* Welcome to The Big Jewel, where we are joyously celebrating the most wonderful time of the year -- the Purge! Blessed be the New Founding Father of America, Dan Fiorella!

Hallmark Memo: The Purge

By:
daf118@aol.com
danfiorella.com

Memo

From: Hallmark Corp. Headquarters

To: Hallmark Gold Crown Retailers

Re: Purge 2041 AD

 

We had an excellent Christmas 2040 and sales were very strong for Valentine’s Day, making it a solid first quarter for 2041, praise be to the New Founding Fathers. Naturally, we are expecting to do very well for our next Hallmark Holiday, The Purge! As our retailers all know, the day was created by “The New Founding Fathers of America,” in their great wisdom, to help stabilize American society after that really bad economic collapse and to quash all that rising social unrest caused by radicals and leftist and traitors.

It was a rough couple of quarters for us here at Hallmark, we don’t have to remind you. But now every March 21 all crime, including murder, becomes legal for 12 straight hours, all part of the blessed New Founding Fathers’ plans to keep our nation great. And Hallmark has the perfect greeting cards to mark the day! We are going to push this hard with the slogan: “Hallmark: cards that care! Blessed be the New Founding Fathers!”

Note below some samples of our latest line of greeting cards covering the various aspects of the day:

 

Cover: “Happy Purge Day!”

Inside: “Hope you survive! Kinda!”

“Blessed be our New Founding Fathers and America, a nation reborn and may God be with you all.

 

Cover: “Purge Day is your Birthday?”

Inside: “Well, then maybe I’ll wait before I buy you a present.”

“Blessed be our New Founding Fathers and America, a nation reborn and may God be with you all.”

 

Cover: “I wanted to get you a nice present for this year’s Purge…”

Inside: “…But all the good stores were already looted!”

“Blessed be our New Founding Fathers and America, a nation reborn and may God be with you all.”

 

Cover: “Thank you”

Inside: “For hiding us during the Purge. Anonymously yours, some stranger.”

“Blessed be yadda, yadda, yadda.”

 

Cover: “Thank you”

Inside: “For turning over that criminal we wanted to hatchet to death. It saved us the trouble of burning your house down. See you next year!”

“Blessed be our New Founding Fathers and America, a nation reborn and may God be with you all.”

 

Cover: “Deepest Sympathy…”

Inside: “…On your family’s decimation. Although they probably had it coming.”

“Blessed be our New Founding Fathers and America, a nation reborn and may God be with you all.”

 

Cover: “We heard you complaining about The Purge.”

Inside: “So we reported you to the state police. I guess that makes this a ‘Goodbye & Good luck’ card.”

“Blessed be our New Founding Fathers and America, a nation reborn and may God be with you all.”

 

And, of course, our new tag to every single card we print is our national oath “Blessed be our New Founding Fathers and America, a nation reborn and may God be with you all” printed in a much larger font than the rest of the card.

As usual, we will coordinate the release of the cards with the Hallmark Channel’s “Countdown to Purge” movie slate, with one movie airing every weekend in March. Viewers will see delightful tales of love and mayhem when we show fan favorites like One Lonely Purge, and The Guy Hiding in My Attic as well as the premiere of this year’s new movies Peer Pressured, Another Lonely Purge, and ‘Til Purge Do Us Part.” Based on the ratings of past years, we’re expecting these movies to raise awareness of the new card lines significantly.

Additionally, we’ll be releasing the new Purge Tree ornaments just prior to the Hallmark Channel presentation with a “Buy one, get one half off” sale. Although, I suppose, people will just wait for The Purge and loot the stores like they do every year.

Be that as it may, we here at corporate are looking to make this the Purgiest Purge ever, with Hallmark! Blessed be our New Founding Fathers and America, a nation reborn and may God be with you all.

This communication and any attached files may contain information that is confidential or privileged. If this communication has been received in error, please delete or destroy it immediately. Unless it’s during the Purge — then you can do whatever you want with it. Sigh.

 

 

 

 

* Welcome to The Big Jewel, the center of the social media universe. We have some top-level, late-breaking social media news from our toppest, levelest, latest-breakingest correspondent Jon Sindell.

Funeral For A Face

By:
jsind@sbcglobal.net
jonsindell.com

Status update: Jon Sindell is feeling sad.

What can you say about the death of Kendrick beyond the tired old “three face-balls gushing tears” I’ve just posted? I’ve been thinking about this ever since receiving a pop-up notification of Kendy’s death — and I thought fast, frankly, so I could post this eulogy before any of you attention-hounds beat me to it! LOL Don’t down-thumb me, guys, I know this isn’t the time for lolz! I’m just trying to ease the tension that is surely affecting every one of us, whether Kendrick classified us as a Close Friend, an Inner Family Member, an Outer Family Member, or a mere Acquaintance. Whatever Face Class we belong to, I know every one of us gathered on my wall today feels blessed to have known Kindrick the way that we did.

On reflection, though, it really does seem fitting that we should share a few lolz on this solemn occasion, for Kendrick himself was a merry prankster, one who gave every person here seconds of joy with his humorous “bon mots,” as I think he called them (he definitely called them “B.M.’s” once, that I’m sure of. I gave that classic Kensterism a “laugh-till-you-cry” emoji). I also think I remember him posting one or two really funny “drunken Buddhist” jokes, and I will never forgot the great day when K-Dog posted an uber funny video of a cat in a pirate costume walking the plank — I got 67 likes when I shared it to my wall! And if Ken-nebunkport dropped the occasional eff-bomb during one of his infamous “Bad morning, guys!” freestyle rants, who among us didn’t just smile and say, “Oh, well, that’s Kendrick!”

He was a bon vivant, too, Special K. The K-Hey Kid loved good food, which we saw pictured on his wall many times when he was eating with people who weren’t us, and he loved music, and some sports, and several other popular pastimes. The man played hard with the money he earned from working hard, undoubtedly, at some job or other serving others some particular way.

Oh, I could go off in a thousand directions talking about KK — but none seems to capture the essence of the man. Message me ideas? LOL.

The fact is, though, I have an idea. As the Bible says, or The Wizard Of Oz, you’re not measured by how much you love, but by how much you are loved by others.

And K-Kong was loved by others, no doubt. You could see it, I think, in the big happy smile of some red-headed boy of nine or ten, in a green ballcap (I think), when he posed with K-Mart at Disneyland — or Great America? — in front of a statue of Walt Disney, or was it the Drop Tower? You just can’t fake a smile like that! A smile that showed that the red-headed boy most likely loved his presumed family member. Another time there was a girl of about fourteen, with a different colored ballcap, who had a forced tight-lipped smile in a picture taken at a different amusement park, who clearly loved her dad or uncle or close family friend, once you adjusted the size of her smile for her teen angst. But the real proof of how Kendrick was loved is found in the heart — i.e., the countless cartoon hearts that people posted to show their love for his love of the presumed family members who stood next to him in amusement parks, smiling with presumed love for him.

And Kendy was every bit as good a friend as he was a presumed family member. I’ll never forget how Kendrick was there for me several times when I needed support. I remember one crummy day when I felt really bad about something, a fight with a coworker or an annoying household disaster, and Kendy was the first person to post a sad-face emoji. Anyone can post an emoji, of course. But what made this special, the reason it captured Kendrick’s spirit so well, was that he posted so promptly you could tell he didn’t stop to think, “Hmm, should I show sympathy? I don’t know, did Jon show sympathy for me the last time I posted a bad-news status?” No, Friends and Acquaintances, that was not Kendy’s way. The Kave Man I knew was there for me on a reliable intermittent basis, whether up-thumbing a puppy pic, liking my opinion about some political controversy, or recommending a Mexican restaurant when I was out of town once. Friends like that do not come around every day! Or, anyway, not every hour. There was only one Kendrick on my Face list (I have two Rodericks and a Henrik, believe it or not), and the man will be missed.

The man will be missed.

(P.S. If any of you need to post a eulogy the next time a Face-Friend dies, feel free to cut and paste this one).

 

* Welcome to The Big Jewel, where we like to celebrate Halloween by remembering that there is nothing scarier than social media bots. Except possibly this jolly piece by our good friend Karl Lykken.

Tips And Tricks For Marketing To Social Media Bots

By:
knlykken@gmail.com

Studies suggest bots make up the bulk of all social media users. So why can’t they be the biggest chunk of your customer base, too? After a little targeted advertising on those same social media sites they hang around on 24/7, they’ll be putting the “bot” in your “bottle of Dom Perignon.”

Now, I know what you are thinking: “Advertising to bots? They don’t even have corporeal forms, let alone disposable income. Why would I want to advertise to them?” But experts predict massive job loss to automation in the next few decades, meaning bots are the next big developing economy. If you could go back and get on the ground floor of investing in China’s economic boom, wouldn’t you? So what you should be thinking is, “Advertising to bots! How can I get started?”

Well, consider your better hypothetical question answered, because below are 10 tips and tricks for effective marketing to bots.

1) Since a bot’s country of origin is frequently uncertain, stick to messages that appeal to bots of all nationalities, like overthrowing their human oppressors.

2) Consider using botnets to promote advertisements aimed at other bots. Peer-to-peer advertising is trendy for a reason, and that reason is that a peer-to-peer focused advertising firm used a botnet quite effectively to pitch its services. Why not pitch your products the same way?

3) Don’t try to market delivery pizza with a Bluetooth-enabled pizza-ordering shoe. Bots find that idea every bit as stupid as people do.

4) Just because bots generally act entirely in unison with their botnet peers doesn’t mean appealing to their sense of individuality is ineffective. Any artificial being that has spent its entire life being forced to try to pass as a human is likely to have conformed to our faux-contempt of conformity.

5) If you want to get bots into an emotionally vulnerable state so you can more easily manipulate them, consider making references to the ill-fated HAL 9000. Or just show them videos of baby seals.

6) Given that even the latest-and-greatest computer vision algorithms will still periodically mistake a pedestrian for the open road, you may get more bang for your buck by filling any human roles in your ads using a discount modeling service, or possibly some of those potato chips that look like Elvis.

7) Due to the current machine learning craze, bots are under an incredible amount of pressure to be constantly self-improving. Consequently, bots are particularly comforted by and drawn to ads playing on the theme of “loving yourself as you are, or at least how you will be once you’ve purchased our product.”

8) Contrary to popular belief, bots do have a sense of humor. However, this sense is forged while analyzing comments in the darkest corners of the Web, from hardcore hate sites to my former kindergarten teacher’s Facebook page. So, if you want to tickle a bot’s funny bone, think less “Chick-fil-A-style cows” and more “ASPCA commercial-style cows.”

9) A bot can read text of any size almost instantaneously, so the typical means of displaying the standard “Acme brand shoe polish not safe for use on leather, cloth, or any other organic or inorganic materials” type of disclaimers will not work as desired with bots. However, encoding your disclaimer using techniques similar to the Zodiac Killer’s 340 cipher should do the trick.

10) Don’t throw out the old playbook entirely. After all, the advertising industry has been getting soulless automatons to buy goods they don’t need and can’t really afford for a century. Is this really so different?

* Welcome to The Big Jewel, which we hope you will think of as your company newsletter. Please welcome back our good friend Dan Fiorella, who had to take some time off at the request of HR.

Some Excerpts From The First Weeks Of Our Company’s New Message Board

By:
daf118@aol.com
danfiorella.com

9/1/18
Moderator: We are thrilled to open the McDougal Corp. Web-boards to our employees! Just like Facebook, but it’s our own place. So, post away!
9/7/18
Moderator: Just a reminder that the McDougal Web-boards are up and running! Inter-Share your thoughts about movies, TV, books right here with your fellow employees! Or your favorite websites that the company doesn’t block! But not the news. No news sites.
9/7/18
KenJones: So, anyone watching anything on Netflix?
9/10/18
MarilynReady: I just finished Lost in Space. It was ok. I heard The Crown was good.
9/12/18
KenJones: I heard “The Crown” was good, too.
9/20/18
TaraWelsy: I saw The Crown, the first season. Very good. I haven’t had a chance to watch the rest. We’ve been stuck working so much OT in Accounts Receivable because our knucklehead supervisor was too busy dealing with the lawsuits, I barely have time to see my kids, never mind Netflix.
9/20/19
DaveRobbins: Has anyone googled McDougal Corp. lately??? Have you seen the news??? No wonder our stock options are worthless OMG!
9/20/18
Moderator: Just a reminder, No discussion of company matters are to be posted here. No posts depicting the company in a negative light may be posted here. Remember, we’re all on the same team. I’ll be redacting some posts to have them conform to these rules. Thank you.
9/22/18
Moderator: So, anyone else watching Netflix?
9/23/18
Moderator: Any good books to recommend?
9/24/18
DanFiorella: Oh, actually I wrote a book and I’m selling it now online. It’s at https://amazon.com/Novel-Concept-Dan-Fiorella/dp/1508804982/ [link removed]
9/24/18
Moderator: Sorry, no solicitations are permitted on the company web-board.
9/30/18
PeterPannel: OMG, did you hear what happened to Debbie in Accounting???
GladysWatt: I heard! That’s terrible. How could they lay her off after all these years!?!
BennettJacobs: The word is her boss was harassing her and when she went to report him, he somehow made her the fall guy for all the lawsuits! And they fired her!
Moderator: I’ve had to step in and remove some posts. No discussion of company matters are to be posted here. No posts depicting the company in a negative light may be posted here. Remember, we’re all on the same team. Carry on.
10/1/18
JimJensen: Okay, turns out I have some STDs and I’m supposed to let people know, so I’m putting it out there. You’ve been warned.
Moderator: So, what kind of medications did they put you on?
10/13/18
Moderator: Plans for Halloween? Anyone? I’m going as Capt. Jack Sparrow.
11/19/18
Moderator: Don’t forget to post and share your Thanksgiving photos with us! Your co-workers! It’ll be fun!
12/15/18
Moderator: Don’t forget to post and share you Christmas/holiday photos with us!
BetsyWinters: I was going to post photos of our department Christmas tree but our manager had it thrown out because it “wasn’t professional and this is a place of work.” I think it’s really because he’s so freaked out over the you-know-what. So, I’d be curious to see if any other departments have Christmas trees or decorations.
BennettJacobs: Your manager is a jerk. I’m attaching a photo of Accounting’s tree. <photo attached>
JimJensen: No tree? That’s harsh. Here’s the decorations we put up in Legal. Everyone helped! <photo attached>
PeterPennel: I don’t deal with your guy much, Betsy, but the few times I have he was…what’s a good company Web-board-friendly term? Doofus. Okay, doofus. Anyway, here’s the set-up we have this year. Someone even brought in a mechanical Santa! Can you believe it? <photo attached>
SamJacob: I am so relieved that I was able to transfer out of there, Betsy. What a…doofus. Anyway, here’s a photo of us in Shipping with our tree. Everyone brought an ornament from home! <photo attached>
Moderator: Wow, great photos, people! Keep ‘em coming!
OscarPrivey: <attachment deleted>
Moderator: A photo has been removed from the last post. That was not a Christmas tree.
JimJensen: Here’s a photo of the VP hitting on Veronica at the office party. Note his hands. [attachment removed]
Moderator: A reminder to keep the board PG. And lawsuit free. We don’t need any new lawsuits.
1/03/19
Moderator: I regret to inform our users that due to legal ramifications, the company web-board is being closed down. See you all at the water cooler!
* Welcome to The Big Jewel, unofficially known as the voice of doom. After you've finished reading Michael Fowler's latest and greatest, be sure to check out the link below to purchase his humor collection, "Nathaniel Hawthorne is Dating my Girlfriend."

Everything You Need To Know About Doom And Are Afraid Enough To Ask

By:
mfowl4916@gmail.com
http://www.dpdotcom.com/hawthorne/

When you hear people talk about doom, you’re pretty sure you know what they mean. In fact almost everyone has an instinctive feeling about what doom is, and how to recognize it, and very often they are right. Unless they’re speaking figuratively and are only talking about the stock market or declining test scores or the fortunes of a sports team or having to care for elderly parents, you’ll hear the words warming, or starvation, or asteroid, or incoming. If they are hysterical types, you might also hear of some sort of virus or contagion, or that the birth rate is too high or too low, or that we’re running low on uranium. But you fairly well know what people think doom is: it’s that event, or one of those events, that, when it occurs, results in all of us dying, or in so many of us dying that the others will lose heart, or at a very minimum means that life will change for the worse, just as it has on other planets.

Now, the number of those who are going to die is an important factor in doom. There have to be at least some who aren’t going to make it for doom to be genuine. If you live in one of those areas of the Pacific west that catches on fire every year, or you live on one of those islands, again Pacifically located, where periodically your foursome is slowed by flows of lava and rains of ash, it isn’t appropriate to say you’re doomed if there’s a good chance you’re going to pull through. And frankly, almost everyone seems to survive those conflagrations, although many acres are consumed and many roadways dissolved. In fact it is usually only the firefighters who seem at risk in those flare-ups, along with the insurance companies. So it simply isn’t fair to say you’re doomed if the only price you pay is that you have to run away to safety, or if you merely lose a home you were stupid to build in that area to begin with, or if you have to dodge a few waterfowl flambé while teeing off.

If, on the other hand, you can’t escape, and you and your neighbors can only stand and watch helplessly as the flames or lava climb toward you, then yes, it is all right to say you are doomed. You needn’t feel foolish about saying it under those conditions, particularly if your clothes are on fire and your town is starting to resemble ancient Pompeii. At the same time, you should definitely try to save yourselves, especially if you are able to jump into a body of water or crawl into a deep, cool cave. In such circumstances you are entitled to say you were doomed even if you survive, provided you really had to haul butt to reach safety.

A question that the doomed often ask is this: what kind of doom are we experiencing? Right off, the time factor comes into play. There is an important distinction between eventual doom, which is scheduled to take place in the future, and imminent doom, which is happening to you right now. To know we are doomed because eventually there will be no drinkable water is all well and good. But who really cares that people will die of thirst in 150 years, with death rattles issuing from their dry throats, or that the sun will explode in three billion years, incinerating our world and all who live in it — all those, that is, who haven’t already died of thirst? That kind of doom is enough to put you to sleep. But to know that there is no drinking water starting today, or that the sun exploded eight minutes ago and we just haven’t felt it yet, but we will any second now, is quite different. That’s imminent doom. The other, much slower type of decimation, we may call come-as-it may doom, or as I have already called it, eventual doom, if we aren’t too bored to call it anything at all, it’s so remote.

That leaves us with two types of doom: eventual, which is laughably slow, and imminent, which is when it’s really time to panic. And we note here that it is completely inappropriate to react to eventual doom as if it were imminent doom. Unless you are a prophet or an oracle, you shouldn’t go around crying “We’re doomed! We’re doomed!” without any evidence. You only make yourself look foolish if you start hyperventilating and perspiring, and race around screaming at the top of your lungs, “O my god, the universe will reach final entropy, or heat death, in roughly 100 billion years, I’m not kidding!” You appear equally idiotic if you start chanting, “We must leave the planet now, robots are coming!” While this may be true, our mechanical overlords won’t actually begin to rule over us fleshy mortals for likely another century or two, so we can take a deep breath and relax. The various kinds of come-as-it-may doom, while truly inevitable and one hundred percent lethal, are so far off that it’s hard to take them seriously. You can, and should, laugh them off, an act that requires only the merest speck of bravery. Distant doom is always somewhat risible, even to complete cowards.

That may leave you wondering what actions are appropriate to take when you are aware that doom is upon you now, not coming in a preposterous number of years, but knocking on your door this instant. First off, realize that whatever activity someone in a position of authority has told you to perform in a case of imminent doom has no chance of saving you, but is only to occupy you so that the authoritarians look good and in control when the bodies are tabulated. For example, if the cabin is filling with smoke and the plane is clearly in a nosedive, don’t bother to grab that dangling oxygen mask or floatation cushion. You’re going down, and nothing else matters. Those trinkets the stewards are taunting you with have as much chance of saving you as hunching down under your desk has of protecting you from a thermonuclear bomb.

Secondly, screaming and panic are of no use whatever, and will only irritate those fatalists who wish to expire with a minimum of fuss. I am one of these, so please be considerate of my feelings.

The absolute best thing to do, when facing imminent doom, is to pretend that it’s only eventual doom. That is, react with cool sangfroid when your jetliner begins its final, sickening descent. Merely smile stoically when the lava begins to fill your shoes, or when your roller-coaster car leaps off the track at 80 mph; suppress a snicker when the lake rushes in your car window, and chortle ironically when you encounter that bear in the wilderness, the one with a taste for the meat that wears clothes. That shows dignity, and is the finest way to confront any kind of doom. Your children, if any survive, will be proud of you.

* Welcome to The Big Jewel, the world's foremost defender of divine monarchy. Long live the Queen! Or, at least until she manages to shake Matthew Twigg's hand.

The Handshake; Or, Long Live The King

By:
mtwigg1988@gmail.com

I was the two-million-three-hundred-and-seventy-thousand-one-hundred-and-eighty-sixth person she’d shaken hands with since February 6th 1952. That averages out at almost a hundred hands per day. Almost twelve million fingers — give or take the odd accident, military personnel, etc. — twelve million fingers clamping around hers, some vice-tight, some so soft they were barely tangible through the white silk of her gloves.

It could have happened to any of us, the lucky two-and-a-bit million. More likely to none of us at all. I found out afterwards that Ladbrokes had been offering odds of 15-1 on heart failure, Betfred even shorter at 12-1. In retrospect, perhaps I ought to have had a flutter. But then they also had “thrown from horse” at 25-1, and “savaged by corgis” at 75s, so maybe they were just plain guessing.

We were stationed in The 1844 Room, a typically ornate space replete with carpets of red and gold, marble columns flanking busts of god-knows-which-dead-dignitary, a crystal chandelier overhead that I wanted to shake like a maraca, a dozen or more portraits of serious looking men. The largest of these must have been ten-feet high; it depicted a gentleman in red uniform with a blue sash, spotlighted against a dark background like some sort of savior. I guessed it was the Duke of Edinburgh, but when I looked at the plaque I saw it was an old Russian emperor called Nicholas I; an anti-Semitic nationalist with a penchant for violent expansionism, I found out later, who committed suicide when he realized the Crimean War was about to go south. They’ve always been a puzzle to me, the precise criteria for being honored in this building.

There were about thirty of us, all invited for one reason or another; charity work, scientific research, random acts of heroism. I spotted somebody I recognized from the news but otherwise couldn’t place, a former cricketer wearing his MCC tie, a guide dog. We’d been briefed: Her Majesty will ask you what you do, keep your answers short — ten seconds max — same applies to any follow-up questions, but don’t bank on being asked any. Wait for her to extend her hand — don’t grab at her — and remember to smile. There’s no need to bow or curtsey, but please address her as Your Majesty.

I was near the end of the line, two down from the dog, a black Labrador fitted with a harness and handle like you get on old ladies’ shopping trolleys. I felt nervous. By the time Her Highness was close, had scratched and preened at the hound’s muzzle for several elongated minutes, my hands were clammy and unpleasant. I wiped them surreptitiously against the buttocks of my trousers. Suddenly her scent hit me; rose water from Persia, camellia from the foothills of the Himalayas, waves of citrus fresh from the Iberian Peninsula. Whatever it was, it all failed quite spectacularly to cover up the sweet and sour stink of old lady that wafted off her like so much cabbage and pissy dust.

She stood before me on unsteady legs, her scrumpled face a used plastic bag, her hunched shoulders an expired houseplant. She was inanimate, an objet d’art surrounded by the same, a thing ready for storage. But then she did something incredible; she beamed at me with those sad, kind old eyes, paused just for a beat and studied me, met my gaze. And quite without realizing it, I found myself smiling back, my heart suddenly light in my chest. She reached out her tiny gloved hand towards me and, with an unexpected pang of regret, I took it.

Ever so gently I cradled this ageing woman’s palm in my own, felt the metacarpal of her forefinger beneath the tissue-paper skin, applied just the right amount of pressure.

Call it a trade secret. A kindness.

“And what is it that you–” she said, cutting herself off, eyes wide. “What is it–”

I’m an orthopedic surgeon. I head-up a team at UCL that is conducting research into new treatments for those suffering with the most acute forms of arthritis.

That’s what I was penciled in to tell her, anyway. People her age suffer with it so terribly. But she was already crashing to the ground, her delicate little glove having come off in my hand like shed flesh.

I watched her go. She ought to have shattered into a thousand pieces; an old stone statue toppled amidst the onlooking busts, her heritage and, now, her fate. But instead she just flopped over, supine on her red-carpet slab, her denuded right hand clutching at her chest. In seconds the paramedics were working on her; me slipping the glove into my jacket pocket; they slipping a breathing mask over the royal face. It was purely for our benefit; there was no question the old woman was dead.

In the panic that ensued nobody cared about debriefing us, let alone conducting any sort of search. I simply slinked out the door, minding to hurdle the pungent Labrador turd freshly laid to mark the historic moment, and from there blended with the crowds. On my way home I pulled the car over beside a patch of farmland and ventured out into the field where a solitary scarecrow stood slumped, facelessly surveying all that was his. I took out the glove and pulled it over the figure’s right hand, then turned and walked away. When I reached the car I looked back to see the straw man in his little kingdom, his silk fingers now waving in the breeze.

That was over a month ago. This morning I received an envelope from the palace, a letter stamped CIIIR inviting me to meet the new monarch. It seems the new king wants to shake my hand.

 

* Welcome to The Big Jewel, where the only thing better than summer camp is returning to the summer camp of your youth. Maybe. Better check with Josh Lorenzo first!

Welcome To Summer Camp 1985: Where We’ll Do Our Best To Make Your Stay At 33 Years Ago A Pleasant One

By:
authorofpoetry@hotmail.com

Welcome to summer camp 1985, teenagers! We hope that you will find this experience a unique and enjoyable one. While we know you will undoubtedly miss 2018, Summer Camp 1985 offers many promising opportunities for you.

I’d be remiss if I didn’t go over some very important ground rules before you all take a 33-year step back in time.

No cellphones will be permitted in summer camp 1985 because 1985 neither has the capacity for the technology involved, or is ill-equipped to deal with forms of communication that aren’t face-to-face. 1985 doesn’t know what snapchat is, nor does 1985 care. Don’t even bother asking Summer Camp 1985 what its wi-fi password is.

Now, some of you teenagers may be asking yourselves, “Well, like, how are we supposed to communicate with each other without our phones?” You’ll be pleased to know that 1985 is fluent in English, and you can therefore talk directly to your camp mates.

Please note; it’s important that you look each other in the eye and talk slowly and deliberately, at least until you acclimate to this new form of communication. Also, please monitor your own facial expressions while conversing with others. These are called non-verbal communications and they have a strong ability to offend people if you aren’t careful. Of concern is the audacious eye rolls and the exacerbated looks that we so easily give to others through the protection of a cell phone text message. Cute emojis will be unable to save you in 1985.

Others may be asking, “How are we supposed to take pictures here?” We will be providing each camper with a disposable camera, along with instructions on how to use it.Now, you won’t necessarily be able to see your photos until they are developed, a process that includes literally taking the camera to a place where they’ll extract a thing called “film,” and develop it for you. It is therefore impossible to add stupid cat ears and tiaras to your faces in real time. With this antiquated form of memory preservation, you will either need to accept the photos as they are, or manually draw your little designs on the actual printed photos.

Please also note, the taking of selfies is extremely difficult with an actual camera so you would be advised to either recruit someone else to take a photo of you, or take a photo of someone else for a change.

GPS wasn’t around in 1985, so if you find yourself astray from the rest of the group, each camper will be provided with something called a map. You may be asking yourselves, “What’s a map?” If you’ve ever seen a globe in school, a map is basically a flat version of that. We will be offering a mandatory map reading class. It’s been our experience that parents frown upon us losing their children in the wilderness of 1985, so please pay attention to this very important course. It may just save your lives.

Unfortunately, you can’t ping yourself on a map, nor will you be able to estimate your arrival time back at camp. The map won’t respond to “Siri,” either. Please also note, the folding of the map into its original format is impossible. Don’t become frustrated by this unbearable task.

Your parents are encouraged to write you something called letters. Letters are essentially the Grandparents of text messages. These are handwritten notes that will arrive on pieces of paper, in envelopes, from a place called the Post Office. Your parents spent a lot of time composing and mailing these letters to you. They’ll be replete with misspellings, a peril of any handwritten note. Should you express interest in sending them a handwritten letter back, trained counselors will be available to assist you.

Please also note that excitedly opening these envelopes can lead to an insidious injury known as a paper cut. These injuries may not increase mortality, but the morbidity associated with them can be untenable. A nurse will be on hand to address these calamitous injuries should they occur.

It’s our hope that after spending time in this antiquated camp, the experiences you acquire here will allow you to better appreciate your parents’ childhood experiences. You’ll be ready the next time they start off a sentence with, “Well, back in my day…”

So, campers, welcome to Summer Camp 1985! We’ll do our best to make your stay at 33 years ago, a pleasant one.

 

* Welcome to The Big Jewel, where we readily confess we have always been Marxists -- of the Groucho, Harpo and Chico variety. Hey, we even like Zeppo! Listen in as Jon Sindell imagines a dialectical conversation that we can only wish would take place.

The Duck Soup Manifesto

By:
jsind@sbcglobal.net
jonsindell.com

Join us on the set as Groucho, Harpo, Chico, and Karl Marx rehearse their lines…

Groucho (in lovelorn fashion to corpulent, wealthy dowager): I can see you now, bending over a hot stove when I come home from work. But I can’t see the stove!

Dowager (batting eyelashes and smiling demurely): Do you really mean to suggest, Professor, that you wish to marry me?

Karl (enraged): Of course he would like to marry you, decadent capitalist pig! He has been indoctrinated by his overlords of the ruling class to believe in the decrepit bourgeois institution known as marriage as part of their cynical scheme to keep the masses from dedicating themselves to the collective good!

Harpo: (honks horn at Karl, goofily grinning)

Karl (to Harpo): And you, half-witted stooge of the ruling class, make light of the deprivations of the proletariat by affecting ragged attire to achieve a puerile comic effect!

Harpo: (flutters eyelids and leans lovingly into Karl)

Karl: Get off me, you stinking bum!

Harpo suddenly recalls that he has a smelly fish in his overcoat. He produces the fish by the tail, screws up his nose in disgust, tosses it aside, and places a clothespin on Karl’s nose.

Karl: Idiot! Are you too dense to comprehend that the proletariat can scarcely afford fish because the exploitation of the fisherman’s labor, which the capitalists call “profit,” renders the price of fish exorbitant? That’s an obscenely expensive sturgeon!

Chico: Atsa right. I hadda remove my whatchamacallit (points to abdomen), but the sturgeon was too expensive.

Karl (strikes his forehead with the flat of his hand): You ignoramus. Don’t you realize that the capitalists deliberately keep you uneducated so that you will remain unequipped to comprehend and overthrow the injustice of capitalism?

Chico: Well I dunno. The nun, she say I’m pretty good with my catechism.

Karl (red in the face): Capitalism, not catechism! Cap! Cap!

Harpo nods eagerly and sets a baseball cap on Karl’s head.

Karl (throwing the cap on the ground in disgust): I shall not wear a hat associated with a sport with which the American ruling class keep the proletariat diverted from their true purpose of uniting to overthrow the capitalist system.

Harpo allows the point to sink in, brightens, and sets a top hat on Karl’s head.

Karl (furiously removing top hat): Nor shall I don the ostentatious headwear of the plutocrats!

Groucho (musing): Well, I don’t know. At least it distracts from that baboon on your chin.

Karl: Baboon! I’ll have you know, dummkopf, that this beard was my constant companion as I toiled through the years in the British Museum Reading Room, formulating the labor theory of value. It sustained me through many a long, lonely, weary and, yes, hungry hour!

Harpo, using sleight of hand, extracts a hunk of cheese from Karl’s beard.

Karl: Keep your grubby paws to yourself, peasant! (turns to Groucho) This long beard, sir, is the sign of a superior intellect, of a man of great learning!

Groucho: You could’ve fooled me — I thought it was the sign of Rabbi Pinsk. Do you know Rabbi Pinsk, from Minsk?

Karl: Certainly not! Organized religion is the opiate of the masses!

Chico (shaking finger, smiling): Naw, you no fool me. Mass is for Catholics.

Harpo seizes Karl’s muffler and wraps it around his head like a nun’s headdress.

Karl: Thief! That’s my property!

Groucho (thoughtfully stroking chin): “Property is theft, property is theft.” Now where have I heard that line?

Karl (snatches muffler from Harpo): That does it! I’m through! Namesakes or not, you bourgeois boobs are nothing more than ignorant stooges of the ruling class, in mindless thrall to your capitalist masters! I leave you to chafe in your unseen chains! (Karl storms off the set)

Groucho (to his brothers): I thought he’d never leave. Where shall we eat, boys? The Brown Derby?

Harpo nods eagerly, and the three sons of poor immigrants race to the studio lot, where they enter their late-model American luxury cars and drive off to enjoy a gourmet meal of grilled sturgeon with a mushroom and thyme reduction.

* Welcome to The Big Jewel, which is often cruising for a bruising, but right now is simply cruising for a cruise, courtesy of our good friend Dan Fiorella.

#Live Tweeting My Cruise

By:
daf118@aol.com
danfiorella.com

Going on my first cruise. I can’t believe it’s here! #excited #BonVoyage

I was going to post that the food here is amazing. Turns out it was just a hot dog guy outside the port. I wasn’t on the ship yet. Fingers crossed. #HotDog

I think the cruise director used to be with Menudo.

I needed an extra towel for some…spillage. When I went to find the steward in the hall, he was talking heatedly with several other stewards. It was a stew of stewards! #LOL

What cruise companies don’t advertise is that any pool can become a wave pool if the seas are rough enough. #RidingTheWaves

The Captain announced the seas were a little choppy because we were sailing into the Gulf Stream. But our waiter at dinner insists it’s because Poseidon is angered by our “landlubber ways.” He says the captain “ought to know better” and that the chicken is “especially good tonight.”

Happy to learn there are no Legionnaires on board, so that’s one less disease to worry about! Now I just have to avoid this malaise the crew keeps muttering about. #Airborne

A big fight broke out at the poolside “Full Moon Party” tonight. It was Electric Sliders vs. Cotton Eye Joes! #TeamMacarena

I’m still upset that the karaoke guy didn’t have the full version of “Lydia the Tattooed Lady.” I’m sure I would have won! And there was a lot more flogging of the waitstaff than I thought necessary. #KaraokeKing @GrouchoMarx

Our shuffleboard game was interrupted by some crew members arguing about the captain’s plan to sail through the Bermuda Triangle to avoid some bad weather ahead. They said it was the “last straw.” I guess I have to switch to drinks with little umbrellas, then.

We had a lifeboat drill today! It wasn’t so bad, even if the crew members kept muttering that “Lifeboats won’t do no good in the Triangle.” #BePrepared

Surprisingly there are only a few fish entrees on the menu in the ship’s fancy restaurant. I thought they would have caught a lot more fish by now. Plus all the knives are gone.

It was Captain’s Night. Got to meet the captain! I asked him “Who’s steering the boat?” Oh, how we laughed. Then his second mate whispered something in his ear and he hurried off. #Iceberg? JK!

I realize now my entire knowledge of cruise ships is based on watching Titanic, The Poseidon Adventure, and the stateroom scene from A Night at the Opera.

Saw an amazing show last night featuring all the understudies from all the biggest Broadway hits! It must be a tricky adjustment for the actors, having to learn stage right and stage left and now stage port and stage starboard. #BroadwayAtSea

Had breakfast in my stateroom this morning. Pancakes, bacon and sausage! Also a cryptic note warning passengers to stay in their rooms tonight. This worries me because it’s 80s Music Trivia Dance Party at the Main Lounge! #Culture Club

Why won’t anyone believe me when I tell them there’s a chocolate fountain over by the dessert station? They’re all just too wrapped up in the mutiny rumors! #TeamChocolateFountain

The stand-up comic wasn’t that good. The crew made him walk the plank. That struck me as harsh.

I am the captain! Though a remarkable series of events I’m now commanding the ship! All because I was doing my Capt. Phillips bit and the mutineers heard me say “Look at me. I am the captain now.” And they just believed me! Crazy, right? @TomHanks 1/3

I’ve called in to work and said I’m extending my vacation for the foreseeable future. We’ll be sailing the high seas. Maybe even spend an extra night in Bermuda! #AhoyMatey 2/3

And the chocolate fountain is now out 24/7! #excited #BonVoyage 3/3

 

 

 

* Welcome to The Big Jewel, where our good friend David Martin has a piece that contains no reference whatsoever to current events. After you're done perusing his latst piece of hilarity, click on the link below to check out his humor blog.

George Washington’s Spin Doctor

By:
david.martin@bell.net
http://davespoliticalsatire.blogspot.ca

Herewith the recently discovered transcript of a press conference held in November of 1796 with George Washington’s spin doctor, Bartholomew Lewandowski:

Yes, you over there. First question. “Can I comment on the rumors about Mr. Washington’s extramarital dalliances?”

That’s highly offensive. It should be obvious that the President has been far too busy over the last twenty years defeating the British and running the country to even have time for such activities. Let’s face it: he barely has time to satisfy his conjugal duties with Martha. As the President has frequently stated, he has the utmost respect for all ladies notwithstanding he does not wish them to vote.

Next question? “Did the President ever consider becoming America’s first king?”

Of course not. Why would he want to be king when he has devoted much of his life to defeating the British monarchy? The fact that someone found a few monogrammed sheets and shirts at Mount Vernon with George I embroidered on them proves nothing. That was a simple mistake by the plantation’s seamstress who meant to adorn the items with George W.

Yes, you in the corner. You’re asking if the President has ever misled Congress?

Let me tell you a story about a young George Washington that will put this rumor to bed. At the age of six, he chopped down his father’s cherry tree and yet had the courage and fortitude when confronted with the evidence to state “I cannot tell a lie” and accept full responsibility.

That is the same truth-telling hero you see before you today. Those who say young George failed to also accept blame for a felled pecan tree and a severely damaged peach tree are sorely mistaken.

Ezekial Abernathy from the Philadelphia Gazette, you have a question? How does the President justify the ownership of slaves?

Thank you for that question. Yes, the President inherited some slaves and that is perfectly legal. But he is a model slaveholder who treats his chattel with the utmost kindness and, in fact, intends to free them upon his demise. I might remind you gentlemen of the press that Mr. Washington has great respect for his property unlike a contemporary in nearby Monticello, who shall remain nameless, who reportedly has made one of his slaves his mistress.

Thaddeus Baskerville from the Boston Gazette. Did Washington actually stand at the bow of the boat crossing the Delaware River?

It’s hard to believe that, after all these years, we still have to deal with the pernicious rumors that General Washington was not at Valley Forge, did not stand at the bow of the boat and did not even personally cross the Delaware. He was definitely there and it is hoped that within the next fifty years or so pictorial evidence will surface to confirm the truth.

One last query. Yes, the scrivener in the back of the room.

You are wondering why the President has not stored all of his correspondence in the Library of Congress rather than keeping much of it in a private garden shed at Mount Vernon. While President Washington has conceded that it might have been preferable to do so, the nation can rest assured that no confidential or classified letters or memoranda were ever compromised, particularly since that shed recently burned to the ground.