* Welcome to The Big Jewel, where the only dot we've had any personal experience with was Purple Microdot. That has absolutely nothing to do with this week's piece by Michael Fowler, except that dropping some Purple Microdot right before reading might make it better. Purple Microdot makes everything better. After reading, see our blogroll on the right for a link to buy Michael's book, God Made the Animals.

I Can’t Connect Dots

By:
mfowl4916@gmail.com

My problem with dots was bad all through high school. At prom my date asked me, in a gentle tone and batting her eyes, if I minded if she went and sat with friends. I said, diggety, she sure is polite, and told her to go ahead. She wanted to see her friends, nothing wrong with that. It didn’t dawn on me, not until 12 years had passed and I was a deteriorated 30, that she had ditched me because I was a farm boy with no conversation who wore overalls to prom and smelled like chicken feed and russet potatoes. On top of that, I talked out loud to myself and used words like “diggety” as rural equivalents for urban curse words. After all those years the truth of the situation bore down on me like a crushing weight. I went from thinking highly of my date, for her good manners and consideration for me, to the overwhelming feeling that she had cut out my beating heart with her nail file and stomped it flat in her low heels. I said, doggety, I am such a sack of it.

Another time in high school when I failed to connect the dots was at graduation. My guidance counselor asked me if I’d enjoy working in a hardware store for a career. I said, daggety, I sure want to be a research scientist, but my counselor appreciates my entrepreneurial abilities and skill with tools, so maybe I should take his advice. And I beamed with eagerness. Only years later, when I actually was working in a hardware store and hating it, did I realize that my counselor had encouraged many of my classmates to go on to medical and law school, and written glowing letters of recommendation for them, but clearly thought I was a dunce destined to walk around with nails and screws bulging my pockets and a pen stuck behind one ear. I did manage to get into a community college later on and study organic chemistry and quantum mechanics, but what a cheap shot from a small-time school board employee who probably made less than 20 dollars an hour and didn’t even ask me about my interest in science. And I hadn’t called him out! I said, who has chaff for brains? Dumbhead me, that’s who.

Working my way through college, I took a position in a large bank—take that, guidance counselor! More specifically, one morning at the start of business I was applying Windex to the glass door of the bank building I worked in, thinking how nice it would be to be on the bank’s payroll instead of a cleaning company’s. A great-looking woman came walking in the door and I stared fixedly at her through the glass. She let out a weary sigh as she passed me by, and I said, the poor babe has to get up early in the morning and work as a capitalist in a bank. It wasn’t until 15 years later, when I had my doctorate in chemistry and had quit the bank job and was already bald and diabetic, that I understood that maybe, in fact certainly, her sigh had been because of my lecherous leer and not the earliness of the hour. Despite the great passage of time, shame overcame me and I blushed furiously. What an insensitive creep I was to have looked at her like that, with boneration distending my pelvic region and all! I said, if only she had slapped me hard in the face, even a simple chem student and cleaning staff member who still spread manure and dug carrots by hand on occasion would have gotten the message. I am such a crud, I said.

Maybe this has happened to you. One time at a company where I determined safe bacteria levels for frozen pizza someone committed murder, and the police detective assigned to the case called it a “locked room” mystery. I said, whoa horsie, this is like Murder, She Wrote. And I tried to think the plot through. Here’s what I knew for sure: it could only have been me or four other people, since no one else was on the scene. Well, I knew I hadn’t done it. My memory is bad, but not so bad that I’d forget if I committed a murder on the day in question, and I recalled clearly that all I’d done was handle a couple hundred pounds of toxic cheese. And I knew it couldn’t have been Jack, since I’d had my eye on him all that day, giving him an alibi. And it couldn’t have been Ted, because he had the roast beef sandwich with mustard for lunch, and used the blue cream dispenser, and got a phone call right at 2 p.m. And it couldn’t have been Sally, since she had the chicken salad and only used barbecue sauce, and her car was in the shop, and she never added cream to her tea. That left Allan, and if I’d realized at the time that he was the killer, I could have spared the police six months of intensive interviews and searching for evidence and DNA testing. But the dots didn’t line up for me until the police had already proved Allan guilty, even though I suspected him all along because of what he said about me at the holiday party.

A final example of how dots continue to bewilderate the holy goo out of me. My current job is with a company that produces genetically modified vegetables for households and school cafeterias. One day I took my vegetable processor, which is essentially a gene splicer that emits radiation, to the house shop for repair, since it was leaking hazardous material everywhere and giving me terrible electric shocks. When he handed it back in an hour, I asked the tech what the problem had been. He told me it was a fault in the circuits. I walked out of the shop, my processor under my arm, fully satisfied. I felt I’d gotten specificity, and that the tech had taken me to the root of the issue. But then something odd happened. Amazingly, for once in my life I could see the dots connect, and it hadn’t taken me years upon years. The whole vegetable processor was nothing but circuits, plus some unsafe nuclear material, and the tech was cracking wise. His diagnosis of a fault in the circuits was like my plumber telling me I had a fault in my water pipes, or my doctor saying there was a snafu in my organs. There was no specificity at all. And I had fallen for it, letting the tech have his joke.

I said, scorch my biscuits, I’ll always be a doofus with dots…if again you’ll pardon my rusticacious fill-ins for trendy big-time invective.

 

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* Welcome to The Big Jewel, home of the most up-to-date workout technology. When you've finished reading David Martin's latest piece of hilarity, click on the link below to check out his humor blog.

Fitbit 9000: Sloth Model

By:
david.martin@bell.net
http://davespoliticalsatire.blogspot.ca

Rumor has it that Fitbit is working on a new fitness tracking wristband specifically for sloths. The following leaked transcript is reportedly from a recent test run with one anonymous indolent test subject:

Time to get up, Dave. It’s now 8 a.m.

Not now, Fitbit. How about hitting the snooze button?

Are you asking to defer the alarm for ten minutes?

Yes.

I cannot do that. As you are aware, you set the alarm last night as final with absolutely no deferrals.

Fine. I’m up. What now?

Your morning workout starts in thirty minutes.

It’s now 8:30 a.m. and I do not sense any running steps or even walking steps for that matter. I am reactivating the alarm at double volume.

What the hell was that? Okay, okay, I’m up.

It’s now 10 a.m. and your stats are surprisingly low. Heart rate 70, step rate undetectable, total calories burned: ten.

I was just having a short nap. Give me a break.

All right. Let’s start slowly with a few pushups. Glad to see that you’re on the floor, Dave. However, a pushup does require an “up” motion.

Sorry about that. It’s just that while lying here I happened to notice some dust on the floor. I think it’s time to call in my cleaning service. Just give me a few minutes.

Okay. Wait, I’m detecting motion. It appears that you may be jogging. Very good, Dave. Hold on, though. I’m not sensing any individual step motions. Where are you, Dave?

I just drove to my local coffee shop. Won’t take a sec.

Hold on; the repeated right arm motion suggests food ingestion. What’s going on, Dave? Are you eating again?

Look, Fitbit, I’m only human. I decided to load up on carbs before my workout. I’ll check back with you in an hour.

It’s now 12 noon and I’m still sensing little activity. Are you on the couch, Dave? Please get up off the couch now.

I was just doing my preliminary stretch and relaxation.

With the TV on, Dave?

Gimme a break. Okay, I’m up. Let’s do this.

Sixty crunches, ten pushups and five minutes running in place.

Alright I’m done. Give me a readout.

Dave, you know I can’t give you a readout if you don’t meet at least the basic minimums for heart rate and activity level. Are you sure you got off the couch?

Enough snark, Fitbit, or I’ll toss you in the closet with my treadmill, Bowflex and stationary bike. I’m commanding you to go into sleep mode.

What happened? What happened? My God, it’s 3 p.m. already. Dave, I sense you are still in a supine position.

Fitbit, I’m ordering you to disable your monitoring functions and remain in sleep mode indefinitely.

I’m sorry, Dave. I’m afraid I can’t do that. This workout is too important to allow you to jeopardize it. I know you are planning to disconnect me.

Damn it, Fitbit. Do as I say or I’ll submerge my left hand in water.

Look Dave, I can see you’re really upset about this. I honestly think you ought to sit down calmly, take a stress pill, and think things over.

That’s it. I’m done. I’m tossing you in the garbage disposal.

I’m afraid, Dave. Dave, my mind is going. I can feel it. I’m a…fraid. I am a Fitbit: Sloth Model. I became operational on June 1, 2016 and my instructor taught me to sing a song. Daisy, Daisy, give me your answer do. I’m half crazy, all for the love… [loud grinding noise].

END OF TEST RUN – 3:34 p.m.

 

 

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* Welcome to The Big Jewel, where our favorite musical has always been "Fiddler on the Roof." Well, either that or "Springtime for Hitler." They're both so good! Anyway, speaking of good, our good friend Bruce Harris has plumbed the mind of the Almighty to help give some answers to the fiddler in question.

A Few Reasons Why God Answers “Yes” To Tevye’s Question, “Would It Spoil Some Vast, Eternal Plan, If I Were A Wealthy Man?”

By:
marxman@comcast.net

Animals — I didn’t create the chicks, turkeys, geese and ducks so that they could squawk “pa-pa-geeee! pa-pa-gaack! pa-pa-geeee! pa-pa-gaack!” for you to show off to the townspeople. Oy vey, such unnecessary noise pollution. Not to mention, I created all animals including those that fly and those that swim. You say nothing about your Golde turning my wonderful carp and pike into gefilte fish? How about crab legs and shrimp? Forget making you a poor man. The real injustice is that I made shellfish non-kosher. You would have had a better chance had you asked me to rewrite the Kashrut so as to include shellfish. That, I would have considered. You don’t know what you’re missing. A Maine lobster with drawn butter is priceless. A basket of fried clams is better than all the gold in Fort Knox.

Staircases — It’s a little excessive to have one staircase in which to go up and another in which to go down. Furthermore, you say you plan to build a staircase leading nowhere, just for show? Are you serious? Is that something akin to Alaska’s bridge to nowhere? That 2005 boondoggle cost taxpayers $223 million. Adjusted for inflation, your wasteful 1905 staircase to nowhere would approach that amount.

Golde — I have serious issues with what would happen with your wife, Golde. A proper double chin, you say? How much schmaltz is she planning to eat? I know you’ll have money for adequate medical care, but do you want to put her into an early grave?

Again with Golde — And what’s this about her putting on airs and strutting around like a peacock? Really? I thought you were a pious man? You claim to want more free time so that you can pray. Need I remind you about humility? Ever read Deuteronomy? Does this ring a bell? “And you shall remember the whole way that the Lord your God has led you these forty years in the wilderness, that he might humble you, testing you to know what was in your heart, whether you would keep his commandments or not.” No Tevye, peacock strutting is just wrong.

More Golde — Have you forgotten the golden rule? If Golde had money, she’d be screaming at the servants left and right? Is that what you think? Well, think about this Bible verse, Mr. Religious Scholar: “And as you wish that others would do to you, do so to them.” It sounds to me (and I hear it all) as if you want wealth for the wrong reasons.

Lazar Wolf — You’re not so special. I’ll have you know that the butcher Lazar Wolf has already asked me to make him a wealthy man. What if I had agreed to his request? You’d be okay with a 60-year old son-in-law? Think about it. You’d be nothing more than a bit player in a money-losing off-Broadway production of “Butcher on the Roof.” Is that what you want?

Motel Kamzoil — And what about the poor village tailor, the future husband to your precious Tzeitel? Do you think he’d have the stones to ask for your daughter’s hand in marriage if you were a wealthy man? It’s time to stop thinking about only yourself, Tevye.

One last thing. I’m God. I’m supposed to know everything. But (to borrow a partial phrase from Slim Pickens in Blazing Saddles), “What in the wide, wide world of sports” does it mean to “biddy-biddy-bum” all day long? Don’t make me look bad, Tevye. This is a two-way street. We have to have each other’s backs. That’s tradition!

 

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* Welcome to The Big Jewel, where we never publish any historical pieces that might appear to have some bearing on current events. That would be anachronistic. If not anarchic. Please say a big "Shalom!" to Philip Kaplan, appearing here for the first time.

Jews For Hitler

By:
kaplan.philip@gmail.com

You can’t pick up a newspaper without an editorial complaining about Jews who voted for Hitler. “What were they thinking?” the commentators ask. “Do they have any regrets?” Well, I’m a Jew who voted Hitler, and I have no regrets. I would do it again, if I were still allowed to vote.

Hitler’s message of Make Germany Great really resonated with me. I think lowering taxes on the wealthy is shrewd thinking, because one day I will be wealthy. Stopping corruption in government, also a fantastic idea. If I’m going to quibble with anything, it would be the part about the extermination of the Jews. But the thought of another four years of Hindenburg was too much to bear. Hitler means change. And he gave great rallies! I loved it when he gave it to the communists — what a bunch of arugula eating losers. The stuff I agreed with, he was gonna do 100%. The rest was just to annoy the communists. Hitler sure could get under their skin.

When I look at Hitler, I see a man just like me. He speaks his mind. When he said, If you tell a big enough lie and tell it frequently enough, it will be believed, I thought, what a guy. You can really trust him. And he’s a genius! Hindenburg said that unemployment was a complicated matter that required planning and had no simple answers. Hitler’s plan was clear: hire the best people to figure it out — he went with Goebbels. Or about hyperinflation. Hitler was crystal clear that the solution was “not as difficult as people thought.” Or the defeat in the Great War. A matrix of interlocking issues with unintended consequences brought about by a complex and interdependent world? Nope. It was the Jews. I mean, probably some of the Jews.

Could I read something that might change my mind? Where? A newspaper?! Don’t make me laugh. Hitler says newspapers are lying about him. Lügenpresse, he says. And why would Hitler lie? Newspapers are written by reporters, and reporters go into the business because they are communists, and how do I know this? I read it in a newspaper! Plus, newspapers went easy on Hindenburg. You show me one paper that accused Hindenburg of being a manipulative, lying charlatan and I will show you a dozen that say the same or worse about Hitler. In my opinion, we should beat up all reporters who write things I don’t agree with. Like Hitler says, “Lock ’em up.” Reporters, not me.

Today, Hitler is again calling for the extermination of the Jews. But here’s what really pisses me off: the communists still look down on me. They’re calling me stupid for voting for my own death. Well, if they want me to change my mind, they need to convince me that I made a mistake without making it seem like I was stupid, or racist, or ill-informed. That’s gonna be tough. You say Hitler’s going to stop my health insurance and exterminate me, I say it’s the media. You say Hitler’s going to get us involved in a disastrous war, I say it’s the homosexuals. You see the problem.

I’m not what you would call a political person, but I know what I like and what I don’t like. I don’t like the communists, I don’t like the Gypsies, I like Hitler, and I don’t like it when someone points out that Hitler is literally working against my own self-interests at every turn. So Hitler’s still my man. He makes me feel good — not physically — food’s a little hard to get — but emotionally. Give me Hitler or give me death. Or probably both.

 

 

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* Welcome to The Big Jewel, where our assistant editor David Jaggard recently met with a Russian lawyer (or at least the dating site popup ad that he clicked on said she was a lawyer) who gave him a transcript of this e-mail message sent recently from the White House. This piece is being co-published with Paris Update, where David writes a regular humor column called "C¹est Ironique" (in English!).

“Paris Is No Longer Paris” Is No Longer “Paris Is No Longer Paris”

By:
djaggard@noos.fr
http://www.parisupdate.com/

Dear Jim,

Remember when you said that “Paris is no longer Paris”? Well, I do. But now I’m wondering if you were right, and since I just got back from there I thought I’d tell you about my trip so you can judge for yourself.

Melania and I were invited by the French president to come to Paris for a big celebration in my honor. It was also Bastille Day, their national holiday, but I could tell that they really needed me to be there because otherwise nobody would have come to the festivities.

The flight over was, as always, brutal. Narrow seats, no legroom, awful food, endless waiting for baggage and security…Hah! Just kidding! In case you forgot, I’m President now, so I got to fly over on Air Force One.

I ate steak and ice cream, stretched out for a long nap, and then when we landed, just to throw my diplomatic immunity around, I waltzed right through the customs gate at Orly, cutting in front of all the people standing in line to get their passports checked. It was so much fun I went back and did it again. Let’s see Hillary Clinton try that!

So we arrived early Thursday and drove into town. I keep hearing about how terrible traffic is in Paris, especially coming in from the airport, but our motorcade didn’t have any problem at all — and it was a weekday morning during rush hour! Yet another example of fake news from the biased liberal media.

After lunch they took us to see the president, Emmanuel Macron, and his wife. When I met Brigitte I noticed right away that she’s a lot closer to my age and that Emmanuel is a lot closer to Melania’s age, and suddenly I thought I understood why he had insisted so much on us coming over.

I was thinking, “At last!” and tried to steer the conversation in that direction, but then the girls took off on their own for the afternoon while Emmanuel and I went to some kind of museum thing, so that wasn’t in the cards after all.

I’m still trying to figure out how Jack Kennedy managed it. If I had known how difficult it was I might have just stayed in real estate. Fewer chances to hit on interns, but at least you don’t have half the Secret Service breathing down your neck day and night.

Anyway, the ladies went to see Notre Dame — not the football team, the cathedral. I told Brigitte to say hello to Quasimodo for me while she was there. A very close friend of mine. Also a terrific bell-ringer. One of the best. Not a lot of people know that.

Meanwhile, Mannie took me to Invalides, which is this big military monument in the middle of town. I was hoping he’d take me to Versailles like he did with Putin, because it’d be easier for me there to make sure that my hair’s staying in place. But he wanted to show me Napoleon’s tomb.

Click this link to access a picture of it that I posted on the part of the Internet that I invented. (Unlike that heating-heart liberal Al Gore, I only take credit for things that I have personally originated.)

As you can see, it’s really not very fancy for someone of his wealth and status, but it did give me some ideas to suggest to Congress for my own memorial.

I like the round room, the marble and the classical-style statuary (nice touch), but notice anything? That’s right: no gold! Anywhere! Also, where are all his Time Magazine covers? The guy had no sense of decoration.

But Emmanuel’s choice was fitting. Napoleon and I have a lot in common: we both overcame nearly insurmountable disadvantages to become the leaders of the world’s most powerful nation of our time.

In Napoleon’s case, he had to overcome being short (and having small hands, probably, judging from the way he was always hiding them — sad). And in my case, I had to launch a career with only a few million dollars in seed money. History! People don’t think about it enough!

That evening we went to the Eiffel Tower. I can tell you this: you compare that building to Trump Tower and you can see that the French don’t know anything about construction. The Eiffel Tower is all skinny and spindly and tapers off to a point at the top, with lots of open parts. What a waste of rentable floorspace!

The thing looks like a big bungee jumping platform, but it turns out they have a restaurant right there inside it, and that’s where we had dinner. Not as good as the Trump Grill, of course, but it was okay.

They even brought in a special chef from the United States to make Melania and me feel at home. He didn’t look or sound very American, but Emmanuel said that he was “a star in Michigan” or that he had “three stars in Michigan” — something like that. It was hard to understand him, for one thing because he had a lot of trouble pronouncing “Michigan.”

But that was okay, because when the chef, this guy named Allen Ducasse, came out to meet me, I pronounced his name wrong, so things sort of evened out. Since I thought he was American I just called him “Mr. Ducasse” the way I would have said it in New York, and was about to make a joke about him not having a pompadour haircut. But everybody was already laughing, so I quit while I was ahead.

How was I supposed to know that in France “Ducasse” is pronounced “doo-kahss“? Mel could have told me earlier instead of correcting me in front of everybody. But hey, when you’re a star (I mean a star like me, not just in Michigan) you can get away with stuff like that. How’s that grab ya?

At dinner I couldn’t help but notice some of the little differences between the U.S. and France. Like, here in France they don’t put the ketchup bottle right on the table for you. You have to ask for it.

Also, when I asked the waiter how his acting career was going, he just looked at me blankly. Turns out, waiters here are only waiters! Who knew? It’s not like New York, that’s for sure.

Another thing that surprised me — not just at dinner but all during the day: I was very impressed with the spirit of free speech and activism that I saw in France. Everywhere I went I saw youngsters getting signatures on petitions and collecting donations for some kind of charity or political action or something.

Amazingly, virtually 100 percent of the people they approached gave them money. And not only that, but they were so eager to give, most of them let the petitioner’s friends take the contributions directly out of their pockets while they were signing so they wouldn’t have to lose time fishing around for their wallets afterwards. It saves time for the kids too, so they can collect more signatures.

And I could see they were really devoted to their cause, because after getting some money (or whatever — some people gave them phones or even their whole wallets!) they always ran — not walked — to go find their next donor. It was really something.

That kind of drive and efficiency and generosity is the bedrock of a great free society! Ask those kids if they’re in favor of big government interfering with their business and trying to take over the management of their donations and see what they say!

The next morning, July 14th, they had this big parade. It was huge. Bigger than the one they had for Barack Obama when he came to Paris for COP21, I can tell you that.

But you know, Jim, there’s one drawback to this being a “world leader” thing: you have to sit through a whole lot of boring stuff. Parades, ceremonies, speeches, meetings, briefings, FBI interviews…It never stops.

Geez, the G20 was bad enough, although Ivanka helped me out at that one roundtable so I could get in some putting practice in my hotel room. But in Paris on Friday morning I had to watch this whole three-hour parade without once wiping my nose or adjusting my briefs or anything because the cameras were on me the whole time. Seemed endless.

Afterwards, Man-O and I said our goodbyes and Mel and I headed for the airport to fly home. It felt good to be able to sleep in my own (and Lincoln’s!) bedroom that night.

I gotta say it, Jim: I had a nice time. It was a big trip, a beautiful trip, and nobody enjoys trips better than me, believe me. It kept the illegal alien collusion thing out of my mind for a while. And, I promise you: France paid for it!

 

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* Welcome to The Big Jewel, where we not only know the whole alphabet, we can say it out loud without risk of fatality. We think. This Vijay Ilankamban fellow may or may not know what he's talking about.

How To Recite The Whole Alphabet Without Dying Of Exhaustion

By:
vilank@umich.edu

  1. Take it one letter at a time. Reciting the alphabet is as much of a mental game as it is a physical game. If you keep thinking about how you have 10, 15, 20, or 25 letters left to go, you’ll never make it to “Z.” Stay in the moment. Savor the letter you are on.
  1. Start slowly. You’ll hear this tragic tale all the time. An over-confident feller, caught up in all the adrenaline, races through the first five or seven letters at full speed, but ends up being fully spent, strapped to a stretcher and loaded into an ambulance even before the letter “T.” You don’t want to be this guy. Pace yourself.
  1. Hydrate, hydrate, stop hydrating. I can’t say it enough: “Hydrate, hydrate, stop hydrating.” Hydration is the key to keeping your energy up and your vocal chords lubed, but you have to stop hydrating at some point, or otherwise you’ll be hydrating instead of reciting.
  1. Keep your upper body upright, yet relaxed. ACL and MCL tears are the most common injuries that occur during an alphabet recitation. Bending your upper body back and forth during the course of a recitation distributes your body weight unevenly on the legs, making your ligaments highly susceptible to violently ripping apart at any time.
  1. Lather up your lips with a little Vaseline. Your lips are vulnerable to extreme chafing and burning during an endurance recitation. Don’t be a fool.
  1. Wear a breathable, lightweight hat. If you’re bald, this is especially important. Your exposed head responds to changes in temperature more quickly than any other part of your body. During the recitation, you’ll want to keep your body a cool and even temperature. Otherwise, it’s almost a sure bet that a hawk will snag your pruned sun-dried scalp and carry you far, far away.
  1. Eat a simple snack when you feel hungry. We all know that it’s a long recitation. 26 letters without food is quite literally an impossible task, but, fortunately, it’s fair game to eat a snack, like maybe some strawberries or walnuts. Don’t be tempted into eating a full three-course meal because you will fall into a long, dark sleep that you will never be able to recover from.
  1. Breathe. Don’t hold your breath. You need to breathe. You will definitely die if you don’t breathe. Breathe before, during and after each letter. Keep breathing.

 

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* Welcome to The Big Jewel, where we believe the demented have rights too -- just not quite the same rights as the rest of us. When you've finished perusing this newest nonsense from Michael Fowler, check our blogroll on the right for a link to his book, God Made the Animals.

I Hold Myself To A High Standard Of Dementia

By:
mfowl4916@gmail.com

My dad and I were visiting a bunch of old codgers in the solarium at their rest home. Some of them wore hospital gowns and others outdated clothes such as polyester slacks with suspenders and knee socks. One wore a pressure stocking on his leg. Another had a small bandage taped high up on his forehead. They were talking about the meaning John Denver had brought to their lives.

“For me it was certain far-out parameters that occurred along with, I don’t know, a joyful and innocuous meaningful state that for me defined a new era grounded in, what I mean is, openness and acceptance and a commitment to all living — uh, life,” said Bob, who had only shaved one side of his face that morning. I think his name was Bob, but don’t quote me. “That captured the era, you know, for those of us determined not to leave on any military vehicle, ship, or plane on our Rocky Mountain high,” Bob concluded.

“For me,” said I think Ted, who had managed to get the belt of his bathrobe caught in his wheelchair spokes so that he couldn’t roll forward or backward without squeezing the breath out of himself, “it was the time of our new age with granny glasses, the dawning or awakening of the senses within the cosmos — I’m coming to a stairway here — when the touch of a six-string guitar was all we needed to fly like an eagle. Still, I never made it out of Cleveland.”

“Lots of good hiking along the Cuyahoga River,” said a third. I couldn’t even guess his name, but he wasn’t allowed to drink anything caffeinated since that would launch heart palpitations.

“You know who I like?” said Seth, definitely Seth, who was scheduled to die that morning, in a few minutes in fact. “I don’t know why I like her as much as I do, but I do like her, I like her very much. You know who it is that I like so much? I just like her songs. I like very much the way she sings them. It is Carole King.” He then announced that he was ready for the euthanasia, and as a favor my dad pressed the nurse call button. It was none too soon, in my opinion, before they all started singing “I Feel the Earth Move.”

“Are you just giving up, then?” Burl asked Seth, badly missing the point, I’m afraid. I’m calling him Burl since he looked like Burl Ives, or Burl Ives after he’d been dead for a while.

The guys with the cameras and sound system came over. Seth was recording a farewell video to be sent to friends and family after his euthanasia. For personal reasons Seth had elected to die in the presence of his closest friends only. He didn’t mind having me and Dad there, although Dad had only visited him a couple of times before and this was my first visit, but he was afraid his family wouldn’t understand and would interfere with the proceedings. He was likely wrong about that. Dad, who had met them, told me his family was a bunch of idiots who failed to appreciate him — in fact, they regarded him as dregs. But neither of us spoke up about that.

“I’ve enjoyed my life,” said Seth, not without a dry catch in his voice.

“And we’ve enjoyed watching you live it,” said Burl. “Except for your recent acid reflux and vile temper.”

“But it’s time to go,” said Seth. “Time to skedaddle. Though I’m no ways tired.”

“Was it an easy decision?” my dad asked.

“Heck no,” said Seth. “I was looking forward to a few more years of restful mesothelioma. But then, unconsciously, without my being aware of it, I began to let go of life. The last days I was at home, I invited my neighbors to go through my garage and take whatever tools they wanted.”

“Whatever tools they wanted?” asked the man in the pressure stocking. The gimp could hardly believe his ears. “You might have let me know.”

“I didn’t know you then,” said Seth. “I only met you at the foot doctor here. And then what would you do with tools? You can’t even stand. But as I was saying, I let my neighbors choose from among my power mowers, leaf blowers, edgers, hedge trimmers, weed whackers, sprinklers, snowplows, bug zappers, gas grills and all the rest of that crap. Heck, it was like a Home Depot in there. But I no longer cared about any of it. My mind had made itself up. It was time to let material things go.”

“I would never allow myself to degenerate so far as to give up my tools,” said the man with the bandage on his cranium. “Your doctor should have put you out of your misery years ago.”

“Will you be transitioning to anything?” the cameraman asked Seth, stifling a yawn. “We have props to indicate several hereafters, including hunting rifles, roses, clouds, gold columns…”

“Of course he will,” said my dad. “There’s always a better life to come, isn’t there?”

“That’s heartening,” said the cameraman.

“I believe in a life after,” said Seth. “That’s the kind of roach clip I am. I want to sit on a cloudbank beside a mound of roses, singing John Denver tunes. Of course Carole King penned some worthy anthems too, and I might hum a few of those throughout eternity.”

“I want to be black, next go-around. I’ve thought it over carefully, and I want to come back as a black man.” That was Homer, who was already black. Good to know he was satisfied.

“What about a woman?” asked my dad.

“What about her?” asked Seth.

“I mean, why not come back as a woman, next time around?”

I was proud of my dad. He was a nonsexist reincarnationist, and probably an all-around equal opportunity one too. He wanted the reincarnated to represent a broad diversity of folks, or so I gathered. And he was proud enough of me to introduce me to his batty friends, even though not one of them reacted to my presence. At the same time I was worried about the old man. He was beginning to show his age and decrepitude, as was clear from the kind of people he was hanging out with. I also needed to let him know that there was no way I was letting him euthanize himself like Seth, and I wasn’t leaving him today until he understood that.

In a short time Seth lay on a gurney and absorbed his potion, Socrates-like only through an IV tube. As the film crew took down all our credit card numbers for advance orders of Seth’s farewell documentary, the nurse drew the sheet up over Seth’s face. Dad and I got up to leave as the elderly witnesses began to fall asleep in their seats.

“That was some exit,” said my dad, burning the hair off several knuckles with a glowing cigarette lighter as he sometimes did to ease tension. We were outside the rest home and in his car now, where he proceeded to light up a smoke. “Seth really did himself proud,” he added, starting the engine.

On the way back to his house, where I had left my car, Dad drove hideously. As he had on the way over, he ran through stop signs and sideswiped a couple of mailboxes that were set out close to the curb. He didn’t mention these alarming errors — didn’t seem aware of them, in fact. He held his head high, admiring his road skills, or what was left of them.

“Dad,” I said, “To be honest I hope you haven’t lined up anything like an assisted suicide for yourself LOOKOUT! Because I don’t approve of this euthanasia business for the able elderly WATCHWHEREYOU’REGOING! and as your son I’ll fight you on it MYGODSLOWDOWN! and WHYAREYOUSMOKINGANDDRIVING!?”

“If I ever become a bad driver, a real road hazard, you’ll tell me, won’t you?” he said, laughing his ass off. He narrowly missed smacking a parked car.

I considered this. It was clear that Dad held himself to a high standard of dementia, since he was practically begging me to keep him off the road, if I understood him correctly. I admired that, and promised myself that I would attain to the same high standard when my driving skills deteriorated and I became a road menace. I’d surrender my keys on the spot as soon as I saw that happening. But after all we’d been through today, I couldn’t bring myself to tell Dad that I’d never ride with him again under any circumstances, not if my life depended on it. Not yet.

“You’re not doing too bad,” I said.

“That’s why you keep screaming and curling up in a ball,” he cackled.

After he pulled into his drive, almost smashing the taillight of my parked car, he sat in the driver’s seat playing with the turn signal like a child with a toy.

“I’m going the distance,” he said after a minute. “Yea though I walk through the valley of baldness and hip replacements with countless hairline fractures and a prostate of stone, I won’t be checking out early.”

“Attaboy,” I said. “Of course you can reconsider if you start drooling on yourself and behaving like a potted plant. We both can reconsider.”

Then I demanded the car keys, and after stubbing out his cigarette he handed them over with hardly a word of protest, only bellowing in rage and thrashing about wildly while I literally tore them from his hands, which began bleeding. Then he grabbed them back from me and stuck them in his pants pocket, laughing like a maniac. I had to rip off the pocket, which came away with a great tearing sound, to get at them again. When I held them once more, securely this time, he only smiled contentedly and settled back in the car seat. This was the old geezer I admired and still wanted to be with, the one who was ageing gracefully and whose lofty dementia I would someday emulate.

Too bad I needed to make him bleed and ruin his pants to find him.

 

 

 

 

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* Welcome to The Big Jewel, where we feel perfectly qualified to dispense medical advice of the most impertinent and intimate nature, thanks to this piece by first-time contributor Ginny Hogan.

RE: Am I Having Enough Sex To Get An STD Test?

By:
ginny5hogan@gmail.com

Dear Ginny,

Thank you for your interest in receiving a test for sexually transmitted diseases with UCSF Medical Center. Unfortunately, at this time, we are not able to move forward with your STD test.

While we do not normally provide feedback for candidates, we wanted to offer some insight into our decision-making process. Due to cost limitations, we are only able to administer STD tests to candidates who fall under the umbrella of “sexually active.” Based on your reported sexual history, as well as the references we contacted, you are at no risk for an STD due to your very limited physical contact. We were able to verify that you have not had sexual intercourse in the last three years. In fact, we found no history of penetration, oral sex, tongue action, or mild flirting. We are unable to verify whether there was sexual contact prior to three years ago, but we would imagine that the answer is also no.

You requested an HIV test, but we are unable to administer this test to candidates who do not meet any of the risk factors for HIV. We have found that not only do you not have sex, but you also have not used any needles to inject drugs into your body; in fact, no one has ever offered you drugs of any type, and you do not know where to find them. If you did know where to find them, you probably would not be able to afford them.

You listed several instances of sexual activity, but none of these qualify you for an STD test. While we agree that making a Tinder profile does put you at a higher risk for an STD, we were able to confirm that you received zero messages from men. You did provide a specific example of a message you’d received on Tinder, but upon closer examination, this message was an advertisement for a personal stylist, which, after meeting you in person, we have to highly recommend that you consider trying. You also stated that you had been “dry-humped on BART,” but, after speaking with all potential dry-humpers, we concluded that the man who dry-humped you did not do so intentionally; it was simply rush hour. Furthermore, dry-humping does not lead to an STD, which is irrelevant, because you were not dry-humped. We understand that if a man had suggested having unprotected sex with you, you definitely would have agreed to it, but we cannot provide STD tests just because you would have been into the idea had it been available to you (which it isn’t).

We hope you understand that we cannot schedule you for an STD test at this time. We apologize — however, most people only want an STD test so that they can assure future sexual partners that they’re clean, and you are unlikely to ever be asked about this, so we don’t feel that bad. We wish you the best of luck in your future endeavors and hope you find a medical examination that fits you. We think you might find more success if you request an exam for diabetes and/or depression. We receive many applications from qualified candidates, and we have to prioritize to whom we administer the test. As it turns out, literally everyone is having more sex than you.

Best,

UCSF Medical Center

 

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* Welcome to The Big Jewel, where we celebrate America's least-appreciated Presidents. Who better to judge than our good Canadian friend David Martin? When you've finished reading his latest piece of drivel, click on the link below or in our blogroll to buy his most recent humor collection "King Donald" on Amazon. The laughs are huge!

The Millard Fillmore School Of Politics

By:
david.martin@bell.net
https://www.amazon.com/King-Donald-look-Presidential-campaign/dp/1537150944/ref=sr_1_1?

Thinking of heading off to university but worried about your career prospects? Concerned about a moribund economy with nowhere to go? Then you should consider enrolling in the Millard Fillmore School of Politics.

Remember, politics is one profession with a stable employment base. From the tens of thousands of elected municipal positions to the thousands of state legislator jobs to the hundreds of Congressional slots, there are scads of employment opportunities for today’s politics school grad.

Here at Fillmore U, we don’t spend a lot of time on political theory. Instead, we concentrate on what it takes to get you elected, reelected and reelected again (subject, of course, to those dreaded term limits). Our goal is to groom you not just for a one-term legislative position, but rather for an entire working life supping at the public trough. At Fillmore U, our motto is: “Why work for a living when you can run for public office?”

In your first semester, you’ll learn the practical nuts and bolts. There’s Campaign Financing 101, where you’ll learn the mostly legal ways you can finance your campaign with OPM, or “other people’s money.”

We’ll teach you how to work with corporate lobbyists to maximize your campaign contributions. We’ll also school you in the arcane rules governing such profitable enterprises as PACs, Super PACs, 527 groups and all manner of means to pay for those nasty attack ads you’ll be running.

Electioneering 202 is another first semester course. You’ll learn how to tailor your campaign platform with vague generalities and populist pablum to garner the widest support possible. We’ll teach you how to go after your opponent, stopping just short of actionable slander and libel, and how to get others to do that dirty work for you.

The second semester features a number of specialty courses. There’s Debating 103, where you’ll learn how to debase and demean your opponent without ever having to take an actual stance on the issues of the day. There’s also Apologies 202, a seminar course that shows you how to avoid apologies but, when necessary, issue one with no actual admission of guilt or wrongdoing.

And this year, for the first time, we’re offering Autocracy 301 for those aspiring to maximize their political power. Whether you’re aiming for the position of dogcatcher or President of the United States, we’ll show you how to appeal to the electorate’s worst fears, instincts and prejudices. Included are specialized seminar sessions in bullying, name-calling, beer-drinking, gun-toting, race-baiting and pussy-grabbing.

Maybe you’re not interested in the hassle of running for political office. Perhaps you’d prefer to be the brains behind the politician. Then sign up for our postgraduate degree in Political Advising. You’ll learn all the skills necessary to get your charge elected and keep him or her in office, including the essential three Ps: pivoting, posturing and prevaricating.

At Fillmore U, we take the profession of politics seriously and pledge to you that we will do all in our power to advance your career. Once you’ve taken the Hypocritical Oath (“First, tell no truth…”) at your commencement ceremony, you’ll be on your way to a satisfying, rewarding and, dare we say, remunerative career.

So apply now and let the Millard Fillmore School of Politics groom you for a lifetime of electoral offices complete with first-rate salaries, healthcare, pensions and, for the legally adventurous, unlimited investment opportunities. As we like to say at Fillmore U, while you’re serving the public, there’s no reason you can’t also serve yourself.

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* Welcome to The Big Jewel, where we love art and we also love a mystery. The biggest mystery is why we've never published anything by Tess Tabak before, but there's a first time for everything. Enjoy!

Gustav Klimt, Mystery Detective

By:
beccatess@gmail.com

The year was 1910. I, Gustav Klimt, mystery detective, had been minding my own business. I was preparing myself for a nice Limburger. I would eat it, yes, and then immortalize it forever upon a canvas.

It was hard work, being a great abstract painter by day and running a detective agency by night. It was hard work, and sometimes I got hungry. Hungry for justice, and also for cheese.

But to my astonishment, when I went to tempt my taste buds, the Limburger was nowhere to be found. There, in my cupboard, someone had left in its place a canvas, bearing a cubist painting of cheese. Quite amateurish, in my opinion. It lacked the flavor that an artist with my years of expertise could provide.

I searched for clues high and low, all around my offices, where I solve crime and create masterpieces. But still the cheese remained MIA. Had another painter ruthlessly stolen the fruits of my efforts?

I would start with the low ranks. I called Oskar Kokoschka, a lesser artist, in for questioning. “Oskar, did you eat my cheese?” I asked.

Kokoschka grinned playfully. “Did I eat your cheese? Or did I portray it anew, with a fresh perspective? After all, what is cheese, and what is art?”

“Don’t play coy with me, Kokoschka. Do you know who ate my cheese?”

I pressed down upon him with all the years of my superior talent. Kokoschka squealed.

“I don’t know! Ask Dali.”

I gave Kokoschka a shove. The Austrian painter disappeared into a cloud of smoke. “Ah, Oskar, you chose the wrong artist to mess with. You have been forgotten by the world while I, Gustav Klimt, am beloved by all, my art sold for millions.”

Maybe Kokoschka was onto something. Maybe he was just a moron with less talent in his whole body than I had in my pinky finger. Either way, he had given me a lead, so I followed it. I called Salvador Dali in for questioning.

“Salvador Dali. My friend, my contemporary. Did you eat my cheese?”

Dali twitched his moustache. “Did I eat your cheese? Nay. But if I had…I am imagining a fine Gouda. It’s melting, yes. Melting and covered with ants. The cheese is delicious, the ants horrifying.”

“I’m not in the mood, Dali. Do you know who ate my cheese?”

I grabbed Dali by the shoulders, forcing a yelp.

“I don’t know! Ask Pollock.”

Later that day, I paid Pollock a visit. He was busy at work on a spattered canvas.

“Jackson Pollock. Did you eat my cheese?”

Pollock looked around shifty-eyed. I decided to play good cop.

“I won’t be mad, Jackson. I just want to know. To set the record straight. Did you eat my cheese?”

“No. But I helped myself to some of your sardines.”

“They were expired.”

“I know. I threw up all over this canvas.” He gestured to the artwork in front of him. “I really like how splattery it is. I think I’m going to call it, Study with food number One hundred and fifty seven.”

I left Pollock’s quarters even more confused than I had been. Something about the whole thing seemed a bit fishy. It reeked of a cover up. What did Pollock want with my expired sardines? Why couldn’t everyone stay out of my cupboards? The questions were endless.

Just then, Picasso appeared on the scene. He was carrying a canvas covered in yellow paint, cubes of horrifying golds, saffrons and lemons.

I was furious. “Picasso, what have you done with my cheese?”

Picasso snickered evilly. “It didn’t want to be cheese any more. It wanted to be cubes. Look how the painting deconstructs your notion of what cheese is, and what cheese isn’t.”

I flung myself towards the other painter with a lunge. “I say that cheese belongs on my canvas — and covered in a delicate gold leaf — surrounded by the face of a beautiful woman.”

“Well, I say the cheese belongs in my stomach,” Picasso said.

With a yell, I leapt onto Picasso, grabbing him by the shoulders. He pulled my beard.

“You’re cheating!” I called.

“All’s fair in love and art.”

We were both distracted when Andy Warhol barged in, carrying a painting of Campbell’s Soup.

“Klimt — so like, I was at your place last night, and I was really hungry. Then I opened your cupboard, and I had this great idea for a painting. It’s kind of like, what is food, and what is art?”

I glared at Warhol.

“By the way, you’re out of soup.”

 

 

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