* Welcome to The Big Jewel, and to the second week of our two-week focus on David Martin. Let Mr. Martin be your guide to the future of the Michelin Guide. Then, if you have a few extra pennies in your pocket, click on the link below to purchase his most recent humor collection "Screams & Whispers" on Amazon.

The Michelin Guide — 2069 Edition

By: David Martin

As we rapidly destroy more and more species of plants and animals, here’s what fine dining might look like two generations from now:


** Le Grainery — Los Angeles, California

Chef Thomas T. Thomas lovingly experiments with the planet’s three remaining grains. From his achingly sparse soupe au blé to his delightfully unsauced three-grained pasta, Thomas’s menu will surprise and delight the most discriminating of palates. Be sure to leave room for a bowl of Le Grainery’s famous Cheerios dessert served with a milk-like liquid and garnished with fresh wheat germ.

*** L’idée de Boeuf — near Angers, France

Nestled in the once prosperous farming province of Anjou, L’idée de Boeuf whimsically plays with centuries-old concepts of beef appetizers and entrées. Starting with a faux beef bouillon, Chef Jean-François Demers takes the diner on a tour of what beef cuisine used to be. Appetizers include a sliced jellied concoction vaguely resembling what was once known as calves’ tongue. L’idée de Boeuf is justly famous for its roast tofunderloin made from choice grade A tofu molded into a tenderloin.

** Champignons Plus — San Francisco, California

Thanks to this century’s dramatic climatic changes, the one environmental certainty is perpetual damp rainy conditions in northern California. Although depressing for most residents, it spells nothing but great news for area fungiphiles. Chef Pierre Laflamme scours the damp neighboring countryside in search of all manner of rare mushroom. Sadly, the lack of eggs precludes his offering any type of mushroom omelet, which older gastronomes claim is a dish to die for. But the ever-persistent chef does manage to please with his delicious personal creations like shiitake soup, champignons sur l’air and steak aux poivre et champignons sans steak.

*** Au Pied de Clone — Las Vegas, Nevada

Leave it to Las Vegas to be home to the latest cutting-edge eatery. Chef Paul Excuse, in partnership with Dow Chemical and Genentech, has produced a cloned, simulated menu that some food critics say comes as close to 20th century haute cuisine as is possible in today’s almost animal-free world. Masters of culinary gene splicing, Excuse and his high-tech team are willing to try any food re-creation. Indulge yourself with faux porc tenderloin, faux medallions de boeuf and Chef Excuse’s signature dish — Phaux Pheasant® under glass.

Fine Art Fusion Eatery – New York City

Given today’s limitations on food ingredients, it was only natural that someone would almost exclusively emphasize the visual delights of meal presentation. That someone is Chef Nicholas Marx, who has devoted his career to what he calls fine art fusion cooking. Starting with nothing more than a white vegetable paste and various food colorings, Marx and his team recreate great works of art in an edible form on a plate. The menu includes everything from Picasso’s “Guernica” to Michelangelo’s “Mona Lisa.” The restaurant requires 48 hours notice for any special orders of pre-Raphaelite or postmodern dishes.

** Descartes du Jour – Paris, France

Years ago, universities like Harvard offered courses in the physics of cooking. In a world without ingredients, however, Chef Louis de Seize has taken nouvelle cuisine to the next virtual level in what he calls the philosophy of cooking. At Descartes du Jour, diners are presented with historical menus from top 20th century restaurants and take turns describing in delicious detail each listed dish. For the truly adventurous, there is even a wide selection of ancient wine lists to review and describe. Diners may go home hungry but will take comfort in de Seize’s motto that eating is a descriptive journey, not a gustatory destination.


* Welcome to The Big Jewel, where the only thing better than a new David Martin piece is two new David Martin pieces. The first one runs this week, and almost as if by magic, the second will run next week. We also invite you to click on the link below to see how you can purchase his latest humor collection "Screams & Whispers" on Amazon.

Lost Weekend

By: David Martin

When my wife goes away for the weekend, I miss her and longingly await her return. Well actually, if I’m being entirely honest, I sometimes take advantage of her absence to go a little crazy and do whatever I want.

For example, I might rearrange the various remote control devices on the coffee table in the TV room. It’s not a big deal really, but I like to have the Blu-ray remote between the TV remote on the left and the cable remote on the right. It’s fun to have the remotes arranged just the way I like them for an entire weekend, and of course I put them back in their usual spots on Sunday night so my wife has no idea what happened.

One of my favorite things to do when my wife is away is to alter the housecleaning pattern. Just for fun, instead of doing the laundry first, I’ll vacuum the house. And instead of starting with the upstairs bedrooms, I might start vacuuming in the downstairs rec room.

I don’t tell my wife what I’ve done and I have a good laugh watching to see if she notices anything different when she gets home. Usually she’s tired and doesn’t notice anything unusual, but one time she asked if I had vacuumed the entire house because it looked so clean. I smiled and said yes, but I didn’t let on that I had done it completely backwards.

One time I rearranged all the furniture in every room in the house and spent the whole weekend in what I call “Crazy House.” That was a wild, wacky weekend, but of course I moved everything back to its original location on Sunday night. I left a few clues like the easy chair being a few inches off, but my wife never suspected a thing.

Another fun time alone was a weekend last month when my wife was away and I decided to light a few fires in the house and make it a “Campfire Weekend.” Unfortunately, one of the fires got a little out of control and there was quite a bit of smoke damage in the downstairs rec room.

Luckily, I was able to get painters in right away and clean up the mess. By Sunday night when my wife came home, you could hardly smell any smoke at all. I just told her I decided to barbecue indoors because it was raining and I think she bought that.

A not-so-fun time was earlier this month when my wife went away for the whole week. It started out great when I blocked up all the drains and turned on all the taps. It was what I called my “Waterworld Weekend.” I floated around from room to room on pieces of furniture using one of our canoe paddles to steer.

That was lots of fun, but I’m not sure I’d do it again since I could only enjoy Waterworld for two days and then the next five days I had to have contractors and renovators come in and drain the water, dry the floors, carpeting and drywall and replace most of the furniture. Sadly, I couldn’t completely rectify the situation by Sunday night and my wife seemed very upset that I had flooded our entire house and spent all of our savings on repairing the damage.

Last weekend also didn’t turn out quite as well as I had hoped. As soon as my wife left on Friday night, I started rounding up animals for “Jungle Weekend.” As you can imagine, you can’t pretend your house is a jungle with just dogs, cats, squirrels and raccoons. Luckily, I found a place that rents all kinds of animals.

By Saturday night, the house was really starting to look and sound like a jungle, with a dozen monkeys, a lion, a tiger, a bear and lots and lots of snakes. I couldn’t find any zebras to rent so I just borrowed a friend’s pony and painted white stripes on him.

As it turns out, some species don’t get along as well with certain other species and, by Sunday afternoon, I had a lot of dead carcasses on my hands. I was also faced with a pretty significant bill from the animal rental place and a not insubstantial cleaning bill for the house (apparently it’s almost impossible to remove pony blood from shag carpeting). Sadly, when my wife got home, she refused to discuss the situation and instead called the police.

The downside is that I’m now living in a small padded room in a large windowless building on the outskirts of town. The upside, however, is that my wife is now always away and I can do pretty much anything I want that doesn’t involve freely using my arms.


* Welcome to The Big Jewel, your favorite purveyor of disposable pop culture. This week's piece by Molly Schoemann and Matthew David Brozik brings a synthetic tear to our eye. Almost as if it was intended to.

Now, That’s What I Call Maudlin!

By: Molly Schoemann

The manipulative geniuses behind Now, That’s What I Call Maudlin! are back with the release of the long-awaited sequel, Now, That’s What I Call Maudlin…TOO! That’s right: The second installment of the critically-acclaimed/lamented compilation that won — and broke — the hearts of thousands is here… with even more Maudlin Moments.™ Packed with such instant classics as “Old Maid Gingerly Caresses Hem of Brittle, Unworn Wedding Dress in Dusty Attic,” and “Sobbing Teen Stood Up on Prom Night, Again — Date Had Promised It Would Be Different This Time,” Now, That’s What I Call Maudlin…TOO! is guaranteed to jerk the tears right out of your eyes!

There’s no question that fans will find that Now, That’s What I Call Maudlin…TOO! is packed with more sappy melodrama than even the first volume…but wait! There’s more! Are you ready?! We’ve also included extended versions of Volume 1 hits, including “Destitute Mother Leaves Infant on Orphanage Doorstep/Note Not Properly Pinned Blows Away in Sudden Wind” and “Hardworking But Incompetent Vaudevillian Is Laughed Off Stage During What Was Supposed to Be His Big Break.”

Can’t seem to get your fill of shabby yet genteel hobos in punched-out top hats heating cans of beans over sidewalk steam grates? Desperate for more scenes of crying second graders who forgot their permission slips and must stay behind during a highly-anticipated class trip to a button factory? Then grab your credit card and call this toll-free number now to order your copy of Now, That’s What I Call Maudlin…TOO! It’s chock-full of just the kind of schmaltz you’ve come to expect from your favorite professional purveyors of overwrought sentimentality.

Not only that, but this compilation features a bonus, behind-the-scenes look at the making of the beloved Volume 1 hit, “Six Year Old Bluntly Discouraged From Pursuing Artistic Career Because He Can’t Draw a Proper Bunny (They Always Come Out Looking Like Lopsided Cars).” And for nature lovers, we’ve also included a second installment of everyone’s favorite miserable microcosm, “Earthworm Perishes on Sunny Sidewalk/Mere Inches Away From Lifesaving Shady Grass.”

Plus! Order in the next fifteen minutes and we’ll send you a tote-bag screen-printed with the passenger manifest from the maiden — and only! — voyage of none other than the RMS Titanic! Pore over the names of the doomed men, women, and children — oh! the children! — who were on board that fateful vessel on that fateful night, and wonder which of them perished in the dark, frigid waters of the North Atlantic! Trust us, it was a lot of them! How awful! Order now!

But that’s still not all! Bonus Volume 2 scenes include mawkish favorites like “Profoundly Lonely Nursing Home Resident Stares Out Rain-Streaked Window at Single, Barren Tree” and “Child Spends All Day Building Helicopter Model — With Real Motorized Propellers! — That Doesn’t Work.” And diehard fans will be rewarded with a secret, hidden track: “Box of Free Kittens in an Alley (But They’re All Dead).” Don’t wait — call in the next fifteen minutes! After all, your heartstrings aren’t going to tug themselves!



* Welcome to The Big Jewel! We'd like to take this opportunity to emphasize that we do not necessarily recommend replacing basketballs with live ducks, although we do recommend you read this disturbingly entertaining piece by Shawn Bowers.

A Modest Proposal To Replace Basketballs With Live Ducks

By: Shawn Bowers

If men played basketball with a live duck as the basketball, a lot of things would be different about basketball.

First, it would be called “duck,” or “basketduck.”

Next, and this is a big one, a lot of ducks would be killed through the sheer force of throwing them headfirst into a hardwood floor again and again. Ducks don’t bounce, but dribbling will still be allowed, which will surely cause a lot of dizzy waddling and severe head injuries. This adds at least two jobs to every team, that of the Basketduck Wrangler to help guide the wigglies, and the Basketduck Janitor, to clear the injured. Neither of these participants would be considered part of the team, but would serve in the same capacity as a water boy or clipboard holder.

If the duck is still alive or awake after a couple of dribbles, it then becomes the goal of every player to chase the duck until they catch it. It will not be considered traveling if the duck is just running away.

Strategically, a good basketduck player would wait until the duck wobbled into the scoring circle, and then just pick it up and throw it at the hoop. Traditional shooting technique would prove useless, as the direction of the shot would now be dictated by the free will of the duck. Duck psychology, eating preferences and mating habits will be required research, as amazing three point shots become more feasible if you can bait the hoop with the right kinds of bread or a finely-preened lady duck. To that end, hoop baiting will be allowed.

If the duck spooks while it’s still of right mind, it could even fly up into the rafters, at which point the Basketduck Wrangler will be sent to scare it back down and dose it with a mild barbiturate to prevent fly-ups. Glass duck ceilings could be considered, but confused ducks may fly into them and incur the same head trauma they would receive during normal play.

If you’ve been successful in attracting your “ball” to the hoop, you will then have to coerce him through the actual net. This could be especially difficult because ducks, particularly fat ducks, are generally wider than a standard hoop and might not fit. Hoops will not be widened. If you get as far as having a duck wedged within a hoop, this will be considered a score and a stop of play will be called while the Basketduck Janitor either unsticks the trapped duck or replaces the hoop entirely. Hoop budgets will skyrocket.

Of course, there will be quacking. Ducks don’t like men running around trying to carry them from one end of a room to another, or dunking them into things, and they will get upset. The duck may in fact become incorrigible. Rowdy ducks will be removed from play until they can get it together, and there will be a special soundproof box courtside to accommodate these penalties.

If a duck runs out of air, pumps will not help. Assuming ducks are able to get out of breath like other living things, the referee would have to make a hand gesture near his face like a heaving beak to indicate a stop in play for the “ball” to recover. During any stoppage in play, the Jumbotron will play tribute videos to the ducks that have already been lost during that game due to head traumas or runaways. To note, this wouldn’t be depressing because of how inspiring it would be instead, and people will definitely clap and not boo loudly.

Obviously, PETA might be really out to get basketball once the number of dead ducks starts to rise, which could put a damper on the sport and cause a lot of players, especially vegetarians or those who own ducks as pets, to quit. The modified game of basketduck doesn’t require nearly as much athleticism as basketball proper, so these players could be easily be replaced by shorter, fatter people who are better at duck calling. This would also look funnier when they are mixed in with all the stronger, taller players, and comedy is widely regarded as a great addition to sporting events. The Basketduck Wrangler should be both tall and fat, to intimidate the ducks and make them want to stop of their own volition. The Basketduck Janitor can be any size.

Finally, and most importantly, despite all the potential pitfalls of these drastic modifications, the upside is that basketball would now be absolutely adorable and impossible to hate. Non-sports lovers will turn up in droves to see the colorful cast of ducks. Diehard fans will still appreciate the majesty of men constantly dashing back and forth with the added masculine complications of tending to barnyard animals. And even babies, a notoriously difficult market for professional sports, would want to “go to the place with all the quackies.”

For more information on licensing, or to purchase raw materials, please visit my store, Dave’s Surplus Duck Farm and Basketball Hoop Factory.


* Welcome to The Big Jewel, where no matter what happens we still believe in love. Kind of. Maybe. Anyway, we believe as much as Bruce Harris believes.

Steve Asks Sheila For A Date

By: Bruce Harris

Steve’s relief after hearing Sheila’s voice on the answering machine is short-lived. He squeezes the cell phone a little tighter, takes a deep breath, and readies himself for the sound of the beep.

“Um, yeah hi, Sheila? Hi, this is Steve. Steve the guy you met yesterday at the coffee shop downtown. Yeah, shoot. Now I remember you said you were working tonight. Wow. I hope it’s a slow night for you. Get it? Well, I’ve never known a 9-1-1 operator and anyway I was wondering if you and I could go out one night? I hope you don’t mind me saying that you are really hot, especially for a 9-1-1 operator. No offense. I mean, I really don’t know any other 9-1-1 operators, but you know in my mind I don’t think of them as being too hot or anything like that. I’ve never even spoken to a 9-1-1 operator. Oh yeah, I did once but it was like a total accident. I butt dialed 9-1-1 on my cell phone, and I guess that freaked the guy out — it was a guy 9-1-1 operator. I never said “hello” or anything so he really must have thought I was in some kind of really bad danger or something because after a few minutes, my phone rang and I picked it up and guess what? Yup, it was the 9-1-1 operator tracing back my call and he said that he saw I was on the corner of Maple and Main and he asked me if everything was okay. Wow. I mean, that was pretty creepy, but in a really good way if you know what I mean. Have you ever called any of your customers back like that? I guess you can call them customers, right? Oh, here’s a question: when you are filling out an application for like a credit card or something asking for your work number, do you write 9-1-1? Or is there some other secret regular ten-digit phone number there that no one really knows? Sorry. Where was I? Oh yeah, I was thinking that maybe you and I could go out sometime, maybe next Saturday if you aren’t busy or if you aren’t working? Hello? What was that? Sorry Sheila, can you hold for a second? I think I heard someone downstairs.

Hello? Is anyone there?

Oh my gosh, Sheila, I think someone just broke into my house. I’m serious. I’m upstairs and I definitely hear someone making noises downstairs. There has been a rash of burglaries in my neighborhood and it’s been kind of freaking me out. Oh my gosh, I’m so scared.

Hello? I have a gun up here. Don’t try anything. I’m not afraid to use this thing.

Okay, Sheila, I’m sorry, I really have to go, like now, and hang up and call you at work. Sorry, but this is really an emergency.

Hello? Don’t come any closer. I’m calling 9-1-1 and the police are going to be here any second and when they get here they are going to find you dead because I have a gun and it is aimed right at the door.

Oh my gosh, I hear the guy on the steps. I guess it’s a guy. I don’t know why I’m assuming it’s a guy. It could be a female, right? Why not? He or she is getting closer. I don’t really have a gun. What am I going to do?

Who’s there? Don’t take another step. Stop where you are and turn around and leave. If you don’t, I’ll start shooting at the count of five. I don’t care what sex you are.

Okay, listen Sheila, I’m going to hang up now and call you at 9-1-1. Okay? I hope I get you. If I survive this, just let me know about Saturday night when you have a chance. If you aren’t interested, I mean I totally understand and that’s cool and everything. Hey, if you just want to hang out and be friends I mean that’s okay with me too. Talk to you, I hope, shortly.

I have a gun. I’m counting.”