* 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!

 

* 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.

* 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.

* 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.

 

 

* 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.

 

* Welcome to The Big Jewel, where we like our inner peace accompanied by outer laughter. Follow the soothing voice of Emily Schleiger into a place of terror and darkness.

Guided Imagery: Freedom From Your Smartphone

By:
emily.schleiger@gmail.com

A warm welcome, all of you, to the Balanced Dreams Wellness Center, and to this Guided Meditation class: Freedom From Your Smartphone. My name is Harmony. Congratulations on taking your first step toward release from addiction. Together in this supportive space, we will envision the course of a day without the psychic burden of your tech device.

Let’s focus by closing our eyes. Inhale deeply, exhale slowly…practice gently lifting your chin upward…not down as if you were reading text from your palm.

As we visualize our day without our smartphones, remember: if panic overcomes you at any point, imagine yourself on a tranquil beach listening to waves.

Yes? No, Mike, you’re not worried about sand getting in your phone, because, of course, your phone isn’t there. No, there’s no chance the babysitter from Sandals’ Kids Club might call. This is your happy place. You control it.

I’m sorry, you have your hand up, Andrea? No, you can’t listen to seagulls instead of waves on your white noise app. The sound is a gift from your imagination. If your imagination chooses seagulls, hear seagulls.

Pause a second, everyone, to feel the infinite energy of your soul, the power that needs no cord, no outlet…

Derek — yes? I don’t know how you got to the beach without your Southwest Airlines or Uber apps. Perhaps your soul lives just a short walk from this beach. Yes, that close. No need for Google Maps.

Let’s try to hold questions until the end, okay?

Being present now, we’re heading back to the visualization. Imagine beginning your day with the sun streaming in. Take a moment to stretch, connecting with your spirit. It is a relaxed Sunday. Now, picture yourself cooking a delicious breakfast. Invite yourself to bacon, toast, poached eggs…

Janet, yes. Well, you’re making the eggs by memory. Without a Pinterest recipe.

So! After breakfast, envision taking in the senses of the running water in your shower. Clothe yourself and remain present. Meditate on loving kindness…

Janet again. No, it’s a beautiful day and there is no need to check your weather app for a hail forecast. It’s just a visualization. Yes, you’re safe to put the top down on the Sebring convertible later.

Mike, you appear to be breaking out in a heavy sweat. Can you verbalize your feelings? No, you don’t need to check in anywhere on Facebook. How will your wife know where you were? Um…

Oh, wow! Time flies! That sound means our time is up! What? That’s your Tinder chime, Janet? You have a Tinder account? I mean, you look a little…outside the age demographic for Tinder, but…good for you. Wait — you should not have a ph– that’s your “back-up” phone? Place it by the incense now. Right now.

Look how long you’ve made it without your smartphone! You might celebrate this later! Make room in your heart for newfound feelings of freedom!

Now you will visualize walking your dog. No, Karen, no need for My Fitness Pal app. Assume you burn a few calories.

And it’s a quiet walk, so, no, Madison. No Spotify.

And no, no selfies on Instagram! This is a selfie-free visualization!! No one meditates about selfies! Got it?!

What’s that, Janet? What kind of bird is that you hear on the walk? I don’t know!! You get to invent it. No, no! You do not need your Audubon Bird Guide app to figure that out! Who has that?! Who has both an Audubon app AND a Tinder app?! Why, why, why?!

Ok, now, focus on your dog, after your walk. Does your dog feel distressed not having a smartphone? The answer is no. It’s no, dammit! Don’t even talk. You people are hopeless.

Breathe.

It’s time for our visualized lunch. Now, this is the real test….can you meet a friend for lunch and avoid looking at a phone? I don’t believe you can, but you need to believe.

Madison…you’ve already planned to meet this friend for lunch. It’s a restaurant you like. You don’t need Yelp, you don’t need to text your friend to ask if she’s arrived, and you don’t need to tweet your excitement. Just go eat the damn food. Is that…are you wearing an Apple Watch?! Place it near the incense. No, you will not die without it! Listen up people. Today is my last day teaching this class. Please just try to engage, ‘k?

Mike, your wife approves of your meeting this friend for lunch. She does not suspect you are having an affair. You’ll just talk to, who, Suri? Oh you mean… Siri. No, you won’t, Mike. Siri is part of your phone and she won’t be at lunch. She is a tiny, conscience-less, voice-activated robot, Mike. You shouldn’t have included Siri in your lunch reservation, because she can’t engage in actual conversation. Mike, how about you ask your wife to join you for lunch? No, still out of town with her male boss named Sebastian. For five weeks. Okay. Um…Mike, maybe you want to sign up for our Healthy Boundaries in Relationships Guided Meditation? Mike, no — I don’t think you should wear a wire so your wife will trust you. You poor man.

Oh my God. Did Madison just…spontaneously combust…when she took off her Apple Watch? What-the-

Oh, that gong means our time is up. We weren’t able to finish the guided imagery, so you’ll have to visualize surviving the rest of the day independently. Good luck with that.

Open your eyes, inhale, exhale, bring your hands to heart center. Just an announcement: after today classes will no longer be held at the Wellness Center. As you may have noticed, the lobby was turned into a Pokemon GO Gym, which makes conducting these classes even more difficult. If you need more practice, today’s exercise will be available as a podcast on our website.

Peace on your journeys.

 

 

* Welcome to The Big Jewel, where, as the fate of our republic and indeed the whole world hangs in the balance, we focus unerringly on the most important issues of the day. Like, um, the game of peek-a-boo. Put your hands over your eyes and say hello to Katie Clad.

I’m Blowing Your Kid’s Mind With My Version Of Peek-a-boo

By:
katherine.clad@gmail.com

You know how it goes, this game for babies. You find a receptive tot and you mug a little to get their attention. Then you take a blanket or your hand, whatever, and you cover your face. You wait a beat, drop the thingamajig and — surprise — it’s your face. The baby smiles, maybe even laughs, game over. Yawn. See, when it comes to infant cognitive development, I like to “think different.”

Janet, they said, why mess with a classic? Play peek-a-boo the way it’s always been played. Right now, it’s simple; no props needed and the little one learns something about object permanence and differentiation of self. Make things easy for yourself!

Sorry, but I’m not about just going with the flow. Where would we as a society be if everyone did things the way they’ve always been done? We’d be naked and sitting in the dirt, trying to eat the bugs that fly past our mouths. Each of us has a responsibility to push the human race forward. At least, that’s what I believe.

So when I play peek-a-boo with some cutie pie, I leave the blankie up in front of my face. Peek-a-boo! I shout, then wait a beat and shout peek-a-boo! again. I can’t see much, but I’m pretty certain the kid is all: who’s yelling that? Where’d they go? Pow! Suddenly they’re questioning everything they’ve learned about the world.

Or, I’ll wave at some little angel, put my hands over my face then jump onto a nearby tricycle and pedal furiously away. They’ll totally forget that youngish and still-attractive lady they met in the park. That is, until two or three hours later, when they’re headed home. That’s when I jump out in front of their stroller from behind a trashcan. PEEK-A-BOO!

I briefly considered earning a degree in early childhood education. Alas, I soon realized that my approach was deemed too radical by the powers that be. They took issue with my stated goal of industry disruption, sniffing that the only thing I was “disrupting” was a healthy attachment process. Well, I found their coddling approach to be a disservice to this country’s future tastemakers, in the long, long run.

Sure, you could call me an innovator. Innovators make waves. They aren’t afraid of making people — of any age — a bit uncomfortable. It’s been proven that we humans learn best when pushed out of our comfort zone. So when I’m in a playground and I spy a chubby li’l cherub, I’ll position myself right in their line of vision. Then I’ll hold my hands flat in front of my face and wait a few beats before lowering them slowly to reveal cold, dead eyes and a horrifying maniacal grin, frozen in silence. Marinate on that, you adorable rug rat! Where’s your rapprochement now?

Rarely, there’s a tiny rascal who looks ready to create some neural pathways in a next level way. When I’m sure mommy isn’t looking, I’ll get that sweet moppet’s attention and pull the flap of my jacket in front of my face. I pop into my mouth a generous handful of these blood capsules I keep on me especially for these occasions. When I pull my arm back I’m making this awful gurgling noise while crimson ooze flows out of my mouth and drips into the sandbox. Admittedly, this is a tougher one to land. It’s very difficult to shout peek-a-boo over a screaming kiddo when your mouth is full of thick colored syrup.

Sure, I’ve been chased out of playgrounds by a few touchy mothers. I don’t let it get to me; the status quo will always have its defenders. For real change, you need to impact the next generation directly. I can tell that this precious darling is lucky to have a forward-thinking parent such as yourself who undoubtedly agrees that — okay, stop pushing! I’ll leave.

* Welcome to The Big Jewel, where it's always your lucky day! Oh, the luck you're about to have. You have no idea! And neither do the makers of Lucky Charms. Heed the blarney of Luke Roloff.

Some Lucky Ideas For Making Lucky Charms Luckier

By:
lukeroloff@hotmail.com

To the Lucky Charms R&D Team:

Hello! My family and I love your product — especially the luck it brings me. Odds are, I bet you get this type of letter all the time, so I’ll just cut to the chase. While I have long relied on your hardened mallows for a serotonin boost at the breakfast table as much as a rush of dopamine at the roulette table, I see a few missed opportunities I hope I can tip you off on.

Lord knows your horseshoes, rainbows and shooting stars are proven ironclad luck makers, though I’d like to share with you a few additional charms bound to help me settle my scores around town. Starting with an obvious one — the Pot O’ Gold. Maybe I’m missing something here, but it’s pictured on the front of your box – why isn’t it floating in my bowl?

Every morning after spending some time and serious money playing online poker with the kids, I finger through a box of Lucky Charms probing for a Pot O’ Gold sugar nugget lucky enough to keep the bookies from breaking both kneecaps. I comb and I comb, but no matter how many deformed bits of brown I dig through, there’s no gilded pot to be found. All I can do is look down at the faces of my children and say, what are you looking at?

I make it a priority to teach my children that life isn’t a big game of trying hard and doing your best. I pray they’ll come to understand that it’s better to be lucky than good, and even better than that to be good at luck. Because as we both know, luck doesn’t just come along by chance. It’s not some hocus-pocus fluke. No. Good luck is the product of a good luck ethic.

After getting the kids off to the park to pick 4-leaf clovers for the day, I swing by the local cockfight and then head to the horse track. The key to me not losing borrowed money is my lucky underwear. Classic white briefs, if you must know. This is another missed opportunity I don’t quite comprehend. Lucky underwear is a common thread in achieving luck. Please add the white briefs marshmallow. And, I’m embarrassed for you to even have to bring this up, but the lack of a little horsey/jockey marshmallow in your lineup is as sorely missed as my left pinky.

The lies I told myself to justify losing my kids college tuition in scratch tickets alone – ha! There’s nothing you can do but shake your head and laugh as you blindly lay down another wild bet and constantly look for ways to acquire more luck. It’s a game of attrition. The more you look for luck, the less time you have for unlucky things.

This may come as a surprise, but I have a love for gambling. When I’m not on a bender in Vegas, I spend most nights bunkered inside a seedy underground card room while my kids are safe in the adjacent room playing craps. But not without my lucky jackknife I don’t. I’ve fought off dozens of cold streaks and angry thugs with it. And I feel the addition of a steel shank to the Lucky Charms family is long overdue.

What is luck, really? Some days you have it, most days you don’t. And on those days, you need even more of it. It ebbs and flows like the tide of the sea. You dip your toe in for the cool rush, and before you know it, a tsunami crushes the skull of your financial well-being and possibly your head if you don’t pay the piper. That’s when you begin to wonder, are my Lucky Charms magically delicious? Or are they just delicious? Deep down you know they’re infused with lucky magic, but sometimes you lose sight of the truth when you lose your house and family and kidney due to illegal sports betting.

Robbing banks isn’t for everyone. It’s for people experiencing a small string of crummy luck. Now just spit-balling here, but I wonder if a machinegun marshmallow doesn’t make a lot of sense? And a little security guard man could be fun, too. Listen, with all due respect, I don’t want to tell you how to run your business, but I will if you don’t meet my demands.

Thank you for taking the time to read my letter in light of it being postmarked from San Quentin State Prison. I hope you find it lucky and not rude. Please consider making the aforementioned additions and greatly improving my odds of winning back my family from the bruisers who are holding them hostage.

Expectantly,

Greg

 

 

 

* Welcome to The Big Jewel, where there is nothing more magical than the magic of democracy -- except the magic of Harry Potter. Thanks goodness J.K. Rowling is back to writing about him again...and again...and again. Listen to your literary correspondent Alex Bernstein.

Harry Potter Grows Up

By:
abernstein1@comcast.net
www.promonmars.com

Discovering that she is thoroughly unable to stop writing about her beloved creation, J. K. Rowling has announced a new spate of Harry Potter books chronicling his further adventures into adulthood.  Some upcoming titles include:

Harry Potter and…

The Nagging Quidditch Knee Injury

The Cursed Child’s Bi-Monthly Orthodontic Schedule

The Greatly Delayed Loan Payments for Three Damn Kids at Hogwarts

The Curious Explanation of Why Albus Does Not Need a New Broomstick When a Used One Will Do Just Fine, Thank You

The Long-Delayed Switch from Owls to Skype

The Juice Cleanse from Azkaban

The Inappropriate Trade of Snapchat Pix with Luna Lovegood

The Great Difficulty in Finding Platform 9 3/4s as well as Bathroom 7 8/10s

The Sad Realization that the More Butterbeer He Drinks, the Better Ginny Looks

The Awkward Confession that He Actually Misses Voldemort

The Embarrassing Arrest for Yelling “I’m Harry Potter, Dammit!” 100 Times at the Leaky Cauldron

The Awful Mistake in Telling Hagrid to Hit Him as Hard as He Can, Because Hey! He Can Take It!

The Annual Uncontrolled Sobbing at the Grave of Sirius Black

The Earnest Admission that Deep Down He Always Felt Muggle

The Visit to the Wonderful New Apple Store in Diagon Alley

The Oddly Arousing House Elf

The Powerful Spell of Ineeda Viagra!

The Acknowledgement that He Really Couldn’t Remember His Parent’s Names Even Before the Dementia Set In

The Quiet Realization that He Should Probably Put All that Magical Bullshit Behind Him

The Long Overdue Laser Surgery to Remove that Stupid Scar

The Bizarre Thrill of New Aluminum Siding

His Discovery of the True Magic of Yoga

 

And also:
Granger-Weasley Family Intervention

Where’s My Damn Sorting Hat?!

Magical Pests and How to Remove Them from Your Basement

 

 

* Welcome to The Big Jewel, where we are preparing to celebrate the fun and the folly of this little thing called democracy. Meanwhile, our good friend Michael Fowler is preparing for the worst -- which comes to pretty much the same thing. When you've finished reading his latest bit of hilarity, be sure to check our blogroll on the right for a link to his book, God Made the Animals.

If Trump Wins, I’m Moving To The Sticks

By:
mfowl4916@gmail.com

If Trump is elected this year, I’m moving to the sticks. Goodbye big city, hello boondocks. I’ll be looking for a town so tiny and moribund that not even the Donald can degrade it more.

I’m thinking something I can afford, say a river town with shanties, probably in the Midwest where I’m from. There are plenty of tiny burgs along the Ohio and Cumberland Rivers, for example, with populations of no more than 1500 where I can hole up and ride out the heinous Trump administration. I’ll sit on my wooden front porch, rotten and warped as it may be, and watch the river roll by, holding my head in my hands. “It’s not our country anymore,” I’ll say to my dog Colin, as he lies motionlessly, almost breathlessly, at my feet. “I don’t know who it belongs to now.”

Of course I’d prefer fancier surroundings. The city apartment I have now isn’t bad at all, near my work and lots of nightlife. But I don’t have the funds to follow Whoopi and Babs to Spain or Portugal or whatever beautiful European coastal regions stars like that’ll be going to, to avoid Trump’s wrath. I wish I could go with them, but I can barely afford the airfare. They won’t miss me, of course, and I’ll do my best not to miss them, though it will be hard. They’re my kind of folks.

The town I choose, whatever it’s called, will likely be dying former ironworkers or coal miners and their tubercular wives, abandoned by the global economy and by their grown children. Or dirt-poor farmers too proud to accept ethanol subsidies. Not much affluence, not much hope, lots of drugs. I’m 31 and in good health, and Colin and I have many long days left to plant ourselves on that porch on Main Street, the ramshackle one I envision, hopefully down by the river, about three blocks from the shuttered mill or rusted foundry where everyone used to work. I’ll wave a somber hello to those who, like me, have escaped Trump’s mania, and we’ll exchange hushed greetings at the Dollar Store. We’ll all smile timidly into our plates at the Sunday spaghetti supper. There’s no question of the town becoming great again; it can’t. Its greatest claim to fame is being home to the first concrete street in America, built in 1935, or a cannonball factory that bolted its doors in 1865, or some such historical glitz. It will never reach that height again, with or without our mad new president.

I’ve never lived in a small town, and it surprises even me that I’m planning to transfer to one now. But it’ll bring back memories nonetheless. My parents used to take the family to a dump like the one I’m thinking of back when my sister and I were kids; that’s probably what makes me think of living in the boonies now. The town we visited was never what you’d call great, either, and I forget the name of it: just some hamlet off Interstate 75 in northern Ohio. We visited the dime store and a burger joint — Sookies’s, I think; great burgers — where we went for lunch when we couldn’t stand another meal in our kitchen. But what were we doing there in the first place? Why the hell would my family travel to such a benighted backwater? Oh, now I remember! We were visiting a lake a few miles away and were taking a break from our waterfront cottage with its cramped quarters and spiders and no TV. We were driven to the town by pure boredom.

Not that there was nothing going on at the lake. There was an amusement park alongside a marina and — I’ll never forget — a shop where you could buy donuts at all hours except at night. The donuts were made out of special ingredients but I forget what. There was also an area on the lakefront where you could jump on a trampoline and a pizza place with a pinball machine. Man, the memories. One thing I remember clearly, and ha! — it’s a funny story too. When my sister and I visited the lake years ago, we used to get so bored sitting in our cottage that she would threaten to shave her head if our parents didn’t take us home immediately. And I’d stick gum in my hair just to pull it out. Yet the entire family looked forward to going back to this horrible lake every year.

I have no intention of going back to the lake during Trump’s reign of terror, though. I’ve heard it’s completely changed now after 20 years anyway, and not for the better, with the amusement park closed and biker gangs trolling all the restaurants. Even the cottages have folded for good. The lake will never be great again. So there’s no question of my living there, and I’m just going to have to rent an apartment or lease a shanty in a small river town, as I said, and also get a new job, thanks to Trump. The job part is kind of frightening, since I don’t think anyone in the kind of town I’m looking at has worked in decades. Still, I’m reasonably optimistic. Something always turns up in my field of abstract art sales.

If I want nightlife or excitement I can hop in my car and the drive fifty or so miles to the city. But I’m thinking I’ll be selling the car and pretty much staying indoors around the calendar. Just me and Colin and the damp walls. How does the song go? “Hello, wall. It’s me again.” Maybe a line about a porch, too.

At night I’ll turn on a little blue light in my front window to let folks know I still have hope. Folks on the river will see it and understand. It may not be the life Jon and Cher and the in-crowd will lead in France or Italy when Trump wins, but I’ll get by.

Then after Trump serves out his final term or is impeached, I’ll fly to Paris for the international celebration.