* Welcome to The Big Jewel, your only source for what's happening on television, unless you happen to turn on your television, in which case that would most likely be a better source. Anyway, Matthew David Brozik has the story. And while you're at it, would it kill you to click on the ad for his book "Whimsy & Soda"? Don't pretend you can't find it. It's on the right-hand side of this page.


By: Matthew David Brozik

Viewers of television programming this season will be the most well-read yet, thanks to these new shows!

Napoleon Berkshire, Esq. is the most highly regarded porcine lawyer at the bar — feared and respected by adversaries and clients alike — and known for his thorough preparation. “All arguments are equal,” he’s fond of saying, “but some arguments are more equal than others.” With the passing on of “Major” Willingdon, Berkshire is poised to take the reins of the prominent white sow company…but there’s a hitch. The old Major’s youngest son, Snowball, has just graduated from law school, and he’s been promised a place in his father’s business, despite being an incorrigible party pig. With Napoleon and Snowball fighting hoof and horn over the future of the practice, will they have anything left for the courtroom? The new dramedy to watch is ANIMAL FIRM. (ABC, Mondays.)

[Plus: A mid-season episode will serve as a backdoor pilot for a Lou Grant-style spinoff featuring the firm’s aged janitor with a knack for carpentry who retires to travel the country restoring barns with equine equanimity in THIS OLD HORSE.]

THE NEXT GREAT GATSBY. Man of many talents — Yale graduate, military veteran, bond salesman — Nick Carraway IV spends a week each with different real-life wannabe entrepreneurs-cum-socialites, advising them on such matters as changing one’s name, purchasing a mansion, entertaining, winning the love of a shallow woman, driving, swimming, and choosing the right shirt — or shirts — for every occasion. (CBS, Wednesdays.)

Special Super-Secret Agent “Y” is deep undercover, with just a day to prevent the assassination of Archbishop Desmond Tutu. Y has one day — but there’s a catch: The International Super-Secret Agent Union rules mandate two hours of downtime in every 24-hour period… so Y really has less than a full day to work with. Fortunately, he’s a master of observation and interrogation. If anyone can, he’ll put two and two together…to get 22. (FOX, Thursdays.)

The groundbreaking documentary CHIASMUS returns in a new iteration for a new generation! Board the “Ship of the Intimation” to explore a multi-verse of poetic phenomena — from allegory to zeugma. Individual episodes will focus on such topics as large-scale onomatopoeia (“big bangs”), the discovery of foreshadowing and the nature of litotes, microscopic oxymorons, and the (un)likelihood of an omnipotent deus ex machina. (PBS, Sundays.)

NATIVE AND SON promises to be the breakout litcom of the year. Twenty-year-old Bigger Thomas lives in utter poverty on Chicago’s South Side with his father, the irascible Older Thomas. Each week, Bigger tries to improve his situation, taking whatever job he can find, only to be accused of one heinous crime or another…with hilarious results! Not even Older Thomas’s never-ending parade of colorful friends and relatives can keep Bigger out of trumped-up trouble, but he’ll have to continually prove to the authorities and himself that Bigger is better. Based on the British program Wright On. (NBC, Mondays.)

Also much-anticipated is the single-camera, buddy-cop comedy chronicling the misadventures of patrolmen Rom Montague and his cousin Ben as they police the streets of Verona, New York (pop. 6,293). Verona should be an uneventful town, and it would be…if it weren’t for the criminal machinations of the mysterious man known only as “Cap,” who seems to have his finger in everything unlawful for miles around. And of course the young boys in blue don’t know that Rom’s crush, Julie, is Cap’s daughter! Ride along for laughs with CAR XLIV, WHERE ART THOU? (TBS, Tuesdays.)

And, finally, what would television be without a good old-fashioned game show recorded before a live studio audience? Introducing WHO WANTS TO BE AN HEIR? Each contestant has a limited amount of time in which to reconcile complicated, conflicting wills of a wealthy testator…but every mistake costs the estate substantial legal fees! Because of the extraordinary difficulty of the challenge, a contestant has three lifelines to use — “Call a Counselor,” “Poll the Peanut Gallery,” and “What the Dickens?” — but even these will go only so far toward improving a bleak situation. The contestant who walks away with anything more than the clothes on his or her back will have earned it!

* Welcome to The Big Jewel, where we are always receptive to those who wish to reinvent themselves. Especially when they have the power to torture us for all eternity.

Satan, Rebranded

By: Matthew David Brozik

Thank you.

Thank —

If I may have your attention…


That’s better. Now, you’re probably wondering why I summoned you all to this brimstone pit. I’ll be as brief as possible — I know we’d all like to get back to torturing and being tortured, as the case may be, for all eternity.

I have news, likely the most significant news to come out of Hell in centuries. Please hold your applause until the end.

As you are no doubt aware, I am referred to by several names and epithets, some more accurate than others. Lucifer, for example. Mephistopheles. Iblis. The Prince of Lies — now, that’s just hurtful. The Dark One. Lord of the Flies…even I’m not sure what that’s supposed to mean.

Most people call me Satan, though.

What you might not know is that Satan was my job. That is, when I was first created, I was given a position on the Divine Counsel as a prosecutor-of-a-sort. An adversary. The adversary, in fact… in Hebrew: ha-Satan. It was my responsibility to tempt humans to renounce God. Remember Job?

Job, are you here…? Ah, that’s right. Never mind.

But I wasn’t the only adversary, as it happened. There were others…and each one was a ha-Satan. So, really, I was ha-ha-Satan — Yeah, yeah. It was funny…five thousand years ago.

Anyway, there was some…unpleasantness, and I left the employ of Heaven. I landed on my cloven hooves, though, and promptly set up my own shop. Since most people knew me as just Satan, I let the moniker stick — and I leveraged my goodwill in the name to build my practice.

That was then, however. This is now. And the time has come…for rebranding.

The public relations consultants I engaged, at the recommendation of one of the law firms I do business with, have convinced me that even “Satan” is too…well, let me not sugarcoat it: too ethnic.

Evil is universal. No, it’s more than that: it’s global! So the Master of Evil needs to be accessible to all, and to do that, I must shed my old, third-world-weary name in favor of something new…and youthful.

But you’re thinking, “The Devil you know…” and all that. And I don’t disagree with you. I mean, I certainly had grown quite accustomed to my name, of course…but those consultants twisted my arm until I agreed to a compromise.

(Drumroll, please? Keith Moon, would you do the honors?)

The demon before you…

…will henceforth be known…



I know, right? It was so…obvious! Stan!

It’s the same as before…only different. Better. Sleeker. Faster!


Come on, join me, everyone:

Stan..! Stan..! Stan…!

Now just the murderers:

Stan..! Stan..! Stan…!

Now just the rapists:

Stan..! Stan..! Stan…!

Now the humorists:

Stan..! Stan..! Stan…!

I will now take questions.

* Welcome to The Big Jewel, where "plastic surgery disasters" is more than just the name of a Dead Kennedys album. Matthew David Brozik has the whole horrifying story.


By: Matthew David Brozik

Justin Jedlica…famous for undergoing approximately 140 surgical procedures to look like Ken, didn’t…have the nicest things to say about Valeria Lukyanova, who has transformed herself to look like…a real-life Barbie doll. “She’s an illusionist.” Meanwhile, Jedlica takes pride in [having] taken extensive measures to actually become Ken. “My baby is my shoulders, because nobody has anything like them…I divided these so there’s six pieces — front, middle, and back. Just like the actual anatomy….” — E!

Amateurs, the both of them. Not that I don’t respect what they’ve done…but all they’ve done is had their bodies altered — on the outside — so that they’ll look like the bodies of fashionable dolls — but humanoid dolls. So big deal. And while I agree with “Ken” when he puts down “Barbie,” I do think it’s the acrylonitrile butadiene styrene pot calling the polyvinyl chloride kettle uniformly pinkish-beige, as it were. Neither demonstrates true, unreserved commitment. I, on the other hand, have taken great pains to resemble — inside as well as out — a less obvious, but no less popular, choice of plaything: a rubber duck. Plus, while those two nutjobs have been turning themselves into toys for personal satisfaction, I’ve been doing it selflessly for the children. One child anyway: my daughter. My daughter loves rubber ducks. She’s almost two.

Of course I consulted with numerous doctors about the best way to go about turning myself into a real-life rubber duck. Almost every doctor I spoke with referred me to another doctor, and in almost every instance that second doctor was a psychiatrist. Never one to be dissuaded from what I believe to be “the right thing to do,” however, I kept knocking on doors until I found the man willing to help me. As it happens, Mr. — formerly Dr. — “L” (not his full name or his real initial) had just that morning surrendered his medical license voluntarily in a deal that allowed him to avoid multistate criminal prosecution for something or other, but that didn’t change the fact that he was — is — an extraordinarily gifted surgeon, which is just what I needed to turn me from an average-looking human into a beautiful duckling.

One hundred forty (approximately) surgeries, Ken? That’s all? I’ve undergone 500 to date, and we’re not finished yet. The “Doctor” and I — although these days it’s mostly him, I confess — are always identifying something else that can be nipped, tucked, tweaked, or grafted with rubber or a rubber-like material such as vinyl plastic, depending on market prices. Not that cost is an issue — I’d be willing to spend every penny I made (when I had a job, before I decided to become a rubber duck) on this quest, but the good Doctor agreed to donate his surgical services to the cause for free. He just wanted to stay in practice, he said, and I certainly wasn’t going to argue with him, if he wasn’t going to argue with me about the wisdom or sanity of what I’d proposed. A meeting of minds is a truly wonderful thing.

I won’t go into great detail about the half-thousand major and minor procedures involved, but an overview with highlights should suffice. We started at the bottom, so to speak, by which I mean we first tucked my legs under my butt and then secured them there, forming the base of the duck I was going to become. (It was, we decided, important to get the general shape squared away first, before we tackled texture, color and other details.) Pinning my arms and hands permanently to my torso gave me the basic wing structure I was looking for. And of course we shaved off all of my body hair, because rubber ducks are more or less completely smooth. This also meant removing my ears (the external parts, anyway) and fusing my nose with my lips and moving my nostrils to the top of my new “beak.” My eyelids had to go, too, because rubber ducks don’t blink.

When we had me in the right shape, the good doctor had a brainstorm: one of the most amusing things about a rubber duck is that it floats, and this is because it is hollow. So, with my permission, my partner in this adventure took a break from reimagining my outside appearance to remove my internal organs, one by one, paying careful attention to which could go and which were absolutely essential to my survival. You’d be surprised at what fell into which column, I’m sure. The end result, though, was a decrease of approximately half my original body weight, increasing my buoyancy in bathwater by more than 300% — which any engineer will tell you is true efficiency. One of the other truly ingenious things the brains of this operation thought to do was modify my vocal chords so that anything I try to say comes out like a squeak. Pure genius (he squeaked with genuine admiration)!

To report that my wife and daughter were impressed and appreciative would be only half true. My daughter was thrilled when her “Daddy Duck” was left on the doorstep of the house where we all used to live, together, as a happy family. She was still clapping her hands and squealing with delight even as my wife — my ex-wife, I should say — dragged her upstairs and into a bedroom, locking the door and screaming the whole time. It started to drizzle, but ducks like rain, so I just sat on the welcome mat until the police arrived, with an animal control specialist. When the effects of the tranquilizer wore off, I was in a child’s wading pool in a precinct stationhouse, and Doctor L was already there to collect me. (A tattoo on my underside identifies him as my veterinarian.) On the ride back to his office, he informed me that he had spoken with my ex-wife and explained the situation, and that she had calmed down considerably. The bad news is that my daughter doesn’t love ducks quite as much as she used to. She’s been growing ever fonder of frogs recently, but I shouldn’t be disheartened because he has a new plan. And he doesn’t think it will require removing my heart.

* Welcome to The Big Jewel, where you can pay your debt to society and all your other debts with this amazing new online cash transfer system, courtesy of our good friends Molly Schoemann and Matthew David Brozik.


By: Molly Schoemann

Hey, man. Did you eat five slices of pizza the other night but chip in only a couple of bucks because that’s all you had on you? Did you borrow my new Xbox game and then leave it on your car dashboard where the sun melted it? Did you drink all my vodka at the party last weekend and figure I wouldn’t notice? Well, I did. Fear not, though, moocher friends — there’s now an easy way to settle your debts with your old buddy Paul — through a new online payment system I’ve set up called PayPaul.

Pretty sweet, right? Now, with just the click of a mouse, you can get me back for a few of those late-night Taco Bell runs I took you on when you were too drunk to drive yourself home after a late gig. You can toss in a ten-spot — or more; no reason it can’t be more — to help pay for that lap dance you insisted on buying your little brother at that strip club that wouldn’t accept checks. With PayPaul, you can put cold hard cash in my pocket as effortlessly as you lifted a joint out of it the other night when you “borrowed my jacket for a minute.”

And it’s super-easy to set up a PayPaul account: All you need to sign up is your name — even a nickname is fine, T-Bomb — and any major credit card, and you’re well on your way towards compensating me for the hour-long cab ride we had to take home from that party in Jersey where you thought MetroNorth stopped but it didn’t (and where your friend had said we could crash for the night but then we couldn’t).

There are no fees to use PayPaul, and you can even earn 1% cash back when you reimburse me for your half of the electric bill from August since you ran the A/C full blast that whole month and our bill was like double.

But Paul, you might be thinking, what about those less tangible goods and services I may have swiped from you over the years, items that might have little or no monetary value, but which are nevertheless irreplaceable, such as the lucky sweater you were wearing when Josh Homme pulled you up on stage during an Eagles of Death Metal concert, which I later borrowed and then left in a cab? Or the affections of your ex-girlfriend, Vanessa, who broke up with you right after I did acid with her at that bonfire last year?

Why, I’m glad you asked! Those scenarios are the reason for PayPaul’s convenient auto-debit feature, which allows you to make installment payments on a monthly basis — as little as $10 a month! — until either I deem that your debt has been sufficiently repaid or you can convince Vanessa to give me another chance, you dirtbag. Or, you might throw in a date with your mom, or maybe a joyride in your cousin’s Corvette; something like that could significantly reduce your balance right off the bat. Never let it be said that your old friend Paul isn’t willing to negotiate.

As an added benefit, loyal PayPaul customers will enjoy elite GoldFriend status. GoldFriend club members are eligible for additional special offers, including front-row seats at all my band’s shows, free pet-sitting (no spiders or snakes), unlimited access to my Xbox Kinect, and the occasional weekend trip to my parents’ timeshare in East Islip, as long as you bring your own beer, don’t smoke anything inside, and are cool with crashing on the floor.

I’m sure you’ll also be pleased to learn that payments through PayPaul are tax-free in every state but Delaware and Hawaii. And I don’t even have any friends in either of those states, so no problem. (Wait, where does Alex live now? Yeah, I thought so. No, we don’t talk anymore. But if you see him, do me a favor and give him the link to PayPaul. Here, I wrote it down on this napkin.)

Finally, if making regular monthly payments via PayPaul seems daunting, especially for those of you who are still on your parents’ cell phone plan, just remember: The sooner you stop eating my leftover takeout, jumping on my bar tab, and swiping (and then scratching) my Dark Knight Collector’s Edition DVD with the director’s commentary, the sooner your obligation to make PayPaul payments will end!

PayPaul: No, You Got This One™

* Welcome to The Big Jewel, your favorite purveyor of disposable pop culture. This week's piece by Molly Schoemann and Matthew David Brozik brings a synthetic tear to our eye. Almost as if it was intended to.

Now, That’s What I Call Maudlin!

By: Molly Schoemann

The manipulative geniuses behind Now, That’s What I Call Maudlin! are back with the release of the long-awaited sequel, Now, That’s What I Call Maudlin…TOO! That’s right: The second installment of the critically-acclaimed/lamented compilation that won — and broke — the hearts of thousands is here… with even more Maudlin Moments.™ Packed with such instant classics as “Old Maid Gingerly Caresses Hem of Brittle, Unworn Wedding Dress in Dusty Attic,” and “Sobbing Teen Stood Up on Prom Night, Again — Date Had Promised It Would Be Different This Time,” Now, That’s What I Call Maudlin…TOO! is guaranteed to jerk the tears right out of your eyes!

There’s no question that fans will find that Now, That’s What I Call Maudlin…TOO! is packed with more sappy melodrama than even the first volume…but wait! There’s more! Are you ready?! We’ve also included extended versions of Volume 1 hits, including “Destitute Mother Leaves Infant on Orphanage Doorstep/Note Not Properly Pinned Blows Away in Sudden Wind” and “Hardworking But Incompetent Vaudevillian Is Laughed Off Stage During What Was Supposed to Be His Big Break.”

Can’t seem to get your fill of shabby yet genteel hobos in punched-out top hats heating cans of beans over sidewalk steam grates? Desperate for more scenes of crying second graders who forgot their permission slips and must stay behind during a highly-anticipated class trip to a button factory? Then grab your credit card and call this toll-free number now to order your copy of Now, That’s What I Call Maudlin…TOO! It’s chock-full of just the kind of schmaltz you’ve come to expect from your favorite professional purveyors of overwrought sentimentality.

Not only that, but this compilation features a bonus, behind-the-scenes look at the making of the beloved Volume 1 hit, “Six Year Old Bluntly Discouraged From Pursuing Artistic Career Because He Can’t Draw a Proper Bunny (They Always Come Out Looking Like Lopsided Cars).” And for nature lovers, we’ve also included a second installment of everyone’s favorite miserable microcosm, “Earthworm Perishes on Sunny Sidewalk/Mere Inches Away From Lifesaving Shady Grass.”

Plus! Order in the next fifteen minutes and we’ll send you a tote-bag screen-printed with the passenger manifest from the maiden — and only! — voyage of none other than the RMS Titanic! Pore over the names of the doomed men, women, and children — oh! the children! — who were on board that fateful vessel on that fateful night, and wonder which of them perished in the dark, frigid waters of the North Atlantic! Trust us, it was a lot of them! How awful! Order now!

But that’s still not all! Bonus Volume 2 scenes include mawkish favorites like “Profoundly Lonely Nursing Home Resident Stares Out Rain-Streaked Window at Single, Barren Tree” and “Child Spends All Day Building Helicopter Model — With Real Motorized Propellers! — That Doesn’t Work.” And diehard fans will be rewarded with a secret, hidden track: “Box of Free Kittens in an Alley (But They’re All Dead).” Don’t wait — call in the next fifteen minutes! After all, your heartstrings aren’t going to tug themselves!