* 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: Christopher Haygood

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.


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 are the first to admit we should not ever help staff a suicide hot line. Our first reaction to any caller would no doubt be to yell "Go for it!" And when you read this week's piece from first-time contributor Christopher Haygood, that is what you will be tempted to yell at Mr. Edgar Lamont.

The Suicidal Tendencies Of Edgar J. Lamont

By: Christopher Haygood

Date: Saturday, May 3
To: Susan Lamont; Steven Lamont; Greg Dreyfuss; Ted Thompson;…
Subject: My Demise

Dearest family and friends,

Things have become unbearable. Every night is a hell worse than the last, and every day is a sandstorm of apathy and deflation. Food no longer tastes good; air no longer smells sweet; laughter no longer sounds like an ode to life. It is with a heavy heart that I write this: I have decided to leave this world. By the time you finish this sentence I shall have drowned myself in the bathtub.

I would like to thank everyone who supported me over the years. This is my choice, and nothing could have been done for me. Goodbye. If there is another life, I hope to see you all in it.

Don’t Blame Yourselves,

Edgar Lamont

* * * * * * *

Date: Saturday, May 10
To: Susan Lamont; Steven Lamont; Greg Dreyfuss; Ted Thompson;…
Subject: The End

Dear family and friends,

Things are worse than ever. I don’t remember even my fondest childhood memories, and all worldly pleasures are fleeting, like the clouds drifting across the night sky. Sometimes I look to those clouds and wonder what it would be like to live up there…freely…without pain. By the time you finish reading this, I too will lead a pain-free existence, having hanged myself from the rafters of my neighbor’s barn.

I will never forget you all. Until I die, of course, but that goes without saying.

It Had To Be Like This,

Ed Lamont

* * * * * * *

Date: Saturday, May 17
To: Susan Lamont; Steven Lamont; Greg Dreyfuss; Ted Thompson;…
Subject: Final Sunset

Dear all,

I mean it this time. Honestly, I thought I was doing better, but I got such a lackluster response to the last note that I thought I might as well end it already. No sense in living if my only acquaintances aren’t going to make me feel good about it. Sigh. I guess the universe truly is a bleak and desolate place.

By the time you finish this I will have done myself in like the warriors of ancient Japan, through the glorious art of seppuku, or, for the unworldly among you (Steve), stabbing myself in the friggin’ stomach.

I wonder: What could life have been, were my existence not so wretched?

Life Sucks,


P.S. I don’t believe I need to remind you that you are all in my will, and I can take you out at any time.

* * * * * * *

Date: Sunday, May 18
To: Susan Lamont; Steven Lamont; Greg Dreyfuss; Ted Thompson;…
Subject: (none)

Dear people who are supposed to be there for me but aren’t,

Susan: I am going to do it, and whenever you say I’m not, oh, it just brings me that much closer. And what do you mean it “doesn’t matter” if I take you out of my will because I “don’t have anything anyway”? If a collection of over 200 multi-brand Frisbees — some of them quite rare — is nothing, then sure, I guess I have nothing. You know what? You’re out of the will.

Greg: I am not being a drama queen. And you’re the one who is immature. Who disregards a friend in need? You are no friend, indeed. And you’re out of the will.

Dr. Thompson: You’ve been my psychiatrist for three years, I just thought you’d want to know if a patient were going to end his own life. Fine, you’re off the list. I hope you don’t mind having a guilty conscience! And although you weren’t in the will, I’m putting you in, just so I can take you out. Feel the burn, Dr. Douche.

Steve: I called you unworldly because you are. You’re also smelly and fat, and your band sucks so much I think it might have caused my hopeless depression. You’re like the worst brother ever, seriously. Out of the will.

Time to go shoot myself, like Hemingway. Oh, the plight of the artist…Not that you Philistines would know.

Burn in Hell,


* * * * * * *

Date: Friday, May 23
To: Susan Lamont; Steven Lamont; Greg Dreyfuss;…
Subject: Guess what?

Hey morons,

For your cold-hearted responses, I’m not going to kill myself — I’m going to live to old age just to spite you! And I’m gonna live each day to the fullest! How’s that? I bet you’re feeling pretty sorry now! Ha ha!

By the time you’ve finished reading this letter, I will be out fulfilling all the dreams I’ve had since childhood (remember when I said I forgot all my childhood memories? I lied!). Oh, the places I’ll go, the food I’ll eat, the fun I’ll have — it’s a rebirth! And all because you wicked bastards tried to convince me that suicide was the answer! Sorry to foil your plans, “family” and “friends”: I’m alive!

And it feels great!

Very Sincerely,

Edgar J. Lamont

* * * * * * *

Date: Saturday, May 24
To: Steven Lamont; Greg Dreyfuss; Ted Thompson;…
Subject: *Important*

To the friends and family of Edgar Lamont,

The worst has happened: Our dear Ed has passed away.

Certain details are sketchy, but it has been concluded that, immediately after sending his final email, Edgar charged out of the house with what his neighbors described as “an off-putting look of childish joy,” at which time he tripped over a garden hose and impaled himself on a very sharp rake. He was twenty-six.

We will all miss poor Ed, but if there is one thought that can help us find solace in his absence, it’s that he died doing what he loved: dying.


Susan Lamont

P.S. Although Edgar repeatedly referenced a will in his many suicide notes, it couldn’t be located even after an extensive search of his home, leading us to believe that he never had one in the first place. Therefore, his monetary savings ($115.89), magazines, and collection of 200 multi-brand Frisbees will be parceled and distributed equally amongst everyone on this “Weekly Suicide Update” mailing list. The funeral is next Saturday, and God bless.