* Welcome to The Big Jewel, where we encourage everybody to come out, come out wherever they are. We promise to accept them exactly as they are. Yes, even our Editor Kurt Luchs, who has been hiding something rather important.

Call Me Sparkles


It is long past time for me to come out. For far too long — my whole life, in fact — I have lived with a painful (and what I mistakenly believed was a shameful) secret: I am a unicorn living in a man’s body.

There. I’ve said it. What relief those few simple words give me!

True, I didn’t have a unicorn mother or father. Both of my parents were human, kind of, even though one was a Young Republican. I don’t have a single distinctive unicorn gene in my physiological makeup, except in the sense that the human genome has always shared a general 96 percent overlap with the unicorn genome. I do not in any obvious way resemble a unicorn. Not yet, anyway. But now I have come to understand that being a unicorn is more than a question of mere DNA, more than a matter of outward appearances. It is not something that can be verified or falsified with a laboratory test. It is at least partly a social construct. In the end, it is largely a matter of how each individual identifies.

I identify as a unicorn. I always have. When I was five years old I started signing my name Starlite (that’s Rainbow Brite’s unicorn to the uninitiated), until my parents beat me and sent me to my room without any oats. Now, at last, I am ready to accept my true nature, with both pride and humility. Pride, because frankly it takes some balls — albeit not large, furry unicorn balls — to own who you are, especially when that admission comes with so much prejudice and societal baggage. And humility because, well, unicorns! They are so awesome, so beautiful. I cry whenever I think of them. I’m crying now, gently, with soft, neighing, unicorn-like sobs.

So you see, though I was not technically born a unicorn, I sort of was, actually. There are some who claim that being a unicorn is a choice. They are wrong. Not evil, perhaps (except for that awful God-Hates-Unicorns church), simply wrong. You cannot choose who or what you are. You can only choose whether or not to accept it. Which brings me to my next point.

This news may not be welcomed or even understood by all of my family and friends. My ex-girlfriend and children naturally see me one way — my ex, as a “vile bug who somehow escaped the killing jar”; and my children, as a loving caregiver and mentor. Will they be able to see me as a unicorn, even if unicorns are so rare that nobody has ever quite managed to see one? Will they still love me? I mean of course my children, not my ex, who has already put out three hits on me, and will probably just hire a couple of unicorn hunters to take me out when she hears this.

Those hunters will not have much trouble finding me. By making this public announcement I have put a gigantic target on myself. Anyone can take a shot at me, and no doubt many will, even if only rhetorically. I will be even easier to locate when I complete the physical part of my transformation. Years ago, when I first formulated this plan, I secretly began taking unicorn hormones, which for some reason are not extracted from unicorns but rather from readers of Japanese manga. Now you know how the paparazzi got those embarrassing shots of me snorting like a racehorse, pawing the ground and occasionally leaping over rainbows.

Soon I will approach even closer to my ideal when I have thousands of specks of glitter permanently embedded in my flesh, my DNA is altered to allow me to grow soft white fur over my entire body, and I have a long, pointed white horn surgically attached to my forehead. Regardless of where my changes take me, however, the important thing is that I am ready now, finally, to be myself, the real me.

In celebration of this joyful day I say to you now, don’t call me Kurt any longer. Call me Sparkles! And while you’re here, could you fetch me that feedbag full of oats?


* Welcome to The Big Jewel, where we like to celebrate next week's historic Fourth of July with a nostalgic look back at our nation's glorious history. And if none of that holds any water, well, then, try this one from Roger Taylor.

A Brief History Of Home Milk Delivery


The first home milk deliveries occurred in 1785 in rural Vermont. Most early customers were parents who had no means of giving breast milk to their infants — widowed fathers, mothers who could not lactate for medical or motivational reasons, and packs of wolves nursing abandoned babies. Cows of this time period briefly became known as “nature’s wet nurses,” a nickname whose spread corresponded, much to the distress of ranchers, to a drop in beef sales.

The premise of delivering milk door-to-door seems obvious enough in our enlightened times, but it took several decades to perfect. For instance, it wasn’t until 1810 that Decatur-based businessman Walter T. Shibley realized that more milk could be delivered per trip if some sort of container were used. A period of trial-and-error testing followed, with the glass bottle eventually winning out over the sheep’s stomach, the whittled wooden tube and the very-tightly-woven basket. In 1812, exhausted milkmen convinced Shibley to invest in multiple bottles so that customers could dispense the milk on their own schedule, saving milkmen the need to make a trip every time someone wanted a drink.

Other innovations followed, some adopted and some discarded.

For a period in the 1840s, John O’Sullivan of Utica delighted customers with his “Fresh From The Teat” campaign, wherein milkmen would bring the cow itself to customers’ doors and extract milk on the front lawn. People loved the service, but the cows became prone to performance anxiety, complained about unfair working conditions, unionized, and eventually drove O’Sullivan out of business.

Pre-refrigeration, many attempts were made to keep milk from spoiling on hot days, often by faster delivery or the addition of coolants like ice or, more typically, ammonia. Many ideas were patented, and nearly all were instant failures. The Milk Cannon of Jersey City was simple enough in concept, but the complex ballistic trajectories required the employment of several expensive mathematicians, and rounding errors were often fatal. Dr. Goodfriend’s Rot Buffer — a novel contraption that involved surrounding bottles of fresh milk with even more bottles of rotten milk, under the pretext that the poisonous miasma would be unable to penetrate the rot wall — was discontinued one day after it was put into use when it became clear that it didn’t work even a little. Its inventor was hanged for “flagrant and flamboyant quackery.” Sergeant Stephen’s Sturgeon Stirrer did enjoy some success, as the antimicrobial peptides of the dead fish really did help keep the milk fresher, but flavor concerns and religious objections kept it a niche product.

In the 1880s, a successful marketing campaign by the firm of Howard, Farmer and McGurk briefly convinced most Americans that sophisticated palates preferred spoiled milk, and the problem — at least for the milk producers, who didn’t have to worry about the diarrhea that came from drinking the stuff — was temporarily solved.

Home milk delivery declined throughout the early twentieth century owing to the public’s increasing distaste for convenience. Though meant as a metaphor, the political slogan of Marshall Ward’s Huddled Masses Party in the 1920s neatly captured the spirit of the times: “The milk of toil never spoils.” The rival Teeming Masses Party had less success with “The milk that’s self-fetched is never retched.”

The sector continued to suffer setbacks throughout the 1950s and 60s. First came the widespread availability of refrigerated station wagons, effectively turning every suburban housewife into her own delivery service. Later, a series of lurid sex scandals had the dual consequence of disquieting older customers and attracting to the industry’s recruitment centers all manner of scoundrel, hedonist and reprobate. The death knell, of course, came with a disastrous move in the 1970s to cut costs by centralizing all milk production and distribution to one large facility in Birmingham, Alabama. The move did lead to lower warehousing costs, but the milkmen on the California route found the daily round trip to be tiring, and speeding fines accumulated quickly.

Today, home milk delivery is extinct. However, its spirit lives on in the hearts of thousands of dedicated historical reenactors. At disused parking lots across the nation, they converge fortnightly to don crisp white uniforms, drive refurbished trucks, live out their filthiest sexual fantasies, and, one suspects, drink lots of milk.

* Welcome to The Big Jewel, where curbing our carbon emissions ranks just ahead of breathing. As usual, Michael Fowler has the straight dope. Again, we urge you to check out the links to his books, "A Happy Death" and "The Created Couple," in our blogroll.

Warming Is War


French President Francois Hollande said failure to address global warming may well lead to war. — News item

Ecoutez, members of the international press! I need hardly tell you what a terrible time this is for me, Francois Hollande, President of France, and for the planet. This global warming must be addressed! Listen to this: when I step off the plane yesterday in Brisbane, on the supposedly temperate seacoast of Australia, it is 83 degrees on the tarmac, like a rotisserie. It is all I can do not to take the loaded handgun from my carry-on bag and assassinate everyone in first class.

As I climb into a taxi and head straight to the G20 conference, with hardly a spare moment to apply perfume to my cheeks or run a comb through my oily hair, I see that the crazy driver has the windows down and the AC turned off. I feel as if the entire country of Sierra Leone is sharing the back seat with me, though I am the only passenger. I tell you, mes amis, I am so hot under the collar, and my shirt so scratchy, and my throat so parched, I want to declare war on Germany. The thought of clashing armies cools my boiling blood, but still I am aggrieved.

I call Chancellor Merkel on my cell phone and say, sacre blue, Madame Angela, why don’t you or someone else in the EU address this climate change? Do you know how close I am to launching a preemptive strike at you due to the heat and humidity? And the lady acts as if I must be insane. Can’t I at least give her time to unpack her bags at the Brisbane hotel before I declare martial law, she demands of me, all atwitter? I tell her, as I contemplate plunging my pocket corkscrew into the back of my cabbie’s neck, that if her undergarments are sticking to her as mine are to me, she’d be calling up her reserves and scrambling her jets just as I am.

In that precise Germanic way she has that soothes all tensions, Chancellor Merkel talks me out of an invasion. She suggests that if I wait and meet her later at the hotel, we can have wine coolers and then take a dip in the pool, where she plans to paddle about on a plastic inflatable koala bear and eat puff pastries as if it’s Oktoberfest. And if things still look bad after that, she says, then by all means I may attack Russia with cruise missiles, for all she cares. I tell you, that lady has the right idea, except for the wine cooler part, and after commanding my driver to stop so that I can pick up a few bottles of vintage Merlot, meanwhile rubbing my flushed temples with alcohol swabs, I order the French forces to stand down, preventing all-out war, at least for now.

You must also know this, dear reporters, that as I approach the hotel I am to share with other world leaders, I run smack into President Barack Obama of the US. It is all the poor man can do to stand motionlessly in the doorway and devour a sno-cone, a sad necessity since the pitiless thermometer still clings to the low eighties. The gentle Barack tries to put a happy face on things and calls out to me, “Don’t get between me and my sno-cone, Francois!” He then asks if it is hot enough for me. I tell him that this part of Australia ordinarily receives cool South Pacific Ocean breezes year-round, according to my idiot of a Foreign Minister, whom I will sack upon my return to France, with many humiliating slaps to his repulsive phiz.

I next inform the American President that my suit wilts on me like lettuce in a microwave, and on top of that I have sand in my collar from the infernal beach. Merde! I am ready to initiate a cyber-attack on China — they certainly deserve it — and follow with drone strikes on North Korea, just to show my seriousness. As the US President nods in understanding, I break down weeping and embrace him. I worry most, I sob in his arms, about the insensate patoots who claim that the warming evidence is hysterical and made-up.

Barack lets me know that he considers global warming to be the gravest threat to humanity, and that when he hears the rash prattle of the skeptics and deniers, it makes him want to take out his nuclear football and press all the launch codes at once. President Obama clearly accepts the hazard of global warming as the most serious matter, as I do, and I pledge to him that, in the event of the catastrophic war that now looks all but certain, French submarines will not sink American vessels. But we will boycott American cheeses and wines, since they are unpalatable.

President Barack seems gratified, and as he pushes me through the hotel door into what we both hope is supercharged air conditioning, he promises to eat grilled kangaroo and share a wine cooler with me at the G20 lunch. He also urges me not to declare war on anybody, at least not just yet. For the sake of US-French relations, I agree to bide my time, but again, what’s with the wine cooler? A big Non to that. I’d as soon lap water from the bidet like a Rottweiler.

After the above-described lunch, which I pretend to enjoy while smacking my lips loudly, the first meeting is called to order. The hall is stifling, as if we have gathered together inside an ironworks, since evidently the AC is not functioning properly. It is the last straw, and I approach Mr. Putin of Russia and Mr. Jinping of China and tell them we have probably seen our last winter Olympics, since from now on there will be no ice or snow anywhere on the planet. I add that if both their countries don’t immediately shut down coal plants that belch forth CO2 emissions, I will invade New Zealand, to ease my combativeness. I will also fly military choppers nonstop over Italy and Spain, just to stir up a bit of breeze that hopefully will spread to the rest of Europe.

Both leaders regard me as if I have taken leave of my senses. They urge me to hold off, but I tell them that if the world doesn’t reach an agreement at this meeting I’m going to explode. To prove it, I toss a wine glass onto the parquet floor, shattering it. Voila! I cry. There you have my resolve! And I threaten to roll my tanks into Lapland, which by now is probably a desert. Believe you me, Vladimir and Xi let me pass without offering to straighten my cravat, nor do they offer me an after-lunch mint.

Before dinner it starts snowing so hard that all the G20 events are canceled. Today I return home, but just wait until the global warming summit in Paris in 2015, my own back yard! Zut alors! I’ll read these world leaders the riot act for sure — that is, if the planet isn’t already plunged into Armageddon due to everybody being chafed and irritable, like moi.

* Welcome to The Big Jewel, where our good friend Matthew David Brozik has something wonderful for you. After reading his latest piece, click on the ad for his book "Whimsy & Soda" on the right-hand side of this page, and lovely nude ladies will come and dance with you, as Peter Cook used to say.

I’m Afraid This Fourth Wall Needs To Come Down


I’m no playwright, of course — that’s your job, and I have no reason to think you’re not good at it — but I am an engineer, and although you might not be happy to hear this, after giving your latest work a thorough inspection, I’m convinced that the fourth wall needs to come down. Not necessarily right away, but at some point for sure. (I’ll leave it to you to figure out when would be best. Maybe Act Two?)

Now, before you write me off as some kind of crackpot (with professional membership in the American Society of Safety Architects): I know that the fourth wall is not a real wall. I understand that “fourth wall” is rather a term of art referring to the imaginary barrier at the front of the stage in a traditional three-walled box set in a proscenium theater (such as you are employing for your production) through which the audience sees the action in the world of the play. But that doesn’t mean it wouldn’t be a hazard to life and limb if it were to topple unexpectedly. Even an imaginary wall needs to be structurally sound.

Your fourth wall, unfortunately, seems to have been the target of some significant thespian mastication, if you get my meaning. Has one of your actors been chewing the scenery (and putting everyone in danger)? I’m no theater critic, of course, but if I had to point a finger I might point it at that young actor playing the man who wakes up one morning as a huge termite, then makes numerous attempts to explain his transformation to the others by way of interpretive dances, extemporaneous haiku and very loud soliloquies. (Being that this actor is likely responsible, it might make sense for his character to be the one to break the fourth wall, but that could, on the other hand, prove too metafictional for comfort. So maybe the telephone lineman can do it — when he appears “outside” the window? He could say, “Well, this rings a bell!” — referring to the arrival of the hunchbacked milkman — then wink at the audience?)

Again, you’re the dramatist, but keep in mind that however you choose to have the fourth wall broken, it will need to be broken completely — so that when it comes back up, nothing of the old, compromised wall remains. You want a brand new wall to go up, for the well-being of all involved. When the itinerant meteorologist remarks “Looks like…hail” and then gives a Nazi salute, maybe he could high-five someone in the front row? Or when the lazy-eyed cobbler is hissing “Shoo! Shoo!” at the giant man-termite, could he actually take off one of his shoes and throw it at the audience? That would decisively break the fourth wall, don’t you think? But you might have your own ideas about how to do it.

At any rate, I’ve left my full written report in the theater manager’s office. I wanted to tell you in person, though, because I didn’t want you to think I was just making work for you without considering the consequences or offering some suggestions, such as having the cross-dressing conjuror reach into his hat and pull out the wallet of a member of the audience — in this case maybe someone not near the stage — read the name on the driver’s license, remove the cash, put the wallet back into his hat, and finally have it reappear in the audience member’s pocket. I’d pay to see that at least twice.

Oh, and one more thing: I couldn’t help also noticing during my inspection a pistol hanging on the back wall. That isn’t loaded, is it? You really shouldn’t keep a loaded pistol hanging around. Sometimes those things just go off. But now that I’m thinking about it…you could have someone use the gun to shoot out the fourth wall. I’d do that in Act Three.

* Welcome to The Big Jewel, where our one clear goal is to end the age-old war between men and women, and our secret weapon is Samantha Rodman.

My Interpretations Of Obviously Meaningful Remarks My Husband Makes


1. I like that red shirt.

Translation: Throw out all the shirts that don’t look like that one. Although I may not often express preferences, when I do, they are subtle and only someone as attuned to me as you are truly understands what I mean. And red is the color of passion, which I associate with only you.

2. Sure, let’s just stay home.

Translation: If we cancel this sitter, we will really be sinking the last nail into our coffin as middle-aged parents who do nothing fun ever. I could obviously suck up being tired and rally, why can’t you?

3. The sitter is so great with the kids.

Translation: Did you notice her breasts? I did. Did you notice me noticing them? Are you ever going to make any effort with your appearance again? When I travel for work, women hit on me nonstop. Sometimes they give me their panties.

4. Where did your blue shirt go?

Translation: I am just making sure you got rid of that piece of detritus that I previously implied looked like a Swiffer cloth on you and highlighted that your breasts are not as appealing as the babysitter’s.

5. No, for real, where did all your other shirts go?

Translation: I appreciate that you recalled my admittedly coy remark that I liked your red shirt, which obviously indicated that I am repelled by the rest of your wardrobe. You get me, girl.

6. What the hell is this credit card bill about?

Translation: Sweetheart, I know you bought all of these clothes to look good for me, and I value your commitment to the marriage. I have stopped visualizing the babysitter’s breasts when we have intercourse.

7. I wish we didn’t end up going out last night. I’m beat.

Translation: Not as beat as I’d feel if you had taken me at my word and cancelled the well-endowed sitter who allowed us to feel, for a fleeting evening, like the couple we were before kids. I felt we had a magical connection, especially when we were discussing if Madison has more of your mom’s stubbornness or your dad’s temper, and when you asked to share dessert and then ate the whole thing yourself.

8. Why do you keep mentioning the sitter’s boobs? She’s like 17.

Translation: Just a test. We both know she’s 19 and a sophomore and having issues with figuring out her major and dealing with her pothead boyfriend. I listen when she talks to you, although I pretend to play Xbox.

9. I don’t know, what are YOU thinking about?

Translation: I’m too shy to take the reins of this conversation. Please help me by steering the topic toward my insecurity about growing apart at this critical juncture of our marriage, when we are parenting two small children and seem to have not much to say to one another. I must somehow show you that I am both in this to win it and also completely open to anything you think might improve our romantic connection. But tragically, I am unable to verbally express my own feelings without your gentle guidance, likely because my mother was unemotional and self-absorbed and unable to teach me how to truly connect with an intimate partner.

10. What the hell are you talking about?

Translation: An open ended question! Conclusive proof that, all along, I’ve been reading those relationship self-help books that you left on my night table. Let’s settle in for a long, romantic talk. I know how much you’re yearning to connect to me on an emotional, vulnerable level, and I want to meet you where you’re at. God, I love you.

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

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


Date: 02/02/2015

Private and Confidential


Dear Mr. Drombowski,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Ling Chen

Director of Human Resources

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

P.P.S. Your kimono is open.

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

The Stylish Man Guide To Advanced Job Interview Techniques


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

1. Dress for Success

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

2. Speak The Language of Your Interviewers

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

3. Make Steady Eye Contact

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

4. Exude Confidence

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

5. Treat Your Interviewers Like Equals

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

6. Remember Your Seduction Training

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

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

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

I Am A Screenplay


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

But no one kisses me.

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

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

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

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

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

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

How To Get A Woman In The Mood



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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

One Little Thing


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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