* Welcome to The Big Jewel, where we are so excited about Election Day that we had to post an extra piece this week by our good friend Daniel Friedman. Don't forget to vote for the vicious homicidal reptile of your choice.

Sick Of Politics As Usual? Vote For This Alligator!

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Nobody thought we could do this, my friends. Nobody would have believed, even six weeks ago, that we’d be celebrating here tonight. But we did it. You did it. I want to give you all my sincere thanks, from the bottom of my cold, reptilian heart.

Y’all know I come from humble beginnings. No reason to mince words; I grew up in a swamp. My mother did the best she could, scooping dirt over her eggs, and keeping scavengers away from the nest. But my childhood wasn’t exactly nurturing. The day I was born, I dug my way out of the soft, warm peat and into a harsh and unforgiving world. And I made my own way in life through the exercise of determination, stick-to-itiveness, and good old-fashioned American entrepreneurial spirit. To pay for college, I had to work part-time in a freak show on the side of the highway, wrestling a man who wore overalls and no shirt. And my opponent just wants to talk about whether I sent my tuition on time.

And those core, fundamental values are our way out of this mess that the establishment in Washington done got our country mixed up in. Folks up there think they can fix things with more government. Down here, we know what to do with government. We wait, motionless, for hours, until government comes down to the water’s edge to drink, and then we leap out, catch it by the throat or by one of its forelimbs, drag it down and hold that gosh-darn government underwater until it drowns or dies of massive blood loss. We will snap our jaws closed on taxes and spin repeatedly in a violent death roll until they are torn into pieces small enough to easily swallow.

That’s the message we’re sending up there, and that’s the message some folks’ll do anything to stop. I know about the nasty e-mails circulating that falsely portray me as a merciless predator. It was very embarrassing for my family when the Gawker posted years-old photos of me rubbing up against a submerged log. I’ll tell you again, my actions were in no way inconsistent with my positions on social issues. I was just molting, okay? I’ve endured painful and offensive insults, as my opponents have revealed their prejudices. I don’t like hearing people say that I’d make a better suitcase than a senator, but I can endure it because our mission is just.

Some people are even claiming that I am not an American alligator at all, but that I am, rather, an Egyptian Nile Crocodile, and therefore, probably a Muslim. Folks, you’ve seen my passport. You’ve seen the church where I pray. I’ve done everything I can to put this misinformation to bed, and the haters on the internet are still debating about the shape of my snout. It’s undignified and disrespectful. But this is what happens when you scare the people in charge. Every lie and every attack shows we’re getting to them. And we will prevail. We’ve waited long enough, my friends. Now is the time to lunge.

We need to put the divisiveness of the primary season behind us, and I hope the party can unite behind me against our common enemy. Because what we’re up against in November is a political culture of waste. People down here are losing their jobs and their health care and their wetlands. Things have gotten so bad that nobody even comes to hit golf balls at me when I sun myself on the eighth-hole fairway at the local country club. But meanwhile, those folks in Washington are enjoying the wasteful luxury of their mammalian metabolism. Down here, we’ve had enough of that. I’m one of you, my friends. My rage is white-hot, but my body is room-temperature, and nothing is ever going to change that.

The days are numbered for the Washington insiders, my friends. Our legs may be stubby, but we are surprisingly quick over short distances, and we’ve got their scent. There’s no way they can escape. Unless they confuse us by running in zig-zags.

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* Welcome to The Big Jewel, where we put the "edgy" in "edgy T-shirt." And we couldn't do it without that living icon of sartorial splendor, Daniel Friedman.

Look At My Edgy T-Shirt

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Look at this edgy T-shirt I got on the Internet. It refers to that movie everybody saw, where the comedian everybody likes said the thing everybody laughed at. I’m a bold outsider with a bad attitude, somebody who chooses to self-identify with the kind of independent oddballs who bring in over $250 million in domestic box-office receipts. I don’t conform to the masses; I march to the beat of the drummer that everybody went to see last June, or rented from Netflix in October. When I wear this shirt, everybody will know that they’d better watch out, because I have the capacity to be mildly offensive to people who fall outside the primary viewing demographic for mainstream comedies rated PG-13.

And I’ll tell you something else; I didn’t have to order my clever Internet T-shirt from my mother’s basement, where my computer is. No, I can order T-shirts wherever I am, whenever I want, because I have an awesome smartphone. I bet you’ve never seen a phone like this, since only the world’s fifty million hippest people have them. Do you know how elite that makes me? Well, there are six billion people on the planet, so you do the math. Oh, wait; you can’t because your phone doesn’t have a calculator app. Face! Let me tell you, dude, you can’t just walk into any cell phone store and get a phone like this. It’s only available from one exclusive carrier. And at Best Buy.

By the way, have you heard that song that was in the movie my shirt references, and has been on the radio nonstop for the past year and-a-half, and was on that TV show everybody watches, and is also in all those commercials for premium fish sandwiches at that fast-food restaurant? As a fixture on the local music scene, I’ve heard that song, and I love it. It’s the ringtone on my smartphone. Does your phone have MP3 ringtones, by the way? Didn’t think so.

If the Internet made a T-shirt about that song, I would wear the holy heck out of it, because I totally feel where that singer is coming from. Unlike most people who lead anesthetized lives of post-consumerist bliss, I have been in that place that the popular singer is talking about. I have stood on the edge of utmost despair, at the precipice of the dark and throbbing night. I gazed into that profound abyss. That song spoke to me in ways regular people can’t possibly understand. It touched the very core of my soul.

And that premium fish sandwich is awesome as well, so I can see why that singer would endorse such an excellent product. I would not hesitate to wear a T-shirt that communicated my admiration for this culinary delight. I hope the Internet is busy making such a T-shirt, even as we speak. Have you tasted the premium fish sandwich? I bet you haven’t. You’re like most of these squares around here. You’re so unhip, you probably couldn’t even find the drive-thru, despite the clear and unambiguous signage.

Let me tell you about the premium fish sandwich, dude. If you share my refined palate and appreciation of haute cuisine, the premium fish sandwich is a life-changing experience. You don’t see anything special about the premium fish sandwich? Well, of course you don’t. It’s only made of line-caught North Atlantic cod. It’s only coated with special-recipe seasoned breadcrumbs. It’s only deep-fried until it’s a succulent golden beige. It’s only topped with a generous dollop of premium mango-infused tartar-mayonnaise. Not a big deal, right? You know what? Don’t order the premium fish sandwich. Its subtle delights would be wasted on you, because you lack the perspective and vocabulary to comprehend such a transcendent dining experience.

People who trudge through life swaddled in non-ironic, non-referential garments should stick to the dollar menu.

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* Welcome to The Big Jewel, a veritable gamer's paradise. This week, please welcome Daniel Friedman, whose first piece for us doesn't play by the rules.

Business School Prepared Me To Be The Final Boss of a Video Game

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Gentlemen,

It’s my sad duty to inform you of the recent accidental death of our friend and co-worker, the Hammer Knight. He was working in the Volcano Dungeon, and that kid with the Singing Sword showed up. Long story short, Hammer fell into some lava.

Let’s have a moment of silence for him.

Okay.

Now, I’m not looking to place any blame in this matter. Obviously, even though the Hammer Dash was Hammer Knight’s signature attack, maybe he shouldn’t have been doing that while he was on a small platform suspended precariously over lava.

Then again, maybe I shouldn’t have sent a guy whose primary attack was the Hammer Dash to defend the Volcano Dungeon. Maybe suspending platforms precariously over lava wasn’t really a good idea in the first place. That’s on me, and I’ll have to live with it.

Anyway, we’re sending some flowers to Hammer’s wife. Sign the card before you leave.

Now, I know that there has been some discussion about upgrades to our disintegrating bridges and catwalks. We’ve got the kind that dissolve just after the kid steps on them, and you guys want to install a new kind of bridge that will dissolve while he’s still standing on it.

I ran that one by the guys in accounting. Unfortunately, to pave the way for a disintegrating bridge upgrade, we’d have to run a full study on compatibility with our current dungeon systems, and we’d have to re-train all the staff to use the new bridges. With the retention bonuses we’re paying to management, we just don’t have the resources in the budget to do that this quarter.

Next on the agenda, I’m aware of some complaints about the recent memo instructing you to prepare maps of your dungeons for use by visiting upper-level managers and our outside consultants. I know you’re concerned those maps are too easy to find, and that our heroic little friend has been using them to bypass your obstacles.

Well, that’s a small-picture problem, and the senior folks are big-picture guys. So it’s your job to solve this. Management is very busy, and we don’t have time to muck around in a maze full of spike traps all afternoon. The maps stay in the dungeons.

On to new business. Everybody, this magical crystal mirror is of extreme importance. It is the only object that can expose my one weak-point. So as long as that little bastard with the Singing Sword doesn’t get his hands on it, I am unstoppable.

So you know what we have to do with it, right?

No. We can’t destroy it. It has too much sentimental value. It belonged to my grandmother. I know this is a brainstorming session, and I try to encourage thinking outside the box here, but I think I’m going to go ahead and have you flogged for suggesting that.

Guards? Could you seize him, please? Thanks a lot. Great job, guys.

Anyway, here’s the plan: I am going to lock the mirror in a secure vault, in the deepest room of a dungeon, and I am going to give the only key to that vault to Steel Scorpion. Do you know what to do with it, Steel?

No. No, you shouldn’t ready your fastest ship to carry that key across the ocean. If the key is across the ocean, how will anyone unlock the vault? Oh, you didn’t think of that, did you? Well, you’re lucky you’re good at swinging your steel stinger, because nobody is going to pay you for using that insect brain of yours. Or arachnid. Whatever.

Point is, you obviously want to take the key and hang onto it, while you stand in front of the vault. Yes. Right in front of the vault. That way, I won’t have to go find you if I want to look at myself in the magical crystal mirror that exposes my one weakness.

Now, I know your impenetrable metal plates can be plucked off your carapace with the grapple-cannon, so let’s put you and the key and the secure vault and my grandma’s mirror in the dungeon that has the bottomless pit that can only be traversed by grappling along the walls. That way, we get kind of a grapple theme going on. A little motif. Consistency is the hallmark of dungeon design.

Oh, and, Scorpion? Since you’re going to be down there anyway, why don’t you keep an eye on the grapple-cannon as well. Yeah, just find somewhere in the dungeon to stash it.

No, you can’t put the grapple-cannon in the vault with the mirror. Then how will anyone get past the bottomless pit?

What do you mean “exactly?”

No. If he shows up, just kill him. I mean, really. How hard can that possibly be?

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