* Welcome to The Big Jewel, where we wish we lived in a completely virtual world. Well, almost. Heed the prophetic words of Casey Rand, or possibly his avatar.

More Pitches From The Developers Of Bodega™

By:
casey.rand@gmail.com
@caseyrand

“Two former Google employees’ proposal to replace corner shops with automated cabinets prompted an outpouring of scorn on social media last week.” — The Guardian 9.19.17

 

Bar™

Don’t you hate it when you feel like going to a bar, but to get there you have to leave your house? Well, now you can enjoy your local dive, from the comfort of your own home. Bar™ is literally a hole in the wall. Your wall! Complete with bottomless spiced peanuts, simulated sounds of singles flirting, and an A.I. bartender named Sal who’s just trying to make ends meet after remortgaging his house to keep his bar afloat, Bar™ is the perfect place to grab a shot before realizing you’re too old for this and going home, which is where you already are!

 

Doctor™

When you’re sick, the last thing you want to do is see other people. Or pay them. With Doctor™, you can get all the expertise of a professional with none of the insurance premiums or cognitive abilities. Diagnosis is as easy as spitting into Doctor™’s reusable saliva tube, urinating into its funnel web, and placing your arm above the vein scanner so the RN (registered network) can draw your blood. Say goodbye to fluorescently lit waiting rooms and college for your proctologist’s kids!

 

Babysitter™

If you have trouble trusting people to watch your kids, and your husband not to have sex with those people, consider Babysitter™, an emotionally adaptive 360 degree camera that knows how to have fun, but can be stern when it needs to be. Just like an old-fashioned babysitter, Babysitter™ eats the leftovers in your fridge and engages in light petting with Boyfriend™ when your kids go to sleep. If Babysitter™ image-recognizes your child playing with fire, drinking poison, or walking out the front door, it will auto-text 9-1-1, right after it gets off the phone with Kelly™.

 

Farmer’s Market™

Do you love farm fresh fruits and vegetables, but shudder at the sight of farmers’ dirty fingernails? Then you need Farmer’s Market™, the first-of-its-kind unmanned farmer’s stand that’s completely void of farmers. At Farmer’s Market™, all produce is 100% lab grown and displayed in LED-lit cases that are unlocked with retina scanning. Every bunch of kale you swipe or gourd you take home is tacked onto your monthly rent. That’s right! Farmer’s Market™ knows exactly where you live. But you know who won’t? Gross farmers.

 

Ice Cream Truck™

There’s nothing better than a cold soft serve on a hot day. Except a cold soft serve in an air-conditioned room on a hot day, alone. Ice Cream Truck™ is the world’s first automatic, in-home, soft serve robot. Powered by 500 invisible heat sensors, Ice Cream Truck™ starts playing the classic ice cream truck song whenever your body temperature rises above 97 degrees. When you approach the “window” to order one of 10 authentic flavors, Ice Cream Truck™ will greet you in the shaky voice of a teenager who recently lost his job to a domestic cyborg and won’t be able to afford school supplies this fall.

 

Incense Shop™

Imagine this: you’ve just had a stressful day at work or a run-in with an ex and you’re itching to get home and balance your chi. But then, you remember: “I’m out of incense sticks!” Well, now you don’t have to take the long way home and stop at that nice Jamaican man’s shop. In fact, no one will ever have to engage in pleasant conversation with Jamaican Freddie again, because Incense Shop brings the aromas to you! Our smart incense dispenser gauges when you’re out of little sticks and refills them in perpetuity. We can’t tell you how Incense Shop works exactly, but let’s just say Freddie will soon be homeless and forced to give away his parrot, Chaucer, who delights customers with his surprisingly moving poetry.

 

Mommy™

No matter how old you get, sometimes you just want your mommy. But also, sometimes you’re estranged from her. Or you like the idea of her more than the actual person. That’s where Mommy comes in. Two pieces of smart steel attached to a heated, 5’1″ water balloon, Mommy is there in good times and bad. When you hug Mommy, she says things like, “I am proud of your choices” and, “You are not a monster profiting off the destruction of civilization” and, “Your head is totally normal-shaped.” Mommycomes in Jewish, Catholic, Tiger and Soccer.

 

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* Welcome to The Big Jewel, where we have nothing better to do than keep up-to-date on the latest in funeral tech.

New Features in FuneralLive Version 3.0

By:
knlykken@gmail.com

— MournerCount: Our definitive count of how many mourners tuned into the funeral livestream for at least 30 seconds finally gives us a quantitative measure of the value of our lives. An official MournerCount Report is easily shareable on all major social media platforms and tombstones.

— Tears On Demand: Boost your MournerCount with professional funeral viewers. You worked hard for your money while you were alive, so why not let it work for you after you die?

— Cameos To Die For: When it comes to mourners, do you value quality over quantity? Hire a tearful celebrity to tune in to watch you or your loved one’s final send-off. From government officials to tech moguls to Instagram all-stars, FuneralLive’s celebrity partners will make it clear that while the guest of honor’s life has ended, it definitely mattered.

— Mourner Filters: Finding the right balance between hot and grief-stricken in your Sadness Selfies just got easier. Add in virtual tears to express your sorrow without smudging your makeup or wrinkling that beautiful face. After all, if you weren’t meant to look good at a funeral, they wouldn’t require you to wear such a flattering color.

— Corpse Filters: Don’t you and your loved ones want to be remembered at your best? With our new corpse filters, you’ll have one foot in the grave and one on the runway. Add or subtract a few pounds, give your cheeks a lively color, or edit out those bullet wounds (or edit them in — why not look cool even after you’re cold?). We can add in a halo to let people know you’re an angel, or give you a kooky zombie look if you want to put the “fun” in “funeral.”

— Laugh and Sob Tracks: Grief affects people differently, but don’t let an emotionally numb crowd ruin the reception of the eulogy you worked so hard on. Our customizable recordings of laughter, wailing, and tearful sniffs can give your livestreamed speech the response it deserves.

— Cry Wolf Alerts: Did you fake your own death to watch your FuneralLive, and now you’re worried that people will stop following your social media accounts because they think you’re really gone? Let FuneralLive take care of cluing them into the good news. We’ll contact every livestream attendee and let them know that while this one was fake, the next one might not be, so they had better tune in again!

— Green For Black Crowdfunding Integration: Want your funeral followers to chip in for your final expenses, or to reward the highest scorer on our Tear-o-meter for their devotion? By integrating with most major crowdfunding sites, FuneralLive has made turning grief into green easier than ever.

— Reap What You See: Worried the mourners will tune out of your big day halfway through? Encourage audience engagement by having them count the appearances of the Grim Reaper during the livestream, and reward those who paid attention directly out of your will.

— Live After Death: It’s your funeral. Shouldn’t you be there? FuneralLive can cut your prerecorded reactions into the feed, making sure you’re still the life of the party.

 

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* Welcome to The Big Jewel, your one-stop shop for all of your Rodney Dangerfield needs. Do you need a bit about Rodney spouting Elizabethan English? We have it, courtesy of our good friend Jon Sindell.

Sir Rodney Of Dangerfields Takes The Mic

By:
jsind@sbcglobal.net
jonsindell.com

A hey and a ho and a hey nonny no, how ya doin’, how ya doin’? Nice crowd, lovely crowd, beautiful crowd — zounds, now I know why they call ’em “groundlings!” I’ve seen ground mutton fairer than these faces!

But I should talk, I should talk! Oh I’m ugly, very ugly. By the rood I’m an ugly knave. Even as a child I was ugly. One look at me and Oberon tells Titania, “On second thought, you can keep the changeling!” I tell ya, none accordeth me respect.

Ken thee who else is ugly? I can’t say out loud, but her name rhymes with “Clean Ebizeleth.” Have you seen that kisser? No wonder she’s “the Virgin Queen.” No jack would touch her with a ten-foot stave!

O, but I’m the ugliest one of all. And not just ugly, I’m fat, too. In troth I’m fat. “Fair round belly with good capon lined.” But I’m no Falstaff. Marry, he’s a fat one. Plump Jack’s so fat, when he sits around the tavern, he sits around the tavern!

Alas and alack, no laugh at all! What is this, a comic interlude or Juliet’s wake? I get more laughs when I talk to a skull! “Alas poor Yorick, I’m dying out here!” Even Horatio’s biting his thumb!

Speaking of dying, I pray let me tell thee, that sad sack Hamlet is one melancholy Dane. Have you seen his inky cloak and customary suit of solemn black? “Hey kid,” I ask him, “who gives you your fashion tips, Lady Macbeth?”

O, he’s a mad one, that Hamlet. “See yon cloud that’s shaped like a camel? Methinks it looks like weasel. Or like a whale.” Hey Prince, something’s rotten in the state of Denmark — and I think it’s your mind! Cut off the meds, Polonius, please!

But I jest, Hamlet’s deep, very deep. He peruses me down the length of his arm, his doublet all unbraced, and says, “You should be as old as I am if like a crab you could go backward.” “Kid,” I tell him, “get some new material! That offal smells like a bawdy house jake!” So he punches me through the arras! And I got one big arras, I’ll tell ya.

Verily, man respecteth me not. No, nor woman neither. Take Lady Macbeth. O, she’s a hot one. “Take my woman’s breasts for gall,” she says. “Take my woman’s breasts!” So I reach out to grab her, and she cries to Hecate, “Unsex me now!”

No jot of respect is accordeth me. “Unsex me now,” I hear that at home. Many a night and oft, upon the Rialto — our bedchamber — I tell my wife, “Hearest thou the nightingale, my dove?” And she says, “No way, knave, it’s the lark, herald of the dawn,” and shoves me out the door! Then some Romeo climbs in the back window! No respect is accordeth me at all.

Even my children give me no respect. The other day, I’m making out my will and dividing up the royalties to my movies, records, all my work, and I say to my daughters — three lovelies, such princesses — “Come give your papa a great big kiss to see who gets the most opulent third.” So I pucker up — and Regan plucks her own eyes out! No respect, no respect at all.

In sooth, you’ve been a wonderful crowd. I’ll be here all week, if Queen Liz doesn’t slice off a pound o’ my flesh and feed it to the dogs of war!

The rest is silence — just like my audience!

[exit Rodney]

 

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* Welcome to The Big Jewel, where we still believe in love. Even the love between a beautiful blonde and a piece of street art.

Missed Connection: Beautiful Blonde Taking A Photo In Front Of Me, A Pastel Mural

By:
nick.logsdon5@gmail.com
@nickloggy

I was the soft mint green mural adorning the eastern exterior wall of the Sprouts at the Wash Street corner mall. You were the sandy blonde in ripped “boy” jeans. You stopped by the other day and took over 130 pictures of yourself in front me.

I’m new to this town, so I was excited to learn this old place had some life in it. My creator birthed me six days ago, and I went unnoticed, seen as a convenient toilet or a good place to rest a weary back needing a smoke.

But then you came along cheerfully swinging your reusable Sprouts shopping bag. What was it you bought again? Ah, right, Boar’s Head Garlic Bologna. Quarter pound, sliced.

You called me beautiful. You complimented me, and I complimented your rose gold Beats By Dre. You called me perfect, and we made each other feel so. You said we matched. I’d never been anyone’s match until I met you.

Then you and I posed for 132 semi-distinguishable photographs for your Instagram. You laughed without noise. You stared longingly at that crack in the pavement. You blew a kiss to no one, though the liberty auto-insurance sign spinner thought otherwise. The one you ended up picking, the one where you twirled your hair like it was a bowl of linguine floating in dark matter, that one was special. And that’s when I fell for you.

I remember you slid your finger indecisively across the bottom of your Galaxy S7 and by extension me. You adjusted how the light played across my exposed body to reveal who I am. And what draws me to you even more, while I know you did it all with care of your followers in mind, I couldn’t help but notice you seemed to care for me, the wall.

I don’t want to presume, but I venture to guess you shared our photo with the world because hundreds of others have come and taken thousands of near carbon copies of the moment we shared not two days ago. Yet somehow, all I can think about — yes, I can think — is our moment. I’m led to think that maybe one of them will bring out my best self and adjust the color saturation like you did. They never do, and it all feels so fleeting.

They don’t appreciate my originality like you. No one spends an hour and thirty minutes in heated debate with themselves over which photo of us they should share. It’s always which photo of them. They come, they snap, they leave. Perhaps I’ve yet to arrive at the gross realization that you weren’t different.

My cousin, a cheap Shepard Ferry rip-off two blocks up, warned me of this. Said I shouldn’t get attached to the “grambots” and the “snapturds.” Maybe I’m foolhardy for not believing him, or a quixotic wall for holding onto the hope that you’ll be able to read this letter, because in my heart of hearts I know translating Stucco to English is a chore. I fear that when you decide to become fluent, some damn ad for the American Health Fund may come and take my place.

If you do learn my language in time, or at least one of its three claddings, understand this: I want you. I want every piece of you — your insecurities, your ambition. I want to feel your soft human skin on my bumpy hard composite flesh. I want to tear down this fence dividing you from me, but I don’t have hands. I want to have intercourse with you but I don’t have a urethra to carry my dusty seed. I want to sweep you off your feet and run away to Aruba, but I don’t have legs, and hell if know how to swim.

I guess, and maybe it’s just wolly — that’s wall folly — what all this boils down to is love. I love you, and if you love me like your followers love you, I’ll be here waiting patiently as the sun rises and sets — because I can’t physically sleep — until the city’s mural ordinance approves the next guy, or worse: I find out you’ve run off with a giant inflatable swan.

 

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* Welcome to The Big Jewel, where we enjoy beginning the New Year with yet more sordid details about a revolting topic, thanks to our sordid, revolting friend Michael Fowler. When you're done with his latest bit of hilarity, see our blogroll on the right for a link to buy Michael's book, God Made the Animals.

Am I The Next TV News Person To Be Sidelined For Sexual Misconduct?

By:
mfowl4916@gmail.com

I won’t identify myself, since I don’t want to start speculation, but I’m an attractive, not to say amazingly attractive, thirtyish male who just got hired to co-anchor at WNOX, News of the Tristate Coming to You from Wapakoneta, Ohio, and already I feel that my days are numbered. My first 15 minutes on the job, and who do I meet down the hall from my office but the weather lady Cassandra Mintloe? There she was, inches from me, the local and thoroughly professional celebrity. I stammered out a “Hello, Ms. Mintloe,” and her friendly “Hi there” warmed my Midwestern heart. As soon as I turned on my work computer, I composed a “Let’s get to know each other” note to her, complete with descriptions of my prowess in bed, my athletic trophies, and an attached GIF of my genitals. I was about to send it off when I thought, “Steady on, Jose,” (not my real name). “You might end up in hot water.” It was Cassandra, after all, who forced the anchor I was hired to replace into early retirement when she complained about his unwanted advances. How could I have forgotten that critical point, when it was all the scuttlebutt when I came here to interview? In my excitement at beholding Cassandra’s modest form, it jumped clean out of my head. So I saved myself a headache and didn’t contact her, and still haven’t. Instead I clenched my fists, pressed my manly thighs together, and determined to hang tough.

But I was hardly out of trouble. There’s something about the prospect of appearing on live TV that gets me all tingly. When I stepped out for lunch, I ran smack into co-anchor Cathleen Cartwright at the soda machine. She, well-groomed and presentable as always, is the undisputed star of the morning soybean and corn forecasts, and her well-bred professionalism is a hallmark. She’s as wholesome as barley, and my first thought on seeing her was, “Can we take alternate swigs on your bottle of water, and then let our tongues really cut loose at my apartment in Bellefontaine?” Back at my desk I composed a memo to her, under my new alias Jose the Impulsive, but with my real email address, informing her of how I take a shower and which Victoria’s Secret garments I favor, along with an attached GIF of my member bearing a ring of red lipstick. She couldn’t resist that, I figured, any more than I could resist her prim demeanor. I was about to hit the send button when it struck me: “Hey, Jose, are you trying to be one of those lusty boys at FOX News who’s had to ‘go on sabbatical’ over sexual harassment charges?” That kind of FOX-y behavior, I should have recalled, had emasculated the network, to the point where it seemed to be approaching an all-female lineup, not counting a smattering of asexual esthetes and a handful of eunuchs. That realization brought me quickly to my senses, and again I didn’t send what might have proved to be a fateful email.

“Whew,” I thought. “Saved once more.” But for how long? That very evening, and bear in mind I’m still talking about my first day at WNOX, I encountered Judge Jenny, our senior news correspondent and roving reporter, in the garage. After I greeted the dignified judge with a star-struck hello, and she responded with a gracious smile, I thought, “What a cougar. I mean, do they come any more provocative than this hottie?” The previous evening I had watched a taped segment on WNOX of the regal, sexagenarian judge on horseback at the local county fair, and let me tell you, I could hardly stand how reserved she looked in her proper equestrienne outfit. I was inflamed to the hilt. After greeting her in the garage, my next idea was to take her on a thrill ride in my new sports convertible parked nearby, that I had bought the very day WNOX hired me. We’d see whose bedroom or what discreet hotel I could drive to in twenty minutes flat. Sure, I was thirty years younger than the judge, but I was as fired up as she was matronly and mature.

As I was about to issue the invitation, along with many a wink and leer to put my point across, a car pulled up beside us and its horn blasted. The driver was, I don’t know who, maybe the guy who produces the show. I don’t know who everyone is around the station yet, so I can’t say. Anyway I was once again saved from the inclinations of Jose the Impulsive, which I suddenly saw could only land me butt-first in the grinder, if the judge took things too personally. That’s right: a minute’s research online proved she wasn’t called Judge Jenny for nothing. She was a former trial judge and a dominatrix for women’s rights. Thanks to that car horn, I clammed up just in time.

Still, Jose is always on the alert, always looking for — dare I say it? — danger. Can he last a single year, or even one more day at WNOX News, surrounded by dozens of females who, no matter how demure, all strike him as irresistible, down to the clerical and custodial help? I’m beginning to doubt it.

 

 

 

 

 

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