* Welcome to The Big Jewel, where we take the issue of cultural appropriation very seriously. Which is why we are letting Bruce Harris speak up on behalf of an oppressed minority too little heard from these days.

An Open Letter To The NFL Commissioner From Somali Pirates

By: Bruce Harris

Dear NFL Commissioner,

WTF? Are you people in the United States of America tone deaf? We see and hear all kinds of hullabaloo about the Washington Redskins. Native Americans are offended. Debates rage within the NFL hierarchy, on sports pages, in blogs, and on radio talk shows. Should ownership change the team’s name? Is the NFL too insensitive?

We are disgusted by the lack of concern regarding the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. How dare you? Has anyone seen or paid attention to the team’s logo, a flag featuring a skull and swords? Is this the 1600s? When was the last time you saw pirates flaunting skulls and swords? You’ve been watching one too many Errol Flynn movies. How insulting. Stop the stereotyping and stop it now!

The pirates of today’s Somalia are not our grandfathers’ pirates. We have feelings, use cell phones and computers and are more aligned with millennials than parrots, eyepatches and peglegs (although we still drink and go on drunken rum rampages). What gives you the right to malign us pirates? What did we ever do to you? You travel by air. We don’t bother with planes. Hell, when was the last time we hijacked a boat or were in the news? It’s been awhile since we’ve killed anyone. We’ve been low-key, on our best behavior, but it isn’t going to last unless something is done about changing the name of the NFL’s Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

Frankly, we don’t give a damn if every player takes a knee (or both knees) during the national anthem, or takes a knee (or both knees) during every play. It’s the name and the team’s logo with which we take umbrage. It’s insensitive and offensive and a lot worse than a Redskin.

We love football as much as the next guy. If you’re in a murderous mood, and who isn’t these days, what better way to kill a Sunday afternoon? Or Sunday night? Or Monday night? Or Thursday night?

Ask yourself, is the name Buccaneers a wise choice, given the current climate of political correctness? What genius came up with it? Seriously, do you believe a flag featuring skulls and swords plastered on every helmet and painted on the field is a good idea? It’s insulting on so many levels, not the least of which are the sword depictions. You think we still use swords to plunder and pillage? Not.

Today’s Somalia Pirates, if we may refer to ourselves in the third person, rely on a myriad of weapons to wreak havoc. For close range, grappling hooks are effective. Mid-range is best served by AK-47s. And for long-range firing, there’s the noisy but reliable PKM machine gun. Finally, we don’t mind occasionally employing explosive weapons like the RPG-7 rocket launcher. Any one or a combination of the aforementioned is more appropriate logo artwork than swords. A little team logo realism wouldn’t hurt.

As you can see, we mean business. It’s not lost on us either that you’ve begun playing games in the United Kingdom. Here’s a warning: don’t even think about bringing the NFL, and especially the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, to Mogadishu. Talk about empty seats and an embarrassment.

I think our point is made. Cease and desist the use of the name Buccaneers for Tampa Bay’s football team. Oh, by the way, just so you don’t feel singled out, a similar letter has been sent to the MLB commissioner — what’s his name? There’s a baseball team in Pittsburgh that’s also in our crosshairs.


Insulted Somali Pirates


* Welcome to The Big Jewel, where we like to think of ourselves as a sort of literary YMCA. And also a source of political wisdom that can save our nation, if only our nation will listen to Bruce Harris.

Filling U.S. Cabinet Positions With The Village People

By: Bruce Harris

Here’s some advice for the next president of the United States. With all of the publicity, angst, and rancor surrounding a president’s selection of cabinet members, wouldn’t it be refreshing if the cabinet selection process went smoothly across both sides of the aisle? It’s more than possible. Mr. or Ms. Next President, it’s best to keep things simple, at least for the following six cabinet posts (in no particular order). Who to nominate? The Village People. No controversy. These nominees would sail through the senate confirmation hearings.

Motorcycle Cop – Attorney General

One would have to search far and wide to find a tougher, meaner, more no-nonsense lawman than the motorcycle cop. We’ve got one, so why not appoint him Attorney General of the United States? The country’s top law enforcement officer shouldn’t be a politician. It should be someone with law enforcement experience. Is this a difficult concept to grasp? Hell, this Village People’s cop makes former Arizona Sheriff Joe Arpaio look like and act like Mr. Rogers.

Native American – Interior Secretary

He’s an all-American hombre with street cred. Responsible for the management and conservation of most federal land and natural resources, and the administration of programs relating to Native Americans, Alaska Natives, Native Hawaiians, among others. Who better to understand the problems and issues of Native Americans than a Native American? He, more than anyone, could bring calm to the contentious Dakota Access Pipeline. This isn’t rocket science. In addition, he can weigh in as a subject matter expert on the Washington Redskins logo controversy.

Cowboy – Secretary of Homeland Security

Singing cowboys are nothing new. Gene Autry and Roy Rogers come to mind. But, none put the fear of God in a potential illegal alien more than the Village People’s Cowboy. When is the last time you had a good look at him? I rest my case. Anyone even remotely thinking about crossing our borders (northern or southern) without proper documentation had better think twice. This is one cowboy who isn’t afraid to empty a couple of six-shooters in order to maintain our homeland security. Imagine the following exchange during his senate confirmation hearing:

Senator from Texas: Son, is that a Stetson?

Cowboy: Yessir!

Senator from Texas: (smiling) No further questions.

Biker – Secretary of Transportation

Talk about a Macho, Macho Man. God only knows how many miles of America’s highways and byways this leather-clad, born to be wild, mustachioed dude has driven. Ask yourself, is there anyone more qualified (other than several thousand long-distance truckers) for the position?

Navy Guy – Secretary of Veterans Affairs

First things first: “In the Navy” replaces “The Star Spangled Banner” as our national anthem. Once that is law, anything else he accomplishes is gravy. It’s no secret that the United States is in dire need of Veterans Administration reform. They wanted him, they wanted him, they wanted him as a new recruit back in the day. Now, we want him, we want him, we want him in the cabinet.

Construction Worker – Secretary of Labor

He is perfect for the job. And he looks the part. Hardhat, jeans, sturdy work boots, and a shirt unbuttoned down to the navel. Elvis would be proud! This guy could single-handedly restore our crumbling infrastructure. Just give him a jackhammer and a pickaxe and away he’ll go. Bridges, roads, airports are all within his sweet spot. And, as an added bonus, he’ll simultaneously work the jackhammer and mime the letters to “YMCA” above his head. I’ll wager the current secretary of labor can’t do that.

It’s so easy. Six key cabinet positions amicably filled. It takes a village, people.


* Welcome to The Big Jewel, where our favorite musical has always been "Fiddler on the Roof." Well, either that or "Springtime for Hitler." They're both so good! Anyway, speaking of good, our good friend Bruce Harris has plumbed the mind of the Almighty to help give some answers to the fiddler in question.

A Few Reasons Why God Answers “Yes” To Tevye’s Question, “Would It Spoil Some Vast, Eternal Plan, If I Were A Wealthy Man?”

By: Bruce Harris

Animals — I didn’t create the chicks, turkeys, geese and ducks so that they could squawk “pa-pa-geeee! pa-pa-gaack! pa-pa-geeee! pa-pa-gaack!” for you to show off to the townspeople. Oy vey, such unnecessary noise pollution. Not to mention, I created all animals including those that fly and those that swim. You say nothing about your Golde turning my wonderful carp and pike into gefilte fish? How about crab legs and shrimp? Forget making you a poor man. The real injustice is that I made shellfish non-kosher. You would have had a better chance had you asked me to rewrite the Kashrut so as to include shellfish. That, I would have considered. You don’t know what you’re missing. A Maine lobster with drawn butter is priceless. A basket of fried clams is better than all the gold in Fort Knox.

Staircases — It’s a little excessive to have one staircase in which to go up and another in which to go down. Furthermore, you say you plan to build a staircase leading nowhere, just for show? Are you serious? Is that something akin to Alaska’s bridge to nowhere? That 2005 boondoggle cost taxpayers $223 million. Adjusted for inflation, your wasteful 1905 staircase to nowhere would approach that amount.

Golde — I have serious issues with what would happen with your wife, Golde. A proper double chin, you say? How much schmaltz is she planning to eat? I know you’ll have money for adequate medical care, but do you want to put her into an early grave?

Again with Golde — And what’s this about her putting on airs and strutting around like a peacock? Really? I thought you were a pious man? You claim to want more free time so that you can pray. Need I remind you about humility? Ever read Deuteronomy? Does this ring a bell? “And you shall remember the whole way that the Lord your God has led you these forty years in the wilderness, that he might humble you, testing you to know what was in your heart, whether you would keep his commandments or not.” No Tevye, peacock strutting is just wrong.

More Golde — Have you forgotten the golden rule? If Golde had money, she’d be screaming at the servants left and right? Is that what you think? Well, think about this Bible verse, Mr. Religious Scholar: “And as you wish that others would do to you, do so to them.” It sounds to me (and I hear it all) as if you want wealth for the wrong reasons.

Lazar Wolf — You’re not so special. I’ll have you know that the butcher Lazar Wolf has already asked me to make him a wealthy man. What if I had agreed to his request? You’d be okay with a 60-year old son-in-law? Think about it. You’d be nothing more than a bit player in a money-losing off-Broadway production of “Butcher on the Roof.” Is that what you want?

Motel Kamzoil — And what about the poor village tailor, the future husband to your precious Tzeitel? Do you think he’d have the stones to ask for your daughter’s hand in marriage if you were a wealthy man? It’s time to stop thinking about only yourself, Tevye.

One last thing. I’m God. I’m supposed to know everything. But (to borrow a partial phrase from Slim Pickens in Blazing Saddles), “What in the wide, wide world of sports” does it mean to “biddy-biddy-bum” all day long? Don’t make me look bad, Tevye. This is a two-way street. We have to have each other’s backs. That’s tradition!


* Welcome to The Big Jewel, where we still believe in the Tooth Fairy. We're just not sure we believe in all of his methods.

Tooth Fairy Rants

By: Bruce Harris

Tooth Fairy here, with big problems. First off, I’m running an incredibly unbalanced budget. One-way cash flow is a recipe for disaster. It isn’t quite as bad as the USA’s nearly $20 trillion dollar deficit, but my operation has no positive outcome in sight.

Some of you may have heard about the most recent tooth fairy survey. It wasn’t fake news. Believe it. I paid out an average $4.66 per tooth last year, up 75 cents from 2015! And if that isn’t bad enough, the average for a first tooth in 2016 was $5.72. It doesn’t matter the type, incisor, molar, or canine. All that equates to nearly $300 million dollars in the U.S. alone.

Who needs to raise the minimum wage? Just keep putting teeth under your pillows and I’ll keep paying. Is that what you think? Well, I have news for you. The well is running dry! Who can sustain this kind of business model?

What? Did I hear you say Santa Claus? Don’t make me laugh. For starters, good old St. Nick works one day (actually night) a year. That’s a really tough schedule. Second, he has so many helpers I’ve lost count. Doubt me? I urge you to stop by New York’s Radio City Music Hall during the Christmas Spectacular show. You’ll see so many dancing Santas on one stage that your collective heads will spin. How many tooth fairy helpers have you encountered? I thought so. I’m a one-person operation. Third, do you think Santa goes into his pockets to buy all of those toys? Give me a break. Among numerous other charities and programs, Toys for Tots provide the jolly one with an unmatched supply chain.

Another one-day-a-year worker is the Easter Bunny. Don’t get me started. I work nights 365 days a year. Easter eggs and candies and chocolates all add up to one thing: rotted teeth that fall out more quickly than bunnies…never mind. My costs always rise following Easter.

It’s too bad baby teeth fall out and are replaced. There are so many. Why couldn’t it be baby arms or legs that fall off and grow back? The Arm Fairy or Leg Fairy would only have to pay off twice per child. That’s fiscally responsible. So what if an arm or leg is too big to fit underneath a pillow? Just slip it under the bed. I’ll find it and leave the money. But that’s not reality.

Given the current deal-making climate in the U.S., let’s deal. If you want me to continue paying the rates to which your spoiled brat kids have become accustomed, a few changes have to take place. I propose a self-sustaining system that will keep this operation in the black.

Let’s look at the numbers. The average child gets 20 baby teeth over the course of several years. Baby teeth stop coming in at age 12. There are approximately 24.7 million children ages 0-12. My proposition? Mr. and Ms. Parent, you pay me 75 cents for each baby tooth. Why should teething pain be limited to your child? Simple math tells us that that equates to $15 into my coffers per kid. Multiply that by 24.7 million rug rats and my operation has an annual income exceeding $370 million. I can live with that.

Stop squawking. My job isn’t getting any easier. You millennials are having lots of kids. Always in a rush — how about taking the time to wash the blood off your kids’ teeth? Is that asking too much? I have to wear protective latex gloves when handling those crimson things. Gloves cost money, and finding them to fit my hands isn’t easy. I have to purchase them online, they’re produced overseas, and that gets into the whole free trade thing and shipping and brokerage charges and whatnot. And another thing, how about doing me a solid and turning off your home security systems on those nights when you put a tooth under your precious one’s pillow? A little cooperation on your side goes a long way.

I have some other business-friendly ideas, like non-payment for teeth that are knocked out, either intentionally or by accident. Do you have any idea how much my expenses increase during youth hockey season? Why reward the little tykes for roughhousing? And, I don’t pay if a dentist has to pull a baby tooth. Let nature take its course. Speaking of nature, ours is an aging population. Permanent teeth eventually fall out and are replaced by false teeth. Believe me, I’ve seen my share of bedside choppers languishing in glasses and cups. How about throwing me a couple of bucks for every elderly permanent tooth that falls out?

I’m not only a fairy — I’m also a job creator. I have plans to offer franchise opportunities. Think about it. We could call it TF Enterprises (don’t want to spoil the Tooth Fairy surprise for the gullible). I see a future with TF Enterprises in every city. Working nights only, you could keep your day jobs while running a TF franchise. That would save buku dollars in pillow-to-pillow travel.

The more I think about it, the more your franchise and I could mutually benefit from technology. Think about a business model where email photos of teeth (proof may be required that nature caused the loss) are sent and funds forwarded via PayPal or by some other electronic means. No travel. Instant payment. It’s a win-win.

But, as always, I’m open to negotiation and the art of the deal. You want me to pay double if your child loses both front teeth at the same time? Interesting proposition. I won’t rule it out. Let’s talk.




* Welcome to The Big Jewel, where sometimes we publish things about God and sometimes we publish things about Donald Trump, because we're curious to see if our sharper-eyed readers can spot the subtle differences between the two. Please say hello to our good friend Bruce Harris.

Who Is The World’s Worst Negotiator?

By: Bruce Harris

The 45th president of the United States authored (co-authored, sort of), The Art of the Deal. His campaign decried that America doesn’t win anymore and that the United States makes bad deals. He billed himself as a master negotiator. Let’s take him at his word and go under the assumption that the 45th president is the world’s best negotiator. If he’s the best, then who is the worst? That ignominious label was earned during the world’s first negotiation, in biblical times…

Genesis (18:1) – translation in parenthesis

Then the LORD said, “The outrage of Sodom and Gomorrah is so great, and their sin so grave! (God is having a bad day and intends to destroy Sodom and Gomorrah.)

I will go down to see whether they have acted altogether according to the outcry that has reached Me; if not, I will take note.” (Not really sure what this means.)

The men went on from there to Sodom, while Abraham remained standing before the LORD. (First smart move by Abraham. He’s observing. Learning. Listening. These are proven successful negotiation tactics.)

Abraham came forward and said, “Will You sweep away the innocent along with the guilty? (Abraham asks a rhetorical, closed-ended question.)

What if there should be fifty innocent within the city; will You then wipe out the place and not forgive it for the sake of the innocent fifty who are in it? (Abraham begins the negotiation process with an opening offer of fifty.)

Far be it from You to do such a thing, to bring death upon the innocent as well as the guilty, so that innocent and guilty fare alike. Far be it from You! Shall not the Judge of all the earth deal justly?” (Abraham personalizing the decision for God. In other words, he’s asking God if God has really thought this thing through.)

And the LORD answered, “If I find within the city of Sodom fifty innocent ones, I will forgive the whole place for their sake.” (Whoa. Wait. God, what up? You cave that quickly? You agree to Abraham’s first offer? Good thing you are not in the market for a new car.)

Abraham spoke up, saying, “Here I venture to speak to my Lord, I who am but dust and ashes: (Abraham playing to God’s vanity. And, kills time while he recovers from God’s foolish and unexpected acceptance of his first offer.)

What if the fifty innocent should lack five? Will You destroy the whole city for want of the five?” (Abraham regains composure. He applies more pressure, tossing out an offer of forty-five.)

And He answered, “I will not destroy if I find forty-five there.” (Is he for real? The number five principle in The Art of the Deal is to “use your leverage” during a negotiation. God seemingly has all of the leverage in the universe, but doesn’t seem to be taking advantage of it.)

But he spoke to Him again, and said, “What if forty should be found there?” (Abraham ups the ante. Heck, why not? God agreed to forty-five. Why not offer forty instead? Are there no limits to which God would agree?)

And He answered, “I will not do it, for the sake of the forty.” (Oh my God. Do you hear yourself? You’re making one concession after another without getting anything in return. Ask for something. That’s basic Negotiation 101.)

And he said, “Let not my Lord be angry if I go on: what if thirty should be found there?” (Now Abraham is feeling it. He’s down to thirty good people and practically toying with God. Where will it end?)

And He answered, “I will not do it if I find thirty there.” (God gives in yet again and gets nothing in return. A more appropriate response would have been, “Okay Abraham, I’ll go down to thirty, if you tell me your secret for impregnating Sarah when you were 100 years old. How on earth did you do that?”)

And he said, “I venture again to speak to my Lord: what if twenty should be found there?” (Nice and steady, down goes the count. Abraham appears to be in control of this deal.)

And He answered, “I will not destroy, for the sake of the twenty.” (God, do you know something we don’t?)

And he said, “Let not my Lord be angry if I speak but this last time: what if ten should be found there?” (Abraham is on his way down to zero. He knows nothing can stop him now.)

And He answered, “I will not destroy, for the sake of the ten.” (Is this really happening?)

When the LORD had finished speaking to Abraham, He departed; and Abraham returned to his place. (That’s it! So, what all along looked like a slam-dunk for Abraham winds up in a tie? No contest?)

Is God the world’s worst negotiator? Maybe, maybe not. A case can be made for Abraham. He inexplicably stopped at ten!


* Welcome to The Big Jewel, where we will tip you an extra 10% if you read the latest madness from our good friend Bruce Harris.

Tip Pit

By: Bruce Harris

The convention of tipping people in service jobs needs reexamination. Why do I give gratuities and not receive them? Tipping etiquette resides in Bizarro World. I’m the customer. Why on earth am I tipping the barber who cuts my hair? His livelihood depends upon my repeat business. He should be tipping me. I don’t purport that the barber or hairdresser should pay me for a haircut. That would be ridiculous. But they should give back a certain percentage of the amount charged as a way of showing their appreciation. How much? Tipping rules are easily established and I’m more than comfortable if tip percentages fall within the standard 15% to 20% range. Of course, there are exceptions to this unwritten rule. Gratuity amounts could be more or less. A number of “tip friendly” professions deserve attention:

Barbers — The amount of the tip I receive should be dependent on a number of factors. For example, did I walk into the shop in the middle of the summer, all sweaty and smelly? Do I have dandruff? Wax in my ears? Greasy hair? Do I constantly turn my head when the barber is trying to cut? Speak only when spoken to? Is my collar too high and/or too tight, making it difficult to get at the hairs on the back of my neck? You know, the ones not standing up. That could negatively impact one’s tip. When the haircut is finished and the barber holds a hand-mirror behind my head so that I can judge his handiwork, what is my reaction? Am I happy? Or, do I say things like, “Take more off the top, front, sides, back, etc.” Or, “It’s cut too short.” In the latter case, there is nothing for the barber to do or say except, “It will grow back” and not tip me! Heck, if I was happy with the haircut and received a 15% or 20% tip for being a good customer, I’d go back. It’s a win-win. Or shoot for the works: I’ll demand a full body haircut. Full frontal and back. Every inch of my body cut and shaved. I want to leave the shop hairless. Now, if that doesn’t scream “trust” to the haircutter, what does? I think I’m looking at a tip north of 50%. A word to the wise — care should be taken prior to accepting a shave with a straight razor.

Waiters/Waitresses — How can I earn a 20% (or more) tip for eating? Read the menu after it’s handed to me and be ready to order when the waitperson comes back. Order off the menu with no alterations or qualifications. A quick way to get on the waitperson’s wrong side is to order a number five sandwich (tuna fish), but demand “No lettuce and no tomato. Instead, substitute coleslaw for the lettuce and onion for the tomato.” Never ask for separate checks. One check should always result in greater tips. Be careful, don’t spill anything, and don’t ask for extra napkins or hot sauce, etc. The wait staff are on their feet for hours. The last thing they want to do is to take extra steps. Another thing that upsets servers is when they have to serve everything at once. “Bring the soup and the salad with my hamburger.” That’s bad for the cooks (who don’t get tipped) and the waiter or waitress. Keep it simple. Drink order first and then the food in the order that God (if you believe in God) meant them to be served. Follow these simple rules and the tips earned will compound over time.

Valet — Any valet would not only love to park a 1931 Bugatti Royale Kellner Coupe, but he’d also be in a rush to pull a huge tip out of his pocket for the privilege. Of course, one’s tip could be drastically reduced (and in extreme cases be nonexistent) if the car smells like feet or last week’s grilled cheese sandwich. Are there empty plastic water bottles and/or beer cans rolling around on the floor mats? Does the car have floor mats? Is the air conditioner working in summer? If not, the tip could be impacted. It’s winter. Is the car’s heater functional? No? The valet may say “No” to the tip. Is the front seat pushed up against the steering wheel? A “Yes” answer will not endear you to the valet, especially if he played center for a Division 1 college basketball team.

Mail Carrier — This is a unique case, because unlike the preceding examples, the mail carrier is tipped once a year during holiday season. Why? I’m a taxpayer. I assume you are as well, unless of course your name is…never mind. Why should I tip the mail carrier, a government employee? No other government worker is allowed to accept tips. Besides, he brings me 14,000 bills and nine checks a year. Should I thank this person with a tip for delivering hundreds of advertising catalogs that go directly into the garbage? I mean no disrespect, but how does a mail carrier do a bad vs. good job? The mail is placed into the mailbox. The process is repeated six times a week. Hey mail person, how about throwing me a tip at the end of the year? Fifteen percent of the total bills delivered would be a good start. Why not? I have a posted mailbox on the side of the road. You don’t even have to get off your %#@ to deliver my mail. There are no dogs to fend off. I don’t own a pet, despite the fact that you deliver countless pet supply catalogs to me. What’s fair is fair. I can see you balking at tipping me if my house was set back hundreds of yards off the road and you had to traverse 20 or more snow-covered steps to access the mailbox. Think about it. Without me, you have no job, so pay up. Where’s your holiday cheer? Didn’t you receive the Season’s Greetings card I sent?

Exotic Dancers — I’m not qualified to comment.



* Welcome to The Big Jewel, the world's foremost authority for interpreting the U.S. Constitution. Well, after Peewee Herman, anyway. Listen to the sagacious ponderings of our good friend Bruce Harris.

Some Observations Upon The Segregation Of The Third Amendment

By: Bruce Harris

I’m exercising my First Amendment right to comment on the Third Amendment. The Third Amendment, the Rodney Dangerfield of amendments, gets no respect. For example, at last count, the Second Amendment had 11,461 Facebook “likes” while the Third Amendment had a whopping 210. Stifle your yawns. The third isn’t some milquetoast amendment, despite its never having been the primary basis of a Supreme Court decision (the Supreme Court is overrated).

Okay lazy people, you don’t have to reduce your screen and search the web. The Third Amendment…

Places restrictions on the quartering of soldiers in private homes without the owner’s consent, prohibiting it during peacetime.

The Third Amendment has caused a rift in my home. I live in a house divided. My wife is a huge supporter. Me, not so much.

I’m already quartering a know-it-all college-degreed millennial in a modest-sized home at the moment. Why wouldn’t I open my doors to a military man or woman as well? Heck, they know how to take orders a lot better than my kid, and unlike my son they are in excellent physical shape. Besides, the lawn needs mowing. The house could use a fresh coat of paint. There’s snow in winter that needs to be shoveled, and the vinyl siding could stand a good power washing. I’d be more than happy to have the help around here. When is the last time I’ve seen anyone dusting?

There is an extra bedroom. My son needs a legitimate role model, someone who wakes up prior to 11:30 a.m. and doesn’t think he (or she) should become a four-star general within two weeks of enlisting. Seems like a win-win.

What was James Madison thinking when he penned the Third Amendment? It was not about the economy, because the amendment limits a golden opportunity. I guess Madison never had a brother-in-law with a real estate license. Think of the economic boom once the ill-advised Third Amendment is repealed. Realtor listings vying to place soldiers in residential homes might look like this:

New listing: move-in condition, bedroom with large closet comfortably accommodates four pairs of combat boots (with room for expansion to house a fifth pair), good neighborhood with lots of flags, Memorial Day parade in town, public transportation to VA Hospital. Framed portrait of President Dwight D. Eisenhower (in uniform) hangs over bed. Canteens provided.

Even Airbnb hosts could get into the act:

Spacious room with camouflage wallpaper and sonar detectors on roof available for immediate occupancy to any military man or woman. Hat stand in hall holds up to six helmets. Rifle racks. Fully stocked library with comprehensive war history reference books and biographies of generals from Grant to Petraeus. Come sing and dance to The Village People’s “In the Navy” with us every Wednesday night.

And lest we forget the good old-fashioned personal ad:

Patriotic family of four (MFMF) seeks M or F soldier for multi-year-relationship. Peace or wartime. Ceasefires included. Father went through ROTC in college. Son is anti-war, but he knows so little. Daughter is…never mind. Extensive kitchen serving Meal, Ready-to-Eat (MRE) field rations daily. Seeking all branches of the military, Marines, Army, Navy, Air Force and Coast Guard. Merchant Marines inquire first.

On the other hand, the last thing my wife wants is another millennial, military or not, residing under our roof. She believes in the Third Amendment and is very supportive of our troops. She just doesn’t want or need any of them living in the same house, eating our food, making a mess and creating dirty laundry. My wife argues, “If a man or woman is mature enough to serve in the armed forces, shouldn’t he/she be mature enough to rent an apartment and live on his/her own?”

My wife also worries about the definition of “peacetime.” Must be that “men are from Mars, women are from Venus” thing. She asserts that I’m perpetually at war with the cable company. Does that count? What about inner peace? Peace of mind? She claims that Madison had deliberately left things vague. My head is spinning.

As stated, I’m against restrictions on the quartering of soldiers in private homes. I freely give consent. Yet, my wife has me thinking: did Madison mean quartering (as in lodging) or quartering (as in drawing and)? And if he meant quartering (as in drawing and), were restrictions lifted if a homeowner chose to quarter (as in draw and) a soldier in a public forum as opposed to his/her private home? Would children be allowed to watch? Is an ongoing war a requisite to quarter (as in draw and) a soldier in public?

Maybe the best thing to do is to combine the aforementioned self-proclaimed winner of the Constitutional Amendment Popularity “Likes” Contest Second Amendment with that of the oft-forgotten third. I’d welcome arms-bearing soldiers quartering in my home. We’d be the safest family on the block! No one would be dumb enough to break into and rob this fortress. Yet, my wife thinks the opposite. “With so many weapons and so many people in close quarters, something bad is bound to happen,” she says. Again. Mars. Venus.

The Third Amendment is simple in its complexity. The more I think about it…if my millennial good-for-nothing son enlisted, he wouldn’t be allowed back in my home, or anyone else’s home for that matter. He’d have to earn his own keep. I’m doing a 180 on the Third Amendment. Mr. Madison, you are a genius!


* Welcome to The Big Jewel, where we are for transparency in local government. Even in Munchkin Land. Hearken to the legal reasoning of our good friend Bruce Harris.

Memo To The Mayor Of Munchkin City

By: Bruce Harris


To: The Mayor of the Munchkin City, in the County of the Land of Oz

Fr: A Group of Concerned Munchkin Citizens

Re: The Death of the Wicked Witch of the East, Etc.


Issue #1

The townspeople, barristers, and city fathers were all present when you declared a day of independence for all the munchkins and their descendants (if any!).

Following the killing of the Wicked Witch of the East (WWE), the coroner, who will go unnamed for the very good reason that he has no name, rolled out a “Certificate of Death.” It wasn’t worth the paper it was printed on. The nameless coroner averred (is that a word?) that he, and we quote, “thoroughly examined her (the WWE) and she’s not only merely dead, she’s really, most sincerely dead.” That’s fine, as far as it goes. But frankly, it doesn’t go very far.

We agree with the coroner’s conclusion that WWE is “physically, positively, absolutely, undeniably and reliably dead.” However, that is not enough.

As you know, the Barrister of Munchkin City, in the County of the Land of Oz, was specifically concerned about two legal aspects of WWE’s death…”we’ve got to verify it legally to see…if she is morally, ethically [dead]…” In addition, one of the city fathers wanted to know if WWE was spiritually dead as well. Those are the legal questions. It’s not enough to declare, as our unnamed coroner did, WWE most sincerely dead. It was your duty, Mr. Mayor, to press him further on this point. We contend you failed in your Mayoral duty.

Mr. Mayor, with all due respect, we collectively ask you, what were you thinking when you declared a day of independence based on the unnamed coroner’s inadequate testimony? Is WWE morally, ethically, and spiritually dead? We’ll never know. We will even settle for two out of three. Is the unnamed coroner qualified to make such a determination? What are his credentials, his training in such areas as morals and ethics?

What is spiritual death? Presumably, it is the separation of the soul from God. That’s heavy. Mr. Mayor, what say you? Are you confident that WWE is spiritually dead? Be honest. We know you are a politician, but try your best.

If the Mayor’s declared day of independence for all the munchkins and their descendants is based on the legal death of WWE, then we proclaim this proclamation null and void because as stated above, WWE’s legal death has not been satisfactorily determined. Therefore, it is our duty to take things a step further. The bust of Dorothy that currently resides in the Munchkin City, in the County of the Land of Oz Hall of Fame, which you ordered and approved, needs to be removed. Dorothy may not be “history,” as you so proudly declared, until we determine if WWE is positively and absolutely morally, ethically, and spiritually dead. Until then, we demand a retraction to the day of independence and re-handling of Dorothy’s bust. Not that bust. Get your mind out of the gutter.

Issue #2

The Lollipop Guild, The Lollipop Guild, The Lollipop Guild, and in the name of The Lollipop Guild, we demand answers regarding the sweetheart deal you made with that out of town supplier of yellow bricks. Surely standard red would have sufficed. Or, at the very least, alternating red and yellow bricks? Our munchkin tax dollars are on the hook for this bloated construction project and unnecessary sea of yellow.

Issue #3

Two words. Air space. We implore you to do something, anything, to tighten up the security of our air space. We’re constantly subjected to witches, both good and bad, appearing and disappearing in bubbles and in sudden fiery flashes (although admittedly this problem has lessened since the death of WWE). People and houses fall from the sky, not to mention those creepy flying monkeys hovering at all hours of the day and night. It’s unnerving. Members of The Lullaby League, The Lullaby League, The Lullaby League are freaking out. No one can get any rest. Surely, with the powers invested in you, some sort of controls can be put into place.

Issue #4

Every year it is the same thing. Our basketball team hasn’t won a game since…well, never, and this year’s draft is dismal. Frankly, we’re getting tired of asking for your help in this arena.

Issue #5

What on earth (we are on earth, aren’t we?) is happening with respect to our cease and desist request prohibiting Dunkin’ Donuts from sullying our good name with their donut holes?


* Welcome to The Big Jewel, where getting a few well-placed literary laughs is easier than taking candy from a -- wait a minute. According to Bruce Harris, that metaphor may not always work.

When Taking Candy From A Baby Isn’t So Easy: A Baker’s Dozen Of Reasons, And One That Doesn’t Count

By: Bruce Harris

  1. Setting must be considered first, prior to determining the ease at which one is able to put grubby fingers on an infant’s sweets. Let’s say the baby is atop a large Ferris wheel with an unopened Baby Ruth bar. You love Baby Ruth bars, but you suffer from acrophobia. See where this is going? Or, you could be in a library and the baby starts screaming. Never one to bring attention to yourself, you are understandably reluctant to approach. The baby could be a member of a leper colony. Or of a nudist colony. Still, you might find yourself one or more rows away from the candy-holding baby on an airplane while the captain has illuminated the “fasten seatbelt” sign. Perhaps the baby was born premature and is in an incubator. Doctors and hospital staff frown upon unwanted intrusions. Then again, the baby’s whereabouts might be unknown. The little tyke might have fistfuls of candy, all varieties, but if you don’t know where he/she is, what good is it? Enough on setting.
  2. Okay, maybe the baby is sitting out in the open with a wrapped 3 Musketeers bar waiting to be had. But, you’re blind and you don’t see it. Or, you see the infant and sweet confection plain enough, but due to a nasty fall from a Ferris wheel, both your hands are in casts.
  3. What about the condition of the baby? Let’s say the diaper hasn’t been changed in weeks. I didn’t want to go here, but when you get right down to it, a dozen valid reasons aren’t easy to come by.
  4. Forget items 1 to 3 above. Let’s say none apply. It’s summer. There is no air conditioning. The baby is sweating and clutching pieces of unwrapped chocolate in his/her palm. When chocolate gets warm, it softens. Scientifically speaking, 85 degrees Fahrenheit is the magic number. At 93°F the stuff melts and liquefies. You might want to turn and walk away from the baby at this point.
  5. The crib is on fire. Unless you have a fire extinguisher and the candy hasn’t burnt to a crisp, this is going to be an all-around difficult situation.
  6. The baby has already eaten the candy. You can resort to stomach pumping and/or induce regurgitation, but neither of these solutions comes under the “easy” heading.
  7. M&M’s are arranged to form the words “TOUCH ONE OF THESE AND DIE.” Looks can be deceiving. Even the most innocent face can hide a violent streak.
  8. The baby’s mother (or father) is transporting their bundle of joy in a baby wrap carrier tightly against her (or his) chest. I guess this could fall under the “setting” rubric, but it’s arguable.
  9. Sitting next to the baby and her Butterfinger bar is the family pet. It’s a pit bull and hasn’t eaten in a couple of days and is staring at you with a not-so-friendly look in its eyes.
  10. The baby is sitting next to you on a bus. He’s already eaten the red, green, orange and yellow sugared Jelly Delights. Only the black Chuckle remains and is within reach.*
  11. You’re one of the unfortunate few with a conscience. The Eighth Commandment has meaning to you, unless you follow one of the traditions that recognize “Thou shalt not steal” as the Seventh Commandment. Nevertheless, there is consistency for the religious among us. “Thou shalt not covet” is the Tenth Commandment across the board. Makes things tough, no?
  12. The baby is the current Prince and future King of England. Ask yourself: how are you going to penetrate that security blanket?
  13. The little tot has measles, chicken pox or some other communicable disease. On a related front, the infant’s body might be covered with a nasty rash from poison [fill in the blank] ivy, oak or sumac. No thanks.
  14. Considering that the average piece of candy contains virtually zero nutritional value and about 200+ calories, 4 grams of saturated fat, 30 grams of carbs, and 25 grams of sugar, maybe the prudent thing is to “just say no.” On the other hand, if the diminutive gal or guy has s’mores, ignore everything and go for it.

*Note — In this case it’s easy taking candy from the baby, but who really wants the licorice-flavored Chuckle?



* Welcome to The Big Jewel, where we are very fond of any sport in which grown men get to beat each other with sticks. Our good friend Bruce Harris has the Stanley Cup story you've been waiting for.

Reasons Why Your Name Is Not Engraved On The Stanley Cup

By: Bruce Harris

You can’t skate — even if you are a goalie, you need to be a skilled skater. Let’s face it, slipping and sliding on the ice isn’t going to get you very far in hockey. On the other hand, you may be the world’s best skater with tons of awards and ribbons to prove it. That won’t help, because…

You don’t play hockey — while this will greatly reduce the chances of your name appearing on the Stanley Cup, it does not totally exclude you. There are a number of non-players (coaches, for example) whose names appear on the Cup. Did I hear you say you are a terrific skater and a fabulous hockey player? Tough luck…

You played hockey prior to 1892 — bummer. You were one of the star players of your day, your team won championships year after year, but all pre-1892. The Stanley Cup was as real then as Al’s Jiant Jewel Warehouse in the cloud. The good news is you have a job. The bad news is…

The National Hockey League does not employ you in any capacity — unless your pockets are deep and your hobby is buying and selling team franchises, if you fall into this category, you’re done. Your name will not appear on the Stanley Cup. You have no chance. Give it up. Try another sport. Take up golf. There is always the Master’s and a chance to wear the green jacket. Go for it. It doesn’t matter if…

You are female — Interestingly, this does not automatically disqualify you from having your name live on in the Hockey Hall of Fame. No sir. A number of females have that honor. However, if your name isn’t Marguerite Norris, Sonia Scurfield, Marie-Denise DeBartolo York, Marian Ilitch, Denise Ilitch, Lisa Ilitch, Carole Ilitch Trepeck or Charlotte Grahame, you’re not smiling. Smiling is good, especially since…

You have a full set of teeth — like being female, this does not automatically prevent your name from being listed on the cup, but it certainly doesn’t help your chances. Something else that will not help your chances…

You pronounce the word “about” as “a bowt” rather than “a boot” — the odds are long enough that you’ll ever see your name on the Stanley Cup. Why decrease your chances more than necessary? Speak properly and keep your hands to yourself. Be a goody two-shoes. You’ll be able to brag…

You’ve never spent time in a penalty box — no, the doghouse doesn’t count. What’s so bad? You sit and watch the action like the rest of the fans, only you get paid not to play. What’s a mere two minutes or more out of a lifetime? Especially a long life, except…

You can’t pass a physical — you have bigger problems than worrying about a name inscription on a cup. If you fall into this category, you might seek a lifestyle change, one that involves a higher calling, one where…

Father, Reverend, or Rabbi precedes your surname — religion and sports, like religion and politics, don’t make good bedfellows. Usually, but not always, a decision to pursue the clergy precludes a career on ice, especially when…

The word “puck” makes you salivate — the problem is, you associate “puck” with “Wolfgang,” and ‘Game Day’ means Mini Prime Burgers with Remoulade and Aged Cheddar Cheese. Still, that’s nothing if…

You suffer from Pagophobia — Google it. That’s a really bad inhibitor. If you suffer from this affliction, it’s likely you don’t know about back-checks, fore-checks, cross-checks, and…

You define “check” as a form of payment — really? Banking is probably more your cup of tea and you are probably from the good old USA. Baseball is your sport. What? You’ve never seen the Toronto Blue Jays play? I don’t believe it…

You’ve never heard “O Canada” — you don’t deserve to have your name on the Stanley Cup.

Okay, you are not only an expert skater, you are a highly skilled hockey player in the year 2014, you are a male gainfully employed by the National Hockey League, you are missing a number of teeth, especially front teeth, you pronounce “about” as “a boot,” you are in peak physical condition, you are not the least bit religious, you’ve spent over half your life in a penalty box, you are as comfortable on the ice as you are in your own home, “puck” has only one meaning and it has nothing to do with the digestive system, you live to check, you check to live, and you’ve known the words to “O Canada” since you slept in a crib. But, your name is still absent from the Stanley Cup. The rub is, you’ve been playing your entire NHL career with the Blues, Sabres, Canucks, Capitals, Sharks, Panthers, Coyotes, Predators, Jets, Wild or Blue Jackets. Demand a trade!