* Welcome to The Big Jewel, where we often believe that the French are -- how do you say? -- full of it. Alena Dillon seems to agree. Please eat a Freedom Fry in her honor. Also, look for her collection this fall, I Thought We Agreed To Pee In The Ocean, from Martlet & Mare Books. And check out her web site at the link below or in our Blogroll at the right-hand side of this page.

Le Tour Defraud

By: Alena Dillon

Bonjour, et bienvenue. For those hailing from outside the civilized world: learn French, you unnecessarily hygienic ignoramuses.

Before we commence today’s tour through the creations of one of France’s most treasured sons — and unopposed holder of Wikipedia’s “Bearded Beret” title — we wish to pretend to regret to inform you that half of the Rodin Museum is closed for renovation, but we are pleased to announce that you will still be visiting the partial museum at full price.

Although the great masterpieces are not available for viewing, please take comfort in learning they remain somewhere on the premises, so you can go home and tell your family and friends that, in a way, you were in the presence of genius.

We acknowledge that you paid full admission price under the pretense that you would admire his famous works. This is not a surprise to us, as we are strategically making this renovation statement after your nonrefundable transaction. It may help to remember that art is priceless. Except, of course, for the mandatory fee at which we’ve valued it.

Allow me to offer some further advice — don’t dwell on our faux pas. It would be a waste of your precious time. You are in Paris, for God’s sake! Home of the Eiffel Tower, the crusty baguette and the sophisticated pout. There are plenty of other attractions out there just waiting for their chance to dupe you.

To buoy your disappointment, we here at Chateau Rodin have made a Continental effort to fill the gaps created by missing gems with some extra crap we found on the museum grounds.

On your right is the first objet d’art, for which we use the words objet and art rather loosely. It may appear to be only a scrap of plaster, but curators have been paid to believe that this is a scrap of plaster the artist might have touched. Word to the wise, and to the Canadians: there isn’t much to see in this museum, so to get your money’s worth we recommend lingering as much as you can stand. Don’t just glance at the junk. Like a fine Bordeaux, give its insignificance time to mature. Look closer. See the corner? Inside that crevice? Some say if the lighting is just right and you’ve had enough to drink, you can see the Virgin Mary’s face there. On the other hand, some say you can’t.

You may be familiar with Rodin’s statue The Age of Bronze, a life-size nude male cast in 1876. In lieu of displaying this particular piece, we have a doorknob. We chose this item to represent the statue because many doorknobs are also made of bronze. This one, however, is not. It is of glass. It sounded like a good idea five minutes ago, when I tossed it on that rattletrap of a TV table, but the stand-in seems silly now. I would be embarrassed, except I am French and unfamiliar with that particular sentiment.

This is a tissue used by Rodin — not the artist, the museum security guard we nicknamed Rodin (or “Rody” for short), coined for the Thinker pose he assumes on the toilet without ever locking the bathroom stall. It may interest you to know that some of my more vulgar colleagues call this pose “The Stinker.”

And now for the pièce de résistance: an exit sign. Rodin met the original sculptor (became cadaverous, went to his narrow bed, fell to room temperature, bought a pine condo) sometime in the early 1900s, before the rise of exit signs (although don’t quote me on that — I don’t claim to be an expert.) Because Rodin was around before exit signs became so popular, it can be argued that the whole concept of exit signs can be attributed to the innovations of his lifetime. It would be an argument based on zero evidence, but that doesn’t mean it couldn’t be argued. Don’t think on it too hard. It’s art — just let it do what it’s supposed to do. Inspire.

* Welcome to The Big Jewel, your only guide to polite conversation. Our good friend David Martin has spent a lot of time in the Garden State listening to how their verbal garden grows. After you're done perusing his genteel missive, if you don't want to end up like Sonny Corleone at the Causeway toll booth, click on the link below to purchase his most recent humor collection "Screams & Whispers" on Amazon.

Jersey Language

By: David Martin

Contains smoke, gun shots, strobe lights, drug references, sexual situations and authentic, profane Jersey language. — Program disclaimer for Jersey Boys

As a proud New Jerseyian, I take offense to the characterization of the language in the musical Jersey Boys as “authentic, profane Jersey language.” Like what da fuck? Is this how it’s gonna be from now on? Do we have to defend ourselves to every stupid sonofabitch who thinks we talk like fucking animals?

New Jerseyians don’t talk any different from anybody else. We’re just like you, assuming you live in America and not in some fucking shithole in China. Sure, once in awhile we might drop an f-bomb or two but most of the time you could put us on Sesame Street and no one would even fucking notice.

And what’s with the smoke warning? Sure, we’ve got some industrial pollution but no more than Delaware and a whole lot less than Pennsylvania. It better not be a comment on cigarettes or marijuana use because that would be really fucking lame.

I also hope theater patrons reading that disclaimer don’t think everyone in New Jersey walks around with guns, strobe lights and drugs. Yeah, maybe most of us have got a concealed handgun or two, or maybe even a small, tasteful semi-automatic. But, hey, who doesn’t in this crazy, fucking world we live in today?

And don’t get me started on strobe lights. If there’s one thing that fries my tats or gets my wifebeater in a knot, it’s some ignorant douche thinking that everyone and everything in Jersey is showered in strobe lights. In case you hadn’t noticed, this ain’t the seventies any more. We’re as cutting-edge as anyone when it comes to xenon flash tubes and laser light shows.

As for drugs, I don’t think we’re worse than anybody else. In fact, as far as I’m concerned, we’re better–much better. Our state isn’t filled with a bunch of rundown meth trailers like those southern rednecks. In fact, when it comes to real drugs like heroin and cocaine, the quality control of Jersey dealers is second to none. And as for our marijuana, we’re not called the “Garden State” for nothing, capiche?

Sure, we’re big on sexual situations but, hey, we’re from New Jersey. Yo, we’ve got big balls and even bigger dicks and we like to fucking use them. Excuse me if we happen to be a little more sexually charged than the rest of you pussies.

I’m getting tired of jerkoffs giving us New Jersey residents a hard time. We’re not ignorant rubes like those douchebags from Philly. We’re right next door to New York City, so it’s not like we’re not acquainted with sophisticated shit.

So hey, all you ignorant dickheads who stereotype New Jersey residents as gun-toting, strobe-loving, drug-taking sex maniacs! You’re really pissing me off. In fact, the next out-of-state bozo who starts in with this crap better hope I’m not high on something and decide to take a shot at him with my jewel-encrusted Glock.

As Harry Truman used to say, “If you can’t stand the goddamned heat, get out of the fucking kitchen.” And if you can’t stand some honest-to-God language, a little smoke and a few guns, then Jersey style is clearly not for you. Maybe it’s time to trade your Jersey Boys tickets in for a pair of pussy ducats for Mary friggin’ Poppins and shut your fuckin’ mouth. I’m just sayin’.

* Welcome to The Big Jewel, where we are on the road again. Not as in Canned Heat. As in Kerouac. We cannot answer for the sanity or the sobriety of this week's author George Sparling. But we think he writes a cool, cool piece.

Kerouac’s Cap

By: George Sparling

I hitched a ride in Jack’s pink Mercedes. I’d stood in one place, putting out my four fingers rather than a thumb since both had been amputated. Maybe that’s why Jack pulled up. He hoped to write another novel based on a man without thumbs. He gave me an exquisite squint. He had used a telescope to make sure I had four fingers on both hands before giving me a ride.

“Rides are scarce these days,” he said. “Drivers hate thumbless hitchhikers. You’re not giving me the finger, are you?”

“I lost my thumbs,” I said. “Smoking marijuana will do it to you every time.”

“I lost both thumbs but champagne grew them back,” he said.

“Thought you drank Tokay.”

“That, too. Ah elixirs. And that coward, New York City’s Mayor LaGuardia, wanted to bite my thumbs off.”

“You knew him?”

“Sure as hell I did. A damn nice fellow. We had an argument over a swell gal. We lived in his swank office. Politicians excite me. After I got Fiorello pregnant and paid for the abortion, he chawed off my thumbs. He wanted a child so badly the irrational took over.”

“I heard he’s holed up in the jazz club, Village Vanguard,” I said.

He tweaked the cap with his thumb and sallied forth. “It made me lose my pencil after that.”

“What did?”

“The trauma from losing a child.”

“The pencil?”

“You know what they say — Tokay puts lead in your pencil.”

“I hate sex talk,” I said.

“Here,” he said, pulling out a number nine pencil. I saw how he gnawed on it.

“You love graphite?” I asked.

“Chewing it keeps me up for days,” he said. “I’m in love with anything with no thumbs. When I flapped the eight fingers, I flew a bit but always plummeted onto meteorite surfaces.”

“I stood on one for three days, waiting for a ride.”

Jack vomited into his cap, placed it back on his head, all the while driving without killing us.

“I see you’ve got thumbs now,” I said.

“They grew back after I bought this car from Elvis Presley. I dig him.”

“How hard do you dig him?”

“Harder than diamonds,” Jack said.

“Don’t hand jive me,” I asked.

“Than dang blasted meteorite highways.” For a moment I wanted to kiss him. He looked adorable when angry.

He ate celery as he drove, popping sunflower seeds into his mouth, fingers nicking off the shells.

“The last major league baseball game I saw, Fiorello and I sat in box seats. He wouldn’t let me get off his lap, my 200 pounds seated on his gimpy knees.”

“You sure can spin yarns,” I said.

“That’s it,” he said, “No more. I’m not going to hang from my knees so blood flows into my head to stop writer’s block.”

This Jack looked different from his photos, though the bare-breasted Barbra Streisand tattoo on his shaved chest put me at ease and let me know this was the authentic JK.

“Once I escaped from a mental hospital,” he said, and fingered the cap’s brim, eyeing the doorman’s badge on my Peter Pan collar. “Bellevue’s a nice place. Fiorello was bonkers when I met him there. What’s that?” he asked, pointing to the badge.

“Haven’t you heard? People work.”

He blushed, startled at my comeback.

“I ran over a flamingo. ‘Use my name,’ the chatty flamingo said before it croaked. It faked death,” Jack said.

“How do you know?”

“That’s the second one I ran over.” He paused, screwed his cap on straight, then said:

“Back in Winnemucca, one told me, no matter where, I’d always drive the Mercedes perpetually through a massive McDonald’s. It covers me like a moveable dome.”

“Have you gone Pleistocene on me?” I trilled, recalling I sang with JK in a Southern Baptist choir. I tried singing in the Mercedes, but he told me to shut up.

Silence for miles. If it wasn’t for that cap, I’d bitch-slap him. Four-fingers, if you cocked them right, could lay a man out as if he inhaled too much nitrous oxide.

Finally, my destination: my mother’s house.

“Hey, pal, that’s not your mom, she’s all mine,” he said, taking the cap and battering my head with it. Ever get cut by a cap and bleed?

“I’ll prove it to you,” I said. I raised my skirt, worn for hard traveling, and showed him how my mom’s uterus circled my groin.

“Hell’s bells,” he said. That cap smelled ultra-bad as sex-sweat and blood tossed together in a meat stew turned pink, vile, and sluttish.

He let me off and I saw him stop for Hannah Arendt. Guess she was more appealing to him. “We’re headed for Winnemucca. Please don’t bother me again.”

“No chance of that,” I said. “Watch out for prostitutes. It’s legal there.”

“You calling Hannah a whore? Better not. She’s a swell dame.”

“Do I hear wedding bells?” He smirked and said:

“I’ve got thousands of baseball cards in the trunk. Hanna and I will get rich.”

His cap flew off his head as he slammed away. I picked it up. I was wise enough to sweep the exhaust and fumes into the cap. Now it had provenance, a collector’s item.

But I changed my mind and gave it to Mayor LaGuardia. He wept.

* Welcome to The Big Jewel, where we are ready at any time to tell you the time. We'll even do it in a way that's got a good beat and you can dance to it. And we owe it all to Tallulah Marzipan, whose first piece for us this is.

What Time Is It In Music?

By: Tallulah Marzipan

5:46 a.m.: Who the fuck would page Biggie Smalls at this hour?

7:00 a.m.: Seymour’s alarm goes off in Little Shop of Horrors, Incubus listens to the garbage truck beeping.

8:15 a.m.: Randy Bachman’s train departs for the city so he can take care of business.

9:00 a.m.: Dolly Parton starts work.

11:00 a.m.: Despite waking up four hours early, you would think Incubus would be out of bed by now.

12:00 p.m.: The Wonder Years wakes up and eats Sour Patch Watermelons.

12:30 p.m.: It is always this time according to the clock near where the Mamas and the Papas lived in New York City. Elsewhere, presumably on an island other than Manhattan, someone is pouring a Hurricane for Alan Jackson and Jimmy Buffett.

1:00 p.m.: Yo La Tengo is ready to begin.

2:30 p.m.: Leo Bloom, one of The Producers, wakes up.

3:00 p.m.: B.B. King and Eric Clapton have the blues.

3:56 p.m.: One of the Johns of They Might Be Giants meets a date at 5th Ave. and 22nd Street.

5:00 p.m.: Dolly Parton gets off work.

5:50 p.m.: The band begins playing at a show for the benefit of Mr. Kite.

6:00 p.m. This is TV Hour according to REM.

7:00 p.m. (possibly 8:00 p.m.): Will Smith arrives at his new home in Bel-Air.

8:00 p.m.: Lola and Tony start work at The Copacabana.

9:00 p.m. (Saturdays only): The regular crowd shuffles into the bar where Billy Joel plays.

9:30 p.m. (Tuesdays only): The dude from Barenaked Ladies drives downtown in the rain to look at records.

11:30 p.m.: The club is jumpin’ jumpin’. This is the ideal to leave your man at home or your girl with her friends.

11:59ish p.m.: Something evil is lurking in the dark under the moonlight…it’s the thriller!

12:00 a.m.: You can hear Mick Jagger scream at around this time. Meanwhile, Taylor Swift is eating breakfast while dressed like a hipster.

12:01 a.m. (and after): Patsy Cline goes out walking in the moonlight searching for you.

1:00 a.m. (approx.): Ice Cube wakes up some girl he had sex with and she tells him he’s the top gun.

2:00 a.m.: Ice Cube eats at Fatburger.

3:00 a.m.: B.B. King and/or Eric Clapton can’t sleep.

3:00 a.m. (Wednesdays only): Paul Simon thinks about how he’ll be leaving some girl’s bed soon.

3:01 a.m.: Henry Higgins’ servants comment that Eliza Doolittle should go to sleep.

3:35 or 3:36 a.m.: Robert Lamm is waiting for the break of day and searching for something to say in his song and also probably doing a lot of drugs.

4:00 a.m.: Elton John decides he is sleeping by himself tonight and not getting married. Lola and Tony get off work at the Copacabana.

5:00 a.m.: John Denver is sorry to be leaving you.

* Welcome to The Big Jewel, where we are all about saving the children. Or, at least, we are pretty much about saving the children. All right, all right, we admit it: we don't give a damn about the children. And neither does Andy Millman.

Please Hire Me At Save-A-Child

By: Andy Millman

May 8, 2013

Human Resources
The Save-A-Child Foundation
2010 Sawgrass Road
Northbrook, IL 60062

Dear Save-A-Child,

I wish to throw my name in the hat (or is it “hat in the ring?”) for a position at Save-A-Child. I think I would be great. I once found a bunny rabbit in my yard who seemed to be under the weather. I took him in and made him a nest out of shredded newspaper and a shoebox. It was very cushy. Everything but the Sports section was in there. I nursed him back to health with carrots, Cheetos and episodes of “Maude” (I own the box set). Two weeks later he was dead, but that wasn’t my fault (you can blame my cat for that one!).

Before we begin, I have some questions.

First: How old is the child and why does it need saving? Do you have a picture of it you could send me? I hope it’s a boy because, having been one myself (many years ago), I might be better able to relate to it. I do have a sister (she’s a real pain in my ass).

Second: Does my pay come from you or the child? Is it a ransom type of situation? The state of Illinois forbids me to buy, own or possess any firearms. I’d prefer to not say why. Let’s just say I got a raw deal and somebody’s going to pay.

Third: Once this child is saved (fingers crossed) will there be another one to save (fingers crossed)? If not, would I be entitled to unemployment?

Fourth: Do you own or can you rent a golf cart? I would like one to transport me around your building. Anywhere else I can walk around just fine. It’s just your building looks big from the outside. That’s me in the green Ford outside your window.

Fifth: Do you have an employee cafeteria? Is it all-you-can-eat? Are children permitted in the cafeteria? (I hope not.)

Sixth: How many breaks am I permitted during a normal four-hour work day?

Seventh: What is the bathroom situation?

And finally: How do you determine if a kid really needs saving or is just faking it?

I don’t have a resume to enclose because I’m on guard for people stealing my identity. Even the name and address at the bottom of this letter are not my own. You’ll see I’m very clever that way. Each time we meet I will ask you to address me by a different name. I have hundreds of them (some belong to real people!)

I interview only via standard, good old USA post. One question at a time, please. I will pick up the letters at the address below, just as long as the real Seymour Hybach doesn’t catch me. Use a red envelope. I will take at least one week thinking about your question, considering my response, and catching up on sleep. Then I will send you my reply. I anticipate the interview taking between six months and two and a half years. Hopefully the child can wait.

Looking forward to hearing from you. Together we will save that child!

Yours in service,

Seymour (Sy) Hybach (Hybach)

1415 Lamon Ave.
Wilmette, IL 60091