LPGA tour. We regret the breach in journalistic standards.

EDITOR’S NOTE: We’ve removed the phonetically-spelled obscenities from God’s all-caps rant blasting the WWE’s decision to bury Jack Swagger on the undercard at Summerslam.

EDITOR’S NOTE: We’ve replaced the term “kick-ass” with “regretfully heinous” in the section now titled “The 10 Most Regretfully Heinous Executions in History.” We regret the breach in journalistic standards.

EDITOR’S NOTE: In an earlier version of this column, the list of Moses’ accomplishments included winning the 400m hurdles at the 1976 Olympics. That was achieved by American track star Edwin Moses. We regret the error.

EDITOR’S NOTE: We’ve removed the detailed description of Moses’ heavily perspiring scrotum from the retelling of his walk through the desert. We regret the error.

EDITOR’S NOTE: We’ve fixed the many incorrectly labeled bible verses and removed all quotes attributed to the “Book of Gordon,” which doesn’t actually exist. We regret the error.

EDITOR’S NOTE: We’ve removed all references to The Baconator after learning that God did in fact receive financial compensation from Wendy’s for each mention. We regret the error.

EDITOR’S NOTE: We apologize for the insensitivity God showed when comparing the hardships endured by black slaves to how it feels trying to open a bag of trail mix when there’s no notch cut in the corner. We regret the error.

EDITOR’S NOTE: In an earlier version of this column, God confused the Seventh Commandment with Cypress Hill’s advice to never get high on your own supply. We regret the error.

EDITOR’S NOTE: We’ve kept God’s retelling of David vs. Goliath as written. However, we do acknowledge its uncanny similarity to the Undertaker vs. Mick Foley Hell-in-a-Cell match from 1999’s WWE King of the Ring pay-per-view.

EDITOR’S NOTE: We’ve removed the list of animals it’s okay for people to have sex with. We regret the error.

EDITOR’S NOTE: We’ve amended the rankings of God’s greatest creations so that #1 and #2 are no longer “boobs.” Furthermore, “the human soul” has been moved into the top ten ahead of the saguaro cactus. We regret the error.

EDITOR’S NOTE: An earlier version of this column contained a passage reading “…the human accomplishments I’m most proud of are (google some shit or whatever).” We can all guess what happened here. We regret the error.

EDITOR’S NOTE: An earlier version of this column contained a photo of God holding hands with Victoria Beckham at the beach. The photo was clearly a piece of shoddy Photoshopping meant to impress male readers, as evidenced by the tiny proportions of God’s head and the fact His body had the same tattoos as David Beckham.

EDITOR’S NOTE: We’ve removed the text reading “Click here for the meaning of life,” which readers thought would link to life-saving wisdom, but instead opened the music video for Rick Astley’s “Never Gonna Give You Up.”

EDITORS NOTE: We’ve removed the quotes of John Johnson raving about God’s supreme judgment and wisdom, as research has left us highly skeptical of Johnson’s existence.

EDITOR’S NOTE: In an earlier version of this column, the section titled “The 3 Most Inspirational Humans of the Last 300 Years” was significantly longer. We’ve since greatly pared back the portion on Malibu from American Gladiators.

EDITOR’S NOTE: In God’s account of the crucifixion, we’ve removed the mention of a fourth nail, as there’s no historical record of Jesus “also taking one right in the ol’ bag of beans.” We regret the error.

EDITOR’S NOTE: In the section on Hammurabi’s Code, we’ve substituted the familiar “eye” and “tooth” in place of God’s preferred body parts, if only to cut down on the numerous references to male genitalia littered throughout the piece.

EDITOR’S NOTE: Here’s God’s official response to accusations of plagiarizing: “I’ve never even read Harry Potter & The Goblet of Fire, so how could I steal Dumbledore’s speech from it?” We at this publication won’t take sides. However, when notifying God of the plagiarism allegations, we never specified what book he was accused of stealing from.

EDITOR’S NOTE: In an earlier version of this column, God confused dictator Adolph Hitler with character actor William Fichtner. We sincerely apologize to Mr. Fichtner for attributing his lively performance in Drive Angry to Hitler, while blaming him for the death and torture of 6 million Jews.

EDITOR’S NOTE: To prove His all-knowing powers, God shared His tweet from before last season predicting that the Broncos would win the Super Bowl 24-10. While seemingly impressive, a quick glance at his Twitter timeline reveals He predicted many teams to win by many different score lines. Update: The other tweets have now been deleted.

EDITOR’S NOTE: An earlier version of this column ended with the word “purple” copied and pasted hundreds of times. We suspect this is the result of our agreement to pay God by the word. Which in hindsight, explains His insistence that we perform a quick word count and immediately wire him the money.

EDITOR’S NOTE: We’ve removed the entire column. We apologize to all those who’ve been offended, particularly the NAACP, female police officers, families of those lost in the 9/11 attacks, the employees of Sport Clips, The National Holocaust Museum and Mothers Against Drunk Driving.

 

 

* Welcome to The Big Jewel, where we like to think we know how to make a movie from almost anything. So does our good friend Matthew David Brozik. When you're done reading his fine new piece, click on the ad for his book "Whimsy & Soda" on the right-hand side of this page, and your sins will be forgiven.

Paying Two Million Dollars To Option “Blank Book” Might Have Been A Mistake

By:
brozik@gmail.com
@spidermensch

Gentlemen, we aren’t going to deny that we might have committed a serious blunder. Paying a substantial sum to lock up the opportunity to turn “Blank Book” into a feature film might not have been in the best interest of the studio. If indeed this presents a problem without a viable solution, then we will, with regret, tender our immediate resignations. Before you make that determination, however, we would be grateful for a chance to explain our thinking and to offer some suggestions for salvaging the studio’s investment.

As you are no doubt keenly aware, in recent years first-run motion pictures have been capturing an ever-decreasing share of the entertainment market. The age of social media and video streaming is blighted by a steady decline in the number of moviegoers. Moreover, three of every four movies shown in theaters is a sequel, prequel, or remake. Charged with identifying and securing the rights to something utterly original, but which would also appeal to so-called “Digitals,” we sent our 24-year-old intern to the nearest bookstore to scan the shelves for a property that could be turned into the next bona fide blockbuster. She asked if she could stay at her desk and visit amazon.com instead, and we agreed that this would be a more efficient approach. So far, so good. Indeed, Kaylee offered to stay awake and online for as long as it would take her to pick a winner.

Unfortunately — and we want to be clear that we’re not blaming Kaylee, whose internship with the studio has already ended — when she brought us a printout of the screenshot of the listing for the item, being pressed for time, as we all always are, we focused primarily on the size of the book — 256 pages in hardcover, which gave us the impression that there would be more than enough material for a 90-minute film — rather than the description, which would have informed us that there is no text on any of the pages. (As a side note, this episode has taught us that there are numerous amateur creatives who prefer to generate material “from scratch,” as it were.) More unfortunately still, we had reached out to the publisher with a generous option offer before we realized that “Blank Book” was a blank book. Our offer was accepted within the hour, without the need for any negotiation. In retrospect, this also should have been a sign that something was amiss. Alas, by that time we had entered the studio into a legally binding agreement.

While simply letting the option expire in six months and putting the whole thing behind us as a learning experience is a legitimate course of action, it feels a bit irresponsible, financially. Better, perhaps, would be to move the project forward, turning the property over to one of the screenwriters under contract and seeing what they can do with it. We’ve made some preliminary inquiries, and we’re pleased to be able to report that Jeremy Renner is “intrigued” by the possibility of playing supersecret superagent “Frank ‘Blank’ Booke” in a three-movie franchise, if the character is sufficiently likeable. Alternatively, we could explore producing a very high-concept film through our specialty “art house” division. Perhaps each page of an actual copy of the book could be filmed and…well, let’s leave that to the director.

But that’s where things stand, for better or worse. Knowing what we know now, if we had it to do over, we likely would have made some decisions differently. We probably would not have spent two million of the studio’s dollars to acquire the rights to a large, but admittedly empty, work in print. What happens next is up to you… and whatever you decide, we will abide by your decision. In the meantime, we will be in our office, sitting very still and certainly not buying anything else. Not even lunch. Skipping lunch today is the very least we can do to start making this disappointing situation right.

 

* Welcome to The Big Jewel, where we are such romantics that we think the most beautiful love ballad of all time is "Bitch Better Have My Money" by Rihanna. And Anita Gill couldn't agree more. Enjoy her first piece for us.

I’m the Bitch Who Owes Rihanna Money

By:
annie.m.gill@gmail.com

Hey girl! How are you?

Okay, I’m not gonna mince words here. When I heard your song “Bitch Better Have My Money,” I loved it. So catchy! Then I listened to the song another eighty times and I noticed your penchant for repetition on poignant lines, specifically that someone, a bitch perhaps, owes you money. That’s when it struck me. I knew exactly to whom you were referring. I messed up. I owe you. It totally slipped my mind. Honestly! I’m not acting like I forgot and I am certainly not frontin’!

My friends say you wrote it in response to some accounting snafu from a few years back. I don’t believe a word of that. I know you, RiRi. Yeah, I know there’s the line, “Your wife in the backseat of my brand new foreign car,” but I think that’s an allusion to me, right? You let me borrow your Volvo S90 that one night so I could convince my parents I was financially stable. I’ll be honest that the “wife in the car” line tripped me up. But then I remembered our late night run to In-N-Out Burger where I admitted that I would marry my sandwich if the California courts permitted it. You thought I was crazy to buckle up our order in the backseat, but then I proved to you that it wouldn’t spill on your nice car, didn’t I? It’s like I always say: with food, safety first!

Your song alludes to the fact I still owe you money from that night at T.G.I. Friday’s, right? That’s when we last hung out. There’s a line in your song, “Louis XIII and it’s all on me.” We were drinking and we played which monarch from the House of Bourbon would you bang, right? Oh, the laughs we had! I was low on cash and you said you’d spot my cocktail? I think I ordered a Diddy on the Beach? And then we split those potato skins? Man, that was a great night.

On top of it all, you surprised me with that gift of a sheer tank top that makes my nipples super visible. That was so thoughtful! I guess you overlooked my soul-crushing anxiety about being naked, and how I always had to dart to the two bathroom stalls in the high school girls’ locker room to change for gym. Or maybe you’re trying to get me to face my fears about my body. The tank is lovely, nonetheless. I haven’t worn it to work like you suggested, but I did wear it to my girlfriend’s baby shower and they were speechless. Thanks, girl!

I’m so sorry we haven’t hung out since that drink date. I knew you were getting ready for the Met Gala and requested your next dress to be forged with Valyrian steel and unicorn tears (so cool that those things exist for famous people!). I’ve been busy, too. Most of my energy is going into my new business venture: selling wool scarves from a Scottish sheep farm on Etsy. It’s been my dream ever since I went to grad school and realized how financially fucked I was by earning more degrees in the Humanities instead of just becoming an Accountant. That’s when I wondered: what does everyone need? Scarves! But don’t think I’m here looking for handouts. Really, I’m fine. Please don’t think this is one of those friendships with a non-famous friend who mooches. I have every desire to pay you back in full.

As I remember, I owe you $23.72 correct? I’m writing the check right now!

Then let’s put this behind us. Remember when we first became friends? Back at the Good Girl Gone Bad Tour when I accidentally walked into your trailer looking for a bathroom? You complimented me on the Bedazzled fanny pack I was wearing to keep my money and Chapstick and I explained how my jeweled accessory was a double threat — both fashionable and practical. You told me I was the weirdest, most down-to-earth bitch you ever met, remember? Then you said you needed more real bitches in your life and you invited me to come back again with my Bedazzler. That’s when I knew we would be lasting friends. I hope I am still that real bitch you can trust, Rihanna. Because I value our friendship.

Also, would you like to buy a scarf? They’re authentic Scottish sheep wool. They’d make great stocking stuffers for the holidays. Just a thought.

Hugs,

Anita

 

* Welcome to The Big Jewel, where we define full employment as doing this web site for free. When you're done reading this latest outrage from Michael Fowler, check our blogroll on the right for a link to his book, God Made the Animals.

Employment Can Strike Anyone

By:
mfowl4916@gmail.com

You think you’re safe now, living in your grandma’s basement and only having to mow her lawn and water her azaleas for rent. You’ve been able to devote your life to video games, sleep in past 2 p.m., and since the old bird is deaf and almost senseless, nothing stands in the way of your friends coming over to blast music and smoke substances throughout the day and night. But the warning signs are all around you — you’ve seen them on your trips outdoors: “Help Wanted,” “Apply Now,” “Asst Mgr Needed,” and perhaps the most ominous of all: “Start Today.” They give you a feeling in the pit of your stomach comparable to eating an extra-large bean burrito with sour cream. Yes, these not-so-subtle listings, these unwelcome solicitations, these signboard postings in garish block letters, are taunting you. Perhaps someone you know and thought reliable has succumbed to an “entry-level position” or attended an “interview” or “job fair,” and you think: could I be next?

The short answer is yes. The next victim of employment could well be you. Still you wonder, despite the signs, how can this be? With the economy flat or expanding with infinite slowness, with record numbers laid off or disabled and receiving aid to recover from work, with throngs in your age bracket still living at home, and many of those lacking marketable skills to start with, how do so many continue to fall prey to employment? What motivates them? How can they simply turn their backs on a life of leisure? And how vanishingly small are the odds that, once gainfully employed, they can find their way back to a rewarding, nonproductive life of earning nothing at all?

The first thing to know is that employment afflicts all ethnicities and all genders. It can strike the healthy and unhealthy, the old and the young. It usually doesn’t affect those in nursing homes or preschool, but even here there are exceptions. The rich and poor both work, the well-educated and the illiterate find jobs, the sane and the insane punch a time clock, those with two blue eyes and those with one blue eye and one green eye cash a paycheck. People work with their hands, their brains, and virtually any other body part. In brief, anyone may find himself or herself at the mercy of a blood-sucking vampire of an employer, just as Marx wrote.

To avoid the scourge of work, and a life spent in endless toil for starvation wages or an annual salary of up to six figures plus benefits and bonuses, it is above all important to know the right sort of people. Let’s say an invitation to your fifth high school reunion comes in the mail at Grandma’s house. That puts you, if you do the math, in your early 20s. You’ll have a chance to meet again those guys you almost flunked out with in eleventh grade, and finally did drop out of college with, many of whom, if they’re lucky, haven’t worked a day in their lives and still live in their childhood rooms, though sometimes they redecorate. Those are the lucky ones, the ones who have made it to full adulthood while avoiding both the shameful stigma and the physical and emotional trauma of work. You wouldn’t mind meeting them again, to gain their moral support, and to achieve insight in how to live off the largesse of caring family members, using guilt and pathetic pleas to secure major “loans.” In fact, you probably see them every day already, and it’s as if time has stood still for all of you. You’re all still chasing that perfect high, that peak of relaxation, and every man jack of them is due to arrive at Grandma’s house tonight at seven for video games and beer and more.

Not so lucky are your other high school pals, those who got fooled by the curveball the economy hurled their way. They succumbed to part- or even full-time employment, and will tell you all about it at the reunion dinner while you try to scarf the roast beef au jus and green salad without listening. At first they’ll appear normal to you, but after talking to them for a few minutes, you’ll pick up hints that their time is not always their own, that they have fallen into degrading and ruinous careers because, unlike fortunate freeloaders like you, they must now buy things and pay bills, and as a result are destitute. If they’re really far gone, they might even be married and have dependents who use food and clothing on a daily basis. You’ll shake your head in pity to hear it, as well you should.

But be wary. At first their comments will sound seductive. Bill, whom you’ve known since the fifth grade, will talk of reading the stock reports at night, and celebrating his capital gains with a fine cigar in his den while his wife polishes the Waterford crystal in the kitchen. Jeff, in your graduating class and like you a former member of marching band and chess club, now accumulates static electricity in an office and, when you mention that you’re between work projects, suggests that you come in and apply at his firm, where he can put in a word for you. Then before you know it you’ve taken a shower and shaved, purchased work boots, and signed on to drive a forklift for $15.00 an hour. A good steady job with benefits, and you rolled right into it like a sinkhole.

Sure, maybe you start part-time and think you can stop there. Maybe a Good Samaritan will intervene and give you a heads-up on the treacherous path before you. But before you know it you’re hooked on a 35-hour workweek like it was heroin and lolling in the gutter with a new title and a raise. After that you donate your video games to the Neediest Kids of All and even say goodbye to Granny. Worst of all, there’s no turning back, particularly if you land a gold-digging girlfriend, and is there any other kind?

Let this be a warning to you.

 

 

 

 

* Welcome to The Big Jewel, where we specialize in bringing people together, especially people who are not that together and have no interest in getting together. Enjoy the comedy stylings of Jennifer Scharf and Joanna McClanahan.

Pick-Up Lines For Introverts

By:
scharfjennifer@yahoo.com

So, do you not go anywhere often?

I require very little dopamine. How about you?

I’m not a bitch; I just have resting introvert face.

Want to get out of here? Separately? To our own homes?

I’m an INFP looking for an INTP. Do you think we might be a match?

You had me at “What’s the Wi-Fi password?”

I can give you my number but please don’t call.

I’m just going to stand here and watch you from a comfortable distance.

You’re like the sun: hot but impossible to make direct eye-contact with.

I think I need some vitamin D. No really, because seasonal depression.

I’m not drunk; I’m just an introvert.

This conversation is exhausting me — can we just have sex now?

Damn boy, are you terms and conditions? Because I’ll agree to anything to get out of this.

I love a good one-on-one controlled and thorough discussion about life. As long as it’s online.

I’m only pretending to text because I don’t know how to have a conversation with you.

It looks like a beautiful day, but what do I know? I never go outside.

If I seem quiet, it’s because you’re loud as fuck.

I don’t think we’ve met before. Actually I know we haven’t, because I don’t talk to anyone.

I’d make plans just to break them for you.

Can you pass me my headphones? I’m ready to tune you out.

You look so familiar — didn’t I avoid you at the grocery store yesterday?

Can we take a picture together to prove to my friends that I have a social life?

Girl, are you my feet? Because I can’t look away from you!

I’m terrible at small talk, but I make a killer playlist.

Damn girl, you’re hotter than my laptop burning up on a Netflix binge.

I’ll become an extrovert if you get me drunk enough.

I’m “indoorsy.” How about you?

I’d love to hang out the next time you feel like leaving your home!

You can friend me on Facebook. That’s where I’m a fake extrovert.

Did I mention that I hate going outside and talking to people?

Let’s share our quietness together. Forever.

 

* Welcome to The Big Jewel, where we will tip you an extra 10% if you read the latest madness from our good friend Bruce Harris.

Tip Pit

By:
marxman@comcast.net

The convention of tipping people in service jobs needs reexamination. Why do I give gratuities and not receive them? Tipping etiquette resides in Bizarro World. I’m the customer. Why on earth am I tipping the barber who cuts my hair? His livelihood depends upon my repeat business. He should be tipping me. I don’t purport that the barber or hairdresser should pay me for a haircut. That would be ridiculous. But they should give back a certain percentage of the amount charged as a way of showing their appreciation. How much? Tipping rules are easily established and I’m more than comfortable if tip percentages fall within the standard 15% to 20% range. Of course, there are exceptions to this unwritten rule. Gratuity amounts could be more or less. A number of “tip friendly” professions deserve attention:

Barbers — The amount of the tip I receive should be dependent on a number of factors. For example, did I walk into the shop in the middle of the summer, all sweaty and smelly? Do I have dandruff? Wax in my ears? Greasy hair? Do I constantly turn my head when the barber is trying to cut? Speak only when spoken to? Is my collar too high and/or too tight, making it difficult to get at the hairs on the back of my neck? You know, the ones not standing up. That could negatively impact one’s tip. When the haircut is finished and the barber holds a hand-mirror behind my head so that I can judge his handiwork, what is my reaction? Am I happy? Or, do I say things like, “Take more off the top, front, sides, back, etc.” Or, “It’s cut too short.” In the latter case, there is nothing for the barber to do or say except, “It will grow back” and not tip me! Heck, if I was happy with the haircut and received a 15% or 20% tip for being a good customer, I’d go back. It’s a win-win. Or shoot for the works: I’ll demand a full body haircut. Full frontal and back. Every inch of my body cut and shaved. I want to leave the shop hairless. Now, if that doesn’t scream “trust” to the haircutter, what does? I think I’m looking at a tip north of 50%. A word to the wise — care should be taken prior to accepting a shave with a straight razor.

Waiters/Waitresses — How can I earn a 20% (or more) tip for eating? Read the menu after it’s handed to me and be ready to order when the waitperson comes back. Order off the menu with no alterations or qualifications. A quick way to get on the waitperson’s wrong side is to order a number five sandwich (tuna fish), but demand “No lettuce and no tomato. Instead, substitute coleslaw for the lettuce and onion for the tomato.” Never ask for separate checks. One check should always result in greater tips. Be careful, don’t spill anything, and don’t ask for extra napkins or hot sauce, etc. The wait staff are on their feet for hours. The last thing they want to do is to take extra steps. Another thing that upsets servers is when they have to serve everything at once. “Bring the soup and the salad with my hamburger.” That’s bad for the cooks (who don’t get tipped) and the waiter or waitress. Keep it simple. Drink order first and then the food in the order that God (if you believe in God) meant them to be served. Follow these simple rules and the tips earned will compound over time.

Valet — Any valet would not only love to park a 1931 Bugatti Royale Kellner Coupe, but he’d also be in a rush to pull a huge tip out of his pocket for the privilege. Of course, one’s tip could be drastically reduced (and in extreme cases be nonexistent) if the car smells like feet or last week’s grilled cheese sandwich. Are there empty plastic water bottles and/or beer cans rolling around on the floor mats? Does the car have floor mats? Is the air conditioner working in summer? If not, the tip could be impacted. It’s winter. Is the car’s heater functional? No? The valet may say “No” to the tip. Is the front seat pushed up against the steering wheel? A “Yes” answer will not endear you to the valet, especially if he played center for a Division 1 college basketball team.

Mail Carrier — This is a unique case, because unlike the preceding examples, the mail carrier is tipped once a year during holiday season. Why? I’m a taxpayer. I assume you are as well, unless of course your name is…never mind. Why should I tip the mail carrier, a government employee? No other government worker is allowed to accept tips. Besides, he brings me 14,000 bills and nine checks a year. Should I thank this person with a tip for delivering hundreds of advertising catalogs that go directly into the garbage? I mean no disrespect, but how does a mail carrier do a bad vs. good job? The mail is placed into the mailbox. The process is repeated six times a week. Hey mail person, how about throwing me a tip at the end of the year? Fifteen percent of the total bills delivered would be a good start. Why not? I have a posted mailbox on the side of the road. You don’t even have to get off your %#@ to deliver my mail. There are no dogs to fend off. I don’t own a pet, despite the fact that you deliver countless pet supply catalogs to me. What’s fair is fair. I can see you balking at tipping me if my house was set back hundreds of yards off the road and you had to traverse 20 or more snow-covered steps to access the mailbox. Think about it. Without me, you have no job, so pay up. Where’s your holiday cheer? Didn’t you receive the Season’s Greetings card I sent?

Exotic Dancers — I’m not qualified to comment.