* Welcome to The Big Jewel, your source for all Becky Cardwell-related information. Fortunately, Becky herself is with us this week to tell us more than we ever wanted to know about her.

About Me

By: Becky Cardwell

If I had to describe myself in one word, it would be unpredictable.

I like to keep people guessing. One minute I might be describing myself in a word, and the next I’m jumping into a tank full of hungry tiger sharks. It’s like nobody really knows what I’m going to do next.

If I had to describe myself in two words, they would be unpredictable (see above) and fearless. Because obviously I would have to be fearless to jump into a tank full of hungry tiger sharks.

If I had describe myself in three words, they would be unpredictable (above), fearless (again, above) and labyrinthine. Labyrinthine is a synonym for complex. Sure, I could have just said complex, but like I said, I’m unpredictable.

Also, I like the way labyrinthine rolls off my tongue.

Now, here’s where things get interesting. If I had to describe myself as an animal, I would be a pygmy marmoset. Not many people know this, but the pygmy marmoset is “Nature’s Cutest Animal.” I like to think of myself as “Humankind’s Cutest Human.”

Or, maybe I’d be a cat. Tough to say.

If I had to be two animals, I would be a pygmy marmoset/cat and a whawk. What’s a whawk? I’m glad you asked. A whawk is a whale. With hawk eyes.

Technically they don’t exist yet –- I’m working on the patent now. If all goes as planned, the whawk should be in existence by the fall of 2014. (Fingers crossed!)

If I had to be two animals before 2014, I would be anything but a cat.

Now, if I had to describe myself as an insect, without question I would be a cockchafer. A cockchafer is a large European beetle.

Actually, now that I think about it I would also use cockchafer as one of my describing words. I would take out unpredictable and replace it with cockchafer. Because by doing that, people would already know that I’m unpredictable. It’s like it goes without saying.

Let’s say I had to describe myself as a font. Easy! I would be Party LET. Only I would switch it around and add an ‘s’. That way I’d be LET’s Party!

If I wasn’t allowed to do that, I’d say “Too bad. I’m an unpredictable cockchafer, remember?”

If I had to be a dance move (because you can’t be LET’s Party! without dancing), I would be the swinging pendulum. Trust me when I say that it’s my thang.

That being said, if I had to be a thang, I would be a G thang. Only because I don’t know any other thangs.

If I had to describe myself as a rock band playing music for my swinging pendulum/G Thang, I’d be any band except Meat Loaf’s. I hate Meat Loaf.

Don’t get me wrong, if I had to be a main course I would definitely be meatloaf. In this case I love meatloaf.

Moving on, if I had to describe myself as a professional wrestling move, I would be the bionic elbow. I mean, really, how cool would it be to have a bionic elbow? It’s like being part superhero or something.

Which reminds me, if I had to be part superhero, I would be Describer Woman.

“Faster than a really cute pygmy marmoset, more powerful than a bionic elbow and able to describe herself in thismanyways!” Or something like that. I haven’t really decided yet.

If I had to describe myself as a Starbucks coffee, I would have to pass. Only because I don’t drink coffee.

You might think it’s strange that I don’t drink coffee. You’re probably like, “What do you mean? Everybody drinks coffee.” And I’m like, “Well, I don’t.” And you’re all, “Well, that’s just weird,” and I’m all, “Oh, yeah? Well, if I had to describe myself as a pet peeve, I would be you.”

Finally, if I had to describe myself as a fruit, I would be a kumquat.

No reason.

So, yeah. I guess you could say that in a nutshell, I’m a fearless non-coffee drinking labyrinthine pygmy marmoset Describer Woman, with a bionic elbow and hawk eyes who hates Meatloaf but loves meatloaf and has cockchafing tendencies and likes to show off her G thang at parties where she also does the pendulum and doesn’t drink coffee. Kumquat.

Though if I had to describe myself in a nutshell, it would probably be walnut.

…Or maybe macadamia?

To be honest, I haven’t thought that far ahead.

* Welcome to The Big Jewel, where the new journalism meets the new economy in a head-on collision with no survivors. No, wait, there is one survivor. It's our good friend Becky Cardwell, whose profession is the very embodiment of the new economy.

Acting Tips From A True-Crime Re-Enactor

By: Becky Cardwell

I am an actor. My parents were actors as well, which is undoubtedly how I developed an appreciation for the craft. My father was a successful real estate agent who engaged in role-playing with his secretary, and my mother a housewife/aspiring rug hooker who acted oblivious to my father’s transgressions.

I was discovered at the age of four in the local supermarket, by a pageant mom who, after seeing me perform “I’m a Little Tea Pot” next to my grocer’s freezer section, called me the “Next big thing in animate tea-brewing vessels.”

Still, it wasn’t until a few years later — while I was heaving into an outdoor recycling bin after eating the Spamwich my mother made for my lunch — that a vegan television producer took notice. Impressed by my eco-friendly vomiting skills, he offered me the lead role in his new reality show, called Girl Who Dies After Stranger Slips a Meat-By-Product Into Her Tofurkey Wrap.

From there, I went on to play a vegetarian in the wrong place at the wrong time, then a vegetarian in the right place at the wrong time, eventually landing the coveted role of “Trashy Vegetarian-Turned-Mistress,” brutally murdered by her lover’s meat-eating wife.

Being a re-enactor is a million times harder than being a regular actor. Especially when the person you’re reenacting was an actor. Not only do you have to memorize his natural persona, you also have to get into his acting mind. This means you’re actually getting into two minds. Actually, no…make that three minds — I forgot to include the mind of the character that your actor is acting.

There are no classes that can prepare you for this type of career. You either have the talent or you don’t. That being said, there are certain things you can do to fake like you have the talent.

If I could give aspiring crime re-enactors any advice, it would be as follows:

Show Honesty in Your Work. Ask yourself these questions: Who am I? Where am I? Where am I from? What time is it? What period? If playing a woman, am I on my period?

Once you have these answers, you can then go on to tackle the more difficult questions. Should I sprawl out on the dirt with my eyes rolled back in my head? Or do I want to seem peaceful, like if someone didn’t know any better they might think I was just taking a catnap on the asphalt?

Be Flexible. You might start out in misdemeanor crimes: things like simple assault and battery, drunkenness in public, various traffic violations, etc. While they may not be as exciting as actual homicides, it’s important to remember that true petty crime is a gateway to harsher, more serious true crime.

Hone Your Craft. People think it’s easy to play a dead person. They’re wrong. Just because there is no actual personality in a dead person, that doesn’t make them easier to play. If anything, it makes it tougher. Dead people aren’t around to give you advice on how to play themselves. Nobody truly knows what it’s like to be a dead person, and anyone who says they do is lying. Or dead.

To prepare for these types of roles, I often spend days lying motionless on a park bench, just to get a feel for the deadness of my character.

Be Realistic. Say you’re a short blonde Polish girl in her early twenties. Are you going to audition for the part of a sixty-year-old Garifuna man with a short blonde Polish girl fetish? Hells no! That would be career suicide.

But would you consider gaining thirty pounds and getting a lower fraenum ring to play an Emo who falls in love with a mentally unstable piercing artist? These are the kinds of questions you need to ask yourself.

I remember one audition I had for a woman named Mary. Mary was a deaf Southern Baptist in her late sixties who didn’t drink alcohol because it caused her psoriasis to flare up.

Now, I had never been deaf, nor had I ever gone a day without getting my party on. But I was dedicated. And by the time we went to shoot, not only was I (relatively) sober, I could sign all the lyrics to Bette Midler’s “The Rose”!

Commit to the Role. If you sign up to play a street thug, you may have to endure fake beatings. You need to be open to that.

Stay Positive. There are times when you might not work for months, due to a decrease in violent crime rates. Be patient. Remember, the Law of Duality says that what goes down will eventually rise again.

About Your Portfolio. While you want the casting agents to see you in a crime-related light, you don’t want to pigeonhole yourself. If all of your headshots are of you playing a dead person, they’ll think of you as being one-dimensional. Just because you’re a victim, that doesn’t mean you will end up dead. You might just be brutally stabbed. Or beaten to the point of unconsciousness.

Speaking of pigeonholing, do not fall into this trap. If you’re European, try not to act like one all the time. Or, at least don’t limit your Europeaness to one region. If you’re Romanian, don’t be scared to play someone of Bulgarian descent.

The great thing about being a True-Crime Reenactor is that you don’t have to worry about succumbing to the pressures of Hollywood. You might play the part of a guy who succumbed to these pressures, but if that guy were still alive he probably wouldn’t hang out with you. And really, that’s a good thing.

I’ll leave you with these words of wisdom: Dr. Kevorkian once said that dying is not a crime. He’s right. It’s only when someone makes you die that it becomes a crime. And that’s where we come in.

* Welcome to The Big Jewel, where we really believe in voting...as long as it's on Facebook for somebody else's kid.

To All Members Of The “Vote Dylan Cutest Baby Ever!!!!!” Facebook Group

By: Becky Cardwell

Dear Members Of The “Vote Dylan Cutest Baby Ever!!!!!” Facebook Group,

While I appreciate you thinking of me, I regret to inform you that I will be declining your generous invitation to join this, the “Vote Dylan Cutest Baby Ever!!!!!” Facebook group.

Now, normally I wouldn’t even bother sending an RSVP for this kind of thing, I’d just assume that, by clicking the decline button, you would know I’m not interested. But seeing as I have already done that six times and yet somehow this invitation still manages to appear on my homepage every time I log in, I feel as though I have no other choice but to provide you all with a detailed explanation.

The following reasons are why I will not be joining your group (in no particular order):

1) I don’t really find Dylan all that cute.

No offense meant to his parents or anything, it’s just a matter of personal taste. And no, it’s not like I’m some straight-laced puritan who believes that in order to join a cute baby group I need to be able to look at said baby’s photo and say confidently, “Wow! What a gorgeous child! Mom, you’d better reinforce that bedroom door of his because it’s only a matter of years before those girls start knocking it down!!!” However, seeing as I am the one who has to live with my conscience, I do feel there needs to be at least some potential for me to work with.

Obviously you all share a different opinion, and really, I’m okay with that. But you’d have to be blind not to notice that this kid is severely lacking in the looks department. Maybe you could try again after he’s grown into his nose a little more? Or, better yet, start a group that focuses on his assets? If you were to invite me to join the “Vote Dylan Baby With The Most Deformed Head” group, or “Let’s Get This Kid’s Ears Pinned Back Before He Becomes a Target for Bullies,” I would definitely have no problem jumping on the “Go Dylan!” bandwagon.

2) As I’m sure many of you are aware, I used to sleep with Dylan’s father. Now, even though our passionate sexual liaisons meant absolutely nothing to me, they meant even less to him, which is why we finally decided it would be best if we made a clean break. So clean, in fact, that I had absolutely no idea a break had even been made until I ran into his sister at the salon and she told me she was going to be an Auntie.

Needless to say, I was so happy for her!

Regardless of what you all may think, the fact he chose that piece of trash (sorry Candice!) over me has absolutely no bearing on my decision. I only bring it up because if I were to join this fraudulent group, people might think I’m being biased, giving the impression that I only became a member in the first place because Dylan’s father and I used to have sex (with each other!) all the time. Now if these same people were to later come up to me and say “Hey? What gives?” I would have no choice but to tell them that unlike some skanks (sorry again Candice!), I made Dylan’s father wear protection, and that is why I don’t have my own “VOTE MY KID CUTEST BABY EVER!!!” group.

I’m sure you’ll agree that if Dylan were to win this contest (which I guarantee you he won’t), it should be on the up and up, not because of some underhanded ploy where people felt compelled to join a group they didn’t believe in and were only doing it because they slept with the baby’s father. Because in the end it’s all about Dylan, and one can only imagine the negative effect it would have on this poor little homely child to grow up not only believing he’s better looking than he really is, but also thinking that it’s okay to cheat on Facebook groups. And “sort-of” girlfriends.

3) I don’t believe in favoritism. If I were to join this group I’d be sending a message to all of my other Facebook friends out there, many of whom have children with men who don’t run off getting other women pregnant, that their babies aren’t as cute as little Dylan. When in reality, nothing could be further from the truth.

I trust this explanation will prove sufficient and you’ll refrain from sending me these invites in the future. In fact, maybe it would be easier if you all just removed me from your friends list entirely? I mean, it’s your call, but seeing as I only added you in the first place to prove I had no hard feelings (not to mention the fact that I didn’t think any of you would accept), it probably doesn’t make sense for us to continue living this lie.

Hope all of you are doing well, and best of luck with your group.


Tom’s ex

* Welcome to The Big Jewel, where yo mama and our mama are both the butt of "yo mama" jokes. This week, however, the mama in the spotlight is Becky Cardwell's.

An Evolution Of Yo Mama Jokes, As Told By My Mother

By: Becky Cardwell

Yo Mama so fat she looks nine months pregnant, which thankfully she is.

Yo Mama still so fat, but to be fair she did just have a baby six months ago.

Yo Mama so cruel because somehow she always ends up being the disciplinarian while her husband gets to sit back and play the good guy.

Yo Mama so boring her children would rather hang out at their Aunt Kathy’s house and play with her two dogs in the enormous swimming pool.

Yo Mama so fat thank goodness it’s (mostly) just stubborn baby weight.

Yo Mama so homely but that’s just because she spends all her free time at home. By the phone. Waiting for her daughter to call and let her know where she is.

Yo Mama such a pushover her nickname is “Pushover.”

Yo Mama so old-school she needs to stop buying her daughter new clothes when they just end up sitting in a crumpled heap in the back of the closet anyway.

Yo Mama so naive she can’t relate to being a college freshman who’s too busy partying to stay home on a Saturday night and play Yahtzee with her mama.

Yo Mama so narcissistic she just assumed that after her flesh and blood moved out she’d at least get a phone call every once in a while.

Yo Mama so gullible she wakes up every morning thinking that maybe, just maybe, this will be the day her twenty-five-year-old will finally settle down and start having babies of her own. But not before the wedding, of course.

Yo Mama so fat even her sweat pants don’t fit but it’s not a big deal since nobody ever invites her out anyway.

Yo Mama so awful that her shy and timid little girl has suddenly become an ambitious career woman, who is too busy doing “career woman-like activities” to get married and give her lonely (and let’s not forget awful) mama a grandchild.

Yo Mama so old she should probably just withdraw her 401K early and move into a seniors’ home, seeing as her children (in not so many words) have made it perfectly clear that there’s no room at their place for an old lady and a friendly, mostly well-behaved cat.

Yo Mama so fat, but really it’s not her fault. You see, ever since her cat ran away and her oldest kid just accepted a job offer out-of-state, she has no other choice but to seek companionship from the bottom of a tub of Ben & Jerry’s Chunky Monkey.

* Welcome to The Big Jewel, where life imitates art, and art imitates a really sad life, which will nonetheless make you laugh. At least, if it's written by Becky Cardwell.

Leaving The Nest: The Metaphorical Gallery Of A Food Preparation Utensils Sculptor

By: Becky Cardwell


I am a contemporary artist who specializes in the art of sculpture. My parents were artists as well, which is undoubtedly how I developed such a true appreciation for the craft. My father was a car mechanic who built creative-yet functional sculptures under the hoods of various Chevrolet models, and my mother was a secretary/aspiring rug-hooker, with a unique gift for turning otherwise mundane pieces of yarn into realistic and visually-stimulating farmhouse motifs.

Each one of my sculptures tells a personal story, and together they tell an even longer, more personal story. And while I’m confident they speak for themselves, I have taken the liberty of titling them, just in case they don’t.

The following masterpieces comprise my “Leaving the Nest” Gallery. I hope they will be as cathartic to you, as they are to me.


“Step Off My George Foreman Grill!” — 1997

The vision for this Spartan yet thought-provoking piece came to me during an extremely turbulent period in my life. After graduating from College — give or take a few dozen credits — I decided it was time to find my true calling. However, because I was directionally-challenged and suffered from a mild case of vertigo at the time, I opted instead to sit on the couch and watch television all day, in the hopes that my true calling would eventually find me.

Sadly, my Mother was not of the same opinion. Ever since the doctors severed the umbilical cord that had at one time connected us, it was as though we no longer shared the same mindset. She would continually try coercing me into doing illogical things, like contributing financially to the household, or performing chore-like duties in such a way as to belittle my skills (I had majored in Liberal Arts and therefore had a varied and extensive education).

“Would you please go and clean your room?” she would ask, in a tone that wasn’t always pleasant.

It was a horrible experience, one that I pray no other twenty-five year-old will ever be forced to endure.

The Hand That Rocks The Ladle — 1997

To the artistically-challenged eye this may look like just a regular serving spoon leaning against a silicone oven mitt, but to everyone else it is a tour de force, a minimalistic representation of life as seen by a brilliantly-creative yet unfairly tormented hostage.

As it turned out, this woman — who, only a quarter of a century earlier, allowed me to stay rent-free in her womb for nine months — was suffering from a debilitating mental illness. She began making bizarre comments, asking nonsensical questions, such as “When are you going to start pulling your own weight?” and “As long as you live under this roof, you will NOT be bringing random guys home from the bar at three a.m. — DO YOU HEAR ME???”

It wasn’t that I couldn’t hear her — she’d been standing less than three feet away at the time — it was that her words were completely absurd. It was obvious she needed professional help, and since I wasn’t a Psychiatrist, nor did I have good enough grades to get into a school for aspiring Psychiatrists, I knew I had to leave. I also knew this because she kicked me out.

She wrote me a check for four-hundred-dollars, which I used to secure a small, sculpture-friendly basement suite found on Craigslist. And while the bathroom wasn’t finished and it reeked of cat urine, I knew deep down it was better than the alternative.

* Sidenote — The alternative was becoming a squatter, and back then I didn’t have the thigh muscles required to remain in awkward positions for an extended period of time.

“Tongs For Nothing!” — 1997

This stunning success, comprised solely of strategically placed Ron Popeil “Flip-Its”, came to fruition shortly after discovering that cable would cost extra.

I was devastated. Television had been part of my life since I was six-months old, and to be without it felt like losing a family member. Only worse.

Desperate, I did the only thing I could do. I quickly sculpted this magnum opus and then reached for the phone to call my progenitor. After discovering that it, too, was not in service, I knew I had no other choice to go to see her in person.

(Public transport is yet another thing I pray no other twenty-five year-old will ever be forced to endure.)

One can only imagine the creativity-triggering angst I felt, when after embarking on such a long and arduous journey, the woman denied me, her firstborn child, the gift of life in monetary form. She said I had to learn to survive on my own, and her decision to deprive me of my livelihood hurt her more than it hurt me.

I found it hard to believe, seeing as I was hurting something fierce and I knew her threshold for pain wasn’t all that high.

Eye Of The Grinder-1997

This pupil-adorned Cuisinart could very well be my most majestic creation of all. The idea came to me while sitting on the floor of my unfurnished basement suite, brainstorming ways to earn money without having to sacrifice my free time. “What would Sylvester Stallone in Rocky III do?” I asked myself.

Unfortunately, because I’d never actually seen the movie, I really had no idea.

Just then, my former caregiver showed up. After spending the last twenty-four hours in an intensive self-rehabilitation program, she had finally come to her senses, and was begging me to return to the previously lively but now bleak and barren house we once shared.

I made her sweat it out, but in the end I knew that because she was family, I had no other choice but to forgive and forget.

So, after hugging it out and drying my tear-stained but still extremely talented eyes, I packed my satchel — made entirely out of reusable Gladware containers — and we headed back home.

Now, whenever I look at this magnificent Grind & Brew™ sculpture, whether it be sitting on my mantle or finely milling the roasted coffee beans hand-picked by Arabian artists, I am reminded of a famous quote I once heard:

“Risin’ up, back on the street, did my time, took my chances. Went the distance now I’m back on my feet, just a man and his will to survive…”

— Anonymous

* Welcome to The Big Jewel, where we used to have a secret family recipe. It's not a secret any more, thanks to Becky Cardwell, whose gift for translating bad Japanese into even worse English is something to behold.

Iron Chef Japan Judges Critique Dishes Prepared By A Soccer Mom Using Peanut Butter As Theme Ingredient

By: Becky Cardwell

Appetizer: Pascal Celery Stalks Covered in Aromatic Peanut Paste and Sprinkled With Organic Dehydrated Grapes

Judge #1 — Superb fusion of ingredient.

Judge #2 — Attractively refreshing, but sadly texture of parched grape seems to lose authority in velvet of pasted peanut. I would have felt greater affection for more corpulent combustion of flavor.

Judge #3 — Elegantly presented, so succulent to my eye. They should name this delight “Small insects resting on a piece of lumber.”

Main Course: Sweet Plantains and Dry Roasted Nut Spread Served Amid Two Slices of Leavened Rye

Judge #1 — I am appreciative of the presentation, however I feel as though an excessiveness of the exotic fruit would have made this more likable to my oral cavity.

Judge #2 — The taste is lethargic and left my mouth lonely. I hate being angry but I don’t think I enjoy this.

Judge #3 — Sadly, my palate has become jaded from the charm of the first dish.

Dessert: Crisp Pomaceous Fruit Wedges Dipped in A Creamy Peanut Coulis

Judge #1 — Although the arrangement is not overly jovial, I was immediately given intense satisfaction when I laid this ambrosia upon my taste buds. Where can I go to eat more of this delight?

Judge #2 — My mass could be greatly compromised were I to indulge in this mouth-watering pleasantness on all of the days. I am grateful for the machine which allows me to exert energy after.

Judge #3 — Delicious! This dish makes me feel rich. I am bestowing upon this opulence two opposable fingers up.

* Welcome to The Big Jewel, where the fun never stops...or the funny never stops...or whatever. Anyway, we're pretty sure there's something that never stops. This week Becky Cardwell helps us understand why for nearly a century, Reader's Digest has never stopped being even more clueless than we are as to what the "funny" is.

Reader’s Digest Rejected Humor Submissions

By: Becky Cardwell

My boss keeps a close eye on employee expenses. One time, while going through my receipts, he asked who I’d taken to lunch on Saturday.

Puzzled, I asked for the restaurant’s name on the bill. “La Chaumiere, $193,” he replied. “Oh that,” I laughed. “I’m having sex with your wife.”

— M. Bradley (Submitted Jan. 2004)

* * * * * * *

Having been an English teacher for many years, I tend to be a little fussy when it comes to grammar. After noticing a typo on the menu at the restaurant one day, I couldn’t resist having a little fun with the waitress when she came to take our order.

“What’ll it be?” the waitress asked.

“I think I’ll get the chicken noodle soop,” I replied, tongue firmly imbedded-in-cheek.

— Harold H. (Submitted Sept. 2004)

* * * * * * *

A co-worker came in to work one morning looking rather disheveled. When I asked what was wrong, she replied, “Do you ever have one of those days where you just feel off balance?”

I had to chuckle. What she didn’t realize was that I suffer from Superior Canal Dehiscence Syndrome, a debilitating balance disorder caused by a large gap in the temporal bone leading to the irreversible dysfunction of the ear canal, the symptoms of which are elicited by sound or pressure secondary to a dehiscent superior semicircular canal.

— Judy G. (Submitted Mar. 2002)

* * * * * * *

As an Aerospace Engineer, I get asked a lot of extremely funny questions by people who don’t understand what it is I actually do.

However, because my social skills are severely lacking, I tend to just ignore them.

— Ben M. (Submitted Jan. 2007)

* * * * * * *

Halloween is a big event in our neighborhood — decorations, haunted houses, and many of the adults even dress up in costumes. Shortly after moving in, I was taking my children trick-or-treating when I noticed that one particular woman who came to the door was dressed as a pirate. I complimented her on her choice in costume while she gave the kids their candy.

A month later I bumped into the same woman at the grocery store. Imagine my embarrassment when I realized that she was, in fact, a pirate.

— LeAnne M. (Submitted Jan. 2007)

* * * * * * *

I was working as a customer-service representative in a bank when a young man walked over and was staring at me intently. “May I help you?” I inquired. “Not this minute,” he replied. “I’m just checking out the goods.” Blushing furiously, I said, “I beg your pardon?” He then pulled out his gun and told me to shut the hell up and put my hands where he could see them. I was so embarrassed. I totally thought he was checking me out!

— Name Withheld (Submitted Aug. 2000)

* * * * * * *

My ex-husband, Dick, also happens to be a real dick.

How ironic is that?

— Jessica F. (submitted Feb. 2005)

* * * * * * *

While preparing dinner, my wife accidentally chopped the entire upper portion of her thumb off with a butcher knife. Hearing her horrific screams, I ran straight to the kitchen.

When I looked at the counter and noticed the bloody mess, I couldn’t resist. “So, I take it we’re having lady fingers for dessert?” I asked, trying unsuccessfully to keep a straight face.

— Bill J. (Submitted Apr. 2004)