* Welcome to The Big Jewel, known far and wide -- and also near and narrow -- as the single most reliable source of historical truth. Listen in as our very own Editor zeroes in on some key events from America's past that have puzzled the experts for ages.

Mysteries Of American History


One bright summer morning in 1756, in Virginia, a farmer named Emmanuel Boggs rose and stepped — staggered, I should say — over to the window. If he had opened his eyes, he would have seen several hundred acres of prime Virginia tobacco shrouded in dew and stretching like a fine brown mist to the turquoise horizon. But Farmer Boggs was nobody’s fool. He kept his eyes good and shut. The last thing a man wants to look at in the morning is miles and miles of tobacco. And in the distance the mad, immortal sea, the cry of the seagull, and the endless lapping of waves on the shore….Farmer Boggs felt a sudden spasm of nausea. Instinctively he put his fist through the glass. He stood gaping at his hand for a while as though it might apologize, and then he went back to bed. He never woke up again, but we mustn’t hold that against him. He had taken all that a man could take. The South. Tobacco. A brutal, inhuman system doomed to decline and eventual extinction. Corn whisky. Gallons of it. And Scarlett, beautiful Scarlett whom he had never met, who would not be born until his son was an old man.

There are other incidents in American history just as puzzling as this one.

In 1833, on a foggy March Thursday, Emil Boggs (no relation) went squirrel hunting in the woods around Natchez, Tennessee. Fifteen minutes later he came back, after realizing he had forgotten his hunting rifle and that he couldn’t kill any squirrels by pointing a finger at them, cocking his thumb and yelling “Bang!” This time he took both his squirrel gun and his dog, whom he called Commander Henry Celsius for reasons that are lost to us, and probably to him, also. Certainly they were lost to the dog, who answered to nothing but “Hey, you!”

At any rate, out went Emil, and soon he had shot his quota of squirrels. Before long he had shot double his quota, and then triple. He had also shot his wife, his brother, a man who looked like his brother, a man who looked like his wife, and a man who looked like Teddy Roosevelt, although Roosevelt would not be born for another 25 years. He just didn’t know how to quit. The local constables grilled him for hours, but when asked why he had shot all those people he would only reply, “Because they had big, bushy tails and scampered from tree to tree.” It was an airtight alibi. Reluctantly, they let him go.

Two years later to the day, he was found floating face down in the reservoir, and such was the esteem the townspeople had for him that no one bothered to pull him out, although they did put up a “No Swimming” sign. Commander Henry Celsius changed his name to Emiliano Zapata (no relation) and moved to Mexico, where he was to write his memoirs and cause no end of confusion.

In October, 1928, Emily Boggs (again, no relation), who worked as a silkworm in a New York textile plant, passed out of human ken for three days. For 72 hours no one knew where she was, and what’s more, no one cared. When she finally returned to work she was wearing a false mustache, and her breath left something to be desired. She waved a loaded revolver in the air, or vice versa, and declared in a rotten Spanish accent: “I am Emiliano Zapata. Put your hands up and don’t lower them until I say ‘Simon Says.'” Nobody noticed, as it was a Sunday and the plant was closed.

After several minutes of indecision she fell north-by-northwest into a bucket of boiling tar, muttering some words that were either poor English or very poor Spanish. Five days later she was arrested in Salt Pork, Oregon, for writing out checks in Roman numerals and making some grave errors in arithmetic. She was taken in with a tall, bearded man who called himself Abraham Lincoln, although Lincoln had been killed 63 years previously. The Birth of the Blues would not come for another four years.

On a hot Sunday night not long ago, the author of this article (no relation, but I know him pretty well and he’s a really sweet guy) glanced up from his work to find that it was 10:15 p.m., more than two hours past his bedtime. He was tired, so very tired. The Birth of a Nation was already more than 200 years in the past. There was no point in sending a greeting card now. He tiptoed off to bed so as not to awaken the guard dog.


* Welcome to The Big Jewel, where we don't know nothin' 'bout birthin' babies. But Carla Sarett does.

Everything You Need To Know About Babies


Congratulations on becoming a new mother! Of course you’re nervous, but remember that thousands, maybe even millions of women, have had babies before you. Let’s tackle some of the most vexing questions that new moms have.

Where do babies come from? While the invention of children may predate writing or even reading, their origin remains a mystery. It used to be thought that pregnancy had something to do with men, which makes about as much sense as that strange theory that we were all once monkeys! Today, scientists agree that rubbing your stomach and imagining a baby is the most likely path to pregnancy. More recent research out of China suggests that only the rubbing part is critical. So don’t rub too often, or you may end up with triplets!

Is my baby a boy or a girl? All babies look the same, which is why we call them babies. You won’t be the first mom to wonder! Incidentally, in case you are not aware, both boy and girl babies are very common, so it’s extremely likely that your baby will be either a boy or a girl. How to tell? There is no need to worry. The hospital nurse is an expert and can tell you: “You have had a baby girl.” Or if it’s a boy, she will say: “You have had a boy.” Be alert and listen.

What should I call my baby? Some mothers decide to give their baby a title such as Brooklyn or Earth or, in extremely rare cases, a name like Bob or Ann. But scientists agree that babies do not benefit psychologically from such identifiers, and are satisfied with simple labels like boy, girl, or even baby or babe. If you watch Hollywood movies, many highly attractive people are called Babe, so obviously that is an effective naming strategy.

Do I have to feed my baby? You may think that because your new baby is so tiny, it doesn’t need any food. Wrong! Babies, like kittens or puppies, need to be fed every single day — believe it or not, sometimes even more than that! It makes no difference what you feed your baby, though, since their sense of taste is limited. Coca-Cola is highly digestible, so that is an excellent and nutritious choice. Also consider leftover chicken, since everyone likes chicken. (Tip: some babies are born without teeth. Check to see if your baby has them.)

What if I want to exchange my baby for another? Maybe you fear that your baby won’t be as cuddly as other babies. Unfortunately, studies suggest that your first impressions may be correct, and lasting. You won’t the first mom to look at other, cuter babies with envy. But if you deliver your baby in a hospital, you are in luck! Go to the room where they store all of the new babies, pick the one you like, and switch the tags. But remember: after you leave the hospital, no future exchange is possible.

When will my baby grow up?  The maturation of babies is highly variable.  In older cultures, male babies walked at one week old and left the household at age two — far sooner than their moms wanted! In the fourteenth century, babies adopted their current mode of sleeping, eating, and crying, with intervals of babbling. Today, you can prolong this adorable state for years, maybe even decades.  It’s all up to you.

* Welcome to The Big Jewel, which, to be scientifically accurate, is really just one of an infinite number of nearly identical web sites in an infinite number of parallel universes. We're pretty sure this piece by Richard Light is equally funny in all of them.

If The Multiverse Theory Is True, Then I Still Have A Girlfriend


I would like to share with you an exciting scientific theory that has completely changed my understanding of the universe, the nature of reality and, most importantly, my current relationship status. It is called the Multiverse Theory and it posits that if our universe is of an infinite size, it would have to include an infinite number of universes.

This would mean that our galaxy, our planet and even our selves would be replicated countless times over, in countless different variations. It may be impossible to fully comprehend, but if this is true it has profound implications. For example, it would mean that somewhere on the edges of the cosmos there exists a man who is just like me in almost every conceivable way, except for one crucial difference: he still has a girlfriend.

I know what you are thinking and no, this is not science fiction.

Respected astrophysicists like Stephen Hawking and Neil deGrasse Tyson have pushed this controversial cosmological theory into the mainstream. A theory that practically dictates that in a parallel universe, at this very moment, there is a version of me sitting at my computer, tapping out these exact same words, in the exact same order, with the only difference being that he can get to the end of this sentence without breaking down in uncontrollable sobs. Because, unlike me, he wasn’t recently dumped by his girlfriend Janet for not having his “shit together.” Whatever that means.

This, my friends, is the mind-boggling reality of the multiverse. It is an endless expanse of cascading sub-universes, each with their own unique timeline and future. Some of these would seem almost exactly like our own in almost every detail, right down to the flowery smell of Janet’s perfume that still lingers on my clothes a month after our breakup. Other universes would be so radically different that they are almost impossible to imagine. Universes with different physical laws or where there is no earth, no life, no Janet. Even alternate Earths where the unthinkable has happened: the Nazis won the Second World War, we live under a fascist dictatorship and I am back out there seeing a couple of different women, but none seriously enough to call my “girlfriend.”

Many of you are probably wondering, “How can any of this be possible?” Personally I think that’s a bit rude. I mean, me dating a couple of different women isn’t that absurd, is it? Sure, it hasn’t happened before, but we’re literally talking about an infinite number of universes here. Maybe even one where Janet’s mom didn’t try to undermine me at every goddamn turn. But then that really would be science fiction, right? Ha-ha! Seriously, I was never good enough for that family. And don’t even get me started on Janet’s sister Carly, who actually had the gall to lecture me about relationships. This is the same Carly who has been divorced twice. The whole thing is just completely unbelievable.

Yes, it seems that even for me the concept of the multiverse can still push the very envelope of belief. Of course, there is still much we do not know and many questions that scientists still cannot answer. Questions like where are these other universes located? Can we travel to them? Is Janet seeing someone? Is it that Kevin guy from her work? Please, just tell me she’s not dating Kevin. Sure, he’s classically handsome and doesn’t live with his parents, but I bet he doesn’t even know the first thing about astrophysics. Can you imagine that idiot trying to wrap his head around a very complicated scientific theory like the multiverse? Not going to happen. God, I just wish Janet could understand that.

Unfortunately, it could be some time before any of us are able to fully understand what it means to live within the multiverse. For now we must accept the reality of our single universe filled with black holes, failed galaxies and a depressing online dating scene. The only solace we have is to look up into the stars dancing in the night sky and dream that maybe out there in the depths of the cosmos, in a world not so different from our own, Janet is returning my texts.


* Welcome to The Big Jewel, which is sort of like the comedic CliffsNotes for great literature. And this week's offering is sort of familiar, because it sort of seems we may have heard lines somewhat like these before somewhere. Turns out author Jon Sindell has the right fake quote for any occasion.

Literary Outtakes



One morning Gregor Samsa awoke from a bad sleep to discover that he was a pimply, scrawny kid in a cube, so he put on a bug suit to freak out his folks. ~ Franz Kafka, The Metamorphosis

Two plus two equals four. ~ George Orwell, 1984

A rose by any other name would smell as sweet, unless ’twere called privy or something — eeew, gross! ~ Juliet, Romeo And Juliet

It was the best of times, it was the worst of times. Chew on that and blow your mind. ~ Charles Dickens, A Tale of Two Cities

Gatsby gulped down the incomparable milk of wonderful cows raised on wholesome Kentucky bluegrass. ~ Nick Carraway, The Great Gatsby

And so we beat on, like boats against the current, borne ceaselessly into seasickness. ~ Nick Carraway, The Great Gatsby

Atticus always said that you never really know a man until you walk around a while in his shoes. Just standing on Boo Radley’s porch was enough to make me check my shoes for roaches and my head for chiggers. ~ Scout, To Kill A Mockingbird

Call me, Ishmael! I miss you big time! ~ Moby Dick

Isn’t it pretty to think that generations of English teachers will demand that their tormented students find profundity in the last line of this book, knowing they can find none themselves? ~ Lady Brett Ashley, The Sun Also Rises

I don’t feel like going into all that David Copperfield crap about what a lousy childhood I had and all, unless your definition of childhood includes ages thirteen through sixteen — in which case I am really gonna unload. ~ Holden Caulfield, The Catcher in the Rye

I saw the best minds of my generation, he said. And the drug–addled egotists swallowed it whole! ~ Allen Ginsburg

The creatures outside looked from pig to man, and from man to pig, and from pig to man again — and realized they’d been goosed with a cattle prod. ~ Animal Farm

Great! One ring to rule them all — and in the darkness, I can’t find it! ~ The Lord of the Rings




* Welcome to The Big Jewel, your number one guide to Heaven, Hell, and yes, Purgatory. Did you know they have cheese there? Neither did we. But Ben Weger knows. Please give him your attention -- it may count toward your final grade in the afterlife!

Have You Tried The Cheese In Purgatory?


As you pass those poor excommunicated souls in ante-purgatory at the gate, you may be quite famished. Just remember that during your stay at Mount Purgatory, you are not forsaken — simply set aside. Before you may bask in the glory of God’s grace, this harrowing multi-terraced mountain may be your last chance to binge before you purge. So while you’re here, try the cheese.


Lake’s Edge

Blue Ledge Farm — Salisbury, VT


What? Where am I? What is this place? Oh, God, what is this cheese? Lush, cakey, with a citrus zip and a fruity sweetness reminiscent of blackberries, its ash-veined paste will lift you to the gates of heaven. You’re in Purgatorio, but this is one last sin you can’t miss out on.



Nettle Meadow Farm — Warrensburg, NY

Pasteurized/Cow & Goat

Jim Carrey once said, “So you’re telling me there’s a chance…of finally feeling God’s love.” Well, with 25% cow and 75% goat’s milk, there’s no chance you won’t love Kunik. This cheese, like this prison, isn’t a destination, but a state of being. Enjoy its tangy robustness over crackers or dried fruits (God loves figs, too).


Mt. Tam

Cowgirl Creamery — Point Reyes Station, CA


Is the pain I feel the eternal flames of hell? No, but it’s close. Is this cheese a triple cream? Fuck yeah it is. Didn’t think Jesus was your lord and savior? Then worship this other little golden hunk of organic, buttery goodness instead (don’t actually, though).


Bayley Hazen Blue

Jasper Hill Farm — Greensboro, VT


Named for a revolutionary war road commissioned by George Washington (whom you can visit on the pride terrace and also ’cause the slaves, if you’re wondering), this stilton-style cheese smells of tobacco and tastes of roasted nuts and dark chocolate (again, just like G-dub).


L’Amuse Brabander Goat Gouda

L’Amuse — Brabant, Holland


Looking for a snack that says “I’m sorry for masturbating”? Then lust over this young Saanen goat’s milk from the Brabant region of southern Holland. Tangy and creamy with a touch of sweetness, it melts in your sexy little mouth. This wax-wrapped treat hits all the right caramel and brown butter spots. So good-a!


Good Thunder

Alemar Cheese Co. — Mankato, MN


This fudgy, funky, dense washed rind is given baths of oatmeal brown ale and may cleanse more than just your gluttonous soul. Purge yourself on up to God’s sweet embrace on a gaseous cloud of good thunder (that ain’t Mount Purgatory trembling).


Caña de Cabra

Mitica — Murcia, Spain


A Spanish take on a French recipe, this cheese is in some sort of weird limbo. Delicate, citrusy, with a slight saltiness in its taste; this cheese ages over 21 days and ripens from the outside in (similar to the burning sensation enveloping your body), so try eating the rind to bring out the most in its flavors.



Vermont Creamery — Websterville, VT


You’d have to be clinically insane not to love the cheese known as the “little brain” — and if you are, welcome to purgatory! Light, bright, and blessed with an unctuous goaty flavor, this cheese has versatility for any broad classification or treatment option.


Humboldt Fog

Cypress Grove — Arcata, CA


Feeling a little confused about your debt to God? Don’t be confused by the dark blue vein that bisects this wheel — that’s a thin layer of vegetable ash that cuts the tanginess of the goat’s milk and lends a slightly earthy and subtly smoky flavor to this not-quite-heavenly funk. Shouting “Oh my God” can’t be another sin with this cheese.


Epoisses — AOC

Berthaut — Burgundy, France


With origins dating back to the 16th century and having such fans as Napoleon and the epicure Brillat Savarin (prodigal and avaricious, respectively), this rich custardy paste sleeps beneath its famously pungent ochre rind. Be more generous than they were with this appellation d’origine contrôlée (controlled designation of origin) delicacy.


Fiore Sardo

Caseificio Sias — Sardinia, Italy


Want a cheese that makes skipping church that Sunday nine years ago so worth it? (That is, until you understand the feeling of God’s absence.) This Bronze Age cheese (before God — shh!) is smoked on top of fireplaces in huts over burning cork tree bark and has an addictingly dry and savory flavor. Be sure to share with the un-baptized plague infants (yes, they’re here too).


Now, Dante, you may pass above to the kingdom of heaven. Just promise that you’ll write about all of the dank-ass cheeses you tried down here.



* Welcome to The Big Jewel, where we like to think we know exactly what certain famous fictional characters are really thinking. The wickedly minded Matthew David Brozik channels the even more wickedly minded heroine (or villainess) of Nathaniel Hawthorne's beloved classic. When you have finished reading the piece, please click on the ad for his book "Whimsy & Soda" on the right-hand side of this page, and those unworthy thoughts will be purged from your mind.

Hester Prynne Chooses A Typeface (Or, The Scarlet Letterform)


“On the breast of her gown, in fine red cloth, surrounded with an elaborate embroidery and fantastic flourishes of gold thread, appeared the letter A.”


Well, the joke’s on you, Puritan Bostonites, because while the Reverend Wilsons and Minister Dimmesdales of the world might require me to display upon my ample and enviable bosom a typographic device to brand me as an adulterer, they left a loophole — and being as accomplished at sewing as I am at sexing, I know loopholes — so Hester Prynne gets to pick the font, witches, and I’ll be damned if I’m not going to consider all my options before committing to my red badge of whorage.

Helvetica is the obvious choice, of course. It’s clean and upstanding and easy on the eyes, sort of the way I’m impure and dishonorable and easy for the guys, and on second thought, before you say anything, you can all go to Helvetica.

Bodoni’s a strong contender. Classical. Elegant. Alternating thick and thin strokes. I like strokes. And serifs. I know what you hens are thinking, though: if you like feet so much, why couldn’t you stay on yours? I’d rather be on your husband’s lap, that’s why. (Also, you don’t know where my feet were, and you probably don’t want to know.)

Clarendon is extremely popular and, as it happens, particularly effective with wood type, and I am also extremely popular and particularly effective with wood…so maybe this one is too on the nose. And by “nose,” I mean your husbands’ reproductive organs, ladies of Massachusetts and southern New Hampshire.

The geometric efficiency of Futura, rejecting as it does the grotesques of yore by incorporating near-perfect circles, triangles and squares, appeals to my longing for a future in which man has discarded his monstrous compulsion to judge, and instead each of us is cherished for our imperfections, plus it also has a certain forwardness that speaks to the brazen hussy in me.

You know what might be a fun challenge? Besides “Reverse Parishioner,” I mean. Edwardian Script. I’d have to get it just right, though, or it would be difficult to read, and menfolk would be constantly leaning in close to my chest to get a better view, and you don’t want that. And I don’t want anyone mistaking my A for, say, a Q. Hester Prynne is no Quitter.

16th-century French artisan Claude Garamond worked as an engraver of punches — the masters used to stamp matrices, the molds used to cast metal type. Garamond worked in the tradition of what is now called old-style serif letter design, which produced letters with a relatively organic structure resembling handwriting with a pen. And what’s my favorite piece of equipment? The pen is, of course.

“Bembo” hits a bit too close to home. Hester Prynne does a lot of things, but irony isn’t one of…Ah, screw it. Bembo’s fine. Somebody hand me my thread and a needle, please? But be careful — Miss Prynne doesn’t want to have her afternoon plans frustrated by a little prick.


* Welcome to The Big Jewel, where we always put the rights of the consumer first. In this case, the consumer is our good friend David Martin, who has just been told that one of his favorite products is subject to a recall. When you're through perusing Mr. Martin's newest piece, click on the link below or on our blogroll to purchase his most recent humor collection "King Donald" on Amazon.

1950 Male Body Recall


Dear Owner:

This notice is being sent to you as the owner of a 1950 Male Body. The Creator has determined that a number of defects relating to health and safety may exist on certain model years of the Male Body and, in particular, the 1950 model year.

The purpose of this letter is to provide you with important information about this product recall and the steps you should take at this time. There are a number of design flaws that require you to bring your Male Body to one of our medical repair centers for appropriate repairs at our cost. These repairs should be carried out as soon as possible, although we wish to assure you that you are probably in no immediate danger.

Certain additional problems are simply due to ordinary wear and tear and are not covered by this recall. Any necessary repairs or replacements are at the owner’s expense.

As for design flaws, our engineers have determined that certain vision problems on your model year Male Body are due to improper corneal construction. Under this recall, subject to your insurance deductible, we will correct any nearsightedness, farsightedness or astigmatism through the use of appropriate eyewear, including bifocals and progressive lens.

Alternatively, the Creator is offering to correct such defects by means of laser surgery. In that case, however, we will cover the costs of any parts and shop supplies but we will charge you for labor at the standard medical shop rate of $495 per hour.

It has also come to our attention that there was a design flaw regarding the prostate gland on your model year. Due to internal space limitations at the time your Male Body was made, the prostate was constructed in an annular shape surrounding the urethra. We have subsequently discovered that any age-related expansion of the prostate results in an impingement on the urethra leading to frequent nocturnal bathroom visits.

We are working on replacing the entire urogenital system on our new models with a sexual turbocharger to avoid such a problem. As for older model years like yours, we are offering effective performance-boosting prescription medication at no cost. Alternatively, you can bring your Body into one of our medical repair centers to have the prostate cored out or, if necessary, entirely removed. Again, all parts are covered but labor charges are not.

Given the age of your Body, you may also be experiencing some joint and suspension problems. Your 1950 Male Body was designed to give years of efficient and comfortable service including unlimited walking ability. However, it appears that some units did not have the usual superior wear-resistant parts installed at the time of manufacture.

If you find that the mobility of your Body has been limited by prematurely worn knees or hips, bring it in to one of our centers for a full joint replacement. Both parts and labor will be fully covered unless you have exposed your Body to undue wear as a consequence of such non-covered activities as football, squash and marathon running.

As noted, you may be experiencing certain problems not specifically covered by this product recall. For example, some owners of the affected model years have complained of excessive hair loss. This is standard on any model year after fifty years of use and any repairs or replacements are not covered by the Creator. We will, however, be glad to provide you with a free consultation regarding possible solutions such as a brush cut, a toupee or a comb over.

Similarly, some owners may have noticed undue weight gain in the rear chassis, particularly on early model years. If your Body has been properly maintained and not exposed to excessive caloric intake, it should not exceed the manufacturer’s load-bearing standards. Thus, weight reduction costs are not covered.

Please contact your Creator as soon as possible to schedule an appointment to have the necessary repairs and remedies performed. But if you find yourself going into a powerful warning light, never mind — it’s probably too late.


* Welcome to The Big Jewel, where some reporters may cover the globe but we cover the galaxy. It's a big universe out there, with plenty of room for aliens with multiple personality disorder, as our own Editor Kurt Luchs discovers to his consternation.

Monka Business


A federal jury in Reno, Nevada, has returned a verdict of innocent in the case of a bank robbery suspect who is said to have three personalities, one of them an observer from another world. Under questioning by his attorney, Jack Paul Faulkner, 52, displayed his three personalities, Jack, Paul, and Monka. Monka told the jury: “I am the spirit who at one time was flesh who now does not reside on your planet. I am an observer only.” Faulkner maintained he “couldn’t and wouldn’t rob a bank.” — Actual newspaper clipping found in a box of my father’s things, though the name of the paper and the date of the story are now lost to time


I append the above news item for those with a casual interest in the doings of their neighbors from another world. Several questions in regard to this article, and not all of them legal ones, keep nagging at me.

Just for starters, I am puzzled as to how and why the jury (a federal jury, mind you) returned a verdict of innocent for Mr. Jack Paul “Monka” Faulkner. On the face of it, you’d think that a man possessing three personalities, or even four or five, would be every bit as capable of bank robbing as you or I. My three dozen personalities would never keep me from a life of crime if I thought I could arrange to have all of my trials held in Reno, Nevada.

Then there is the problem of “Monka,” as he sees fit to call himself. I don’t doubt that there is a Monka, or that he is from another world. Neither do I doubt that he was tried by a jury of his peers; by which I mean that any jury that could acquit Monka on the alibi he gives is definitely from another world, unquestionably a place where oysters run for President and banks leave their vaults unlocked for creatures with three or more personalities to rifle through the assets.

Why must we so frequently assume that our extraterrestrial neighbors are not only further advanced than us scientifically (that I can accept), but also infinitely kinder, more benevolent, harmless, and, if you’ll pardon the expression, more humane? In our naïve fantasies we picture them coming to Earth simply for the amusement provided by the human spectacle, or to bestow upon us a gadget that will end all war and tell us which horses are good in the fifth race at Aqueduct besides. Apart from those made-for-TV movies on the SyFy channel, the typical alien is, for most of us, a sort of intellectual Tony Robbins.

My guess is that any race of beings that can find its way to what Alfred Whitehead called a “second-rate planet with a second-rate star” is looking for some easy plunder, and what’s more has the means to get it. Their scientists, nothing but a pack of interstellar hoodlums, are sweating right now over the plans for a device that will pop open every safe deposit box in the world, while simultaneously immobilizing every teller and permitting unruly monsters with three nasty personalities to loot to their heart’s content — if they even have hearts. I’ll bet they have three apiece, the scum!

But that way lies delirium. Let us not presume the worst about Monka’s people, whatever we may think of him personally. Let us merely induce that Monka is a finger man for a small but vile band of galactic pirates, working hand-in-glove with his earthly cronies, those traitors to the human race Jack and Paul. He offered these two Benedict Arnolds a tempting reward — say, a date with a nice set of personalities or a seat on the federal bench in Reno, Nevada — and for such a trifle they sold out their fellow men and gave Monka houseroom in the body of Mr. Faulkner, the better to execute his cold-blooded schemes.

I won’t be taken in by that mushy double-talk of his. “An observer only” — hah! He was casing the joint, that’s all. Any two-bit private detective could tell you as much. And as for that other bit of baloney, the one that goes, “I am the spirit who at one time was flesh who now does not reside on your planet” — well, the jury who fell for that one ought to be strapped down under a strobe light and forced to read the collected works of Mary Baker Eddy. What does he mean, “who at one time was flesh”? If a 52-year-old man doesn’t have flesh on him he’s on the wrong side of the ground and they might as well hang him because he wouldn’t notice the difference. And if he doesn’t reside on our planet, how does he come to be in a court of law? He saw fit to hire an attorney, didn’t he? After all, Jack and Paul couldn’t and wouldn’t take that kind of initiative. That’s evidence enough for me.

The lone alternative to believing that the men and women of the jury are hallucinating is that they are shielding someone, namely Jack and Paul. They feel that their compatriots have been bedazzled by a visitor from the starry heavens, innocently beguiled into helping Monka pull off his heist. Jack and Paul thought it was all in good fun, or so this gullible jury would have us believe. Let me tell you, when personalities named Monka appear out of nowhere demanding a piece of the action, innocent men, even schizoids, don’t stick around to listen. They put their fingers in their ears and shriek until the ambulance comes.

The whole business has the air of a carnival sideshow. “Faulkner displayed his three personalities,” the item reads (my italics). Display is for kindergartners at show and tell. Or performance artists. Or strippers. It has no place in American jurisprudence. Faulkner sounds like a regular Alfred E. Neuman the way he lets Monka, not to mention Jack and Paul, play him for a fool. Such things may be a matter of course in Reno, but I, for one, am disquieted by the precedent seemingly set by this case. Let us pray that if vaudeville ever does return it confines itself to the stage and leaves the courtroom to sober people with only one personality.

Come to think of it, if multiple personalities are to be recognized in a court of law, why shouldn’t each of the body-sharing defendants be charged, tried and sentenced separately? Actually, that might work — and I could serve on three dozen juries at once!





* Welcome to The Big Jewel, where we take pets pretty seriously (we also take drugs pretty seriously, and pets are part of the reason). Heed the timeless wisdom of Dan "The Professor" Fiorella. Also feel free to click on the Amazon link below, which shows you how to purchase a copy of Dan's latest humor book, "Novel Concept."

Pet Parenting 101 — Course Description


COURSE #7EKDF-332 Pet Parenting 101

$250 plus fee

Chris Peterson, Instructor

This course is designed to get you through the puppy and kitten months and help you make your fur baby a productive member of society. From feeding and exercise, to picking out the right obedience school, we lay out the full program. As so many new mothers and fathers are aware, there are a myriad of courses to take before you have or adopt a child. But for pet parents, there are none! Until now!

Syllabus includes:

Needs by Breeds: Here we will review the various bathing techniques for each breed of animal, from shaggy dogs to hairless cats. We will teach how to properly fit collars and harnesses. There will be a study of the many diet options available these days. We will also look at proper play toys and shelters. And demonstrate that what you are spending on them isn’t enough. Spoiler alert! We’re going to spoil them!

How to Adapt for your Adoption: There will be sleepless nights, carpet staining, vomit and chewed shoes, but first we prepare our pet parents for the unending prejudice and pet-ism you will face when you bring your newborn home. People will say things like, “You’re a pet owner, not a ‘Pet Parent’,” based on the ridiculous claims of biology or DNA. I mean, sure, it’s not like he’ll be going to college, getting a job or starting a family, but neither did my brother-in-law and yet he gets to collect government checks and live in my basement! Unlike my poor beagle with Tourette’s syndrome. I say to you, if corporations can be people, your pet can be your child!

Socialization: We will teach you how to properly socialize your pet through training and play activities. It’s very important not to leave a dog alone all the time, even though you can because dogs are just that smart. Try that with your three-year-old and see how quickly a representative from Children’s Services appears. Trust me on that. Socialization is as simple as walking your dog. And I mean you walking him, not hiring some random dog walker who is in fact an out-of-work “actor” who will probably steal your dog’s kibble and get him hooked on heroin. We emphasize walking your dog to meet other dogs, but boy, wouldn’t it be easier to meet other dogs if you didn’t have to deal with the goon at the other end of the leash?

Care and Cleaning-Up: Leashes and restraints will be discussed. There will be “hands-on” interaction with various approved “pooper scoopers.” Also, why won’t the Pampers Company make a pet diaper with a tail hole so I don’t have to cut my own? They refuse to respond to my letters, e-mails, tweets and picket signs, despite me pointing out all the advantages of such a product. You know, in New York City they revoked the public urination ban. Really! But should my ferret poop in Central Park, the SWAT team gets deployed. We need to end this defecation shaming! And another thing: I’ve seen people eat out of a dumpster, but I’m the bad guy just because my dog eats out of my neighbor’s garbage or drinks out of the toilet down at the YMCA? Just because your kid doesn’t hump strangers’ legs, you get to judge me? Ha! Which reminds me, pet parents should carry around a lot of tissues.

Demanding Equal Rights for Pets: We will look into the legal ramifications of having a pet in today’s society. We will study how society discriminates against pets. For example, when some person brings their kid to the park and lets him run wild, everyone stands there and says “How cute,” but if I let my pit bull off the leash the cops are called. How is this fair? Have you seen that kid? He’s a monster. I’ve seen him pee on the jungle gym! Or what about the fact that I’m forced to neuter my dog, while that brat down the block is allowed to procreate at will? Great, right? Because the world needs another mouth-breather manning the drive-thru window at Wendy’s that still won’t serve my cats despite the fact that they HAVE COUPONS! We will study and discuss these topics at length. Such length.

Also planned: “Bring Your Pet to Class” events and field trips to my apartment so you can meet my menagerie. There will be an additional $25 fee to cover the expense of lint brushes and iodine.

Prerequisite for Pet Parenting 201


* Welcome to The Big Jewel, the world's foremost authority for interpreting the U.S. Constitution. Well, after Peewee Herman, anyway. Listen to the sagacious ponderings of our good friend Bruce Harris.

Some Observations Upon The Segregation Of The Third Amendment


I’m exercising my First Amendment right to comment on the Third Amendment. The Third Amendment, the Rodney Dangerfield of amendments, gets no respect. For example, at last count, the Second Amendment had 11,461 Facebook “likes” while the Third Amendment had a whopping 210. Stifle your yawns. The third isn’t some milquetoast amendment, despite its never having been the primary basis of a Supreme Court decision (the Supreme Court is overrated).

Okay lazy people, you don’t have to reduce your screen and search the web. The Third Amendment…

Places restrictions on the quartering of soldiers in private homes without the owner’s consent, prohibiting it during peacetime.

The Third Amendment has caused a rift in my home. I live in a house divided. My wife is a huge supporter. Me, not so much.

I’m already quartering a know-it-all college-degreed millennial in a modest-sized home at the moment. Why wouldn’t I open my doors to a military man or woman as well? Heck, they know how to take orders a lot better than my kid, and unlike my son they are in excellent physical shape. Besides, the lawn needs mowing. The house could use a fresh coat of paint. There’s snow in winter that needs to be shoveled, and the vinyl siding could stand a good power washing. I’d be more than happy to have the help around here. When is the last time I’ve seen anyone dusting?

There is an extra bedroom. My son needs a legitimate role model, someone who wakes up prior to 11:30 a.m. and doesn’t think he (or she) should become a four-star general within two weeks of enlisting. Seems like a win-win.

What was James Madison thinking when he penned the Third Amendment? It was not about the economy, because the amendment limits a golden opportunity. I guess Madison never had a brother-in-law with a real estate license. Think of the economic boom once the ill-advised Third Amendment is repealed. Realtor listings vying to place soldiers in residential homes might look like this:

New listing: move-in condition, bedroom with large closet comfortably accommodates four pairs of combat boots (with room for expansion to house a fifth pair), good neighborhood with lots of flags, Memorial Day parade in town, public transportation to VA Hospital. Framed portrait of President Dwight D. Eisenhower (in uniform) hangs over bed. Canteens provided.

Even Airbnb hosts could get into the act:

Spacious room with camouflage wallpaper and sonar detectors on roof available for immediate occupancy to any military man or woman. Hat stand in hall holds up to six helmets. Rifle racks. Fully stocked library with comprehensive war history reference books and biographies of generals from Grant to Petraeus. Come sing and dance to The Village People’s “In the Navy” with us every Wednesday night.

And lest we forget the good old-fashioned personal ad:

Patriotic family of four (MFMF) seeks M or F soldier for multi-year-relationship. Peace or wartime. Ceasefires included. Father went through ROTC in college. Son is anti-war, but he knows so little. Daughter is…never mind. Extensive kitchen serving Meal, Ready-to-Eat (MRE) field rations daily. Seeking all branches of the military, Marines, Army, Navy, Air Force and Coast Guard. Merchant Marines inquire first.

On the other hand, the last thing my wife wants is another millennial, military or not, residing under our roof. She believes in the Third Amendment and is very supportive of our troops. She just doesn’t want or need any of them living in the same house, eating our food, making a mess and creating dirty laundry. My wife argues, “If a man or woman is mature enough to serve in the armed forces, shouldn’t he/she be mature enough to rent an apartment and live on his/her own?”

My wife also worries about the definition of “peacetime.” Must be that “men are from Mars, women are from Venus” thing. She asserts that I’m perpetually at war with the cable company. Does that count? What about inner peace? Peace of mind? She claims that Madison had deliberately left things vague. My head is spinning.

As stated, I’m against restrictions on the quartering of soldiers in private homes. I freely give consent. Yet, my wife has me thinking: did Madison mean quartering (as in lodging) or quartering (as in drawing and)? And if he meant quartering (as in drawing and), were restrictions lifted if a homeowner chose to quarter (as in draw and) a soldier in a public forum as opposed to his/her private home? Would children be allowed to watch? Is an ongoing war a requisite to quarter (as in draw and) a soldier in public?

Maybe the best thing to do is to combine the aforementioned self-proclaimed winner of the Constitutional Amendment Popularity “Likes” Contest Second Amendment with that of the oft-forgotten third. I’d welcome arms-bearing soldiers quartering in my home. We’d be the safest family on the block! No one would be dumb enough to break into and rob this fortress. Yet, my wife thinks the opposite. “With so many weapons and so many people in close quarters, something bad is bound to happen,” she says. Again. Mars. Venus.

The Third Amendment is simple in its complexity. The more I think about it…if my millennial good-for-nothing son enlisted, he wouldn’t be allowed back in my home, or anyone else’s home for that matter. He’d have to earn his own keep. I’m doing a 180 on the Third Amendment. Mr. Madison, you are a genius!