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

Address To Graduating Class At Bennington College Of Wrestling

By:
henned@gmail.com

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I’m Going To Kill Hitler

By:
jon.wolper@gmail.com

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

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

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

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

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

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

What? 30. I’m 30 years old.

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

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

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

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

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

Wait.

Wait.

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

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

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

Oh man, this is going to suck.

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

Life Advice I Have Received From The Local Drug Dealer

By:
tyk329@gmail.com

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Invest in Nikes.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

By:
david.j.guzman@gmail.com

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Suspicious Activity

By:
the4bownes@gmail.com

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

By:
nrthornton@gmail.com

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

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

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

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

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

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

I should’ve, though.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

* Welcome to The Big Jewel, where "plastic surgery disasters" is more than just the name of a Dead Kennedys album. Matthew David Brozik has the whole horrifying story.

Quackpots

By:
brozik@gmail.com
http://matthewdavidbrozik.com

Justin Jedlica…famous for undergoing approximately 140 surgical procedures to look like Ken, didn’t…have the nicest things to say about Valeria Lukyanova, who has transformed herself to look like…a real-life Barbie doll. “She’s an illusionist.” Meanwhile, Jedlica takes pride in [having] taken extensive measures to actually become Ken. “My baby is my shoulders, because nobody has anything like them…I divided these so there’s six pieces — front, middle, and back. Just like the actual anatomy….” — E!

Amateurs, the both of them. Not that I don’t respect what they’ve done…but all they’ve done is had their bodies altered — on the outside — so that they’ll look like the bodies of fashionable dolls — but humanoid dolls. So big deal. And while I agree with “Ken” when he puts down “Barbie,” I do think it’s the acrylonitrile butadiene styrene pot calling the polyvinyl chloride kettle uniformly pinkish-beige, as it were. Neither demonstrates true, unreserved commitment. I, on the other hand, have taken great pains to resemble — inside as well as out — a less obvious, but no less popular, choice of plaything: a rubber duck. Plus, while those two nutjobs have been turning themselves into toys for personal satisfaction, I’ve been doing it selflessly for the children. One child anyway: my daughter. My daughter loves rubber ducks. She’s almost two.

Of course I consulted with numerous doctors about the best way to go about turning myself into a real-life rubber duck. Almost every doctor I spoke with referred me to another doctor, and in almost every instance that second doctor was a psychiatrist. Never one to be dissuaded from what I believe to be “the right thing to do,” however, I kept knocking on doors until I found the man willing to help me. As it happens, Mr. — formerly Dr. — “L” (not his full name or his real initial) had just that morning surrendered his medical license voluntarily in a deal that allowed him to avoid multistate criminal prosecution for something or other, but that didn’t change the fact that he was — is — an extraordinarily gifted surgeon, which is just what I needed to turn me from an average-looking human into a beautiful duckling.

One hundred forty (approximately) surgeries, Ken? That’s all? I’ve undergone 500 to date, and we’re not finished yet. The “Doctor” and I — although these days it’s mostly him, I confess — are always identifying something else that can be nipped, tucked, tweaked, or grafted with rubber or a rubber-like material such as vinyl plastic, depending on market prices. Not that cost is an issue — I’d be willing to spend every penny I made (when I had a job, before I decided to become a rubber duck) on this quest, but the good Doctor agreed to donate his surgical services to the cause for free. He just wanted to stay in practice, he said, and I certainly wasn’t going to argue with him, if he wasn’t going to argue with me about the wisdom or sanity of what I’d proposed. A meeting of minds is a truly wonderful thing.

I won’t go into great detail about the half-thousand major and minor procedures involved, but an overview with highlights should suffice. We started at the bottom, so to speak, by which I mean we first tucked my legs under my butt and then secured them there, forming the base of the duck I was going to become. (It was, we decided, important to get the general shape squared away first, before we tackled texture, color and other details.) Pinning my arms and hands permanently to my torso gave me the basic wing structure I was looking for. And of course we shaved off all of my body hair, because rubber ducks are more or less completely smooth. This also meant removing my ears (the external parts, anyway) and fusing my nose with my lips and moving my nostrils to the top of my new “beak.” My eyelids had to go, too, because rubber ducks don’t blink.

When we had me in the right shape, the good doctor had a brainstorm: one of the most amusing things about a rubber duck is that it floats, and this is because it is hollow. So, with my permission, my partner in this adventure took a break from reimagining my outside appearance to remove my internal organs, one by one, paying careful attention to which could go and which were absolutely essential to my survival. You’d be surprised at what fell into which column, I’m sure. The end result, though, was a decrease of approximately half my original body weight, increasing my buoyancy in bathwater by more than 300% — which any engineer will tell you is true efficiency. One of the other truly ingenious things the brains of this operation thought to do was modify my vocal chords so that anything I try to say comes out like a squeak. Pure genius (he squeaked with genuine admiration)!

To report that my wife and daughter were impressed and appreciative would be only half true. My daughter was thrilled when her “Daddy Duck” was left on the doorstep of the house where we all used to live, together, as a happy family. She was still clapping her hands and squealing with delight even as my wife — my ex-wife, I should say — dragged her upstairs and into a bedroom, locking the door and screaming the whole time. It started to drizzle, but ducks like rain, so I just sat on the welcome mat until the police arrived, with an animal control specialist. When the effects of the tranquilizer wore off, I was in a child’s wading pool in a precinct stationhouse, and Doctor L was already there to collect me. (A tattoo on my underside identifies him as my veterinarian.) On the ride back to his office, he informed me that he had spoken with my ex-wife and explained the situation, and that she had calmed down considerably. The bad news is that my daughter doesn’t love ducks quite as much as she used to. She’s been growing ever fonder of frogs recently, but I shouldn’t be disheartened because he has a new plan. And he doesn’t think it will require removing my heart.

* Welcome to The Big Jewel, where you can always get the 411 on your professors. This week's TA's are Jess Chace and Emma Larson, the latter making her first appearance here.

Ratemyprofessor.com Reviews Of Famous And Historical Professors

By: ,
chace.jessica@gmail.com

Class: Transcendental Philosophy
Department: Religion
Course Level: Sotapanna
Teacher: Buddha
Review:

I took Professor Buddha’s Introduction to Transcendental Philosophy with the hope that I would uncover a deeper understanding of the human experience. What I got instead was a hospital bill for when I had to get my ACL surgically reattached after sitting in the lotus position for 48 hours during our final exam.

Bodhisattva University health plan only covered 80%.

Class: Animal Behavior 101
Department: Government
Course Level: Introductory
Teacher: Merlin
Review:

I’m not a fan of the university distribution requirements. Shape-shifting may have been helpful for knights back in the Celtic era, but things have changed. Spending a day as an ant will hardly teach me how to practice courtly love. All the hard magic types seem to assume that there’s a concrete answer to these questions of self-identity, as if all I have to do to figure out who I am is pull a sword out of a stone. There should be more courses like my philosophy class, where we spend our time discussing important questions, like whether a round table has a head.

As for Professor Merlin: he’s definitely a product of a different era. He’s still rocking the facial hair, shining robes, pacifist thing. He says he’s a child of the sixties, but everyone else describes the 460s as the Dark Ages, when people only wore dark colors. Also, his tests always seem to cover the material we’re supposed to learn in the next lecture, rather than what we’ve already done.

Honestly, the best part of this class was Nimue, the hot TA. Better hope she’s still around next year, although rumor has it she and Merlin have shacked up together. Gross.

Class: Race, Class and Gender in a Post-Democratic Era
Department: Philosophy
Course Level: Tripartite
Teacher: Socrates
Review:

Froze my ass off in that class — lecture hall was a cave.

Class: Celestial Bodies Not According to the Catholic Church
Department: Astronomy
Course Level: Intermediate
Teacher: Galileo Galilei
Review:

Although Galileo warned us not to adopt his theories lest we, too, be convicted of heresy by the Catholic Church and sentenced to a life of solitary confinement, those of us who are seriously considering academia as a career don’t really see these two paths as being altogether so different.

*One small note to the future female students of Galileo’s class. I sometimes wondered whether Galileo was using that telescope for some purpose other than gazing at Jupiter’s moons — Justina’s, maybe?

Class: Governing Galactic Systems
Department: Political Science
Course Level: Graduate
Teacher: Emperor Palpatine
Review:

I know that in terms of surreptitiously reorganizing a democratic coalition into an evil-ruling dictatorship, staging a coup, and subjugating entire sovereign nations to serve the whims of one’s nefarious pursuits, everyone expects Palpatine to be a shoo-in for the imperial throne. And yes, I understand, these things tend to be political. But the guy hasn’t had any paradigm-shifting theories since, like, a long time ago, and which are likely published in an obscure literary journal, housed in some library far FAR away…

Moreover, this guy CANNOT take any criticism. Just the other day, he came into my command center wanting to workshop strategies for the expansion of Dark Side hegemony, but when I problematized some aspects of his thinking, he gave me this look that just crushed me. I don’t think I’ll ever speak up in class again.

Class: The Western Canon
Department: Humanities
Course Level: Advanced
Teacher: Harold Bloom
Review:

If you are the average, white, prep-school-educated private college student, DO NOT TAKE THIS CLASS. It’s just an excuse for Professor Bloom to showcase his photographic memory. If, however, you’re a minority, don’t worry about that — you won’t get in. According to Professor Bloom, minorities have never written anything worthy of inclusion in the Western Canon. Interestingly, women are allowed in the class, which is odd, since he says they’ve never written anything worth reading either. Professor Bloom is a big fan of Henry IV, but my only takeaway from the class was a Falstaffian drinking habit — his theories of poetry gave me so much anxiety that I was under the influence all semester.

Class: 001
Department: English
Course Level: Prerequisite for major (all)
Teacher: Annie Sullivan
Review:

Water water water water water

* Welcome to The Big Jewel, where our pride in our automobile is exceeded only by our ability to fake humility about the same. Matt Hunter is your chauffeur.

The Humble Sports Car Owner

By:
mrhnter@gmail.com

2014 Ferrari F12 Berlinetta

Pedestrian: Nice car, buddy. The one percent must be fun.

Henry [leaning against car]: What? Oh thanks. Yeah, I won this at a casino. You see, I have a gambling problem and this car, unfortunately, is a manifested symbol of this problem. I know what you’re thinking — “Oh what a terrible problem to have. You get a Ferrari F12 Berlinetta with an eight-cylinder V12 engine and super-frame chassis out of this deal.” Well, my problem got out of hand, so my wife divorced me, took the kids, and seized our house in the settlement. Now this car is all I have, and it’s a constant reminder of my horrible addiction. Yes, I’ve gained a nice car, but I’ve lost the true prize — my family…and love [tears up].

Pedestrian: …oh.

Henry: Do you know how hard it is to sleep sitting upright in Italian leather?

1965 Aston Martin DB5

Acquaintance: Wow, Michael. Can someone say midlife crisis? Ha ha!

Michael: [looking down] Huh? Oh, this thing. I just got it from my deceased father. He passed away last week from carbon monoxide poisoning, and it’s what he left me in his will. Did I want his riches? No. Because he didn’t have any. He put all his money in this damn car. He couldn’t even afford to put me through college! I spent years competing with this thing — while my Dad dropped another five grand to fix the gearbox, I was struggling to maintain my job to pay for community college. So is a 48-year-old who still works at Home Depot allowed to have a midlife crisis?! I wouldn’t know. I can’t afford one.

2014 Bugatti Veyron

A beautiful girl pulls up to the stoplight next to Anthony. He accidentally revs his engine.

Girl: [yells out her window] What are you compensating for, asshole?!

Anthony: [Looks at her] Oh, this. This was my one wish from the Make-A-Wish Foundation. I’m dying from a rare disease that I got at birth and I only have a few weeks left to live. My family’s never had a lot of money, so my wish was to drive a nice car for a week. The Bugatti Company was kind enough to loan out this car before I pass [coughs].

The light turns green. Anthony drives the speed limit.

2014 Corvette Stingray

Jack walks slowly from the parking lot to the restaurant where his co-worker waits outside.

Co-worker: [overly sarcastic] Boy, Jack, could you park any farther away? I can barely see your car from here! Ha ha! Ah, I get it — you don’t want some knucklehead parking next to ya’ and scratching that beauty.

Jack: [sighs] Actually, I park far away cause my physical therapist says I need to do as much walking as possible to get my legs rehabilitated. Ever since my battalion’s Humvee came in contact with that IED outside of Baghdad and that shrapnel ripped through my calf, I haven’t been able to walk normal.

Co-worker: Well, pretty coolio that you bought yourself such a suh-weet ride when you returned to the States.

Jack: No. It’s from the American government. Some sort of sick consolation prize, I guess, for being a wounded vet. I could have used money instead for my family, but no, the government wanted to put me in an “American-made machine” to support the country. Disgusting. America’s the real machine. A war machine.

Co-worker: …Okie doke. Well, at least this warm weather’s nice for walkin’.

Jack: The heat that rises off that arid parking lot only reminds me of the brutal temperatures I faced every day in the Iraqi desert.

* Welcome to The Big Jewel, where we are all about the Twitter and the multinational corporations. And sometimes the two together, thanks to Devin Schiff.

3 Reasons You Should Follow Corporate Twitter Accounts

By:
schiff.devin@gmail.com

Think about your favorite 140-character crafters: Entertainers? Politicians? “Gurus”?

Where are corporate Twitter accounts on your list? Our business brands are engaged in a good and just effort to cut through the meaningless clutter of our consumer culture. They encourage us to see our lives for what they really are.

But we don’t listen. We dismiss the depth of their cultural understanding by saying, “What is all this advertising on my timeline?” We frown at their wit and ignore their attempts to engage us. Why?

The products that these companies spend their hard-earned money developing, manufacturing, and putting on shelves in buildings near our houses form the fabric of our lives. Doesn’t this mean that corporate Twitter accounts understand us best of all?

It does mean that. Let’s all follow corporate Twitter accounts. Here are three reasons why:

1. They create meaning

Corporate Twitter accounts have a profound understanding of why people identify with certain things. They synthesize relevant contemporary phenomena in unique and authentic ways.

This perceptive perspective was evident in a recent tweet by the beautiful minds behind the CheezChips® Snack Crackers account. It reads: “#WordOfTheYear,” with an accompanying Instagram of the word “selfie” imprinted on delectable CheezChips, one letter per cracker.

There’s a lot to unpack here. Did you know that “selfie” was the word of the year? You do now. So that’s one thing. But what the McLuhan disciples at CheezChips accomplish in a single tweet goes much, much deeper.

The artful inscription of “s-e-l-f-i-e” on the CheezChips effectively creates a selfie of the snack crackers themselves. What an incisive commentary. This tweet demands that we consider the sociolinguistic implications of practicing this solipsistic form of self-portraiture. Also, #nofilter. In a world concerned about embedded patriarchal and heteronormative social constructs, CheezChips teaches us a lot about defining yourself on your own terms. #SayCheez!

Imagine if Jackson Pollock had to release hundreds of his little spilled masterpieces a week, and you’d have some idea of how hard it is to produce so much meaningful content on demand. But corporate Twitter accounts do it, because today’s media cyberscape is relentless and you need coverage you can count on.

2. They help you improve yourself

Have you ever been at a loss for words? Probably. Look at your Twitter. You’ll find weeks where you had nothing to say. Just like famous name you recognize Ralph Waldo Emerson, you’re suffering from a deficit of #self-reliance.

Every single day corporate Twitter accounts selflessly invite you to speak your mind. They ask thousands of stimulating questions that provoke answers. Questions such as: “Which flavor of #CheezChips is your favorite?” and “What kind of #Monday is the best #Monday for a #CheezChip?” and “In honor of the #DayOfTheDead, what else (besides #CheezChips) would you want to be buried with?” Now your open mind is spinning off to the limitless curiosities of the human spirit.

Whether you answer these questions immediately (CheezChips Tangerz™ Chipotle Mayo Burst, partly sunny, a picture of your family) or print them out and post them on the wall of your dining room as a conversation piece, it will feel good to know that you’re participating. #SayCheez!

Corporate Twitter accounts want to hear YOU. We know you want to discuss conversations. To share ideas. To challenge everything.

If you talk about us, we’ll find you. And you should hope we find you, because that’s the first step to finding yourself.

3. We’re all going to die someday

Corporate Twitter accounts understand that life is fleeting — we don’t waste your time. Instead, we try really hard to connect with all of you. People don’t understand how hard we try. When we write, “Retweet if you were going to party tonight, but then you found your hidden stash of #CheezChips,” it’s not just an idle commentary on how life plans are often altered by external forces.

It’s a cry for help. For all of us.

You think I want to confront existential issues in the face of the Sisyphean thought-generation dumpster fire that is Twitter? No, but as the guy behind the CheezChips corporate Twitter account, I have a public duty to perform.

No one’s ambition is to be the Digital Social Strategist for CheezChips. This is the best I could do. I don’t deserve any better, I know that now. When I was a kid, I wanted to be a fireman when I grew up. Actually I really wanted to be a fire engine, but I settled for fireman and I’ve been settling ever since. Now look upon me, trying to make you relate CheezChips Healthz™ Italian Wheatgrass crackers to the #FirstDayOfSpring like some kind of Pavlovian wind chime ringing desperately in an empty room. #SayCheez! I hate myself.

What do you think? Leave a comment below, retweet this, or come find me wandering the snack aisle at Target, wondering how it went so horribly wrong.