* Welcome to The Big Jewel, where we like to think we know how to make a movie from almost anything. So does our good friend Matthew David Brozik. When you're done reading his fine new piece, click on the ad for his book "Whimsy & Soda" on the right-hand side of this page, and your sins will be forgiven.

Paying Two Million Dollars To Option “Blank Book” Might Have Been A Mistake

By:
brozik@gmail.com
@spidermensch

Gentlemen, we aren’t going to deny that we might have committed a serious blunder. Paying a substantial sum to lock up the opportunity to turn “Blank Book” into a feature film might not have been in the best interest of the studio. If indeed this presents a problem without a viable solution, then we will, with regret, tender our immediate resignations. Before you make that determination, however, we would be grateful for a chance to explain our thinking and to offer some suggestions for salvaging the studio’s investment.

As you are no doubt keenly aware, in recent years first-run motion pictures have been capturing an ever-decreasing share of the entertainment market. The age of social media and video streaming is blighted by a steady decline in the number of moviegoers. Moreover, three of every four movies shown in theaters is a sequel, prequel, or remake. Charged with identifying and securing the rights to something utterly original, but which would also appeal to so-called “Digitals,” we sent our 24-year-old intern to the nearest bookstore to scan the shelves for a property that could be turned into the next bona fide blockbuster. She asked if she could stay at her desk and visit amazon.com instead, and we agreed that this would be a more efficient approach. So far, so good. Indeed, Kaylee offered to stay awake and online for as long as it would take her to pick a winner.

Unfortunately — and we want to be clear that we’re not blaming Kaylee, whose internship with the studio has already ended — when she brought us a printout of the screenshot of the listing for the item, being pressed for time, as we all always are, we focused primarily on the size of the book — 256 pages in hardcover, which gave us the impression that there would be more than enough material for a 90-minute film — rather than the description, which would have informed us that there is no text on any of the pages. (As a side note, this episode has taught us that there are numerous amateur creatives who prefer to generate material “from scratch,” as it were.) More unfortunately still, we had reached out to the publisher with a generous option offer before we realized that “Blank Book” was a blank book. Our offer was accepted within the hour, without the need for any negotiation. In retrospect, this also should have been a sign that something was amiss. Alas, by that time we had entered the studio into a legally binding agreement.

While simply letting the option expire in six months and putting the whole thing behind us as a learning experience is a legitimate course of action, it feels a bit irresponsible, financially. Better, perhaps, would be to move the project forward, turning the property over to one of the screenwriters under contract and seeing what they can do with it. We’ve made some preliminary inquiries, and we’re pleased to be able to report that Jeremy Renner is “intrigued” by the possibility of playing supersecret superagent “Frank ‘Blank’ Booke” in a three-movie franchise, if the character is sufficiently likeable. Alternatively, we could explore producing a very high-concept film through our specialty “art house” division. Perhaps each page of an actual copy of the book could be filmed and…well, let’s leave that to the director.

But that’s where things stand, for better or worse. Knowing what we know now, if we had it to do over, we likely would have made some decisions differently. We probably would not have spent two million of the studio’s dollars to acquire the rights to a large, but admittedly empty, work in print. What happens next is up to you… and whatever you decide, we will abide by your decision. In the meantime, we will be in our office, sitting very still and certainly not buying anything else. Not even lunch. Skipping lunch today is the very least we can do to start making this disappointing situation right.

 

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* Welcome to The Big Jewel, where we are such romantics that we think the most beautiful love ballad of all time is "Bitch Better Have My Money" by Rihanna. And Anita Gill couldn't agree more. Enjoy her first piece for us.

I’m the Bitch Who Owes Rihanna Money

By:
annie.m.gill@gmail.com

Hey girl! How are you?

Okay, I’m not gonna mince words here. When I heard your song “Bitch Better Have My Money,” I loved it. So catchy! Then I listened to the song another eighty times and I noticed your penchant for repetition on poignant lines, specifically that someone, a bitch perhaps, owes you money. That’s when it struck me. I knew exactly to whom you were referring. I messed up. I owe you. It totally slipped my mind. Honestly! I’m not acting like I forgot and I am certainly not frontin’!

My friends say you wrote it in response to some accounting snafu from a few years back. I don’t believe a word of that. I know you, RiRi. Yeah, I know there’s the line, “Your wife in the backseat of my brand new foreign car,” but I think that’s an allusion to me, right? You let me borrow your Volvo S90 that one night so I could convince my parents I was financially stable. I’ll be honest that the “wife in the car” line tripped me up. But then I remembered our late night run to In-N-Out Burger where I admitted that I would marry my sandwich if the California courts permitted it. You thought I was crazy to buckle up our order in the backseat, but then I proved to you that it wouldn’t spill on your nice car, didn’t I? It’s like I always say: with food, safety first!

Your song alludes to the fact I still owe you money from that night at T.G.I. Friday’s, right? That’s when we last hung out. There’s a line in your song, “Louis XIII and it’s all on me.” We were drinking and we played which monarch from the House of Bourbon would you bang, right? Oh, the laughs we had! I was low on cash and you said you’d spot my cocktail? I think I ordered a Diddy on the Beach? And then we split those potato skins? Man, that was a great night.

On top of it all, you surprised me with that gift of a sheer tank top that makes my nipples super visible. That was so thoughtful! I guess you overlooked my soul-crushing anxiety about being naked, and how I always had to dart to the two bathroom stalls in the high school girls’ locker room to change for gym. Or maybe you’re trying to get me to face my fears about my body. The tank is lovely, nonetheless. I haven’t worn it to work like you suggested, but I did wear it to my girlfriend’s baby shower and they were speechless. Thanks, girl!

I’m so sorry we haven’t hung out since that drink date. I knew you were getting ready for the Met Gala and requested your next dress to be forged with Valyrian steel and unicorn tears (so cool that those things exist for famous people!). I’ve been busy, too. Most of my energy is going into my new business venture: selling wool scarves from a Scottish sheep farm on Etsy. It’s been my dream ever since I went to grad school and realized how financially fucked I was by earning more degrees in the Humanities instead of just becoming an Accountant. That’s when I wondered: what does everyone need? Scarves! But don’t think I’m here looking for handouts. Really, I’m fine. Please don’t think this is one of those friendships with a non-famous friend who mooches. I have every desire to pay you back in full.

As I remember, I owe you $23.72 correct? I’m writing the check right now!

Then let’s put this behind us. Remember when we first became friends? Back at the Good Girl Gone Bad Tour when I accidentally walked into your trailer looking for a bathroom? You complimented me on the Bedazzled fanny pack I was wearing to keep my money and Chapstick and I explained how my jeweled accessory was a double threat — both fashionable and practical. You told me I was the weirdest, most down-to-earth bitch you ever met, remember? Then you said you needed more real bitches in your life and you invited me to come back again with my Bedazzler. That’s when I knew we would be lasting friends. I hope I am still that real bitch you can trust, Rihanna. Because I value our friendship.

Also, would you like to buy a scarf? They’re authentic Scottish sheep wool. They’d make great stocking stuffers for the holidays. Just a thought.

Hugs,

Anita

 

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* Welcome to The Big Jewel, where we define full employment as doing this web site for free. When you're done reading this latest outrage from Michael Fowler, check our blogroll on the right for a link to his book, God Made the Animals.

Employment Can Strike Anyone

By:
mfowl4916@gmail.com

You think you’re safe now, living in your grandma’s basement and only having to mow her lawn and water her azaleas for rent. You’ve been able to devote your life to video games, sleep in past 2 p.m., and since the old bird is deaf and almost senseless, nothing stands in the way of your friends coming over to blast music and smoke substances throughout the day and night. But the warning signs are all around you — you’ve seen them on your trips outdoors: “Help Wanted,” “Apply Now,” “Asst Mgr Needed,” and perhaps the most ominous of all: “Start Today.” They give you a feeling in the pit of your stomach comparable to eating an extra-large bean burrito with sour cream. Yes, these not-so-subtle listings, these unwelcome solicitations, these signboard postings in garish block letters, are taunting you. Perhaps someone you know and thought reliable has succumbed to an “entry-level position” or attended an “interview” or “job fair,” and you think: could I be next?

The short answer is yes. The next victim of employment could well be you. Still you wonder, despite the signs, how can this be? With the economy flat or expanding with infinite slowness, with record numbers laid off or disabled and receiving aid to recover from work, with throngs in your age bracket still living at home, and many of those lacking marketable skills to start with, how do so many continue to fall prey to employment? What motivates them? How can they simply turn their backs on a life of leisure? And how vanishingly small are the odds that, once gainfully employed, they can find their way back to a rewarding, nonproductive life of earning nothing at all?

The first thing to know is that employment afflicts all ethnicities and all genders. It can strike the healthy and unhealthy, the old and the young. It usually doesn’t affect those in nursing homes or preschool, but even here there are exceptions. The rich and poor both work, the well-educated and the illiterate find jobs, the sane and the insane punch a time clock, those with two blue eyes and those with one blue eye and one green eye cash a paycheck. People work with their hands, their brains, and virtually any other body part. In brief, anyone may find himself or herself at the mercy of a blood-sucking vampire of an employer, just as Marx wrote.

To avoid the scourge of work, and a life spent in endless toil for starvation wages or an annual salary of up to six figures plus benefits and bonuses, it is above all important to know the right sort of people. Let’s say an invitation to your fifth high school reunion comes in the mail at Grandma’s house. That puts you, if you do the math, in your early 20s. You’ll have a chance to meet again those guys you almost flunked out with in eleventh grade, and finally did drop out of college with, many of whom, if they’re lucky, haven’t worked a day in their lives and still live in their childhood rooms, though sometimes they redecorate. Those are the lucky ones, the ones who have made it to full adulthood while avoiding both the shameful stigma and the physical and emotional trauma of work. You wouldn’t mind meeting them again, to gain their moral support, and to achieve insight in how to live off the largesse of caring family members, using guilt and pathetic pleas to secure major “loans.” In fact, you probably see them every day already, and it’s as if time has stood still for all of you. You’re all still chasing that perfect high, that peak of relaxation, and every man jack of them is due to arrive at Grandma’s house tonight at seven for video games and beer and more.

Not so lucky are your other high school pals, those who got fooled by the curveball the economy hurled their way. They succumbed to part- or even full-time employment, and will tell you all about it at the reunion dinner while you try to scarf the roast beef au jus and green salad without listening. At first they’ll appear normal to you, but after talking to them for a few minutes, you’ll pick up hints that their time is not always their own, that they have fallen into degrading and ruinous careers because, unlike fortunate freeloaders like you, they must now buy things and pay bills, and as a result are destitute. If they’re really far gone, they might even be married and have dependents who use food and clothing on a daily basis. You’ll shake your head in pity to hear it, as well you should.

But be wary. At first their comments will sound seductive. Bill, whom you’ve known since the fifth grade, will talk of reading the stock reports at night, and celebrating his capital gains with a fine cigar in his den while his wife polishes the Waterford crystal in the kitchen. Jeff, in your graduating class and like you a former member of marching band and chess club, now accumulates static electricity in an office and, when you mention that you’re between work projects, suggests that you come in and apply at his firm, where he can put in a word for you. Then before you know it you’ve taken a shower and shaved, purchased work boots, and signed on to drive a forklift for $15.00 an hour. A good steady job with benefits, and you rolled right into it like a sinkhole.

Sure, maybe you start part-time and think you can stop there. Maybe a Good Samaritan will intervene and give you a heads-up on the treacherous path before you. But before you know it you’re hooked on a 35-hour workweek like it was heroin and lolling in the gutter with a new title and a raise. After that you donate your video games to the Neediest Kids of All and even say goodbye to Granny. Worst of all, there’s no turning back, particularly if you land a gold-digging girlfriend, and is there any other kind?

Let this be a warning to you.

 

 

 

 

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* Welcome to The Big Jewel, where we specialize in bringing people together, especially people who are not that together and have no interest in getting together. Enjoy the comedy stylings of Jennifer Scharf and Joanna McClanahan.

Pick-Up Lines For Introverts

By:
scharfjennifer@yahoo.com

So, do you not go anywhere often?

I require very little dopamine. How about you?

I’m not a bitch; I just have resting introvert face.

Want to get out of here? Separately? To our own homes?

I’m an INFP looking for an INTP. Do you think we might be a match?

You had me at “What’s the Wi-Fi password?”

I can give you my number but please don’t call.

I’m just going to stand here and watch you from a comfortable distance.

You’re like the sun: hot but impossible to make direct eye-contact with.

I think I need some vitamin D. No really, because seasonal depression.

I’m not drunk; I’m just an introvert.

This conversation is exhausting me — can we just have sex now?

Damn boy, are you terms and conditions? Because I’ll agree to anything to get out of this.

I love a good one-on-one controlled and thorough discussion about life. As long as it’s online.

I’m only pretending to text because I don’t know how to have a conversation with you.

It looks like a beautiful day, but what do I know? I never go outside.

If I seem quiet, it’s because you’re loud as fuck.

I don’t think we’ve met before. Actually I know we haven’t, because I don’t talk to anyone.

I’d make plans just to break them for you.

Can you pass me my headphones? I’m ready to tune you out.

You look so familiar — didn’t I avoid you at the grocery store yesterday?

Can we take a picture together to prove to my friends that I have a social life?

Girl, are you my feet? Because I can’t look away from you!

I’m terrible at small talk, but I make a killer playlist.

Damn girl, you’re hotter than my laptop burning up on a Netflix binge.

I’ll become an extrovert if you get me drunk enough.

I’m “indoorsy.” How about you?

I’d love to hang out the next time you feel like leaving your home!

You can friend me on Facebook. That’s where I’m a fake extrovert.

Did I mention that I hate going outside and talking to people?

Let’s share our quietness together. Forever.

 

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* Welcome to The Big Jewel, where we will tip you an extra 10% if you read the latest madness from our good friend Bruce Harris.

Tip Pit

By:
marxman@comcast.net

The convention of tipping people in service jobs needs reexamination. Why do I give gratuities and not receive them? Tipping etiquette resides in Bizarro World. I’m the customer. Why on earth am I tipping the barber who cuts my hair? His livelihood depends upon my repeat business. He should be tipping me. I don’t purport that the barber or hairdresser should pay me for a haircut. That would be ridiculous. But they should give back a certain percentage of the amount charged as a way of showing their appreciation. How much? Tipping rules are easily established and I’m more than comfortable if tip percentages fall within the standard 15% to 20% range. Of course, there are exceptions to this unwritten rule. Gratuity amounts could be more or less. A number of “tip friendly” professions deserve attention:

Barbers — The amount of the tip I receive should be dependent on a number of factors. For example, did I walk into the shop in the middle of the summer, all sweaty and smelly? Do I have dandruff? Wax in my ears? Greasy hair? Do I constantly turn my head when the barber is trying to cut? Speak only when spoken to? Is my collar too high and/or too tight, making it difficult to get at the hairs on the back of my neck? You know, the ones not standing up. That could negatively impact one’s tip. When the haircut is finished and the barber holds a hand-mirror behind my head so that I can judge his handiwork, what is my reaction? Am I happy? Or, do I say things like, “Take more off the top, front, sides, back, etc.” Or, “It’s cut too short.” In the latter case, there is nothing for the barber to do or say except, “It will grow back” and not tip me! Heck, if I was happy with the haircut and received a 15% or 20% tip for being a good customer, I’d go back. It’s a win-win. Or shoot for the works: I’ll demand a full body haircut. Full frontal and back. Every inch of my body cut and shaved. I want to leave the shop hairless. Now, if that doesn’t scream “trust” to the haircutter, what does? I think I’m looking at a tip north of 50%. A word to the wise — care should be taken prior to accepting a shave with a straight razor.

Waiters/Waitresses — How can I earn a 20% (or more) tip for eating? Read the menu after it’s handed to me and be ready to order when the waitperson comes back. Order off the menu with no alterations or qualifications. A quick way to get on the waitperson’s wrong side is to order a number five sandwich (tuna fish), but demand “No lettuce and no tomato. Instead, substitute coleslaw for the lettuce and onion for the tomato.” Never ask for separate checks. One check should always result in greater tips. Be careful, don’t spill anything, and don’t ask for extra napkins or hot sauce, etc. The wait staff are on their feet for hours. The last thing they want to do is to take extra steps. Another thing that upsets servers is when they have to serve everything at once. “Bring the soup and the salad with my hamburger.” That’s bad for the cooks (who don’t get tipped) and the waiter or waitress. Keep it simple. Drink order first and then the food in the order that God (if you believe in God) meant them to be served. Follow these simple rules and the tips earned will compound over time.

Valet — Any valet would not only love to park a 1931 Bugatti Royale Kellner Coupe, but he’d also be in a rush to pull a huge tip out of his pocket for the privilege. Of course, one’s tip could be drastically reduced (and in extreme cases be nonexistent) if the car smells like feet or last week’s grilled cheese sandwich. Are there empty plastic water bottles and/or beer cans rolling around on the floor mats? Does the car have floor mats? Is the air conditioner working in summer? If not, the tip could be impacted. It’s winter. Is the car’s heater functional? No? The valet may say “No” to the tip. Is the front seat pushed up against the steering wheel? A “Yes” answer will not endear you to the valet, especially if he played center for a Division 1 college basketball team.

Mail Carrier — This is a unique case, because unlike the preceding examples, the mail carrier is tipped once a year during holiday season. Why? I’m a taxpayer. I assume you are as well, unless of course your name is…never mind. Why should I tip the mail carrier, a government employee? No other government worker is allowed to accept tips. Besides, he brings me 14,000 bills and nine checks a year. Should I thank this person with a tip for delivering hundreds of advertising catalogs that go directly into the garbage? I mean no disrespect, but how does a mail carrier do a bad vs. good job? The mail is placed into the mailbox. The process is repeated six times a week. Hey mail person, how about throwing me a tip at the end of the year? Fifteen percent of the total bills delivered would be a good start. Why not? I have a posted mailbox on the side of the road. You don’t even have to get off your %#@ to deliver my mail. There are no dogs to fend off. I don’t own a pet, despite the fact that you deliver countless pet supply catalogs to me. What’s fair is fair. I can see you balking at tipping me if my house was set back hundreds of yards off the road and you had to traverse 20 or more snow-covered steps to access the mailbox. Think about it. Without me, you have no job, so pay up. Where’s your holiday cheer? Didn’t you receive the Season’s Greetings card I sent?

Exotic Dancers — I’m not qualified to comment.

 

 

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* Welcome to The Big Jewel, where we'd like you to think of us as the world's most lovably eccentric country inn. Let Cindy Knoebel paint the scene for you in her first piece for us.

Welcome To Our Inn!

By:
Cindy@thegybe.net

Welcome to Whispers Inn, the country inn of your dreams! We, your innkeepers, look forward to providing you with memories you will cherish for years to come. Celebrating an anniversary? Birthday? Boys-dressed-up-as-girls weekend? Rest assured, we have taken every care to provide you with the most relaxing and enjoyable experience of your lifetime.

Let us tempt you with our four individually designed and decorated rooms…

Farmer’s Delight. Ever wanted to bed down with domestic farm animals? Well, now you can! Our comfy hayloft is spacious enough to accommodate you and the barnyard companion(s) of your choice. Please use the checklist on our website to specify your choice, gender and number of livestock. (Not available to those under 18 years of age; special cleaning fees apply.)

The Womb. This snug, padded nest on the sub-basement level of our Inn is designed to bring back vivid memories of you at your pre-birth best. Immerse yourself in a tub of our house-made amniotic fluid, where you can meditate on all that’s gone wrong with your life left since leaving the birth chamber. For a special fee, our staff will help recreate your birth experience, dragging you headfirst through the “birth canal” (a.k.a. basement trapdoor) to typical maternal exhortations such as “You f&**%ing bastard! I’ll never let you touch me again!” and “I knew I should’ve had my tubes tied after the last one!” Your natal experience will be capped by a rousing spanking. Please advise us of your preference for a male or female “nurse.” (Not advised for those with a history of psychosis or psychotic episodes.)

Forest Room. Although it’s not technically a “room” in or near a “forest,” you’ll enjoy sleeping out under the stars in a special patch of ground we’ve cleared under the forsythia bush. Enjoy rustic bedding featuring a mix of imported pine needles, ethanol-grade corn stalks and organic mulch from our compost pile. During your stay you could be lucky enough to meet members of our woodland community, including Andy the anaconda, Phil the porcupine and the Gnat Family. (Bear spray provided. Not responsible for wildlife-induced injuries. Proof of health insurance required.)

Frat Party. What baby boomer doesn’t have fond memories of swilling beer straight from the keg, making out with a cute freshman and waking up in a pool of their own — or someone else’s — vomit? No detail has been spared in our recreation of an authentic college frat house bedroom, from the single bed with rancid sheets and Def Leppard posters on the wall to the stinking bong on the nightstand. This room comes complete with a keg of Bud, a bottle of tequila and half a case of Mateus rose wine. Party on! (Guests are required to supply their own freshman — no minors, please!)

In addition to our signature “Country Roadkill” breakfasts, guests can choose from several special packages, including:

Swedish Plan: All you can eat fermented herring for breakfast, lunch and dinner. And for dessert? Swedish fish, of course! Swedish massage included in our optional “fly to Sweden and get a massage” package.

Sub-Saharan Plan: You will be rationed five grains of rice per day. That’s it. No more. If you want water for either drinking or bathing, you’ll have to fetch it yourself from a well six miles from the Inn. Earthenware jugs provided for a small fee.

Greek Plan: You will be taxed double the EEC rate, forced to turn over a percentage of your pension to us and required to participate in strikes protesting our management of the Inn. This package includes unlimited ouzo.

We, your innkeepers, promise you complete privacy and anonymity during your stay at Whispers Inn. We take our motto seriously: “What happens In the Inn stays In the Inn.” To ensure a hassle-free visit, please notify us if: 1) you’re on the run from the mob; 2) you’re on the run from your wife; 3) you’re on the run from that weird guy at the dry cleaners who keeps trying to “friend” you on Facebook.

Oh, and one last thing: The staff of Whispers Inn has been trained to treat you like family, so please do not be offended if you find them going through your personal belongs, arguing with you at meals, commenting on your weight or disparaging your choice of partner. We want you to feel at home!

 

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* Welcome to The Big Jewel, where our devotion to the cause of orphans is beyond question. Unless you read this piece by Karl Lykken.

I Can’t Help Because I Care Too Much

By:
knlykken@gmail.com

No, I’m sorry, but I can’t help rebuild the Little Lambs Orphanage or go play with the orphans while they are living in the high school gymnasium. While I obviously support your efforts, being surrounded by constant reminders of the orphans’ plight would cause me more pain than any person can possibly be expected to bear. And really, it’s you who should be sorry for having even suggested that I should be subjected to such extreme emotional torture.

I don’t know why I should have to explain myself to you. If you follow my blog and social media postings, then it should be self-evident that I am not one of those heartless bigots who are too wrapped up in their own privileged lives to worry about the less fortunate. However, the fact that you would have the audacity to ask me to sacrifice even more than I already have proves that you don’t appreciate the suffering that my selfless labor causes me. Now you have forced me to take away time I had hoped to devote to spreading even more awareness of the orphans’ plight and instead spend that time educating you about what it means to truly care about others.

If you were capable of the type of empathy that I must bear every second of every day, you would know that for me, being around others who are in pain is just like being those unfortunate people, except even worse because I not only feel their pain, but also the pain of all the other people who are hurting in the world.

I wish I could take all of their pain away, but since there are just so many disadvantaged people faced with all sorts of dire plights — you should be aware of all of them if you follow my blog and social media accounts — I can’t save them all. And if I tried to just save a few, that would be terribly unfair to the others that I chose not to save, and I would then have to suffer through the additional pain of that injustice.

So I cannot in good conscience go to help these orphans and turn a blind eye to the rest of the world. Besides, I have already selflessly raised awareness of their plight among so many people via my blog and social media postings, despite the great emotional strain it put on me. So, really, I have already done more good for these children than you or your volunteers could possibly do. Honestly, it’s very unfair that you would even ask me to try to do more.

By the way, you may have seen my post from today about how I was unjustly asked to stomp on the pieces of my already broken heart. To be clear, this post was not aimed at you, even though it does describe exactly what you have done. But I am not so mean-spirited as to point out another human being’s shortcomings like that, so I just put that up as a general post, which happens to apply to you specifically.

Anyway, I hope you put in the time to reflect on just how cruel you have been to me, though you clearly aren’t in the habit of considering other people’s feelings since you asked me to do this in the first place. Also, make sure to tell the orphans to follow my blog, as it will help them to put their problems into perspective.

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* Welcome to The Big Jewel, where we agree with our Canadian friend David Martin that America has made some unsound purchases in the past. Well, he has some ideas on how to correct those mistakes. When you're done reading his latest piece, click on the link below or in our blogroll to buy his most recent humor collection "King Donald" on Amazon. That is a purchase you need never regret, America! Special holiday note: we are taking a short break, and the next new material on this site will appear on Wednesday, January 4.

Seward’s Folly Undone

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

Americans are often reluctant to part with their possessions even when it becomes necessary to jettison some assets in order to balance the books. But once it becomes evident that they simply can’t afford to keep everything they own, they’re usually willing to engage in a debt-clearing fire sale.

On a much larger scale, I think that’s what’s happening to the United States. The country has acquired a lot of assets over the years and now that the economy is on the decline, it can no longer afford to keep all fifty bedrooms. There is obviously a sentimental attachment to many of these properties but the ever-increasing national debt dictates that some hard decisions have to be made.

The first and easiest decision is to reverse the Alaska Purchase of 1867. Even at the time, many observers ridiculed the $7.2 million acquisition as “Seward’s Folly” in honor of then-Secretary of State William H. Seward, who was responsible for the deal. Critics argued that nothing was gained from this vast wasteland, and the last century and a half has done little to change that view.

Despite their libertarian self-image, Alaskans cost the nation a great deal of money. The federal expenditures to keep Alaska afloat far outweigh the sealskin and mukluk revenues earned from that remote territory. In short, America would be better off without that non-contiguous icebox of a state.

With any luck, you could sell Alaska back to the Russians. 1867’s $7.2 million purchase price works out to roughly $20 billion in today’s dollars. Hopefully, the Russians would cough up something close to that figure which could then be applied against the national debt.

If Russia won’t bite, maybe Canada would take the bait. Since Alaska is right on their western border, it should be an attractive acquisition for them. They might even pay full price if you sweeten the pot and exclude Sarah Palin from the deal.

Once you start the divestiture ball rolling, it becomes easier and easier to unload unprofitable properties. It’s kind of like when you finally start cleaning out the basement and decide to get rid of everything from the second beer fridge to Uncle Ernie’s ratty old moose head trophy.

Take Hawaii, for example. It’s a pretty spot, no doubt, but it’s so far away that few Americans even consider it a real state. Since it only cost $4 million to acquire back in 1898, it should turn a tidy profit on today’s global real estate market. Let’s say you could sell it for $50 billion. That could buy a whole lot of pineapples and surfboards.

Speaking of a waste of space, how about getting rid of that ugly peninsular appendage on the southeast coast, namely Florida? It cost less than $7 million back in 1821 when it was purchased from Spain. Given its current status as a readymade retirement community, it’s quite likely that some giant corporation would be willing to take it off your hands. I can see “God’s Waiting Room” going for $100 billion or more.

Remember the Louisiana Purchase of 1803? Me neither, but apparently the U.S. paid France over $23 million for a huge swath of what is now the Midwest. Superficially, it sounds like a great deal until you consider that it basically covers the modern states of North and South Dakota, Montana, Wyoming, Kansas, Arkansas, Missouri, Oklahoma, Iowa and Nebraska. Honestly, now, unless you’re a right-wing Republican presidential candidate, are you really going to miss any of those states if the whole territory goes in a giant prairie clearance sale?

Perhaps the best real estate do-over to consider is the island of Manhattan. There’s no telling how many hundreds of billions of dollars the denizens of Wall Street have cost the nation. But one thing is for sure: if you could re-sell the island for the $24 worth of trinkets and beads that the Dutch paid for it back in 1626, you’d be making a better deal than even Donald Trump.

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* Welcome to The Big Jewel, where we live in hope of contacting an alien consciousness, and possibly of attending an alien university. As far as we know, author Christopher Haygood is not an alien intelligence. He prefers the term "undocumented extraterrestrial."

To The Straunzinililielius 922-V University Admissions Board

By:
Christopheralanhaygood@gmail.com

To the Straunzinililielius 922-V University Admissions Board,

I have lived what you might call an eventful life. A child prodigy, I was making breakthrough discoveries in chemistry and astrophysics before my age hit the double digits. By fourteen I had acquired my doctorate from Harvard (one of my planet’s most prestigious colleges, though paltry by your standards I’m sure), and I don’t mean to brag or anything, but when I was twenty-three I invented an artificial gateway system for Earth, my home planet, which allowed my species to make the prodigious jumps through hyperspace needed to get anywhere.

Yes, I realize it must be surprising that an Earthling is applying to one of the most challenging institutions in the universe. I believe I’m the only Earthling to do so, and as you’ll see, the only one with any qualifications.

After my gateway breakthrough, I set out to explore the now-open rest of the universe. I’ve borne my fair share of trials, let me assure you: two years spent shucking Gloosles on Armine for a ticket off the planet, six years on the prison planet Hockthoros over what turned out to be a misunderstanding. But I never once let my aspirations waver. I knew I was destined for greatness, and I kept living in search of the path that would lead to it.

Finally I found a planet that treated me like a living creature. They taught me the Universal Language and extended my lifespan indefinitely, which was necessary, since the Universal Language took fifty years to learn by itself. What was this hospitable planet? You guessed it: Straunzinililielius 922-V. It didn’t take me long in your solar system to discover your illustrious university, and after visiting it some weeks ago I knew at once that it was the right one for me. I may be 700 years old, but I feel it’s never too late to start fresh.

I look forward to your acceptance. Because I mean, come on: of course you’re going to let me in. I’m the one who allowed Earth to travel the galaxies.

Sincerely,

Dr. Tad McCollam

P.S. I doubt that I need to inform you about your Affirmative Action policies, requiring a minimum number of race- and species-based acceptances from the board, which I assume includes Homo sapiens.

P.P.S. My father is a lawyer.

* * * * * * *

Mr. McCollam,

We regret to inform you that we cannot offer you a place in our school this semester. Yes, our application pool is large, and in fact the three million students we have enrolled at any given time only constitute .0000005 percent of total applicants, but to be direct, the issue here lies solely with your so-called “qualifications.”

It’s not that we aren’t impressed that you, an Earthling, were able to create wormhole technology at such a tender age, but you have to understand that that’s like — we’re using our telepathy here to find an appropriate comparison — that’s like you being impressed at a dog who put sunglasses on his own face by himself. You should know that Straunzinililielian babies have to invent wormhole technology just to make it out of the womb, and if that doesn’t drive the point home, consider this: it took you fifty years to learn the Universal Language, but we glanced at one of your sentences and became fluent in English instantly.

And while it is true that we enforce Affirmative Action policies, and thus must fulfill certain quotas for students of all species, if you refer to the list of prerequisites you will find that we also utilize a minimum age requirement of thirty Staavs for enrollment, or, in Earth time, 14,196 years. Unfortunately, your 700 Earth years aren’t enough to meet our requirements, as we do not accept infants into our college. If you would like to apply in 13,496 years, we will be open to reviewing your qualifications at that time.

Finally, a note: it is considered bad form to use subtly placed threats of lawsuits in an admissions letter’s postscript. But more importantly, we would like to warn you that Straunzinililielius 922-V, and indeed most of the civilized universe, has forbidden lawyer-related practices as an unforgivable crime. If your father — who, by the way, we know is just a piddling defense attorney operating out of a tiny office next door to a Quiznos — were to come within 35,000 light-years of this planet he would be promptly vaporized by the Reaper Drones of All Space. We suggest you tell him to stay in Duluth.

We wish you the best of luck in finding a college that suits your abilities/accepts toddlers.

Please don’t call us,

Straunzinililielius 922-V University Admissions Board

P.S. Hockthoros was not a misunderstanding. You were incarcerated for assault of a mailbox while inebriated by illegal narcotics. Drug abuse is not something we condone at Straunzinililielius 922-V U, Mr. McCollam, and neither is lying. Good day.

 

 

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* Welcome to The Big Jewel, where we feel it is never too early to start thinking about Christmas presents. Listen to an experienced Tad-user, Kathryn Higgins, and then decide whether you should get Tad for your loved ones. And by the way, happy Pearl Harbor Day!

Get Tad!

By:
kathrynahiggins@aol.com

Do you have problems with alcohol, illegal drug use, compulsive neatness, hot flashes, ennui, indigestion, bad manners, weight gain, random pain, hoarding, vertigo, or crankiness?

 

If so,

GET TAD!

 

Are you experiencing an inner void that yearns to be filled? And by inner void, of course I mean your vagina.

 

If so,

GET TAD!

 

Have you suffered from twenty years of celibacy, with that twenty years including the ten years of your marriage?

 

If so,

GET TAD!

 

Tad’s missile will fill your void, guaranteed. Tad’s skillful skills are proven to:

  • Reduce stress
  • Relieve pain
  • Improve cardiovascular and muscular health
  • Improve mood
  • Make your friends jealous

 

Our basic TAD package is $19.99/day. For an additional fee you can add:

  • Tad’s magnificent massage
  • Tad’s tuna casserole
  • Tad’s advice

 

And in our premium package, Tad will:

  • Wear his blue striped shirt
  • Wear his jeans
  • Wear his heart-emblazoned boxer shorts

 

Tad will make you feel all warm and creamy inside, and he can even provide additional cream. Within one week, you will be free from stress, pain, boredom, indigestion and addiction (except to Tad; you may become addicted to Tad). I should know. I used to suffer. Now I don’t.

 

***Tadisfaction guaranteed.

 

DISCLAIMER:

Use Tad with caution. Tad does not like his member mishandled, yet he will scramble your insides with it if he’s so inclined. Users have experienced swelling due to vigorous pounding from front, back and side while using Tad. Befuddlement has been reported, especially immediately after using Tad. Consult your doctor if you find yourself putting the chicken in the cupboard instead of the refrigerator. Consider an alternative if you find yourself sighing, texting at midnight, and yearning to make mix tapes while using Tad. Colitis, heart murmurs and tingling have been reported, but only from users who previously suffered from colitis, heart murmurs and tingling.

 

Late payment penalties may apply. Penalties may include 1) being subjected to Tad’s driving and 2) having to listen to Tad discuss the price of bananas at Shop-Rite versus Safeway.

 

CUSTOMER REVIEWS:

Customer 1:

I am very Tadisfied.

 

Customer 2:

I have an unusual build — sort of pear-shaped, and Tad fits me perfectly. Or perhaps I should say he fits in me perfectly.

 

Customer 3:

I was disappointed with the color.

 

Customer 4:

Make sure you pay on time. You do not want to have to listen to Tad talk about the latest banana deals. Not to mention coupons — if Tad gets a supermarket flyer with banana coupons you are in for it. And don’t get in his car, no matter what. Besides that, I would highly recommend Tad.

 

Customer 5:

Wha-wha-what???!!!?? I didn’t know this offer was open to everyone. I would like a refund. And have Tad call me immediately.

 

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