* Welcome to The Big Jewel, where winners rule. Michael Fowler is a winner. Not a big-time winner, but a small-time winner. Which can be complicated. But let him explain...

Mr. Eight Thousand

By: Michael Fowler

After I hit the Powerball jackpot for eight thousand, the change in my life is swift and profound. I get up in the morning, and it’s not merely me rising. It’s me and the upward buoyancy of eight thousand dollars. Oh, I know it isn’t all that much, eight thousand. Not even enough for a good used car, or to send my kid to college for more than a single semester, if I could afford to get married and have a kid. But it’s eight thousand I didn’t have before, and the difference is so great that I can hardly express it in hundreds, for example. Eight thousand is eighty hundred, a number so vast and cumbersome that no one says it. It is quite simply an enormous sum of money, especially looked at in the light of how many hundred dollar bills add up to it. Eighty of them! My mind boggles when I consider how many ten-spots that is. My wallet wouldn’t hold them all. It could be a number in the Medicare shortfall.

As I walk along the street, I sense that people notice the change in my bearing. There’s a new assurance to my stride, and an openness that admits life’s pleasures, costly as some of them are. Do I feel like breakfast at that corner bistro? I can afford it, even at $6.95 for a stinking couple of eggs and a glass of watery juice. A morning paper? Sure, I’ll treat myself instead of waiting for one to turn up in the men’s room at work. That beggar who I usually begrudge giving fifty cents to in the morning? Here you are my man, have a dollar! Life is good, is it not, and we fat cats like to keep the largess coming.

At work, as I leak the tale of my winnings, I begin to feel like Mr. Darcy or some entitled nobleman out of a Jane Austen book. “Do you hear he has a hundred thousand pounds a year and an estate in Cheshire?” I think I overhear the HR women whisper as I confront one of them about a form to increase my tax withholding. Of course her real words are, if she actually is talking about me, “Do you hear he has eight thousand and an apartment near the bus station?” Not quite so grand, but with eight thou, or eight large as some say, I can move anytime I want. With my kind of money, what can stop me? The answer is, nothing can.

At noon I walk over to City Hall and pay off all nineteen of my parking tickets. I also decide to have that oil leak in my car fixed, since I’m tired of taking the bus. The sum total of all this is fifteen hundred dollars — fifteen hundred! — but I realize that even so great and unwieldy a sum as that hardly dents my vast fortune. So it’s fifteen hundred! I snap my fingers and snort dismissively. That still leaves me thousands, and quite a few of them. I can still go on vacation this summer and drop another fifteen hundred on the beach. And after that, I’ll still have thousands. There is seemingly no end to my fortune.

At the end of the day I am insulted by a high school youth at the bus stop. Normally such a psychopath-in-the-making makes me defensive, and someday I will brain one of these scholars with my briefcase or sock him with my fist wrapped around the nickels and quarters of my bus fare. But now I only smirk. Does he think he can wound me now, the lout? Does he not realize that my thick personal finances shield me from slight? I look away, not even wondering why my clothing and hairstyle so excite his crude comments. What does he mean, I look like SpongeBob SquarePants? I ignore this, comfortable in the knowledge that I can buy and sell this high school kid many times over. What is he worth, lunch money? I try not to laugh in his face, especially since he might pull a knife.

At home I go online at once and ogle my bank balance. Yes, there it is, shrunken but still massive! Oh, I know that riches are fleeting. I know the bills are coming that will finally set me back to poverty level. With a sad smile, I recall how it was last year when, for a change, I was awarded a performance bonus at work, a sum of three hundred dollars. That made a difference in my life for a brief while, a week perhaps. I walked on air then, only to discover later that I had spent it all in such magnificent ways that I couldn’t account for a dime of it. This eight thousand, though a far grander sum, will likewise dissipate too quickly and leave barely a trace.

But why get depressed? Once a lotto winner, always a winner, that’s how it works. Now that the universe has lined up to pay me out, it will stay lined up. The stars are on my side. And my next winning ticket will be for more than eight thousand. Maybe eight million — I can feel it! The store clerk is waiting to sell it to me.

Seven Eleven, here I come.




* Welcome to The Big Jewel, your source for up-to-the-minute information on all of your legal rights. You may be familiar with your Miranda rights, but Whitney Collins is betting you're a little fuzzy on your Amanda rights.

Do You Know Your Amanda Rights?

By: Whitney Collins

You have the right to remain silent. You have the right to whisper. You have the right to talk all damn day just so long as I don’t have to care. Or pretend I care.

You have the right to borrow my green cardi. And my thermal henley. But not my J. Crew hoodie. You know how much a J. Crew hoodie will set you back? Do you? That’s right. I didn’t think so.

You have the right to say something “stinks.” But not that something “sucks.” Because when you say something “sucks” it will make people think you’re a common whore. Unless you actually are one. And if that’s the case, then just go on and say something “blows.”

You DO NOT have the right to say the word “retarded.” Because it’s totally mean. I mean you can use it when you’re referring to math homework and school chicken patties and Crocs and knock-off Prada and your locker combination and the game of softball and country music and your headgear. But don’t use it when you’re referring to people, except for those retards Tania Barrington and Wendy Schultz and Carlie Peebles.

You also can’t say something is “so gay.” Except for Disney movies and chem class and Nelson Masterson. They ARE “so gay.” No doubt.

You have the right to eat bananas in the lunchroom if they’re cut up and dipped in fat-free peanut butter and eaten with a fork. But at all costs avoid corn dogs and Popsicles. Unless, once again, you’re a common whore. Which I’m beginning to think you are.

You have the right to look at me and I have the right to look straight through you. Has anyone seen my lip gloss?

You have the right to look at my breasts. Aren’t they pretty?

You do NOT have the right to look at my butt. Were you looking at my butt? Sick. What’s wrong with you?

You have the right to copy answers off my history test and fail miserably.

You have a right to ask me to prom and I have the right to think about it for as long as it takes that other guy to get up the nerve to ask me.

You have the right to come to my slumber party, but only if you bring gin in a shampoo bottle. Don’t tell anyone I invited you. We’ll just pretend you showed up and I’ll pretend to feel sorry for you. Then you’ll hand me the gin and I’ll drink it all myself. Don’t bother bringing a sleeping bag.

You have the right to come visit me while I’m working at the Hawaiian Ice shack. But I can’t give you a free sample. Unless, of course, you brought more gin.

You have the right to call me Amanda. You have the right to call me Mandy. But you don’t have the right to call me. Or e-mail me. Or wave to me from across the library. Or slip me a note during study hall. Texts only, please.

* Welcome to The Big Jewel, where laughable ethnic stereotypes are sternly discouraged. Unless they are really laughable and written by Alex Bernstein, in which case we publish them gladly.


By: Alex Bernstein

Do you love me? Am I not beautiful? I am beautiful. I am gypsy in the caravan Karakadolianakas. I am Gina Linda Maria Karakadolianakas — the most beautiful dancer in the whole caravan. I know this because my mother, Rapunzel Linda Maria Karakadolianakas tells me so every day. And also because I have had many lovers. Many many many lovers. But no man captures the heart of gypsy. I am free like the wind. And he is small and icky like insects crawling in the bog — and you have to watch where you’re stepping — because — because — you don’t know what’s down there, and you just have to be careful.

But I spit on him. Because I am gypsy.

Still, he comes from far and wide — man who hears tales of the she-demon — her wiles and wood-smarts — her lethal earth spirit — her organic chai fruit snacks.

He hears tales — how my passion is that of the banshee, how my fire brings man to his knees, and how I make love like a Chihuahua on crack.

But man does not find me because, you know, we gypsies leave no trail. Well, except for Dorito wrappers and diet soft drink cans. But that’s it. We come and go in the night. We sneak our way through your antechambers and D’Agostino food marts. And we steal your babies and sell them for cheap, gaudy lawn furniture. HA HA HA HA.

Occasionally, however, man does find me. But no man enslaves the wild child. Gina Linda Maria Karakadolianakas is no easy tart-thing.

First, man must woo me. He must tame my animal spirit, hypnotize me with his eyes, and engulf me with his gurgling love. Then, after I have been tamed, wooed, hypnotized, and engulfed, the man must dance The Dance of Knives. The Dance of Knives. The unholy ritual where man is tied by sacred scarf to the arm of our caravan’s chosen warrior.

Man and warrior come at each other with knives of steel. Hacking. Twisting. Jabbing. HACK HACK STAB STAB TWIST STAB DIE. A duel to the death and all for me.

Incidentally, our caravan’s chosen warrior is my cousin Yulof — an idiot hunchback with no discernible talents whatsoever except for this wacky dance ritual which he does surprisingly well. So well, in fact, that he has killed every lover I have ever had.

Except for Johnny. No. Not my Johnny. Ohhhh.

Johnny found me late one night stealing babies. He showed me new, advanced techniques to bind and drag them, and one especially tricky knot that no small baby can untie.

Johnny knew of the world outside our camp. He spoke of wondrous things such as hashtags, YouTube, and Jenny Craig’s List. I longed to see this world and Johnny said we would conquer it together. Rome, Paris, Newark.

Johnny tamed me, wooed me, and you know, all those other things. Soon came his time to dance with Yulof. The night before, a fire filled our hearts and we made love under the stars like squirrels with ADD.

The next morning he was gone. All that was left was a note: Have gone to Paraguay. Be back soon.

Why? Why? Oh Johnny. Were the fruit snacks not organic enough? We were so good together. You were Apollo and I was Moonbase. I — I will wait for you, Johnny! I — I —

I spit on you.

I am gypsy.

* Welcome to The Big Jewel, your source for all things Bob. Who is Bob? Everyone. No one. Or perhaps merely the counterpart of author Doug Bond, who shows us an archetypal life story fit for the virtual age.

Bob’s Everlasting Life

By: Doug Bond

Bob checked in via AmnioGram


Bob passed his first stool on DiaperSwiper


Bob listened to the bedtime story Goodnight Moon Screensaver on his SpryPod


Bob lost Mayor status and got punched in the nose by a sixth grader for refusing to yield the four square court at Steve Zuckertwooglegatestube Elementary School


Bob’s enrollment in WispyCloud Computing Camp was terminated due to flagrant violations of the MyFrog user agreement


Bob developed early onset carpal tunnel syndrome and posted his X-Rays on Splinterest


Bob changed his avatar using Fake-ID-Me, enabling him to temporarily upgrade his account to PowerStalker on Sintendo’s SexParty (Turkish edition)


Bob cheated on his SAT’s using AnswerScan for Android


Bob almost scored a “nine” playing Spring Break with RackTrax


Bob joined 346,859 other Bobs getting “Completely Shitfaced” playing “Hey Bob!” on ChugChat


Bob proposed to Siri with a QR Code embedded in a diamond ring hologram


Bob disabled Siri’s GPS tracker


Bob added a couple kids on FamVille


Bob tagged himself by accident in a video with his neighbor Trudy on SkeevieTV


Bob changed his relationship status


Bob likes Porni


Bob was added to the “Loser’s Network” on Left’Out


Bob needs only two more missed payments to level on DeadBeatDad


Bob completely lost his marbles on InSanify


Bob was pinned to the “He Crapped his Pants!” Group at 1.800.Rehab4U


Bob added the ReaperMan playlist to his queue on iToast


Bob downloaded the apps MeetYourMaker and EnterTheKingdom


Follow Bob eternally @OurBobWhoArtInHeaven


Are You Sure You Want To Delete Bob?


Sent from Bob’s iPhone