* Welcome to The Big Jewel, where we agree with Robert Benchley when he said, "There are two kinds of people in the world: those who divide the world into two kinds of people, and those who don't." Obviously Jon Millstein falls into the former category.

Please Allow Me To Enumerate The Types Of People

By:
jmillstein1@gmail.com

Meet my new puppy, Charlie. He’s a border collie. Do you like him? Oh, well. It’s like I always say. There are two types of people in this world: people who like dogs, and people who don’t. Looks like you fall into the latter camp.

Although now that you mention it, there is another type of person. Some people are more or less indifferent towards dogs. If a dog is around, they’ll pet it, but they don’t seek dogs out. So if we’re going to be rigorous about this, we had better recognize three types of people: people who like dogs, people who don’t, and people who could take dogs or leave ’em. It’s like I always say. Three types.

But let’s be honest with ourselves: what about competitive water skiers? This might seem like something of a departure from the types we’ve already discussed. Just bear with me. Picture a competitive water skier standing alongside a dog lover who’s never once strapped on water skis. Are they the same type of person? Of course not! One spends his days ripping turns across the wake, while the other would prefer to toss around the Frisbee with a pup like Charlie. So now we’re up to four types. And can I tell you something? I’m not even halfway done listing types.

After competitive water skiers, there’s the type of person that attended a private coeducational middle school. That’s type five. Type six describes the students currently enrolled at such a school. Seven through nine? Sedan drivers — of Civics, Passats and Priuses, respectively — and the tenth type of person makes a living leasing sedans to the three preceding types. I didn’t want to overwhelm you with all this earlier. But it’s like the saying goes: there are types of people in this world — lots of ’em.

If we’re going to tackle each one individually, I better pick up the pace.

Type 11: big ears. Type 12: easily spooked. Type 13: holds a graduate degree in Media Studies. Type 14: radiator salesman. Type 15: can’t pronounce the Spanish R. Type 16: subscribes to The Economist. Type 17: reads The Economist. Type 18: afflicted by allergies that preclude dog ownership — remember the first few types?

Type 19s are folks who’ve heard what they say on CNN and admit that the last few winters have been warmer than usual, but are hesitant to attribute the increase in temperature to anything other than — what?

You’ve got to run to a meeting? All of a sudden? And there’s no way you can arrive late? See, I’m a through-and-through type 158: I finish what I start. I’m also a type 2,412: I use passive aggression to detain my friends. That, plus a third subtype — type 2,349,201, Newark-born son of Clarke and Ellen Lesinski — makes me the 8,467,234,694th type of person. But I’ll show you how type combination works in a minute.

My point is I’m not the type of guy to stop enumerating the human race halfway through. That’s type 57,003 and it’s just about my least favorite. Because if you don’t know the diversity of mankind, what do you know? And if you can’t describe that diversity using numbered categories, listed in their entirety at typewiki.org/types, a website that I created and continue to moderate, what can you do? Nothing, that’s what. Absolutely nothing at all.

Not interested in diversity, eh?

Fine. Just remember what I told you. There are billions upon trillions of types of people in this world: people who like dogs, people who don’t, and so on and so forth through people who graduated from Harvard University in the early 1970s, who rose to prominence writing for Saturday Night Live seasons 1-5 and 11-20, and who currently serve as US Senators from the state of Minnesota. Al Franken. He is the final type of person.

Now get out of here. Me and my dog Charlie are going to discuss the dog types. Of which there are none — dogs don’t need any types. Most dogs are basically the same.

 

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* Welcome to The Big Jewel, where we are always happy to swap places with actors or actresses who have been typecast. However sad their lot, it must be better than ours. Or so says Jon Millstein.

An Actress Who Starred In Body Swapping Films Will No Longer Be Typecast

By:
jmillstein1@gmail.com

Call Howard back and tell him I won’t do it. I don’t give a rat’s ass how much he’s offering. My body swapping days are over — it’s time for me to demonstrate my versatility as an actress. Audiences know I can play the uptight mom, and the unruly daughter who refuses to toe the line, but they’ve been conditioned to believe that I need both parts to occur within the same movie. That’s simply not true. Given the opportunity, I could easily carry a film while portraying one of these characters the entire time.

Transforming into my co-star is but one of the countless acting techniques I have at my disposal. I am a master of drama, accents, physical comedy — the list goes on. When the film calls for it, I can combine the first technique with any of the others — performing physical comedy as the slobby husband in his wife’s athletic body, for example, or adopting a dockworker’s accent to communicate that my New England trust-funder’s appearance now belies a dockworker — but the point is I am not limited to that. In college, I was cast as a plain lady dockworker.

Please, don’t bring up my talent for body swapping. That isn’t the issue here. Yes, I have many fans — people who go wild each time I hold my hands in front of my face, flip them over to convince myself that they are not my own, then catch my reflection in the mirror and scream. But this was only supposed to be one stage of my career, and it’s become clear that Hollywood will never run out of polar opposites for me to play. Like the characters in my films, I have learned my lesson. I am ready to break this spell and turn back into a conventional comic actress.

It’s been nearly seven years since I became trapped in the body swapping genre. So once I get out, will I occasionally slip and adopt my scene partner’s mannerisms? Maybe at first. Will I accidentally repeat my scene partner’s lines verbatim, mimic their intonation, and even shove them out of the way to stand in their position on camera? Probably I will do this too, as it is a common warmup among body swappers. Bad habits like these will slow me down, but they won’t stop me. I’ll practice until I feel just as comfortable playing one role as I do playing two of them.

Then I will have to face the moviegoers. They don’t expect me to play against type, and when I do they might not accept it. They’ll probably just assume that they missed the swap, or that it occurred sometime before the movie started. Even if I say in interviews that I am no longer accepting those roles, they’ll jump whenever a Chinese man’s gift shop or an old stone wishing well appears onscreen, telling themselves, “This is it.” They’ll move on soon enough, though. Let’s be honest. Body swapping movies are not the kind to have a lasting impact.

It’s like everyone says: once you’ve seen one body swapping comedy, you’ve seen them all. Part of the reason why that’s true is that I starred in most of those movies. But I think the more damning cliché is the clumsy attempt to say something uplifting. We get it: we should be happy with who we are. Isn’t there a subtler device you could use to communicate that? If you gave a six-year-old fifty million dollars and a video camera and asked him to restate the most important thing he had learned in kindergarten, he would give you a body swapping movie. I’m no six-year-old — though I pretended to switch bodies with one once — so I’m saying goodbye to this stupid genre. I swear that I will never look back.

Oops, that’s my phone. Oh, for God’s sake. It’s Howard.

No Howard, I refuse. Don’t bother telling me what the combination is — I’ve done them all before. A wealthy Southerner and her sassy black housemaid? Come on. In Day Traders I played a hardened Wall Street banker and her smart-alecky assistant, and that’s practically the same thing. Sorry Howard, but this time you’ll have to find somebody else. All this is simply beneath–

–What’s that? A double swap? You mean your protagonists swap bodies, swap back, and then swap all over again? Well, yes, I suppose that is new territory for me. Everyone will expect the first swap, but the second…

Goddammit Howard, you’re a genius.

 

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* Welcome to The Big Jewel, where we have boundless respect for the sweet science. Jon Millstein has some words of wisdom for beginning pugilists in this, his first piece for us. Do you know how to take a punchline?

If You Want To Succeed In Boxing, You’ll Have To Turn And Face Your Opponent

By:
jmillstein1@gmail.com

Another loss, huh kid? Don’t sweat it. Martinez is a great fighter. He’s agile as all hell, and he packs a right hook that’ll make you see stars. You’ve got talent too, though, pal. You have what it takes to kick Martinez’s butt — you just need to learn a couple of things from him first. If you want to be the best, you’ve got to fight like the best, and that means turning around so that you’re facing your opponent.

Remember how Martinez oriented his body when he delivered the KO? I’ll remind you, because it might have been hard for you to see. He was facing you straight on. That’s real important, kid. That’s how you win. You can throw punches all day long, but punches don’t count for nothing unless they’re directed at the guy you’re fighting, like Martinez’s were. Landing a solid uppercut is tough. But it’s damn near impossible if your hand is moving away from the other fighter instead of towards him.

Granted, you had a couple of decent hits out there. I saw them. Problem was you were only hitting stuff floating around in the air, moisture and dust and all that, ‘cause you were facing the wrong way. Dust won’t get you the title, kid. The local champ ain’t a floaty piece of dust, and he ain’t the ropes, the crowd, or the referee neither. He’s the guy who knows that if he’s throwing jab after jab and he doesn’t feel his fists smacking against someone else’s body, well, he should turn around. Recognize that, and he could be you.

I know damn well that old habits die hard, and you’ve been fighting like this since you first laced up your gloves. Maybe that’s just how you do things. Maybe you spent too much of your childhood riding in the way-back seat of an old-fashioned station wagon, and it flipped your world around for good. But I’ve seen you outside the ring. Using a computer, opening doors — interacting with things in front of you like it was the easiest thing you ever did. So I know you can move past all this facing-in-the-opposite-direction-than-you-should stuff.

You’ve got your work cut out for you, that’s for sure, but things could be a lot worse. You’re only off on one rotational axis — I’ve coached guys who were off on all three. Ever heard of Ernie “The Worm” Kalinowski? I was the guy who got him to stand up. I took him aside and said, “Look, Ernie, have you ever seen a boxing match? Nobody lies on their face when they do this. You’re tiring yourself out punching the floor like that — it ain’t doing you no good.” I worked with him for eleven years. He was on his feet by the fifth. Sure, his stance wasn’t perfect: he still leaned way forward, and he let his neck hang down so that he looked sort of like a showerhead. But after nine years on the amateur circuit that technique paid off, when old Ernie lost his balance, fell onto another fighter and got so tangled up with him that he nearly won the championship bout.

I’ve got even higher hopes for you, kid. You’ve got real potential. Your footwork, for example, is top-notch. You’ve just got to learn the move where you put one foot over the other, and then use friction to spin yourself 180 degrees. ­­And you sure can take a punch, at least with the back parts of your body. Do it with the front ones and you’ll be twice as good.

Listen: do you know what separates a good boxer from a great boxer? It’s heart. Keeping an eye on one’s competitor, that’s important too, but it ain’t nearly as important as heart. And man, have you got heart. You keep climbing back into that ring, though all that’s waiting for you there is a pain you may not fully understand, and which you certainly don’t know how to defend yourself against. That’s why I know you can be a great boxer. You just need to turn around.

What? Oh. Shoot. I apologize. I thought you were someone else. You look just like him from behind.

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