* Welcome to The Big Jewel, where we're glad someone has the energy to address the energy crisis. When you've finished reading David Martin's latest piece, click on the link below or on our blogroll to purchase his most recent humor collection "Screams & Whispers" on Amazon.

We Are The Light

By:
david.martin@bell.net
http://www.amazon.com/Screams-Whispers-pieces-rejected-Yorker/dp/1482395320/ref=sr_1_1?

There seems little doubt that we are facing an energy crisis. Despite significant developments in wind, solar and nuclear power, we are still largely dependent on fossil fuels and likely will be for years. Since that supply is finite and limited, we need to find new ways to bridge the gap.

The future looks bleak, but I think I have an answer to our current dilemma: human-generated power. If you look around, you’ll see millions, if not billions, of potential energy sources.

Visit any busy downtown street corner and you’ll find thousands of people walking here and there, to and fro, hither and yon. All that toing and froing and hithering and yonning is nothing more than wasted energy.

Sure, walking serves the useful purpose of getting from point A to point B but, in doing so, there is a measurable amount of expended (and heretofore) wasted energy. I’m not sure how many joules, ergs or kilosomethings it is but I’m assuming it’s enough to be harvested, saved and then transferred to our electrical grid to be used in powering our homes and businesses.

I’m not an engineer, but I am familiar with such words as nanobots, fuel cells and biomechanics, and I have no doubt that some combination of these technologies can allow an individual walker to generate a certain amount of usable energy. That energy, along with the energy generated by millions of other walkers, could be transmitted to a central station for distribution elsewhere.

Engineering is not my forte; something I like to call macro-imaging (or what some might call blue-sky thinking) is my true calling. So I’ll leave it to the engineers and scientists to work out the details while I explore the broader concepts.

Walkers, of course, comprise but one group of potential energy providers. There are also millions of people who not only walk but also walk their dogs. This presents the possibility of doubling the power generation capacity, particularly in high density canine environments such as parks and dog runs. Runners could boost the power output even more.

Another possibility is swimmers. From recreational swimmers to competitive racers, there is a wealth of untapped power that can be harvested, subject of course to whatever safety provisions are required to allow for electricity generation within a water environment. Again, I’ll leave those details to the engineers on the ground.

It’s common knowledge that sexual activity burns upwards of 200 calories per encounter. That’s 200 calories of previously wasted energy that presumably could be transformed into useful electricity to power small items like a toaster, a microwave or a vibrator. If people are willing to take the time to employ a condom before engaging in sex presumably they’ll have no problem also donning whatever electro-conductive apparatuses are required to truly experience the power of love.

Adventurous homeowners can explore the possibility of tapping into huge electrical energy sources during local thunderstorms. Wearing lightning rods connected to large storage batteries promises to provide a month’s worth or more of power from just one storm at minimal cost. For those having personal safety concerns, I have been assured that wearing a tinfoil hat will protect against excessive electromagnetic radiation as well as any deleterious effects of telepathy.

Speaking of tinfoil hats, it seems to me that they could easily provide a significant source of solar-generated electricity. If we all wore such headgear outside on sunny days, we could easily recharge our cell phones, laptops and tablets for next to nothing on an ongoing basis. And again, this would have the added advantage of providing serious protection against local, ill-intentioned mind readers.

If we just let our imaginations soar, I suspect that there is an almost unlimited supply of energy literally right at our fingertips. The power generated by billions of daily computer keystrokes could easily be harnessed. Likewise, mini-wind generators could be strapped to our noses while we sleep to power our household appliances. Even Queen Elizabeth could become a royal role model by agreeing to generate electricity through her public waving.

We have the answer to our energy needs in our own hands, feet and nostrils. In short, we are the light.

 

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* Welcome to The Big Jewel, where we are hoping some wise boomer can enlighten us as to the meaning of certain musical snippets from a bygone era. When you're done reading David Martin's new piece, click on the link below or on our blogroll to purchase his most recent humor collection "Screams & Whispers" on Amazon.

Beatles Lyrics 101

By:
david.martin@bell.net
http://www.amazon.com/Screams-Whispers-pieces-rejected-Yorker/dp/1482395320/ref=sr_1_1?

Good morning students, and welcome once again to “Beatles Lyrics 101,” an in-depth analysis of the lyrics of various Beatles songs. Just as Shakespeare is replete with linguistic riddles from the 17th century, so, too, does the discography of the four moptops from Liverpool present us with lyrical puzzles from the 20th century.

I have begun grading your papers on the meaning of the lyrics of “Hey Jude” and I expect to have them back to you by next week. Let me just say, though, that I was disappointed that some of you chose to view it as an antisemitic work.

Today we are examining the lyrics to the song “Back in the USSR.” Featured on the Beatles’ White Album, this song is a parody of the surfing songs of their rival group from that era, the Beach Boys.

In order to fully appreciate this work, it is necessary to decipher the many 20th-century references from almost 50 years ago. For example, what does “flew in from Miami Beach BOAC” mean?

It’s not an acronym for “boarded on air carrier” although that’s a good guess, Katie. What’s that, Ralph? “Boring old ass catchers?” That’s just rude. No, BOAC stands for British Overseas Airways Corporation, which was the predecessor to today’s British Airways.

Now the third line of the song is a bit unclear. Some read it as “on the way the paper bag was on my knee,” which could be a reference to the paper airsickness bags once provided by airlines to their passengers. Okay, Ralph, you can stop retching now. We all realize that your name is slang for vomiting.

Others have read the third line as “on the way the paperback was on my knee,” which is a reasonable alternative interpretation. A “paperback” was a softbound print medium or “book” once commonly carried by passengers to read as a diversion on long flights.

The fifth line identifies a place called the USSR, but what exactly is that place? No, Ralph, it’s not the companion ship to the Starship Enterprise. The USSR stands for the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, a vast federation of communist states that stretched from Europe to the Pacific Ocean. That federation was disbanded in 1991, but some older people still remember its existence.

The chorus is a bit confusing when the singer mysteriously lauds “Ukraine girls.” If he has landed in the USSR, why would he be praising women from elsewhere? Because Putin likes to do it with Ukrainian girls? Very funny, Ralph, but that’s not it. Quite simply, it’s because when the song was written, Ukraine was part of the USSR.

The final line of the chorus says “that Georgia’s always on my mind.” No, Ralph, it’s not a reference to some “hot chick named Georgia.” If you had taken my course last semester entitled “The American South in Popular Music” you would know that this is, at least in part, a reference to the once popular Ray Charles song “Georgia on My Mind.”

However, at the time this Beatles tune was first released, Georgia was also one of the many republics making up the USSR, or Soviet Union. Given the overall soviet theme of the song, this latter interpretation is undoubtedly the more likely one. Yes, Ralph, Georgia is where the Caucasus Mountains are. Yes, that’s almost as funny as Lake Titicaca.

In the fourth line of the second verse, the protagonist sings “honey, disconnect the phone.” To today’s listeners, the meaning is somewhat unclear. Was the singer suggesting that his love interest turn off her cell phone or perhaps unplug the phone’s charger?

It seems unlikely, given that cell phones did not yet exist in 1968 when the song was first released. It is far more likely that the lyricist is referring to what was once known as a “land line,” an ancient wired phone dependent on a nationwide wired network to obtain a connection with another “telephone” user.

The use of the words “let me hear your balalaikas ringing out, come and keep your comrade warm” in the third verse underscores the Russian theme of the song, Russia at that time being one of the Soviet republics. Despite the many iterations of nationhood in the region over the last hundred years, the balalaika remained a consistent symbol of the native peoples. And no, Ralph, a balalaika is not a specialized bicycle used in Russian porn. That’s “comrade,” Ralph, not “come rad.”

Thank God, there’s the bell. Next week we will analyze the Beatles’ songs “Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds,” “Strawberry Fields Forever” and “I Am the Walrus” from a non-drug perspective.

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* Welcome to The Big Jewel, where we are usually happy for reasons that are not immediately apparent. Maybe it's something we drank? When you're through reading David Martin's new piece, click on the link below or on our blogroll to purchase his most recent humor collection "Screams & Whispers" on Amazon.

Happy Water

By:
david.martin@bell.net
http://www.amazon.com/Screams-Whispers-pieces-rejected-Yorker/dp/1482395320/ref=sr_1_1?

“…despite the studies demonstrating the benefits of relatively high natural lithium levels present in the drinking water of certain communities, few seem to be aware of its potential.” — The New York Times, September 13, 2014

Well it looks like one community is aware of lithium’s potentially beneficial effect and is planning to do something about it, if this recently leaked draft memo out of San Francisco can be believed:

TO: The Mayor

FROM: The City Water Department

After careful study and consideration, we are proposing that our city’s water supply be supplemented with microscopic amounts of lithium. Based on recent studies, it appears that even trace amounts of that mineral will make for a happier, healthier population.

However, we don’t think that the water supplementation initiative should stop there. If a little lithium is helpful then presumably more will be even better. After an initial trial period, we propose that the amount of lithium added to the water be doubled each year until we determine the optimum amount.

Some in our department have voiced the concern that too much of a good thing might be dangerous. However, on balance, we think the annual doubling metric combines the best elements of efficacy and safety with minimal risk of harm to the water-drinking public. The only risk of note would be a one-year period in which San Franciscans might possibly be a bit too laid back.

In the interests of public health and well-being, we are also proposing additional programs for your consideration. In order to realize a happier citizenry, we propose the occasional use of a benzodiazepine supplement. For example, during our winter months, if long-range weather predictions call for extended periods of rain, we could add appropriate amounts of Diazepam to the city water system in order to lift the public’s spirits. Similarly, on the off chance that there is any snow in the forecast, we could easily titrate in one or more mood elevators on a temporary basis.

Specific holiday water management programs are also under consideration. We have examined the possibility of adding reasonable amounts of ethyl alcohol to assist in annual celebrations such as the Fourth of July and New Year’s Eve. Alcohol levels would, of course, be restricted to a maximum of 4% and would be implemented only in the late evening hours to prevent inadvertent ingestion by children. Some thought was given to specific beverage additions such as Scotch, gin and Champagne but individual tastes vary and the costs would likely be prohibitive.

Some in our department have suggested additional possible seasonal adjustments. Given San Francisco’s pharmaceutical heritage, you may want to consider one-time offerings of various psychedelics when appropriate. It’s not too soon to plan for the fiftieth anniversary of our city’s Summer of Love in 1967. Consideration should be given to adding small amounts of LSD to our water supply in the summer of 2017 to mark the occasion. Individual water fountains in the Haight-Ashbury district could even be temporarily altered to dispense appropriate amounts of psilocybin, ecstasy and/or peyote for the duration of the celebrations.

As for adding fluoride to our city’s drinking water, we recommend that a decision on this matter be postponed indefinitely. It just seems a bit too risky.

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* 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

By:
david.martin@bell.net
http://www.amazon.com/Screams-Whispers-pieces-rejected-Yorker/dp/1482395320/ref=sr_1_1?

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.

Gravity
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

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* 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

By:
david.martin@bell.net
http://www.amazon.com/Screams-Whispers-pieces-rejected-Yorker/dp/1482395320/ref=sr_1_1?

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.

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* 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

By:
david.martin@rogers.com
http://www.amazon.com/Screams-Whispers-pieces-rejected-Yorker/dp/1482395320/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1362403948&sr=8-1&keywords=screams+%26+whispers+david+martin

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.

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* 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

By:
david.martin@rogers.com
http://www.amazon.com/Screams-Whispers-pieces-rejected-Yorker/dp/1482395320/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1362403948&sr=8-1&keywords=screams+%26+whispers+david+martin

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’.

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* 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

By:
david.martin@rogers.com
http://www.amazon.com/Screams-Whispers-pieces-rejected-Yorker/dp/1482395320/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1362403948&sr=8-1&keywords=screams+%26+whispers+david+martin

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.

 

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* 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

By:
david.martin@rogers.com
http://www.amazon.com/Screams-Whispers-pieces-rejected-Yorker/dp/1482395320/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1362403948&sr=8-1&keywords=screams+%26+whispers+david+martin

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.

 

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* 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

By:
david.martin@rogers.com
http://www.amazon.com/Screams-Whispers-pieces-rejected-Yorker/dp/1482395320/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1362403948&sr=8-1&keywords=screams+%26+whispers+david+martin

“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.

 

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