* Welcome to The Big Jewel, where we usually have more important things on our mind than mere money. Not today, though, thanks to Todd Dorman.

Our $pinning Globe

By: Todd Dorman

They say money makes the world go round.

But does it really? I don’t remember much from my school days, but I do remember an old science teacher of mine, Mr. Owens, saying something about gravity and mass. Then again, Mr. Owens always wore the same tie, smelled like fish, and wept in the boys’ room about his mortgage payments. So maybe all that talk about gravity and mass was just wishful thinking on his part.

I wonder about the time of the dinosaurs, before money was invented. Did the world not go around then? Dinosaurs had their own kind of money, I guess — the money of “You better run or I will eat you.” That kind of money could have made the world spin a hell of a lot quicker than our paper kind — especially if a lot of dinosaurs were running in the same direction.

That leads me to the big question of how money connects itself to the earth, gets the traction to spin it, and then lets go fast enough to not get spun around itself, in a huge cyclone of money. Or am I missing the piece where money gives itself to some secret company with a giant Spinner Machine?

Money does seem to like to hide things. Like itself, from me. Sometimes I think the best way to find out how money makes the world go around would be to just get all the money together and ask it. But whenever I put money in the same place it seems to be replaced, eventually, by empty gin bottles, shot-up drone kits, and ‘cease and desist’ notices from the fine folks at sexygungirls.com.

As a result, science suffers.

Maybe what they mean is that money makes the world go around in a more spiritual sense. You could get that idea from a lot of places, like church. When you go to church, they tell you about God, and then they ask you for money. But why? Does God need money to spin the world around, like a service charge? If I were running things down at the church, I would just say, “Forget it, God, we’ll keep the money for ourselves — let the world stop spinning.” What’s the worst that could happen?

I told my minister that idea, expecting she would be happy about all the money she could save the church. But she just looked at me in that certain way she has that’s so money in itself somehow, and said maybe I should worry less about what makes the world go around and more about what kind of job I’d like to get.

I said her job, and she said I could have it, but it turns out she wasn’t serious about that.

After a while it occurred to me that maybe the answers were on the money itself. The next time I got my hands on a dollar bill, I examined it closely. George Washington had nothing to tell me, though he did look a little smug. On the back were the bald eagle and the pyramid. The eagle held a tree branch in one talon, and that made me think: maybe eagles grab the trees and flap their wings so hard that the world turns? But I haven’t seen that happening much. Anyway the eagle had a bunch of arrows in his other talon, so does he somehow fling those the other way in a wild display of centrifugal force? No, he does not. What do crazy flapping eagles have to do with making the world go round? The eagle is a red herring.

Then there was the pyramid with the eye. It’s very mysterious. But the more I studied it, the more it seemed to be saying, Egyptians knew all about this and you don’t, you stupid idiot. Which is why you only have one dollar.

Finally, I thought maybe I should take the minister’s advice and look to myself. Maybe the world is like me, I thought. What makes me spin around? And that brought me back to my empty gin bottles and my poor shot up drones, and the poor slighted folks at sexygungirls.com who try to give a free public service to every poor American who likes to see babes in their underwear shooting at stuff, and to the poor SGG lawyers who want their clients to be able to put out their wares just so, instead of having secondary angles taken from far above with high-powered lenses that sometimes fall out of the drones — and most of all to the poor startled babes who already have enough trouble in life without telephoto lenses falling on their heads while they’re shooting.

Maybe they’re wrong about money making the world go around. Maybe it’s not money — it’s liquor, bullets, and artistic integrity. I remembered that one time I poured all my gin out in the yard and vowed to change my ways and gave my drones to the neighborhood kids to have some fun with. And I thought, “Well, maybe I’ve done my part.”

In the end, I don’t really know if money makes the world go around.

I do know that I want some more money.

* Welcome to The Big Jewel, where weightier considerations have kept us from making something so devolved as a fat joke. Up until now, that is. There's a first time for everything, as Erik Cofer proves in his first piece for us.

I Will Eat My Way Into Your Memory

By: Erik Cofer

Sure, I could lose some weight. I could devise an effective workout regimen and commit to it, maybe even establish a little muscle definition. More importantly, I could eat healthy foods in moderation instead of consuming and consuming until I succumb to the overwhelming fear that if I shove anything else down my gullet I won’t reach the toilet before an eruption takes places in my pants. I could do all of these things, but they just seem like futile measures for someone such as myself, someone seeking celebrity. When was the last time a friend stopped you on the street and said, “Hey, look over there. Do you see that slightly out-of-shape but not extraordinarily overweight guy?” Most likely never.

That’s why I can no longer settle for garden-variety fatness. I must eat my way into public consciousness. I will mine the human spirit and discover its core. Then I’ll douse that already sweet, succulent core in a thick layer of Kansas City-style barbecue sauce. It won’t be long before I’m too monstrously corpulent to even walk down the street. Two dozen pygmies will guide me through traffic on a hospital gurney, with a television crew following me the whole way. The head of the crew will be named Alex, and I’ll look up at him and ask, “How am I doing, Alex?” and Alex’ll smile, shoot me a thumbs up, and say, “You’re doing just fine, bud.” Sidewalks will clear as I approach. I will be a VIP, like the President of the United States, except morbidly obese and crested atop a steel-reinforced gurney.

I will be a media sensation. The paparazzi will close in and won’t be able to get enough of me. I mean literally, they’ll be too close to capture my entire torso in a single frame. Subway will hire me for a testimonial ad about what happens when you don’t eat Subway for every meal of your entire life. A reserve basketball player that few have ever heard of will use me as a prop for the NBA Slam Dunk Competition. He’ll finish with a perfect score, and he’ll get laid that night. I won’t, but only because sex will be physically impossible for me by that point.

I’ll feign modesty and annoyance at all the attention, but inside, I’ll be smiling and gleefully battling myriad health problems with varying degrees of severity. “It takes a concerted effort to be this fat,” I’ll tell Maury Povich. “Most days the eating is a chore,” I’ll insist to Katie Couric, with KFC gravy dribbling down my chins and onto the gown I’ve crafted out of a king-sized bed sheet. Letterman will dare me to eat his hand. I’ll reach down and begin to coarsely and vociferously devour it. He’ll raise both hands in the air and start to laugh, revealing the gag to the audience. After I’ve finished ingesting the plastic hand I’ll start laughing too, as if I was in on the joke the whole time.

I will have my own star embedded on Hollywood Boulevard made out of a crystallizing agent that eats away at the other stars. When Kim Jong-un flies me out to his palace and offers me a position as his human shield, I’ll politely decline. “There’s not enough food in your country to feed me,” I’ll say. He’ll reluctantly agree. On my flight back to the States, I’ll inject myself with the liquefied bacon my personal trainer smuggled on board for me, keeping one step ahead of my competition. “I never asked to be a role model,” I’ll tell Oprah via satellite, from my bed. I’ll plug my show, which airs every Tuesday at 9:00 p.m. on TLC.

I won’t make the mistake that’s hindered many of my porcine pupils. I shall not toy with the gods of decorated excess. The path to celebrity fatness is a one-way street, a flight with no return, something like an STD for the sexually deprived. Never will I face the mass derision that accompanies a highly publicized, triumphant case of weight loss. Believe me, I’m just as sickened as you are by the unadulterated smugness of the fat-to-fit crowd. Rest assured that I will content myself with the fame and fortune that my indiscriminate eating habits bless me with, not once allowing myself to forget that it’s about the people, not my own personal health nor general well-being.

Thanks to the staggering support of my fans across the globe, I’ll still be remembered long after I’ve infamously attempted to triple the world record for most cheese Danishes consumed in a 24-hour period, gone into cardiac arrest at cheese Danish #56, and died. The world will recognize my name, my face, the blubberous sub-cranial region where my neck used to be, and the graham cracker crumbs scattered about my bloated stomach in the photo taken for the cover of the New York Post. I will live on through the wildly unoriginal photo caption memes that your children will view on Facebook, 4chan, and reddit, and that your children’s children will view on whatever sites replace those. Your children’s children won’t have children. An asteroid will wipe out the human race before then.

* Welcome to The Big Jewel, which we are reasonably sure does not cause cancer. At least not the big, messy, incurable kind. However, reading your horoscope does cause cancer, according to our editor Kurt Luchs.

Your Falling Stars

By: Kurt Luchs

CANCER (June 21- July 22)
Stop worrying. Just because you are a Cancer doesn’t mean you have cancer. Not necessarily. Heart disease is the number one killer, not cancer. Cancer is only number two. A big number two, but still nowhere near as popular as your workaday heart attack. The chances are that you’ll have a cardiac arrest on your wedding night before your liver ever turns black and swells up like a malignant watermelon. Don’t think about it. You don’t have it. Or do you? God, what if you did and you never knew until it was too late? You have been coughing an awful lot lately. And that sore hasn’t healed yet. Was that tiny lump always there, or…? Oh, don’t be silly. It’s probably benign, whatever it is. Don’t think about it. They say thinking about it makes it happen. So don’t think about it.

LEO (July 23-August 22)
Count your blessings — you never know when one might be missing! But seriously, just be thankful you aren’t prone to cancer, like some signs. At least you have a fighting chance.

VIRGO (August 23-September 22)
Death is something we all have to face sooner or later. To some — the lucky ones — it comes quickly, quietly, even beautifully. Say, in a heart attack. To others it is an insidious lingering illness, a mysterious and unrelenting assailant, a terminal horror. The Greeks had a word for it. They called it cancer. But what the hell did the Greeks know? They drank hemlock for kicks. They liked little boys. Where do they get off talking about your cancer? Wait a minute — you say you’re a Virgo? I thought you were a Cancer! I’m sorry. I was looking at someone else’s chart. You don’t have cancer at all. You’ll live to be 150. Probably die in a train wreck. I didn’t mean to frighten you. My mistake. Won’t happen again.

LIBRA (September 23-October 23)
You will probably get up today. If not, you are already dead. What are you reading this for? Go on, get out of here. You bother me. And take your cancer with you.

SCORPIO (October 24-November 22)
Never say never. No matter how bleak things look, there’s always hope. Every year they spend millions of dollars on research. They kill thousands of innocent laboratory rats trying to save one person like you. Eventually they’ll find a cure. They’ve got to. It simply can’t go on like this, year after year, people dropping like flies, helpless against the enemy within. It’s madness. It’s got to stop, that’s all. Don’t give up. If you were a Cancer, I’d say give up. But you’re not. Hang in there, old buddy.

SAGITTARIUS (November 23- December 21)
You will see something today you have seen before. Copper is the chief mineral export of Chile. Titan is one of the moons of Saturn. Cancer is “a malignant tumor of potentially unlimited growth that expands locally by invasion and systematically by metastasis.” Good luck.

CAPRICORN (December 22-January 19)
You are “any of various hollow-horned ruminant mammals (esp. of the genus Capra) related to the sheep but of lighter build and with backwardly arching horns, a short tail, and usually straight hair.” It could be worse, right? You could have cancer. Maybe you do. Just kidding!

AQUARIUS (January 20-February 19)
Oh God, help me. Please. The doctors say it won’t be long now. All they can do is ease some of the pain. Why me, God? Why me? I raised two beautiful kids and slaved to buy a house for this? What did I do wrong? Sure, I used to smoke two packs a day. Now I can’t even lift one little cigar to my lips. People would ask me nicely to stop and I’d just blow smoke rings in their faces. “Everything causes cancer these days,” I told them. “When your time is up, you’re gonna go.” I was joking, Lord. You know that. I didn’t know it would be like this. Not so soon. Help me. Please.

PISCES (February 20-March 20)
You’re being hysterical. The actual release of radiation at Fukushima was minimal. The public was never in real danger at any time. This world needs nuclear power. There are risks involved in everything. You are more likely to develop cancer by standing in the sun than you are by standing next to a nuclear power plant. Next question.

ARIES (March 21-April 19)
What would you rather have — a few pesticide residues, or billions of bugs all over everything? There’s no proof any of that stuff causes cancer. Anyway, you’re only talking about a couple of migrant farm workers and a few California Condors already on the way out.

TAURUS (April 20-May 20)
“We are all under sentence of death.” Kafka said that. And look at him today. If he were alive, he’d probably have cancer.

GEMINI (May 21-June 20)
It is later than you think.

* Welcome to The Big Jewel, where you can pay your debt to society and all your other debts with this amazing new online cash transfer system, courtesy of our good friends Molly Schoemann and Matthew David Brozik.


By: Molly Schoemann

Hey, man. Did you eat five slices of pizza the other night but chip in only a couple of bucks because that’s all you had on you? Did you borrow my new Xbox game and then leave it on your car dashboard where the sun melted it? Did you drink all my vodka at the party last weekend and figure I wouldn’t notice? Well, I did. Fear not, though, moocher friends — there’s now an easy way to settle your debts with your old buddy Paul — through a new online payment system I’ve set up called PayPaul.

Pretty sweet, right? Now, with just the click of a mouse, you can get me back for a few of those late-night Taco Bell runs I took you on when you were too drunk to drive yourself home after a late gig. You can toss in a ten-spot — or more; no reason it can’t be more — to help pay for that lap dance you insisted on buying your little brother at that strip club that wouldn’t accept checks. With PayPaul, you can put cold hard cash in my pocket as effortlessly as you lifted a joint out of it the other night when you “borrowed my jacket for a minute.”

And it’s super-easy to set up a PayPaul account: All you need to sign up is your name — even a nickname is fine, T-Bomb — and any major credit card, and you’re well on your way towards compensating me for the hour-long cab ride we had to take home from that party in Jersey where you thought MetroNorth stopped but it didn’t (and where your friend had said we could crash for the night but then we couldn’t).

There are no fees to use PayPaul, and you can even earn 1% cash back when you reimburse me for your half of the electric bill from August since you ran the A/C full blast that whole month and our bill was like double.

But Paul, you might be thinking, what about those less tangible goods and services I may have swiped from you over the years, items that might have little or no monetary value, but which are nevertheless irreplaceable, such as the lucky sweater you were wearing when Josh Homme pulled you up on stage during an Eagles of Death Metal concert, which I later borrowed and then left in a cab? Or the affections of your ex-girlfriend, Vanessa, who broke up with you right after I did acid with her at that bonfire last year?

Why, I’m glad you asked! Those scenarios are the reason for PayPaul’s convenient auto-debit feature, which allows you to make installment payments on a monthly basis — as little as $10 a month! — until either I deem that your debt has been sufficiently repaid or you can convince Vanessa to give me another chance, you dirtbag. Or, you might throw in a date with your mom, or maybe a joyride in your cousin’s Corvette; something like that could significantly reduce your balance right off the bat. Never let it be said that your old friend Paul isn’t willing to negotiate.

As an added benefit, loyal PayPaul customers will enjoy elite GoldFriend status. GoldFriend club members are eligible for additional special offers, including front-row seats at all my band’s shows, free pet-sitting (no spiders or snakes), unlimited access to my Xbox Kinect, and the occasional weekend trip to my parents’ timeshare in East Islip, as long as you bring your own beer, don’t smoke anything inside, and are cool with crashing on the floor.

I’m sure you’ll also be pleased to learn that payments through PayPaul are tax-free in every state but Delaware and Hawaii. And I don’t even have any friends in either of those states, so no problem. (Wait, where does Alex live now? Yeah, I thought so. No, we don’t talk anymore. But if you see him, do me a favor and give him the link to PayPaul. Here, I wrote it down on this napkin.)

Finally, if making regular monthly payments via PayPaul seems daunting, especially for those of you who are still on your parents’ cell phone plan, just remember: The sooner you stop eating my leftover takeout, jumping on my bar tab, and swiping (and then scratching) my Dark Knight Collector’s Edition DVD with the director’s commentary, the sooner your obligation to make PayPaul payments will end!

PayPaul: No, You Got This One™