* Welcome to The Big Jewel, where we proudly support those who are "in transition." Transition to what? That's a good question, and one that only Barton Aronson can answer.

Georgina’s Transition

By: Barton Aronson

First off, a big “thank you” to everyone who’s been so supportive of Roberta. Her journey to becoming Robert hasn’t been easy, but except for the incident in the third floor men’s room last week, most of you have been really thoughtful. The bathroom, by the way, will be back in service on Wednesday. Robert has recovered from the trauma and will be back tomorrow. And Elliot’s suspension ended this morning — but don’t think we’re not watching you, Elliot.

I also want to let you know that, starting Monday, we’ll be supporting another transition — Georgina is coming back to work. Just last week, her doctor said she’s ready to go, and this morning, her ichthyologist signed off, too. Georgina’s outward self now fully reflects the Metacarcinus Magister she’s always been inside.

Our little Georgina is finally a Dungeness crab.

I don’t want to pretend that this isn’t a big change. It is. But I also want to say that we should keep this in perspective. I don’t know about all of you, but Roberta becoming a boy seems a much bigger deal to me than Georgina becoming a crab.

However you view it, though, you need to take our word for it — Georgina is still a girl. Look, we know there’s no way to tell the difference between male and female crabs without turning them over. But after last week, it should go without saying that picking coworkers up and turning them over to check is not okay. Got that, Elliot? Next time, the suspension will be without pay.

And by the way — Georgina is still “Georgina.” No change there. She has a new crustacean name, of course, but really doesn’t want anyone wasting time trying to master the complex naming conventions of Dungeness crabs. In any case, her ichthyologist tells us that making the necessary sounds is anatomically impossible for us. And no, Elliot, it will not be funny for you to try.

Typical Georgina — she’s told us many times she doesn’t want any special treatment. And there won’t be. Still, we’re going to have to make a few small changes.

Effective immediately, the cafeteria will no longer offer crab cakes during summer. We know, we know — they were great. But if you can imagine yourself in Georgina’s shell for a moment, you’ll understand. We will also be dropping most other members of the Malacostraca Class from the menu. We’ll all miss lobster roll Tuesdays, but frankly, the krill soup was never popular. Most other seafood will remain on the menu, and Georgina says she’s looking forward to Clam Chowder Fridays as much as she ever did. Much more than she ever did, in fact.

Also effective immediately, the use of the word “crabby” to describe Georgina when she’s in one of her moods is prohibited. Simple courtesy, people.

Oh, speaking of “people”: we need to start avoiding that word — and other phylum-specific language — when addressing a group. Everyone did just fine when we had to stop using “guys” last year, and this is really no different. Besides, Legal insists. We’ve been told “Animalia” is fine, and we’re checking on “folks.” HR is now CAR, by the way (Chordata and Anthropoda Resources). New signage will go up next week.

We also need to stop referring to our competitors as “bottom feeders.”

Obviously, Georgina is now considerably closer to the ground than she was before. Everyone should just be mindful of her when moving about the office. And remember – she isn’t avoiding you, she just walks that way.

We also need to inform you that, because Dungeness crabs have their own views on proper hygiene, Georgina might not always use the restroom. You should have no trouble spotting her droppings in the hallways — they are roughly the size, shape, and color of a Tootsie Roll. (Tootsie Rolls will be banned from candy dishes to avoid any confusion.) And apparently, they’re only mildly toxic.

Finally, Georgina — and only Georgina — will be allowed to sit on the table in the conference room. Her eye stalks just aren’t long enough otherwise. And while her ichthyologist assures us she’s the same old sweet Georgina, it’s important to remember that crabs can be a little short tempered, especially when they feel threatened. It’s also important to remember that the crushing power of her larger claw is about 10,000 pounds per square inch. So, Elliot, by all means, feel free to continue telling Georgina that her ideas for holiday parties are stupid. Just remember — when she’s on the table, that claw is pretty much aimed at your nose.



* Welcome to The Big Jewel, where we are for transparency in local government. Even in Munchkin Land. Hearken to the legal reasoning of our good friend Bruce Harris.

Memo To The Mayor Of Munchkin City

By: Bruce Harris


To: The Mayor of the Munchkin City, in the County of the Land of Oz

Fr: A Group of Concerned Munchkin Citizens

Re: The Death of the Wicked Witch of the East, Etc.


Issue #1

The townspeople, barristers, and city fathers were all present when you declared a day of independence for all the munchkins and their descendants (if any!).

Following the killing of the Wicked Witch of the East (WWE), the coroner, who will go unnamed for the very good reason that he has no name, rolled out a “Certificate of Death.” It wasn’t worth the paper it was printed on. The nameless coroner averred (is that a word?) that he, and we quote, “thoroughly examined her (the WWE) and she’s not only merely dead, she’s really, most sincerely dead.” That’s fine, as far as it goes. But frankly, it doesn’t go very far.

We agree with the coroner’s conclusion that WWE is “physically, positively, absolutely, undeniably and reliably dead.” However, that is not enough.

As you know, the Barrister of Munchkin City, in the County of the Land of Oz, was specifically concerned about two legal aspects of WWE’s death…”we’ve got to verify it legally to see…if she is morally, ethically [dead]…” In addition, one of the city fathers wanted to know if WWE was spiritually dead as well. Those are the legal questions. It’s not enough to declare, as our unnamed coroner did, WWE most sincerely dead. It was your duty, Mr. Mayor, to press him further on this point. We contend you failed in your Mayoral duty.

Mr. Mayor, with all due respect, we collectively ask you, what were you thinking when you declared a day of independence based on the unnamed coroner’s inadequate testimony? Is WWE morally, ethically, and spiritually dead? We’ll never know. We will even settle for two out of three. Is the unnamed coroner qualified to make such a determination? What are his credentials, his training in such areas as morals and ethics?

What is spiritual death? Presumably, it is the separation of the soul from God. That’s heavy. Mr. Mayor, what say you? Are you confident that WWE is spiritually dead? Be honest. We know you are a politician, but try your best.

If the Mayor’s declared day of independence for all the munchkins and their descendants is based on the legal death of WWE, then we proclaim this proclamation null and void because as stated above, WWE’s legal death has not been satisfactorily determined. Therefore, it is our duty to take things a step further. The bust of Dorothy that currently resides in the Munchkin City, in the County of the Land of Oz Hall of Fame, which you ordered and approved, needs to be removed. Dorothy may not be “history,” as you so proudly declared, until we determine if WWE is positively and absolutely morally, ethically, and spiritually dead. Until then, we demand a retraction to the day of independence and re-handling of Dorothy’s bust. Not that bust. Get your mind out of the gutter.

Issue #2

The Lollipop Guild, The Lollipop Guild, The Lollipop Guild, and in the name of The Lollipop Guild, we demand answers regarding the sweetheart deal you made with that out of town supplier of yellow bricks. Surely standard red would have sufficed. Or, at the very least, alternating red and yellow bricks? Our munchkin tax dollars are on the hook for this bloated construction project and unnecessary sea of yellow.

Issue #3

Two words. Air space. We implore you to do something, anything, to tighten up the security of our air space. We’re constantly subjected to witches, both good and bad, appearing and disappearing in bubbles and in sudden fiery flashes (although admittedly this problem has lessened since the death of WWE). People and houses fall from the sky, not to mention those creepy flying monkeys hovering at all hours of the day and night. It’s unnerving. Members of The Lullaby League, The Lullaby League, The Lullaby League are freaking out. No one can get any rest. Surely, with the powers invested in you, some sort of controls can be put into place.

Issue #4

Every year it is the same thing. Our basketball team hasn’t won a game since…well, never, and this year’s draft is dismal. Frankly, we’re getting tired of asking for your help in this arena.

Issue #5

What on earth (we are on earth, aren’t we?) is happening with respect to our cease and desist request prohibiting Dunkin’ Donuts from sullying our good name with their donut holes?


* Welcome to The Big Jewel, where sometimes our authors wax rhapsodic about the loves of their lives. They also occasionally wax the car or the floor. But mainly they wax rhapsodic. Like Alex Bernstein. And it's the best way to say Happy Valentine's Day!


By: Alex Bernstein

Barb was extremely popular in a way that I was extremely not.

There was something about Barb. The way she chewed her pens and threw them out before the ink exploded. And then I’d retrieve the pens and chew where she chewed, even if they did explode. And then I’d have blue teeth for weeks. And people would go, Eugh. He’s been chewing Barb’s pens again. Loser!

We had a special relationship, me and Barb.

She was always there for me. When I tripped in the hallway, she was there. When I spilled lunch on myself, she was there. When I got shoved into lockers, she was there. And usually helping to change the locks.

With Barb, the possibilities were limited.

On the Charlie’s Angels Scale she was a 14.

Sitting near Barb was like sitting near a shampoo commercial.

Sitting near Barb was like sitting near a Playboy centerfold except she was real and alive and didn’t have staples in her stomach. That I knew of.

Barb’s third base was in four dimensions.

Barb was chick, perfected.

Barb’s beauty was not only skin deep, but also blood, bone, muscle, nervous system, and organ deep.

With Barb, the world was not my oyster. The world was the oyster of the guys over at the next table and they were not about to share despite their rampant shellfish allergies.

Barb’s beauty was incalculable unless you had a really good Texas Instruments calculator with extra log functions. Which I had.

Barb was out of my league. Actually, she was in my league. But she was a better hitter, while I closed my eyes and swung all the time.

Barb needed no cheerleading squad and could spell out “Go Team!” by herself.

Actually, talking to Barb was inconceivable. The trick was to stand near her without melting.

Barb’s beauty was so blinding I had to look through a pinhole in a cardboard box to see her (as if looking at an eclipse) which could be especially awkward in the school hallway.

Barb solved for Pi.

Barb was never full of baloney, cereal, or other animal by-products.

When God made Barb he broke the mold. But a wandering hobo found the mold, glued it back together, and went to sell it to GE. But on the way over, he got hit by a school bus.

I would’ve worshipped the ground Barb walked on. But she walked on air. So I worshipped air.

I only wanted Barb to validate me like a parking stub at jury duty.

We would have made the perfect couple, as Barb’s grace and beauty would have offset my oafishness and malformation.

When Barb tried being a bad girl, society changed its perception of “bad” to “perfectly adorable.”

Evenings, Barb worked at the broken lighthouse, guiding ships to shore with her smile.

Barb was a classic Greek beauty without the poor credit rating.

Barb’s sweat was the universal solvent.

The sailor who gave up Brandy for the sea came back for Barb.

Barb not only conversed with woodland animals but also taught them French.

Barb didn’t know I was alive, so therefore I wasn’t.

Barb was proof that there was so much more that I could aspire to that I would never ever ever get.

Thinking back on Barb, I didn’t realize how good I had it, back when I had it really good.

Had I had more courage, I would have surely told Barb how often I thought of her and how much she meant to me.

And she would have replied, “You’re sitting on my coat.”


* Welcome to The Big Jewel, where we agree with The Chalmers Academy that the well-being of your child is easily one of our six or seven highest priorities. Just ask Sheila M. Anthony.

And In This Corner…Values

By: Sheila M. Anthony

You don’t need to tell The Chalmers Academy that core values are in crisis. Leaders can’t keep their pants on, pornography has groped its way into family entertainment, and someone keeps ignoring the clearly worded, multilingual sign we posted and urinating on our HVAC unit. But look who we’re preaching to — a rube who’s been stabbed in the back so many times his shirt looks like a pub dartboard. Fine. You can take care of yourself, but what about that nice kid of yours? How will he survive this roiling cesspool of a world? With a values-based education, that’s how. Here at Chalmers your child will discover transparency of information, self-respect, and how to say what he means and mean what he says. He’ll learn to do the right thing surrounded by a supportive community: fellow saps desperate to shore up collapsing standards.

What are values anyway?

Let’s say you’re walking by a lake and you see a man drowning. You pretend to be blind, so you don’t have to deal with it. Then he cries out for help. Great. Now you have to be blind and deaf, which is difficult because at least with the blind thing you can employ props like dark glasses and a Braille newspaper. Clearly you have no values or the wrong kind.

At Chalmers we cultivate only positive values like respect, tolerance, and personal responsibility. For instance, in the above example you might be encouraged to toss the struggling man a life preserver, call in the help of a trained professional like a lifeguard, or mime an appropriate swim stroke so the victim can save himself.

Shouldn’t I just jump in?

You always want to arrive at the best possible solution before taking any action. This requires reflection. First, choose a comfortable location like your favorite chair or Europe. Then ask yourself a series of questions: What is your attitude toward the situation? What choices can you make? You’ve tolerated his screaming, isn’t that enough?

But he’s drowning!

So, is that your fault? No one told him to scarf down a steak burrito then go swimming. Now, because of him, you’ll never be able to go near a body of water again. You’ll have to vacation in places you hate, like the desert.

I don’t know…I want my kid to learn clear-cut values like “The Golden Rule” and “turn the other cheek.”

Teach your child to turn the other cheek, and he’ll have his first cheek handed back to him in a sandwich. Trust us, our nurse’s office used to look like a delicatessen.

Maybe I should just get on the ball and teach him values at home.

Oh, is that why you downloaded this brochure? Besides, if you teach them at home then you’re on the hook if he torches your town’s 400-year-old chestnut tree or saws the neighbor’s garage in half. But by paying someone else to teach him values, you get to blame them if things don’t work out. And $40,000 a year buys a lot of blame.

Eesh. Forty grand a year? For a day school? That’s pretty steep, isn’t it?

Listen, cheapskate, we don’t just teach values, we live them. Half our staff is in hiding for doing the right thing. Do you know what decent lawyers and PR representation cost? Plenty. And don’t think that at forty thousand a year all we do is attract snobby rich kids. You’re also paying through the nose so your child can study alongside those who haven’t had it so easy.

Gee, maybe my kid’ll finally be grateful for what he has. And it’s time he learned to empathize with the less fortunate.

Unless the “less fortunate” grow to despise him because they’re on the fast track to “more fortunate.” No self-respecting poor kid wants to wind up a pansy-ass bleeding heart willing to slide over for anyone on the bus.

You make it sound like my kid’s going to be hung out like a sheet.

Not without consequences, he isn’t. Consider this: an overly empathetic child is pummeled in dodge ball by the very kids whose friendship he thought he’d won. Obviously relational trust has broken down. But don’t worry. At Chalmers we bring all involved parties together, and in a safe, caring environment, the child will express how he felt about being mercilessly picked on. That is, if he can speak at all. Sometimes a student can spit out what’s left of his teeth and mumble a few words as he’s being lifted onto a stretcher. Sometimes not. It all depends on how bad he’s hemorrhaging.

My kid’s gonna get beaten up?!

Relax. It was just a hypothetical situation. On the other hand, nothing prepares a child for the real world like the bitter taste of betrayal and a spine held together with steel pins. Yes, sticks and stones do break bones. And if you think words can never hurt you, then you’ve never faced a propaganda campaign.

Okay, but how does all this “values” stuff work with a regular education? My kid’ll learn how to graph a parabola and do a Google search, right?

Your child will learn positive values as he receives a sterling education because they’re seamlessly incorporated into the curriculum. Along with challenging academics, students are confronted with morally ambivalent situations. Large amounts of cash are often left lying around, usually next to weapons and drugs. Gym classes include pole dancing and stripping options just to see who goes for it. As students progress, they face increasingly nuanced dilemmas. After all, out in the real world your child won’t be deciding between right and wrong, he’ll be grappling with the lesser of two evils. Discerning between good and bad is fairly straightforward. Weighing bad against worse is trickier, and one usually needs an experienced guide. Someone who’s managed to avoid a prison sentence, for instance.

But that’s who I want my kid to stand up to, not learn from.

Good luck with that. The smarter a person is, the greater the range of corruption he can justify. Besides, society loves intelligent, charismatic criminals. They’re “winners” and the kinds of people companies and governments really want to hire because they make things happen. Not only do nice guys finish last, they usually do it wearing t-shirts that say “No More Mr. Nice Guy.”

Okay, wise guy, do your kids go to this school?

All you need to know is that at Chalmers we offer a values-based education that teaches students to ask tough questions of themselves, their community, and the world at large. But if they start asking The Chalmers Academy tough questions, they’re out of here. No one likes a critic.