* Welcome to The Big Jewel, where the Christmas Spirit comes in the form of a parody of a popular reality television show. And Santa Claus comes in the form of Whitney Collins. PLEASE NOTE: This is the final publication at The Big Jewel for 2010. We will be taking a brief holiday hiatus and will return with a new piece on Wednesday, January 5.

How Bear Grylls Of Man Vs. Wild Survives The Holidays

By: Whitney Collins

The Office Party
Here I am in the vast and unforgiving expanse of the corporate desert, where temperatures can spike to a swelt’ring 79 degrees during the annual holiday gala, or when Joanne, a chronically chilly secretary, is in charge of the thermostat. Don’t be fooled by the sterile nature of this office’s post-modern design; this place is lit’rally teeming with parasites. Last year, four human resource employees were rushed to the hospital after consuming copious amounts of ranch dip, and one of the office’s more buxom interns purportedly contracted syphilis in the copy room — just two examples of exactly how inhospitable this hellhole can be.

Tonight, I’ll demonstrate how to get from the conference room to the Valley of Cubicles without getting sucked into the maddening abyss known by indigenous peoples as Karaoke Corner. I begin by fashioning a shield from the cold-cut party tray, and a blunt spear by snapping together several dry-erase markers. Now, watch as I crawl military-style beneath the buffet table and toward the sparse forest of potted rubber trees. The sap of the rubber tree is renowned for its antiseptic properties, which would come in handy for the rug burn I’ve already procured over the past three meters, but unfortunately, these rubber trees are actually rubber.

Now things get gnarly. From my vantage point behind the recycling bin, I can see close to two dozen inebriated co-workers, and the excruciating din of festivities is rivaled only by that of the Nicaraguan howler monkey. Good thing I’ve found a partially smashed cockroach here on the carpeting; it will be an invaluable source of protein for the rest of my journey.

Bugger! That tastes less like a cockroach and more like a four-day old prawn! My mistake. It is a four-day old prawn. My only hope of not coming down with dysentery at this point is to make a hasty beeline to the tray of potent Jell-o shots in Cubicle #9. Four or five of those will ward off any chances of life-threatening diarrhea, but will likely land me right where I didn’t want to be, doing what I did last year: in Karaoke Corner singing B-side Wham!

Christmas With The In-Laws
Don’t get me wrong, I love my Missus, but I’d rather marinate myself in wildebeest broth and sleep with the Anasazi cannibals than bunk with my teetotaling in-laws. Proof of how bad it can be? All three of my wife’s former husbands took their lives during holiday visits: one bludgeoned himself with a turkey leg while my feral mother-in-law told her pageant queen story; another hanged himself with Christmas lights in the garage after a round of “Little House on the Prairie” charades; and another, in a noble attempt to get drunk, died after a desperate cocktail made from rubbing alcohol and potpourri.

But I’m here to prove not only my devotion to The Wife, but also my survival skills. If I can traverse the wily Panamanian mangroves and scale the glaciers of Greenland, surely I can handle a four-hour game of Pictionary with Hal. If I can drink the vomit of a Tibetan yak and then crawl inside its carcass for warmth, surely I can stomach Judith’s corn pudding.

Just as soon as I finish off this flask of Irish potato moonshine and crawl from the boxwood hedge, I’ll go inside. I’ve brought along what every good husband would bring: gift cards from Home Depot, a Bowie knife, and a roll of duct tape. If those don’t make my visit more tolerable, I’ll just check myself and my crew into the local Red Roof Inn.

Not that I’ve ever done anything like that before.

New Year’s Day
A New Year’s Day hangover can sometimes get a wanker thinking: Why did I have to go and drink so bloody much? Who in the name of mythical viper pits do I think I am? And why am I missing a testicle?

It probably has a little to do with RumpleMinze, a little to do with ego, and a lot to do with the local zoo. Orangutans, captive or wild, typically do not respond well to unsolicited back massages. They also do not appreciate you using their dung to illustrate fire-building techniques, nor are they too keen about participating in “body shots” — even if it is a holiday.

In my opinion, the best way to overcome the devastating psychological and physical effects of New Year’s Eve is to book the next helicopter flight to the Himalayans. On the way there, indulge in Mother Nature’s hangover cure by gnawing on a willow branch and applying a warm poultice of gingko leaves to your armpits. Maybe indulge in a couple of rare bison steaks and a smuggled cigar or two. Then make a resolution to regain your pride and your reputation, maybe even your right bollock.

Before you can say “Bob’s Your Uncle,” you’ll be parachuting into the great unknown — with only a flint, a pair of socks, and a pissed-off cameraman — starting the year off right.


* Welcome to The Big Jewel, where we are almost beside ourselves with excitement at the release of the Inception DVD. We celebrate with this, the first piece Keith Wisniewski has blessed us with. And if you are wondering what we want for Christmas...

The Inception Of Inception

By: Keith Wisniewski

Open inside an abandoned warehouse. We see a human-sized FLOUNDER fish, Christopher Nolan’s grandmother dressed like the JOKER, and BABY JESUS.

FLOUNDER: I’ve gathered all of you here for one reason. We have to plant the idea for Christopher’s next movie.

GRANDMA JOKER: That’s impossible.

BABY JESUS: It can’t be done.

FLOUNDER: No, I’ve done it before. Three years ago, Christopher was having dinner at Morton’s with the head of Warner Brothers. He was waffling between the garlic herb-crusted flounder and the 24 oz. porterhouse. Fortunately, I was able to insert the idea that the steak would literally melt in his mouth. I spent nearly 30 years in a purgatory dream world and it damn near killed me — but it worked.

BABY JESUS: You’re lying!

FLOUNDER: Am I? Why do you think I’m sitting here, still alive in his mind right now? I haunt his memory of what could’ve been.

Suddenly, FRANK GEHRY walks in.

FRANK GEHRY: The fish is right. It’s incredibly hard, but not impossible. I designed everything you see here. This whole world.

GRANDMA JOKER: Which means you have the blueprints for —

FRANK GEHRY: Yes, the vault.

BABY JESUS: Isn’t the concept of storing your deepest secrets and ideas inside a vault a bit clichĂ©? I’m just saying.

FLOUNDER: Look — to do this, to do inception, we’re going to have to go deeper.

FRANK GEHRY: A dream within a dream.

FLOUNDER: Everyone but the architect is going to be put under with this device here. We’re going to infiltrate Christopher’s sub-subconscious, break into his vault, and put this manila envelope inside it. Then we return here, and he wakes up to reality, writes the movie we put in the envelope, and gets a ton of Oscars.

GRANDMA JOKER: It’s just convoluted enough to work.

FLOUNDER: But, hang on. There’s a catch. For the idea to really stick, we’re actually going to have to go another level deeper, down to his sub-sub-subconscious.

GRANDMA JOKER: Ok, wait. So, how many dreams are we now in?

BABY JESUS: You lost me, dude.

FLOUNDER: Guys, guys. It’s simple. Just think of this whole operation like a giant video game. Frank designed an awesome sub-sub-subconscious level. Tell them, Frank.

FRANK GEHRY: It’ll look exactly like a James Bond film set in the snowy Swiss Alps. Christopher loves James Bond movies. It’s gonna be great. There’s going to be a cool-looking fortress, and all these bad guys riding around on snowmobiles and skis protecting it with machine guns.

GRANDMA JOKER: Wait, there’s going to be armed guards protecting it? I just had hip-replacement surgery last year.

FLOUNDER: It’s a dream, remember? We can do anything. Your hip will be just fine.

BABY JESUS: So, how do we wake up?

FLOUNDER: Duh, the kick. Frank here will tip your chair back, so you fall into a tub of water, waking you up. But it’s not actually the water that wakes you up; it’s the feeling of falling. Trust me. It’s all been thought out.

BABY JESUS: Hold on a second. I may be an infant, but I wasn’t born yesterday. This makes absolutely no sense. If we’re in a dream, and inside dreams there’s no gravity, then how do we experience the sense of falling?

GRANDMA JOKER: The kid’s got a point.

FLOUNDER: You guys just don’t get it! It’s science, okay? It works, trust me! Look, we’ll have a great time shooting all of Christopher’s projections. It’ll be like this really cool reverse heist. The main idea is getting this screenplay inside his vault. It’ll be fun.

GRANDMA JOKER: Did you say projections? What the hell are those?

FLOUNDER: Oh dear God!

FLOUNDER starts breathing deeply, sweat pouring off of his scales. He spins a metal TOP with his fin on a nearby table. The top spins for a few seconds, then finally topples over.

BABY JESUS: And what is that thing you’re spinning?

FLOUNDER: It’s my totem! You people are getting on my nerves! It’s all very simple, don’t you get it?!

BABY JESUS: Are you making this up as you’re going along? It certainly seems like it.

FLOUNDER: Ahhhh!!!!

FLOUNDER takes a handgun out of his briefcase, puts it to his temple, and pulls the trigger. On the sound of the gunshot, we are suddenly inside the Ivy restaurant in Beverly Hills. Christopher Nolan jolts awake. Across from him sits his agent.

AGENT: What — you nod off? I was just telling you about my vacation in the Swiss Alps.

NOLAN: Sorry about that. But you’re not going to believe this: I think I know what I want to do for my next film.

Nolan sits back in his seat, giddily laughing.

AGENT: Great, let’s hear it.

Suddenly it starts pouring rain outside. Nolan surveys the room. Something doesn’t seem right. He looks down at his plate of food. On it, the dead eye of a FLOUNDER stares back at him.

AGENT: Well?

Just as Nolan is about to speak, the flounder WINKS at him.

* Welcome to The Big Jewel, where we can think of no better way to start December than with a brand-new piece by a brand-new author (well, new to us, anyway). Say hello to Sherri Collins and her alien obsession...

My Alien (Yeah, Right!) Encounter

By: Sherri Collins

When he showed up on my doorstep that night, I didn’t believe a word he said. Of course I didn’t. What kind of woman would fall for a line like that right out of the gate? “I’m an alien from another planet, and I need your help.” Come on. Just because his face reminded me of Brad Pitt, his voice reminded me of Hugh Jackman, and his body reminded me that I had fresh whipped cream in the fridge, that would not be enough to make me listen to his crazy story. Or agree to help him. Or invite him to stay at my house. That would make me as insane as he was!

So while he was staying at my house, I tried to figure out this guy’s angle. I was no fool, after all. An alien that had crash landed and inhabited the body of the first human he saw in order to blend in — ha! What a ridiculous pick-up line, and for what? Just to get into my pants? Well, I had to say, creative or not, it was not going to work with me.

So one morning, while we were showering together, I gave him a mighty good once-over. An alien, indeed! You would think a host’s body would show some signs of being invaded by an alien life form, but nope. Not one shred of evidence; not one clue. And I can tell you, I really, really looked. This guy didn’t know who he was dealing with.

Purely out of concern for my safety from this nut job, I kept up the pretense as much as possible. While he busied himself in the garage, building all sorts of weird devices that bleeped and blipped all day, I brought him beer and gave him shoulder rubs, which seemed to baffle him as much as it pleased him. Maybe because I always did it in my underwear, but keeping him off-balance was exactly my plan! How else was I going to get a good look at the thingamajigs he was working on and report it all to the police later? They were going to need to know about the black box with all the wires…or, wait. Black globe; it was more of a globe, I think. It was definitely black. And, you know…bleeping and stuff.

And, of course, I nearly laughed in his face two weeks later when he said it was time for him to go, but that he wanted to give me something. As if I would want anything from that guy! He pushed away the ring finger I was holding out, and gripped my arm instead. To my horror, he slid a tiny dot just under my skin behind my elbow. He said that it was a transmitter that would allow him to find me wherever I was on Earth. Well, I’ll tell you right now, that sent me through the roof! How dare this loony bird try to keep tabs on me like that? I would have none of that! So after giving him my home phone number, cell phone number, e-mail address, VIN number, and Facebook link, I felt satisfied that I had headed off a potentially awkward situation later.

That night, weighed down with armfuls of black, bleeping doohickies and my boudoir photos, he disappeared into the woods behind my house, looking just as dazed as when he arrived. I think we know who got the last laugh on that one. As I sit here now, tracing the outline of the transmitter under my skin and checking Facebook, I have no illusion that he’s going to call. I’m no fool, after all.