* Welcome to The Big Jewel, where we are not the least bit worried about your obsessive-compulsive disorder. No, not all. We've put it out of our minds and you should too! Why not just distract yourself by reading this wonderful piece by Alice Whittenburg, her first for us. Not that we're counting or anything.

One Little Thing

By:
alicewhittenburg@yahoo.com
http://www.alicewhittenburg.com/irreal_estate/about_alice/about_alice.html

5:08 a.m. Elsbeth Heckleton is wrong as usual! I DID go to therapy and now will: 1) keep a journal; 2) notice feelings and surroundings; and 3) each day let one little thing go — won’t wash, scrub, or disinfect it.

5:23 a.m. Scrubbed kitchen floor. Noticed 1.25 inch by 1.98 inch by 0.48 inch patch of chewing gum. Felt horrified to find it and disgusted to remember that Elsbeth Heckleton was a gum chewer.

7:06 a.m. Wiped counters with strong disinfecting spray. Noticed spray bottle only 65% full and felt I had to go get more. Noticed I was always the one to replace cleaning supplies when Elsbeth Heckleton lived here.

10:41 a.m. Wiped smears from bathroom mirror. Noticed grim determination on my reflected face. Felt righteous.

11:50 a.m. Swept patio and washed windows. Noticed more than 100 ants; stepped on some but they were too numerous. Felt that if Elsbeth were here, she would ask, “What if ants are representatives from another planet trying to determine if humans are kind or cruel?” Noticed that Elsbeth says whimsical things because she consumes too much content in the fantasy genre.

4:09 p.m. Ate dinner and felt like taking all the dishes out of the cabinets to wash them. Noticed that the silverware could use a polish, too.

7:01 p.m. Went into bathroom to sanitize my toothbrush. Startled a small-to-medium cockroach when I turned on the bathroom light. It scrambled into the overflow drain in the sink, but its antennae protruded from the drain hole. I could see those antennae, crisscrossing and waving around, as I waited for the cockroach to emerge and meet its fate.

7:02 p.m. Noticed that cockroach antennae are longer than those of the red ants, common crickets, and carpet beetles I killed today.

7:03 p.m. Noticed that cockroach antennae are shorter than those of a 1957 Emerson Bakelite Radio with Miracle Wand, a 1957 two-tone RCA TV with rabbit ears and a 1996 Nokia mobile phone, all of which Elsbeth tried to pressure me to sell on eBay. Felt she was trying to force me to adapt to new technology.

7:05 p.m. Felt I would be annoyed if Elsbeth said, “Cockroaches are real survivors,” and made reference to the robot in WALL-E who was friends with a cockroach. Noticed that I never saw a single cockroach until Elsbeth lived here!

7:06 p.m. Felt I would be annoyed if Elsbeth said, “Don’t the cockroach’s wings look like dragon leather?” Noticed I was angry that she made me watch How to Train Your Dragon!

7:09 p.m. Felt it was no wonder I asked Elsbeth Heckleton to move out. Because of whimsy. And incessant complaining. About the cleaning. Noticed she’s the one who needs a therapist!!

3:57 a.m. Finished scrubbing sink and disinfecting bathroom after I caught emerging cockroach in a jar and released it in the yard. Noticed that it did feel good to let one little thing go.

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* Welcome to The Big Jewel, where we are hoping some wise boomer can enlighten us as to the meaning of certain musical snippets from a bygone era. When you're done reading David Martin's new piece, click on the link below or on our blogroll to purchase his most recent humor collection "Screams & Whispers" on Amazon.

Beatles Lyrics 101

By:
david.martin@bell.net
http://www.amazon.com/Screams-Whispers-pieces-rejected-Yorker/dp/1482395320/ref=sr_1_1?

Good morning students, and welcome once again to “Beatles Lyrics 101,” an in-depth analysis of the lyrics of various Beatles songs. Just as Shakespeare is replete with linguistic riddles from the 17th century, so, too, does the discography of the four moptops from Liverpool present us with lyrical puzzles from the 20th century.

I have begun grading your papers on the meaning of the lyrics of “Hey Jude” and I expect to have them back to you by next week. Let me just say, though, that I was disappointed that some of you chose to view it as an antisemitic work.

Today we are examining the lyrics to the song “Back in the USSR.” Featured on the Beatles’ White Album, this song is a parody of the surfing songs of their rival group from that era, the Beach Boys.

In order to fully appreciate this work, it is necessary to decipher the many 20th-century references from almost 50 years ago. For example, what does “flew in from Miami Beach BOAC” mean?

It’s not an acronym for “boarded on air carrier” although that’s a good guess, Katie. What’s that, Ralph? “Boring old ass catchers?” That’s just rude. No, BOAC stands for British Overseas Airways Corporation, which was the predecessor to today’s British Airways.

Now the third line of the song is a bit unclear. Some read it as “on the way the paper bag was on my knee,” which could be a reference to the paper airsickness bags once provided by airlines to their passengers. Okay, Ralph, you can stop retching now. We all realize that your name is slang for vomiting.

Others have read the third line as “on the way the paperback was on my knee,” which is a reasonable alternative interpretation. A “paperback” was a softbound print medium or “book” once commonly carried by passengers to read as a diversion on long flights.

The fifth line identifies a place called the USSR, but what exactly is that place? No, Ralph, it’s not the companion ship to the Starship Enterprise. The USSR stands for the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, a vast federation of communist states that stretched from Europe to the Pacific Ocean. That federation was disbanded in 1991, but some older people still remember its existence.

The chorus is a bit confusing when the singer mysteriously lauds “Ukraine girls.” If he has landed in the USSR, why would he be praising women from elsewhere? Because Putin likes to do it with Ukrainian girls? Very funny, Ralph, but that’s not it. Quite simply, it’s because when the song was written, Ukraine was part of the USSR.

The final line of the chorus says “that Georgia’s always on my mind.” No, Ralph, it’s not a reference to some “hot chick named Georgia.” If you had taken my course last semester entitled “The American South in Popular Music” you would know that this is, at least in part, a reference to the once popular Ray Charles song “Georgia on My Mind.”

However, at the time this Beatles tune was first released, Georgia was also one of the many republics making up the USSR, or Soviet Union. Given the overall soviet theme of the song, this latter interpretation is undoubtedly the more likely one. Yes, Ralph, Georgia is where the Caucasus Mountains are. Yes, that’s almost as funny as Lake Titicaca.

In the fourth line of the second verse, the protagonist sings “honey, disconnect the phone.” To today’s listeners, the meaning is somewhat unclear. Was the singer suggesting that his love interest turn off her cell phone or perhaps unplug the phone’s charger?

It seems unlikely, given that cell phones did not yet exist in 1968 when the song was first released. It is far more likely that the lyricist is referring to what was once known as a “land line,” an ancient wired phone dependent on a nationwide wired network to obtain a connection with another “telephone” user.

The use of the words “let me hear your balalaikas ringing out, come and keep your comrade warm” in the third verse underscores the Russian theme of the song, Russia at that time being one of the Soviet republics. Despite the many iterations of nationhood in the region over the last hundred years, the balalaika remained a consistent symbol of the native peoples. And no, Ralph, a balalaika is not a specialized bicycle used in Russian porn. That’s “comrade,” Ralph, not “come rad.”

Thank God, there’s the bell. Next week we will analyze the Beatles’ songs “Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds,” “Strawberry Fields Forever” and “I Am the Walrus” from a non-drug perspective.

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* Welcome to The Big Jewel, where there is no subject we are unable to make titillating. Please say hello to our favorite titillator Michael Fowler. As always, we urge you to check out the links to his books, "A Happy Death" and "The Created Couple," in our blogroll.

Famous Wagers

By:
mmfolwer@fuse.net

In 1975, cosmologist Stephen Hawking bet fellow cosmologist Kip Thorne a subscription to Penthouse magazine for Thorne against four years of Private Eye for Hawking that Cygnus-1 would turn out not to be a black hole. (It was, so Hawking lost.) — Wikipedia

In 300 BC, Greek mathematician and engineer Archimedes bet some olive merchant that, by use of a simple machine called a catapult, he could hurl 500 pounds of olives all at once half a mile into the sea. The stakes were a Grecian urn depicting a buxom shepherdess for the olive merchant against a ticket to a comedy by Hegemon of Thasos that featured highly amusing hexameters for Archimedes. (The mathematician did it, so the merchant lost.)

In 1670, physicist Isaac Newton bet fellow scientist Robert Hooke that white light was composed of colors. The stakes were a collection of 500 handwritten satirical Irish limericks for Newton against a packet of 100 suggestive French silhouettes scissored from black paper for Hooke. (Newton got his limericks, so light must be composed of colors.)

In 1965, playwright Samuel Beckett bet fellow playwright Harold Pinter that the next winner of the Nobel Prize in Literature would be the American Terry Southern for his novel Candy. The stakes were a subscription to Juggs magazine for Beckett against a subscription to Cracked magazine for Pinter. (Southern didn’t receive the prize, so Beckett must have lost.)

In 1969, Dr. Michael DeBakey told fellow cardiac surgeon Dr. Denton Cooley that he, DeBakey, would perform the first artificial heart implant. He offered Cooley a subscription to Screw magazine if anyone beat him, provided that Cooley buy him a subscription to National Lampoon magazine if he, DeBakey, performed the surgery first. Cooley, in a coup still talked about in medical circles, scheduled DeBakey to perform a routine appendectomy while he, Cooley, stepped in and performed the groundbreaking procedure. Thus began a feud between the two physicians that lasted 40 years. So outraged was DeBakey that he cancelled Cooley’s subscription to Screw, and substituted twelve issues of Big ‘Uns magazine, thinking Cooley wouldn’t enjoy it as much. (Cooley got really upset, so he probably didn’t.)

In 1972, US Secretary of State Henry Kissinger bet Chinese Premier Chou En-Lai that Nixon knew enough Chinese to order duck in a Peking restaurant. At risk were 12 copies of Mao’s Little Red Book for Kissinger, and a subscription to Perky Bits magazine for Chou. Chou, who said he valued Perky Bits for its farming advice, perhaps misunderstood the stakes. Moreover, as Nixon ordered duck in flawless Mandarin, Chou got a glimpse of Perky Bits in Kissinger’s briefcase and a crisis unfolded. On the grounds that he, Chou, had really wanted General Tso’s Chicken, and that Nixon’s duck order was a setup, Chou refused to receive the magazine, calling the periodical “mean-spirited and exploitative” and the models “too flat-chested.” Even though he had won the original bet, a quick-thinking Kissinger instead air-expressed twelve issues of Heavy Hangers to Chou. (No arms race resulted, so the Premier must have been pleased.)

In 2014, Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia bet fellow Justice Stephen Breyer that before 2016 the court would hold a hearing on the constitutionality of surveillance by the National Security Agency. At stake is a subscription to Spicy Detective magazine for Scalia against a subscription to High Times magazine for Breyer. The bet has not yet been settled, so no reward has been paid out. The wager is further complicated by Spicy Detective, a periodical Scalia that enjoyed in his college days, having gone out of print. Breyer has said that if Nino, as he calls Justice Scalia, eventually wins, he will instead buy him a subscription to Eager Teasers. Breyer says that any fan of Spicy Detective, no matter how conservative, should enjoy Eager Teasers, providing only that it, too, is still in print. With a wink, Breyer adds that if Eager Teasers magazine is no longer in publication, Nino will have to settle for a subscription to Cellulite Bottoms magazine. (Breyer isn’t positive that Cellulite Bottoms is still published, but he browsed through an issue at the barbershop only last Thursday, so maybe it is.)

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* Welcome to The Big Jewel, where we are always ready to tell you your civic duty and how to perform it. And when we say perform, we mean perform. With electric violins!

You Have Been Summoned For Electric Light Orchestra Duty

By:
lucasmgardner@gmail.com

ELECTRIC LIGHT ORCHESTRA SUMMONS

You are hereby notified that you have been randomly selected and officially summoned for Electric Light Orchestra duty. You are ordered to be on call to play with the Electric Light Orchestra beginning May 1st, 2015 and ending June 1st, 2015

WHAT THE ELECTRIC LIGHT ORCHESTRA SUMMONS MEANS
Electric Light Orchestra service is an important public duty under British law. You will be asked to contribute musically in a live and/or in a studio setting with the Electric Light Orchestra. You will be one among several of your peers chosen for Electric Light Orchestra service and you will have an opportunity to influence decisions affecting the Electric Light Orchestra

WARNING: PLAYING IN THE ELECTRIC LIGHT ORCHESTRA UPON BEING SUMMONED TO DO SO IS MANDATORY, UNLESS YOU ARE PROPERLY EXCUSED (SEE CRITERIA BELOW). YOU MAY BE COMMITTING A CRIMINAL OFFENSE PUNISHABLE BY A FINE OF UP TO £1000 IF:
• You do not fill out and return attached forms within 10 days
• You miss an Electric Light Orchestra rehearsal, studio session or live show without good reason
• You are unfit to serve as an active member of Electric Light Orchestra because of drink or drugs

PLEASE CHECK ANY AND ALL MUSICAL INSTRUMENTS AT WHICH YOU ARE PROFICIENT:
▢ Lead vocals
▢ Backing vocals
▢ Acoustic Guitar
▢ Electric Guitar
▢ Bass Guitar
▢ Keyboards
▢ Drums
▢ Strings

YOU ARE REQUIRED TO PLAY AT LEAST (2) OF THE INSTRUMENTS LISTED ABOVE AS A MEMBER OF THE ELECTRIC LIGHT ORCHESTRA. IF YOU DO NOT PLAY AT LEAST (2) OF THE INSTRUMENTS LISTED ABOVE, YOU ARE EXPECTED TO LEARN BEFORE YOUR ELECTRIC LIGHT ORCHESTRA DUTY. FAILURE TO LEARN (2) OF THE INSTRUMENTS LISTED ABOVE BEFORE YOUR SERVICE TIME MAY BE PUNISHABLE BY A FINE

BELOW YOU WILL FIND A LIST OF ELECTRIC LIGHT ORCHESTRA SONGS CURRENTLY IN CONCERT ROTATION. YOU WILL BE EXPECTED TO KNOW HOW TO PLAY THESE SONGS PROFICIENTLY PRIOR TO YOUR SERVICE DATE

• Evil Woman
• Showdown
• Strange Magic
• Livin’ Thing
• Alright
• Lonesome Lullaby
• Telephone Line
• Turn to Stone
• Just for Love
• Easy Money
• Mr. Blue Sky
• Ma-Ma-Ma Belle
• One Summer Dream
• Tightrope
• State of Mind
• Can’t Get It Out of My Head
• Moment in Paradise
• 10538 Overture
• Ordinary Dream
• Shine a Little Love
• Don’t Bring Me Down
• Roll Over Beethoven

YOU ARE EXPECTED TO COME PREPARED WITH (1) ORIGINAL SONG TO BE “TRIED OUT” DURING A COMING LIVE TOUR. BELOW, PLEASE FILL OUT THE NAME OF YOUR ORIGINAL ELECTRIC LIGHT ORCHESTRA SONG AND TRANSCRIBE THE LYRICS. PLEASE ALSO FILL OUT THE ATTACHED PAGE OF SHEET MUSIC.

NAME OF MY ORIGINAL ELECTRIC LIGHT ORCHESTRA SONG:
_________________________________________________
LYRICS:
_________________________________________________
_________________________________________________
_________________________________________________
_________________________________________________
_________________________________________________
_________________________________________________
_________________________________________________
_________________________________________________
_________________________________________________
_________________________________________________
_________________________________________________

USING THE SPACE BELOW, PLEASE DESCRIBE BRIEFLY WHAT YOUR ORIGINAL ELECTRIC LIGHT ORCHESTRA SONG MEANS TO YOU AND SPEAK A LITTLE BIT ON WHAT INSPIRED IT:
_________________________________________________
_________________________________________________
_________________________________________________
_________________________________________________
_________________________________________________

EXEMPTIONS
You may be exempt from Electric Light Orchestra duty if and ONLY IF you meet any of the following criteria:

1. You have already served as an active musician in the Electric Light Orchestra during the 24-month period prior to the date you are required to appear for this summons
2. You are over 103 years old
3. You are currently serving as an active member of the London Philharmonic Orchestra

If you believe you qualify for exemption from Electric Light Orchestra duty in accordance with the criteria listed above, and would like to be exempt from service, please explain why:
_________________________________________________
_________________________________________________
_________________________________________________
_________________________________________________
_________________________________________________

YOU MUST PROVIDE HARD PROOF THAT YOU QUALIFY FOR EXEMPTION. SEE GUIDELINES BELOW:

1. A claim that you have already served as a member of the Electric Light Orchestra within the past 24 months must be backed up with a written note from a current member of the Electric Light Orchestra alongside whom you played at the time of your service as a member of the Electric Light Orchestra
2. Exemption as a result of age must be backed up with a hard copy of your birth certificate
3. A claim that you are actively serving as a musician within the London Philharmonic Orchestra must be proven by proving at least (2) of the following:
• A scan of your London Philharmonic Orchestra membership badge
• Video proof of your participation in the London Philharmonic Orchestra, such as footage captured at a live London Philharmonic Orchestra performance
• A written note from a current member of the London Philharmonic Orchestra alongside whom you play as a fellow active member of the London Philharmonic Orchestra

PLEASE RETURN THE ATTACHED FORMS WITHIN 10 DAYS.

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* Welcome to The Big Jewel, where we are preparing to celebrate Easter in a big way. Not quite as big a way as Judas Iscariot. Which is a story that Karl MacDermott just happens to have for us.

The Judas Journal

By:
karlmacdermott@gmail.com

(Approximate translation of extract from Judas Iscariot’s recently unearthed journal.)

Am approached by a Roman centurion in a crowded bazaar. He asks me would I be willing to betray Jesus. It would be worth my while. He winks. I make an instant calculation. Eternal damnation or never having to hear another parable about sheep ever again. I decide to pursue the matter.

“How much you offering?”

“Thirty pieces of silver.”

Not bad. And anyway Rispah has been nagging me for weeks to buy her that new kethoteth. I look at the centurion.

“That sounds like a very interesting proposition.”

He wonders when I can do it. I tell him Thursday night. Jesus has organized this big get-together. Some supper thing. A thought crosses my mind. “By the way, why do you need me in the first place? Why don’t you just apprehend him yourselves?”

He sighs and shakes his head. Almost embarrassed. He states that although they have had Jesus under surveillance for the last number of years they have absolutely no idea what he looks like. He admits they fall down somewhat in that whole monitoring an individual and facial recognition area, and it is something they definitely need to improve on in the future.

He suggests a plan. After our meal on Thursday night, he and a few of his soldiers will be waiting outside and he proposes that I should kiss Jesus for identification purposes.

Hold it right there, buddy.

“Did you say I have to kiss him?”

“Yeh. Those are the orders.”

“Can I not just point him out?”

“No,” he persists, “You have to kiss him. Orders are orders. They come from above.”

He points to the sky. I’m confused.

“God?”

“No. Pontius Pilate you idiot!”

I start to mumble.

“I feel uneasy kissing a man in public. Or in private, for that matter. It’s just something I wouldn’t normally do.”

He grins.

“Come off it. Look what the Greeks got up to! Were you ever in a Roman bath? Loosen up. Just one little peck.”

I bring up my parents.

“I’m sorry. I was brought up in quite a traditional household. That’s all.”

He glares at me.

“Look, Judas, there are guys out there who’d imbibeth his loins for thirty pieces of silver — all we’re asking you to do is kiss him.”

I think about what he has said for a moment and realize he has put things in perspective. I agree to kiss Jesus.

Suddenly it’s Thursday night. We all turn up at the place. Newly opened. “Gethsemane Nosh.” Quite flashy and very busy. Jesus goes up to the maître d’.

“Good evening. A party of thirteen. Booked in the name of Christ.”

The maître d’ consults his bookings scroll. Sighs.

“Christ, is it? Let me see. No. I don’t see the name here.”

Jesus looks at Peter. “Did you book?”

No response. Jesus goes ballistic.

“I can’t believe this! Peter, I told you to book. I even reminded you the following day. It’s the Last Supper! It’s so important that we have this meal!”

There is an awkward silence. The maître d’ looks at us.

“I’ll see what I can do.” He leaves.

“We can go somewhere else, Lord,” Bartholomew suggests.

Jesus shakes his head. He’s getting agitated. Really starting to lose it.

“This time on a Thursday night? It’s hopeless, Bartholomew! Most places will be all booked up.”

I’m secretly relieved. I have 16 sweaty men in leather skirts hiding outside in a bush. I don’t want us going anywhere.

The maître d’ returns.

“I can fit you in, but I’ll have to break you up into two tables of four and a table five, is that all right?”

Jesus sighs. “Well, I was hoping for a group table because I have some extremely important things to say that sort of determine the future of Christianity…but if it’s the best you can do.”

We get three different tables in three different corners of the restaurant. I get to sit with Jesus, Peter, Andrew and Doubting Thomas. In a poky little alcove, right next to the kitchen. Jesus is still shaking his head and muttering at Peter, who just stares straight ahead. Finally Jesus calms down a little and asks for some bread and wine. Great! I could do with a glass. Ease this tension.

The bread and wine arrive.

“I think it’s corked.”

It happens every time. When we go anywhere with that Doubting Thomas it’s always the same story. There’s always something. Andrew, the self-confessed sommelier of our group, sniffs at the wine.

“It’s not corked. There’s a hint of cinnamon, that’s all. But it’s a perfectly quaffable above average vin de table.”

Jesus picks up a piece of the bread. He taps at the side of his goblet as if about to make a speech. He clears his throat.

“Take this all of you, well, just the four of you” — he signals weakly at us — “and eat it. For this is my body!” We look puzzled. Suddenly a bell rings loudly. Pandemonium. A fire has broken out in the kitchen. We are told to evacuate the premises. The emergency exit. Go out the back way. The back way! The perspiring pedites are still out front! What do I do? Do I kiss Jesus? Do I wait?

Five minutes later. We’re outside. No sign of the leggy legionaries. Jesus addresses us.

“Look, let’s just write this evening off. It hasn’t worked out. The mix-up with the booking. The seating arrangements. The unfortunate blaze.”

He pauses.

“Can we reschedule for next Thursday?”

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