* Welcome to The Big Jewel, where you can always get the 411 on your professors. This week's TA's are Jess Chace and Emma Larson, the latter making her first appearance here.

Ratemyprofessor.com Reviews Of Famous And Historical Professors

By: Jess Chace

Class: Transcendental Philosophy
Department: Religion
Course Level: Sotapanna
Teacher: Buddha

I took Professor Buddha’s Introduction to Transcendental Philosophy with the hope that I would uncover a deeper understanding of the human experience. What I got instead was a hospital bill for when I had to get my ACL surgically reattached after sitting in the lotus position for 48 hours during our final exam.

Bodhisattva University health plan only covered 80%.

Class: Animal Behavior 101
Department: Government
Course Level: Introductory
Teacher: Merlin

I’m not a fan of the university distribution requirements. Shape-shifting may have been helpful for knights back in the Celtic era, but things have changed. Spending a day as an ant will hardly teach me how to practice courtly love. All the hard magic types seem to assume that there’s a concrete answer to these questions of self-identity, as if all I have to do to figure out who I am is pull a sword out of a stone. There should be more courses like my philosophy class, where we spend our time discussing important questions, like whether a round table has a head.

As for Professor Merlin: he’s definitely a product of a different era. He’s still rocking the facial hair, shining robes, pacifist thing. He says he’s a child of the sixties, but everyone else describes the 460s as the Dark Ages, when people only wore dark colors. Also, his tests always seem to cover the material we’re supposed to learn in the next lecture, rather than what we’ve already done.

Honestly, the best part of this class was Nimue, the hot TA. Better hope she’s still around next year, although rumor has it she and Merlin have shacked up together. Gross.

Class: Race, Class and Gender in a Post-Democratic Era
Department: Philosophy
Course Level: Tripartite
Teacher: Socrates

Froze my ass off in that class — lecture hall was a cave.

Class: Celestial Bodies Not According to the Catholic Church
Department: Astronomy
Course Level: Intermediate
Teacher: Galileo Galilei

Although Galileo warned us not to adopt his theories lest we, too, be convicted of heresy by the Catholic Church and sentenced to a life of solitary confinement, those of us who are seriously considering academia as a career don’t really see these two paths as being altogether so different.

*One small note to the future female students of Galileo’s class. I sometimes wondered whether Galileo was using that telescope for some purpose other than gazing at Jupiter’s moons — Justina’s, maybe?

Class: Governing Galactic Systems
Department: Political Science
Course Level: Graduate
Teacher: Emperor Palpatine

I know that in terms of surreptitiously reorganizing a democratic coalition into an evil-ruling dictatorship, staging a coup, and subjugating entire sovereign nations to serve the whims of one’s nefarious pursuits, everyone expects Palpatine to be a shoo-in for the imperial throne. And yes, I understand, these things tend to be political. But the guy hasn’t had any paradigm-shifting theories since, like, a long time ago, and which are likely published in an obscure literary journal, housed in some library far FAR away…

Moreover, this guy CANNOT take any criticism. Just the other day, he came into my command center wanting to workshop strategies for the expansion of Dark Side hegemony, but when I problematized some aspects of his thinking, he gave me this look that just crushed me. I don’t think I’ll ever speak up in class again.

Class: The Western Canon
Department: Humanities
Course Level: Advanced
Teacher: Harold Bloom

If you are the average, white, prep-school-educated private college student, DO NOT TAKE THIS CLASS. It’s just an excuse for Professor Bloom to showcase his photographic memory. If, however, you’re a minority, don’t worry about that — you won’t get in. According to Professor Bloom, minorities have never written anything worthy of inclusion in the Western Canon. Interestingly, women are allowed in the class, which is odd, since he says they’ve never written anything worth reading either. Professor Bloom is a big fan of Henry IV, but my only takeaway from the class was a Falstaffian drinking habit — his theories of poetry gave me so much anxiety that I was under the influence all semester.

Class: 001
Department: English
Course Level: Prerequisite for major (all)
Teacher: Annie Sullivan

Water water water water water

* Welcome to The Big Jewel, where our pride in our automobile is exceeded only by our ability to fake humility about the same. Matt Hunter is your chauffeur.

The Humble Sports Car Owner

By: Matt Hunter

2014 Ferrari F12 Berlinetta

Pedestrian: Nice car, buddy. The one percent must be fun.

Henry [leaning against car]: What? Oh thanks. Yeah, I won this at a casino. You see, I have a gambling problem and this car, unfortunately, is a manifested symbol of this problem. I know what you’re thinking — “Oh what a terrible problem to have. You get a Ferrari F12 Berlinetta with an eight-cylinder V12 engine and super-frame chassis out of this deal.” Well, my problem got out of hand, so my wife divorced me, took the kids, and seized our house in the settlement. Now this car is all I have, and it’s a constant reminder of my horrible addiction. Yes, I’ve gained a nice car, but I’ve lost the true prize — my family…and love [tears up].

Pedestrian: …oh.

Henry: Do you know how hard it is to sleep sitting upright in Italian leather?

1965 Aston Martin DB5

Acquaintance: Wow, Michael. Can someone say midlife crisis? Ha ha!

Michael: [looking down] Huh? Oh, this thing. I just got it from my deceased father. He passed away last week from carbon monoxide poisoning, and it’s what he left me in his will. Did I want his riches? No. Because he didn’t have any. He put all his money in this damn car. He couldn’t even afford to put me through college! I spent years competing with this thing — while my Dad dropped another five grand to fix the gearbox, I was struggling to maintain my job to pay for community college. So is a 48-year-old who still works at Home Depot allowed to have a midlife crisis?! I wouldn’t know. I can’t afford one.

2014 Bugatti Veyron

A beautiful girl pulls up to the stoplight next to Anthony. He accidentally revs his engine.

Girl: [yells out her window] What are you compensating for, asshole?!

Anthony: [Looks at her] Oh, this. This was my one wish from the Make-A-Wish Foundation. I’m dying from a rare disease that I got at birth and I only have a few weeks left to live. My family’s never had a lot of money, so my wish was to drive a nice car for a week. The Bugatti Company was kind enough to loan out this car before I pass [coughs].

The light turns green. Anthony drives the speed limit.

2014 Corvette Stingray

Jack walks slowly from the parking lot to the restaurant where his co-worker waits outside.

Co-worker: [overly sarcastic] Boy, Jack, could you park any farther away? I can barely see your car from here! Ha ha! Ah, I get it — you don’t want some knucklehead parking next to ya’ and scratching that beauty.

Jack: [sighs] Actually, I park far away cause my physical therapist says I need to do as much walking as possible to get my legs rehabilitated. Ever since my battalion’s Humvee came in contact with that IED outside of Baghdad and that shrapnel ripped through my calf, I haven’t been able to walk normal.

Co-worker: Well, pretty coolio that you bought yourself such a suh-weet ride when you returned to the States.

Jack: No. It’s from the American government. Some sort of sick consolation prize, I guess, for being a wounded vet. I could have used money instead for my family, but no, the government wanted to put me in an “American-made machine” to support the country. Disgusting. America’s the real machine. A war machine.

Co-worker: …Okie doke. Well, at least this warm weather’s nice for walkin’.

Jack: The heat that rises off that arid parking lot only reminds me of the brutal temperatures I faced every day in the Iraqi desert.

* Welcome to The Big Jewel, where we are all about the Twitter and the multinational corporations. And sometimes the two together, thanks to Devin Schiff.

3 Reasons You Should Follow Corporate Twitter Accounts

By: Devin Schiff

Think about your favorite 140-character crafters: Entertainers? Politicians? “Gurus”?

Where are corporate Twitter accounts on your list? Our business brands are engaged in a good and just effort to cut through the meaningless clutter of our consumer culture. They encourage us to see our lives for what they really are.

But we don’t listen. We dismiss the depth of their cultural understanding by saying, “What is all this advertising on my timeline?” We frown at their wit and ignore their attempts to engage us. Why?

The products that these companies spend their hard-earned money developing, manufacturing, and putting on shelves in buildings near our houses form the fabric of our lives. Doesn’t this mean that corporate Twitter accounts understand us best of all?

It does mean that. Let’s all follow corporate Twitter accounts. Here are three reasons why:

1. They create meaning

Corporate Twitter accounts have a profound understanding of why people identify with certain things. They synthesize relevant contemporary phenomena in unique and authentic ways.

This perceptive perspective was evident in a recent tweet by the beautiful minds behind the CheezChips® Snack Crackers account. It reads: “#WordOfTheYear,” with an accompanying Instagram of the word “selfie” imprinted on delectable CheezChips, one letter per cracker.

There’s a lot to unpack here. Did you know that “selfie” was the word of the year? You do now. So that’s one thing. But what the McLuhan disciples at CheezChips accomplish in a single tweet goes much, much deeper.

The artful inscription of “s-e-l-f-i-e” on the CheezChips effectively creates a selfie of the snack crackers themselves. What an incisive commentary. This tweet demands that we consider the sociolinguistic implications of practicing this solipsistic form of self-portraiture. Also, #nofilter. In a world concerned about embedded patriarchal and heteronormative social constructs, CheezChips teaches us a lot about defining yourself on your own terms. #SayCheez!

Imagine if Jackson Pollock had to release hundreds of his little spilled masterpieces a week, and you’d have some idea of how hard it is to produce so much meaningful content on demand. But corporate Twitter accounts do it, because today’s media cyberscape is relentless and you need coverage you can count on.

2. They help you improve yourself

Have you ever been at a loss for words? Probably. Look at your Twitter. You’ll find weeks where you had nothing to say. Just like famous name you recognize Ralph Waldo Emerson, you’re suffering from a deficit of #self-reliance.

Every single day corporate Twitter accounts selflessly invite you to speak your mind. They ask thousands of stimulating questions that provoke answers. Questions such as: “Which flavor of #CheezChips is your favorite?” and “What kind of #Monday is the best #Monday for a #CheezChip?” and “In honor of the #DayOfTheDead, what else (besides #CheezChips) would you want to be buried with?” Now your open mind is spinning off to the limitless curiosities of the human spirit.

Whether you answer these questions immediately (CheezChips Tangerz™ Chipotle Mayo Burst, partly sunny, a picture of your family) or print them out and post them on the wall of your dining room as a conversation piece, it will feel good to know that you’re participating. #SayCheez!

Corporate Twitter accounts want to hear YOU. We know you want to discuss conversations. To share ideas. To challenge everything.

If you talk about us, we’ll find you. And you should hope we find you, because that’s the first step to finding yourself.

3. We’re all going to die someday

Corporate Twitter accounts understand that life is fleeting — we don’t waste your time. Instead, we try really hard to connect with all of you. People don’t understand how hard we try. When we write, “Retweet if you were going to party tonight, but then you found your hidden stash of #CheezChips,” it’s not just an idle commentary on how life plans are often altered by external forces.

It’s a cry for help. For all of us.

You think I want to confront existential issues in the face of the Sisyphean thought-generation dumpster fire that is Twitter? No, but as the guy behind the CheezChips corporate Twitter account, I have a public duty to perform.

No one’s ambition is to be the Digital Social Strategist for CheezChips. This is the best I could do. I don’t deserve any better, I know that now. When I was a kid, I wanted to be a fireman when I grew up. Actually I really wanted to be a fire engine, but I settled for fireman and I’ve been settling ever since. Now look upon me, trying to make you relate CheezChips Healthz™ Italian Wheatgrass crackers to the #FirstDayOfSpring like some kind of Pavlovian wind chime ringing desperately in an empty room. #SayCheez! I hate myself.

What do you think? Leave a comment below, retweet this, or come find me wandering the snack aisle at Target, wondering how it went so horribly wrong.

* Welcome to The Big Jewel, where we are always ready to admit our mistakes. Especially when they were really made by Erik Cofer.

We’d Like To Apologize For Last Season’s Egregious Oversights

By: Erik Cofer

As you can probably imagine, running a television series is no easy task. We try our best, but even so, sometimes we err. Many of you have brought last season’s errors and incongruities to our attention, and for that we thank you. Rest assured that the concerns you voiced have been heard loud and clear.

For instance, several fans sent us visual evidence that proves beyond a shadow of a doubt that the gilded silver vase resting atop the Henderson family hearth in episode 3 appears in episodes 4-7 as a gilded bronze vase. The silver vase was dislodged and destroyed in the midst of a rehearsal for episode 4. We improvised the best we could, but alas, it clearly wasn’t good enough. Please accept our sincere apologies.

Others have stated their displeasure at the use of contemporary music to accompany a show putatively set in the 1970s. Again, that’s our bad. Ditto with the cell phones. With a show as intricate as this one, these little anachronisms will occasionally rear their ugly heads.

Perhaps the most befuddling question we repeatedly received was “What happened to Cecilia’s pregnancy?” None of us could recall Cecilia ever becoming pregnant, so we went back and reviewed the tape, and sure enough, the previous season ended with a dramatic close-up of Cecilia’s positive pregnancy test. That was a pretty embarrassing gaff on our part — admittedly punctuated by her revelation in the ensuing season premiere that radiation from the thermonuclear terrorist attack had rendered her infertile.

And we could have sworn that we had chronicled the nuclear holocaust at the end of season 3, but it turns out we decided at the last minute to end on Edward’s birthday party instead, which is of course where Cecilia took the pregnancy test. Once we realized this narrative omission, the confused faces of our actors made a lot more sense — as did your puzzled and indignant responses to the new post-apocalyptic plotline.

The copious death threats you’ve made on the lives of our writing staff solidify your status as an attentive, learned audience. You perceive every detail, and have no qualms about bluntly informing us when we’ve offended your sense of televisual authenticity. It’s really a treat for us to write, produce, and direct a series for fans as savvy as you.

We’re always seeking new ways to surprise you guys, but not every attempt to do so proves successful. We truly had only your gratification in mind with the big twist in episode 8 that Ken was actually a cyborg. Little did we know at the time, we were only fooling ourselves. As you, our viewers, have astutely pointed out over and over again, Ken was already revealed to be a cyborg five episodes earlier. Now we know why the idea seemed so familiar to us. Anyway, egg all over our faces on that one. (Of course, it sure would have been nice if a certain actor had spoken up before we proceeded to design a pseudo-cybernetic body cast for him for the second time, but hey, there’s only so much you can ask of someone being paid $25,000 per minute of screen time.)

And yes, you’re all totally right. Not only would Sarah not be twerking to the Miley Cyrus song playing on her iPhone when she’s suddenly invited to compete on Wheel of Fortune in 1973, but she also wouldn’t be live tweeting her whirlwind of emotions on the set. That’s another anachronistic blunder on our part, no doubt. Nonetheless, the persistent e-mails reminding us that Wheel of Fortune didn’t first air until 1975 kind of seem like piling on.

With the network’s renewal decision rapidly approaching, it’s understandable that so many of you have questioned the show’s future viability. We absolutely have every intention in the world of continuing the series, though we acknowledge that killing off the entire cast in the season finale seems to indicate otherwise. Don’t worry, we’re diligently devising a way to bring everyone back — yes, even Ken, whose half-human, half-machine body was ripped to shreds by that new radiation-generated hybrid species introduced in the last two episodes.

Once again, we’d like to apologize for the numerous faux pas that may have diminished your viewing experience this past season. We will not, however, apologize for the alien abduction subplot introduced in episode 7 and promptly abandoned after episode 9. Continuity issues aside, those were three rock solid episodes, and we defy anyone to attest otherwise.

* Welcome to The Big Jewel, where we occasionally take a contrarian view on the subject of kidnapping. Special correspondent Tyler Gooch has the facts in his first piece for us.

To My Son’s Kidnapper

By: Tyler Gooch

Dear Kidnapper,

My name is Glenn Adams. I am Jeffrey’s father. My wife Sharon and I received your ransom note requesting $250,000 for the safe return of our son. We would like to inform you that we do intend to pay the ransom. But it will probably take us until next Friday to round up the money. So if you wouldn’t mind keeping an eye on Jeffrey for us until then, we would really appreciate it. A few things you should know about Jeffrey though:

Jeffrey has quite an affinity for candy (we assume that that is how you lured him away from the playground). Please do not let him have any candy containing peanuts; he has an allergy. While the peanuts will not kill him, they will cause his hands to swell up and he will begin to urinate everywhere. Do you rent? If so, you can pretty much kiss that security deposit goodbye.

While we think you are a bad guy for taking our son, we do feel like we should give you fair warning. Jeffrey will often signal to you that he has a secret he wants to whisper in your ear. Do not lean in to hear the secret. Most of time Jeffrey will just spit into your ear, though on occasion he will have an actual secret. What he whispers to you will be horrifying. My therapist is still trying to help me deal with the night my son whispered, “Dad, we don’t need to put up the flyers about Mr. Snuggles.” You see, we had recently lost our family cat, Mr. Snuggles, and printed out flyers offering a reward. I mistakenly asked why the flyers were unnecessary.

I then sat in disbelief as I learned, in vivid detail, how Mr. Snuggles was, in fact, never lost, but had instead met a grisly demise at the hands of my son. After Jeffrey finished depicting this gruesome scene in his soft, innocent whisper, he stepped back, looked me in the eye and said, “I guess there IS more than one way to skin a cat!” He then cackled maniacally as he ran down the hallway in his dinosaur pajamas. Every night since, I have lain awake in bed, unable to picture anything but a suffering Mr. Snuggles. If you forget about this and do bend down to hear a secret, pray that you only get a loogie in the ear.

Jeffrey repeats a lot of the words and phrases that he hears adults use, even curse words, so please watch your language around him.

This is going to sound a bit odd, but always protect your femoral and carotid arteries. We once let Jeffrey read an anatomy textbook that piqued his interest. This was our greatest failure as parents.

I am sure that by this point Jeffrey has begun repeatedly asking you for carrots. For your own safety, please soften the carrots in boiling water before giving them to Jeffrey. If you must serve Jeffrey raw carrots, please make sure that he does not sharpen them with his teeth and make sure there are no rubber bands nearby. He will fashion a rudimentary bow and arrow and launch the carrots everywhere. The soft carrots do less damage to the drywall and your flesh.

If you have some sort of physical deformity, it would be best not to let Jeffrey know or see. He will mock you mercilessly. Kids can be so cruel sometimes.

As you may already know, our son does not like it when you call him “Jeff.” If he asks you to call him “The Demon Prince of Darkness, Sorrow and Hellfire,” then please refer to him accordingly — he is just having one of his “episodes of lunacy.” It should pass shortly.

Do not mess up the correct uses of “good” and “well.” This upsets him. Also, try to avoid adverbs when possible. Use passive voice at your own risk.

If you happen to fall asleep without locking Jeffrey up, he will put your hand in a glass of warm water. We’ve tried to get him to stop, but boys will be boys.

All in all, we are desperate to get our little Jeffrey back, but again, it will take us until next Friday to get the money together for his ransom. If you need us between now and next Friday, please contact the Myrtle Beach Best Western. This feels weird to say to our son’s captor, but thank you.


Glenn and Sharon Adams

P.S. Please don’t let this letter frighten you. Jeffrey is a good kid but a bit quirky. If this letter does frighten you, do not try to get rid of Jeffrey by abandoning him in the woods. He has certainly already picked up your scent and he will be very upset when he inevitably finds you. Trust us, abandoning him will not work.