* Welcome to The Big Jewel, where our assistant editor David Jaggard recently met with a Russian lawyer (or at least the dating site popup ad that he clicked on said she was a lawyer) who gave him a transcript of this e-mail message sent recently from the White House. This piece is being co-published with Paris Update, where David writes a regular humor column called "C¹est Ironique" (in English!).

“Paris Is No Longer Paris” Is No Longer “Paris Is No Longer Paris”

By:
djaggard@noos.fr
http://www.parisupdate.com/

Dear Jim,

Remember when you said that “Paris is no longer Paris”? Well, I do. But now I’m wondering if you were right, and since I just got back from there I thought I’d tell you about my trip so you can judge for yourself.

Melania and I were invited by the French president to come to Paris for a big celebration in my honor. It was also Bastille Day, their national holiday, but I could tell that they really needed me to be there because otherwise nobody would have come to the festivities.

The flight over was, as always, brutal. Narrow seats, no legroom, awful food, endless waiting for baggage and security…Hah! Just kidding! In case you forgot, I’m President now, so I got to fly over on Air Force One.

I ate steak and ice cream, stretched out for a long nap, and then when we landed, just to throw my diplomatic immunity around, I waltzed right through the customs gate at Orly, cutting in front of all the people standing in line to get their passports checked. It was so much fun I went back and did it again. Let’s see Hillary Clinton try that!

So we arrived early Thursday and drove into town. I keep hearing about how terrible traffic is in Paris, especially coming in from the airport, but our motorcade didn’t have any problem at all — and it was a weekday morning during rush hour! Yet another example of fake news from the biased liberal media.

After lunch they took us to see the president, Emmanuel Macron, and his wife. When I met Brigitte I noticed right away that she’s a lot closer to my age and that Emmanuel is a lot closer to Melania’s age, and suddenly I thought I understood why he had insisted so much on us coming over.

I was thinking, “At last!” and tried to steer the conversation in that direction, but then the girls took off on their own for the afternoon while Emmanuel and I went to some kind of museum thing, so that wasn’t in the cards after all.

I’m still trying to figure out how Jack Kennedy managed it. If I had known how difficult it was I might have just stayed in real estate. Fewer chances to hit on interns, but at least you don’t have half the Secret Service breathing down your neck day and night.

Anyway, the ladies went to see Notre Dame — not the football team, the cathedral. I told Brigitte to say hello to Quasimodo for me while she was there. A very close friend of mine. Also a terrific bell-ringer. One of the best. Not a lot of people know that.

Meanwhile, Mannie took me to Invalides, which is this big military monument in the middle of town. I was hoping he’d take me to Versailles like he did with Putin, because it’d be easier for me there to make sure that my hair’s staying in place. But he wanted to show me Napoleon’s tomb.

Click this link to access a picture of it that I posted on the part of the Internet that I invented. (Unlike that heating-heart liberal Al Gore, I only take credit for things that I have personally originated.)

As you can see, it’s really not very fancy for someone of his wealth and status, but it did give me some ideas to suggest to Congress for my own memorial.

I like the round room, the marble and the classical-style statuary (nice touch), but notice anything? That’s right: no gold! Anywhere! Also, where are all his Time Magazine covers? The guy had no sense of decoration.

But Emmanuel’s choice was fitting. Napoleon and I have a lot in common: we both overcame nearly insurmountable disadvantages to become the leaders of the world’s most powerful nation of our time.

In Napoleon’s case, he had to overcome being short (and having small hands, probably, judging from the way he was always hiding them — sad). And in my case, I had to launch a career with only a few million dollars in seed money. History! People don’t think about it enough!

That evening we went to the Eiffel Tower. I can tell you this: you compare that building to Trump Tower and you can see that the French don’t know anything about construction. The Eiffel Tower is all skinny and spindly and tapers off to a point at the top, with lots of open parts. What a waste of rentable floorspace!

The thing looks like a big bungee jumping platform, but it turns out they have a restaurant right there inside it, and that’s where we had dinner. Not as good as the Trump Grill, of course, but it was okay.

They even brought in a special chef from the United States to make Melania and me feel at home. He didn’t look or sound very American, but Emmanuel said that he was “a star in Michigan” or that he had “three stars in Michigan” — something like that. It was hard to understand him, for one thing because he had a lot of trouble pronouncing “Michigan.”

But that was okay, because when the chef, this guy named Allen Ducasse, came out to meet me, I pronounced his name wrong, so things sort of evened out. Since I thought he was American I just called him “Mr. Ducasse” the way I would have said it in New York, and was about to make a joke about him not having a pompadour haircut. But everybody was already laughing, so I quit while I was ahead.

How was I supposed to know that in France “Ducasse” is pronounced “doo-kahss“? Mel could have told me earlier instead of correcting me in front of everybody. But hey, when you’re a star (I mean a star like me, not just in Michigan) you can get away with stuff like that. How’s that grab ya?

At dinner I couldn’t help but notice some of the little differences between the U.S. and France. Like, here in France they don’t put the ketchup bottle right on the table for you. You have to ask for it.

Also, when I asked the waiter how his acting career was going, he just looked at me blankly. Turns out, waiters here are only waiters! Who knew? It’s not like New York, that’s for sure.

Another thing that surprised me — not just at dinner but all during the day: I was very impressed with the spirit of free speech and activism that I saw in France. Everywhere I went I saw youngsters getting signatures on petitions and collecting donations for some kind of charity or political action or something.

Amazingly, virtually 100 percent of the people they approached gave them money. And not only that, but they were so eager to give, most of them let the petitioner’s friends take the contributions directly out of their pockets while they were signing so they wouldn’t have to lose time fishing around for their wallets afterwards. It saves time for the kids too, so they can collect more signatures.

And I could see they were really devoted to their cause, because after getting some money (or whatever — some people gave them phones or even their whole wallets!) they always ran — not walked — to go find their next donor. It was really something.

That kind of drive and efficiency and generosity is the bedrock of a great free society! Ask those kids if they’re in favor of big government interfering with their business and trying to take over the management of their donations and see what they say!

The next morning, July 14th, they had this big parade. It was huge. Bigger than the one they had for Barack Obama when he came to Paris for COP21, I can tell you that.

But you know, Jim, there’s one drawback to this being a “world leader” thing: you have to sit through a whole lot of boring stuff. Parades, ceremonies, speeches, meetings, briefings, FBI interviews…It never stops.

Geez, the G20 was bad enough, although Ivanka helped me out at that one roundtable so I could get in some putting practice in my hotel room. But in Paris on Friday morning I had to watch this whole three-hour parade without once wiping my nose or adjusting my briefs or anything because the cameras were on me the whole time. Seemed endless.

Afterwards, Man-O and I said our goodbyes and Mel and I headed for the airport to fly home. It felt good to be able to sleep in my own (and Lincoln’s!) bedroom that night.

I gotta say it, Jim: I had a nice time. It was a big trip, a beautiful trip, and nobody enjoys trips better than me, believe me. It kept the illegal alien collusion thing out of my mind for a while. And, I promise you: France paid for it!

 

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* Welcome to The Big Jewel, where we are committed to supporting the rights of each and every citizen, including one certain not-so-silent majority that receives its due from our own Associate Editor David Jaggard. When you're done reading this fine new piece, click on the iTunes link below, which leads to his audio humor album "Totally Unrelated," or stream it for free on Spotify. We also invite you to check out David Jaggard on Paris Update. The link is in our blogroll on the right-hand side of this page.

The Assholes’ Bill Of Rights

By:
djaggard@noos.fr
https://geo.itunes.apple.com/us/album/totally-unrelated.../id1082542414?mt=1&app=music

I. Congress shall pass no law limiting the right of the people to complain, carp, gripe, grouse, grouch, whine or bellyache about any and all topics of their own choosing, at any volume level and for any length of time as they might see fit.

In particular, the people of the United States shall have the express right to bitch at will about things that they are unwilling or unable to change, including but not limited to the weather, their own health and finances, acts of Congress, kids today, and the religious and/or sexual practices of total strangers.

II. Any citizen who attempts to cut to the front of a line, consume tobacco products in a legally designated no-smoking area, use express checkout lanes to purchase more than the posted maximum number of items, circumvent traffic jams by driving in the emergency lane, park without authorization in a handicapped space or across two spaces in a crowded lot, or in any other way seeks to defy and evade the established rules and regulations of a well-ordered society is entitled to special preferential treatment over the rest of humankind upon simple demand.

III. The right of the people to tease, taunt, bait, badger, deride, rib, razz and needle their friends, relatives and co-workers shall not be impinged.

IIIa) In particular, every citizen has the right to invent and repeat perfectly plausible falsehoods for the sole purpose of finding humor in the fact that someone else might believe them. The people’s right to exclaim “Can’t you take a joke?” and “You actually believed that? Bwahahahaha!!!” shall not in any way be limited by law.

IIIb) Out-of-towners’ ignorance of the pronunciation of local proper names shall be considered hilariously ludicrous in every state and territory of the union.

IIIc) Whether in the home or the workplace, no limitation shall be placed on the number of weeks, months, years or decades that a citizen may be ridiculed for any mistake, lapse, faux pas or miscomprehension, no matter how understandable or inconsequential. Nicknames arising from childhood incidents involving pants-wetting, inopportune vomiting or the ejection of brightly colored beverages via the nostrils shall forever take precedence over any other subsequently earned titles, such as “Doctor,” “General,” “Your Honor,” “Your Holiness,” etc.

IV. Citizens who wish to express a vague, general dissatisfaction with their lives shall have the right to vent their frustrations by treating their friends, family members and co-workers as utter imbeciles in spite of any number of years of evidence to the contrary, finding and expressing fault with their every action and utterance. In particular, the people shall have the right to state for the first time any question, request or order in such a way as to imply that it is in fact the one-hundredth time. Congress shall pass no law restricting the people’s right to react to common everyday occurrences with exaggerated, virulent responses, including “Are you deaf?” “Can’t you read?” and “What are you trying to do — KILL me?!”

V. Every citizen shall have the right to shirk his or her duly assigned job, household chores and/or scholastic homework until threatened with physical or financial retribution. When finally coerced by a parent, teacher, spouse, employer, military superior or other person of authority to rise from one’s buttocks and get a move on already, the people’s right to engage in eye-rolling, dramatic sighing and moving as though encumbered by heavy weights shall not be infringed.

VI. The use of chemical intoxicants being necessary to the preservation of a sustainable shitty attitude, the right of the people to bend elbows shall be guaranteed in perpetuum. Citizens who perceive, wrongly, that they enjoy the consumption of alcoholic beverages or other mood-altering drugs shall have the inalienable right to consume any quantities of said substances in the name of “feeling better” or “having a good time” and then proceed to feel, in fact, worse and ruin their own day, evening, night and/or life as well as that of anyone unfortunate enough to stray within a 200 yard radius (350 yards in Texas and Montana).

VII. Any citizen who has formed an emotional union with another citizen shall have the right to presume said union to be the one and only such bond ever formed or ever to be formed by the other party throughout his or her entire lifetime.

Violations of this principle in the form of the reception of unsolicited communications from exes, casual mention of the physical attractiveness of a third party (including celebrities) or looking at or being alone with any other member of the opposite sex for more than 2.5 seconds may be dealt with in an exaggerated, logic-defying manner, accompanied by pouting, tantrums, fantastic accusations, the willful destruction of crockery or “the silent treatment,” as the individual case may require.

VIII. Citizens who deem that life is too expensive shall have the right to cheat, chisel, weasel and stiff any and all of their friends, business associates, relatives and casual acquaintances out of any sums of money whatsoever, no matter how small, and with no regard to their own actual financial capacities. Congress shall make no law respecting the people’s right to “forget” loans, steal hotel linens, sleep through tolls, time trips to the restroom to coincide with the arrival of the check and undertip in a blatant and shameless fashion.

IX. As of the date of ratification of this amendment, the world does in fact owe you a living. Citizens who feel that they are not receiving remuneration commensurate with their talents and abilities shall have the right to portray themselves as hapless victims of uncontrollable circumstances attributable to God, political/financial institutions beyond their comprehension, society at large, or implausible and unprovable conspiracies perpetrated by any ethnic or other special interest group of their own choosing.

Panhandlers, hitchhikers, buskers and ambulant vendors of all kinds shall have the right to abuse roundly anyone who fails to respond favorably to their solicitations, to their face or behind their back, in the form of snide remarks, grimaces, gratuitous speculation on the other party’s ancestry or erotic predilections, and/or the isolation of the longest finger of either hand.

IXa) As of the date of ratification of this amendment, the world does in fact owe you a love life. The people shall have the right to expect fully 100% of all persons they might at any time find physically attractive to reciprocate said attraction. Any failings in a citizen’s efforts to locate, secure, and have usufruct of a little ass once in a while may be assigned to the shortcomings of the opposite sex as an aggregate group. Any and all such disappointments shall be legally recognized grounds for snorting “Men!” or “Women!” as the case may be, adding “you’re [they’re] all alike!” if the situation so dictates.

X. All citizens who so desire may declare themselves ex nihilo to be infallible and thereby entitled to prevail in any argument, disagreement or dispute of any kind, no matter how trivial. For citizens who have opted to exercise this right, pure bluster shall be accepted as a full and legally binding substitute for knowledge and honesty. “Infallible” citizens who nonetheless fail to get their way shall be entitled to piss and moan bitterly and incessantly until the disputed decision is reversed in their favor or the world comes to an end, whichever occurs first.

Xa) Self-declared infallible citizens shall have the right to suspend any and all principles of logic, common sense and/or physics as they see fit. The rules and conditions of games, sports, wagers and other types of competitions may be unilaterally changed before, during or after the event with no prior notice to the other participants.

XI. Citizens who wish to progress one step further from infallibility to invincibility will perforce be exempt from the usual precepts and requirements of safety and good sense.

XIa) Self-declared invincible citizens shall suffer no harm whatsoever from the consumption of fatty foods, tobacco, drugs or alcohol or the lack of physical exercise. They will furthermore be entitled to forego the principles of safe sex, ignore toothaches, and observe solar eclipses with no optical protection.

XIb) As concerns the operation of motor vehicles, they shall be endowed with miraculous powers enabling them to drive at any speed while under the influence of any quantity of any intoxicant(s) and with no need of a seatbelt. Any passengers’ comments or criticisms concerning an invincible driver’s speed or judgment, including involuntary exclamations of pure colon-draining fear, shall entitle said driver to become furiously angry, drive even faster and more recklessly, and blame his or her pointlessly aggressive mood on said passenger.

XII. Any citizen who has willfully and consistently exercised his or her rights as specified in points I through XI above for a period of one calendar year or more shall have the inalienable right to contact former friends, estranged family members and lukewarm acquaintances, either in person or via electronic communication, and demand, “How come you never call me anymore?”

 

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* Welcome to The Big Jewel, where our very own copy editor David Jaggard reveals, with touching modesty, that his many gifts are completely au naturale. When you're done reading this fine new piece, click on the iTunes link below, which leads to his audio humor album "Totally Unrelated," or stream it for free on Spotify. We also invite you to check out David Jaggard on Paris Update. The link is in our blogroll on the right-hand side of this page.

Never Took A Lesson In My Life

By:

https://geo.itunes.apple.com/us/album/totally-unrelated.../id1082542414?mt=1&app=music

Yeah, I’m a successful musician — in fact, hugely successful, as everyone knows — but I never had any formal training. Or informal either. Never took a lesson in my life.

Everybody in my family was musical, but they didn’t teach me squat. Whenever they played music at home, I’d go outside and plug my ears with mud to make sure I didn’t learn anything.

I’m not even self-taught. Any time I was fooling around with an instrument on my own, if I stumbled across something that sounded good I’d put it out of my mind right away and never play it again.

It goes without saying that I don’t know how to read or write music. Or even how to read or write the word “music” — I’m illiterate. I never once went anywhere near a schoolhouse! And don’t go trying to teach me anything either, because I’d forget it faster than you can say “natural-born genius.”

Which I can’t — I never learned how to pronounce most words. I also never learned how to count to ten or tell right from left or right from wrong.

Nobody ever told me what gender I am or what my name is. I can’t tie my shoes, and when we’re on tour one of the band members has to help me get dressed.

They also have to help me get to rehearsals and gigs, because I can’t tell time and never learned to tell day from night. Never needed to.

I never make an effort to memorize my band’s songs or lyrics or anything. I just get up on stage, and play or sing or whatever it is I do, I’m not sure, and then the producer hands me a check for $50,000.

Hell, I don’t even know what instrument I play. If I even play an instrument. I might be a songwriter — I just don’t know!

So don’t talk to me about “theory” or “harmony” or “humility” or any of those fancy-schmancy high-tech musical terms. I don’t know anything about that and don’t want to know. I just make music.

If what I do is, in fact, music. Maybe I’m actually a surgeon or a senator and don’t know it.

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* Welcome to The Big Jewel, where we have often been accused of having no manners at all. If only we had followed David Jaggard's advice and asked Miss Manners for advice. When you're done reading this excellent new piece, click on the Amazon link below, which leads to the Kindle version of his humor collection Quorum of One: Satire 1998-2011. Many of the pieces originally appeared right here. We also invite you to check out David Jaggard on Paris Update. The link is in our blogroll on the right-hand side of this page.

Questions Miss Manners Is Never Going To Answer

By:
djaggard@noos.fr
http://www.amazon.com/Quorum-One-1998-2011-David-Jaggard-ebook/dp/B00HK15NHM

Dear Miss Manners,

My wife and I pee in front of each other. We’re both used to it, so that’s not the problem. The reason I’m writing you is this: while seated on the toilet, she often picks her nose.

I say it’s rude to engage in such a disgusting, although common, activity when anyone else can see you, no matter what the circumstances. She says that since she’s already attending to one private bodily function it’s perfectly acceptable to engage in another.

I also think that she’s exploiting an unfair advantage. I can’t reciprocate to balance things out because it pretty much takes both hands to urinate standing up.

So please settle a bet: who’s right? Should she or should she not be permitted to pick her nose? There’s a meal in this for me.

Dear Miss Manners,

I’m in the Mafia. As you probably know, protocol requires those of us who have been formally inducted to introduce non-members to other inductees as “a friend of mine” and to introduce members as “a friend of ours.”

My etiquette question concerns those occasions when I cross paths with a “made” gentleman whom I have not previously met. This happens a lot at funerals. What is the proper way to introduce myself? I have tried saying, “You don’t know me, but I’m a friend of yours,” or just “Hello, we’re friends,” but they usually think I’m talking about Facebook. This makes it awkward to steer the conversation away from, say, lolcats to the topic that I actually have in mind, such as moving a truckload of, ah, salvaged goods.

Please advise. Sometimes it’s urgent, like with frozen shrimp.

Dear Miss Manners,

I never have sex with a guy until the third date. This is the way I was raised.

But there’s one thing that Mom and Dad never told me: how many times must I have “run-of-the-mill” sex before moving on to oral activity? Also, is it proper to measure this milestone in nights spent together or in individual sex acts? And if the latter, should I be counting the sex acts themselves or total orgasms? Mine, his or both? It’s not always an even number, if you know what I mean.

As you can see, this is quite a sticky mess. I hope you can clear it up. I’m sure many of your readers often find themselves in the same position as me.

Dear Miss Manners,

Don’t ask how, but I recently happened across some very explicit photos of my former fiancée on a pornographic website called “Coeds Galore.” I feel that it’s my duty to inform her about this but I’m not sure how to go about it, especially since she has repeatedly said (in fact screamed) that she never wants to hear from me again.

If I tell her directly, not only will it violate the terms of the restraining order, but she will probably think I’m the one who submitted the photos, which might not actually be true. So I need you to tell me the proper way to contact her anonymously and share this important information that she has the right to know.

And there¹s something else that bothers me even more: she is not a coed. She never even graduated from high school. As a matter of form, shouldn’t she now be required to enroll in night school or something?

Dear Miss Manners,

Why do so many people seem to be just naturally rude? This baffles me. It literally took me years of near-constant reminding to get my children, husband, siblings, cousins, in-laws, co-workers, neighbors and former classmates to remember to buy me gifts for Mother’s Day, and later, as soon as my son’s girlfriend missed her period, Grandparents Day.

Well that was bad enough, but I doubt that you have ever heard anything as horrendous as what I had to suffer through last week: my cleaning lady didn’t get me a gift for Secretary’s Day! And I assure you it wasn’t out of ignorance: I had “casually mentioned” to her a whole month prior (out of politeness, to give her ample time to find just the right thing) that I once had a summer job as a secretary when I was in college.

Of course I fired her. Isn’t it astonishing how some people only ever think of themselves?

 

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* Welcome to The Big Jewel, where we would never, no never pollute your inbox with spam of any variety. Except possibly this variety from our own Copy Editor David Jaggard. When you're done reading this wonderful new piece, click on the Amazon link below, which leads to the Kindle version of his humor collection Quorum of One: Satire 1998-2011. Many of the pieces originally appeared right here. We also invite you to check out David Jaggard on Paris Update. The link is in our blogroll on the right-hand side of this page.

You Or Another Person

By:
djaggard@noos.fr
http://www.amazon.com/Quorum-One-1998-2011-David-Jaggard-ebook/dp/B00HK15NHM

“This is not spam. You have received this message because at one time or another you or another person entered this e-mail address at one of our websites, or this e-mail address was part of a mailing list which we regularly buy from third parties.” — Actual disclaimer at the bottom of a spam e-mail that I received last month.

This is not assault and battery. You have received this punch in the nose because at one time or another you or another person moved your head into the path of my fist, or because your face appeared on a list of third parties whose looks I don’t like.

This is not a robbery. I am waving a handgun in your face and screaming “All of it! In the bag! Now!” because at some time you or another person entered banknotes into your cash register that I want and possibly need for drugs, or because your store’s address was part of a list of places that sell watches and jewelry, which I regularly sell to third parties.

I am not stalking you. I spend every waking moment outside your building, following you everywhere you go and leaving creepy notes in your mailbox because you or another person, perhaps someone you know, or someone you really should get to know, has informed me that only the enveloping warmth of my love can fill the emptiness in your life, even though you already have a fiancé, dozens of friends and two jobs, or because you are part of a list of women I have never actually met but find hot, and whose physical and imagined attributes are my sole topic of conversation with third parties, many of whom are in my head.

I am not drunk. I am slurring my speech, staggering and knocking things over because at one time and then another, like at that reception after work and then at dinner, I, or another person, or at least it seemed like another person, entered eight or nine gin and tonics into one of my digestive orifices. Maybe more. Maybe even more than one orifice. But who’s counting? Anyway, in order to maintain a regular blood alcohol level I shall now move on to a third party.

I am not having an affair. You have received credit card bills listing unexpected charges to local motels on dates that coincide with my frequent “business trips” because at one time and many others you or another person, possibly your prim-looking but surprisingly slutty cousin, have met me in those places to engage in a whole list of mind-blowing sex acts that regularly include third parties.

I am not breaking up with you. You have received this message, your last from me, because at some time you or another person resembling you in every way, wearing your clothes and addressing me by your pet name for me, did something, or more likely a series of small and individually not so significant things, that eroded my former affection for you, or because you really fucked up royally on one specific occasion that I don’t think I even have to remind you about. As a result, your e-mail address, street address, phone number and Facebook page are no longer part of any of my lists anywhere, and I shall now regularly date third parties.

This is not spam. We have sent you this message because we really want your money and have no honest way of getting it, or because we just felt like hassling you. Oh wait — come to think of it, you specifically asked to receive messages from us. Yes, you did. Keep in mind that you may have been sleepwalking at the time. To remove your address from our list, please click the link shown below, which will not take you to a dark website in Moldova (trust us!). We scrupulously honor all requests for removal. Please allow ten years for processing. During that time you may continue to receive notifications from us, but they will not be spam.

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* Welcome to The Big Jewel. We'd wish we had time to say more but we're so busy getting our band started. Oh, do you have a band as well? Tell David Jaggard about it. He's such a good listener. When you're done with his amazing prose, click on the Amazon link below, which leads to the Kindle version of his new humor collection Quorum of One: Satire 1998-2011. Many of the pieces originally appeared right here. And as if we haven't already shilled enough for our talented copy editor, we also invite you to check out David Jaggard on Paris Update. The link is in our blogroll on the right-hand side of this page.

My Band

By:
djaggard@noos.fr
http://www.amazon.com/Quorum-One-1998-2011-David-Jaggard-ebook/dp/B00HK15NHM

Hi! My name’s Phil.

I’m Linda.

Hey, whaddaya know — the drummer in my band has a sister named Linda!

Well, it’s a pretty common name. Nice party. How do you know Lee and Elaine?

Lee and I used to work at the same company before he opened his bar. He gave my band some of our first gigs!

At O’Connell’s?

No, the Midnight Oil.

No, I mean you worked together when he was at O’Connell’s Digital Equipment?

Oh — yeah. We found out later that Gabe — he’s the lead singer in my band — also worked there once, before we met. Just a coincidence.

It’s a pretty big group.

Not really — just a full rhythm section, lead singer and two horns.

No, I mean O’Connell’s. It’s a large company so a lot of people in town have worked there. Are you a keyboard guy?

I’m the rhythm guitarist.

I mean at O’Connell’s — I know Lee used to work in quality control for screens and keyboards.

Oh. Right — I was in quality but I transferred to sales, at that office out on Route 4. It’s next door to the studio where we rehearse.

I hear the brass is hard to work with.
Š
I don’t think so — we only have the one trombone player, but we get along with him really well.

I mean the management at O’Connell’s. Lee told me he quit to open the bar because he hadn’t had a promotion ten years after joining the company.

Ten Years After! Great group! We do one of their songs.

Well, you have to have a strong base…

That’s for sure — the bass player really carries the whole thing in those sixties blues numbers.

I was going to say you have to have a strong base of education and experience to get ahead in a tech company. Lee never went to college, you know.

We’re playing a college dance next weekend. My brother teaches remedial English at State and gets us gigs there once in a while. In fact, he handles all our bookings.

That must be a hard job.

Not really — it only takes about ten minutes to work out the details for a gig. It’s like half an hour a day on the phone, tops.

No, I mean teaching remedial English. So many young people today have poor composition skills.

Not us — we write most of our own songs.

Uh-huh. So, ah, OK — tell me about your band.

Well, we’re called Sonic Tsunami and we do a mixture of folk, rock and folk-rock but with a pop beat, and we do this thrash metal version of “Doe a Deer” as our break number that’s…

Wait — I mean your awareness bracelet. I wear a “Livestrong” wristband. You know, for Lance Armstrong’s cancer foundation.

Mine’s just a wristband. Hey — our sax player’s father is dying of cancer!

Sorry to hear that.

We’re probably going to play at the funeral.

That’s nice…

Maybe you’d like to come!

That might not be appropriate.

No problem — I’ll introduce you to the widow.

I don’t think so. Ah, maybe talk to you later…

Come on — it’ll be fun!

Bye now!

Well at least when we take drugs it’s not cheating!!!

* * * * * *
Hey Phil, calm down! Who were you yelling at?

Sorry, Lee! I was talking to that Linda person. Not much of a conversationalist.

Oh — Elaine’s cousin. She’s a professional opera singer.

Well that explains it!

Explains what?

Why she’s so full of herself.

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* Welcome to The Big Jewel, your literary rockabilly hoedown destination of choice. This week our own David Jaggard weaves a tangled legal tale involving the late great Carl Perkins.

Day In Court: From The Pop Culture Dead Letter Office

By:

November 12, 1955

From:
Philips and Son
Attorneys at Law
1-2-1234 Charter Heights
Memphis, Tenn.

To:
Mr. Carlton Perkins
c/o Cash
28301-016 Folsom Towers
Nashville, Tenn.

Dear Mr. Perkins,

Enclosed is a copy of the proposed settlement agreement drafted by your wife’s lawyers. Please review it carefully. In particular, I would like to draw your attention to the following sections:

1.4 The money
She’s asking for $550 per month in alimony. Since you have no dependent children and the burden of fault is entirely on her shoulders, I think we can get this down below $300.

2.4 The show
Apparently the two of you purchased expensive front row balcony tickets for the Grand Ole Opry Christmas Gala prior to your separation. Your wife wants to keep these as part of the settlement. I would suggest conceding this point as a “bargaining chip” — a sign of good faith.

3.2 Getting Reddy
Your wife is asking for custody of your dog Reddy, but she’s willing to let the cat go. We can fight this if you want, but if you are satisfied taking Ruff I think we can agree on this one.

As for the episode of domestic violence that triggered your decision to file for divorce, I can assure you that we have sufficient legal and medical evidence to prove her culpability. To wit:

1) Medical records from Handy Memorial Hospital certifying that you were admitted to Emergency Services on September 12, 1955, with contusions on the hands, knees and right shoulder that are consistent with being knocked down with violent force, as you have claimed.

2) Photos of the injury to your left cheek, which have been examined by a forensic apparel expert who confirms that the bruise pattern corresponds to the sole of a size 7 Florsheim pump (left) that perfectly matches the shoes your wife was wearing on the night in question.

3) Affidavits from 34 (thirty-four) neutral parties declaring that, both before and after your separation, your wife did knowingly and maliciously make false defamatory allegations about you and slurs upon your character in a great many different locations.

4) Insurance inspectors’ reports indicating that the fire that destroyed your former place of residence on September 14, one day after you moved out, was caused by your wife’s negligence (see below).

5) Testimony from Wayne at Wayne and Dwayne’s Used Kar Kingdom attesting that on September 15, the day after the fire, your wife attempted to sell them a white 1953 Plymouth Fury registered in your name.

However, we will not be able to press for possession of the rare hickory-aged bourbon you mentioned at our last meeting, which was lost in the fire. When the sheriff and I inspected the remains of your house, I looked for the whisky in the garage as per your instructions, but all I could find was an empty jug lying on its side and a worn and chipped glass jar with a faded label bearing the hand-written inscription “Peach Preserves 1943.” Apparently, after your departure your wife had been consuming the spirits and at one point left a lit cigarette next to an open jug, which ignited, causing the other containers to explode and setting the entire house on fire. One of your neighbors, a Mr. Gerald L. Lewis, reported seeing “huge spheres of flame” billowing from the garage side of your house, whereupon he ran to the scene and found your wife standing in the driveway in an advanced state of intoxication. Mr. Lewis used the phrase “a great deal of shaking taking place.” This impression was corroborated by one of the attending firemen, Levi S. Presley, who described your wife as “totally shaken up,” as though realizing the gravity of her actions.

So I am confident that we have a strong case. But as your attorney I must advise you that your wife’s lawyers are mounting a compelling counter-argument. I had lunch yesterday with a friend who occasionally works as a consultant with the opposing counsel’s office, and he confided to me that they plan to attest in court that you have made, and continue to make, repeated high-volume public declarations that Mrs. Perkins “can do anything that she wants to do” on the sole condition that she refrain from scuffing or otherwise vandalizing your footwear (!).

A wild and absurd allegation to be sure, but apparently they are building their case on the premise that these assertions of yours constitute a de facto and binding verbal contract, thus exculpating your wife on every point. Nonetheless, given the extent and gravity of her misconduct and the lack of a precedent for this line of legal reasoning, I am fairly certain that we will carry the day.

The hearing is scheduled for 10:00 am on November 30th at the Shelby County Courthouse, 101 Beale Street, Room 9. My assistant will meet you in the lobby at 9:30. Please don’t be late, and wear a nice suit and tie.

Sincerely yours,
Samuel R.B. Phillips, Esq.

PS: Whatever you do, don’t wear those God-awful fuzzy turquoise oxfords you had on the last time we met. We don’t want the judge thinking you’re one of those amoral teenybopper “rockabilly” fiends.

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* Welcome to The Big Jewel, which contributes only $43 billion to the national deficit (and most of that is for sugarless gum, so that's not so bad, right?). This week our good friend David Jaggard puts the whole national debt thing in personal perspective for us.

Various People From My Past Offer Illustrations To Help Me Comprehend The Trillion Dollar Deficit

By:

The Kid Who Lived Up The Street

Let’s say you have a trillion dollars. As if you’re ever going to have that much money, ever in a million trillion years. Yeah, right. But let’s say you do, which you won’t, and you go to the bank and take it all out in pennies. As though any bank in the world could give you that many pennies. What are you, stupid? But let’s say they do, which they can’t, and then you take all the bags of pennies and throw them in the ocean. Hah! Like you could even lift a bag full of pennies, let alone throw it, you wuss. I’d pay a trillion dollars to see that. But let’s say you’ve done it, which you couldn’t have. With that many pennies you’d fill up all the oceans all over the world so all the water would overflow and flood all the land and drown everybody. Everybody in the whole world would be dead and it would be your fault. And then I’d tell.

The Head Counselor At My Summer Camp

HEY! Say I give you a trillion dollars. In cash. Know what you’re gonna do with it? Well listen up! You’re gonna stack those dollar bills up one on top of the other in a NEAT PILE! And you know what? When you’re done that stack will go all the way to the moon! But you’re gonna have to have plenty of sticktoitiveness to finish the job! Think you could do it? Nahh, you’d probably give up at about the ionosphere and go spend the rest on licorice and whittling kits at the Trading Post. I don’t know why I bother.

My High School Social Studies Teacher

One trillion dollars is enough money for the federal government to give every man, woman and child in the entire world a hundred and fifty dollars. Except you teenagers would probably think it’s some kind of big joke and go around and get in line again and try to get paid twice. Well, that’s real smart! What if your second payout means that some poor orphan in Ethiopia doesn’t get any money at all and dies of starvation? What if everybody did that? We’d have rioting in Ethiopia and then probably war in Africa and by then you’d be 19 or 20 years old and have to go fight and maybe get killed. So you’re only hurting yourself.

My College Roommate

If my dad’d give me a trillion dollars, I could take that hot blonde from chem lab out for both lunch and dinner at the fanciest, most expensive restaurant in town every single day for 5,479,452 years. Man, then she’d just have to come across. Huh? Tips? No, why? Oh. OK, so 4,657,534 years. But still.

My Ex-Fiancée

If you’d get your rear in gear and earn a trillion dollars you could buy me the entire Dior, Prada, Donna Karan, Jimmy Choo and Manolo Blahnik collections every single season until I die and still have more than 999 billion left. And then about two seconds after my funeral you’d forget all about me and start dating some cute little gold-digger. You bastard. Oh dammit to hell! I forgot to factor in inflation. Why didn’t you remind me? Now I have to do the entire calculation all over again. Thanks a lot!

My Stoned-Out Coworker At My Old Job

OK, say you had, like, a trillion dollars, OK? And say you got it in fifties. No, wait, hundreds. So then say you start counting it. I figure you can count, like, what, maybe two bills per hour? Whoa, I mean per second! Yeah, per second. And say you count 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 52 weeks a year…That means it would take you…hang on…it would be, like, almost…I don’t know, maybe 158 or 159 years before you even counted it all. Something like that. Even with leap year. And plus you’d have to like really really really concentrate all the time so you don’t lose count, right? So basically it’s impossible to count it all, so you’d never actually know that you actually had a trillion dollars. So you could loan me — even just give me — like two billion and you’d never even miss it. Right? Right. So how about twenty right now? C’mon!

My Pastor

In the eyes of God, a trillion dollars is as a single penny. Even such an unfathomable sum won’t buy you salvation. Or an air conditioner in hell. But we could sure use one in the parsonage. Did you know that the original Aramaic text of Leviticus in the Dead Sea Scrolls actually defines tithing as 25 percent? Wait — were you saying you had a trillion dollars or if you had a trillion dollars? I see. The federal budget deficit? Let us pray…

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Case Closed: Another Missive From The Pop Culture Dead Letter Office

By:

From:
Archless & Associates
Private Investigations
555 555th Street
Queens, NY

To:
Mr. Delmont Shannon
444 444th Avenue
Jacks, NY

August 17, 1961

Dear Mr Shannon,

Please be advised that, as per your request, our agency has traced, located, and investigated the movements and, insofar as possible, motivations of one Kristy Lou Salfetto, formerly of 446 444th Avenue, Jacks, New York.

One of our field agents was able to meet with Miss Salfetto and interview her regarding the two issues you have been wondering about.

In response to your first question, namely why — why, why, why, why, why — she ran away, Miss Salfetto offered six reasons, one for each “why.” I must warn you that this information is of a sensitive personal nature and likely to cause you emotional distress. But in compliance with our agreement, herewith are her explanations:

1) You tend to dwell on the past in a morbid, obsessive way. According to Miss Salfetto, your penchant for nostalgic reminiscing tends to put you in a state of nearly constant “misery.”

2) Perhaps due to your own professional or financial shortcomings, you have never purchased an automobile, preferring to walk wherever you go. As she said to our agent, she presumes that you are “still walking on.”

3) Your physical health is also a concern. Specifically she maintains that your heart is no longer “young.” Given that you are only 19 years old, we understand this to be an allusion to a possible cardiovascular condition which discouraged the young lady from entering into a long-term relationship with you for fear of passing on a congenital disorder to her future children. She mentioned that you frequently “feel the pain.” Mr Shannon, this is beyond my professional scope as an investigator, but if what she is referring to here is a chronic sharp ache in your chest and/or left arm, I must advise you to consult a physician immediately.

4) You are apparently not, in her opinion, sufficiently intelligent. The expression she actually used was “doesn’t have enough sense to come in out of the rain.”

5) When you get excited your voice tends to rise suddenly in pitch, becoming high and strident. It seems that your former girlfriend could not stress this point enough. She obviously finds it unseemly for a grown man to have an effeminate voice.

6) Lastly, and I am especially sorry to have to report this, but Miss Salfetto also expressed dismay with your “tinny organ.” We assume that the extra “n” in the first word is a typographical error in our investigator’s transcript. Again, I’m no doctor, but perhaps you should look into the possibility of a link between this condition and your vocal abnormality.

Now, as to your second question: Miss Salfetto’s ongoing transient lifestyle makes it impossible to predict “where she will stay” in the future, but we have been able to ascertain her whereabouts since her disappearance. Our agent has determined that, after staying for three days with her grandparents in Deuces, New Jersey, she decided to hitchhike to Los Angeles and spent the next five months living with a string of relatives, friends, casual acquaintances and short-term lovers. She is currently lodged at the home of her uncle and aunt, Francis E. and Valerie E. Trascato of Anaheim, California. A detailed list of her other temporary residences is enclosed.

We trust that you will find this report satisfactory. Please remit by return post the balance of payment due for services and expenses (see itemized bill) and we will consider this case closed.

Yours sincerely,

Seamus Archless

enc:
— Itemized bill
— List of residences, K. L. Salfetto, 1 February 1961 – present
— 23 (twenty-three) surveillance photos, Anaheim Cal., 15 July – 12 August 1961

NOTE: As you can see from the enclosed photographs, Miss Salfetto can no longer properly be called your “little runaway.” She has found employment at a rapid-service motorists’ restaurant they have out there on the West Coast called “McDonnell” or “Old MacDonald’s” (our operative is no longer sure of the exact name). Since accepting this job one month ago, she has eaten all of her meals there and her weight has ballooned to well over 200 pounds. As our investigator puts it, “She ain’t little and she ain’t runnin’ nowhere.”

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Tales of Ordinary Greatness

By:

Greetings, everyone! Graduates, family members, friends, staff…Welcome to the commencement exercises for the third midwinter session of Briquedor University. As founder, dean, bursar and faculty of this cybertech-based institution of higher osmotic education, I am very happy to see so many of our graduates turn out today to receive their hard-earned degrees for life experience and inadvertent independent study. But before I present you with your luxury laminate-bound diplomas we have a special, and I dare say moving, ceremony to perform. This sub-semester Briquedor is proud to be awarding honorary degrees to two people who exemplify the very spirit of life achievement.

First, would Debbie Wilson please step forward?

Debbie, you are here today to receive your PhD, a Doctorate for being Pretty and Hot.

For those of you who don’t know Debbie I’d just like to say a few words about the many, many endeavors she has undertaken to qualify for this degree.

As a newborn, Debbie was cute. Almost all babies are cute, but she was really, really cute. People fawned over her for this reason and she learned, before she could talk and at a deeply-entrenched subconscious level, that she was somehow different from the rest of humanity and therefore deserved special treatment. As she grew up, the people around her reinforced this impression, and she never lacked for attention, play dates, invitations to parties, etc.

In early adolescence she developed medium-large breasts, which of course only consolidated her already widespread popularity among her classmates. Although she never excelled in standard academic subjects, Debbie proved to be a near-genius, according to Edison’s definition, in the exacting science of personal appearance enhancement, trying on literally thousands of outfits, pairs of shoes and accessories, conducting experiments in makeup and hair coloring, and devoting the bulk of her spare time to fine-tuning the results of her research with the help of an array of various sized mirrors.

After graduating from high school without distinction, Debbie carefully considered her options and logically decided not to pursue any further mainstream academic or professional goals, deeming that her accomplishments in pulchritude were fulfillment enough and a sufficient contribution to society. While working as a hand model, and later as a hand and wrist model, she steadfastly dedicated herself to investigating a complex and challenging branch of parasociology, namely dating older, wealthier men and convincing them to pay her bills and buy her expensive gifts, a discipline that she has continued to pursue to this day, with three brief sabbaticals to engage in special immersion studies in the intricacies of married life.

Through diligent theoretical work and hands-on (lips-on, legs-on, etc.) “lab” experience, Debbie has developed an original, elaborate system of date management, constantly monitoring and updating a massive rotating database of potential suitors. It’s an impressive methodology that she began refining in her early teen years, and it has proven so effective that since the age of thirteen and a half she has never once been without a boyfriend for more than a matter of hours. Or at least it seemed like hours.

A tireless campaigner for the rights and privileges of people like herself, especially herself, Debbie has incessantly strived to push the envelope of entitlement for the congenitally attractive. Her work in this sphere is vast indeed, but I will cite just a few examples. During her school years she rarely contributed to classroom discussions — other than whining the question that became her nickname in the teachers’ lounge: “Why do I have to learn this?” — but when she did participate it was invariably in an attempt to evade mental exertion or somehow make things easier for herself. For instance, in a discussion of lightning in eighth grade science class, when informed that the speed of light was much greater than the speed of sound, Debbie commented, not seeing any reason why she should be expected to memorize two complicated numbers, “They should be the same.”

Later, after earning her driver’s license, she became known throughout the quad-county area for her pioneering fieldwork in traffic ticket circumvention. Debbie has been stopped for speeding, reckless driving and other traffic violations a total of 314 times and has only ever received three tickets, having charmed and flirted her way out of all 311 others. And she’s pretty sure one of those cops was gay. Her unique ability to rapidly and surreptitiously undo blouse buttons, initially developed as what sexologists call a “phallic vexation” technique, has also proven very useful in this domain.

But of course her greatest achievement, and the reason she stands before you here, is being born beautiful. Day after day, month after month, Debbie continues doggedly to look good, and sometimes even great, according to many observers. Especially that guy at the supermarket meat counter who’s been hitting on her every chance he gets for the past seventeen years even though she cuts him dead every time. But keep trying, Buddy! She loves the attention!

So it is with great pride that I present to you, Debbie Wilson, your honorary PhD. Let’s give her a hand…

Now we come to a man who is widely known for his attainments in the field of physical dominance. Would Joe Miller please come up to the podium? Joe, it is my pleasure to bestow upon you an honorary MBA for being Muscular, Big and Aggressive.

As you can see, ladies and gentlemen, Joe is a large, although not particularly fat, man. He has big arms, big hands, big legs, a thick neck and a big voice. He weighed more than ten pounds at birth and was always the biggest pupil in his class at school. At a very early age, Joe learned to use his natural gift to promote his own interests and win others over to his way of thinking. His early efforts involved forcibly seizing cookies, red crayons (he likes red) and other coveted items from classmates. And some non-coveted items just to hone his craft. Then in junior high and high school he devised a number of imaginative ways to use the threat, if not the fact, of violence to secure his preferred seats in the cafeteria and on school buses, to bolster his personal finances and even to improve his test scores.

Upon reaching adulthood, Joe found himself with no particular skills or interests and so launched himself in business sectors in which his undeniable asset could be put to profitable use. He has explored a variety of parallel career paths, juggling professional responsibilities in roadwork, construction, house painting and seasonal farm labor.

Joe works hard, and when he’s not working he quite naturally likes to unwind. Evenings and weekends he can usually be found at a local watering hole, WTFI Thursday’s, where a stool at the corner of the bar is unofficially reserved for him, by him, every night. There he enjoys regaling his friend and acquaintances with reminders of how incredibly powerful he is, or was, including tales of his many past encounters, spats, disputes, arguments, shouting matches, shoving matches, fights, fracases and brawls. Being large, he logically sees no reason to avoid confrontation, negotiate any issue or even listen to any other viewpoint, and he proudly wears the scars resulting from the rare occasions when he has chanced upon someone as brawny and intransigent as himself. He also entertains and from time to time amazes his fellow bar patrons with feats of strength and courage like opening bottles with his teeth, picking up smaller waitresses or holding an entire tray of freshly-filled beer pitchers at arm’s length, with a success rate nearing twenty-eight percent.

As Joe will gladly remind you, he can still “beat crap” out of anyone in town and never “takes crap” from anyone. But his most outstanding accomplishment, and the reason we are honoring him today, is being born big. So Joe, here’s your richly-merited MBA. Congratulations!

Unfortunately our other special guests could not be here this afternoon. Briquedor University is also awarding honorary doctorates to Paris Hilton for being born wealthy and Peter Fonda for being born famous. But since they were unable to attend, we will now proceed with the presentation of our other life experience diplomas. When I call your name, please come up to… No, wait — just stand up and I’ll toss it to you. And hey, let’s try to move this right along — I have an important, ah, private conference afterwards with one of our doctoral grads.

Al L. Soran, for a bachelor’s in digital gaming…

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