* Welcome to The Big Jewel, where nothing gets us higher than higher education. And Boldface University is the highest of them all! Say hello to Ron Singer.

Boldface University Department Of Practical Rhetoric — New Course Offerings, Winter 2016-17

By:
ronsinger@nyct.net
www.ronsinger.net

UNDERGRADUATE:

 

P.R. 103. “Tread Lightly, or I’ll F— You Up”: The Rhetoric of Insult

Instructor (visiting): P.I. Scheisskopf

Have you ever been at a loss for words when confronted by “them”? Learn perfect put-downs for 200+ targets, including women, gays, New Jersey, animals (pigs/dogs), Muslims, Republicans, celebrities, journalists, fat slobs (“the obese”), the electoral process, Broadway musicals, Latinos, Jews, The United States and other nations, cripples (“the disabled”), Democrats, prisoners of war and Macy’s. “People have got to stop working to try to be so politically correct.”

 

P.R. 122. If It Was Good the First Time: The ABC’s of Borrowing in Political Discourse
Instructor: M. K. Dondikova III

What’s your M.O. for covering up the “P-word”? Learn to do the political catwalk! Dozens of undetectable methods, such as replacing source materials with details from your own rich life experience. To coin a phrase, “Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery.”

 

P.R. 161. Pants on Fire: The Big Lie

Instructor: Connie Anne Kelway

The instructor, who was named “Most Valuable Player” in the 2016 Hyper Bowl, will demonstrate tried-and-true techniques of prevarication, such as accusing opponents of what you, yourself, are doing, and practicing the time-honored adage, “If you say it often enough…” Cross your fingers and hope you’re among the lucky, lucky few selected for this mega-u$eful class!

–Enrollment limited to the first 5,000 applicants.

 

P.R. 199. “Wrong, Wrong, Wrong!”: The New Forensics

Instructor: Beauregard “Buster” Cow-Chips

You will learn classical techniques for holding articulate, well-prepared opponents to no worse than a draw in debates where you know nada. Climate science? Macroeconomics? Geopolitics? No problemo! A must for party animals, students who carry bigly course loads to pad their transcripts, and dudes (and dudettes!) who hate to read!

 

GRADUATE:

 

P.R. 250. Selling Out: Digital Marketing to America’s Shrinking Majority

Instructor: E. Z. Ripovski

At a time when so many real Americans have so little disposable income, you can become a slam-dunk digital marketeer! Learn the difference between 301 and 302 redirects, Alexa ranks and XML sitemaps. Don’t let your domain expire! Sell survival kits, ethnically-themed lawn statuary, potency enhancers, paintball paraphernalia, politically incorrect bumper stickers, weight loss/gain regimens, customized marksmanship targets, hair-loss remedies (“We shall over-comb”) and much, much more!

–Expect at least one guest appearance from You-Know-Who!

 

P.R. 333: The Great Ones: American Presidential Slogans

Instructor: A. Hicks-Cup

This course will begin with a historical survey, from “54-40 or Fight,” to “It’s Only Fair to Leave Taft in the Chair,” to “Make America Hate Again.” Then, since hindsight is foresight, why not consider a run of your own? (We’ve all been dissed, right?) Students will be taught to create their own campaign slogans.

–Victory guaranteed, or tuition may be partly refunded.

 

P.R. 417: Going Viral: Destabilizing the Traditional Dichotomy between Personal and Mass Communications

Instructor: Yolanda Spinner

Learn cutting-edge techniques for substituting “he said/she said” and faux news (terrorist attacks, climate change, pizzeria molestations) for fact. Ms. Spinner has worked as a senior publicist for prestigious social networking corporations across the globe.

Prerequisite: I.T. 419: Computer as Tool, Computer as Target: Fraud, Identity Theft, Malware, Hacking/Phishing.

 

P.R. 666: Byte Me: Elections in the Internet Age

Instructor (visiting): Valid Input

This course will demonstrate electronic methods for introducing global suffrage into national elections.

–Prerequisite: I.T. 419.

–Admission also subject to interview with Colonel Input.

 

 

Share
* Welcome to The Big Jewel, where hard-boiled detectives crack cases and readers crack smiles. Or anyway they do if they're reading the latest by our good friend Matthew David Brozik. This piece is but an excerpt from the novella of the same name, which is now available in paperback and on Kindle. Just click on the link below, or the one at the right-hand side of this page, and you can buy the book at Amazon. Mr. Brozik says that for every Kindle copy sold at $2.99, he will donate at least $1 to the ACLU.

Danger…With A Hard G

By:
brozik@gmail.com
https://www.amazon.com/dp/B06WLKSNKL

ONE 

“You won’t mind if I ask to see some identification, I’m sure. It’s precinct policy.”

The cheerfulness of the property clerk behind the window told me her shift had only recently started. And she was new to the squad on top of that. I could only see her head and upper torso, but that told me she was a short woman, and stout. Black curls peeked out from under her uniform cap. I didn’t recognize her, and she apparently wasn’t familiar with me. So I produced my license and braced myself.

“Private investigator,” she remarked, skimming my card. But I just waited for her to give my credentials more than a cursory glance.

“Harrison Danger Bennett? Your middle name is literally ‘Danger’?”

“It’s Danger,” I said. “With a hard g. It’s a family name.”

Soon enough came the other question I was used to getting when I reclaimed my revolver at a police station.

“No bullets?”

“Never use ’em,” I confessed.

“You pack cold heat?”

“I don’t really want to shoot anyone. This way, I probably won’t.”

“Sure,” the clerk agreed, “but what’s that people say? Better to need ’em and… no, wait. Better to have ’em and not need ’em than to need ’em and not have ’em?”

“That’s what people say,” I confirmed. “But what can I say? I prefer to live dangerously.” I pronounced it with a hard g. The lady looked askance at me. “Have a good night,” I said, slid my gun into its holster under my arm, and walked out of the station house onto a chilly midtown street.

The misty face of my watch told me it was just shy of 3 a.m. Time for a hot cup of coffee, a congratulatory slice of pie, and some sleep. I’d get the food at a diner, but I’d wait until I was home to grab the shut-eye. In the morning — or the afternoon, if I was still celebrating — I’d tackle the paperwork for this most recent job well done.

* * * * * * *

I dropped onto a stool at the counter like a sandbag onto a pier. Despite the unholy hour I wasn’t alone in the diner. There were three other nighthawks, two men and a woman, but I made a point of noticing only that much about them. If a person’s haunting an eatery at that time, they’re not looking for company or attention. Besides, no one was paying me to pry into anyone else’s personal life just then, so I minded my own business and only that.

“Did ya get the number, Harry?”

The cook was making conversation as he poured me a cup of joe. Doxie was wizened, which is a fancy word for weather-beaten, which also described him pretty well. His creased skin was the color of a cup of coffee with three-quarters of a tablespoon of whole-fat cream and no sugar; it had taken me twenty-five minutes of quiet experimentation one afternoon at the diner counter to determine this. If Doxie’s apron had ever been clean, that was before I knew him. Sometimes, I liked to guess what a particular spot or splash of color might be — egg yolk? cranberry sauce? eye of newt? — but most of the time I was just happy to eat whatever came out of Doxie’s ancient cauldron in the kitchen.

“The number, Doxie?”

“Of the truck that fell on ya, Harry. You look like hell.”

“Just wrapped up a case. What’s your excuse?”

“I’m old,” Doxie said. “Pie?”

“Please,” I said. “Apple. Neat.”

“And how.”

While I ate, I jotted some notes on a napkin with a biro I found on the counter. By the time I’d swallowed my last bite of pie, the notes read: newspapers, barber, airplane, concussion, amnesia, identical twin, assassination attempt, uniforms, ducks, radio.

Finishing my coffee and looking over my list, I realized that those were plot points from Charlie Chaplin’s film The Great Dictator. I crumpled the napkin and left it with the crumbs on my plate.

“I’ll be seeing you, Doxie,” I called to the cook, who had disappeared again into the kitchen. I fished a couple of bucks out of my wallet… then realized I couldn’t go home just yet, damage it all.

* * * * * * *

“Nice to see you again, Harrison Danger Bennett,” said the property clerk. “I’ve been expecting you.” Still plenty cheerful.

On the ledge between us at her window was my identification. My private investigator credentials. The card I’d handed her an hour earlier and forgotten to take back when she’d given me my gun. I pocketed it.

“So why carry a heater at all?” she asked. Evidently, we weren’t done with this conversation. I was exhausted, but there didn’t seem to be any percentage in being rude. I mustered some strength and explained.

“The other guys, the guys who aren’t the nice guys, they expect a private eye to be packing heat,” I said. “If you’re not, they figure something’s up and they give you a harder time because of it. They frisk you a little longer. And a little rougher. So I carry a gun to save everybody some trouble. Now, if you’re wearing a gun, the assumption is it’s loaded. I’ve been relieved of my piece once or twice. The other guys didn’t look in the cylinder. They just stashed my gun out of my reach.”

“But,” the clerk started to ask me, then started again. “But those other guys will be carrying guns. And bullets.”

“I count on it,” I said.

“And?”

“Well,” I told her, “as it happens I’ve got a disarming smile.”

I’d have shown her if I hadn’t been so thoroughly tired. I was already working pretty hard to stifle some insistent yawns.

“Now, if you’ll excuse me, Sergeant,” I said, “I’m going to get forty winks. And maybe a couple more for good luck.”

* * * * * * *

“Honey, I’m home,” I called to no one when I got in. If someone had answered, I’d have been more than a little surprised and none too pleased.

I dropped my gun onto a small table near the front door of my apartment, next to some mail I’d eventually open and read or else sweep into the trash. I hung my holster on a hook in my hall closet. I placed my watch and cufflinks into a felt-lined lockbox I keep out of sight, so you’ll forgive me if I don’t mention where. And the next thing I knew I was painting a picket fence with a pair of Ziegfeld Girls, so I must have fallen asleep. A couple of hours later, I finally crawled into bed.

What a Christmas.

Share
* Welcome to The Big Jewel, where we believe that man's best friend can be an even better friend than we thought. If you're dogged by suicidal depression, then this week's piece by Vijay Ilankamban is for you!

Training Your New Owner

By:
vilank@umich.edu

You just got a new owner and it’s not everything you’d hoped it would be! You thought you’d have a new friend to play with, but your new owner is shy, confused, lonely, suicidal and attempting to kill himself around you. This can be frustrating and you’re wondering if it will ever change. Don’t fret — this is normal. Your new owner is just uncomfortable living in the human world and is seriously considering leaving it forever. But it’s not that big of a deal!

If you take a close look at him, you’ll see that behind the adorable little guy carving “What is the point of it all?” into his nightstand, there is clearly a happy and lively person. All you’ll have to do is teach him a few things on how to take care of himself in this scary world!

First, you’ll have to train your owner to go potty at the right time. Your cute little fellow has been so busy planning the day of his eventual demise that he has been unaware of his need to pee or poop. He’s been holding all that unneeded stress inside his body and it’s resulting in him sticking his head in the oven!

To train him, you’ll have to notice some signs — if his foot is shaking, if he is crossing his legs and pinching them together, or if he is pacing quickly back and forth ripping pages out of the Bible, screaming, “Are you there, God?!” When you notice a sign, you have to immediately grab his attention by barking at him and then lead him towards the bathroom, otherwise he might start cutting his wrists all over the apartment!

Second, you’ll have to train him on what to eat! Your new owner will grow faster than you can imagine. One moment, he’s a 140-pound man ready to jump off a window ledge, and before you know it he’s a 170-pound man standing on a window ledge ready to jump off.

Although it’s exciting to see your new buddy grow larger, you’ll have to make sure that his growth is healthy and doesn’t leave his body limp with no pulse. To keep your little cutie-pie in check, you’ll have to keep an eye out for what he’s eating. New owners will eat anything they can get their paws on. They’ll eat sleeping pills from the cupboard, lick spilled Windex off the floor, and even put a gun in their mouth and try to eat a bullet! So be careful!

Now last, but not least, you’ll have to take your new owner out for a walk every single day. Humans need to get a consistent amount of exercise. It’s good for their bodies and also relaxing for their brains. It helps them clear their heads and rethink the notion that life is meaningless. So, once a day, wag your tail and tug on his pant leg and he’ll know to untie the noose around his neck, step down onto the chair below him, and go for a walk around the block with you.

Over time, through consistent training and guidance, your new owner will settle himself into the human world. He’ll have the energy to play with you every day. He’ll start smiling and laughing with you. He’ll turn out to be one of your best friends and the person you look most forward to seeing! Also, at this point, your owner will probably start recovering certain urges. So when he starts humping the lamp, the Pringles can and your leg, just let him do it. Give the little guy a break! After all, he’s a human!

 

Share
* Welcome to The Big Jewel, which is a great place to visit, and frankly we wouldn't mind if you lived here. However, we doubt that Joseph S. Pete's significant other feels the same way.

Great Place To Visit, But I Could Never Live There

By:
jpete@alumni.iu.edu

“I could never move to Chicago,” she professed breathily at the bar in Indiana. “So much crime. So many shootings. Tragic, just tragic. And it has more distressed properties than anywhere in the world, and trust me, I’ve been all over the world. It’s a great place to visit, but I could never live there.”

“I could never move to New York City,” she said a little later. “It’s too expensive. It’s like $3,000 a month to rent 250 square feet of space. You get bled dry to live in a closet and not even the whole closet — just the left side. You’re in the left side of the closet with a hamper wondering if you’ll need a roommate or a side gig selling black market HBO Go passwords, tainted heroin and bathtub kombucha just to make rent. Such a fun place to visit, but no one wants to live in the most populous city. And I mean literally no one.”

“I could never move to Portland,” she blurted out a minute later, apropos of nothing. “Too many hipsters, with their beard wax and artisanal beard wax and organic beard wax and locally sourced small batch beard wax. What about Big Beard Wax? Nobody ever thinks about the upper corporate echelons of multinational beard wax conglomerates and their feelings. All those hipsters with all their craft beer and vinyl records and ancient Sumerian records and historical Assyrian records and ahistorical neo-Assyrian records, clay tablets and whatnot. I heard that no one even can agree on whether Portland is in Oregon or Maine. How can you live with that type of uncertainty, not even knowing what coast you’re on?”

“I could never move to Atlantis. Too fictional. I don’t understand how anyone could live in a place that’s entirely made up out of whole cloth. Okay, out of all of Plato’s allegories, it’s the least livable. Can we all just agree on that? Would that be too much? Don’t get me wrong, it’s a great place for a vacation but I’m not going to develop gills just so I can live underwater. Perfectly happy right here in Indiana, thanks. It’s called land, and it’s actually pretty great.”

“I could never live on Mars. Too little oxygen. I prefer breathing. I’m almost addicted to oxygen. Like my yogi says, just breathe in. It’s so soothing. Don’t tell my doctor or anything, but I swear it’s habit-forming. Matt Damon made Mars seem so glamorous in ‘The Martian,’ but I didn’t see a single space potato the whole time I was there. No stranded astronauts, no terraforming, no spuds, no nothing. And come on, Red Planet? Great marketing, but why don’t you focus less on the color and more on an atmosphere that isn’t 95 percent carbon dioxide? I would totally go on a space mission there but don’t ask me to colonize.”

“I could never move to Dimension X. Trust me, I’ve been everywhere in the multiverse, and it’s the worst dimension. The worst by far, hands down. They don’t even have avocado toast there yet. Mark Twain talked about wanting to be in Cincinnati when the world ended because everything comes there 10 years later, so he had clearly never rocketed through an interdimensional wormhole into the lamest of all possible dimensions.”

“I could never live in a yurt in the woods behind the K-Mart,” she said, slapping a tip down after the bartender gave her another glass of vino. “My boyfriend asked me to move in with him. He’s a nice guy but I’m just not ready to take that step. I am so not a yurt person. I’m all for semi-permanent tents, but why does it need to be round? Is it a tire? A wheel of cheese? A sand mandala? I visited a round barn in Michigan once, and it was frankly a little too circular for my taste.”

“And frankly, I could never live as a single-celled organism. Cells are great. They’re totally underrated. And the more the merrier. Why would you want to settle for just one? Would you ever have a single Pringle, a single M&M? No. Thanks. Hard nope. Hard no…Wait, what was I talking about?”

“Oh yeah, I could never live as an inanimate object,” she said, staring at the bottom of her wine glass. “I mean, like, I know it’s not even technically possible, but it’s like they say, ‘Once you go animate, you never go back.'”

 

Share