* 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: Alex Bernstein

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 sometimes our authors wax rhapsodic about the loves of their lives. They also occasionally wax the car or the floor. But mainly they wax rhapsodic. Like Alex Bernstein. And it's the best way to say Happy Valentine's Day!


By: Alex Bernstein

Barb was extremely popular in a way that I was extremely not.

There was something about Barb. The way she chewed her pens and threw them out before the ink exploded. And then I’d retrieve the pens and chew where she chewed, even if they did explode. And then I’d have blue teeth for weeks. And people would go, Eugh. He’s been chewing Barb’s pens again. Loser!

We had a special relationship, me and Barb.

She was always there for me. When I tripped in the hallway, she was there. When I spilled lunch on myself, she was there. When I got shoved into lockers, she was there. And usually helping to change the locks.

With Barb, the possibilities were limited.

On the Charlie’s Angels Scale she was a 14.

Sitting near Barb was like sitting near a shampoo commercial.

Sitting near Barb was like sitting near a Playboy centerfold except she was real and alive and didn’t have staples in her stomach. That I knew of.

Barb’s third base was in four dimensions.

Barb was chick, perfected.

Barb’s beauty was not only skin deep, but also blood, bone, muscle, nervous system, and organ deep.

With Barb, the world was not my oyster. The world was the oyster of the guys over at the next table and they were not about to share despite their rampant shellfish allergies.

Barb’s beauty was incalculable unless you had a really good Texas Instruments calculator with extra log functions. Which I had.

Barb was out of my league. Actually, she was in my league. But she was a better hitter, while I closed my eyes and swung all the time.

Barb needed no cheerleading squad and could spell out “Go Team!” by herself.

Actually, talking to Barb was inconceivable. The trick was to stand near her without melting.

Barb’s beauty was so blinding I had to look through a pinhole in a cardboard box to see her (as if looking at an eclipse) which could be especially awkward in the school hallway.

Barb solved for Pi.

Barb was never full of baloney, cereal, or other animal by-products.

When God made Barb he broke the mold. But a wandering hobo found the mold, glued it back together, and went to sell it to GE. But on the way over, he got hit by a school bus.

I would’ve worshipped the ground Barb walked on. But she walked on air. So I worshipped air.

I only wanted Barb to validate me like a parking stub at jury duty.

We would have made the perfect couple, as Barb’s grace and beauty would have offset my oafishness and malformation.

When Barb tried being a bad girl, society changed its perception of “bad” to “perfectly adorable.”

Evenings, Barb worked at the broken lighthouse, guiding ships to shore with her smile.

Barb was a classic Greek beauty without the poor credit rating.

Barb’s sweat was the universal solvent.

The sailor who gave up Brandy for the sea came back for Barb.

Barb not only conversed with woodland animals but also taught them French.

Barb didn’t know I was alive, so therefore I wasn’t.

Barb was proof that there was so much more that I could aspire to that I would never ever ever get.

Thinking back on Barb, I didn’t realize how good I had it, back when I had it really good.

Had I had more courage, I would have surely told Barb how often I thought of her and how much she meant to me.

And she would have replied, “You’re sitting on my coat.”


* Welcome to The Big Jewel, where laughable ethnic stereotypes are sternly discouraged. Unless they are really laughable and written by Alex Bernstein, in which case we publish them gladly.


By: Alex Bernstein

Do you love me? Am I not beautiful? I am beautiful. I am gypsy in the caravan Karakadolianakas. I am Gina Linda Maria Karakadolianakas — the most beautiful dancer in the whole caravan. I know this because my mother, Rapunzel Linda Maria Karakadolianakas tells me so every day. And also because I have had many lovers. Many many many lovers. But no man captures the heart of gypsy. I am free like the wind. And he is small and icky like insects crawling in the bog — and you have to watch where you’re stepping — because — because — you don’t know what’s down there, and you just have to be careful.

But I spit on him. Because I am gypsy.

Still, he comes from far and wide — man who hears tales of the she-demon — her wiles and wood-smarts — her lethal earth spirit — her organic chai fruit snacks.

He hears tales — how my passion is that of the banshee, how my fire brings man to his knees, and how I make love like a Chihuahua on crack.

But man does not find me because, you know, we gypsies leave no trail. Well, except for Dorito wrappers and diet soft drink cans. But that’s it. We come and go in the night. We sneak our way through your antechambers and D’Agostino food marts. And we steal your babies and sell them for cheap, gaudy lawn furniture. HA HA HA HA.

Occasionally, however, man does find me. But no man enslaves the wild child. Gina Linda Maria Karakadolianakas is no easy tart-thing.

First, man must woo me. He must tame my animal spirit, hypnotize me with his eyes, and engulf me with his gurgling love. Then, after I have been tamed, wooed, hypnotized, and engulfed, the man must dance The Dance of Knives. The Dance of Knives. The unholy ritual where man is tied by sacred scarf to the arm of our caravan’s chosen warrior.

Man and warrior come at each other with knives of steel. Hacking. Twisting. Jabbing. HACK HACK STAB STAB TWIST STAB DIE. A duel to the death and all for me.

Incidentally, our caravan’s chosen warrior is my cousin Yulof — an idiot hunchback with no discernible talents whatsoever except for this wacky dance ritual which he does surprisingly well. So well, in fact, that he has killed every lover I have ever had.

Except for Johnny. No. Not my Johnny. Ohhhh.

Johnny found me late one night stealing babies. He showed me new, advanced techniques to bind and drag them, and one especially tricky knot that no small baby can untie.

Johnny knew of the world outside our camp. He spoke of wondrous things such as hashtags, YouTube, and Jenny Craig’s List. I longed to see this world and Johnny said we would conquer it together. Rome, Paris, Newark.

Johnny tamed me, wooed me, and you know, all those other things. Soon came his time to dance with Yulof. The night before, a fire filled our hearts and we made love under the stars like squirrels with ADD.

The next morning he was gone. All that was left was a note: Have gone to Paraguay. Be back soon.

Why? Why? Oh Johnny. Were the fruit snacks not organic enough? We were so good together. You were Apollo and I was Moonbase. I — I will wait for you, Johnny! I — I —

I spit on you.

I am gypsy.

* Welcome to The Big Jewel, where we yield to no one in our admiration for Hamlet, and in our determination to never see it staged again, unless it's by Alex Bernstein...

Polonius Is Dead

By: Alex Bernstein

Hamlet, Act III, Scene 4. Queen Gertrude’s bedchamber. Hamlet, distressed, speaks with the Queen. Polonius, her elderly advisor, hides behind the curtains.

POLONIUS: Oh…damn. Well, I didn’t think he’d just walk in like that. Still, standing back here, surely, I might ascertain the cause — nay, the implement — of young Hamlet’s madness.

What’s he saying? What’s he saying? What was that? I can hardly hear a thing. What? What was that? Was that my name? What’s he saying? What?

Well, I wouldn’t’ve stood back here if I’d known I couldn’t hear him. Maybe I’ll just peek. Lousy curtains. He’d run me through if he saw me! It’s just like him. That’s all we need in Denmark — emotional children. Walk backwards like a crab! Indeed! I’ve got your bare bodkin! Bare bodkin this! And how did he know I was a fishmonger? I made quite a nice living fish mongering. Hello, ladies! What are we mongering today? Fish? Fish jerky? Little squib? What’s he saying?

You know…I think I can just make out Gertrude’s backside from here! There’s an ass to kill for! Hmm…now, where’ve I heard that before?

I know. I’ll just step out. Hello! Well hello, Hamlet! Hamlet, right? You’re up late! Terrific sword. What am I doing back here? Praying. No. I live here. It’s a Westinghouse, right? Well, I’m westing! Ba-dump-cha! That’s great for toasts. It’s yours if you — oh, what am I really doing here? Mm. I’m lost. I was in aisle six and — you? Love these curtains. They’re Danish, I think. It would make sense, right? I could’ve sworn there was a window back here. You know what, Hamlet? You need a hobby. Seriously. Knitting? It’s a time killer! Yes. I — talk to myself? Do I? Why, I suppose I do!

Hamlet! Haaaamlet! Ophelia likes you! Yes, she does — I think so — I — Hiding!? Eavesdropping!? Sir! You malign me! You offend me! You piss me off — you —

God! The stench back here! Does no one ever clean?! Eeuch! Gertrude, I love you, but you’re a pig. Smells like juice of vile hebenon! Death for my sinuses. And get some in your ear!? Brrr!

Uhm…Hammy? Excuse me. I’m so sorry. I really must get back. One of my courtesans fell. Yes. On her orisons. Right. And I’m bringing her some ointment. Cortisone, yes. Cortisone for my courtesan’s orisons. I know. I know. It’s complicated. Maybe I should fix him up with that Capulet girl. Mmm. Yes, she’s moody, too.

I know! I’ll play on his madness! Hamlet! It is I — the Ghost of Your Father! Boo! Mark me! Mark — me! You — Hamlet! Mark me! Use permanent markers! Big ones! Hamlet! Avenge me! Avenge me! Kill the King! Jump up and down! Take two steps backwards! Say “hibby hibby nobby nobby tibby tibby ding!”

Oh, poor, poor, mixed-up Danish prince. Dangerous, sure. Too much zest. ADD? Perhaps. What he needs is a good role model. Someone living. Yes, that’s it. Flesh and blood.

Oh — oh — Hamlet — by the by — If you see him again — the King your father — could you ask where he left my sandals? He said he was only wearing them into the garden and now — yes, the leather ones with the gold straps. God, I had them for years! Greek! Specially made. A month’s salary! No, it’s fine, fine. I guess I didn’t really expect them back. Still. If he apparates again — yes, that’d be terrific!

Say — say — what — what was his name again, anyway? We always just called him “King.” Oh, oh, I know! Hamlet! King Hamlet! Say! That makes you a Junior! Hello, Junior! How are you, Junior? Ahp — Junior’s killed someone in a duel! See. That’s much cheerier, yes?

Well, everything’s perspective, isn’t it? You say it’s tragedy! He says it’s comedy! She says it’s a travel monologue! The Murder of Gonzago? Funny! I don’t care what the critics said. I couldn’t stop laughing. A tragedy is — I don’t know — anything by Marlowe! Kidding. A tragedy is some prolonged sword fight with poisoned tips and drinks and everyone dies and all that nonsense. God, it’s so depressing —

Take Claudius. Please! No, really — he’s a pussycat once you get to know him! And what good luck that after your father’s freakish death he was able to step in as new sovereign and husband to Gertrude! Ho! It certainly added continuity to the kingdom! Wasn’t so easy for your mother, either, hopping into the sack toot sweet with your father’s brother! But she knew her obligations to the crown! Now, that’s a queen!

I know — I know — you’re stressed. Seems like everybody’s talking about you, staring at you. Hamlet, that’s not treachery! It’s hormones. Yes. Now — I mean this — I want you to think of me as an uncle. Just like Claudius — no — wait — what? Look — what say you and me — two strapping Great Danes –- head to the commissary — grab a couple flagons of ale –- Super Gulps, sure -– and then, you can tell me anything! About your dad, Ophelia, whatever! Won’t that be swell?! Thatta boy! Come —

He steps forward, absent–mindedly.

POLONIUS: Give your old Uncle Polonius a big —

He is stabbed through the curtains.

POLONIUS: O — I am slain!