* Welcome to The Big Jewel, where we like to think Oscar Wilde got it right when he described the game of golf as "A good walk ruined." Or as S.H. Carlyle might put it, "A good high ruined."

Golf Tips

By:

Played properly, golf is a great game. Played improperly, it is a frustrating waste of time. But with a few small tips and a little practice, you can turn a maddening afternoon on the course into a triumph. So breathe deeply into your ether-soaked rag and let’s begin.

When you’re on the tee, release the tension in your shoulders. Line the ball up in your stance. You’ll want to keep your weight slightly on your toes. The power in your golf swing comes from your hips, so be sure to start your swing from there. You’ll also begin to experience a tingling feeling spreading through your body as if you were slowly getting into a warm bath. Your face will begin to feel heavy and soft, like warm dough. Keep your left arm straight and swing through the ball.

As you walk up the fairway, visualize your next shot. Take a hit from the rag to help you visualize. One of the most important things to remember is that this game is simple if you let it be simple. Do not be distracted by the growing noise of a chainsaw in your ears. And don’t let yourself be rattled by the frequent bouts of spontaneous blindness. Think of it as a way to cut out the visual distractions. Also know that these distractions will get more vivid and alarming.

It’s also important to be aware of the course conditions. When you reach your ball, take a moment to appreciate the texture of the fairway by lying down and putting your cheek against it. Do not rush this process; take the time you need. Whisper to your ball that you aren’t afraid of it. Your ball may reply with angry racial slurs, so put it in your mouth to show it who’s in charge. When you’re ready, get up and select a club. You might need more ether for this.

Your ball will have learned its lesson by this point, so it’s safe to spit it out. Once you’ve selected what you’re fairly certain is a golf club (taste it to make sure), gauge the distance to the hole. Wind is often a factor, as is that black wolf on the green that keeps eyeing you. Do not try to yell at it, as you have most likely lost the power of coherent speech. Take off your shirt and wave it over your head to scare it off. Take off your pants as well because the sounds they’re making upsets you. Line up your ball and swing.

At this point it’s best to select a single club that you will use for the rest of the hole, as your golf bag will weigh several hundred pounds. It may also be engulfed in cold blue flames. Leave it behind. The best players often only use one club anyways. Gary Player won the 1961 Masters with only a 7 iron and a pocketful of mescaline. A 6 iron would be appropriate given its versatility and the fact that the other clubs have grown fangs and are trying to bite you.

As you walk onto the green, painful personal memories might begin to manifest themselves physically. Your father will begin walking beside you. He’ll tell you that the greatest disappointment of his life was your inability to get into medical school. He will then begin listing your more notable failures in chronological order. Do not let this ruin your putting. Some more ether will improve your concentration.

Upon reflection, you’ll find that more ether will not improve your concentration. But golf is a game of risks. The green will begin to tilt crazily in an attempt to dump you into a sand trap. Drive your 6 iron into the ground to stabilize yourself. If you do go into the sand things will go badly. Jack Nicklaus was known to spend hours rolling around in the sand screaming about giant crabs. You do not want this happening to you.

By now a crowd will have started to form around the green. Do not acknowledge their presence, even if they ask you to come inside or to stop urinating on the course. Just finish off the ether and focus on your putt. Approach your ball and line up your shot with what’s left of your club. Aim for a spot six inches in front of the ball, vomit copiously and remember to follow through.

Was that so hard? You’ve finally made your father proud. He looks so happy. But now the wolf’s attacking him. Now they’re kissing. But that’s just part of the game.

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* Welcome to The Big Jewel, where all drinks are on the house. And God knows drinks like these should be free.

Hell’s Microbrew

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Welcome to Hellpub!

How’s your damnation going? Have you visited Hellzoo, where the interactive mauling exhibit just opened? Don’t forget Satancakes, hell’s newest pastry shop, where the “frosting” is sentient and angry.

With oodles of torments available in hell 24/7/infinity — plus the microbrew revolution on Earth — it isn’t easy for Hellpub to offer something to please/torture today’s discerning beer enthusiast/eternal tormentee. But that doesn’t stop us from trying! Ask your waiter for samples. Flights also available.

Fresh Hell Ale

This is a complex beer, with strong hops and a stronger ick factor. It causes 743 different types of mind-bending, soul-shredding agony. Honestly, we’ve done studies. Warning: Not served fresh.

Oh God, the Pain, the Pain, the Pain Triple Porter

How good does a beer have to be to make Hellpub’s menu? Not good at all, and by Lucifer’s beard, is this beer awful. Drinking it has been compared to “swallowing lizards” and “swimming in pure, liquid anguish.” This stuff could keep dogs from chasing squirrels, if you sprayed it on the squirrels, who would quickly die, as would the dogs and surrounding vegetation. It is also malty.

Beelzebrew Amber Ale

This Gold Medal Winner in the “Most Dissolved Organs” category has hoppy accents and a distinct I-just-swallowed-a-goliath-bird-eating-spider mouthfeel. Clean finish.

Hell in a Bucket Barley Wine

If you didn’t come to hell in a bucket, you may leave in one, as this dark and rich beer goes down smooth but destroys your nervous system. Just kidding, no one leaves hell! Warning: The alcohol in this beer will sneak up on you, much like the serial killers who drink free at Hellpub on Serial Saturdays.

Dismemberale

Back on earth, a sweet malty flavor is often balanced with hop bitterness. We also realize balance is essential. Instead of sweetness and bitterness, we prefer to balance the pain of lost opportunities with the agony of a sharp stick through your big toenail. Goes well with our patented Buffalo-style angel wings.

Four-way Stout

The beer is a Mormon’s marriage of darkly delicious styles: milk stout, oatmeal stout, Russian imperial stout, and oozing-cyst stout. I wouldn’t call this beer drinkable. Few can accomplish that feat. I wouldn’t even call it survivable, because our patrons are already dead. This beer is a paradox.

Extra Dry Stout

You think you drank some dry stouts on earth? Not like this. Our extra dry stout isn’t even a beer: it’s a brick. Warning: We make you drink it through a straw (Satan’s orders).

Aversion Therap-ale

Is that the aroma of chocolate? The scent of coffee? Or the stench of hot death? Actually, it’s all three. Among the many achievements of this robust porter is that it will cure you completely of your fondness for chocolate and coffee.

Deliverance Doppelbock

This one is wild. It not only has a rich, malty nose, but a real nose from some kind of pig or hellhog. The banjo-playing rapist on the bottle is only there to create ambiance.

Hellhound I-Pee-A

The most honestly named beer in the netherworld.

Pale USAle

Even in hell, we know that US craft beer is the gold standard, and we’re not afraid to take a page from the book of our American friends. After all, they’ve filled so many rooms and pits over the years. Our USAle is a special treat for history buffs: it contains the blood of an American President currently residing in hell. Can you guess who?

Lava Lager

Warning: Contains no lager.

 

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* Welcome to The Big Jewel, the Mordor of modern humor sites. This week please welcome David Beitzel, whose first piece for us is an homage to Gandalf the Grey and his new career in academia.

An Embittered Gandalf Fills In As A University Commencement Speaker

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Greetings, Class of 2011!

Yes, you are at the right commencement. I know you were expecting Daniel Tosh, but he had a prior engagement telling ethnic jokes at the Kennedy Center, so I trust you will indulge this simple old wizard.

For those of you who do not know me, I am Gandalf the White, Greybeard, Steward of Middle-earth and Leader of the Fellowship.

Surely, your class…Hey, no cell phones, please. Surely, your class will accomplish great things, as well. As an alumnus myself, I know some of the trials you face. Wizardry wasn’t my first choice of study — actually, it was architecture — but I’ve been doing pretty well for myself.

Maybe I didn’t get to design the Tower of Orthanc — no, they chose Morton’s Construction for that — but I did hold Narya, the Ring of Fire, one of the most powerful rings in Middle-earth. If anyone would like replicas for their class rings, I’ll have them available after the ceremonies. Just don’t get all fuzzy-eyed on Longbottom Leaf and give them to some Grey Havens nymph. What was I thinking?

Ahem. Where was I? Oh, right. The road I traveled took me to places I never dreamed of. When I was held captive by Saruman, days passed like weeks. His treachery was unthinkable and I didn’t know if I’d survive…Excuse me. Hey, Tri-Delts, can you stop texting for a second? I know you’re excited about the kegger, but this is kind of emotional for me.

Anyway, with the fate of our world hanging perilously on the whims of Fate, I thought back to my old consort Cirdan the Shipwright. He warned me of Sauron’s foul minions. He warned me of avarice that corrupted friendships. He warned me of dark powers that destroyed good men. He never warned me about the slash fiction, though. Come on, guys. “Two Beards, One Staff?” It’s time to grow up.

Believe it or not, you are this world’s future. I’m sure it was hard to imagine all those times you got a bad grade and thought you shall not pass. Heh. But here you are. And let me tell you, I didn’t think I’d make it when I faced the monstrous Balrog, flame of Udun…Seriously? A beach ball? I’m trying to tell a story here.

You know what? I’m done. I don’t need this. I pushed back a phalanx of orcs at the siege of Helm’s Deep, you little twerps.

You think I didn’t want to study drawing? I took a job that would pay the bills and, oh, I don’t know, help save the freaking world. Your generation thinks math is hard. You know what was hard? Dying and then navigating back to the mortal world.

Ash nazg durbatulûk, ash nazg gimbatul, Ash nazg thrakatulûk agh burzum-ishi krimpatu! That’s the Black Speech, nerds. Mordor’s tengwar. But, yeah, that gen-ed requirement for a semester of French was such a bummer, wasn’t it? You ignorant little jerks, wasting your days downloading and rutting.

Well, you’re all Bachelors of the Arts now. I’m sure that will go swell.

Good luck with gas prices, suckers! You don’t need to fill up too often when you’re riding Gwaihir, Lord of the Eagles.

 

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* Welcome to The Big Jewel. It has been four years since we last published anything by Michael Fowler. Where has he been all this time, and what has he been doing? Let him tell it in his own words. We should also mention Michael's two novels, God Made the Animals and The Created Couple, links to which can be found under the Blogroll at the right-hand side of this page.

Snowed In

By:

“We’re shut in,” I said the next morning. “The blizzard dropped almost ten feet on the cabin. I can tell because there’s only two inches at the top of the big window to see out of, and the top is ten feet off the ground. The door won’t budge. It may be days, even weeks, before we can get out.”

“Great,” said the buddy I’d come hunting with. He was laid up on the sofa since I shot him in the leg yesterday afternoon, before the snow. It was just a flesh wound, heaven be praised. “At least the central heating is working. And the lights. And the cable. And the phone.”

“Yeah,” I said. “But the water’s off. Frozen, I guess. And there’s no food.”

“Damn,” he said. “There was food last night.”

“I ate it.”

“What’ll we do?”

I stood on the sofa and looked out the top two inches of window.

“Just pray we can get out soon and make it over to the McDonald’s across the street. Looks like they’re open, or will be when that kid finishes shoveling the lot.”

“Christ. Can’t we phone for delivery?”

“The phone just went out.”

That night we turned in without breakfast, lunch or dinner, and sipping only a few handfuls each of melted snow. About midnight, when my “pal” was sleeping, I went upstairs to the attic and opened the chest I had up there, full of boxes of saltines and jars of peanut butter. I had another trunk of bottles of water. I ate half a box of crackers and half a jar of peanut butter and drank two bottles of water before going downstairs and getting back in bed.

The next morning Dennis, that was my friend’s name, and I had a few pinches of snow for breakfast. I belched, and he sniffed the air.

“I could swear I smell peanut butter,” he said.

“You’re probably hallucinating, you’re so hungry.”

“I guess,” he glared at me. “How’s it look out?”

I stood on the sofa. But I didn’t need to, since all the snow had melted in a heat wave and the window offered a clear view. I saw green grass and a few trees in front of the cabin, the highway, and across the highway, McDonald’s, open for business. But my “pal” was facing the wrong way to see out the window.

“Bad news,” I said. “We must have got more snow, since now I can only see out the top half inch of the window. McDonald’s is dark inside.”

“Oh man.”

“Listen,” I said. “You just rest up. I’ll get you a little snow to eat and then go upstairs to, uh, finish up a wood project I’ve been working on. I’m building us a sled.”

“Somehow, we’ll pull through,” he said.

“You know it,” I said.

After his nap he thought he smelled peanut butter again.

“God, don’t mention peanut butter to me,” I said. “You have no idea how that tortures me.” This was true, since by now I was sick of the stuff.

I moistened his lips with rubbing alcohol.

“God, that stings!” he said.

“That’s a sign you’re dehydrated.” I didn’t mention that the reason I hated his guy was, he wasn’t my friend, he was my boss. The worst boss I ever had, no lie. I hated his butt. “Better take some more melted snow. It’s good for you.”

“One thing I can’t figure out: how come you’re not dehydrated and weak too?”

“I haven’t figured that one out yet either,” I said. “Now get some rest.”

While he rested, I went back upstairs. The fire escape was thawed now, so I went out the window and down to the ground. I crossed the street and feasted on cheeseburgers, fries and malteds, then went back up the escape to the second floor.

“How’s it going?” I checked on Dennis. That was my boss’s name, I think I mentioned.

“It’s worse. I can hardly move. But I thought I heard someone on the roof. Rescuers?”

“Yeah. They’re trying to get in to help us. But it’s like digging out a collapsed mine. We’ll have to be patient.”

“Did they bring any food? I smell McDonald’s.”

“You’re hallucinating again,” I said.

I checked on him later.

“You’re getting out, aren’t you?” he said.

“No way,” I said. This was true. Another blizzard had dumped another ten feet of snow on us. “The rescuers had to give up because of worsening conditions. We’re still sealed in, just like they’re sealed out.” I wished he’d fall asleep so I could get upstairs to the peanut butter. Or maybe he was weak enough now that I could go ahead and eat in front of him without worrying about how he felt about it.

“How’re you feeling? Can you hang on a little longer, say a few more days?”

“With nothing to eat, and on the handfuls of snow you feed me? How could I?” he demanded. Then he sat up on the sofa. “Haven’t you wondered why I haven’t died yet, or at least passed out?”

It had crossed my mind. It’d been three days since I’d last seen him eat anything. He got up off the sofa and pulled a suitcase out from under it. I didn’t recall seeing him bring any luggage in the cabin. He put the case on the sofa, unlatched it, and showed me neat rows of candy bars. If he’d started with a full case, he’d probably eaten about 250 by then. He closed the suitcase and slid it back under sofa, dislodging a can of lager that rolled toward my feet.

“But your parched lips,” I said.

“They’re just chapped. I always get chapped lips in the winter.”

“Do you think I still have a job?” I said.

“I doubt it,” he said. “I was debating it, but the rubbing alcohol was the last straw.”

He was pointing his hunting rifle at me. I couldn’t find my deerslayer.

“Look,” I said. “I’ll file, type, answer the phones, for God’s sake. Anything.”

There was the explosion of a shot, and a section of the wall beside me broke and splintered. “Bring me the peanut butter,” he said. “And whatever you’re spreading it on.”

“That would be crackers,” I said. “Coming right up.”

“We are having some crazy-ass weather, aren’t we?” I said while he ate. He was shoving peanut butter and crackers into his mouth with one hand and holding the rifle on me with the other. “I think we got more snow. I can’t see out the window any more.”

“It’s El Nino,” he said, cracker bits flying off his lips. “Or the breakdown of the saline engine in the Arctic Ocean due to global warming, like in The Day After Tomorrow. That means a new Ice Age is upon us. Man, I can’t tell you how sick I am of candy bars.”

“Listen, I’m really sorry,” I said. “It’s just that when I didn’t get that upgrade to assistant team leader, I blamed you and lost my head. But I’m now willing to stay in my old job and work even harder, if you could see your way to letting me do that.”

Another shot just missed my left shoulder.

“Do you think I could at least have a candy bar?” I said.

He shook his head no. “When you’re too weak to move,” he said, “I’ll get you a handful of snow. If I don’t shoot you first.”

Just then the rescuers burst in and shot Dennis to death, figuring I was his hostage.

“You just shot my boss,” I said. “I’m suing. Candy bar?”

 

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* Welcome to The Big Jewel, where we confess to being just as surprised as the next fellow that the science of teleportation goes all the way back to the 19th century. In this case the next fellow is our good friend Tim Cushing.

Correspondence From A Teleportation Pioneer

By:

April 8th, 1897

Dear M.,

I’m afraid I shan’t be attending the 75th Annual Threshing Bee due to the lack of a reliable matter transporter in my area, and I find the prospect of a nine-day trip for three hours of threshing unappealing.

However, I am looking to rectify the matter transporter situation within the next fortnight.

Until then,

T.

April 17th, 1897

Dear M.,

Perhaps a fortnight was a tad optimistic. As seems to be the case with most mail-order kits, the construction of a teleporter seems to require a second person. To this end, I have been auditioning a veritable slew of assistants.

So far, the applicants have either been petty and backstabbing or alarmingly reverential. While my years with the railroad have made me immune to backstabbing (and given me plenty of handwritten “STAB ME” signs), the tendency of the “alarmingly reverential” hopefuls to display their devotion through insect eating or drunken late night telegrams is very unsettling.

Sincerely,

T.

May 7th, 1897

Dear M.,

Sacre bleu! My alarmingly reverential assistant has absconded with the blueprint for the matter transporter! While the cocktail napkin and writing implement are replaceable, I am concerned that he may attempt to construct “Plan B,” which I had scrawled on the reverse side after a half-dozen absinthe spritzers.

While a majority of “Plan B” consists of stick figures in compromising positions, it also includes a rudimentary “doomsday device.” I had intended to use this “doomsday device” as a vindictive statement to the many critics of my still disassembled teleporter. Not only that, but my cursed French seems to be returning. I had suppressed it early in life (along with my left-handedness) through a combination of prayer and buckwheat. This does not bode well, especially with mon lycée regroupement juste autour du coin.

Au revoir,

T.

May 16th, 1897

M.,

Good news!. My assistant returned around 5 am this morning with the blueprints and a toothy grin full of repentance and insect limbs. I was so grateful for the return of the prints that I completely forgot to have him drawn and quartered.

In addition, I received my long-delayed cruciform device. This integral piece was smuggled out of the Vatican by a well-paid courier who cleverly marked the package “1-1/4-inch Lag Bolts” so as not to draw the attention of customs. Unfortunately, I am still missing the ten (10) 1-1/4″ lag bolts I need. The postal service has told me to expect delays due to a shortage of lag bolts for their own hopper cars. I informed them that this sounded like classic postal service blundering and swiftly mailed an irate letter to my congressman. Hopefully, this will reach him before his term comes to a close (a mere 18 months away).

Hoping this letter finds you well,

T.

June 1st, 1897

Dear M.,

Another setback. I am still missing my crucial lag bolts. I also fear I’ve inadvertently made the situation worse with a stream of profanities directed at our Postmaster General. Informing him that the lag bolts are the only thing stopping me from assembling my transporter and rendering his livelihood unnecessary has brought my mail service to a near halt.

Hoping this letter finds you,

T.

June 20th, 1897

Dear M.,

Success! The lag bolts have arrived!

My assistant and I performed a test run late last night, sending two houseflies through the transporter and delivering them intact 40 feet away in the master bedroom. There seemed to be no physical damage, but upon “arrival,” they flew aimlessly to the nearest window and spent the next several hours motionlessly staring into the darkness.

They are still very much alive, but seem to missing, if not a “soul,” then their very essence of “fly-ness.” Can the ethereal be transported, seeing as it is not “matter?” A troubling question but one which should be answered by my assistant’s teleportation tomorrow evening.

Sincerely,

T.

June 21st, 1897

M.,

A partial success! My assistant made the 40-foot “jump” with no damage to his physical being. Unfortunately, his naively feisty spirit failed to make the trip. Upon emergence, he stared warily at me for a moment before heading to the windowsill to solemnly devour the two motionless flies and stare into the gathering gloom. A worrying development, to be sure.

However, I must try and get some sleep. Should my assistant suddenly return to his boisterous ways, I can expect to be awakened hourly with hisses of “Master!” and enthusiastic bug eating.

Warily,

T.

22 juin 1897

Dear M.,

My assistant is no longer. This afternoon (I overslept) found me greeted by an eerie silence and a badly-worded note stating that he was “off to Europe” indefinitely in an attempt to “find himself.”

I am left to test the transportation device myself. A baffling teletyped error message has appeared, indicating that I must “remove my clothes” before attempting teleportation as the device can apparently only transport “all-organic matter.” Even more baffling is the fact that the device has previously transported one (1) mostly-clothed assistant to the master bedroom and a portion of my laundry to parts unknown (following said assistant’s confusion as to the location of the hamper).

I will run a brief “clothing only” test later today. Should some apparel appear unexpectedly on your threshing floor, please inform me immediately. My name will be written on the waistband of the pants.

Sartorially challenged,

T.

July 5th, 1897

Dear M.,

As I have unsurprisingly received no response concerning my clothing experiment (the postal service is currently engaged in a localized strike, affecting only my mail delivery), I will be attempting to teleport myself to your threshing floor. To increase my chances of a successful teleportation, I will be “traveling” sans clothing.

Don’t be alarmed if I seem “out of sorts” (and “naked”) when I appear. I’m hoping this will be temporary and, once clothed and refreshed, I should be in attendance for the 75th Annual Square Dance and Bachelor Auction. I would imagine the womenfolk in your area might bid a tremendous amount for an underclothed scientist with access to various affronts to God, not to mention la chance de profiter des rapports sexuels très ambidextre.

Until my emergence,

T.

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