* Welcome to The Big Jewel, where we are committed to supporting the rights of each and every citizen, including one certain not-so-silent majority that receives its due from our own Associate Editor David Jaggard. When you're done reading this fine new piece, click on the iTunes link below, which leads to his audio humor album "Totally Unrelated," or stream it for free on Spotify. We also invite you to check out David Jaggard on Paris Update. The link is in our blogroll on the right-hand side of this page.

The Assholes’ Bill Of Rights

By:
djaggard@noos.fr
https://geo.itunes.apple.com/us/album/totally-unrelated.../id1082542414?mt=1&app=music

I. Congress shall pass no law limiting the right of the people to complain, carp, gripe, grouse, grouch, whine or bellyache about any and all topics of their own choosing, at any volume level and for any length of time as they might see fit.

In particular, the people of the United States shall have the express right to bitch at will about things that they are unwilling or unable to change, including but not limited to the weather, their own health and finances, acts of Congress, kids today, and the religious and/or sexual practices of total strangers.

II. Any citizen who attempts to cut to the front of a line, consume tobacco products in a legally designated no-smoking area, use express checkout lanes to purchase more than the posted maximum number of items, circumvent traffic jams by driving in the emergency lane, park without authorization in a handicapped space or across two spaces in a crowded lot, or in any other way seeks to defy and evade the established rules and regulations of a well-ordered society is entitled to special preferential treatment over the rest of humankind upon simple demand.

III. The right of the people to tease, taunt, bait, badger, deride, rib, razz and needle their friends, relatives and co-workers shall not be impinged.

IIIa) In particular, every citizen has the right to invent and repeat perfectly plausible falsehoods for the sole purpose of finding humor in the fact that someone else might believe them. The people’s right to exclaim “Can’t you take a joke?” and “You actually believed that? Bwahahahaha!!!” shall not in any way be limited by law.

IIIb) Out-of-towners’ ignorance of the pronunciation of local proper names shall be considered hilariously ludicrous in every state and territory of the union.

IIIc) Whether in the home or the workplace, no limitation shall be placed on the number of weeks, months, years or decades that a citizen may be ridiculed for any mistake, lapse, faux pas or miscomprehension, no matter how understandable or inconsequential. Nicknames arising from childhood incidents involving pants-wetting, inopportune vomiting or the ejection of brightly colored beverages via the nostrils shall forever take precedence over any other subsequently earned titles, such as “Doctor,” “General,” “Your Honor,” “Your Holiness,” etc.

IV. Citizens who wish to express a vague, general dissatisfaction with their lives shall have the right to vent their frustrations by treating their friends, family members and co-workers as utter imbeciles in spite of any number of years of evidence to the contrary, finding and expressing fault with their every action and utterance. In particular, the people shall have the right to state for the first time any question, request or order in such a way as to imply that it is in fact the one-hundredth time. Congress shall pass no law restricting the people’s right to react to common everyday occurrences with exaggerated, virulent responses, including “Are you deaf?” “Can’t you read?” and “What are you trying to do — KILL me?!”

V. Every citizen shall have the right to shirk his or her duly assigned job, household chores and/or scholastic homework until threatened with physical or financial retribution. When finally coerced by a parent, teacher, spouse, employer, military superior or other person of authority to rise from one’s buttocks and get a move on already, the people’s right to engage in eye-rolling, dramatic sighing and moving as though encumbered by heavy weights shall not be infringed.

VI. The use of chemical intoxicants being necessary to the preservation of a sustainable shitty attitude, the right of the people to bend elbows shall be guaranteed in perpetuum. Citizens who perceive, wrongly, that they enjoy the consumption of alcoholic beverages or other mood-altering drugs shall have the inalienable right to consume any quantities of said substances in the name of “feeling better” or “having a good time” and then proceed to feel, in fact, worse and ruin their own day, evening, night and/or life as well as that of anyone unfortunate enough to stray within a 200 yard radius (350 yards in Texas and Montana).

VII. Any citizen who has formed an emotional union with another citizen shall have the right to presume said union to be the one and only such bond ever formed or ever to be formed by the other party throughout his or her entire lifetime.

Violations of this principle in the form of the reception of unsolicited communications from exes, casual mention of the physical attractiveness of a third party (including celebrities) or looking at or being alone with any other member of the opposite sex for more than 2.5 seconds may be dealt with in an exaggerated, logic-defying manner, accompanied by pouting, tantrums, fantastic accusations, the willful destruction of crockery or “the silent treatment,” as the individual case may require.

VIII. Citizens who deem that life is too expensive shall have the right to cheat, chisel, weasel and stiff any and all of their friends, business associates, relatives and casual acquaintances out of any sums of money whatsoever, no matter how small, and with no regard to their own actual financial capacities. Congress shall make no law respecting the people’s right to “forget” loans, steal hotel linens, sleep through tolls, time trips to the restroom to coincide with the arrival of the check and undertip in a blatant and shameless fashion.

IX. As of the date of ratification of this amendment, the world does in fact owe you a living. Citizens who feel that they are not receiving remuneration commensurate with their talents and abilities shall have the right to portray themselves as hapless victims of uncontrollable circumstances attributable to God, political/financial institutions beyond their comprehension, society at large, or implausible and unprovable conspiracies perpetrated by any ethnic or other special interest group of their own choosing.

Panhandlers, hitchhikers, buskers and ambulant vendors of all kinds shall have the right to abuse roundly anyone who fails to respond favorably to their solicitations, to their face or behind their back, in the form of snide remarks, grimaces, gratuitous speculation on the other party’s ancestry or erotic predilections, and/or the isolation of the longest finger of either hand.

IXa) As of the date of ratification of this amendment, the world does in fact owe you a love life. The people shall have the right to expect fully 100% of all persons they might at any time find physically attractive to reciprocate said attraction. Any failings in a citizen’s efforts to locate, secure, and have usufruct of a little ass once in a while may be assigned to the shortcomings of the opposite sex as an aggregate group. Any and all such disappointments shall be legally recognized grounds for snorting “Men!” or “Women!” as the case may be, adding “you’re [they’re] all alike!” if the situation so dictates.

X. All citizens who so desire may declare themselves ex nihilo to be infallible and thereby entitled to prevail in any argument, disagreement or dispute of any kind, no matter how trivial. For citizens who have opted to exercise this right, pure bluster shall be accepted as a full and legally binding substitute for knowledge and honesty. “Infallible” citizens who nonetheless fail to get their way shall be entitled to piss and moan bitterly and incessantly until the disputed decision is reversed in their favor or the world comes to an end, whichever occurs first.

Xa) Self-declared infallible citizens shall have the right to suspend any and all principles of logic, common sense and/or physics as they see fit. The rules and conditions of games, sports, wagers and other types of competitions may be unilaterally changed before, during or after the event with no prior notice to the other participants.

XI. Citizens who wish to progress one step further from infallibility to invincibility will perforce be exempt from the usual precepts and requirements of safety and good sense.

XIa) Self-declared invincible citizens shall suffer no harm whatsoever from the consumption of fatty foods, tobacco, drugs or alcohol or the lack of physical exercise. They will furthermore be entitled to forego the principles of safe sex, ignore toothaches, and observe solar eclipses with no optical protection.

XIb) As concerns the operation of motor vehicles, they shall be endowed with miraculous powers enabling them to drive at any speed while under the influence of any quantity of any intoxicant(s) and with no need of a seatbelt. Any passengers’ comments or criticisms concerning an invincible driver’s speed or judgment, including involuntary exclamations of pure colon-draining fear, shall entitle said driver to become furiously angry, drive even faster and more recklessly, and blame his or her pointlessly aggressive mood on said passenger.

XII. Any citizen who has willfully and consistently exercised his or her rights as specified in points I through XI above for a period of one calendar year or more shall have the inalienable right to contact former friends, estranged family members and lukewarm acquaintances, either in person or via electronic communication, and demand, “How come you never call me anymore?”

 

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* Welcome to The Big Jewel, your number one news source in this oh-so-post-news era. This week's wonderful new piece is by our star reporter Stacey Resnikoff.

Sleep-Deprived Journalists Divvy Up The News Deluge

By:
stacey@resnikoff.com

Let’s face it, Washington journalists, we’re wiped out. We’re just 104 days in and it’s impossible to keep up. We spend all day researching one story and we’ve missed three new ones. So we’ve developed a plan for covering politics in the age of Trump:

First, you, FOX News. You will be on one beat and one beat only: the debate over whether Trump is “crazy like a fox” or if there’s no fox there. Please get to the bottom of this one, FOX. It’s perhaps the most crucial conjecture of all the conjectures.

Next, you, CNN: you’ll cover only breaking news — those urgent stories that provoke the highest anxiety and most intense degree of in-the-moment speculation. In other words, no change.

You, Washington Post: you’ve been doing a great job on the Russia thing. Keep focus on that and you’ll not only win a Pulitzer, but also get your seat back in the briefing room in the Pence White House. Or will it be the Paul Ryan White House? Hatch? Sessions? Ben Carson? I don’t know: you’ll have to see how far this thing goes.

TMZ, we wanted to put you on the where-Ivanka-is-eating-lunch-in-DC beat, but it turns out you have much better presidential access than the Post, so please partner up with them on Kremlin ties. We’ll give you two a celeb-like portmanteau. How about WaZo? Too Swahili?

For the really out-there stuff like Ben Carson’s stream-of-consciousness speeches, fresh conspiracy theories about former President Obama, and confusing ISIS with IKEA in Sweden, we’ll create a new 24-hour news network: Repository of Unsubstantiated and Insane News, or RUIN. Any interest, Breitbart? RUIN will be found on channel 666 on most cable systems. No reason.

Food Network, you’ll cover all international diplomacy negotiated over dinner at Mar-a-Lago. You won’t need press credentials, just a reservation. And please investigate the Trump-Grill-has-the-best-taco-bowls claim.

Bloomberg, two words: tax returns. Two more words: sniffer canine.

PBSKids, you can bring the youngest news consumers into the conversation by animating the president’s Twitter stream based on beloved children’s books. Since your demographic watches TV in the early morning, it times out perfectly. Here are a couple ideas to help kick you off. “I do not like that bad (sick) man. I do not like him, Sam I Am.” and “The very angry president scorned immigrants, intelligence officials, federal judges, The New York Times, Saturday Night Live, CNN, network news, the word ‘fence,’ Arnold Schwarzenegger, Muslims, Mexico, the 44th President of the United States, and the cast and producers of Hamilton, and he was STILL angry.”

PBS, your NewsHour is very informative on a wide range of issues. We’re going to have to scale that back. We’re putting you on one topic only: the defunding of everything college graduates hold dear. Cover this for as long as you can, okay? And, you know, sorry.

Finally, Charlie Rose, we’d like you to explore one question: How is this happening?

Thank you, journalists, for working together to cover this breakneck news cycle. Oh, that reminds me: if any of you freelance reporters suffer an actual broken neck or any kind of fracture, attack or disease, try to get that in before Trumpcare goes into effect. We’ve heard some things.

Okay, Fourth Estate: let’s do this!

 

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* 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.

 

 

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* 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.

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* 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!

 

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* 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.'”

 

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* Welcome to The Big Jewel, where our good Canadian friend David Martin shares some secret insights about our Northern neighbor. When you're done perusing his newest nonsense, click on the link below or in our blogroll to buy his most recent humor collection "King Donald" on Amazon. Do it now before we really do become a divine monarchy and the king forbids it!

Dear American Reader

By:
david.martin@bell.net
https://www.amazon.com/King-Donald-look-Presidential-campaign/dp/1537150944/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1471903069&sr=8-1&keywords=king+donald+i

Dear American reader,

 

For far too many years, you have been made to feel embarrassed regarding your appalling lack of knowledge about Canada. All too often, the media — especially the Canadian media — have reveled in exposing your ignorance of your northern neighbor.

 

Well it’s time you struck back. And here’s how to do it with the following little-known facts about Canada that even most Canadians don’t know:

 

Maple syrup does not come from the sap of sugar maple trees. Rather, there is one huge factory in northern Ontario that produces the nation’s entire supply, made from recycled chewing gum, maple-flavored bacon and leftover Girl Guide cookies. All those maple sugar farms, sugar shacks and sugaring off parties are nothing but an elaborate hoax to attract American tourists.

 

Hockey is not Canada’s national sport. Nor is it lacrosse. Our national sport is, in fact, quidditch. Harry Potter author J. K. Rowling did not invent it; she was paid by the Canadian government to include it in her books to promote our game worldwide. Every Canadian town and village has a quidditch pitch. It just happens that it can also double as a hockey arena.

 

Canadians do not say “eh.” This is a myth that began when a German tourist mistakenly misinterpreted Canadians’ tendency to list examples in their speech as in “I really like winter because (a) it’s so beautiful, (b) it lasts so long and (c)…….”

 

There is no such thing as a tuque. Canadians have been having fun for ages telling Americans that we all wear knitted hats for half the year. We do, of course, but we don’t call them tuques. We were paid to make up the word by Alfred Mosher Butts, the creator of the board game Scrabble.

 

Ottawa is not the capital of Canada. We just like to watch you struggle when asked that question. As you have guessed all along, Toronto is our real capital. After all, why would we make some backwater, overgrown town the home of our national government?

 

Canada is mostly winter. We like to laugh at Americans who visit expecting snow anytime of the year. Sadly, that can be true and our mockery is just a defense mechanism to cover up the sad reality that we really do have ten months of winter and two months of tough sledding. You’ll rarely see us crying about it, however, because our tears usually turn to ice.

 

We are not a monarchy. Even Canadians get confused by this one but the reason Queen Elizabeth’s likeness is on our money is the result of a bet we lost with England some 200 years ago. As you have long suspected, we are governed by a president, usually one from the Trudeau family.

 

Not every Canadian owns a snowmobile. That’s a bit of an exaggeration; only every second Canadian owns one. After all, most snowmobiles can carry two people so having one for every citizen would be excessive and ostentatious. However, every Canadian does own a snowmobile suit.

 

Canadians are not polite. Yes, we like to promote this myth but it’s simply not true. You can be forgiven for thinking our constant use of the word “sorry” suggests we’re courteous to a fault but we’re not. “Sorry” is Canadian slang for “screw you.” That, and not hockey, is why so many of us have black eyes and missing teeth.

 

Canada does not use the metric system. That 100 you see on our highway signs really is a miles-per-hour speed limit and if any cop or Mountie tells you otherwise, just tell him “sorry.” We do use the Celsius system for temperatures, however, but only because we have a national shortage of numbers over thirty.

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* Welcome to The Big Jewel, where you may be wondering why we didn't run this piece last week -- you know, in time for St. Patrick's Day. Well, mind your own business. And drink your craft beer!

Choosing The Perfect Craft Beer — A Guide For The Perplexed

By:
jtrapani@hushmail.com

Buying beer used to involve as much choice as shopping in a Soviet supermarket, and Budweiser and Miller loved it that xy. But these days, with the explosion in craft beer, the selection is overwhelming. Choosing a beer can be stressful enough to drive you to drink! Here are suggestions to help you find the right beer.

Style
Scientists recently concluded that the number of craft beer variations exceeds the number of atoms in the universe. There are more seasonal pumpkin ales alone than there are people in China. Not to mention more dubbels and tripels than in major league baseball, more porters than Stanley and Livingstone ever had, and more stouts than you can find in the food court at the Mall of America. If you’re stumped by the variety, ask the clerk for help. Through his smirk, he’ll happily recommend his favorite IPA, which retails for the bargain price of $18.99 for a four-pack. Enjoy. Note that after two sips you’re already hungover. Don’t worry — the heart palpitations will cease within 36 hours.

Taste
Beer taste is described by International Bittering Units. Don’t confuse IBUs with IOUs, IUDs or IBS, though too many of the first can certainly lead to the others. Think of IBUs as the beer metric system. And just like the metric system, no one understands it. Here’s the truth: remember the Hall of Justice from the Superfriends? It was based on IBU Headquarters, located in The Hague. Inside, in a secret room, sit a dour red-faced German in lederhosen, an Irishman bearing an uncanny resemblance to the Notre Dame mascot, and a smug bearded hipster from Brooklyn. After tasting each beer, they hold up cards with scores scrawled in magic marker, like judges at a local figure skating competition. The average score, multiplied by a closely guarded proprietary factor, becomes that beer’s IBUs. I hope this explanation helps!

Strength
The alcohol by volume of most beers is in the five to six percent range. But lately there’s been a trend toward stronger beers, with some beasts clocking in with double digits. Look out for these super-strong beers. It’s cheaper to guzzle a bottle of Popov, and the results will be pretty much the same.

Color
This one’s a nonstarter when you’re at the store. Unless you’ve got x-ray vision. Duh.

Learn More Online
If you’re still flummoxed, pull out your phone and check out a site like BeerAdvocate.com. Every beer you might conceivably buy has been rated by dozens of proud beer snobs — people who, if you met them in real life, you’d want to punch in the face. You’ll learn in excruciating detail about their beer-drinking experiences: the ambient latitude, longitude, altitude, barometric pressure and temperature to the nearest tenth of a degree Kelvin, what type of glass they drank from, what they had for lunch beforehand and the last time they got laid. They’ll also discuss features like “mouthfeel,” “palate” and “nose.” And provide narrative descriptions like “Tastes of strong spicy hops, slight pale caramel malt, clove, grassy citrusy sour, floral pine, hint of shoe polish.” It’s like Proust let loose in a brewery!

Visit a Brewery
Speaking of breweries, if you’re interested in exploring craft beer more deeply, you may wish to visit one. Simply head to the farthest corner of the bleakest, most godforsaken industrial area of your city and there, between the lead paint plant and the parking lot for municipal garbage trucks, you’ll no doubt find a brewery. Try as many of their 17 varieties of IPA as you like while sitting on a backless wooden bench and listening to the owners — two twenty-something guys with handlebar mustaches and tattoos on their calves — engage in a heated discussion about whether it’s better to utilize the rest of their rented space for hide tanning or manufacturing crystal meth precursor chemicals. Upon inquiring, learn that each month, on the first day of the waxing gibbous moon, a food truck from which you can buy raspberry crepes parks outside the brewery from 3:00 to 3:45 pm; besides this, there’s nothing to eat within three miles. Enjoy your experience at the brewery. Then go home and remain in bed for the next week until your massive headache dissipates.

Label Artwork
If you’re getting desperate, pick a beer based on label artwork. Looking at craft beer labels is reminiscent of browsing the heavy metal section of Tower Records circa 1982. Some breweries clearly spend more on art than on quality control. An experienced craft beer drinker can tell a bottle of Rogue from a bottle of Ballast Point at a distance of 50 yards. Each brewery has a distinctive style. 21st Amendment brewery, for example, is known for line drawings depicting scenes from American history. Uinta brewery, in Salt Lake City, uses western landscapes. Flying Dog’s bottles appear to have been drawn by Berkeley Breathed on peyote. Don’t worry about what’s inside — just pick whichever one you think would enhance the feng shui of your fridge.

Making Your Final Selection
If none of this helps, here’s a last-ditch solution. Head to the back of the store. Keep going. Farther! There, in the last refrigerator case. At the bottom. No, not the spring-themed cherry gose that’s somehow still sitting around a week before Thanksgiving. Behind it. There you go: a clear winner. Ignore the clerk’s raised eyebrows as you pay.

Enjoy your Bud Light.

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* Welcome to The Big Jewel, where -- when we aren't making funny prose available to this and every other universe -- we can usually be found helping our local superheroes fight crime. You know, just like Lee Blevins.

Schedule Of Events For National Superhero Police Confidant Convention

By:

Day 1 / Monday

 

7:30 am – 8:00 am

Registration

* Includes compulsory shapeshifter screening.

 

8:00 am – 8:30 am

N.S.P.C. President Renee Montoya: Opening Remarks

* There will be no QUESTIONs at this time. She insisted on the capitalization.

 

8:30 am – 9:00 am

In Memoriam

 

9:00 am – 9:30 am

Barry Allen: Forensics in Shifting Timelines

 

9:30 am – 10:00 am

How to Spot an Off-Duty Superhero

 

10:00 am – 10:30 am

April O’Neil: Their Girl Friday, or Journalism Ethics in the Age of Ooze

* The “their” in the above presentation title refers to four anthropomorphic turtles who live in the sewers beneath New York City and fight mostly ninjas.

 

10:30 am – 11:00 am

Mass Prison Escapes and You

 

11:00 am – 12:00 pm

Eustace Dolan: My Daughter Fell in Love with a Masked Man

 

12:00 pm – 1:00 pm

Lunch

* All food and drink has been tested for Joker venom.

 

1:00 pm – 1:30 pm

Nelson & Murdock: Civil Rights and Vigilante Justice

 

1:30 pm – 2:00 pm

Tactics to Restrain a Mind-Controlled Citizenry

 

2:00 pm – 2:30 pm

Supervillain Safety Drill

* Courtesy of the reformed supervillain team known as the Thunderbolts. ** Anyone who has had a loved one murdered by a Thunderbolt in the past is asked to leave the room for the duration of the drill.

 

2:30 pm – 3:00 pm

Afternoon In Memoriam

* Afternoon In Memoriam only to be held in event of non-drill supervillain incident resulting in significant casualties.

 

3:00 pm – 3:30 pm

Dr. Jeremiah Arkham: Mental Health – A Troubling Subtext

 

3:30 pm – 4:00 pm

Frank Castle: I Ain’t Sorry

* Note: Frank Castle a.k.a. The Punisher is currently incarcerated and will be speaking to us via videoconference. There is always a chance his presentation will be cut short by a prison riot or maybe a shanking.

 

4:00 pm – 5:00 pm

The Spectre: I Used to Be a Cop (Now I Cop for God)

* Warning: The Spectre is a nigh-omnipotent entity with a strict moral code. Attendee discretion is advised. Last year he turned someone into a toad for a minor traffic violation.

Day 2 / Tuesday
8:00 am – 9:00 am

Col. Nick Fury: Interagency Relations in Intergalactic Crises

 

9:00 AM – 9:30 AM

Vampires, Werewolves, Witches: Not Your Jurisdiction?

 

9:30 am – 10:00 am

Police Sketch Artist Showcase

* Copyright notice: all sketch art is done as work for hire. No sketch artist has any future right to any sketch or any subsequent adaptations of said sketch. Especially Jacob Kurtzberg.

 

10:00 am – 10:30 am

George Stacy & Jean DeWolff: They Died for Spider-Man’s Sins

* A special presentation paid for by J. Jonah Jameson.

 

10:30 am – 11:00 am

If a Mad God Takes Over Your Precinct

 

11:00 am – 12:00 pm

James Gordon: Why I Need Batman (And Why Batman Needs Me)

 

12:00 pm – 1:00 pm

Lunch

* All food and drink has been tested TWICE for Joker venom.

 

1:00 pm – 1:30 pm

Hank McCoy: Mutant Lives Matters

*Note: Hank McCoy a.k.a. Beast looks like a big blue cat. Do Not Shoot! Repeat: Do Not Shoot! (Unless he goes feral, of course.)

 

1:30 pm – 2:00 pm

Harvey Bullock: Good Cop, Bad Cop, Mediocre Cop

 

2:00 pm – 2:30 pm

Supervillain Safety Drill

* Courtesy of the explosives-attached-to-neck controlled supervillain team Suicide Squad. ** Anyone who has had a loved one murdered by a Suicide Squader in the past is asked to leave the room for the duration of the drill.

 

2:30 pm – 3:00 pm

Closing Day In Memoriam

* Closing Day In Memoriam only to be held in event of non-drill supervillain incident resulting in significant casualties. Historically, this is the more eventful of the two afternoon In Memoriams.

 

3:00 pm – 3:30 pm

Guardians of the Galaxy Q&A

* Please don’t attempt to arrest the Guardians of the Galaxy for any of their many crimes unless you have jurisdiction in the sectors in which said crimes were committed.

 

3:30 pm – 4:00 pm

Tony Stark: Iron Boar Presentation

 

4:00 pm – 5:00 pm

Judge Dredd: How We Do Things Where I Come From

* The views of Judge Dredd as regards police states and summary justice are not necessarily endorsed by N.S.P.C. ** Special thanks to Reed Richards for creating the interdimensional portal that brought Judge Dredd to our conference. *** Mr. Richards would like us to note that the incident last year when he brought Groo the Wanderer by mistake wasn’t his fault but the fault of a fight that Ben Grimm and Johnny Storm had about the last piece of angel food cake.

 

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* Welcome to The Big Jewel, where we are always looking for a better bargain in air fare, no matter what the consequences for life and limb. Heed the terrifying airborne ravings of our good friend Luke Roloff.

Scary Cheap Flights

By:
lukeroloff@hotmail.com

Welcome aboard, and thanks for risking your life on the cheapest airline you could find! Rest assured, here at Scary Cheap Flights, safety is our top priority after anything related to making money.

We’d like to extend an extra special welcome to our regular survivors. We appreciate your business while it lasts!

We’ll now play a brief in-flight safety video prior to takeoff — because if you think about it, nothing can go wrong while we’re just sitting here. And we want you to feel safe even though you aren’t.

(Cue video)

Hello! The following presentation has not been vetted by our safety department because we don’t have one, but marketing says, “It’s got a lotta legs.”

First, please ensure all aisles and exits are clear for the inevitable race against time.

Put away all electronics — you don’t need those where we’re goin’.

Be sure that all carry-on items are wedged tight enough in the overhead bin to shatter. And you can misplace your small items in the black vortex by your feet.

You’ll see that the seat pocket in front of you doesn’t exist. Surely you’ve noticed by now that we don’t have a lot of things — like razor-thin blankets or clumpy baby pillows or a dependable airplane.

If you’re sitting in an emergency exit row, there’s a slim chance you might make it out of this alive. If you are not able or willing to assist in the event of an emergency, join the club.

As we push back from the gate, make sure your seat belt is properly fastened, or not. No difference.

If at any time this ole bag-a-bolts starts-a-shakin’, do not be alarmed, but be ready to work when we divvy up the duct tape and rope. And if the windows bust out, do not try to grab a goose — it’s nearly impossible.

(Video pauses)

We’ll now be coming around to peddle $12 trail mix and credit card offers. Also at this time, we’re looking for volunteers to push us onto the tarmac. Thank you.

(Video resumes)

Please remain seated any time the “fasten seat belts” sign is on, and at all other times also, because things gets real when there’s nothing separating you from a 30,000 foot free fall except metal and fear. And please note, if we descend into one of our trademark pelican dives, additional fees may apply.

(Video pauses)

One other thing, if anyone has any experience flying an airplane, please come up front ASAP.

(Video resumes)

In the likely event that cabin pressure changes, AKA part of the plane is ripped off, oxygen masks will go like hotcakes. Probably should take a moment to see who you can muscle one away from. If your Darwinism kicks in, and somehow you don’t get sucked out of the plane like a rag doll, we have not thought that far ahead.

Water evacuations — despite sounding terrifying, they’re far worse. For those of you who’ve crashed with us before, you know what we mean — ha! You’ll find a life vest underneath your seat if you brought one from home. Rip ‘er open, strap in, and pray we don’t hit shark-infested waters again. And please, no flare gun fights before setting up teams.

(Video pauses)

Okay folks, just a quick update that we don’t have a clue. Our company is literally run by feral monkeys.

(Video resumes)

More importantly, smoking is not allowed if you can’t get away with it. Federal law prohibits any tampering, disabling or destroying of a restroom smoke detector — so you got to get creative. If you happen to be working with explosives, try not to let the cigarette smoke get in your eyes and mess up what you’re doing.

When we begin crashing, feel free to help yourself to a complimentary beverage — one per customer, please. This is our way of saying “goodbye.” And if you care to watch a movie during this frightening time, try filming the crash with your phone or just watch your life flash before your eyes.

Before we see if this big bird can fly, please put your seats in the upright position, put your tray table up, slap on your chute, pop some pills and get right with God.

On behalf of everyone at Scary Cheap Flights — hope to see you again in the next life!

(Video concludes)

This is your captain speaking. Please sit back and relax — I’m as scared as you are.

 

 

 

 

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