* Welcome to The Big Jewel, your number one guide to Heaven, Hell, and yes, Purgatory. Did you know they have cheese there? Neither did we. But Ben Weger knows. Please give him your attention -- it may count toward your final grade in the afterlife!

Have You Tried The Cheese In Purgatory?

By: Ben Weger

As you pass those poor excommunicated souls in ante-purgatory at the gate, you may be quite famished. Just remember that during your stay at Mount Purgatory, you are not forsaken — simply set aside. Before you may bask in the glory of God’s grace, this harrowing multi-terraced mountain may be your last chance to binge before you purge. So while you’re here, try the cheese.


Lake’s Edge

Blue Ledge Farm — Salisbury, VT


What? Where am I? What is this place? Oh, God, what is this cheese? Lush, cakey, with a citrus zip and a fruity sweetness reminiscent of blackberries, its ash-veined paste will lift you to the gates of heaven. You’re in Purgatorio, but this is one last sin you can’t miss out on.



Nettle Meadow Farm — Warrensburg, NY

Pasteurized/Cow & Goat

Jim Carrey once said, “So you’re telling me there’s a chance…of finally feeling God’s love.” Well, with 25% cow and 75% goat’s milk, there’s no chance you won’t love Kunik. This cheese, like this prison, isn’t a destination, but a state of being. Enjoy its tangy robustness over crackers or dried fruits (God loves figs, too).


Mt. Tam

Cowgirl Creamery — Point Reyes Station, CA


Is the pain I feel the eternal flames of hell? No, but it’s close. Is this cheese a triple cream? Fuck yeah it is. Didn’t think Jesus was your lord and savior? Then worship this other little golden hunk of organic, buttery goodness instead (don’t actually, though).


Bayley Hazen Blue

Jasper Hill Farm — Greensboro, VT


Named for a revolutionary war road commissioned by George Washington (whom you can visit on the pride terrace and also ’cause the slaves, if you’re wondering), this stilton-style cheese smells of tobacco and tastes of roasted nuts and dark chocolate (again, just like G-dub).


L’Amuse Brabander Goat Gouda

L’Amuse — Brabant, Holland


Looking for a snack that says “I’m sorry for masturbating”? Then lust over this young Saanen goat’s milk from the Brabant region of southern Holland. Tangy and creamy with a touch of sweetness, it melts in your sexy little mouth. This wax-wrapped treat hits all the right caramel and brown butter spots. So good-a!


Good Thunder

Alemar Cheese Co. — Mankato, MN


This fudgy, funky, dense washed rind is given baths of oatmeal brown ale and may cleanse more than just your gluttonous soul. Purge yourself on up to God’s sweet embrace on a gaseous cloud of good thunder (that ain’t Mount Purgatory trembling).


Caña de Cabra

Mitica — Murcia, Spain


A Spanish take on a French recipe, this cheese is in some sort of weird limbo. Delicate, citrusy, with a slight saltiness in its taste; this cheese ages over 21 days and ripens from the outside in (similar to the burning sensation enveloping your body), so try eating the rind to bring out the most in its flavors.



Vermont Creamery — Websterville, VT


You’d have to be clinically insane not to love the cheese known as the “little brain” — and if you are, welcome to purgatory! Light, bright, and blessed with an unctuous goaty flavor, this cheese has versatility for any broad classification or treatment option.


Humboldt Fog

Cypress Grove — Arcata, CA


Feeling a little confused about your debt to God? Don’t be confused by the dark blue vein that bisects this wheel — that’s a thin layer of vegetable ash that cuts the tanginess of the goat’s milk and lends a slightly earthy and subtly smoky flavor to this not-quite-heavenly funk. Shouting “Oh my God” can’t be another sin with this cheese.


Epoisses — AOC

Berthaut — Burgundy, France


With origins dating back to the 16th century and having such fans as Napoleon and the epicure Brillat Savarin (prodigal and avaricious, respectively), this rich custardy paste sleeps beneath its famously pungent ochre rind. Be more generous than they were with this appellation d’origine contrôlée (controlled designation of origin) delicacy.


Fiore Sardo

Caseificio Sias — Sardinia, Italy


Want a cheese that makes skipping church that Sunday nine years ago so worth it? (That is, until you understand the feeling of God’s absence.) This Bronze Age cheese (before God — shh!) is smoked on top of fireplaces in huts over burning cork tree bark and has an addictingly dry and savory flavor. Be sure to share with the un-baptized plague infants (yes, they’re here too).


Now, Dante, you may pass above to the kingdom of heaven. Just promise that you’ll write about all of the dank-ass cheeses you tried down here.



* Welcome to The Big Jewel, where we like to think we know exactly what certain famous fictional characters are really thinking. The wickedly minded Matthew David Brozik channels the even more wickedly minded heroine (or villainess) of Nathaniel Hawthorne's beloved classic. When you have finished reading the piece, please click on the ad for his book "Whimsy & Soda" on the right-hand side of this page, and those unworthy thoughts will be purged from your mind.

Hester Prynne Chooses A Typeface (Or, The Scarlet Letterform)

By: Matthew David Brozik

“On the breast of her gown, in fine red cloth, surrounded with an elaborate embroidery and fantastic flourishes of gold thread, appeared the letter A.”


Well, the joke’s on you, Puritan Bostonites, because while the Reverend Wilsons and Minister Dimmesdales of the world might require me to display upon my ample and enviable bosom a typographic device to brand me as an adulterer, they left a loophole — and being as accomplished at sewing as I am at sexing, I know loopholes — so Hester Prynne gets to pick the font, witches, and I’ll be damned if I’m not going to consider all my options before committing to my red badge of whorage.

Helvetica is the obvious choice, of course. It’s clean and upstanding and easy on the eyes, sort of the way I’m impure and dishonorable and easy for the guys, and on second thought, before you say anything, you can all go to Helvetica.

Bodoni’s a strong contender. Classical. Elegant. Alternating thick and thin strokes. I like strokes. And serifs. I know what you hens are thinking, though: if you like feet so much, why couldn’t you stay on yours? I’d rather be on your husband’s lap, that’s why. (Also, you don’t know where my feet were, and you probably don’t want to know.)

Clarendon is extremely popular and, as it happens, particularly effective with wood type, and I am also extremely popular and particularly effective with wood…so maybe this one is too on the nose. And by “nose,” I mean your husbands’ reproductive organs, ladies of Massachusetts and southern New Hampshire.

The geometric efficiency of Futura, rejecting as it does the grotesques of yore by incorporating near-perfect circles, triangles and squares, appeals to my longing for a future in which man has discarded his monstrous compulsion to judge, and instead each of us is cherished for our imperfections, plus it also has a certain forwardness that speaks to the brazen hussy in me.

You know what might be a fun challenge? Besides “Reverse Parishioner,” I mean. Edwardian Script. I’d have to get it just right, though, or it would be difficult to read, and menfolk would be constantly leaning in close to my chest to get a better view, and you don’t want that. And I don’t want anyone mistaking my A for, say, a Q. Hester Prynne is no Quitter.

16th-century French artisan Claude Garamond worked as an engraver of punches — the masters used to stamp matrices, the molds used to cast metal type. Garamond worked in the tradition of what is now called old-style serif letter design, which produced letters with a relatively organic structure resembling handwriting with a pen. And what’s my favorite piece of equipment? The pen is, of course.

“Bembo” hits a bit too close to home. Hester Prynne does a lot of things, but irony isn’t one of…Ah, screw it. Bembo’s fine. Somebody hand me my thread and a needle, please? But be careful — Miss Prynne doesn’t want to have her afternoon plans frustrated by a little prick.


* Welcome to The Big Jewel, where we always put the rights of the consumer first. In this case, the consumer is our good friend David Martin, who has just been told that one of his favorite products is subject to a recall. When you're through perusing Mr. Martin's newest piece, click on the link below or on our blogroll to purchase his most recent humor collection "King Donald" on Amazon.

1950 Male Body Recall

By: David Martin

Dear Owner:

This notice is being sent to you as the owner of a 1950 Male Body. The Creator has determined that a number of defects relating to health and safety may exist on certain model years of the Male Body and, in particular, the 1950 model year.

The purpose of this letter is to provide you with important information about this product recall and the steps you should take at this time. There are a number of design flaws that require you to bring your Male Body to one of our medical repair centers for appropriate repairs at our cost. These repairs should be carried out as soon as possible, although we wish to assure you that you are probably in no immediate danger.

Certain additional problems are simply due to ordinary wear and tear and are not covered by this recall. Any necessary repairs or replacements are at the owner’s expense.

As for design flaws, our engineers have determined that certain vision problems on your model year Male Body are due to improper corneal construction. Under this recall, subject to your insurance deductible, we will correct any nearsightedness, farsightedness or astigmatism through the use of appropriate eyewear, including bifocals and progressive lens.

Alternatively, the Creator is offering to correct such defects by means of laser surgery. In that case, however, we will cover the costs of any parts and shop supplies but we will charge you for labor at the standard medical shop rate of $495 per hour.

It has also come to our attention that there was a design flaw regarding the prostate gland on your model year. Due to internal space limitations at the time your Male Body was made, the prostate was constructed in an annular shape surrounding the urethra. We have subsequently discovered that any age-related expansion of the prostate results in an impingement on the urethra leading to frequent nocturnal bathroom visits.

We are working on replacing the entire urogenital system on our new models with a sexual turbocharger to avoid such a problem. As for older model years like yours, we are offering effective performance-boosting prescription medication at no cost. Alternatively, you can bring your Body into one of our medical repair centers to have the prostate cored out or, if necessary, entirely removed. Again, all parts are covered but labor charges are not.

Given the age of your Body, you may also be experiencing some joint and suspension problems. Your 1950 Male Body was designed to give years of efficient and comfortable service including unlimited walking ability. However, it appears that some units did not have the usual superior wear-resistant parts installed at the time of manufacture.

If you find that the mobility of your Body has been limited by prematurely worn knees or hips, bring it in to one of our centers for a full joint replacement. Both parts and labor will be fully covered unless you have exposed your Body to undue wear as a consequence of such non-covered activities as football, squash and marathon running.

As noted, you may be experiencing certain problems not specifically covered by this product recall. For example, some owners of the affected model years have complained of excessive hair loss. This is standard on any model year after fifty years of use and any repairs or replacements are not covered by the Creator. We will, however, be glad to provide you with a free consultation regarding possible solutions such as a brush cut, a toupee or a comb over.

Similarly, some owners may have noticed undue weight gain in the rear chassis, particularly on early model years. If your Body has been properly maintained and not exposed to excessive caloric intake, it should not exceed the manufacturer’s load-bearing standards. Thus, weight reduction costs are not covered.

Please contact your Creator as soon as possible to schedule an appointment to have the necessary repairs and remedies performed. But if you find yourself going into a powerful warning light, never mind — it’s probably too late.


* Welcome to The Big Jewel, where some reporters may cover the globe but we cover the galaxy. It's a big universe out there, with plenty of room for aliens with multiple personality disorder, as our own Editor Kurt Luchs discovers to his consternation.

Monka Business

By: Kurt Luchs

A federal jury in Reno, Nevada, has returned a verdict of innocent in the case of a bank robbery suspect who is said to have three personalities, one of them an observer from another world. Under questioning by his attorney, Jack Paul Faulkner, 52, displayed his three personalities, Jack, Paul, and Monka. Monka told the jury: “I am the spirit who at one time was flesh who now does not reside on your planet. I am an observer only.” Faulkner maintained he “couldn’t and wouldn’t rob a bank.” — Actual newspaper clipping found in a box of my father’s things, though the name of the paper and the date of the story are now lost to time


I append the above news item for those with a casual interest in the doings of their neighbors from another world. Several questions in regard to this article, and not all of them legal ones, keep nagging at me.

Just for starters, I am puzzled as to how and why the jury (a federal jury, mind you) returned a verdict of innocent for Mr. Jack Paul “Monka” Faulkner. On the face of it, you’d think that a man possessing three personalities, or even four or five, would be every bit as capable of bank robbing as you or I. My three dozen personalities would never keep me from a life of crime if I thought I could arrange to have all of my trials held in Reno, Nevada.

Then there is the problem of “Monka,” as he sees fit to call himself. I don’t doubt that there is a Monka, or that he is from another world. Neither do I doubt that he was tried by a jury of his peers; by which I mean that any jury that could acquit Monka on the alibi he gives is definitely from another world, unquestionably a place where oysters run for President and banks leave their vaults unlocked for creatures with three or more personalities to rifle through the assets.

Why must we so frequently assume that our extraterrestrial neighbors are not only further advanced than us scientifically (that I can accept), but also infinitely kinder, more benevolent, harmless, and, if you’ll pardon the expression, more humane? In our naïve fantasies we picture them coming to Earth simply for the amusement provided by the human spectacle, or to bestow upon us a gadget that will end all war and tell us which horses are good in the fifth race at Aqueduct besides. Apart from those made-for-TV movies on the SyFy channel, the typical alien is, for most of us, a sort of intellectual Tony Robbins.

My guess is that any race of beings that can find its way to what Alfred Whitehead called a “second-rate planet with a second-rate star” is looking for some easy plunder, and what’s more has the means to get it. Their scientists, nothing but a pack of interstellar hoodlums, are sweating right now over the plans for a device that will pop open every safe deposit box in the world, while simultaneously immobilizing every teller and permitting unruly monsters with three nasty personalities to loot to their heart’s content — if they even have hearts. I’ll bet they have three apiece, the scum!

But that way lies delirium. Let us not presume the worst about Monka’s people, whatever we may think of him personally. Let us merely induce that Monka is a finger man for a small but vile band of galactic pirates, working hand-in-glove with his earthly cronies, those traitors to the human race Jack and Paul. He offered these two Benedict Arnolds a tempting reward — say, a date with a nice set of personalities or a seat on the federal bench in Reno, Nevada — and for such a trifle they sold out their fellow men and gave Monka houseroom in the body of Mr. Faulkner, the better to execute his cold-blooded schemes.

I won’t be taken in by that mushy double-talk of his. “An observer only” — hah! He was casing the joint, that’s all. Any two-bit private detective could tell you as much. And as for that other bit of baloney, the one that goes, “I am the spirit who at one time was flesh who now does not reside on your planet” — well, the jury who fell for that one ought to be strapped down under a strobe light and forced to read the collected works of Mary Baker Eddy. What does he mean, “who at one time was flesh”? If a 52-year-old man doesn’t have flesh on him he’s on the wrong side of the ground and they might as well hang him because he wouldn’t notice the difference. And if he doesn’t reside on our planet, how does he come to be in a court of law? He saw fit to hire an attorney, didn’t he? After all, Jack and Paul couldn’t and wouldn’t take that kind of initiative. That’s evidence enough for me.

The lone alternative to believing that the men and women of the jury are hallucinating is that they are shielding someone, namely Jack and Paul. They feel that their compatriots have been bedazzled by a visitor from the starry heavens, innocently beguiled into helping Monka pull off his heist. Jack and Paul thought it was all in good fun, or so this gullible jury would have us believe. Let me tell you, when personalities named Monka appear out of nowhere demanding a piece of the action, innocent men, even schizoids, don’t stick around to listen. They put their fingers in their ears and shriek until the ambulance comes.

The whole business has the air of a carnival sideshow. “Faulkner displayed his three personalities,” the item reads (my italics). Display is for kindergartners at show and tell. Or performance artists. Or strippers. It has no place in American jurisprudence. Faulkner sounds like a regular Alfred E. Neuman the way he lets Monka, not to mention Jack and Paul, play him for a fool. Such things may be a matter of course in Reno, but I, for one, am disquieted by the precedent seemingly set by this case. Let us pray that if vaudeville ever does return it confines itself to the stage and leaves the courtroom to sober people with only one personality.

Come to think of it, if multiple personalities are to be recognized in a court of law, why shouldn’t each of the body-sharing defendants be charged, tried and sentenced separately? Actually, that might work — and I could serve on three dozen juries at once!