* Welcome to The Big Jewel, where we are seldom topical but always relevant. Well, today, actually we are topical because we had this terrific piece about the first moon landing by Jen Spyra, and then Neil Armstrong died and suddenly a bit of history became news again. We publish this in honor of one of the greatest quests ever undertaken by humanity, and the three brave men who put a face on it. What was the name of that third guy again?

Neil Armstrong And Buzz Aldrin Discuss Who’s Going To Get Out First

By: Jen Spyra

Apollo 11’s control panel beeps: Distance to moon: 10,000 feet.



BUZZ: I can’t believe this is really happening!

NEIL: Buzz, we are seriously going to be the first two people to walk on the moon. Do you know what that means? We’ll probably meet the president. On color TV! How amazing is that?

BUZZ: Unbelievable. It’s like looking out a window!

NEIL: No, I mean landing on the moon.

BUZZ: Oh. Right.

NEIL: Have you thought of anything to say? You know, post-landing?

BUZZ: Are you kidding? I’m gonna say, “I’m on the moon, baby!”

NEIL: That’s…that’s good.

BUZZ: Why, what were you gonna say?

NEIL: Well, I’ve been toying with something along the lines of, “One small step for a man, one giant leap for mankind.”

BUZZ: Someone’s fancy.

Control panel: Distance to moon: 8,000 feet.

NEIL: Just think about all the time we’ve spent preparing for this. Practicing landing module repairs in simulated weightlessness, the grueling physical training — all in preparation for this moment. It’s almost overwhelming…

BUZZ: But there’s no stopping us now. We’re gonna be in the history books! “Buzz Aldrin and Neil Armstrong!”

NEIL: Right. Or, “Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin!”

BUZZ: I just figured it would be alphabetical.

NEIL: Yeah…it’ll probably be whoever steps on the moon first.

Control Panel: Distance to moon: 7,000 feet.

BUZZ: You know, that thing you said about feeling overwhelmed…If you want to just lie down for a little, I can poke around by myself when we get to the moon while you relax.

NEIL: Thanks, buddy, but I’m not that tired. No need to lie down.

BUZZ: No shame in taking a breather.

NEIL: I’m fine, honestly. You’re looking a little pale yourself.

BUZZ: Really? I’ve never felt more vigorous and able.

NEIL: You don’t want to take a few minutes while I’m out there to do some circulation exercises? Never hurts to promote healthy blood flow.

BUZZ: Nah.

Control Panel: Distance to moon: 6,000 feet.

BUZZ: You know, we never really talked about logistics.

NEIL: True. Before we do, though, I just want to take a moment now to let you know that working with you has been the rarest privilege. You’re hard-working, disciplined, and an exemplary copilot and friend. I’ll remember these days as the highlight of my life. And you know, now that I think about it, I feel really strongly that you should go first.

BUZZ: Thanks, Neil. That means a lot. But you should go first.

NEIL: Okay.

BUZZ: Uh — well — why don’t we do, first one who gets their gear on goes first?

Buzz starts to suit up. Neil pats around, looking for something.

NEIL: Buzz, where’s my retroflector?

BUZZ: You’re retro-wha?

NEIL: My retroflector. The thing that lets me walk on the moon.

BUZZ: Oh yeah. I think I saw it in the TV room.

Neil floats away to check.

Control Panel: Distance to moon: 5,000 feet.

NEIL: It’s not in there! I always put it back in the cubbyhole when I get in from space. Were you using it?


MICHAEL COLLINS: I just had this weird premonition that no one will remember me.

BUZZ: That’s crazy. You’re our Command Module Pilot. Everyone will know that Neil and I went to the moon with a third guy who was responsible for orbiting the moon while we walked on it.

Neil floats back in.

NEIL: Hey. I just found my retroflector. It was taped to the outside of the module. Buzz — are you trying to sabotage me?

BUZZ (mimicking in a high-pitched voice): Are you trying to sabotage me? Not any more than you’ve been trying to sabotage me from jump street!

NEIL: Excuse me?

BUZZ: You told NASA I had a heart murmur. You told NASA that I was bad at climbing steps and that, specifically, I would trip on the stepladder bridging the landing module and the moon.

NEIL: Whatever. You’re a moron, Buzz! You wanted say, “I’m on the moon, baby!”

Control Panel: Distance to moon: 1,000 feet.

Neil starts to push Buzz into a closet.

NEIL: Just…get…in…

BUZZ: Hey! Come on —

NEIL: You’ve always been there, between me and the moon…buzzing between us…

BUZZ: Neil, you’re eyes are like, crazy.

NEIL: It’s in your name…Buzzzz…but it’s over now…I’m making history…I’ll be a national icon…

BUZZ: Get off me!

NEIL: No lines…free appetizers…consequence-free sex…

BUZZ: Are you just naming things you’ll get if you’re the first person on the moon?

NEIL: Free upgrades…color TV…my face on a quarter…

MICHAEL: Do you think we’ll still hang out on Earth? I really hope so, guys.

* Welcome to The Big Jewel, where we champion the car of the future. Unfortunately, the sucker who owns the car of the future may well live in the past. His name might even be Michael Fowler.

I Drive A Chevy Clueless

By: Michael Fowler

My first car, bought with earnings from my stockboy job in a grocery store and help from my parents, was a Volkswagen Virgin. It wasn’t my first choice, but at $500 for a triply pre-owned one, I could afford it. It had no accessories worthy of the name and certainly nothing to help me out on dates. The car was as chaste as I was, with no cigarette lighter, no cup holder for side-by-side Miller Lites, and a spotty red Earl Scheib paintjob that resembled my horrific case of acne. Even the basics were missing: the contraption had no AC, heat that seeped out through the frame, and a defective AM radio that only played “Surfin’ Bird” and “American Pie” and not one note of romantic mood music.

The first girl I took out in the Virgin complained that she couldn’t turn the rearview mirror to adjust her makeup and hair, since the mirror was stuck in place with epoxy and came off in her hand. I didn’t even have a back seat to ask her to sit in, since I had reduced it to a lump of char with a carelessly flicked cigarette butt. There was also a funny smell that I discovered was caused by a decomposing pair of swim shorts in the trunk from what must have been a previous owner’s ill-fated dip in a badly polluted lake or septic tank.

My Virgin got me through college, always taking a wrong turn on the road to sexual conquest, and when I settled in on a fulltime job I graduated to a Kia Metrosexual. This was quite a step up for me and I had to get used to all the modern features. I had power everything, a blasting AC and heater, and bucket seats. The car had tinted windows and soft lighting, like the interior of a theater with the lights down. As soon as I opened the door, soothing preprogrammed music purred on the woofers like heavy breathing. A battery-operated odorizer (included in the sticker price) spritzed the air with notes of musk and rutting. The car was a deep, lustrous maroon that made you want to run your fingers through the finish. There was an extra interior mirror so I could watch myself drive, and the glove compartment came equipped with two dozen condoms, just in case. Right before the last drive-ins closed, I made use of the back seat with a girlfriend or two, and finally scored with Karen, my future wife. I celebrated by honking my horn right in the middle of King Kong.

With childbearing days upon us, Karen and I sprang for a Pontiac Ark. Roughly the size of the Exxon Valdez but somewhat easier on oil usage, the Ark had room for nine car seats, and later our daughter’s entire third-grade soccer team plus their water bottles. Plenty of space for the family animals in the Ark, too. We led our cats and dogs in two-by-two, and even three-by-three. The seats had thick, liquid-resistant covers, easy to wipe baby vomit and dog pee off of, and backseat cleanup was easy after Karen lost a pint of amniotic fluid during our rushed drive to the hospital to have our fifth child.

With the kids grown up and gone and Karen and I getting on towards mid-life and its feeling of lost youth, we looked at a Toyota Narcissus. But here technology got the better of us. A sign that I would have trouble figuring the car out was the terrifying 1,500-page owner’s manual that lay enshrined in the glove compartment like the President’s latest unreadable budget proposal. I couldn’t comprehend how to program the dashboard to answer phone calls or show how many miles before empty, let alone configure the GPS to talk to me, and I felt that the evening classes offered at the dealership would only brand me as an idiot, even though I could claim college credit for taking them. It rained during the test drive, and I couldn’t figure which of the 72 wiper blade speeds was most appropriate. The cost of a replacement electronic key was $700, more than I had paid for my entire VW Virgin, and I was not reassured when Clive, the tiny robot manservant who lived in the back seat, promised to hang it up for me. The car was so much more intelligent than I was, I felt that it should be driving me around.

So Karen and I opted for the Chevy Clueless. It’s very basic. Four wheels, two doors, a motor and a key. That’s about it. Any more stripped-down and it’d be what Fred Flintstone drives. That’s fine with Karen too, since she didn’t get the knack of strapping a child’s car seat into the Ark until our third child was born. We also test-drove the Ford Rivet, the Dodge Dropping and the Kia Gland, cars well known for being dumbed down for aging boomers, but they still had complicated gadgetry or some other feature we didn’t care to deal with. The Rivet’s power sunroof nearly beheaded me, and the Gland only got a laughable 75 miles to the gallon in the city. The tiny Dropping sat so close to the ground that I had to exit in the seated position, and ended up kneeling like a religious zealot on the dealer’s lot. Getting in, my legs buckled and I collapsed in the driver’s seat in a fetal position. At least I could climb in and out of the Clueless without collapsing, and Karen and I both loved that everything about it was unadorned and simple and that it came with an “endless refill” gas card.

With the Clueless I do have to tolerate a few jibes from my asstool neighbor next door, who drives a Chrysler Pompous. Loaded with chrome, computer navigated, powered by natural gas — but I’m describing my neighbor. The Pompous itself is only slightly less garish. When Stan, which is what I call my neighbor since his name is Bill, saw me pull my new and comparatively featureless Clueless into the drive, he asked me if I had joined the Amish, though nothing about the Clueless resembles a horse and buggy. If it did, I would lead it into Stan’s front yard twice a day to relieve itself.

Stan calls me “The Luddite” now and keeps asking how I like my Unabomber-mobile. Funny guy, my neighbor. Next time he talks smack about my Clueless, I’m parking it on his feet.

* Welcome to The Big Jewel, where we are happy to report that our prayers have been answered. We were hoping for a piece that could portray how people REALLY pray, and here it is, courtesy of Kathryn A. Higgins. Blessings.

My Prayer

By: Kathryn Higgins

After the Our Father, when it’s time for me to pray in church, I really just kneel and wish for shit (Petition). It’s not an abstract yearning, like I do in regular life, but an articulation of actual wishes, as if I were in a fairy tale — I’m the fisherman who’s caught the magical golden fish in his net.

I think, subconsciously, that there’s always a catch with wishes. I wonder if I have worded my wishes correctly. I think of the wishes as bargains, and wonder what price I would have to pay if any of my wishes were granted, and I wonder if they are really worth that price. I realize that my prayers (wishes) are self-serving and that God, if She did exist (which I then pause to doubt), would not approve.

So then I contritely think about all the bad stuff I’ve done in the last week that I regret. I struggle to think of anything so bad it’s worth God’s notice, and then I sort of universally apologize for things like getting mad at other drivers and being impatient and hurt when my son answers me in monosyllables and for saying the F-word when I didn’t get a job I’d hoped I’d get (Expiation).

I think that despite all the bad shit, I am happy about my son and daughter, even though they’re adolescents, which is a challenge. I start thanking God for them, and then I remember I did most of the work (Thanksgiving).

I think that even if Christ hadn’t died for our sins, or if He hadn’t actually risen from the dead (and I stop to wonder why this is necessary), then, regardless, He was a really cool person (Adoration). Then, taking Him as an example, I dutifully wish for some good shit for other people, or I think with empathy about those who are troubled or sick or dead, trying to send them good vibes, or I wish that I could be a better mother to my children (still Petition, with an effort at Charity and Love).

Then I think I would indeed be a better mother if some of my original wishes — I mean prayers — were granted. Because I would be happier, more fulfilled, less poor and frantic and bitchy and embattled by horrors like Customer Service and my ex-husband (Resentment).

And then, as long as I’m going there, I pray for some bad shit to happen to all the people who’ve disrespected me, in whatsoever way, so that my circumstances would seem better in comparison or just because I want to indulge in some Schadenfreude, and why not? I think of Sodom and Gomorrah and Jonah (Vengefulness). Then I reel myself back in again and remember that “God” wouldn’t approve (or would She?) (Contrition), and so I end by wishing for world peace for all those assholes out there, world without end, Amen.


* Welcome to The Big Jewel, where our favorite love song is called "I've Grown Accustomed to Your Typeface." This week we'd like to introduce Courtney Maum, whose first piece for us is about the love that dares not italicize its name.

The OkCupid Profile Of The Typeface Curlz MT

By: Courtney Maum



Worcester, Massachusetts


My self-summary:

Well, I’m a happy-go-lucky type of girl who’s really into friendship and good old-fashioned fun. I have a lot of girlfriends and a very active life, but I still find myself with times when I am alone and wishing I had someone special with me to share my love of life!


What I’m doing with my life:

Well — I guess you could say I work in marketing. I have lots of jobs. I advertise services at like nail salons and pet stores, and I’m on the takeout menus of a ton of high end cupcake shops — that’s one of the reasons I like cupcakes so much. (Probably too much ;-] ) I could probably be more athletic if I tried. If you’re super athletic, you probably shouldn’t message me. I’m more of a homebody and don’t want to gross you out!


I’m really good at:

Writing letters

Bicycling sometimes


First things people notice:

Um, the whimsical curlicues at my nethermost edges? Also — my curly hair. Lovers of humidity need not apply!


Favorite books, movies, shows, food:

Ooofff — so many to think of! Steel Magnolias, Mystic Pizza — basically anything with Julia Roberts, obvs. Loved, loved, loved The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants, and the bar scenes from Coyote Ugly make me want to dance! I totally crack for strawberry piña coladas and Chex Mix krispie cakes. Basically, anything with melted marshmallow has my name on it. Like, literally. I would love love love to see a real musical one day. Wicked or South Pacific — your pick!


6 things I can’t do without:

Friends and family <3 <3 <3

My SkyRest travel pillow and lavender vanilla sleep spray

“On a clear day” foaming acne cleanser

Pastel Post-it notes

My ten-pack of glitter glue sticks

My signed poster of Gill Sans Ultra Bold (swoooon!!)


I spend a lot of time thinking about:

Key lime flavored Jell-O

Apple Chancery, that snoot!

Will I find someone to love me


Typical Friday night:

Margaritas w/the ladees == (P. Colada for me!!), a little keno, karaoke. A couple pizzas, bed!

If I had a BF = takeout food and movies, Pinterest uploads, “me time” on the couch!


Most private thing I’m willing to admit:

Sometimes I have dreams that I’m Apple Chancery — the most popular decorative sans serif typeface in town — and I have expensive sheets in these dreams and crystal cups of strawberries and I fit into a size four pair of white pants and have gold bracelets on my arms and people take things off my bill at brunch because I’m too pretty to pay full price for my egg-white omelet and I have a beautiful, fantastical, sparkling apple life!


I’m looking for:

      Sans-serifs who like serifs!

      Ages 27-52

      Fans of Mac OS X Tiger

      For new friends


Last online:  Online now

Height:  Typically, 12 pt

Body type:  Curvy

Drinks:  Um, what?

Drugs:  NEVA EVA

Sign:  Aquarius and it matters a lot

Job:  Sales/Marketing/Biz Dev

Offspring:  Hoping!! Would one day love to make a little wingding of my own!


You should message me if:

You are outgoing but only up to a certain point, (like not too embarrassing, like if ur talking to everyone except me in a bar), if you like weekend barbeques with family and friends, parakeets (really) and red chocolate velvet cupcakes with heaps of extra icing! No smokers allowed — yucky — but I will be there for you if you’ve quit.


Regardless of future plans, what’s most interesting to you right now?

True love!