* Welcome to The Big Jewel, where we are neither the devil you know nor the devil you don't know, but rather the devil that your cousin's real estate agent used to date. While we're on the subject of devils, please heed the counsel of Dan Rozier in his first piece for us. He seems to be intimately acquainted with many devils.

The Devil You Know & The Devil You Don’t

By: Dan Rozier

THE DEVIL YOU KNOW has an elaborate orchestra with instruments made entirely out of the bones of sinners. Skull organ, fibula flutes, ribcage xylophone are commonplace as the music of the immoral echoes throughout Hell’s caverns.

THE DEVIL YOU DON’T plays in a Damn Yankees cover band (Dammed Yankees) with Mark Twain, Ulysses S. Grant, and George Steinbrenner. They play every Thursday night at the Gristle Pit and are opening for Jackyl this upcoming Saturday. Five dollar cover, ladies drink for free. And as always, don’t forget to stop by and see Jim Morrison, who will be to the left of the bar running the merch stand.

THE DEVIL YOU KNOW catches sinner’s souls in a jar upon their final breath in the mortal world and laughs all the way back to the depths of hell, where he releases them to be tortured for all eternity.

THE DEVIL YOU DON’T is the one stealing your wireless Internet. But it’s not like he wants to do it, your connection just happens to reach him and it’s not feasible to have wireless set up in Hell. He’s probably sorry and I bet the only time he used it during peak hours was to MapQuest directions to Burbank so he could warn Michael Eisner that he set his alarm for PM instead of AM.

THE DEVIL YOU KNOW is red, and I mean everything, is red. His skin, his eyes, the floor and the ceiling are all an identical, piercing color. Everything is covered in fire and miscreant blood, and all of the residents are sunburned beyond recognition.

THE DEVIL YOU DON’T loves color. In fact, in his spare time he’s a freelance crayon creation specialist. His big break was the precise dye combination that became what we now know as “Burnt Sienna.” He was inspired by the brownish matter caked on the inside of his unbaptized baby oven. He read that Crayola was holding their annual “Create a New Color” contest and he just went for it. Now, thanks to Crayola, a portion of the profits from every Burnt Sienna crayon you purchase is put towards funding your spouse’s infidelity – because unlike your husband’s secretary, trips to the surface to control your life aren’t cheap.

THE DEVIL YOU KNOW creates natural disasters when the mood strikes him. He loves nothing more than to watch man squirm as humanity is convinced the end of the world is near. Such natural disasters include but are not limited to: earthquakes, tsunamis, hurricanes, tornados, flash floods, and regular-speed floods.

THE DEVIL YOU DON’T accidently created the Bubonic Plague during a botched attempt to make banana nut bread (one cup of vanilla, not two). The Banana Bread page got stuck to the Black Death recipe page. On the bright side, he learned vanilla is great for swelling one-third of Europe’s lymph nodes.

THE DEVIL YOU KNOW patiently sits and watches as we destroy our own lives without his interference, thrilled that the day we die is the day we will join him in eternal damnation. The advent of meth and Internet pornography addiction has made his job infinitely easier.

THE DEVIL YOU DON’T is anxiously waiting for the Wonder Years to be released on DVD. He understands the problem with the music rights, but it’s getting ridiculous. Shouldn’t there be an exclusion clause if you used literally every song written between 1968 and 1973? He hopes the delay has nothing to do with the fact that he occasionally went up to the surface to whisper “butthead” in Fred Savage’s ear while he was sleeping, which allegedly “contributed” to his “involuntary commitment.”

THE DEVIL YOU KNOW is 12′ 6″, 400 lbs. Give or take.

THE DEVIL YOU DON’T has submitted his Bowflex video testimony dozens of times to no avail. Even though he did everything right and completely transformed his chest, arms, abs, and back. He just wants to say thanks and show people that Bowflex really does work. He’s four and a half billion years old and he is in the best shape of his life. The only problem was finding a good spot to film. So there were a few frames that had people being spoon-fed their own kidneys while getting their fingernails pulled off and listening to the Eagles’ greatest hits. It was in the background and you could barely even see it. Lighten up, Bowflex.

* Welcome to The Big Jewel, your source for all professional sports logo wear. This week please give a warm welcome to Luke Kelly-Clyne, whose first piece for us is a left-handed compliment to one of the greatest figures in modern sports.

To The Forty-Five-Year-Old Man Wearing A Tom Brady Jersey At My Local Supermarket

By: Luke Kelly-Clyne

Hello, sir.

I don’t want to take up too much of your time but I noticed you at the supermarket yesterday, wearing that Tom Brady jersey. You intrigued and confused me. To be frank, I can’t get your image out of my head. I wonder if I might be able to ask you a few questions, you know, to clear things up, so I can start to think about something else. I’ll be brief. I promise.

What were you thinking about when you put it on? The jersey, I mean. Do you believe you’re Tom Brady when you wear it? Were you hoping you’d slide the silky mesh over your head and find that you’re suddenly rich, handsome, and married to a supermodel, instead of a single, pot-bellied, pharmaceutical sales rep who has lost quite a bit of hair?

Or was it a showing of support for the team, and for Tom specifically? Did a part of you think that the Patriots would be watching you from their off-season Fan Monitoring Facility in Palm Beach and that, when they saw how striking you looked in the blue and red, they’d send a representative to inform you that you’d won a lifetime supply of player-used plastic cutlery and would be inducted into the Tom Brady Look-Alike Hall of Fame on the Moon?

Maybe it wasn’t that at all, though. Maybe you were hoping that someone in the Towson, Maryland Costco would mistake your five-foot-eight, one-hundred-ninety-nine pound frame for an athlete’s and would give you a toss. “Heads up!” he’d yell as he hurled an official NFL football he’d found wedged in between a jumbo tub of nacho cheese and a plasma TV. And you’d be ready — weaving in between carts overflowing with Kirkland bluejeans and half-priced Wii Fits, making an awe-inspiring catch right before the T-Mobile kiosk representative politely asked that you “pick up the Blackberry Curve you just knocked over.” And then you’d run the ball back to its origin and realize that Tom Brady is the one who threw it! He’d thank you for making “a great play” and compliment you on how well your jersey fit. Then he’d tell you that he needed to talk to you about an opportunity…”with the team.” Three days later, you’d be the Patriot’s new third string quarterback. You wouldn’t get much playing time but, hey, “that’s how Brady started,” you’d tell yourself, in between dead-lifts at the Patriot’s Workout Facility made of million dollar bills. Is that it?

The only other thing I can think of is: The year is 2024 and you actually are Tom Brady. You left the NFL years ago, after a scandal involving your refusal to abuse dogs or carry an unregistered, concealed weapon landed you hard-up and alone. While living in your parents’ basement and trolling Monster.com, you stumbled upon a job in Pfizer’s Baltimore office, moved south, and packed on the pounds after discovering the Sunday-night-magic of Comedy Central and ring-dings. The only thing you kept from the old days is that jersey, the one I saw you wearing yesterday. It helps you remember the good times.

But, if all that’s true, and the year actually is 2024, then where does that leave me? Where have the last 13 years of my life gone? Why aren’t there more movies available for Instant Play on NetFlix? Why does Ashton Kutcher still look so damn good?

Nope, just checked my phone. It’s still 2011.

So, what were you thinking when you put that jersey on, sir? I just really need to know.

Oh, and when you respond, can you let me know how you deal with stains? I just spilled strawberry smoothie all over my favorite limited edition “Katy Perry for President” tee-shirt.




* Welcome to The Big Jewel, where the new journalism meets the new economy in a head-on collision with no survivors. No, wait, there is one survivor. It's our good friend Becky Cardwell, whose profession is the very embodiment of the new economy.

Acting Tips From A True-Crime Re-Enactor

By: Becky Cardwell

I am an actor. My parents were actors as well, which is undoubtedly how I developed an appreciation for the craft. My father was a successful real estate agent who engaged in role-playing with his secretary, and my mother a housewife/aspiring rug hooker who acted oblivious to my father’s transgressions.

I was discovered at the age of four in the local supermarket, by a pageant mom who, after seeing me perform “I’m a Little Tea Pot” next to my grocer’s freezer section, called me the “Next big thing in animate tea-brewing vessels.”

Still, it wasn’t until a few years later — while I was heaving into an outdoor recycling bin after eating the Spamwich my mother made for my lunch — that a vegan television producer took notice. Impressed by my eco-friendly vomiting skills, he offered me the lead role in his new reality show, called Girl Who Dies After Stranger Slips a Meat-By-Product Into Her Tofurkey Wrap.

From there, I went on to play a vegetarian in the wrong place at the wrong time, then a vegetarian in the right place at the wrong time, eventually landing the coveted role of “Trashy Vegetarian-Turned-Mistress,” brutally murdered by her lover’s meat-eating wife.

Being a re-enactor is a million times harder than being a regular actor. Especially when the person you’re reenacting was an actor. Not only do you have to memorize his natural persona, you also have to get into his acting mind. This means you’re actually getting into two minds. Actually, no…make that three minds — I forgot to include the mind of the character that your actor is acting.

There are no classes that can prepare you for this type of career. You either have the talent or you don’t. That being said, there are certain things you can do to fake like you have the talent.

If I could give aspiring crime re-enactors any advice, it would be as follows:

Show Honesty in Your Work. Ask yourself these questions: Who am I? Where am I? Where am I from? What time is it? What period? If playing a woman, am I on my period?

Once you have these answers, you can then go on to tackle the more difficult questions. Should I sprawl out on the dirt with my eyes rolled back in my head? Or do I want to seem peaceful, like if someone didn’t know any better they might think I was just taking a catnap on the asphalt?

Be Flexible. You might start out in misdemeanor crimes: things like simple assault and battery, drunkenness in public, various traffic violations, etc. While they may not be as exciting as actual homicides, it’s important to remember that true petty crime is a gateway to harsher, more serious true crime.

Hone Your Craft. People think it’s easy to play a dead person. They’re wrong. Just because there is no actual personality in a dead person, that doesn’t make them easier to play. If anything, it makes it tougher. Dead people aren’t around to give you advice on how to play themselves. Nobody truly knows what it’s like to be a dead person, and anyone who says they do is lying. Or dead.

To prepare for these types of roles, I often spend days lying motionless on a park bench, just to get a feel for the deadness of my character.

Be Realistic. Say you’re a short blonde Polish girl in her early twenties. Are you going to audition for the part of a sixty-year-old Garifuna man with a short blonde Polish girl fetish? Hells no! That would be career suicide.

But would you consider gaining thirty pounds and getting a lower fraenum ring to play an Emo who falls in love with a mentally unstable piercing artist? These are the kinds of questions you need to ask yourself.

I remember one audition I had for a woman named Mary. Mary was a deaf Southern Baptist in her late sixties who didn’t drink alcohol because it caused her psoriasis to flare up.

Now, I had never been deaf, nor had I ever gone a day without getting my party on. But I was dedicated. And by the time we went to shoot, not only was I (relatively) sober, I could sign all the lyrics to Bette Midler’s “The Rose”!

Commit to the Role. If you sign up to play a street thug, you may have to endure fake beatings. You need to be open to that.

Stay Positive. There are times when you might not work for months, due to a decrease in violent crime rates. Be patient. Remember, the Law of Duality says that what goes down will eventually rise again.

About Your Portfolio. While you want the casting agents to see you in a crime-related light, you don’t want to pigeonhole yourself. If all of your headshots are of you playing a dead person, they’ll think of you as being one-dimensional. Just because you’re a victim, that doesn’t mean you will end up dead. You might just be brutally stabbed. Or beaten to the point of unconsciousness.

Speaking of pigeonholing, do not fall into this trap. If you’re European, try not to act like one all the time. Or, at least don’t limit your Europeaness to one region. If you’re Romanian, don’t be scared to play someone of Bulgarian descent.

The great thing about being a True-Crime Reenactor is that you don’t have to worry about succumbing to the pressures of Hollywood. You might play the part of a guy who succumbed to these pressures, but if that guy were still alive he probably wouldn’t hang out with you. And really, that’s a good thing.

I’ll leave you with these words of wisdom: Dr. Kevorkian once said that dying is not a crime. He’s right. It’s only when someone makes you die that it becomes a crime. And that’s where we come in.

* Welcome to The Big Jewel, the WikiLeaks of literary humor. This week in her first piece for us Katelyn Sack takes aim at Julian Assange and his haters, otherwise known as the US government. And somehow the Walt Disney Company got in there, too. God bless America!

Enhanced Entertainment Techniques

By: Katelyn Sack

“Curbing piracy and making it easier to visit our country are straightforward and immediate ways to spur long-term job growth.” — Robert A. Iger, Walt Disney Company President and CEO, “Two Common Sense Ways to Improve the Economy,” The Huffington Post, Dec. 6, 2009

US corporate lawyers and government officials have recently come together to entice WikiLeaks editor-in-chief and alleged buccaneer Julian Assange and his mates to visit our country. Their collaboration has produced innovative plans — published for the first time here — to boost tourism and keep America safe by combining the best features of amusement parks and black sites. Here are a few of the resulting enhanced entertainment techniques.

Electrocuting Teacups — Bring the little ones along for an electrifying spin. Warning: attempting to board ride with more than 3 ounces of liquid on or in your person may result in death, disability, or detainment.

Waterboardwalk — Test your strength! Win a bear for your sweetie! Sign a release!

House of One-Way Glass Mirrors — Did you think we would never find out? Did you honestly believe no one would ever know? You’re so transparent. You make me sick. It’s not your fault, everyone’s done it. Only a monster would do that. Get it off your chest. Here’s a writing pad. We’re done here. I’ll be back after talking with the Chief. We’ll cut you a sweet deal. You’re a dead man. Wrong room. Fifteen years.

Tilt-a-World — Press the red button. Watch the world tilt to the left, then to the right. Watch as moderates are trampled by extremists, realists by utopians, minority Protestant football fans by majority pagan socialist World Cup fiends. Now you understand why we must liberate Tiltastan.

Balls Pit — Actually a pyramid within a pit. Still under construction – join us! Don’t forget your camera.

Colonoctopus — Snap on a neon orange jumpsuit and bend over for the world’s only Guantánamo Bay healthcare simulation outside Langley! Preparatory drink stands are located at the park entrance, along with your personal belongings.

Unfairest Wheel — Join your best pal, Pluto, for a scintillating tour of American historical plutocracy. Must be at least 5’11” and at most 120 pounds to ride.

Carousellout — So you want health insurance with vision and dental, and a steady pension? Paid vacations, parental leave, and guaranteed paychecks? Childcare, a 40-hour workweek, and a lunch break long enough to eat real food? Then don’t waste your time seeking American citizenship, unless you’ve already been offered a government job.

Bumper Czars — Pit drug lords on the government payroll against druglords not on the government payroll to help America win! Please keep arms and legs inside the armored vehicle at all times. On-site heroin purchase is discouraged, but be sure to stop by the Freedom Friends Café for some poppy tea, poppy seed cake, or smackaroons.

Giblet Fry — Did you know singed internal organs have 20 percent fewer calories? Snap, crackle, and pop your way to a lighter abdomen for only $9.95 a shock! Offer void in Continental US. Calorie and movement restrictions may apply.

Whack-a-Mole — This interactive 3D adventure illustrates what happens if you leak information about our enhanced entertainment techniques to Six Flags, China, or the New York Times.

American Idle — Compete with Sleepy, Dopey, and Blondie for fortune and fame by executing your best rendition of that timeless classic, “It’s a Galled World After All.” Better save this one for last — the line is torture.

* Welcome to The Big Jewel, where we are not taking a position on gun control because we're afraid somebody might shoot us if we do. Thankfully someone has taken a position on gun control -- that is, if a multinational corporation counts as "someone." Let our good friend David Martin explain it all to you...

With A Shot?

By: David Martin

SEATTLE — Coffee chain Starbucks Corp. is sticking to its policy of letting customers carry guns where it’s legal and said it does not want to be put in the middle of a larger gun-control debate. — MSNBC – March 3, 2010

TO: All baristas, baristos and other in-store employees
FROM: Starbucks management
RE: Gun policy

As you are no doubt aware, management has decided to take a decidedly “hands-off” approach vis-à-vis the carrying of handguns into Starbucks establishments. Given that most states have “open carry” weapons statutes, it seems unfair to unduly restrict our customer base.

While we take pride in our non-discriminatory policy respecting in-store firearms, we do recognize that such a policy may involve the assumption of certain risks. For that reason, and to mollify our insurer, we are requesting all employees to follow certain common sense guidelines.

As a general rule, employees should not question customers about any weapons they may be carrying, regardless of number, size or caliber. Your initial assumption should always be that the customer is properly licensed to carry whatever weaponry he has on his person.

It is, of course, open to any employee to ask a customer to provide proof of ownership of any particular weapon or weapons. However, the guiding principle should be that the customer is always right, particularly when he has more than one weapon or the weapon in question is semiautomatic.

Starbucks employees are world famous for their friendly attitude and bonhomie. We do not want to diminish that jovial spirit in any way. However, as a precautionary measure, we recommend that servers do not engage in any gun-related joking or banter unless, of course, the server is also armed.

When it comes to the question of carrying your own personal weapon, we wish to refrain from taking any position on the matter. America is a free country and one of the things that makes it great is the freedom to bear arms. If you do choose to be armed, we would simply ask that you select a small-caliber handgun that can be carried discretely, will not interfere with your pouring duties and will not clash with the outlet’s decor.

Always be alert to a customer’s state of mind, particularly when that customer is bearing a handgun. If he seems jittery or agitated, remember that any caffeinated beverage is not likely to make the situation better. In such a case, gently suggest one of our fine decaffeinated drinks and, if gunfire seems imminent, offer to provide it free of charge.

If you sense that a dispute is brewing between two or more armed customers, feel free to intervene and recommend that they relax with our new special drink: The Second Amendment Latte. Stress that they all have the right to bear arms but instead of using those arms, they should exercise their right to enjoy a really heavenly cup of American java.

Also, please be very careful before asking a customer if he or she would like a shot. Although we recognize that selling an extra shot of espresso or a flavored shot is great for our profit margin, we don’t want to jeopardize employee safety. In order to retain this profitable sideline and still satisfy our insurer’s requirements, please simply ensure that the customer is not armed before making any shot-related inquiries.

Some employees have asked whether we can provide gun racks in our outlets for the convenience of rifle, shotgun or machine gun-owning customers. The short answer is “no,” as Starbucks does not wish to be seen to be taking a stand on the complicated issues of gun ownership and gun use. However, we have no objection if anyone wishes to take the initiative to modify any existing magazine or newspaper rack to accommodate long guns. Nevertheless, we remain adamant that we will not provide handgun vending machines in any of our domestic outlets.

While we abhor the use of violence in most public settings, we are particularly concerned about the comfort of our unarmed customers who may be reading or listening to music. To minimize any disruptions to that clientele, we think it is appropriate to display signage in each outlet requesting armed customers to use silencers whenever possible.

Finally, if any gun-bearing customer professes a preference for The Tea Party, don’t forget that we serve tea, too — our special Tazo blend. Just be sure to pronounce Tazo slowly to prevent any unfortunate misunderstandings. At Starbucks, we have a strict policy of not providing tasers to employees, but unfortunately not all customers are aware of that fact.

If everyone follows these few common sense rules, we are confident that we can keep gun-related accidents in Starbucks outlets to a minimum.

* Welcome to The Big Jewel. If for any reason you are not satisfied by this week's bit of nonsense, we invite you to try and find us so you can ask for a full refund of the purchase price. Or not.

Reason For Return

By: Dan Fiorella

We at HockeyFanatics.com want you to be completely satisfied with your purchase. If you are not pleased with your merchandise for any reason, you may return the product within 30 days of receipt using the enclosed return postage form. Refunds will be issued in the same manner as the order was paid.

1. Complete the Return Reason form.


_Changed my mind

_Didn’t Like

_Received Damaged

_Product is Defective

_Received incorrect item

_Received incorrect size

_Size didn’t fit

X Other

Well, actually, your product was fine. It is a beautiful NHL Men’s Melange FZ Hood. But, alas, I have to return it as I no longer need it. You see, Dave, my boyfriend, well, now ex-boyfriend, is a huge Mighty Ducks fans. Frankly, I don’t think they’re as good as they were in the movies and they’re certainly not as cute as they were in the movies. I’m sure this discussion must come up all the time in your whole hockey line of business. Anyway, when your up-until-recently-boyfriend says he’s a fan of an NFL team and his birthday is coming up, why wouldn’t a hoodie with his team’s logo be the perfect gift? It’s a no-brainer. Certainly more thoughtful than the box of scotch tape he gave me for Christmas so I can “stick things together.” I don’t even want to get into the thing where he gave me Christmas M&Ms last Valentine’s Day because they were on discount at the store.

So, anyway, having received the enclosed merchandise in fine condition, I wrapped it to present to my then-boyfriend. Of course I should have been a bit put off when Dave mentioned to me during the previews of Green Hornet that he was spending his actual birthday day with his “homies” or “posse” or whatever he calls that group of adolescent peers. But he added that we can “hook up” later in the week. Obviously, he took my pout of hurt and disapproval as some sort of green light. Anyway, no biggie, as I decided to use this change of plans to my advantage to increase the “surprise” quotient of this fine, fine product.

Now, he likes to hang at Chucky Mack’s on 23rd Street. They have really good Texas Chili Fries™ that can feed a small family. And free beverage refills. So I trot on down there with my wrapped gift to surprise him on the day of his actual birth. Well, the surprise was on me! There he is, sharing an order of Texas Chili Fries™, not with his “home boys” or “cohorts” but with Jean Marie Becker!

Now, if you haven’t met Jean Marie Becker, you’ve probably heard the rumors about her and her unsavory reputation. If she were any easier she’d be rated “E for everybody.” Not to mention all the unexplained vacations to various health facilities. I’m just saying. And here she is with my steady! So, naturally, I confront him and he’s all “I told you not to come here.” And I’m all “It’s your birthday, where else should I be?” And he’s all “I can’t believe you are checking up on me!” And I’m all “Apparently not often enough!” At this point Jean Marie Slut decides to get all up in my grill about hassling “her man.” So I declare that he is neither hers nor a man. She begs to differ on both accounts, with this wicked smug smile. So I hit her with some chicken wings. She countered with a pitcher of unsweetened ice tea, which I was nimbly able to side-step, but which did soak Dave. He got all upset because he was wearing a leather jacket which he claimed was now ruined and not his. Then Chucky Mac himself came out and started hurling insults and chased us all out, screaming that he was going to call the police, which he wasn’t really about to do, based on the ethnic and legal makeup of his kitchen staff. Then he banned us all from ever going there again. This totally freaked out Dave, who claimed it was his “home base.” He stormed out, dragging the wanton Jean Marie with him so I assume he has made his choice. Now, since I don’t follow hockey, I’m returning the merchandise.

2. Pack the items in original packing if possible

Sorry, it’s no longer available. After we left the restaurant, I beat Dave about the head and shoulders with the box until it broke apart. But this pizza box should do.

P.S. If you get any orders for hockey wear from a Jean Marie Becker, could you just lose them? TIA!!

* Welcome to The Big Jewel, your guide to all things zombified. This week Scott Oglesby goes way beyond "The Walking Dead" all the way to the writing dead.

The Winning Candidate’s Job Interview For Lead Character In My New Zombie Apocalypse Novel

By: Scott Oglesby

What separates you from the nearly infinite field of characters that I can imagine into existence to star in my new zombie apocalypse novel?

At the risk of sounding cliché, I am your star. Everything about me, from my mullet to my lazy eye, points to me being perfect for this part. I abhor non-violence, inaction and lapses in dialogue. In my troubled past, I often found myself ostracized or even incarcerated due to my intolerant nature and violent outbursts, but now, in this post apocalyptic world, I practically have Zombie Killer tattooed across my neck. If you’d like, I will, literally, have Zombie Killer tattooed across my neck. It’s up to you. I don’t have to have a neck tattoo, but I think it would enhance my general image. My point is that I’m memorable. Also, I’m deep. I have just enough self-doubt and internal conflict to give myself depth and to give your readers someone that they can connect with, at least on a subconscious level. Every woman wants to be with me and every man wants to be me. Every zombie wants to eat me as well but that comes with the territory.

Describe your physical characteristics.

I’m 6’2″, blond haired and blue eyed. Although I don’t have the symmetrically featured face of a heartthrob actor, I’m quite the stud. Chicks dig my quiet confidence and hardly notice my bad eye. I’ve been described as dangerously stupid but I more than make up for that with my snarky one-liners. Five years in state prison did wonders for my physique. I trained as a kickboxer in Thailand from birth until age 15 when I was kicked out of the country for being too dangerous. I may or may not have a tattoo on my neck. I’m thinking yes, personally. I’m also willing to cut my blond locks or even shave my head if you need me to undergo a psychological transformation with a physical manifestation.

Describe your psychology.

I don’t think too much about that. You need your star to be a man of action, not some introverted, self-reflective pansy. I have that nagging doubt and internal conflict that I mentioned earlier. I’m full of contradictions. That’s why people will love to hate me and hate to love me. I accidentally killed my mother during childbirth by kicking her uterus with my steel-toed baby boot. That incident left me emotionally scarred, spiritually wounded and that much more of a hard case. Killing zombies in new and exceptionally creative ways is the only thing that keeps me going. That and my search for the cure. Is there a cure in this novel? I also keep Albino Burmese Pythons. Sometimes I feed them “small zombies.” We don’t like to call them children in this genre, for obvious reasons.

What are some of your long-term goals?

My most important long-term goal is to land a major role as lead character in a zombie apocalypse novel. This has been a dream of mine since I poofed into existence this morning, complete with a malleable past. Perhaps, while I was in the Special Forces I developed a pathological need to deal in death? In that case, finding a job that allowed me to kill will have been a long-term goal. I know that I plan to kill as many of the repulsive flesh eaters as possible before I save the world and consummate my relationship with Female Lead Character. If I can throw off some witty dialogue and develop as a fictional entity along the way, well that’s all gravy.

What are your strengths?

Number one would be my adaptability on paper. One paragraph I can be a heroic warrior destroying everything in my path and the next I can be woefully lamenting the loss of my Albino Burmese Python (after it stupidly ingested a chainsaw, which got turned on later, when it tried to cuddle) with expressive sobs. I could get its name tattooed on my forearm in Chinese script — that’ll enhance my image as well. There’s also my willingness to suffer catastrophic injury if it’ll secure the role. You need me to lose an arm? Done. Do you need my face to be mangled in a bizarre wood chipper accident? Fine. I’m even willing to lose my eye provided you take the lazy one.

What are your biggest weaknesses?

I’m loyal to a fault. I’ve even offered to have my neck tattooed for you. I can be arrogant and hot headed. You see the way I throw a fit in chapter 5 when Supporting Character #3 leaves half of our ammo back at the camp and we have 2 dozen biters hot on our trail. Also, as you prove in chapter 9, I have intimacy issues with Female Lead Character. And there’s the criminal record. I’m willing to have other problems as well. Maybe a history of substance abuse? (It would explain the incarceration. And the neck tattoo.) Maybe I’ll suffer a relapse after the ridiculously violent death of my beloved snake? Or you could just give me a snake related hernia? It’s all up to you.

Where do you see yourself in five years?

If it were up to me? Okay, I’m sitting on a porch by a lake somewhere deep in the woods. Female Lead Character is sitting next to me. She’s pregnant again. Our little boy puts down his rifle and walks over, pets my Albino Burmese Python and asks about my neck tattoo.

* Welcome to The Big Jewel, where we think of the Winklevoss twins as the unsung heroes of "The Social Network." In the same way, we think of the word "face" as the unsung hero of Facebook, which is trying to trademark said word. But here, let Stacey Resnikoff explain it all to you in her first piece for us...

Face Reflects On Its Trademarking By Facebook

By: Stacey Resnikoff

[11/24/10 — AP headline: Facebook moves closer to trademarking “face”]

[12/15/10 — Mark Zuckerberg named Time Magazine Person of the Year]

[Any day now — “Face” will be officially registered as a TM of Facebook by the USPTO]

I’m FACE. You know, the word. And I’m officially peeved. No: pissed. Yeah, you heard me: pissed. I’m going urban dictionary on you, Facebook — you frenemy. Because now that this whole trademarking me thing is actually a go, I’ve got a few choice words. And let me warn you: some of my best, most offensive friends begin with “F.”

But will I rant and rave and let the expletives fly? No. Could I unleash the wrath of social media on your smug face? Fo sho. You know the drill: a FACE Facebook page unfurling a Wall of fan fury. A parody Twitter feed forking out 140 characters of well-worded hurt on a daily in-your-face basis: “I woke up this morning with a huge, puss-filled TM on my Face.” Oh, my buddy FARCE was really egging me on. I could get the whole lexicon behind me, no problem. But frankly, you aren’t worth my time.

TIME is a great word: we go way back. In fact, he dropped me a quick email on Zuckerberg being named 2010 Person of the Year: “Hey FACE, You know the magazine doesn’t give me the time of day on this. My vote was Jobs: a true lover of language — a risk taker. Just look what he did for PAD! From feminine hygiene to techno-chic in one year. Outstanding. Hang in there. We’ll always have FaceTime. Gotta run — TIME.”

Yeah, back in the day, when Apple wanted to trademark us together, TIME and I realized this Internet thing was more than just a bubble. It was becoming a raison d’etre. A whole new vernacular. People were virtually interfacing their faces off. I loved it. I wanted it.

And then I met BOOK.

BOOK was always a favorite of mine. Truth be told, all words love her. And when we came together, it just worked. The “Facebook” trademark gave me confidence. I was glowing.

Sure, I’d been trademarked with plenty of other words before, but this felt different. BOOK was shy, yet I could tell that my pending Honda motorcycle trademark made me seem cooler than some other words she’d been with: SCRAP, YEAR. And more worldly — the focus of artists, photographers, poets, plastic surgeons, mountain climbers, recognition software developers, robot scientists, makeup conglomerates from Stockholm. Everyone loves FACE, baby. Everyone.

Then you had to ruin everything, you dumbfaces. Trademarking me by myself in my biggest growth area. I couldn’t even oppose the action, because I’m not using “face,” I am FACE. So now you own me in the “telecommunication services…chat rooms…electronic bulletin boards…computer users” space, do you? So now you decide when and how I’m used with your little legal actions against my admirers? I once loved your freckled-faced CEO as if he were my own reflection. Et tu, Zucke?

Just how did you do it? How? Your company isn’t even called “Face,” it’s “Facebook.” I mean, I get the idea of one word to one company in one market. Like APPLE — one word: first it was the Beatles’ record label, then the computer thing, then Gwyneth Paltrow’s kid. There’s a nice arc there. But seriously, stealing “Face”? Now? You shroud me in my prime. Frankly, I’m shocked that FaceCancer isn’t already a Web site or app. So now I suppose Facebook will be the only place online where people can officially “face” challenges. I had some truly money social media opportunities with charities and diseases ahead of me. You took it all away. All of it.

FRIEND called me the other day. He said I should be glad: it was a good run. He’s sure he’s next and he’s resigned to it. I’ve still got other categories, he tells me: The North Face, Kiss My Face, Face The Nation. And I’m still right at the top of the Trademarked-Human-Body-Parts List. I know he’s just trying to be supportive.

But to me, it just looks like an endless stretch of courtrooms and abandonment, while EYE gets all the ladies. High-tech was my playground. And now I’ll be lucky to score a wrinkle cream. I can’t face it. Yours is a faceless enterprise, Facebook. Why would you think twice about the feeble feelings of one four-letter word?

The only thing I have left now is my dignity. If you need me, I’ll be at the bar totally faced off my face. No social network required.

* Welcome to The Big Jewel, where we are still hiding in the closet because our dad let us watch The Birds when we were nine. Apparently Jeff Dutre's dad did the same thing.


By: Jeff Dutre

Our house is dark. More than ten thousand households are without electricity, according to the announcer on my portable hand-cranked radio. He sounds like he’s been crying.

Our cat is running from room to room, searching for something to hide under. I’ve chopped up all the furniture and nailed it to the windows. Nothing can get in — I hope.

My wife has pushed our heavy dining room table against our front door. Good for her. She’s not ready to give up. Not yet.

We hear noises outside: wings flapping and a hideous pecking and scratching against our vinyl siding. And of course the squawking.

My only flashlight went out an hour ago. All we’ve got left are some lavender-scented dollar store candles. They don’t provide much light — perfect for a romantic dinner but useless for this crisis. They don’t even smell good. They smell like cheap lavender underarm deodorant. Already I’ve got a headache from them.

My wife runs to me, and we hold each other close. The pecking and scratching is louder now. The cat cowers at our feet. The squawking rises to an insane pitch: “Hello! Hello! Who wants a cracker? I love you! I love you!” Taunting us. They’re taunting us.

The cat’s fur is standing straight up. She appears twice her normal size. A neat trick, but I don’t think it’ll do her much good in this situation. I envy her, though. If I could puff myself up to twice my normal size maybe I’d find the courage to make a run to the car. But then I remember I drive a subcompact. If I were all puffed up like the cat, I’d never fit behind the wheel. Maybe I could spread out in the back seat and let my wife drive. Nah, if I was puffed up twice my normal size we couldn’t even get the doors closed. We’d be sitting ducks. I told you, it’s a subcompact.

I crank up the radio and raise the volume so we can hear it over the pecking and squawking outside. The announcer is talking fast. Little by little we make sense of what he is telling us.

Not long ago, to the surprise of ornithologists, a colony of tropical parrots made itself at home near the old Albany Steam Station. These “monk parakeets” as they are called, built a heavy nest on a switchyard tower, causing this power outage.

Fifteen birds make up this colony. Police suspect they are escaped pets, or the offspring of escaped pets. Their ringleader is a large myiopsitta monachus believed to have arrived in this country illegally by cargo ship. Whether he falsified documents, or merely hid under a shipment of bananas, is unknown to us. But he is here, and he is stirring up trouble.

A man walking down the street enjoying a Ritz cracker was pecked to within an inch of his life. A local Cracker Barrel restaurant was burglarized. The Nabisco factory is in flames. A truck delivering a shipment of saltines to an Italian restaurant was commandeered and diverted to the switchyard nest. It’s our crackers. It’s our crackers they’re after.

For years they watched with envious eyes as we nibbled our hors d’oeuvres, made mindless small talk over our canapés, feasted on our sesame, our multigrain, our whole wheat crackers, the crumbs sticking to our chins in tempting little beak-sized bites. They watched us. And waited. All they needed was a charismatic leader to inspire them into action. And he is here.

The announcer stops talking. For a moment there is dead air. Then comes a muffled scream. This is followed by several sickening thuds (the poor man being beaten over the head with his own microphone, evidently) then more dead air. Finally we hear a different voice over the airwaves, a high-pitched singsong cry: “Can you say your name? My name is Polly!”

My wife grabs the radio from my hand and hurls it to the floor. It explodes into a million pieces. The stinky, flickering candles throw weird patterns against the dark walls and boarded-up windows.

Suddenly there is a flutter of wings from behind our mantel. “Oh my God!” I shout. “The chimney!”

Something has emerged from the fireplace. Something fat and beaky and feathery, with a pointy head and a proud, mad glint in its eyes. Somehow I understand that this is the alpha male monk parakeet, the ringleader, the top bird. A pungent smell hits my nostrils. The cat has voided its bowels. Or was it me?

Finally the thing speaks. Despite its limited vocabulary, the malevolence it radiates is palpable. “Pretty boy! Hello! Hello!”

With the strength of a superman, I lift the dining room table and toss it away from our front door. I scoop up the cat and grab my wife’s hand and we run outside to the car. I whisper thanks to the Creator when the ignition sparks immediately. The parakeets hadn’t thought to tamper with the engine. Maybe they’re not as smart as we’d feared.

I shift to reverse. Tires squeal as I lurch out of our driveway. There is a squawk from under the car, then a spray of feathers. “I think I got one of them!” I yell.

My heart is pounding as I turn onto Main Street. In my rear view mirror I see the cat staring out the window at the horror we’ve left behind. My wife snaps on her seat belt and curses under her breath. I shift into high gear and aim for the Interstate. There is no traffic, no sign of life anywhere.

I punch the radio on, hoping for some news, some sanity, anything at all to make sense of what we’ve endured. I hear static. I search until I hear a bright, high-pitched voice boom from the car speakers: “Squawk! Hello! Squawk! Hello!”

My wife turns off the radio. I check the fuel gauge. We’ve got a full tank. My plan is to drive north as far as I can, where the weather is too cold for tropical parakeets. I can almost feel my body relax.

Until I hear a flutter of wings from the back seat, and a shriek from the cat.

* Welcome to The Big Jewel, America's last tiny death rattle of authenticity. Not to go all movie trailer on you, but in a world where people who haven't written books are interviewed by people who haven't read them, Charlie Nadler stands alone. Mostly because he hasn't actually published his autobiography, so no news anchors could read it even if they wanted to...

Regarding My Upcoming Autobiography

By: Charlie Nadler

While I am loath to disappoint my beloved fans, I must be forthright regarding the plan for my upcoming autobiography. In light of the reported sales figures from last year’s Autobiography of Mark Twain, it has become apparent that the clear and obvious choice is to go ahead and hold off for at least a century before Charlie’s Autobiography goes to print.

To my potential publisher: There’s little doubt that adhering to this tested and proven marketing strategy will yield staggering results, financially speaking. That said, there are just a few matters that should probably be discussed before we move forward.

Firstly, I have not written an autobiography.

This, I’m sure, is but a small obstacle in the process of publishing my autobiography. Consider: Will future people still be reading long, tedious books that go on for hundreds and hundreds of pages? I contend that the answer is “probably not.” Given the ever-rising popularity of Twitter, perhaps it would be best if my autobiography contained no more than 140 characters? (To be clear: on this point, I do not bend — 140 is my max.)

Now, as I was interviewing my mother for information on my childhood, she made an interesting point: Mark Twain is considered by many to be one of the greatest writers in American history, and I have achieved virtually nothing with my life. Why do I not see this as a problem? Because we have one hundred years — plenty of time! — for me to achieve Mark Twain-level celebrity. Any and all ideas regarding this undertaking are welcome. (Just thought of an idea as I was writing this: what if I started a blog?)

Beyond Mark Twain’s status as a literary and cultural icon, it’s worth noting that he had the incredible foresight to change his name to one that would sound contemporary by the time of his memoir’s printing. Can you imagine, in 2011, Amazon selling out of a book written by someone named “Samuel Clemens”? Ain’t gonna happen. Similarly, the thought of reading the autobiography of someone named “Charlie Nadler” may sound just as absurd and offensive to someone living in 2111. But what if “Charlie Nadler” had changed his name to “Halatrix Omegacron”? Bam! Problem solved.

Just as Twain surely did 100 years ago before sitting down to write his book, we need to ask ourselves: what will people in 100 years be like? Will there still be people, or is it more likely that, following the inevitable onset of technological singularity, endlessly multiplying armies of cybernetic organisms will have seized control of the planet and eradicated all traces of organic life by this time? In order to tap into our future demographic, the story of my life needs to speak to the passions, interests and dreams of those still alive in 2111 — otherwise this puppy’s not gonna sell. To this end, I’m thinking that there should be at least some mention of my struggles as a cyborg assassin who’s repeatedly sent back in time to murder and/or protect future resistance leaders. Indeed, I would not be opposed to changing the title of the book from Charlie’s Autobiography to Halatrix Omegacron: The Life and Times of a Cyborg Assassin in the Post-Apocalyptic Future, or maybe Terminator 4. Should it become apparent that the fate of our planet will fall not into the hands of cyborgs but of conniving molemen, zombies, or genetically engineered alien-dinosaur hybrids, I’m sure that a quick “find-and-replace” can correct this miscalculation.

Speaking of editing, we all saw what happened with Huckleberry Finn (awkward!). You may want to consider preemptively removing any instances of the words “human” and “people” and substituting a likely derogatory slur for us that may be used in the future — something like “goonbags” or “cramblers.” Just trying to think ahead.

Finally, a note to my marketing department. While I can be somewhat flexible on the exact year of publication, I will insist that we aim to publish the book just before Father’s Day. Every dad loves a good autobiography.