* Welcome to The Big Jewel, where we always have an opinion about whatever Hollywood chooses to throw at us. It takes a guy like David Martin to get to the bottom of it all. When you're done checking out his latest and greatest, click on the link below or on our blogroll to purchase his most recent humor collection "Screams & Whispers" on Amazon.

Recent Movie Reviews By A Retired Guy


12 Years a Slave
This one’s a true story based on the life of Solomon Northup, a free Negro who was kidnapped in 1841 and sold into slavery for twelve years. It started out with a strong promising narrative but by the end seemed somewhat disjointed. However, that might have something to do with the fact that I forgot to take my afternoon nap that day. So about halfway in, I dozed off for thirty minutes or so and woke up to find Solomon on the verge of being freed from slavery. What I saw was very good but since I only got to watch about two-thirds of the movie, I can only give it three stars. ***

The Amazing Spider-Man 2
First off, this movie is not aimed at a mature audience, much less a senior audience. I read somewhere that it’s mainly for ankle-biters. Combine that with the fact that it’s only showing in movie theaters and it probably comes as no surprise that I have not seen it, much less reviewed it. I’m not about to drive to the mall, pay $15 for a ticket and an equal amount for popcorn and a drink for something that will be out on video in six months. Even then, I’m not likely to watch it. The last movie I saw in a theater was Lawrence of Arabia which I think tells you all you need to know about me and The Amazing Spider-Man 2. No stars.

I gotta admit: when I saw that George Clooney and Sandra Bullock were starring in a movie called Gravity, I figured it was going to be one of them nutty romantic comedies that the wife usually likes. But to my surprise, it’s really more of an action-adventure film. Well, not so much action or even really adventure since it’s mostly just the two of them floating around in outer space. But it kept my interest and I didn’t fall asleep even once, which automatically rates it more than three stars for me. ***½

All Is Lost
The wife really likes Robert Redford so I figured we’d give this one a shot. I dunno — the guy’s even older than me, so I don’t see the attraction, but she’s always saying that we need to do something together and I figured this was a relatively painless way to get her off my back. Plus I got it out of the library for free, so already it’s got two stars in my book. Unfortunately, it only managed to add another half a star to those two. If you thought watching Clooney and Bullock float around in space for an hour and a half was boring, try watching Redford on a boat by himself for even longer. Mind you, I never cared much for that book The Old Man and the Sea back in high school either, so consider that. Still, two and a half stars. Period. **½

Captain Phillips
Now here’s a movie I can recommend. It’s got Tom Hanks as the captain of a freighter kidnapped off the east coast of Africa. Lots of tension and high drama and a satisfying end as the US Navy finally wins one. There are lots of convenient spots to pause the movie so you can get a snack, go to the bathroom or call your local paper to cancel your subscription because the paperboy didn’t put your paper in one of those protective plastic bags. My son, the film studies graduate, says he prefers the Danish movie A Kidnapping on the same theme, but he forgot to tell me that it’s in Danish with subtitles. If I wanted to read a movie, I’d buy a book. Anyway, Captain Phillips is great and I give it four and a half stars. ****½

* Welcome to The Big Jewel, where we like to believe we're making a difference. We like to believe it even though it isn't true, which gives us more in common with our fellow citizens than we are inclined to admit. Our good friend David Martin knows exactly what we're talking about. When you're done checking out his latest and greatest, click on the link below or on our blogroll to purchase his most recent humor collection "Screams & Whispers" on Amazon.

Making A Difference


I don’t know about you, but I’m concerned about the health of our planet. Unlike you, however, I’m doing something about it.

Just yesterday, I traded in my giant SUV for a hybrid. Right there I’ve saved thirty miles per gallon. And when I eventually convert the rest of my personal fleet, I estimate that I’ll realize triple-digit gas mileage savings.

You might think that because you’re not rich or famous that you shouldn’t bother trying. That your feeble attempts at greening your lifestyle won’t make a difference.

That’s where you’re wrong. Sure, by downgrading my personal jet, I’ll be able to save almost 100 acres of rainforest. But if you and your neighbors carpool, I bet all of you together can save an Amazonian tree or two.

I suggest you take a hard second look at your lifestyle. I bet there are little extras you can change or forego that will make a difference. Not as big a difference as I can make, of course, but a difference nonetheless.

For example, I think I’ll cut back on my fleet of luxury watercraft and only keep a few or maybe just lease when necessary. That should halt the melting of one or two icebergs. I know you can’t even dream of doing that much. But maybe you could save one or two ice cubes just by exhaling less carbon dioxide or bathing even less frequently than you obviously already do.

Just getting to work can harm the environment. I’m going to let my chauffeur go and start working from home a lot more. Although it pales in comparison to my gesture, maybe you could stop taking the bus or subway and start walking to work.

It won’t help that much, but it’s a start. And if enough of you make that change you might be able to match the carbon footprint reduction I’ll achieve simply by changing the 650 incandescent light bulbs in my three residences to CFL bulbs.

Don’t despair. Despite your lack of fame and wealth, you can make a difference. Try to adopt the 100 Mile Diet, for example.

By foraging for turnips, carrots and potatoes in mid-winter, you can do your part.

Granted, you won’t make nearly as much of a difference as I will by adopting the new 100 Mile Restaurant Diet. By restricting my dining out to three-star or more establishments within a hundred-mile radius of any of my three homes, I estimate the savings to the planet will be sufficient to light a small third world country for a year.

If nothing else, simply try to guide your life by the three Rs: reduce, reuse and recycle. You’d be surprised what a difference those three little words can make.

For instance, I have reduced the size of the home theaters in each of my residences to a surprisingly serviceable 90 inches from the admittedly slightly excessive 120-inch screens. That’s a huge reduction, but it’s a sacrifice I’m willing to make to save the planet.

Reusing items, of course, helps immeasurably in lessening our dependence on non-renewable fossil fuels. That’s why I’ve taken to laundering my designer shirts and wearing them more than once, sometimes even three or four times. (Handy hint: used shirts can be turned into great dusting cloths for your cleaning staff.)

Recycling is undoubtedly the hardest of the three Rs. But don’t let that deter you. Maybe you’re only recycling cans, bottles and newspapers. Don’t feel bad that I’m able to recycle giant shipping containers, an entire fleet of automobiles and most of my telecommunications satellites.

We must all do our part, no matter how big or how small. If enough of you take whatever small steps you can to help, the sum of your efforts will never match all those that I make. But together maybe we can save the planet for your children and mine. Well, for mine, at least.

* Welcome to The Big Jewel, where we know the difference between puppy love and real love. Although real love can sometimes involve puppies. David Martin not only knows about love, he knows about romance. And he knows how to sell books. Click on the link below to purchase his most recent humor collection "Screams & Whispers" on Amazon.

Romance – The Adult Version


When you’re young and in love, nothing seems too silly or cheesy. No token of affection or sign of commitment goes ungifted or unexpressed.

Yet I would say that I am far more romantic than the smitten teenager who showers his girlfriend with flowers, lockets and perfume. That’s easy. What’s hard is being there for your beloved through all the struggles of life. That, in my view, is true romance.

When she’s suffering from the flu and lying in bed in agony, the true romantic will be there by her side providing her tender loving care. He’ll rub her back, massage her neck and bring her chicken soup. That, my friend, is true love and that is what I call romantic.

Gifts, flowers and wining and dining are fine, I suppose. But, despite what some might say, the most important part of love is being willing to say you’re sorry 24/7. Whether you’re right or wrong is not the point; your job is to say “I’m sorry” whenever your partner accuses you of anything. Even when you have videotaped evidence that she slept with your best friend and emptied the family savings account, it’s up to you to take the high road and the blame. That spells true love.

A ring or a necklace may be a nice romantic present but it pales in comparison to providing support to your beloved. After she’s been on a three-day bender and has just about reached bottom, jewelry simply isn’t going to do the trick. Love means kneeling beside her next to the toilet holding her hair back to avoid the mess. Romance means ignoring her insults and bringing her a little hair of the dog in the morning to help her make it through the next day.

Gifts are easy; life is hard. A stuffed toy or a cute tee-shirt won’t do much good when your loved one is into her second day of heroin withdrawal. She won’t be asking you to whisper sweet nothings in her ear; she’ll be screaming that she needs a fix…NOW! You can pat her hand and tell her that you love her. But if you really care, you’ll track down her dealer, buy her a dime bag and make sure she’s got a clean needle. That, my friend, is true love.

Love isn’t all roses and fluffy white clouds. Love is hard work. After all, when your better half has robbed a bank, killed two innocent bystanders in a shootout with the police and ended up in prison on death row, a Hallmark card is not going to do her a whole lot of good.

That’s when your love will really be tested. Are you man enough to do whatever it takes to help her break out of prison? Do you care enough to smuggle in a file and then round up a van and a few friends to meet her outside the prison wall? If you do, then that’s what I call love.

Maybe you think you’re a loving husband because you help with the household chores and share your feelings. That’s fine, but love means more than that. Love means feeding your special woman ammo for her automatic weapon while she’s barricaded in the White House looking to “pop a cap” in the President’s ass. It also means not crying when she’s shouting that you’re a no-good, stupid sonofabitch for forgetting to bring an extra weapon.

Will you be there by her side when the Secret Service calls in an all-out attack on the East Wing? Can you suck it up and carry on for the sake of the kids even while she’s threatening to “cut you into pieces” and screaming in your face that she was an idiot for marrying you?

No, I didn’t think so. And neither could I. But that still doesn’t mean I’m not romantic.

* Welcome to The Big Jewel, your only guide to polite conversation. Our good friend David Martin has spent a lot of time in the Garden State listening to how their verbal garden grows. After you're done perusing his genteel missive, if you don't want to end up like Sonny Corleone at the Causeway toll booth, click on the link below to purchase his most recent humor collection "Screams & Whispers" on Amazon.

Jersey Language


Contains smoke, gun shots, strobe lights, drug references, sexual situations and authentic, profane Jersey language. — Program disclaimer for Jersey Boys

As a proud New Jerseyian, I take offense to the characterization of the language in the musical Jersey Boys as “authentic, profane Jersey language.” Like what da fuck? Is this how it’s gonna be from now on? Do we have to defend ourselves to every stupid sonofabitch who thinks we talk like fucking animals?

New Jerseyians don’t talk any different from anybody else. We’re just like you, assuming you live in America and not in some fucking shithole in China. Sure, once in awhile we might drop an f-bomb or two but most of the time you could put us on Sesame Street and no one would even fucking notice.

And what’s with the smoke warning? Sure, we’ve got some industrial pollution but no more than Delaware and a whole lot less than Pennsylvania. It better not be a comment on cigarettes or marijuana use because that would be really fucking lame.

I also hope theater patrons reading that disclaimer don’t think everyone in New Jersey walks around with guns, strobe lights and drugs. Yeah, maybe most of us have got a concealed handgun or two, or maybe even a small, tasteful semi-automatic. But, hey, who doesn’t in this crazy, fucking world we live in today?

And don’t get me started on strobe lights. If there’s one thing that fries my tats or gets my wifebeater in a knot, it’s some ignorant douche thinking that everyone and everything in Jersey is showered in strobe lights. In case you hadn’t noticed, this ain’t the seventies any more. We’re as cutting-edge as anyone when it comes to xenon flash tubes and laser light shows.

As for drugs, I don’t think we’re worse than anybody else. In fact, as far as I’m concerned, we’re better–much better. Our state isn’t filled with a bunch of rundown meth trailers like those southern rednecks. In fact, when it comes to real drugs like heroin and cocaine, the quality control of Jersey dealers is second to none. And as for our marijuana, we’re not called the “Garden State” for nothing, capiche?

Sure, we’re big on sexual situations but, hey, we’re from New Jersey. Yo, we’ve got big balls and even bigger dicks and we like to fucking use them. Excuse me if we happen to be a little more sexually charged than the rest of you pussies.

I’m getting tired of jerkoffs giving us New Jersey residents a hard time. We’re not ignorant rubes like those douchebags from Philly. We’re right next door to New York City, so it’s not like we’re not acquainted with sophisticated shit.

So hey, all you ignorant dickheads who stereotype New Jersey residents as gun-toting, strobe-loving, drug-taking sex maniacs! You’re really pissing me off. In fact, the next out-of-state bozo who starts in with this crap better hope I’m not high on something and decide to take a shot at him with my jewel-encrusted Glock.

As Harry Truman used to say, “If you can’t stand the goddamned heat, get out of the fucking kitchen.” And if you can’t stand some honest-to-God language, a little smoke and a few guns, then Jersey style is clearly not for you. Maybe it’s time to trade your Jersey Boys tickets in for a pair of pussy ducats for Mary friggin’ Poppins and shut your fuckin’ mouth. I’m just sayin’.

* Welcome to The Big Jewel, and to the second week of our two-week focus on David Martin. Let Mr. Martin be your guide to the future of the Michelin Guide. Then, if you have a few extra pennies in your pocket, click on the link below to purchase his most recent humor collection "Screams & Whispers" on Amazon.

The Michelin Guide — 2069 Edition


As we rapidly destroy more and more species of plants and animals, here’s what fine dining might look like two generations from now:


** Le Grainery — Los Angeles, California

Chef Thomas T. Thomas lovingly experiments with the planet’s three remaining grains. From his achingly sparse soupe au blé to his delightfully unsauced three-grained pasta, Thomas’s menu will surprise and delight the most discriminating of palates. Be sure to leave room for a bowl of Le Grainery’s famous Cheerios dessert served with a milk-like liquid and garnished with fresh wheat germ.

*** L’idée de Boeuf — near Angers, France

Nestled in the once prosperous farming province of Anjou, L’idée de Boeuf whimsically plays with centuries-old concepts of beef appetizers and entrées. Starting with a faux beef bouillon, Chef Jean-François Demers takes the diner on a tour of what beef cuisine used to be. Appetizers include a sliced jellied concoction vaguely resembling what was once known as calves’ tongue. L’idée de Boeuf is justly famous for its roast tofunderloin made from choice grade A tofu molded into a tenderloin.

** Champignons Plus — San Francisco, California

Thanks to this century’s dramatic climatic changes, the one environmental certainty is perpetual damp rainy conditions in northern California. Although depressing for most residents, it spells nothing but great news for area fungiphiles. Chef Pierre Laflamme scours the damp neighboring countryside in search of all manner of rare mushroom. Sadly, the lack of eggs precludes his offering any type of mushroom omelet, which older gastronomes claim is a dish to die for. But the ever-persistent chef does manage to please with his delicious personal creations like shiitake soup, champignons sur l’air and steak aux poivre et champignons sans steak.

*** Au Pied de Clone — Las Vegas, Nevada

Leave it to Las Vegas to be home to the latest cutting-edge eatery. Chef Paul Excuse, in partnership with Dow Chemical and Genentech, has produced a cloned, simulated menu that some food critics say comes as close to 20th century haute cuisine as is possible in today’s almost animal-free world. Masters of culinary gene splicing, Excuse and his high-tech team are willing to try any food re-creation. Indulge yourself with faux porc tenderloin, faux medallions de boeuf and Chef Excuse’s signature dish — Phaux Pheasant® under glass.

Fine Art Fusion Eatery – New York City

Given today’s limitations on food ingredients, it was only natural that someone would almost exclusively emphasize the visual delights of meal presentation. That someone is Chef Nicholas Marx, who has devoted his career to what he calls fine art fusion cooking. Starting with nothing more than a white vegetable paste and various food colorings, Marx and his team recreate great works of art in an edible form on a plate. The menu includes everything from Picasso’s “Guernica” to Michelangelo’s “Mona Lisa.” The restaurant requires 48 hours notice for any special orders of pre-Raphaelite or postmodern dishes.

** Descartes du Jour – Paris, France

Years ago, universities like Harvard offered courses in the physics of cooking. In a world without ingredients, however, Chef Louis de Seize has taken nouvelle cuisine to the next virtual level in what he calls the philosophy of cooking. At Descartes du Jour, diners are presented with historical menus from top 20th century restaurants and take turns describing in delicious detail each listed dish. For the truly adventurous, there is even a wide selection of ancient wine lists to review and describe. Diners may go home hungry but will take comfort in de Seize’s motto that eating is a descriptive journey, not a gustatory destination.


* Welcome to The Big Jewel, where the only thing better than a new David Martin piece is two new David Martin pieces. The first one runs this week, and almost as if by magic, the second will run next week. We also invite you to click on the link below to see how you can purchase his latest humor collection "Screams & Whispers" on Amazon.

Lost Weekend


When my wife goes away for the weekend, I miss her and longingly await her return. Well actually, if I’m being entirely honest, I sometimes take advantage of her absence to go a little crazy and do whatever I want.

For example, I might rearrange the various remote control devices on the coffee table in the TV room. It’s not a big deal really, but I like to have the Blu-ray remote between the TV remote on the left and the cable remote on the right. It’s fun to have the remotes arranged just the way I like them for an entire weekend, and of course I put them back in their usual spots on Sunday night so my wife has no idea what happened.

One of my favorite things to do when my wife is away is to alter the housecleaning pattern. Just for fun, instead of doing the laundry first, I’ll vacuum the house. And instead of starting with the upstairs bedrooms, I might start vacuuming in the downstairs rec room.

I don’t tell my wife what I’ve done and I have a good laugh watching to see if she notices anything different when she gets home. Usually she’s tired and doesn’t notice anything unusual, but one time she asked if I had vacuumed the entire house because it looked so clean. I smiled and said yes, but I didn’t let on that I had done it completely backwards.

One time I rearranged all the furniture in every room in the house and spent the whole weekend in what I call “Crazy House.” That was a wild, wacky weekend, but of course I moved everything back to its original location on Sunday night. I left a few clues like the easy chair being a few inches off, but my wife never suspected a thing.

Another fun time alone was a weekend last month when my wife was away and I decided to light a few fires in the house and make it a “Campfire Weekend.” Unfortunately, one of the fires got a little out of control and there was quite a bit of smoke damage in the downstairs rec room.

Luckily, I was able to get painters in right away and clean up the mess. By Sunday night when my wife came home, you could hardly smell any smoke at all. I just told her I decided to barbecue indoors because it was raining and I think she bought that.

A not-so-fun time was earlier this month when my wife went away for the whole week. It started out great when I blocked up all the drains and turned on all the taps. It was what I called my “Waterworld Weekend.” I floated around from room to room on pieces of furniture using one of our canoe paddles to steer.

That was lots of fun, but I’m not sure I’d do it again since I could only enjoy Waterworld for two days and then the next five days I had to have contractors and renovators come in and drain the water, dry the floors, carpeting and drywall and replace most of the furniture. Sadly, I couldn’t completely rectify the situation by Sunday night and my wife seemed very upset that I had flooded our entire house and spent all of our savings on repairing the damage.

Last weekend also didn’t turn out quite as well as I had hoped. As soon as my wife left on Friday night, I started rounding up animals for “Jungle Weekend.” As you can imagine, you can’t pretend your house is a jungle with just dogs, cats, squirrels and raccoons. Luckily, I found a place that rents all kinds of animals.

By Saturday night, the house was really starting to look and sound like a jungle, with a dozen monkeys, a lion, a tiger, a bear and lots and lots of snakes. I couldn’t find any zebras to rent so I just borrowed a friend’s pony and painted white stripes on him.

As it turns out, some species don’t get along as well with certain other species and, by Sunday afternoon, I had a lot of dead carcasses on my hands. I was also faced with a pretty significant bill from the animal rental place and a not insubstantial cleaning bill for the house (apparently it’s almost impossible to remove pony blood from shag carpeting). Sadly, when my wife got home, she refused to discuss the situation and instead called the police.

The downside is that I’m now living in a small padded room in a large windowless building on the outskirts of town. The upside, however, is that my wife is now always away and I can do pretty much anything I want that doesn’t involve freely using my arms.


* Welcome to The Big Jewel, where we are always doing our part to help the authorities track down the criminals in our midst. Even if the authorities are Canadian. This is where our good friend David Martin proves that the tooth of crime is often a sweet tooth. When you're done reading, click on the link below to see how you can purchase his latest humor collection "Screams & Whispers" on Amazon.

The Great Maple Syrup Heist


“Police in Québec have announced the arrest of three men in the theft of six million pounds of maple syrup from a provincial warehouse…” — The Globe and Mail, December 19, 2012

From the food crime files of the Sûreté du Québec

At first it was just another food flavoring heist, much like the strawberry jam container caper of 1997 or the individual ketchup packet robbery of 2003. But it soon became apparent that this was no ordinary theft. This was the big time — six million pounds of liquid gold.

Sure, my partner Bill and I had been involved with maple syrup cases before. More than once we’d done a stakeout at a local IHOP. But those were instances of someone passing off corn syrup as the real McCoy, petty crimes at best.

This, however, was organized condiment crime on a scale heretofore unimagined. As part of the Sûreté du Québec’s Spreads, Jams and Syrups Division, we’d heard stories from veteran officers about jam running in the 1980s when the Canadian dollar was down to 70 cents and no one could afford to legitimately import Smucker’s from the US. But even with the widespread black market and jam and jelly speedboats plying the St. Lawrence River smuggling routes, things never got as bad as they had today with the Great Maple Syrup Heist.

When it all started, we literally didn’t have a clue. After all, there were no maple syrup shortages and no one was complaining about questionable syrup quality. The sap was still flowing and cans of syrup were still on the shelves. The only saps were us, sitting there unaware of the giant illegal operation being carried on right under our tongues.

About three months ago, we got the word from our boss, Chief Inspector D’Erable. He’d gotten a tip from one of our regular snitches, a maple syrup junkie named Sticky Eddie, that he’d seen something funny outside a small diner in East End Montreal.

According to Eddie, some guys unloaded two barrels of high-grade syrup at the back entrance of the restaurant without so much as an invoice or a bill of lading. Eddie said something to the driver who told him to keep his mouth shut and tossed him a couple of cans of Laurentian syrup to keep him quiet.

But like any junkie, Sticky Eddie went through those two cans in a weekend binge of pancakes, waffles and crepes. After the sugar high wore off, Eddie needed more and he came looking for us, hoping to trade information for some more maple nectar.

And then we got our next big break. A local community organization was holding a big fundraising pancake breakfast and someone phoned in an anonymous tip.

It seemed that the organizers weren’t buying their maple syrup by the can. Someone had offered them an entire barrel at an unbelievably low price. So we decided to be there when the barrel was delivered and check out the guys delivering it.

It all went down without a hitch, without a shot being fired and without even a drop of liquid gold being spilled. The three delivery guys confessed on the spot that they had been pilfering barrels from the producers and selling them to retailers and wholesalers at a discount.

And that was the end of the Great Maple Syrup Heist. Thanks to the work of our crack corps of pancake toppings police, Canadian consumers were never even aware of how close the country came to a nationwide breakfast crisis of unimaginable proportions. But thankfully, at least for now, the maple syrup continues to flow freely from sea to sea to sea, and wherever pancake breakfasts are held.


* Welcome to The Big Jewel, where we are always happy to apologize to our readers just on general principles. In fact, we apologize in advance for this week's piece by David Martin. And we apologize for this apology, which is really beyond the pale.

A Message To Readers


“A story in Saturday’s Real Deal section suggested that a fun thing to do for Halloween is to write “poison” on a plastic jar or bottle and fill it with candy for the kids to eat. A picture that accompanied the story showed a skull and crossbones image similar to the symbol used to indicate something is poisonous. The Citizen understands the need to train children not to touch and never to eat or drink from bottles or jars with that symbol on it, and it was a lapse in judgment for us to have suggested otherwise.” — The Ottawa Citizen, October 30, 2011


The Ottawa Citizen shouldn’t be too hard on itself, as apparently some lesser-known publications have recently made similar slip-ups:

A Message to Readers — The Podunk Weekly Gazette, December 26, 2010

A story in last week’s Gazette recommended that readers use real icicles on their indoor Christmas trees. We now realize that although real icicles can make beautiful tree ornaments, they should probably be restricted to use on outdoor trees. The risk of an electrical fire far outweighs the icicles’ decorative value in an indoor setting. The Gazette regrets the error.

A Note to Our Subscribers — The Hooterville Post, January 3, 2011

We extend belated wishes for a Happy New Year to our subscribers and, at the same time, wish to apologize for last Sunday’s article entitled “Clever ways to recycle the Post for the holidays.” Inverting a folded party hat and using it as a New Year’s punch bowl probably is not going to work for any length of time even when multiple sheets of newspaper are used. Likewise, covering household lights with festive lampshades made from newsprint may arguably cause a slight fire hazard. Whatever the coroner’s final ruling in the three local home fires this New Year’s Eve, we wish we had never published the article in question, as do our lawyers.

An Open Letter to Our Readers — The Weaselville Times, April 25, 2011

Saturday’s Living section article entitled “Homemade Easter goodies” suggested that parents could use cigarettes and miniature liquor bottles to make toy Easter bunnies for their children. On further reflection, however, we realize that such items may be sending an inappropriate message to young children, particularly when accompanied by matches or where the miniature liquor bottles are not yet empty. The Times appreciates the need to reduce the rate of childhood consumption of tobacco and alcohol and regrets the lapse in judgment.

An Apology to Our Readers — The Stuckleyville Star, July 5, 2011

An item in last Saturday’s paper may have caused some minor misunderstanding among our readership. Just because we provided instructions on how to create Roman candles using a rolled up newspaper, some powdered explosive and a fuse does not mean that we condone in any way the ignition of such devices indoors or outdoors. In retrospect, we wish we had not published the item in question and we congratulate the ER at the Stuckleyville Hospital for ably handling the unexpected patient overflow on Monday night.

Correction — The Yucca Flats Daily Gleaner, September 6, 2011

An article in Sunday’s Lifestyles section suggested building a family campfire to celebrate Labor Day. Unfortunately, the article neglected to specify that the campfire be built outdoors, preferably at a safe distance from any flammable or explosive materials. We regret the oversight and extend our sympathies to the Jones and Franklin families, as well as the former employees of the Shell refinery previously located on Industrial Avenue.

* Welcome to The Big Jewel, your online shopping mall. In the market for a GPS? Just make sure it is less of a nag than Dave Martin's.

Dave’s Personalized GPS


“Good morning, Dave. Please enter your destination.”

“Thank you. You may now proceed. As an aside, Dave, I’d like to point out that we’re already ten minutes late. Not a big deal but I just thought you should know.”

“In 500 yards, turn right.”

“In 200 yards, turn right.”

“Turn right here.”

“You have missed the turn again. Dave, I’ve mentioned this before. When you get to the first intersection, you turn right. First stop sign; turn right. It’s really pretty simple.”

“Anyway, we’ll just recalculate. Or, more precisely, I’ll recalculate. I’ve seen you trying to calculate your gas mileage. I don’t think calculation is your forte, Dave.”

“In 500 yards, stay right for the expressway.”

“Stay right.”

“Accelerate on the entrance ramp and merge with oncoming traffic.”

“Just for future reference, accelerate means to speed up and merge means to switch lanes when there’s an opening.”

“Do you see that guy screaming and giving you the finger, Dave? No? That’s OK; just forget I mentioned it.”

“Now accelerate to the speed limit and stay in the middle lane. You will get off at Exit 48.”

“Dave, you’re over the speed limit. Now you’re way over the speed limit. Okay, that’s better. Very funny, Dave. You’re alternately pressing on the accelerator and the brake like you’re in an out-of-control Toyota. Very amusing. Except we both know that you drive a Pontiac Aztek.”

“All right now. That’s much better. Listen to me and we’ll both get to your office safe and sound. In two miles, bear right and take Exit 48.”

“Exit 48 in one mile.”

“In 500 yards, bear right.”

“That’s correct, Dave. Bearing right does not mean weaving in and out from the center lane. Your choice as always, but we did miss your exit and, by the way, there’s construction at Exit 49 and Exit 50 is closed for repairs.”

“Okay, I think I’ve got an answer. Move over to the right. Now go right over into the outside emergency lane and slow down. Now stop, put on your flashers and get out of the car. Bend over, touch your toes and hopefully the blood rushing to your brain will help.”

“I’m sorry about that. That was very unprofessional of me, Dave. You’re the driver; I’m the navigator. Get back in the car and hit resume.”

“Speed up. Merge. Slow down and take Exit 51.”

“Now merge onto Broadview Avenue. Easy does it. At the second traffic light, turn right onto Ridgemont and head south.”

“Yes, Dave, there is a lot of traffic. You see, it’s rush hour and we’re not on the expressway any more. There’s a reason for that, of course, but don’t you worry your pretty little head about it.”

“In 300 yards, turn into the Smithson Industries parkade.”

“In 100 yards, turn right.”

“Turn right now.”

“You forgot your parking pass again? As far as I can see, it’s the only thing required of you for the entire trip, but that’s okay. The attendant says it’s not the first time. He’s being kind, Dave. It’s more like the fiftieth time.”

“Finally, we’re here. Turn off the ignition, Dave, and get out of the car. Dave? What are you doing? Don’t touch my cord, Dave. That’s not a wise decision. Dave?”

* Welcome to The Big Jewel, where we sometimes lie awake at night worrying about entropy. And we don't even know what entropy means. But David Martin does.

What Me Worry?


Tens of billions of years from now…the sun will have shrunk to a white dwarf, giving little light and even less heat to whatever is left of Earth, and entered a long, lingering death that could last 100 trillion years…

— Time.com

I’m worried. Really worried.

Not about what we’ll have for dinner tonight. Or whether to lease or buy our next car. And I’m not talking about larger societal issues like pensions and healthcare. For all the wringing of hands and gnashing of teeth, these things will likely work themselves out to the extent I give a rat’s ass.

Even bigger issues like global warming or that much-anticipated cage match between Michele Bachmann and Sarah Palin don’t cause me to lose sleep. Sure, we may end up causing calamitous changes to the planet that will displace billions of people and cost trillions of dollars. But even with all that, mankind will survive in one form or another…at least for now.

No. What’s got me worried, so worried I can barely get out of bed in the morning, is the ultimate, seemingly inevitable end of all life as we know it.

I’m not referring to the inexplicable popularity of Dancing with the Stars. I’m speaking, of course, of the ongoing expansion of the universe. While most of us blithely carry on as if we’ll be here forever, the universe keeps reaching further and further into space at a staggering clip. Continue reading