* Welcome to The Big Jewel, where our Candy Crush addiction is in perfect alignment with our company's mission statement. Wait a minute, didn't Mike Seperack just say that?

My Candy Crush Addiction Is In Perfect Alignment With Our Company’s Mission Statement

By: Mike Seperack

I know, I know. I’ve been a bit distracted lately. I may have missed a meeting or two. I’m no longer on track to complete those goals we set up at my last performance review. I just want to set your mind at ease. My addiction to Candy Crush totally supports our company’s Mission Statement.

Go ahead and read over the Mission Statement. It’s posted on the wall right behind you. I’d read it myself, but I can’t look up from my phone right now. I’m close to completing this level, and I need to stay focused. But do you see that part about “Continuous Improvement?” That’s what Candy Crush is all about! The first few levels are simple. You line up three in a row of the same color, you clear the jelly, and you move up. Nothing could be easier. But it doesn’t stay easy. Things get real in a hurry. Or as real as they can in an alternate universe that sort of resembles the by-product of a drunken one-night stand between Bejeweled and Candyland that ended with broken latex and achingly sweet regret.

Now look at the third sentence. It says, “We strive to maintain a customer-centric approach.” What do you think our customers really want? Detailed product specifications? Accurate delivery dates? Please. I talk to these people every day. They might pretend to care about that boring crap, but that’s just to keep their bosses happy. What our customers really want are extra Candy Crush lives. And the only way to send them lives is to be logged into the game at all times. Just ask my buddy Kevin how clutch I was, sending him that life at three a.m. last Wednesday. Did I mention that Kevin’s first cousin is the husband of the Director of Purchasing for one of our biggest clients? I don’t see how I could possibly be any more customer-centric than that.

And what about that part about “Promoting Synergies Across All Business Platforms?” To be perfectly honest with you, I’m not even sure what that means. But yesterday I completed levels 102 and 103 while sitting in the dreaded fourth stall of the men’s room. You have to admit I’m promoting synergies across platforms most of your employees don’t even what to think about.

Now check out the end where it says, “Maintain a Lean Enterprise.” Do you realize I’m holding down the Candy Crush sector of this organization all by myself? That frees up everyone else for all that mundane stuff that is also important in its own way, like marketing and shipping, and actually making whatever it is we make here. And I’m on it around the clock. You’ll never need to worry about hiring a third shift Candy Crush Coordinator as long as I’m here.

This task I’ve taken on is not easy. Candy Crush is not all fun and games. The Lollipop Forest is a deep, dark, sticky place. And don’t get me started on the sugary horrors of the Peppermint Palace. That place…it stays with you forever. So when you get close, but can’t quite complete a level, the urge to hurl your phone across the room and scream “Suck my sour balls!” gets pretty strong. And I know that can be distracting to other employees. But now that you know what’s at stake, can you blame me?

* Welcome to The Big Jewel, where we are happy to write excuse notes for anyone who asks. And apparently we're not the only ones! The Metropolitan Transit Authority in New York is also up to the task.

M.T.A. Late Notes

By: Karen Ritter

“Delayed Train? Skeptical Boss? MTA Will Give Passengers a Late Note” — The New York Times, December 9, 2013

Dear Anita Stone-O’Gratin,

Your husband, Peter O’Gratin, wants you to know that his failure to show up for your 25th anniversary dinner was through no fault of his own. It is the #1 train’s fault. Peter claims that he stood on the Sheridan Square subway platform for 33 long minutes (although our records show a delay of only six). Peter further avers that when the train finally pulled up, he was “knocked back onto the platform by a surging crowd,” whereupon he “fell over and twisted his ankle.” Fearing another delay, Peter hobbled OUT of the station, purchased two dozen long-stemmed roses and reputedly re-entered the transit system at Union Square, where he was digitally and repeatedly commanded to slide his MetroCard again “at this turnstile” (resulting in another delay: 45 seconds), only to be told that his fare was INSUFFICIENT. Taking this as a sign that the roses would not be enough to quell your anger, Peter exited the station, this time with the intention of buying you a 24-carat diamond pendant in a platinum setting! Unfortunately, by the time Peter and his “swollen ankle” reached street level, your dinner slot for Le Bernardin had elapsed.

Honestly, Anita, the MTA doesn’t know what it would do if it were in your shoes. Peter’s story sounds pretty fishy. (Why not just hail a cab?) We can, however, vouch for the small delay on the Seventh Avenue line, which may have created a domino effect detrimental to the celebration of this important milestone in your marriage. (Your “Silver,” are we right?) We apologize for any inconvenience and hope you can patch things up!

xoxoxoxo, the MTA

Dear Dr. Lemon:

This is to excuse Jane Highbottom from her upcoming colonoscopy scheduled for Friday, May 23rd. Miss Highbottom regrets canceling again and asked us to tell you that it is not because she dreads the prep and can’t possibly get that much vile-tasting liquid down her throat and out her behind. Nor is she the least bit alarmed at the prospect of you sticking a mile-long tube up her posterior and looking through it while she lies there unconscious. Rather, anticipated congestion on the BMT line prevents her from keeping this appointment. Certainly a man in your profession can sympathize with Miss Highbottom’s concerns about overcrowding. If only something could be prescribed to clear up our tracks, purging us of the thousands of strap-hangers clogging our lines during rush hour.

Respectfully yours, the MTA

Dear Mrs. Wolman (Jason’s mom):

We are writing to explain why your son, Jason Wolman, didn’t call you last Sunday: track circuit failure on the IND. Jason was planning on phoning that night but was afraid of waking you by the time he finally got back to Park Slope. (As if you ever sleep!) He wants you to know that he must have been standing on the platform for 80 minutes — a slight exaggeration; by our calculations, it couldn’t have been more than 45 — and that his cell doesn’t work underground. (We reminded your son that the F goes above ground in Brooklyn.)

At this point, the MTA is having trouble deciding whether Jason is right (and that “he really intended to call”) — or you are (and that “he never thinks about you”). In either case, we sincerely hope you won’t stick your head in the oven.

All our love, the MTA

P. S. At least you can’t say we never write.

Dear lookin4luv:

The MTA is pleased to confirm studmuffinn69’s explanation for not showing up last Thursday night at the Oyster Bar, leaving you stranded in Grand Central Station for hours on end. In an effort to serve our customers better, we’re also passing along studmuffinn69’s assurances that he did NOT scope out the place, find you 80 pounds heavier than your picture indicated and falling off your barstool. His no-show was solely due to crossed signals on the IRT. Studmuffinn69 is not feeding you a line (not about the Lexington Avenue Line, anyway) and asks that you stop badmouthing him on okcupid and fetish.com.


Dear Mr. Giblets, CSW

We write this in strict confidence to protect the rights of your patient, Caroline Wiggins, as well as the MTA from any legal action that might be initiated from the aforementioned. Caroline has asked us to corroborate her reason for being late to her therapy session on April 29th: “a sick passenger” on the #2 train conveying her from Grand Army Plaza to Columbus Circle.

Our records indicate no such sick passenger — except possibly your patient. Of course, you are more qualified to make that determination (although we couldn’t help but notice that you’re not an actual MD). The MTA strongly recommends that you continue asking Caroline to face her real reasons for being late (i.e., resistance to the therapeutic process, unresolved issues with her father, incomplete transference). And to stop displacing her own problems — inability to show up on time and stick to a simple, straightforward schedule — onto the Metropolitan Transit Authority. (Frankly, she sounds incurable.)

Good Luck! — The MTA

* Welcome to The Big Jewel, where we will help you rewrite your resume until you're a sure-fire winner. Just like Candy Schulman.

Resume Of A Desperate College Grad

By: Candy Schulman

Someone, anything to rescue me from my parents’ basement! — I’m being held hostage because I’m overeducated, unemployed and broke.

Highlights of Qualifications:
• Liberal arts degree, ranked #5 on Forbes “The 10 Worst College Majors List.”
• Four years on a campus overblown with history, intellectual pretension and tenured professor/underage coed affairs.
• Conversant in art and literature — while Americans would rather debate the Kardashians.
• Multitasker: can text, Tweet, update FB status, pee, and plagiarize a paper at the same time.
• Proficient in college drinking games, with knowledge of mixology for Brass Monkeys, instrumental for surviving somniferous corporate meetings.

Hoity-Toity College Too Elite to Divulge, in the middle of nowhere in the Northeast, with less than a 15% admissions rate and failed diversity efforts.
G.P.A.: Too mediocre to mention (see above, regarding drinking games).
Sports: Trying to elevate Ultimate Frisbee to varsity status.
Leadership Activities: Organized the college’s first hot dog eating contest.
Community Service: Buying tequila for underage underclassmen who couldn’t afford fake IDs.
Awards: Campus record for sleeping the most number of hours: 18.5 straight.

Work Experience:
Post College Regression In The Post-Recession, June 2013-Present
Position Title: Emerging Adult
• Grudgingly moved back home with parents after graduation.
• Free rent in exchange for doing laundry, limiting FB stalking to one hour daily and e-mailing at least five resumes a day.
• Initiated a ban on any dinner conversation starting with, “…and what are you planning to do with the rest of your life?”

Nepotism LLC, Summer 2012
Glorified Slave for Daddy’s Privately-Owned Business
• Tedious tasks way beneath my worthless $250,000 diploma.
• Social Media 101 to promote my father’s business and bank account. Welcome to the 21st century, Dad!
Statistical Analysis: Convinced Dad to give me a lift to work 68.5% of the time; limited arguments to 1.5 a day, five days a week.

Camp Privilege / Take a Rich Kid to the Country USA, Summer 2011
Assistant Counselor
• Couldn’t score an internship because it was the Great Recession (not my fault, I was born into this mess).
• Plan B: running after whining five-year-olds. Successfully kept gluten-free and peanut allergic kids from trading lunches. Never lost one camper during educational trips where they taught each other how to curse on the bus.

Previous Black Market Employment, Summer 2010
Dog Walker
• People pay more to take care of their pets than their children. (Put that on the syllabus for Sociology 200.)
• Ironic that an 18-year-old can make 20 bucks an hour cash, when today’s English majors face the prospect of making $12.50 an hour to work in publishing, if it still exists.
• This type of fiscal pondering positions me for a job in economics, a field less precise than philosophy, which, did I mention, was my minor? (#4 on the Forbes “Worst College Majors List.”)
Skills gained: Picked up hot guys on the street who were impressed that I could walk three purebred dogs without entangling their leashes.

Additional Skills & Training:
• Fluent in textbook French, advantageous when avoiding ordering organ meats in a Rive Gauche bistro.
• Ability to use “ironic” and “disreputable” in a sentence in a vainglorious way.
• One-day barista training course. Artery-clogging full fat or tasteless skim in your latte?
• Red Cross Babysitters’ Certificate, Eighth Grade.

Other Achievements & Awards:
• Only girl on my dorm floor who didn’t gain the freshman 15.
• No history of eating disorders.
• Completed marathon: re-read all seven volumes of Harry Potter, pausing only for bathroom breaks.
• Raised SAT scores 200 points on Adderall.
• Won tacky gymnastic medal in third grade — along with everyone else who showed up.
• No debt…although indebted to my parents for life — which they remind me of every chance they get. As in: “Do you know how many college graduates would rather take out the garbage than pay back their student loans?”

* Welcome to The Big Jewel, your most trusted legal adviser when you're making those final arrangements. Then again, if your name is Abraham J. Finklestone, you probably have some ideas of your own.

The Last Will And Testament Of Abraham J. Finklestone

By: Andy Millman

I, Abraham J. Finklestone of Niles, Illinois, do hereby declare this to be the last of my fifty-two wills, unless Dr. Gottlebaum finally believes that I am sick and decides to do something about it and I live long enough to write another. If he does not, and I perish, please inform him that I took some satisfaction upon my demise knowing that I was right and he was wrong. And let him know that I’m of “sound mind,” despite what he may say to the contrary.

Article I
Now then. I wish to be referred to only by my full and proper name: Abraham J. Finklestone. Do not let anyone sneak any of the following into my obituary or onto my tombstone: “AJ,” “Abe,” “Lincoln,” “Stinkin’ Lincoln,” “A-Bag,” “A-Hole,” “Fink,” “Finkletoes,” “Finklebone,” “Finklebonehead,” “Fred Finklestone,” or “Flunklestone.”

Article II
My memorial service will be held at the Niles Community Center, where I attend group therapy and weekly bingo games. I have been very hot lately, so please investigate the possibility that I was poisoned by one of the other players. Last Thursday’s brownies, made by the very competitive Beatrice R. Watkins, were particularly suspicious. (I barely made it home without having a “brown-out.”)

Article III
Volunteer bingo caller Stammerin’ Stan Babber will lead the service and run a simultaneous bingo game. Please be patient, because if he’s having a bad day a single game can run over two hours. Upon reaching a legal bingo, which shall be defined as a straight line in either a horizontal, vertical or diagonal direction, the service shall conclude. The winner will collect the prize (bobblehead Spiro Agnew), place the winning card in my casket and close the lid. Stammerin’ Stan will declare, as best he can, “That’s a winning bingo,” and then we’ll have some lunch.

Article IV
Schmecky Chen, the Jewish-Chinese entertainer and owner of Schmeckens, the Jewish-Chinese restaurant, will provide the catering. The menu will include: Mao-Tzo Ball Soup, Potato Chancakes, General Sol’s Chicken, Kung Pao Kugel, and Bubby Buddha’s Babka. My mouth is watering just thinking about it. After lunch Schmecky will perform his routine about Confucius having trouble renting a car because he has no identification. (“But I’m Confucius,” he says, and the guy behind the counter says, “I don’t know what’s so confusing, pal. You need a driver’s license.” I love it!)

Schmecky is not just a jokester. He sings like Jerry Lewis, if Jerry Lewis grew up in Shanghai. I’ve asked him to sing “Sunrise, Sunset,” “Mamma’s Little Baby Loves Shortnin’ Bread,” “Ride Like the Wind” and “Roll Out the Barrel.” During the last verse of “Roll Out the Barrel,” the pallbearers will roll out a barrel containing Kid Dynamite, two-time Midwest championship midget wrestler (1969 and 1970, 80-85 pound weight class). Mr. Dynamite was severely injured by an “Atomic Drop” applied by Junior Mint in 1971 and will need some assistance getting in and out of the barrel. (To make it easier, the pallbearers may just want to tip the barrel upside down.)

Article V
After being dumped out of the barrel, Mr. Dynamite will referee a wrestling match between my two ex-wives. The match shall last three rounds, or until one ex-wife is pinned, surrenders or is about to be Atomic Dropped. (Kid Dynamite suffers from nuclear flashbacks and will immediately suspend the match at the first threat of a “mushroom cloud.”) If there is no winner after three rounds, Schmecky will lead the ladies in a game of “Eeny Meeny Miny Mao.” The winner shall receive my vice president bobblehead collection (complete from 1960, minus Spiro Agnew) while the loser gets my Kid Dynamite bobblehead collection (pre-“Atomic Drop,” each figure life-size).

Article VI
After the service, lunch and wrestling, chauffeur me in a black hearse to Green Pastures Memorial Cemetery, located in the heart of Des Plaines, Illinois, right off the 294 tollway. I’ve reserved a corner lot overlooking the Burger Belly rest stop. Their manager, Fernando, assured me that my plot is within their delivery area. The chauffeur should transport me to my new home in the manner in which I drive myself: twenty miles per hour and hazard lights flashing. Please drive through the McDonald’s and order me a “coffee to go.” Make sure it’s decaf, as I want no difficulty sleeping.

Article VII
I wish to be buried in a new (make sure it is unused!) maroon coffin with gray interior, just like my Buick LeSabre. Do not spend additional money on undercoating or rustproofing. Please place the latest copy of Time magazine inside the coffin, along with a flashlight, a bag of Twizzlers and a roll of toilet paper.

Article VIII
Each attendant shall throw three scoops of dirt on my grave. Be careful not to get any in the air pipe. Somebody should periodically shout down the pipe (possibly Stammerin’ Stan) to let me know how it’s going up there.

Article IX
Once the dirt and I are down, Schmecky will sing “(I Did It) Mai Wei.” This is a real show-stopper, especially the part where he croons, “Complaints, I’ve had a slew/If you have time, let me just mention,” and then the music dies down and he “kvetches” about various aches and pains and people who have “screwed him over,” including his brother-in-law and the Red Army. As the mourners leave, they should remember to toss some change in Schmecky’s chef hat as a gratuity, and a few quarters down the air pipe in case I need to make a telephone call.

Article X
That’s about it. If you want to pay tribute to my memory, there are several things you can do. You can wrestle Kid Dynamite on my behalf, but no “Atomic Drops,” please. You can build a bobblehead Abraham J. Finklestone. Don’t make the head too wobbly, though, because I don’t want to get a crick in my neck. And you can always stop by and bring me some lunch. I’ll probably grow tired of Burger Belly after a while.