* Welcome to The Big Jewel, where we sometimes revisit the classics with disturbing results. Ladies and gentlemen, Mr. Mark K. Metzger.

Aesop’s Fables

By:
markkmetzger@mac.com

The Boy Who Cried Wolf

A Shepherd-Boy, who watched a flock of sheep near a village, kept trying to call his dog by crying, “Woof! Woof!” But the Villagers thought he was yelling “Wolf! Wolf!” and the Shepherd-Boy would laugh when they came running to help him. When the Wolf really did come at last and the Shepherd-Boy shouted “Wolf! Wolf!” none of the Villagers paid any attention. They thought he was crying “Woof! Woof!” So the Wolf ate all the sheep and most of the Villagers starved to death a couple months later. The Shepherd-Boy is still in therapy.

Moral: Learn to enunciate, particularly the soft consonants.

 

Androcles and the Lion

An escaped slave named Androcles came upon a Lion moaning and wailing with a huge thorn in his paw. Maybe it was a nail. Or maybe it was one of those old-style beer can pop-tops that actually came off the can. It could be. It’s an old story. Anyway, he got some damn thing in his foot. So Androcles pulled out the thorn (or the nail or the pop-top) (it doesn’t really matter). The Lion got up and licked Androcles’s hand like a dog. But then Androcles and the Lion both got captured, and the slave was sentenced to be thrown to the Lion. Instead of attacking, the Lion went over and licked Androcles’s hand. Again. So the emperor freed Androcles and let the Lion loose. Then Androcles got enormously sick on some really, really bad Chinese food and died throwing up. I’m guessing it was the kung pao. The emperor had the moo shu pork and he lived to be, like, 90. The Lion wound up as a rug.

Moral: Don’t even think about the kung pao.

 

The Ant and the Grasshopper

One summer’s day a Grasshopper was hopping about, chirping to its heart’s content, when an Ant passed by, hauling an ear of corn. “Why not stay and chat with me,” said the Grasshopper, “instead of killing yourself like that?” “I am helping lay up food for the winter,” said the Ant. “Why bother about winter?” said the Grasshopper. “There’s plenty of food.” But when the winter came, the Grasshopper had no food and found itself dying of hunger, while it saw the Ants eating the corn they had collected in the summer.

Moral: Where’s the Raid?

 

The Fox and the Goat

A Fox fell into a deep well from which he could not get out. A Goat passed by shortly afterwards, and asked the Fox what he was doing down there. “Oh,” said the Fox; “there is going to be a great drought, so I jumped down here to be sure to have water. Why don’t you come down too?” The Goat thought and then jumped down into the well. Goats, sheesh. But the Fox immediately jumped on her back and managed to jump up to the edge of the well. “Good-bye, friend,” said the Fox, “remember next time.” Well, the Goat called a seismic geologist he knew and they discovered vast untapped reserves of natural gas beneath the well. The Goat got stinking rich and hired a bunch of rednecks to go beat the snot out of the Fox.

Moral: Always seek the advice of a reputable seismic geologist.

 

The Wind and the Sun

The Wind and the Sun were arguing over which was the stronger when they saw a Traveler coming down the road. The Sun said, “Whichever of us can cause that Traveler to take off his cloak shall be regarded as the stronger.” The Sun hid behind a cloud, and the Wind began to blow as hard as he could. But the harder he blew the more closely did the Traveler wrap his cloak around him. At last the Wind gave up in despair. Then the Sun came out and shone upon the Traveler, who soon found it too hot to walk with his cloak on. So he took it off. But it turns out he was buck naked underneath, so he got arrested for indecent exposure. Plus he got a sunburn all over, if you know what I mean.

Moral: Wear layered clothing.

 

The Horse and the Ass

A Horse and an Ass were traveling together, the Horse prancing along in its fine trappings, the Ass carrying with difficulty a heavy load of barley. “I wish I were you,” sighed the Ass, “nothing to do and well fed, and all those fine trappings upon you.” Next day, however, there was a great battle, and the Horse was mortally wounded. His friend the Ass happened to pass by shortly afterwards and found him lingering at the point of demise. “Tough beans, horsey,” said the Ass. “By the way, I’m gonna take your fine trappings, once you’re finished with the death spasms.”

Moral: Get a will, even if it’s one of those boilerplate jobs off the Internet.

 

The Farmer and the Stork

A Farmer placed nets on his newly-sown plowlands and caught a number of Cranes, which came to pick up his seed. Along with them he trapped a Stork, who beseeched the Farmer to spare his life. “Pray save me, Master,” he said, “I am no Crane, I am a Stork, a bird of excellent character.” The Farmer laughed aloud and said, “It may be all as you say, I only know this: I have taken you with these robbers, the Cranes, and you must die in their company.” Then he capped him.

Moral: Beats me. Probably some annoying nonsense about not eating seeds.

 

The Dog and the Shadow

It happened that a Dog had got a piece of meat and was carrying it home in his mouth to eat it. On his way home he had to cross a bridge over a brook. As he crossed, he looked down and saw his own shadow reflected in the water beneath. Thinking it was another dog with another piece of meat, he snapped at the shadow in the water, but as he opened his mouth the piece of meat fell out, dropped into the water, and was never seen again.

Moral: Get a cat. Dogs are dumber than a bag of hammers. And they drool, for Chrissakes. Or get a ferret. Yeah, a ferret! They’re a lot cleaner than you think, even though they smell.

 

The Fox and the Crow

A Fox once saw a Crow fly off with a piece of kung pao chicken in its beak and settle on a branch of a tree. “That’s for me, as I am a Fox,” said Master Reynard. “Good day, Mistress Crow,” he cried. “How well you are looking today! How glossy your feathers, how bright your eye! I feel sure your voice, too, must surpass that of other birds! Let me hear but one song from you that I may greet you as the Queen of Birds!” The Crow lifted up her head and began to caw her best, but the moment she opened her mouth the kung pao fell to the ground, only to be snapped up by Master Fox, who went off to his lair to devour the prize. But he got enormously sick and died throwing up. The Crow got a bit part in The Birds and parlayed it into a film career as a creepy extra in slasher flicks. She’s in a home for retired actors out in the Valley.

Moral: Were you not paying attention before? 

 

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* Welcome to The Big Jewel, where we like to celebrate every kind of love there is, even the love between two punctuation signs. Enjoy this offering from Tierney Acott, her first for us.

A Letter From The Semicolon To His Wife

By:
tierney.acott@gmail.com

My dearest Colon,

I imagine you have known for some time now that things are not great. I’ve had trouble sleeping and I’ve lost weight, shrinking in font size. It has been difficult for me to find a job and our computer keys receive no love, sans the hovering pinky fingers that never press me, unless in error. If either of us, they favor you.

As they should. You are far more beautiful and versatile. That’s what made me fall for you in the first place. Your supple spheres, paired directly on top of one another. You were no match for my weak heart. I felt, immediately upon seeing you, my comma growing. I loved, and still love you. Which is why I must leave.

There is no work for me and I cannot support our family; you deserve better. Next year we will have two children in college, learning the rules of their trade. Our daughter, Period, is strong and I’m confident that she will make a significant impact on society in the future. Our son, Comma, is unlike any of his peers. He is versatile and athletic, and loves to be used in new and sometimes unconventional ways. It is not the younger two that make me anxious, but rather our eldest child, Oxford Comma. He is most like me. Once a staple of the literary world, he is now vanishing. After generations of punctuation royalty, I am devastated that it is I who brings a useless son into this world. I foresee that I will have to support him for the rest of my days on what little income I have. He is doomed for life as a freelancer and I fear he will be as destitute as I, if not worse.

I plan on venturing far and wide, perhaps to London, for work. I hope to find a niche wherein the semicolon is frequently used. I’ve heard rumors around the Semicolons Gentlemen’s Club that medicine has proven a fruitful endeavor. Further speculation renders bountiful job positions in law. ‘Tis a shame that novelists are only allowed two per lifetime. And here at Sandford High School, I’m less than useless.

I will write you daily, my love, and send home all my earnings. Together we will rebuild the trust fund of my ancestors. Those noble Semicolons, who were an elite clan. They were paid respectably for joining independent clauses with dignity and integrity. But times change and shortly after we married, my reign was taken by that dash — an unqualified mutant of the hyphen with its long and erect ways. But there are things I can do that the dash, with all his flair and panache, doesn’t even know exist. Things that they cannot teach at Dashery University with their modern theories. Things that will blow your mind. It’s time I take back what is ours.

Yours truly forever and always,

The Semicolon

 

 

 

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* Welcome to The Big Jewel, where we are always ready to encourage those in the thespian arts. Thespian. If you can say that word without a lisp, you're a better thespian than we are. And if you follow the clever advice of Graham Techler, you'll be even better.

Tips For Becoming A Better Actor

By:
graham.techler@gmail.com

Being a professional actor is a difficult journey requiring luck, skill, talent, and hard work. However, there are many things young actors can do to set themselves apart and succeed artistically as well as professionally.

Onstage, it’s important to “cheat out” so the audience can see you. Face the audience at a perfect perpendicular angle and stay absolutely still. Pick one person in the crowd and direct the entire performance towards them. Make them afraid for their life.

Being an actor is an academic practice as well, and there are many classic acting texts that you should be sure to buy, stick Post-Its in randomly, rough up a bit, and feature prominently on your bookshelf.

Think of your body as a physical instrument. Polish it with lacquer oils. Check it in a hard case at airports.

Do tongue twisters in the morning as a quick and easy vocal warm up. Do tongue twisters in the afternoon when you’re on the bus. Do tongue twisters when a friend confronts you about not paying back the money you owe them. Do tongue twisters in order to find out if a darkened room is occupied. Do a tongue twister at your sister’s wedding reception to roars of applause. Do a tongue twister as a litany against fear before your council with the Great Xuradossa. Do a tongue twister or else.

Memorizing lines is always easier if you run them with a partner! Make this partner your spouse. Then you will have the attention you’ve been craving the whole time.

Make a playlist of songs you think your character would listen to or identify with. Populate this playlist only with Pinkerton B-Sides, in the chronological order in which they were released. Force your character to conform to the emotional arc of this playlist.

Sometimes, becoming a better actor is as easy as observing older, more experienced actors and seeing how they work. Kill them with a moon dagger and suck their manna from the open wound in order to gain both their abilities and their memories.

If you don’t find you’re getting the opportunities you want, make some for yourself! Write the play Barefoot in the Park by Neil Simon and perform it on Broadway at the Biltmore Theatre with your friends.

Make sure you know your “type.” Most actors are a leading man, leading lady, ingénue, character actor, villain, femme fatale, animal actor, young person who plays old people, old person who plays admirals, fatso uncle, Christ figure, Mr. Glenberry from next door, the virtuous whore, the middle-of-the-road whore, the Scottish whore, the non-whore, Beatle, cryptid or John Hawkes. Once you’ve found your type, stick with it for ten years and then play against it for awards season. (Awards Hint: Mr. Glenberry is the opposite of all the other types.)

Being an actor is all about having a wide range of skills and life experiences to draw on. Take a stats class at school! Take another. Enroll in undergrad as a general studies major but switch to statistics sophomore year. Graduate in the middle of your class but with great connections. Intern at an analytics firm before joining a high-powered office supplies company. Work your way up the ladder while earning your graduate degree, then your PhD. Marry your co-worker Celia and have two beautiful children. Move to Piscataway, New Jersey to teach at Rutgers. Publish the occasional paper. See King Crimson in concert like two or three times. Take up woodworking in your garage. Have a brief affair with an adjunct professor that you never admit to and will regret for the rest of your life. God, Sarah, this will ruin us. Watch your Johnny win first place at the boy’s regional track and field meet. Die at age 72 loved by your family and respected by your colleagues.

Before a performance, go find a dark, quiet space where you can relax, be alone with your thoughts and focus. Never come out. Don’t go onstage. Never volunteer yourself for public humiliation ever again.

 

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* Welcome to The Big Jewel, where we are always trying to make international relations better, one date at a time. When you're through perusing David Martin's newest piece, click on the link below or on our blogroll to purchase his most recent humor collection "Screams & Whispers" on Amazon.

PlentyOfStates.com

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

With the explosive growth in on-line dating sites like eHarmony and Match.com, it should come as no surprise that there is now a new site for countries in the market for love called PlentyOfStates.com. Check out these recently added profiles:

 

“JState” a.k.a. “Hebrewnation”

I’m a 67-year-old state looking to make some new connections in the Middle East. I’ve been separated from my Palestinian partner for many decades now and I feel it’s time to open myself up to possible new relationships in the region. Some time ago, I did try hooking up with my neighbor to the west, Egypt, but that relationship has definitely cooled in recent years.

BODY TYPE: Small but very powerful.

LIKES: American foreign aid, my Iron Dome rock protection system, long walks on the beach so long as I’m not pushed into the sea.

DISLIKES: Things starting with the letter “h” (think ham, Hamas and Hezbollah).

HOBBIES: Carpentry, masonry, opening new settlements.

TURN-ONS: Large countries who give lots of aid and don’t ask for much in return.

TURN-OFFS: Dates who say they’ll call and then instead launch rockets.

 

“StarzNStripes”

If you go out with me, you get fifty states in one. With no false modesty, I’m the biggest, richest, best-looking country you’re ever likely to see. A lot of countries think I’m mean and arrogant but, you know what, I think they’re just jealous. If you’re open to it, I can show you a really good time. In fact, right now, I’m looking for a few more coalition partners to shake things up in Syria if you know what I mean.

BODY TYPE: Big, bold and beautiful.

LIKES: Armaments, high-tech jet fighters and lots and lots of nuclear weapons.

DISLIKES: A weak dollar and big trade deficits.

HOBBIES: Spreading democracy around the world, cleaning up democracy-spreading messes.

TURN-ONS: Smaller countries who do just what I tell them to.

TURN-OFFS: China and Russia.

 

“HermitKingdom”

If you like bad boys, I’m the country for you. Some say I’m crazy but what’s life without a little craziness? If you’ve got some fissionable materials then I want to connect with you. Chances are we’ll hit it off and sparks will fly, if not gigantic explosions.

BODY TYPE: Squat, powerful but somewhat emaciated.

LIKES: Boy dictators and NBA basketball.

DISLIKES: Anything south, including South America, South Park and especially South Korea.

HOBBIES: Feeding my leader and starving my people.

TURN-ONS: American payoffs to make me stop my latest craziness.

TURN-OFFS: Other countries ignoring my craziness.

 

“Mess-O-Potamia” formerly known as “Saddamsstate”

I used to have a longstanding, serious relationship with a very big state who shall remain nameless. Needless to say, it ended badly. Sure, he paid lots of support and agreed to be there if needed but now it’s like I never existed. Given my past history, I tend to like my partners big and rough. So if somebody like China or Russia is looking for some extra oil, give me a call.

BODY TYPE: Artificial and fragile.

LIKES: Foreign armies who fight my battles for me.

DISLIKES: Foreign armies who invade me.

HOBBIES: Extracting oil from the ground, extracting aid money from the U.S.

TURN-ONS: Oil revenues, support payments.

TURN-OFFS: ISIS, Kurds and Sunnis.

 

“GaulGuy” a.k.a. “Frenchie”

I am, how you say, a lover and not a fighter. Contact me if you are in the mood for romance. Whether you are married or single, I will ensure that you will not forget our time together. Plus, if you’re in the market for some military weapons or jet fighters, I think we might be able to make beautiful music together.

BODY TYPE: Sleek, sophisticated and dressed just right.

LIKES: Fine wine, delicious cheeses and fabulous meals.

DISLIKES: Brits, Germans and Americans except for Jerry Lewis.

HOBBIES: Creating new ways to surrender.

TURN-ONS: Philosophy, bureaucracy and the philosophy of bureaucracy.

TURN-OFFS: Anything not French.

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