* Welcome to The Big Jewel, where all the world's a stage, and all the men and women merely players. Or in some cases playas. If you can't tell which is which, ask Barton Aronson.

Announcements For Tonight’s Performance

By: Barton Aronson

Tonight’s performance will begin in a few moments.

In case of an emergency, there are three emergency exits in this theater: the two doors on either side of Row T marked “NO EXIT” and the swinging doors separating the saloon from the barbershop in Act I.

Understudies never substitute for listed players unless a specific announcement is made at the time of the performance. Tonight, the role of the Villain in the Black Hat will be played by its understudy, Benjamin Stone. The role of the Black Hat will be played by its understudy, the White Dinner Jacket.

Please silence your cell phones.

Patrons arriving late will be seated during the general confusion sown by the disappearance of the brothel owner’s parakeet during Act I, Scene 3.

In Act II, the role of manly humility will be played by bitchy self-regard.

In tonight’s audience, the role of Dr. Robert Farnsworth’s elegant wife, ordinarily seated next to him in Row M, Seat 114, is apparently being played by a mysterious young tramp in an inappropriately revealing dress.

In Act III, Scene 2, the role of the deadly exchange of gunfire will be played by a catty exchange of insults.

In tonight’s audience, the role of The Idiot Who Thinks the Cell Phone Announcement Doesn’t Apply to Him is played by the guy in Row B, Seat 5, wearing the ill-advised light wash jeans.

In Act III, Scene 3, the strong, silent type will be played by the endlessly prattling foppish twit.

In tonight’s audience, the role of Dr. Robert Farnsworth, ordinarily seated in Row M, Seat 113, is apparently being played by Dr. Farnsworth’s twin brother, the Right Reverend Barry Farnsworth. The role of the Mysterious Young Tramp in the Inappropriately Revealing Dress in Row M, Seat 114 is being played by Rev. Farnsworth’s lovely daughter Tory. Management regrets the error.

In Act III, Scene 4, the naïve optimism of youth will be played by the bitter wisdom of age.

In Act IV, the vast, empty expanse of the frontier will be played by the soot-choked byways of the industrial metropolis. Patrons suffering from bronchial conditions are cautioned not to sit in the first six rows.

No coughing is permitted during tonight’s performance. Those who require lozenges are requested to unwrap them now. Those who dislike the sticky feeling left by holding unwrapped lozenges are requested to pull their Redi Wipes out of the crinkly plastic package now. Those who dislike the greasy residue left by holding Redi Wipes may wipe their fingers on their crushed velvet seats and dispose of the wipes by chewing them silently before swallowing.

In tonight’s performance, the role of the veteran Broadway producer draped suavely over seats 1A and 1B will be played by the theater novice from Wall Street pacing anxiously in the lobby.

Throughout tonight’s performance, the role of brand-named snack goods available at the first floor concession will be played by no-name generic candies made by a company recently acquired in a private equity deal by the theater’s owners. Management regrets the transaction.

At the conclusion of tonight’s performance, the role of the bang will be played by a whimper.

We hope you enjoy the show.


* Welcome to The Big Jewel, where we are always ready to engage in controversy. Here Devin Schiff looks at the difficult issue of guillotine control. Should we allow more concealed-carry guillotine laws? If we outlaw guillotines, will only outlaws have guillotines? Mr. Schiff has the answers.

You Can’t Take Away Our Guillotines

By: Devin Schiff

Only yesterday, my son asked me, “Why do they want to take our guillotines away?”

We sat at the dinner table, just me and my son, eating sauerkraut and yolks. He was crying while he ate. I took a sip of milk but it fell out of my mouth because I was sighing. I never thought that in this country, where I was born and raised, where my dad first showed me how to use a guillotine, where my high school yearbook photo is of me posing with my guillotines, that they would ever try to take our guillotines away from us.

I told my son that guillotine control punishes everyone for the not so great choices of a few, who have used their guillotines for evil and not for good. But people don’t understand that most guillotine owners are like me: harmless purebred folks who just want to feel safe at the Red Lobster factory outlet. They want to take ALL of our guillotines away. Then they’ll probably take them to a plant where they’ll recycle them and make them into gay benches. They don’t understand that ninety-nine-point-nine-nine-ninety-nine-nine percent of guillotine owners only use their guillotines for self defense. We keep the pieces separated and packed away in locked cabinets that are buried in the yard. The keys we keep in the dog. So when illegal men, armed to the teeth with guillotines, attack us I can defend myself. By cutting their heads off with my guillotine.

They won’t be able to take them away anyway. I’ve built a Rube Goldbergian contraption of overwhelming cleverness. When a force is applied to the door, the kicked-in or knocked-on door tugs on a rope overhead, which tips a hanging bucket, dropping a marble into a chute that travels around a bend before it taps the ‘play’ button on our tape recorder, which plays a recording of old mom’s voice saying ‘come in!’ all sweet like. The marble also hits another marble, which drops into a small metal box, depressing a lighter that lights a nearby wick. As the candle burns down, the hot wax drips onto a simple piece of blue string, which, when burned through, snaps, releasing a switch attached to a hammer, which hits the lever attached to a guillotine, which is above the door. Then the guillotine takes the swift plunge of freedom, severing the head of the intruder, who is sticking his neck out into a way of life where it doesn’t belong. Then I pick up his head and put it on a pike in the yard where the mailbox used to be.

Removing the mailbox is important because if they can’t send us mail, they can’t find us and take away my new guillotine, “Chops,” a ten-blade, six-speed dome-slayer with sonar and it takes pictures during the moment of descent just like they do on roller coasters, and which I only acquired because it will save our lives someday, son. That’s why the mailbox is also buried in the yard.

Liberals say that a responsible guillotine owner is an oxymoron. To that I say, “Look at me. Come see how I live. Bring your cameras. Make a reality show of me. I want to be on television.”

“Will they take away my baseball bat or old mom’s car?” asked my son, his little porkchop face interrupting my reveries. “You can kill people with those things.”

“They won’t,” I said, “because those things aren’t ‘killing machines,’ which is a word that the liberal mean-dia invented to hate on things that they say have no other use besides making people permanently dead. To that I say, ‘Puh-scuse me? This guillotine can cut an acorn squash.'”

“Couldn’t the laws be changed so that no one can own a guillotine?” asked my son.

“No,” I said. “How would we defend ourselves during the next massacre? Unless all people, especially kindergartners like yourself, get outfitted ASAP with a cornucopia of sharp, shiny guillotines, we’re all going to die in a large pile. But they won’t listen. They’re going to take away the second amendment.”

“The right to vote?” he asked.

“No,” I said. “The right to bear arms. Haven’t you been listening? We can’t vote anyway, we don’t have a mailbox. The right to bear arms — a right that our forefathers gave us.”

“You mean metaphorically?”

“No, I mean literally. This guillotine belonged to Andrew Jackson, who used it to defend himself against tons of bad Indians who attacked him in his home or in what he wanted to be his home.”

My son smiled wearily and fell asleep. But don’t you worry son, I know just what to do. When you wake up, you’ll find that I’ve buried both of us up to our necks in the yard. We’re going underground, where our guillotine rights cannot be violated. Best of all, we’ll be really close to our guillotines. We’ll be safe and happy and free.

* Welcome to The Big Jewel, a safe place to board your dog. Which is more than we can say for the International House of Ruff and R.T. Sehgal, proprietor.

The Proprietors Of The International House Of Ruff Would Like To Set The Record Straight

By: R.T. Sehgal

Dear Sir,

We were disappointed to see your recent one-star Google review of our pet boarding center. As our goal is to be the finest animal housing facility in the 1700 block of Broadway Blvd, we strive for 100% customer satisfaction. Please let us address some of the concerns raised in your review.

Concern #1: “My dog no longer understands anything I say.”

Response: As you no doubt remember from our 36-page introductory brochure, each dog spending a week or more here is given the opportunity to spend a portion of their boarding experience abroad as part of our language immersion program. It sounds like the problem is that, while your dog has grown in varied and profound ways, you remain stuck in a past that no longer exists. While your dog wants to discuss the brush techniques and use of effets de soir by the Impressionists, you want him to fetch a bouncy ball. While your dog wants to debate the effects of the current debt crisis on the long-term viability of the euro, you want him to “sit.” Here’s an idea — instead of “sit,” try one of these: “sjedi” (Croatian), “istu” (Finnish) or “said” (Polish). An even better idea: ask your dog about his cultural experience. It will draw the two of you closer.

Concern #2: “House of Ruff cost about $5 a day more than other facilities in the area.”

Response: You do realize we flew your dog to Europe so he could learn Polish, right?

Concern #3: “I can’t quite put my finger on it, but I’m pretty sure my dog now has a Republican agenda.”

Response: What do you mean “now” has a Republican agenda? Almost every dog is right-leaning. Family values, strong national defense, personal responsibility — these are core beliefs for the vast majority of canines. It is a complete coincidence that the man who comes by every afternoon to give tummy rubs and spoonfuls of peanut butter bears a strong resemblance to Newt Gingrich and that the man doling out disciplinary snout slaps looks a little like Barack Obama. Our policy is not to support any particular politician or party, although we do encourage active debate among our boarders by providing complementary copies of National Review and the Wall Street Journal.

Concern #4: “I think my dog may have a cocaine addiction.”

Response: This is one of the more common complaints that we hear. First off, let’s not overreact by throwing around the word “addiction.” Many dogs use recreational drugs on an occasional basis without developing physical or psychological dependence.

Since a dog boarding facility is a lot like a college dormitory, all of our dogs are required to watch a PowerPoint presentation originally created for freshmen orientation at Arizona State. It covers topics from binge drinking to sexual harassment, and includes a slide about illegal drug use. So, yes, we do take this issue very seriously.

Now, we do admit that it is pretty easy to get illegal substances here. We suspect this is due to our proximity to and affiliation with Camp Second Chances, one of the nation’s premier rehabilitation programs for household pets. Each Saturday night, we host a mixer for animals staying at the two facilities. The upside to this relationship is the strong positive impact our dogs have on the Second Chance animals. The downside, of course, is that a select few of our boarders may develop a taste for cocaine/ecstasy/salvia or be recruited into one of the local gangs, like the Eastside Kennel Krips, the WestMinster Mafia, or the Kanine Kings.

That being said, shouldn’t illegal drug abuse reflect more on the dog’s parent (i.e. you) than a temporary boarding facility? Let’s say you left your dog with us for a week — that’s like two months in dog years. If you abandoned your son for two months, would you be surprised if he fell in with the wrong crowd? Especially if you abandoned him right next to a camp for drug addicts? Sorry, but this one is on you, chief.

Hopefully this clears up any lingering concerns you have. We hope that you’ll consider the International House of Ruff for your future boarding needs. We have attached a 5%-off coupon, which is transferable to Camp Second Chances in case your dog makes the decision to get off the powder.

Best Wishes,

International House of Ruff

* Welcome to The Big Jewel, where we hate pests of all kinds, but especially pretentious pests. You know, like fancy cockroaches. Never heard of them? Pull up a rhetorical chair and listen to Meg Favreau.

City Health Advisory: Fancy Cockroaches

By: Meg Favreau

Several neighborhoods have seen a recent increase in FANCY ROACHES. These pests have many distinct features:

  • Little top hats
  • Tiny spats
  • Fine jewelry on the mesothorax, or in the case of the nouveau roache, all thoraxes
  • Names such as “von Roach” and “Roachafeller”
  • An inability to understand the concept of a “public pool”

If you are not sure if your roaches are fancy roaches, perform this test — when you turn your lights on, do the roaches quickly scuttle into dark corners? Or do they saunter with a sense of purpose back under your fridge, where they have hung tiny works of art and sit on uncomfortable-looking white furniture?

Typically, an infestation of fancy roaches begins when one of their favorite food sources is left out. These include:

  • Charcuterie
  • Any food that can be described as “peasant”
  • Bold, ready-to-drink red wines
  • Savory sorbets, lemon-sage mousse and other mid-meal palate cleansers
  • Other organic matter, including fine imported tobacco, copies of Architectural Digest and topiaries.


It can be very difficult to remove fancy roaches due to their sense of entitlement. Begin by eliminating their common gathering spaces:

  • Granite counter tops
  • Decanters
  • Chaise lounges
  • Bathrooms with two-person showers
  • Wide-brimmed derby hats

The next step is to administer a fancy-roach pesticide. We’ve found that fancy roaches are most repulsed by the sprays available for under $10 at the Walgreen’s perfume counter, including Love’s Baby Soft, Fantasy by Britney Spears and a cK Obsession knock-off called “kC Strong Thoughts.”

While you should never leave out anything labeled “organic,” “imported,” “artisan crafted” or “sushi grade” around fancy roaches, there are some natural products that deter them, such as corn. When ground up and infused with herbs and spices — as in a Cool Ranch Dorito, Flamin’ Hot Cheeto or Sour Cream and Onion Bugle — corn creates a “for-the-masses” snack product that fancy roaches find unpalatable. However, do check a recent issue of Bug Appetit to ensure that your corn product is not enjoying a tongue-in-cheek renaissance. If it is, not only will your fancy roaches eat the snack food, but they will do so with an insufferable sense of amusement gained from “slumming it.”


Some have reported success with sending tiny limos to remove the roaches, but we do not recommend this — not only do you have to rent a tiny limo for every roach, but you also need to tip off the invertebrate paparazzi and deal with at least two hours of small cars driving in and out of your living space. Plus, some roaches will shun this spectacle, preferring not to advertise their wealth. (Although these more reclusive roaches can sometimes be coaxed out with an invitation to a charity event such as the Scuttle for the Cure, which raises money to research being squashed by shoes.)


If you have tried everything else and can still hear classical music and erudite hissing coming from your baseboards, the best thing you can do is move another roach species into your home. You can try one-car-family roaches, staycation roaches, or declining American manufacturing roaches, but immigrating roaches from Africa, Mexico or a Slavic country are especially effective. The fancy roaches will vacate immediately, noting that it had nothing to do with the new tenants; they just thought it was time to look for beachfront property.