* Welcome to The Big Jewel, where you are practically guaranteed to find a rewarding position -- assuming that you're qualified for a position in the heart of Sophie Kipner.

Interview For The Position In My Heart

By: Sophie Kipner

If you were interviewing for a position within My Heart, I’d say, “Tell me your credentials and give me examples of your work ethic.” You’d list all the things you did in the past that prove you’re good at working in the heart but you’d admit, shyly, that although you liked those places, those hearts, you just didn’t feel they were environments within which your true potential could flourish, and that’s what brought you to My Heart. You’d believe you were the right candidate for the position and say, “I want the full-time management position of your heart.” I’d say, “Wow, I’m happy to hear that, but can you elaborate?” and you’d tell me that you are so confident in your ability to manage My Heart that you’d bet that no one else out there could perform better, that you just need the opportunity and you’d bring everything you have. Then you’d smile and add, “I’ll even throw in some data analysis,” and so I’d say, “Great, we need a data analyst.”

“What could you offer me, if I were to come work in your heart?” you’d ask because you know your worth and want me to know it has to be the right decision for you as well, so I’d reply, “There are great benefits. First class. It’s like Google in here.” You’d cock your head and say, “Even free lunches?” And I’d say, “Yeah, we have fresh tuna tartar on Mondays and a specialty chef who can toss the salads of your dreams every day of the week.”

You’d go on to explain that in preparing for this interview, you did some research and saw the piece in Wired about us being one of the best places to work, and that you were glad to hear me confirm it. You’d want to know when you might start and I’d say, “The position is effective immediately.”

Then I’d add, “Wait, do you need to give your two weeks to any other hearts?” and you’d say, “No, I’ve been unemployed for quite some time. I know I’ve taken a risk to find the right heart but I didn’t want to just take any job out of desperation. I’ve been holding out for one like this. The one that fits.”

I’d think about it and say, “But hey, the economy, it’s been terrible. I mean, you must have –” and you’d quiet me with your finger, and confide something you’ve never told a potential employer of a heart before: “I’ve never filed for bankruptcy, even during the recession. You see, I’ve been saving up for a rainy day in case I never found the right heart, but then my uncle — who was dying — said, ‘You better not wait for that rainy day because it may never come.'”

“Yeah,” I’d say. “That’s depressing advice, but he was right…Go on.”

“So I realized I wanted to be proactive and try to find the right position now, rather than wait until the time was better because heck, is the timing ever better?” I’d shake my head “no” in agreement.

Hearing that would make me really happy because I’d know you were ready and that you really wanted to work in My Heart, not just because you needed to. I’d ask you again, just to make sure, if you saw this as a temporary position and you’d say, “I’m in it for the long run. I want to see this heart grow! I want to be the reason why it explodes! I want to make it better than you ever thought it could be. I’ll be on the cover of Time magazine for being the most philanthropic CEO of the decade!” I wonder if he’s into saving the children, I’d ask myself, and, as if you’d read my mind, you’d tilt your head and smile. “I’m like the next Warren Buffet.”

I would be beaming now, so hard my cheeks would hurt because this would be the best interviewee I’d ever interviewed. But then you’d keep talking because you think you’re on a roll and you don’t know when to stop. “I want to have shares of your heart so if it ever sells, I could make a ton of money from it,” you’d tell me. But that’s when the high would drop; you would have said too much. I would ask you, “You would want me to sell shares of My Heart?” as tears welled in my eyes. I was looking to employ someone who wants to dedicate himself to my whole heart, not just a piece of it, someone who would take the head seat and plan to never get up from it, ever. Someone who didn’t care about the benefits of being on the board of My Face, or My Ass, our subsidiaries, because he’d be so busy running My Heart. “You see,” I would say, “I am looking for someone to commit to the role and not look at it as a good investment so he can buy a better heart in the future.” You’d panic and shout, “No, no!” retracing, retracting. “You got me wrong. Forget market value. Forget the appeal of an IPO. Forget the –” but I’d have already started dwelling on it, determining whether your quick-switching disposition would be a potential crisis management problem, say, when you were being interviewed in the press about working in My Heart. But because I’d been in human resources for so many years, I would know risk was inevitable and that good character and strong leadership were what made this enterprise. “I never want to take your heart public,” you’d reiterate, just to be sure I understand you. “I want to work hard, put in the time and hope that one day I’ll get to own the whole damn thing.”

Okay, good, I’d think. You had goofed, sure, but I would want to give you the benefit of the doubt because I believe in trusting my instincts. Just as the interview was coming to a close I would say, “Thank you for coming in. I’d hire you on the spot, but I just have to consult with the head of My Brain first. You know, corporate hoops!”

You’d start to sway a bit, moving from right to left. Uneasy.

“Do you have any other questions for me?” I’d throw in because the interview was, after all, two ways.

“I’m not sure,” you’d say hesitantly as the reality of re-entering the workforce sinks in. “Can I think about it?”

“Of course,” I’d say, extending my hand. We’d nod, and then just as you were about to leave you’d turn to me and say, “Actually, there is one thing.”

“Sure, what is it?” I’d say, obliging, hopeful.

“Can I hire a secretary?”

* Welcome to The Big Jewel, the place where it is safe to admit your demons and then carefully, methodically attempt to exterminate them. There is no medicine like internet medicine, as Dr. Erik Cofer will be the first to tell you. Let us also take this opportunity to draw your attention to a new anthology of mom-related humor that includes contributions from several Big Jewel writers. The book is called Moms Are Nuts and you can get either the Kindle version or the paperback at Amazon by clicking on the ad to the right of this announcement.

WebMD’s Demonic Possession Health Center

By: Erik Cofer

What is Demonic Possession?
Demonic possession is a serious illness characterized by the presence of a demon within your body. The affliction typically causes radical changes in demeanor and those suffering from demonic possession very often exhibit little regard for themselves or those around them. While demonic possession in itself is rarely life-threatening for the possessed individual, it may lead to more severe complications if left untreated.

Signs & Symptoms
Though the exact symptoms of demonic possession vary from person to person, some common signs and symptoms include:




Projectile Vomiting

Severed friendships

Newly-formed friendships with people who listen to obscure metal bands like Mayhem and Gorgoroth


Bodily movements and gestures that defy the laws of science

An impeccable basso profondo voice that really holds one’s attention

A tendency to decapitate anyone within a five-meter radius on a whim


Risk Factors & Causes
Experts are largely baffled as to exactly what causes demonic possession, though recent studies conducted at Johns Hopkins and Emory University suggest that naughty little boys and girls are particularly at risk.

Diagnosis & Tests
While there are occasions in which the presence of a demon within an individual is obvious, such instances are extremely rare. Most cases require the assistance of a professional exorcist. Demons thrive upon discord, and it is therefore crucial to select an exorcist whose cultural and religious beliefs conform to your own. For atheists who suspect demonic possession, see Dissociative Identity Disorder.

Your exorcist will likely begin by administering Reverend Bob Larson’s Demon Test®, which can be purchased at www.demontest.com for the reasonable price of $9.95. If the test proves inconclusive, which it often does, your exorcist will perform a physical examination.

A typical physical exam begins with the exorcist alternatingly beating and kissing the stomach region with the intention of antagonizing the putative demon within. Should the demon refuse to reveal itself, it may be necessary for the exorcist to forcefully and repeatedly submerge your head in water until the demon responds.

If the physical exam fails to yield evidence of demonic possession, your exorcist may elect to perform a psychological exam. This examination is essentially a stress-inducing interview designed to unwittingly arouse the demon from its hiding. Common interviewing techniques include:

— Inundation of Puerile Insults (e.g., “Hey buddy, I had a romp under the covers with your mom last night. Oh wait — you don’t even have a mom, because you’re a demon. Punk.”)

— Appeal to Reason (e.g., “You know, actually, now that I say that, I’m sort of questioning myself. Do you guys have mothers, or, uh, what’s the deal exactly?”)

— Threats of Torture (e.g., “While I’m waiting for you to respond, let me see what I have here on my iTunes. Hmm, looks like nothing but Nickelback…”)

— Actual Torture (e.g., “It’s not like you to say sorry/ I was waiting on a different story/ This time I’m mistaken / For handing you a heart worth breaking.”)

By this point, it will be patently obvious whether there is a demon in you or not (see False Demonic Possession Syndrome).

Prognostication & Treatment
It is important that you and your exorcist work together to establish a plan of action in treating your demonic possession. Not all demonic possessions necessitate immediate exorcisms. Some demons are benign and can safely dwell within you for several years before action is required, possibly even evolving into a temporary source of comfort. It is important, however, not to get too attached to your demon, because there will inevitably come a day when it needs to be expelled from your body/soul.

Unlike benign demons, malignant demons do require immediate action. Neglecting such a demon may result in metastasis, and, potentially, the demonization of your entire body. Untreated malignant demons also leave you at risk for Demonic Possession Possession, a condition by which the demon possessing you becomes possessed by another demon, and you’re left to wrestle with multiple demons.

When the time comes for your exorcism, follow the instructions of your exorcist. You will very likely need to be tied down for the duration of the procedure. In severe cases, an ETA (Exorcist’s Tickling Assistant) may be necessary. Tickling functions as a sedative measure on summoned demons, allowing the exorcist to perform the ritual unimpeded. It is unclear exactly why this measure works or how it was originally discovered.

Exorcisms typically take between 30 seconds and six days. Most patients who undergo exorcisms experience full recoveries. In very rare cases, the procedure does not successfully remove the demon, resulting in the patient’s eternal damnation.

Home Remedies
There are no reliable home remedies for demonic possession currently documented, though many people attempt to simply outrun their demons.

* Welcome to The Big Jewel, a hearty advocate of staying in touch with one's high school English teacher, regardless of what hideous life-threatening disease he or she may or may not be suffering from. We think. Anyway, that's Tallulah Marzipan's take on it, and who are we to argue with her? She's a mean one!

A Letter To My High School English Teacher

By: Tallulah Marzipan

Dear Mrs. Riley,

I’m not sure if you are still teaching, and if not, what is occupying your time. I know you had cancer, which is quite time consuming and really sucks. As much as I hope you don’t spend a lot of time thinking about it, and I regret to bring it up at the risk of reminding you about what was (or still is) the worst thing that has ever happened to you, I can’t not ask about it since it’s a super major important thing, and so the really ridiculous result is that this e-mail now reads, “Hey person I haven’t spoken to in a year or two, I’m excited about achieving the first signs of success and wanted to share it with you, by the way how’s your cancer?” and that is way worse. I wish I could come up with something less lame to say than “it sucks,” as no doubt you have heard more profound descriptions of it, like “worst experience that could ever happen to a person” and “worse than getting fisted by someone holding a sea urchin covered in hydrochloric acid for the rest of your life,” which are all probably totally accurate and saying it “sucks” might downgrade it to phrasing you would use to describe a new Jennifer Aniston movie, but it really does suck a lot and I wouldn’t wish it on Hitler or that person on the subway sitting next to me who has a cold but won’t blow his nose and just keeps sniffing every five seconds for the entire train ride. Basically I hope the cancer business isn’t still happening. I know that with cancer it’s always still happening in the sense of “is it going to come back?” and it’s a fear that probably penetrates your day-to-day life and always will, but I hope that at least maybe it’s not ACTIVELY still happening. That is, I hope that you are only plagued with a crippling lifelong fear and not actual pain and awfulness. Isn’t it nice when you get an e-mail from someone you haven’t seen in a long time and they tell you they hope you are plagued with a crippling lifelong fear? I always look forward to those e-mails, too. You are very brave and I’m sorry that such a shitty thing happened to you, and is hopefully not still happening to you. I mean, I hope you are not dying anymore, or at least, that you are no longer dying at a really scary and painful accelerated pace, but rather are dying more slowly and at a relatively similar pace to everyone else.


Christina Bebeau

* Welcome to The Big Jewel, where we support the aspirations of today's young people to follow their bliss, even if it leads them to a trail of elephant droppings underneath a big tent. Dan Abromowitz has the story.

Mom, Dad, I’ve Run Away To Intern For The Circus

By: Dan Abromowitz

Dear Mom and Dad,

I know this is the first you’ve heard from me in a long while. I just had to get away. I knew if I didn’t get out of Flint I’d end up, well, just like you, Mom and Dad. Please don’t worry about me, though, because I’ve found where I’m supposed to be. Mom, Dad, I’ve run away to intern for the circus.

When Colonel Comanche’s Big Top Bonanza rolled through town, with their banners and pennants all gay and bright, I knew I’d found my ticket out. I stowed away under a pile of canvas ’til the Hanoi Hercules found me, at which point I went through a rigorous series of interviews and submitted a writing sample. Colonel Comanche himself sat me down to explain that they didn’t have anything for me at the moment by way of job opportunities, but that interning could be a great way to lay a circus-centric groundwork for myself, and who knows where they’ll be at in a few months. It was all like some mad, wild dream.

Before you ask: no, it’s not paid, and no, I’m not getting course credit. They only offer that for clown colleges, and so few of those are accredited. There’s a whole reform movement around it that I’m actually getting pretty into. I’ll forward you a petition.

I know all this sounds reckless, dangerous even, but it’s really not. Nearly three-quarters of circus interns get offers from traveling troupes, medicine shows, or gypsy caravans within one year. And it’s not totally unpaid. Not really — I get free board on a straw pallet in a boxcar, unlimited hay bale privileges, and a daily allowance of two bowls of circus stew (I want the recipe, but no one will tell me). Plus, I get to keep most of what I can grift, after the barkers get their cut. And would you believe I’ve already gotten LinkedIn endorsements for “hustling” and “flimflam”?!

Everyone here’s so kind to me, even though I’m just an intern. Whenever the Reptile Queen of Kai-Mai or the Living Head send me into town for coffee, they always tell me to get something for myself, or let me touch their horrible textured skin. And I’m making tons of contacts in the clown world. Key players, Mom and Dad: movers, shakers, honkers, beepers, weepers, the ones that get sawed in half, and clown doctors. Yes, Dad, just like Patch Adams.

So far they mostly have me running sound for the Flying Merengui’s podcast (“Trapeze In A Pod” — rate and review!) and writing blog posts like “The Tattooed Man’s 213 Most WTF? Tattoos Of All Time,” but soon I’ll finally have logged enough hours to be allowed to see a performance! There’s one other intern, a girl my age named Emily. Emily gets to work with the elephants because she’s a “senior intern” but I think that’s just because her father does circus law and knows Colonel Comanche from Villanova. Everyone loves Emily. Ugh.

I’m sending a PO box where you can reach me, Mom and Dad. Please send me those old hair dye bottles on my dresser, and some cover-up, too. Occasionally they’ll have interns sub in if a clown’s laid up, and the bruises can be enormous. Here, I’ll send you a picture of me as a clown doctor, sawing another clown in half. Don’t worry, he was fine eventually!

I love you, Mom and Dad, but please don’t come looking for me. I signed a ton of nondisclosure agreements and I honestly think they’d take any chance at all to sue me.

I’ve got to run; it’s Emily’s birthday, so they’re firing her out of the cannon. I’ll see you in two months, and we can talk grad school.



P.S. I sabotaged the cannon. Oops! 😉

* Welcome to The Big Jewel, where the mental health of the nation's beloved cartoon characters (other than the ones in Congress, we mean) is high on our list of priorities. In his first piece for us, Dan Smolinsky highlights some of the most tormenting afflictions suffered by our animated Americans.

Psychiatric Diagnoses From A Cartoon Universe

By: Dan Smolinsky

Wolfe’s Hypersexuality: Otherwise normal behavior is punctuated by periods of acute hypersexuality in the presence of certain sexual stimuli. Psychosomatic symptoms can occur, including intense, visible increases in body temperature, facial flushing, ocular bulging and vocalizations including howling, whistling or an “ah-oo-ga” noise. Occurs almost exclusively in males. If untreated the patient may begin to exhibit predatory behavior.

Acme Syndrome: The patient experiences a form of monomania in which he pursues a single goal through the use of increasingly complex mechanical devices. Treatment should be administered as soon as possible, as the patient is a danger to himself both physically and financially. Although the patient is frequently highly intelligent in technical matters, he may be incapable of seeing easier ways of attaining his goal. In one case study, the patient went deep into debt buying rockets, slingshots, etc., for the purpose of catching a bird when he easily could have purchased dinner instead.

Hundred Acre Schizophrenia: This is a subset of dissociative personality disorder. The patient attributes intentionality and various personalities to inanimate objects, such as plush toys. The sub-personalities may themselves suffer from other disorders. One patient, well known in the literature, had sub-personalities including a stuffed donkey with depression, a bear with a binge eating disorder, a piglet with generalized anxiety disorder, and a tiger-like creature with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. The sub-personalities can cause the patient distress by becoming ensnared in problems such as upsetting a bee’s nest, becoming stuck in undersized doorways (due to chronic overeating), and starting intra-group struggles.

Audience Awareness Delusion: The patient suffers from a misperception that he is constantly being watched. Unlike in the case of paranoid schizophrenia, here the patient enjoys the sensation and attempts to interact jovially with his “observers.” Patient may exhibit a physical tick of turning over one’s shoulder to address the unseen observer. Comments may be conspiratorial in nature, reflecting the patient’s future plans, or may consist simply of snide remarks about the environment, situation or other persons — particularly the failures of those other persons.

Tasmanian Mania: Patient experiences an uncomfortable excess of energy, distracted attention, and frequently destructive tendencies towards property. This condition frequently coincides with binge eating disorder or pica as well as difficulties with anger management. The patient may also exhibit garbled speech. Dizziness can follow periods of especially high hyperactivity.

Paranormal Delusional Disorder: Patient claims to experience supernatural or paranormal occurrences. These are often accompanied by feelings of dread and anxiety. They may also be accompanied by other delusions, such as verbal communication from animals. Patient may comfort himself through attachment to a favorite pet. Psychosomatic symptoms can include running in place or feeling lost and confused in hallways with many doors. The relief offered by remission of these symptoms can be marked by periods of binge eating. The patient’s behavior can be harmful to the community at large by casting suspicions on upstanding business establishments, e.g. claiming that a popular amusement park is haunted, or that a popular museum exhibit is inhabited by a resuscitated mummy.

Professional Delusional Disorder: The patient frequently imagines himself engaging in activities completely unrelated to external stimuli. He frequently pictures himself in “heroic” professions such as lawyer, tennis player, hockey player, flying ace, or hack novelist. Acting out of the delusions may go so far as to include the use of props, or enlisting the help of small animals such as birds.

Antagonistic Personality Disorder: Patient picks a perceived enemy and harasses them, attempting to “thwart” the target at every turn. Behavior can become more obsessive and more complex over time. This condition may coincide with Fourth Wall Disorder or Acme Syndrome. Although the cause for such a link is unknown, this condition is frequently accompanied by speech impediments.

Comical Binge Eating Disorder: Patient feels compelled to eat absurd amounts of food — seemingly of greater volume than could fit within the patient’s body — at a rapid pace, sometimes literally shoveling food down his open throat. Sometimes certain foods are preferred, such as ludicrously large submarine sandwiches, entire platters of hamburgers, jars of honey, trays of lasagna, or the scenery.