* Welcome to The Big Jewel, where we are always thankful for everything, especially Larry Pinck, the world's greatest and at the same time most confused expert on Latin.

Latin Legal Phrases Defined In Plain English

By: Larry Pinck

Ab Initio — to commence a program of bodybuilding.

Amicus Curiae — affable grandson of Pierre and Marie Curie.

A Posteriori — relating to the buttocks.

Bona Fide — imperative, “Bone, Fido, fetch.”

Carpe Diem — (1) to complain from dawn to dusk; (2) fish of the day.

Casus Belli — interrogative, “Are you pregnant or just fat?”

Caveat Emptor — warned to take out the garbage.

Ceteris Paribus — to offer your seat to another (often the elderly or infirm).

Cum Laude — vocally enthusiastic orgasm.

Custodia Legis — unemployed lawyer engaged as a janitor.

Da Mihi Factum — statement of individual preference, e.g., “Me-hee for Yoo-hoo.”

De Minimis — relating to a small, unmarried woman.

Defalcation — to clear birds of prey from property.

De Facto — antonym, de think so.

Dictum Meum Pactum — a boastful statement of being well endowed, i.e., hung.

Ex Delicto — at one time, tasty.

Exeat — to delete by penciled “X’s.”

Ex Parte — after the cops arrive.

Ex Post — (1) discontinued breakfast cereal; (2) uncovered, naked.

Fama Nihil Est Celerius — where celery grows, no man starves.

Fiat Justitia — a well-considered Italian automobile.

Functus Officio — an off-smelling bureaucrat.

In Forma Pauperis — to rat out poor people.

In Loco Parentis — affirmative defense to child battery.

Ipso Facto — the matter is true because I say so.

Lingua Franca — colloquy between two men named Frank.

Mandamus — colloquial, statement of personal belief or opinion, e.g., “Man, ‘dey must be smokin’ hot.”

Motion in Limine — vigorous arm movement required to mix a vodka gimlet.

Mutatis Mutandis — excerpt, Ira Gershwin lyric, viz., “You say mutatis. I say mutandis…Let’s call the whole thing off.”

Non Compos Mentis — to doubt the need for a breath mint.

Nulla Bona — failure to achieve tumescence.

Obiter Dictum — idiomatic, lit., over there, dickhead.

Pacta Sunt Servunda — the maid will pack the bags.

Pro Tanto — exhortation, “Onward, my faithful Indian companion.”

Sui Generis — commonplace hog holler.

Per Quod — variation, Ahab’s vessel in Moby Dick.

Per Se — affectation, a French lady’s handbag.

Respondeat Superior — a haughty, pretentious or smartalecky reply.

Stare Decisis — embarrassingly lengthy review of menu before ordering.

Subpoena — of diminutive girth.

Vide Supra — ability to see through all elements, except lead.

* Welcome to The Big Jewel, where 'tis the season to worry about shopping. And nothing is more worrisome than shopping at Ikea, even if it isn't Christmas shopping.

Notes From Ikea

By: Tallulah Marzipan

April 14, 2012
It’s been more than two years now since I started working in Art Department in Film and TV and they started sending me to Ikea. I am the one who does the dirty work, the things nobody else wants to do. They can’t handle the long lines, the arguing couples, the ever-obvious decline of society, or they just can’t be bothered to drive to Red Hook. I know this store better than myself. I am alone in a wasteland of pseudo-Swedish-named reasonably-priced furniture. It’s the Old West out there, an unregulated battleground. There will be many casualties, but I will not be one of them. This is my turf.

May 2, 2012
The air is laced with laughing gas, as at the Key Food in Greenpoint. The weak fall. That pillow has a picture of a lady drinking out of a pineapple — isn’t that droll? No. I am here for two tall plants and two tall plants only.

June 20, 2012
The security guard remembers me. We embrace with our eyes as he marks my receipt with a Sharpie.

July 18, 2012
My boss eats a pack of Ikea cookies in line and then throws them away without paying for them, as always when she shops with me. She follows this immediately with a slice of elementary school-style pizza, then lifelong regret and self-loathing.

August 1, 2012
I was in and out of Ikea today in half an hour. My speed is rivaled only by my resistance to their demon meatballs. For every meatball I have eaten, I have killed a man.

September 22, 2012
Entered Ikea at 3:16. Entered the checkout line at 3:19. This must qualify me for the Ikea Olympics. Stockholm 2016! I shall decimate all opposition to my reign of death. Also, today is my birthday.

October 16, 2013
In a barren wasteland of apathy and hair weaves, Lerou shines as Ikea’s best employee. He has worked there for two days. He asked me if I needed any help, then proceeded to search for my items, take my cart to go get them while I continued to look for other items on the computer, refused to let me help him lift the items off the shelves and into my cart, and escorted me to the shortest checkout line. If you want to look for him next time you are there, he is tall and slim and was probably a hallucination. Last week I saw a plate of meatballs and a machete floating in the middle of the highway. I didn’t have time to eat them, however, because I needed to buy a few things at Ikea before they closed that evening.

November 30, 2012
Today was the third day out of four that I have spent in Ikea. I never want to hear the word “Melltorp” again. Where I once had dignity, I now have recycled blue bags.

December 8, 2012
I was too cheap to buy a menorah for Hanukkah last year but found some Ikea tea lights under my bed. Knowing Ikea quality, it will be a genuine Hanukkah miracle if they last one night, never mind all of them. I shall pick up a bag of frozen latkes tomorrow in Ikea’s frozen food section ($2.99).

December 23, 2012
It is nearly Christmas and I am, of course, at work, at Ikea. Merry Christmas, Ikea! I got you three full carts of returns on five separate receipts, return wait time an estimated 37 minutes. I’m sorry, I guess I got you that last year.

December 28, 2012
Tonight was my high school reunion. One classmate asked, “What do you do?” Four classmates replied in unison, “She goes to Ikea.” I shot them all, drove home, and warmed up a plate of frozen meatballs.

January 12, 2013
I was in the middle of a long return with my boss when a manager cut in and asked if someone with one item could go in front of us because of some error the store had made. Bored and desperate for human contact, I struck up a conversation with him.

Me: Hey man, why did you have to cut us? You’re making me late for lunch.

Guy: You just reminded me I haven’t had lunch yet. I’m hungry.

Me: I have some yogurt in the car. Do you want some of my yogurt?

Guy: How long has it been in your car?

Me: Two days.

February 10, 2013
I walked into Ikea today with two carts piled high with returns. A cashier shouted at me “No! Not you! Leave this place, you foul creature! Death is upon us!” I shrugged and took a number.

February 12, 2013
The cashier asked for my ID to process the return. I handed her my parole card. She needed a manager’s approval. I need approval from no one.

March 23, 2013
After a return, I got back money on a gift card. I walked up to the food court and found a woman with two small children. I asked her if she wanted my gift card. She said she couldn’t afford it. I said I wasn’t selling it. She asked how much money was on it. I checked the receipt. About $536, I said. I handed it to her and walked away. She can buy fifty Lack Tables or one sofa that won’t fit up her staircase.

April 15, 2013
Ikea Brooklyn, my usual Ikea, didn’t have the stove hood I needed for the set, so I headed to the Elizabeth Ikea. One day, two Ikeas. And let me tell you, for once in its existence, something in New Jersey is better than something in New York. There’s reasonable cell reception despite being in the middle of nowhere. There isn’t that godforsaken mysterious high-pitched beeping noise, which I can only assume is to deter dogs looking to buy low-quality furniture. At Ikea Elizabeth, the smell of pepperoni permeates the air. Music played instead of an endless loop of HGTV. The lines were short and they even had a self-checkout section. The cashiers were friendly, including in the returns section, and did not shout ominous threats at me like usual.

July 2, 2013
I was in and out of Ikea in less than two minutes today. I was the only person in the returns line. I know I will never have a greater day in my life than today, and so, after returning today’s purchase to my boss, I will shoot myself so that I might die happy.

* Welcome to The Big Jewel, where we are always looking ahead. Partly to make sure we don't hit anything with our flying car. Please say hello to C.J. Scuffins, whose first piece for us explores the wonders and risks of airborne automobiling.

Return Of The Flying Car

By: C.J. Scuffins

Accident Diary
Dealership: Just Plane Cars, Mill Valley, CA.
Model: Ford Departure Convertible
Complainant: Mr. Fred Buchanan
Date: Oct 25, 2037

Overview: My wife and I were excited to buy a new flying car, as the time had come to change our old one. We visited Just Plane Cars (JPC), a dealership we trusted. Salesman Dan Neilson suggested we buy a convertible because “the sedan is like flying about in a silly old private jet.” We took his advice. Regrettably, the ensuing debacle has made us second-guess that decision entirely.

Sept 5, 2037: While merging on the Lakeville Flyway, a woodpecker lands on the steering controls and tries to bore a hole in my forehead. I almost swerve into the flight path of a Buick 787. “The bird mistook your leathery skin for tree bark,” says JPC Service Manager Arnold Owens. His recommendation? “A good moisturizer.'”

Sept 7, 2037: A flock of wrens take up residence on our back seat as we lift off from Shollenberger Park. They begin to molt wildly. The car soon resembles (in the words of our teenage son) “a flying pimpmobile.” At JPC, salesman Dan Neilson assesses the damage as “pretty rad.” We ask to speak to somebody more professional, but Service Manager Arnold Owens is the only person available. “Most customers have embraced the birds,” Mr. Owens reckons. “One guy is basically flying about in an owl sanctuary.”

Sept 14, 2037: My wife is waiting for clearance to land at the Mill Valley Scout Reservation, when an American eagle rips through the soft top. The car is difficult to keep in a holding pattern at the best of times, never mind when your 14-year-old boy is in the passenger seat fighting off a sky predator. To lose the bird, she is forced to break the flyway code and perform a couple of loop-the-loops. JPC General Manager Buck Sampson says: “I wish the government would genetically modify birds to suffer from air sickness, just like the North Koreans did with wasps.” But he refuses to sanction a buyback. “Do what I did,” Mr. Sampson counsels. “Get a hunting rifle and dog.” We stare at him in disbelief for several minutes.

Sept 16, 2037: Flying home from my place of work, I fire a couple of warning shots over the head of a loitering sparrow, while the dog tries to launch off the dashboard to get at a gang of thrushes. There is no accident, as such. I am merely documenting how we live now.

Oct 15, 2037: After a relatively incident-free month, we decide to risk a transatlantic trip to Europe. Our son stays home. Since the American eagle attack he won’t go near the car. (Nor look at the Boy Scouts logo.) After dark, in the middle of the Atlantic, we are boarded by swallows. Waves drown out the dog’s barks. Shooting accurately proves impossible at night. Flying upside down is really uncomfortable after a couple of miles. We are stuck with the stowaways.

Oct 16, 2037: At dawn the full extent of our predicament is revealed. Due to the swallow tonnage, we are flying three inches above sea level. One observant shark could bring down the whole enterprise, so we are forced to turn around and head for home. The swallows come with. Shouldn’t birds migrate south during winter? Or are they depending on us for a ride? Flying cars have confused Nature.

Oct 17, 2037: We land the car in our converted attic — for the last time. I send a plaintive holographic message to JPC, urgently seeking a buyback. My wife advertises “one hunting dog with flight experience.”

Oct 18, 2037: JPC Service Manager Arnold Owens drops by first thing in the morning. He wants the dog.

Oct 25, 2037: Eventually we are contacted by JPC General Manager Buck Sampson. “All you people ever do is moan and groan about your flying car,” he says, “so I’m going to make you a generous offer: how would you like to manage our Customer Complaints Department?” We start Monday.

* Welcome to The Big Jewel, where it is our goal not merely to entertain but to enlighten. Honestly, some weeks that leaves us zero for two. But not this week! This week we have Ms. E.R. Barry.

Ashlynn Smuthers, Freelance Copywriter For Memes, Home Furnishings, Bumper Stickers And College Dorm Posters, Explains The Inspiration Behind Some Of Her Most Popular Work

By: E.R. Barry

Live life to the fullest.
I did this cinnamon detox before I went to Cabo last year, and I think the dehydration really sharpened my thinking, because I was having these totally deep moments all the time. At one point I was straight up hallucinating in the Aldo outlet store, and Oprah appeared to me. She was standing there — skinny Oprah, not fat Oprah — right next to these super cute leather slingback pumps, and she looked at me and said, “Live Life To The Fullest.” Whoa, you guys. It’s like, you only get one chance at this life thing. Don’t blow it by only living each day to the half fullest or even the three-quarters fullest. Live each day to the absolute fullest. Overfill it, if you can. I know there are only so many minutes in a day, but if you live a couple minutes REALLY WELL they can sometimes almost feel like longer minutes.

Always kiss me goodnight.
This one goes out to my ex-boyfriend, Brian, who will seriously DIE when he sees this after I share it/tag it/like it on his Facebook wall later, but whatevs. I don’t need to get into the specifics, because my therapist has basically forbidden me from talking to strangers about my breakups, but here’s a little romance lesson for all you guys out there: your girlfriend does not want to be dry humped until you fall asleep every night. She wants to be kissed goodnight. Tenderly. Like she’s a sweet little baby, and you’re tucking her in. Oh, and as long as I have your attention, Brian: did you see the selfies I posted last week? I’m losing a lot of weight. If that was a problem for you. Seriously, there’s like no space between my thighs anymore.

Here’s to the nights I can’t remember with the friends I’ll never forget.
Nothing says “lifelong friendship” like a good blackout. Can I get a “hell yes?!” My bitches are always there for me for those important moments in life. Like that one time we were all like, “Screw it! Let’s go out! So what if it’s Wednesday?! More like WINEsday, amiright?!” And then we totally had the #bestnightever and the next day my boss was like “Ashlynn! You seem really hung over! That’s like really unprofessional!” LOL. Love my girls, seriously.

Live, Laugh, Love.
There are many verbs that are involved with being alive, but these are the ones that start with “L.” They’re also super easy to do. You’re accomplishing one of them just by waking up every day, which is really inspiring, I think.

Life isn’t about waiting for the storm to pass. It’s about learning to dance in the rain.
There’s absolutely no reason to get all sulky and moany when things end. And when I say “things,” I think we all know I mean “relationships.” Seriously, break-ups happen. That’s, like, LIFE, ya know? You have to stop looking backwards and start looking forward. Did Khloe Kardashian get all ugly and cry-facey when her husband started smoking crack? No. She totally got a killer ombre and posted some of the most GORG Instagram photos I’ve ever seen. Every broken girl needs a tough-love bestie to get her out of her sweatpants and onto Tinder. Having this quote screenprinted onto a leopard print pillow available exclusively at Target was not only healing for me, but it also provided me an opportunity to give back to other girls in need.

Dance like no one is watching, Sing like no one is listening, and Love like you’ll never be hurt.
This is one of my favorite life rules! Always be dancing, and always be doing it in a cute, semi-embarrassing way, because how else are people supposed to see what an eccentric, fun girl you are? It’s really hard to pull off quirky and sexy, believe me, but when it’s done well it’s seriously so hot. Vine that ish, girl! Twerk it on the subway! Who cares if little kids and homeless dudes are watching? You’re LIVIN’ LIFE!