* Welcome to The Big Jewel, where, if your idea of fun is taking an Elvis Costello song lyric to its absurd conclusion, boy, do we have the piece for you! Say hello to the very literal minded and clever Jordan Moffatt.

Every Day Elvis Costello Writes The Book

By: Jordan Moffatt

Elvis Costello is tired. He yawns, and then looks down at his watch to see if it’s a good time to go to bed. It’s 11:51 pm, which seems like a good time to shut his eyes for the day. And then it dawns on him: he hasn’t written the book yet.

“Oh God no!” he yells, jolting out of the sofa.

“What is it?” his wife, famous Canadian singer Diana Krall, asks. She pauses the television.

“I haven’t written the book yet today!”

“It’s fine, my dreamboat. Your book is long enough.”

She’s had this conversation before. She’s tried to fight him on this, but to no avail. She doesn’t want to fight him again; she wants him to know the difference between a lover and a fighter.

“No! No! It’s never long enough!” Elvis says.

Elvis runs over to his electric typewriter and puts in a fresh sheet of paper. He doesn’t use the computer — he started out the book with an electric typewriter and he’ll finish the book with it.

“Honey, please…” Diana says.

“Give me a minute, Di! I’m writing!”

He looks back at the watch. It’s 11:54. He takes a deep, regretful breath and places his fingers on worn-down keys.

Chapter 14,834 he writes.

“Elvis, you have to stop,” Diana says. “You’re old enough to know better.”

“No. I have to write…I have to write this book…every day…every day…every day I write this book.”

Elvis doesn’t remember how it began, and he doesn’t know how it ends either; all he knows is that he has to write it every day. In 1983, he wrote a song about writing the book, hoping it would provide the necessary catharsis to break the habit. Instead, he used the Billboard Top 40 hit to justify the writing. People want me to write the book, he thought, so he kept on writing every day.

The book is very long. Elvis looks around his house and sees stacks and stacks of paper. While most couples furnish their houses with nice furniture, the Costellos’ home is filled with papers. They sit, in an order only comprehensible to Elvis, and gather dust. The papers just sit there. The book is impossibly long, and not one page has ever been read. When Diana reminds Elvis of this, he always says that the book will only be read when it is finished. Diana knows the truth: the book will only truly be finished when Elvis is dead. He’ll never write the sequel, and the film rights will mean nothing.

Poor Diana. She knew nothing about this obsession when she and Elvis started dating. When Elvis proposed, she accepted under one condition: that he would stop writing the book. He agreed, but couldn’t stop — he returned to his old tricks and would write the book in secret. Even when she found this out, she said she’d stand by him. She loved him too much. It hurts her, though. Each day she sees the wrinkles grow on his face. He sees his fingers twitch when he’s away from the electric typewriter for too long.

“Please stop,” Diana says. She is giving him a longing look. “Elvis, please. You can’t keep this going forever. Elvis, I love you.”

Elvis begins to cry. He hasn’t cried since beginning to write the book; he has saved up his tears. Since they are only coming out now, the tears are heavier than usual, and they are flying everywhere. The tears are landing on the keyboard, and since they are so heavy they are actually typing. Elvis hears the clanking, so he looks up at the page to see what his tears wrote.

It says THE END.

* Welcome to The Big Jewel, also known as the writer's only friend. Actually, if you're a writer and your mom is still alive, she's probably your friend too. But not because of your writing. She probably hates your writing. Our guess is that she likes Molly Schoemann's writing, though.

Inspiring Stories Of Famous Writers

By: Molly Schoemann

It’s not easy being a writer. Toiling in obscurity, hoping for that big break, struggling not to give up as you face rejection after rejection. But take heart, aspiring authors! Many rich and famous writers were once in your shoes — but they kept trying (and trying and trying) and eventually, against enormous odds, they kept trying some more. And you can, too! We hope these stories of well-known authors who achieved success by overcoming great adversity and ambivalence will inspire you to keep reaching toward your own probably impossible goal.

Author #1

Our first author has received some harsh rejection letters in his day, but they never broke his spirit or dissuaded him from trying again.

“One editor’s letter informed me that he’d read the first paragraph of one of my stories to his pet goldfish, and it died,” he said. “Another editor enclosed a knife in my SASE and asked me to stab myself in the face for being such a terrible writer. That one hurt,” he admitted. “And not just from the stabbing.”

Throughout the years as he continued doggedly writing and submitting his stories, his life and the lives of his family members were threatened on a regular basis, and he endured thousands of dollars in property damage at the hands of irate editors in the form of the egging and toilet-papering of his home and car. Rejection letters were frequently tied to bricks and thrown through his picture window.

“I don’t really understand why, but some people just really hated my stuff,” he said. “Like, with a blind, terrible rage that is difficult to comprehend. Several people hated it so much that they said they didn’t even want to live in a world in which a person like me existed who was so awful at doing something. One intern apparently jumped off a building after rejecting one of my submissions. He blamed me in his suicide note, which was enclosed with his rejection slip.”

But this writer didn’t let these obstacles get him down. He kept on trying, even as the threats escalated and he was forced to hide his identity and relocate across the country several times. Eventually he managed to secure a contract for a lucrative thriller series with a venerable publishing house. You may have heard of the first book in the series: it was called The Da Vinci Code.

Author #2

Our second author’s story is especially inspiring. She struggled for over a decade to complete her first novel, pouring her heart and soul into it, forsaking family and friends to spend years in a locked room, writing furiously, months behind on her rent and subsisting only on ink fumes and eraser dust. Yet when her opus was finally ready to publish, she was unable to find an agent who would agree to represent her. She submitted her manuscript to hundreds of agents, but after another decade of rejections, during which she subsisted only on the glue from licking stamps and envelopes, she gave up. Deep in despair, she decided to destroy her life’s work.

The author was in the act of flushing her manuscript down the toilet during a drugged out and drunken haze in a nightclub bathroom, when an agent who happened to be tripping her face off in the next stall saw several sheets of it flutter to the ground near her feet. Upon reading them, she told the author to stop what she was doing, and immediately signed her. The agent sold the book two hours later, and within a week the previously broke and obscure author was a millionaire with a private jet. The author’s name was Louisa May Alcott, and the book was Little Women.

Author #3
This author wrote his first novel when he was only fifteen years old. He submitted it to every single publisher he could find — and received only rejections.

“I know I must have piled up thousands of rejection slips over the years,” he once said in an interview. “At first I papered a wall in my back bedroom with rejection slips, but the papering became so thick that soon it filled the entire room, so I had to move on to other rooms as well as the floor. Eventually there was no room to walk around in my house because of the encroaching mountains of rejection slips. It was great insulation during the winter, but ultimately it became too much, and I had to move.”

But he never gave up. Instead, he continued to amass tens of thousands of rejection letters from publishers all over the world. “I started collecting rare and foreign stamps at the same time,” he said. “It was a fun hobby that kept me going through the hard times. The years and years of hard, hard times. So hard. So many years.”

When he finally found a publisher for his book, it sold a million copies across the globe on the day it was released. Some fans buy a new copy every single day. This author’s book has remained on the New York Times Best Sellers List for over five thousand weeks. The name of his book is The Holy Bible.

Author #4

Our final author grew up in a world of wealth and literary privilege. His father was F. Scott Fitzgerald and his mother was Toni Morrison. As a second grader, he penned an essay that was published in The Atlantic. Instead of attending scout camp, he spent his childhood summers as an associate editor at Penguin Books. After graduating from Harvard with a minor in Yale, he worked his way up the ranks to become the editor-in-chief of both The New York Times and The Paris Review, at the same time.

Despite the fact that he owned the majority of publishing houses on the East Coast, he was unable to find a home for a collection of vignettes he’d written about his time working as an aide in the White House, where he’d been a close personal friend of President Nixon’s, and was standing right behind President Reagan during his famous speech about the Berlin Wall.

This author has actually not yet found success and is still struggling to find a publisher for his collection, so you will likely not recognize his name, but we’ve included his story just to prove that it isn’t always only about who you know.

* 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

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.

* Welcome to The Big Jewel, where we left Vatican II in the dust a long time ago. Let Dan Fiorella guide you into the mysteries of the Mass as it will be very soon now. Also check out our blogroll at the right-hand side of this page for a link to his comedy Christmas mystery e-book, Lost Claus.

Excerpts From The #Live Tweeting Mass Twitter Feed

By: Dan Fiorella

The overture is starting and already the priest is getting a standing O! Crowd fave, obviously! #LiveTweetingMass

Hey, it’s in English! #LiveTweetingMass

No missalette in this row. How can I tell the players from one another without the missalette? #LiveTweetingMass

Altar boy picking his nose. I saw you. #LiveTweetingMass #nosePick

My bad. Turns out it’s not a TARDIS in back, just the confessional booth. #LiveTweetingMass

What’s the point of reading from the Old Testament if we got a New Testament? #LiveTweetingMass

Scripture reading was the story of Lazarus. First zombie story! #LiveTweetingMass
Homily. Time to check out the bulletin. #LiveTweetingMass

Bulletin says the next service is the Folk Mass. Wow, dodged that bullet! #LiveTweetingMass

Really, @Pope, did you think adding “consubstantial” to the Creed was going to clarify things? #LiveTweetingMass

All this standing, sitting, kneeling! What’s next, spin mass? #LiveTweetingMass

I see they have Stations of the Cross, but I was really in the mood for an Omelet Station. #LiveTweetingMass

Didn’t want to shake hands so I just waved a peace sign at everyone. #LiveTweetingMass

All these statues, but not one of @StephenColbert. Wonder if he’s aware… #LiveTweetingMass #ColbertNation

Oh, not Spin Mass, Cath-listenics! You know how many calories you burn genuflecting? #LiveTweetingMass #betterJoke

Organ is good and loud, drowning out these tone-deaf people next to me. #LiveTweetingMass

Going to eat body and blood. I guess it’s in keeping with the zombie theme. #LiveTweetingMass

I like that they have a snack time, but the cookie is really bland. #LiveTweetingMass

Why does this blood taste like cheap wine? #LiveTweetingMass

Apparently, they frown at going back for seconds on the sacramental wine. #LiveTweetingMass

Disappointed. Choir hasn’t done anything from Sister Act soundtrack. #LiveTweetingMass

Leaving right after communion is like leaving the ball game during the eighth inning to avoid the traffic. #LiveTweetingMass

How awkward, everyone is standing around waiting for the priest to leave. #LiveTweetingMass

During cold and flu season, it seems they should replace holy water w/Purell. #LiveTweetingMass #ProductPlacementOpp