* Welcome to The Big Jewel, where Michael Bay is considered a cinematic artist. This week please say hello to Nicolas Blessett, whose first piece for us conveys some of the formative experiences in young Michael Bay's life.

The Insurance Report Written After Mr. And Mrs. Bay Came Home From Their Date Night

By:

Clients:

Bay Family.

Policy:

Auto (2 vehicles), Home (fire and flood), Life (son Michael as beneficiary). Payments are up to date; well respected policy holders for over 13 years.

Exterior of Home:

The family minivan was found turned upside down and on fire in the driveway; an Aerosmith cassette could still be heard playing inside upon arrival. How this transpired is unknown to both neighbors and the babysitter. The lawn was riddled with large craters, seemingly as if the house was the sole recipient of falling meteors from space.

Note: No meteors nor any other large objects were found on or near the premises.

Observation: Some craters were shaped like what can only be described as large robot feet.

Note: No large robots were found on or near the premises.

Front of home was peppered with what upon visual inspection appeared to be bullet holes, yet no gun was heard nor was there any other existing evidence of gunplay. Front door was ajar from apparent shotgun blast to the knob; again no sign of actual gun use.

Interior of Home:

Living room furniture destroyed; wind from broken windows circulated the cotton contents of 5 pillows around the room; an ottoman was found turned upside down and on fire.

Observation: The room was beautifully lit by rays of sunshine coming through the bullet holes and contrasted remarkably with the wintry like feel of the cotton snowflakes.

Babysitter sat crying on the kitchen floor, knives and other sharp utensils stuck into the floor forming a semi-circle around her.

Interview: Babysitter was severely traumatized; all she could remember was young Michael screaming, “Stuff just got real!” and then somersaulting into an adjacent room.

Michael’s bedroom was found flooded with water; toy ships floating alongside toy sailors who were face down in the water and on fire; toy planes were suspended with wires above the ships.

Interview: Mrs. Bay revealed that the boy and his father had recently watched Tora Tora Tora together on televison; she relates that the boy was overwhelmed with the action and mayhem of the film and apparently missed the social significance of the event altogether.

Rear wall of home was demolished outward.

Exterior of Home Cont:

Rubble lay in the backyard from rear wall of home; babysitter’s car found turned upside down and on fire. The entire yard was flooded from a running garden hose; in the middle of the yard was a makeshift fort, as if one had created their own personal island.

Interview: Mr. Bay said he and his son had rented Escape from Alcatraz earlier that week and the boy asked if anyone had ever broken into the prison; Mr. Bay of course told him that was a silly idea and should be forgotten.

Observation: The angle of the fort in juxtaposition with the home and sun created a massive shadow, creating the illusion that the water was much deeper than it actually was; the aesthetics of the fort were admirable, however further inspection of the craftsmanship revealed a severe lack of quality.

Michael himself was found soiled in mud from head to toe inside the fort. Scattered around him were random toys of different genres: soldiers, aliens, robots, cars, robot cars, and car robots. Apparently the boy had gone to the trouble of also constructing an entirely different island inside the fort island. On it were tiny paper dolls made to look like his family and friends.

Observation: A severe lack of “friend” paper dolls were found.

Note: The boy had no real friends; this statement was backed up by Mr. and Mrs. Bay.

Interview: Michael, who spoke with major enthusiasm but little insight, called the paper dolls clones and insisted that they were to be kept a secret. The interview ended abruptly when a firecracker went off in the distance and the boy’s attention swiftly followed.

Damages:

Damage estimated at $157,456.

Claim:

Claim denied.

Policy:

Policy terminated.

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* Welcome to The Big Jewel, the home improvement site that also deals in self-improvement...if it so happens that your self is our good friend Frank Ferri.

Answers From Ask This Old House If The Show Were Based In Reality And Featured The Kind Of Contractors With Whom I Always Seem To Deal

By:

Dear Ask This Old House,

My toilet is brand-new, but it’s already leaching some liquid at the base. The caulk is turning from white to brownish and the toilet itself is a touch loose. Is there an easy fix?

Easy fix? You wish. What you have there is a problem. A big problem. I can probably get out there to take a look in say a week, maybe two. But I won’t be able to fix it on the spot. Probably going to have to order some parts. Of course, I won’t know which parts until I see the disaster in person. I can tell you this, between parts and labor, you’re looking at a minimum of $575. Do not use the toilet. If it’s your only one, go to a neighbor’s when you need to do your business. I’ll be in touch at my convenience.

* * * * * * *

Dear Ask This Old House,

I love the look of crown molding. It really adds that extra touch of elegance to a house. I’d like to put it in my home. Can you give me some pointers?

Is this Bob Vila writing? No? Then no friggin’ way are you installing your own crown molding. Spend the money and have a professional do it. When I needed to lose 170 pounds, did I perform Gastric Bypass on myself? Learn to respect other people’s skills. Now, even though you’ve insulted me and my profession, I’m willing to take on this project. I happen to do crown molding. I’ll be out there tomorrow sometime between 5:30 a.m. and 4 p.m. or maybe the day after. Not sure. I’ll give you a free estimate, but the final cost will be much more. Always seems to happen that way. Just the nature of the business.

* * * * * * *

Dear Ask This Old House,

The crank handle on one of my bay windows is loose. How do you fix that little bugger?

You don’t. It doesn’t make any sense to just “fix” that piece as you so cluelessly put it. I’ll tell you what we’re going to do. We’re going to take your place down to the studs and start again. The handle for a window is broken, what’s next? The mailbox gets rusty? Your house’s foundation sinks in? Do you hate your family that much that you’d put them in harm’s way like that? My God, you’re a monster. Listen, you’ll move in with your in-laws while we work for the next 18 months or so. You’re going to love your beautiful new house, but it’s going to take a commitment from you. Oh, and my friend is an architect, he’ll be in touch to discuss your custom home. He’s pricey, but when you see his portfolio, you’ll be blown away.

* * * * * * *

Dear Ask This Old House,

Someone just told me that power washing your house may void the warranty on your home’s siding? Is this true? My siding is only a 18 months old and I’ve power washed it three times already. I thought it was good for the siding!?

Hi there! I’ll tell you what’s good for the siding: new siding. I’ll have a crew out there to rip the old stuff down. Eighteen months is like a year-and-a-half in siding years. And that’s ancient. Do you have a specific color in mind for the new siding we just agreed to install? If not, I can pick one for you? How about iridescent teal? Why not, right? Push the barriers. Iridescent teal it is! You’ve got great taste. I wish my wife would have let me put the iridescent teal siding on our house. But you know women. Am I right? Anyway, since she put the kibosh on my dream, I’ve got a ton of teal siding in my garage. I’ll pass the savings on to you by giving you the better, higher price than what I paid for it!

* * * * * * *

From the Law Offices of Sanders, Harrison & Marshall

Dear Ask This Old House,

Recently you sent a team of workers to my client’s home to do some minor repairs on a loose banister. The home, as you are well aware, no longer exists due to your ill-advised demolition. My client was under the impression that the fix for the banister would be quick and easy. Not traumatizing and life-ruining. Furthermore, pre-demolition protocol requires, among other things, the demolition crew to make sure all living things are out of the building — especially children, It’s also necessary that you get the building owner’s approval before imploding the structure. Your team showed willful negligence in failing to address these and a multitude of other safety issues listed herein. Enclosed is a complaint seeking compensatory damages in the amount of $412,782 for property damage and $10,000,000 for negligent infliction of emotional distress. Your prompt response is appreciated as we want to avoid a costly trial.

* * * * * * *

Dear Law Offices of Sanders, Harrison & Marshall,

Thank you for your well-written complaint. The letter may have been typed, but the signature was gorgeous. What penmanship! And I love the letterhead. It’s gorgeous. In fact I’d like to feature your letterhead on our next show by wallpapering an entire home with it.

In response to your complaint, please accept our sincerest apologies. I never intended to demolish any children. The good news is that the house is gone and we can build a brand-new one. One that’s not an eyesore. We’ll even pick up the tab (including lunch and gas, but excluding labor and materials). I’d also like to gauge your interest in a new law office building. If it’s in a state of disrepair or if you’re simply tired of how it looks, we can build you a new one for free. Just convince your client to make this little complaint go away and you’ve got a deal. Between you and me, that complaint is a little frivolous. Am I right?

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* Welcome to The Big Jewel, where one man's hero is another man's villain. Yes, there are heroes, and then there are heroes. And then there is Ralph Gamelli...

A Hero Among You

By:

Most people out there have no idea I exist, that I patrol the city by night, constantly on the lookout for crime or a new singles’ bar.

I don’t wear a mask and cape, although I’ll occasionally don a muscle shirt and sunglasses, and offer compliments to the pretty ladies who pass by the front stoop of my apartment building. When they give me the finger in response, they might as well be flipping off justice itself.

I don’t drive a sleek black car that shoots fire from its exhaust. My car is designed to blend in — the kind of rust bucket you might see scattering pedestrians in a crosswalk or cutting you off in traffic, and you raise your fist and swear at the driver, but what you don’t realize is that the driver leads a double life as a crime fighter and should maybe be cut a little slack.

My fighting skills may not be the best in the world, but I can take several shots to the head before I go down, especially if I’ve had a few to drink. And on my way to the floor I’ve been known to reach out and take a handful of hair with me.

The cops aren’t on my side. Without a doubt they consider me a vigilante. At various times they’ve also considered me a loiterer, a graffitist and a ticket scalper. Just last week when I was digging for information out on the street, they brought me in for solicitation. I played along and let them put me in a holding cell until I could post bail, all the while thinking it ironic that here I was, the antihero, the “defender of the people” they’re so desperate to collar, and yet they had no idea who I really was, or that I was wanted in another state for passing bad checks.

I don’t have an arch nemesis. That doesn’t mean I don’t have plenty of enemies out there, though, including the waitress at City Diner, assorted bouncers and bartenders, and anybody who uses the word “literally” too often. There’s also no shortage of people in my own building I can’t stand — so smug and superior just because they’ve never been caught naked in the laundry room.

My parents weren’t killed by a criminal when I was a kid, although they have disowned me, so in a way it’s kind of the same thing. And I do have an origin story of sorts, going back to only last month. I was in the middle of one of my favorite pastimes — which is to hail a cab, wait for it to pull over to the curb, then give the driver a rude gesture and stroll away — when all of a sudden I heard an old lady scream that her purse had been snatched. I don’t know what made me take off after the guy. Maybe it was some deep, natural instinct for justice, or possibly it was because the cabbie had gotten out of his car and was approaching me with a tire iron. Whatever it was, I chased the thief for three blocks until eventually I grabbed him, took several shots to the head, and yanked out a handful of hair on my way to the ground.

Even though he got away, I managed to take the purse away from him and bring it back to the old lady. The contents were gone, of course, but $47 in cash, a box of tissue paper and half a roll of Lifesavers could be looked at as a reasonable finder’s fee.

And that was how my crusade began. Nothing has happened since then, but I remain ever vigilant, ever watchful, usually from my front stoop. So if you happen to be a criminal yourself, you better watch your back. And if you happen to be one of those ladies who pass by, why not cut out the snob act for once? Some heroes are millionaire playboys during their off hours. Others would settle for just a friendly smile and maybe a compliment on their muscle shirt.

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* Welcome to The Big Jewel, which contributes only $43 billion to the national deficit (and most of that is for sugarless gum, so that's not so bad, right?). This week our good friend David Jaggard puts the whole national debt thing in personal perspective for us.

Various People From My Past Offer Illustrations To Help Me Comprehend The Trillion Dollar Deficit

By:

The Kid Who Lived Up The Street

Let’s say you have a trillion dollars. As if you’re ever going to have that much money, ever in a million trillion years. Yeah, right. But let’s say you do, which you won’t, and you go to the bank and take it all out in pennies. As though any bank in the world could give you that many pennies. What are you, stupid? But let’s say they do, which they can’t, and then you take all the bags of pennies and throw them in the ocean. Hah! Like you could even lift a bag full of pennies, let alone throw it, you wuss. I’d pay a trillion dollars to see that. But let’s say you’ve done it, which you couldn’t have. With that many pennies you’d fill up all the oceans all over the world so all the water would overflow and flood all the land and drown everybody. Everybody in the whole world would be dead and it would be your fault. And then I’d tell.

The Head Counselor At My Summer Camp

HEY! Say I give you a trillion dollars. In cash. Know what you’re gonna do with it? Well listen up! You’re gonna stack those dollar bills up one on top of the other in a NEAT PILE! And you know what? When you’re done that stack will go all the way to the moon! But you’re gonna have to have plenty of sticktoitiveness to finish the job! Think you could do it? Nahh, you’d probably give up at about the ionosphere and go spend the rest on licorice and whittling kits at the Trading Post. I don’t know why I bother.

My High School Social Studies Teacher

One trillion dollars is enough money for the federal government to give every man, woman and child in the entire world a hundred and fifty dollars. Except you teenagers would probably think it’s some kind of big joke and go around and get in line again and try to get paid twice. Well, that’s real smart! What if your second payout means that some poor orphan in Ethiopia doesn’t get any money at all and dies of starvation? What if everybody did that? We’d have rioting in Ethiopia and then probably war in Africa and by then you’d be 19 or 20 years old and have to go fight and maybe get killed. So you’re only hurting yourself.

My College Roommate

If my dad’d give me a trillion dollars, I could take that hot blonde from chem lab out for both lunch and dinner at the fanciest, most expensive restaurant in town every single day for 5,479,452 years. Man, then she’d just have to come across. Huh? Tips? No, why? Oh. OK, so 4,657,534 years. But still.

My Ex-Fiancée

If you’d get your rear in gear and earn a trillion dollars you could buy me the entire Dior, Prada, Donna Karan, Jimmy Choo and Manolo Blahnik collections every single season until I die and still have more than 999 billion left. And then about two seconds after my funeral you’d forget all about me and start dating some cute little gold-digger. You bastard. Oh dammit to hell! I forgot to factor in inflation. Why didn’t you remind me? Now I have to do the entire calculation all over again. Thanks a lot!

My Stoned-Out Coworker At My Old Job

OK, say you had, like, a trillion dollars, OK? And say you got it in fifties. No, wait, hundreds. So then say you start counting it. I figure you can count, like, what, maybe two bills per hour? Whoa, I mean per second! Yeah, per second. And say you count 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 52 weeks a year…That means it would take you…hang on…it would be, like, almost…I don’t know, maybe 158 or 159 years before you even counted it all. Something like that. Even with leap year. And plus you’d have to like really really really concentrate all the time so you don’t lose count, right? So basically it’s impossible to count it all, so you’d never actually know that you actually had a trillion dollars. So you could loan me — even just give me — like two billion and you’d never even miss it. Right? Right. So how about twenty right now? C’mon!

My Pastor

In the eyes of God, a trillion dollars is as a single penny. Even such an unfathomable sum won’t buy you salvation. Or an air conditioner in hell. But we could sure use one in the parsonage. Did you know that the original Aramaic text of Leviticus in the Dead Sea Scrolls actually defines tithing as 25 percent? Wait — were you saying you had a trillion dollars or if you had a trillion dollars? I see. The federal budget deficit? Let us pray…

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