Club News: Notes And Minutes From Recent Meetings Of Area Social Clubs, Hobby Groups And Special-Interest Associations

By: David Jaggard

Tinfoil Reusers Guild

The TRG unites persons who share a passionate interest in preserving, recycling and reusing commodity goods to the vanishing point. At last Thursday’s meeting members gave updates on their ongoing projects. Dee Eace’s teabag is going into its sixth year and still has “plenty of flavor left.” Sehar Wye showed some giftwrapping paper that has been passed back and forth between her sister-in-law and herself for a total of 28 Christmases and birthdays and has served to wrap packages ranging in size from a costume jewelry ring to an outdoor barbecue oven. Junior member Petie Tehay shared his secrets for restoring chewing gum flavor and showed slides of his collection of vintage wads dating back to 1994. Chai Essayen passed around a plastic yogurt tub that she inherited from her grandmother and that still has the original lid. She is currently using the container as a receptacle for her collection of mid-20th century deep-fat frying grease. “I know some of the bacon drippings are from before 1978,” reports Essayen, “because that’s when we moved and I remember bringing them with us in a coffee can.” Next month’s meeting will be a tea luncheon at the Eace’s house.

Language Butchers

The meeting of the “And Etcetera” Chapter of the National Order of Language Butchers was called to order at 7:30 pm on Thursday night at the home of Treasurer Dia-May Isle. First came the recitation of the club’s pledge:

“What’s the diff?

I mean really: If

You use bad grammar

And mumble and stammer

And haw and hem

Through a throatful of phlegm,

People still seem

To know what you mean.

More or less,

Or at least I guess,

Pretty much, you know?

So, like, hey, whoa!

No reason to flip

On some high-horse trip

Just for some little

Goof, error or piddle-

ing small violation

Of pro-noun-ciation

Or syntax, declension

Conjugation, rhyme or scansion!

Like, hey, I dunno,

For me, why should we go

Bust our butts to talk right

When it possibly might

Not really be such

A big deal to make much


Or whatever. . . ”

Several new resolutions were passed. Members were urged to write to dictionary editors asking to have the words “irregardless,” “fourple” and “overexaggerate” accepted as standard English, drop the first “C” in “arctic,” recognize the pronunciation “mis-chee-vee-ous” and add a new definition of “reticent” allowing its use as a synonym for “hesitant.” Emmy Ayan of the Junior Chapter gave a report on her recent trip to Washington D.C., where the National Chapter presented her with a special award for spearheading a successful campaign to eradicate the use of the verb “said” at all local area high schools. Oatie Eatty presented the Malapropism Committee’s list for this month’s Vocabulary-Shrinking Exercise, including the terms “duck tape,” “notary republic,” “unthaw” and “prostrate gland.” At the end of the meeting members signed an open letter to President G. W. Bush congratulating him on his pronunciation of “nuclear.”

Obnoxious Performing Arts Pantomimers

OPAP is open to everyone, performing artist or not, who is sufficiently gullible or cretinous to think that other people find them genuinely cool when they mime playing a musical instrument, plus artists of any discipline who can’t seem to stifle the urge to behave in such a way as to virtually scream to everyone around them, “I’m a Dancer!” or “I’m a Pianist!” or whatever. At the last meeting, Owen Abie of the Air Guitarists Workshop presented a paper on proper tuning. Ariel Laty of the Air Drums Section gave a demonstration of safety precautions to be observed while walking down a crowded street “playing the drums.” (“Limit yourself to two bass drums and a maximum of three floor toms,” says Ariel, “and keep cymbal crashes to a minimum.”) Ivy Ehar of the Dancers Who Can’t Wait in Line at the Bank Without Doing a Few Pliés showed how to hail a taxicab with a flying jeté. Lastly, Ian O’Dubb of the Classical Pianists Who Can’t Resist Fingering Difficult Passages on Tabletops shared tips for looking studiously distracted as though any worldly, non-artistic thought is such an unbearable burden.

Self-Centered Silent Sulkers Society

The SCSSS is made up of people who have a clear, specific idea of how the universe ought to be and become testy, peevish, irritable and — most importantly — uncommunicative whenever it fails to live up to their expectations. According to the bylaws, silent sulking is the only acceptable means of expressing disappointment with friends, family and co-workers. Actually informing the “offender” of what they did wrong is grounds for immediate expulsion from the club.

At the last meeting, role-playing exercises were conducted using scenarios like “Don’t do what I said, do what I meant”, “I didn’t say so, but I meant now”, “Not that there’s any way for you to know this, but you’d better apologize in about five seconds or I’ll never speak to you again” and “Nothing’s wrong! (protracted sigh).”

Longtime member Elle Ewan was presented a Lifetime Achievement Award for her many contributions to the art of creative self-inflicted mental suffering. Among the many anecdotes recounted about Elle’s exploits over the years was the story about a long road trip she took with her husband in 1994. As nightfall approached on the first day, they passed another car that already had its headlights on, and Mr. Ewan said, “Well I guess I better put my lights on too.” Elle clammed up immediately and sustained furious self-righteous silence for the rest of the trip plus seven full weeks after their return before he finally figured out what he had said wrong. (Note for the benefit of non-members: Since the car was partially hers, he should have said “put OUR lights on.” Isn’t it incredible how some people only think of themselves?!)

The time and place of the next meeting were not announced. Members who can’t figure out where to go and when might as well just drop out.

Fatuous Rationalizers Association

The half-baked self-serving rationalizations were flying at last Thursday’s meeting of the FRA. The Tax Cheats Subcommittee has come up with new reasons why they should be allowed to evade income, property, probate and other taxes, including:

* “When I was first starting out and really needed money, the government didn’t give me any. So now that I’m pulling down 280 thou a year, why should I give them any?”

* “People say that by evading taxes I’m not paying my fair share for public works, sewers, roads, police and fire protection and so forth. But I once heard about these people somewhere whose house burned down because the fire department didn’t get there in time. Why should I pay for a service that doesn’t even work?”

* “The government knows that some people are going to pay less than their fair share of taxes, so they artificially raise the tax rates for everybody else. In other words, my taxes have already been paid for.”

The Shoplifters Subcommittee displayed the goods they have pilfered since the last meeting and outlined the reasons why they deserve to have them, including:

* “My mom was probably going to buy me a skirt just like this for my birthday, so there’s no reason why I should have to pay for it.”

* “If they didn’t want you to shoplift they’d have better security.”


* “When a big wealthy company like Sears raises its prices, it’s stealing from the public. So I’m just evening the score.”

The FRA is always looking for new members, especially people who are good at nodding and exchanging approving glances with their eyebrows raised, lips closed and lower jaws pulled down. Note that this is one of the few area organizations that actively welcomes smokers.

New Area Club to Form

A local chapter of the Fellowship of Misplaced Earnestness is being founded to unite several special-interest groups, including:

* People who have become estranged from their own immediate families due to repeated shouting matches about political issues but don’t bother to vote.

* People who block crowded supermarket checkout lanes to complain to a minimum-wage clerk who’s quitting at the end of the week anyway about what they find offensive in the TV ads for a product on sale somewhere in the store.

* People who accost strangers on the street to tell them that they should stop smoking, boycott Nike, go on a diet, etc.

* People who expect any social gathering to suspend all other conversation and activity in order to share in their anguish over some dire (real or perceived) situation on the other side of the globe.

* People who won’t get out of a cab until they have converted the driver to socialism, vegetarianism, Buddhism, etc.

An organizational meeting will be held next Thursday at 6:00 pm in the basement of the Unitarian Church.

Ball Game Canceled

The Knee-Jerk Aggressiveness League has canceled its annual fastpitch hardball game with the Always Right-Never Wrong Alliance due to an inability to agree on a date. Or place. Or starting time. Or batting order. Or umpire. Or rain date. Or who should supply the ball. Or whether to allow cheering. Or where each team’s supporters should sit in the stands. Or where they should park in the parking lot. Or where to go for drinks afterward. Or what the original argument was about in the first place. Or whose fault it is that the plans for a simple friendly game of baseball have degenerated into a never-ending cycle of petty bickering. Or who’s been bending over backwards since the very beginning to work this thing out in a reasonable manner. Or who’s always trying to blame the other side for everything. Or who can shove it up their. . .


Honesty In (Personal) Advertising

By: David Jaggard

Likes fancy restaurants, trendy nightclubs

Very attractive, sexy young woman seeks unattached man for evenings out, maybe more if every single little detail is exactly perfect according to my unannounced and constantly-changing personal criteria. Write to ref. 3053 in c/o The Big Jewel. I said maybe.

Have you got what it takes?

Exceedingly handsome, financially independent man in his mid-40s seeks Ms. Right. Must be able to pull her own weight, handle herself with aplomb in tricky situations, talk her way out of big trouble, win difficult people over to her way of thinking and save the day in a life-or-death emergency. Our first date will be a test of all those things and if we stay together, “pop quizzes” will arise from time to time when you least expect it. Write to ref. 3162 in c/o The Big Jewel. Sense of humor a must.

Calling all men!

Hey, all you guys out there! I don’t care how old you are, what you look like, what your race or religion is, how much money you have, how much you weigh, or whether you have a nice personality or not. Just leave me alone. Under no circumstances respond to ref. 0613 in c/o The Big Jewel. And don’t look at me like that either.

Schlepping Beauty seeks Prince Charming

Youngish, prettyish woman, shallowish, tired of the endless unrelenting stream of guys who say they’re not ready to commit. And then seems like they all get married about six months after we break up. Hmmm. Anyway, I’d like to find a guy who’s really ready to give all of his love right now and keep on giving and giving and giving it, a guy who’s not necessarily rich or anything but who can support me no problem and won’t get his Jockeys all in a sheepshank if I blow a few hundred on clothes now and then, a guy who will be ready to rear my children in case I might ever someday maybe decide I want any, a guy who’ll stand by me through hard times, illness, stress, migraines and inexplicable mood swings, a guy who can wait up already for like five or ten minutes while I’m getting ready to go out, a guy who wouldn’t even think in his dreams of dreaming of thinking of another woman, a guy who gets along really well with my mom even when she forgets her medication, a guy who knows what I want even before I do and gets it for me on the double, who knows how to show me a good time even when I don’t feel like doing anything and isn’t too “manly” to wait on me hand and foot. Why can’t I find a guy like that? Write to ref. 3935 in c/o The Big Jewel. Go on, show my friends that they’re wrong.

Looking for that extra-special someone

Are you that one in a million? The lucky woman selected from among the thousands who respond to this ad will be swept away to a magical dreamland where she is Her Majesty the All-Powerful Empress and I am her Dutiful Servant, throwing myself at her feet and asking only to fulfil her every whim and desire. Then, after about 72 hours of that, she can start making all the meals, doing all the shopping and housework, picking up my dirty socks and toenail clippings from wherever I happen to drop them, pulling my hair out of the shower drain, and going around the house turning off the appliances, lights and faucets that I leave on if I feel like it. Sometimes I don’t flush the toilet either. Take it or leave it at ref. 3766 c/o The Big Jewel. P.S. It’ll have to be your place, ’cause I live with my parents.

She wants a stand-up kind of guy

Young woman seeks handsome man, 35-44, who is willing to take the blame for everything. We don’t agree on something, I win. We have an argument, you lose. Then you apologize. You are responsible for anything that goes wrong no matter how inconsequential and any unpleasantness no matter how slight, including that caused by other people, unforeseen circumstances, acts of God or the weather. If you can’t take the heat, don’t respond to ref. 3560 in c/o The Big Jewel. No phonies please.

Last man on earth

Take a look at this face! Of course you can’t see me here in this ad, but you know what I mean. Any woman would give her right arm to have a guy this good looking, right? Well guess again, cause otherwise why would I be running a personal? Truth be told, I’m a selfish, lazy, irresponsible, substance-dependent, violence-prone emotional three-year-old looking for a woman who’s willing to work two jobs to support me while I lie around the house chain smoking and watching TV all day when I’m not out cheating on her. Could that be you? Ref. 2903 in c/o The Big Jewel. Hey — I can’t help it. It’s just the way I am.

Love is never having to say “Officer!”

Do you believe in love at first sight? Well this 34-year-old, unmarried, non-smoking man sure does. Maybe I could fall in love with you, a pretty, non-smoking woman, 25-35, preferably blonde. And what is love? Love is being ready to do anything — anything! — to win the heart of my beloved. Love is dropping whatever else I’m doing, cancelling all my appointments and quitting my job to spend 24 hours a day seeking that ultimate celestial paradise, letting nothing get in the way of my quest for happiness, never taking “no” for an answer, going to any lengths to convince her of my undying devotion, never deterred by any social, logistical or legal stumbling blocks she might throw in my way just to test my determination, seeking her out wherever she might playfully try to hide, showing her over and over how far I’m prepared to go, to what extent I’m willing to put everything on the line, even if it means resisting arrest, all just to prove to her that she is the only one I can ever really truly love, pursuing her relentlessly, relentlessly, relentlessly, relentlessly until she loves me back. Or until I meet someone else. Why don’t we get together and see what happens? Ref. 3238 in c/o The Big Jewel. On second thought, don’t even bother answering the ad. I’ll find you.

Talks a good game

Hauntingly beautiful young lady, breath-taking figure, seeks man, age and looks no object, who is willing to sit for hours and hours upon end listening to my ill-founded, utterly deluded theories and irrational beliefs about virtually everything in exchange for a 23% chance of getting me in the sack afterwards. The right man must be willing to grin and nod his head like an oil well while pretending, when he can get a word in edgewise, to agree with me whole-heartedly like we’re some kind of long-lost soulmates. Write to ref. 2557 in c/o The Big Jewel. Statistics verified by Gallup International.

Good-time guy

Man, late 20s, seeks woman who likes what I like. I like good food, good conversation, good music, good movies, nice weather, being in a good mood and having a good time. Fer chrissake, who doesn’t? But what I really like is sex, sex, sex, and more sex. Gleaaaghh. Write to ref. 1033 in c/o The Big Jewel. Not you, Sonia.

No snorers either

Recently divorced 32-year-old woman, one child, seeks mature, emotionally stable, non-drinking, non-sports-loving, non-Penthouse subscribing steady earner who doesn’t like Bruce Springsteen, doesn’t line the sink with whiskers every morning, isn’t afraid to take the garbage out or change a diaper once in a while and is in control of all of his digestive functions, if you know what I mean. Write to ref. 2331 in c/o The Big Jewel. Men who don’t know how to put forks away in the fork drawer or butter a piece of toast without leaving lots of dry, unbuttered parts need not apply.

To place your personal, simply mail us the text of your ad along with a check for $1.00 per word made out to: Editor, The Big Jewel. Exes of employees of The Big Jewel must also enclose an additional check for $1 million. The content of any ad is the sole responsibility of the person placing it. The Big Jewel cannot be held liable for any misleading claims, disappointments, broken dates, broken dreams, broken condoms, boring dinners, murders, or screenplays about serial killers that may result from the publication of these ads.


I, Writer

By: David Jaggard

The Big Jewel has received an advance copy of an essay on creative writing to be published as the introduction to the next book by a major bestselling author. For legal reasons we can’t identify him by name, but suffice it to say that he writes the kind of glitzy doorstop-sized novels that you see in every airport and second-hand shop in the country. Also, when NASA announced that the Hubble Space Telescope had located the exact center of the known universe, he was very surprised and disappointed to find out that it wasn’t his house.


You can bring the prisoner down now.

Tom Swift

Now that I’m an internationally renowned writer, it’s surprising that no one ever comes up to me and says, “How I envy you. How I wish I could be a writer too.” But I know so many of you would say that, if only you had the chance, so I am writing this article to set the record straight once and for all: you can’t be a writer. You can’t be a writer because you can’t write. You don’t believe me? Well, try it:





You see? Pretty pathetic. Now watch this:

Lucinda’s nostrils flared ever so slightly as Derek handed her an icy glass filled to the brim with vintage champagne. Small beads of perspiration formed on her tanned forehead, kind of reflecting the beads of condensation forming on the glass, in a way. If you see what I mean. So then Derek leans forward meaningfully and says, even more meaningfully, “I want to run my fingers through your hair. I long to kiss your luscious lips. I yearn to embrace your delicate neck. I’ve got a hankering to drop to my knees and rip open your dress and. . .”

I could go on, but let’s stop there. Now I’m not trying to be arrogant (in fact, I’m exerting no effort at all) but if I wanted to, in about three or four days of intense, frenzied, all-consumingly obsessive work I could expand that little gem of an idea into a 900-page blockbuster epic saga packed with life, love, romance and power, full of undeniable lust, unimaginable wealth, seismic sex and Pi to 7,000 decimal places. Hardback sales would top eight figures. The movie rights alone would put me and all the future generations of my extended family on Easy Street for good. But hey, I don’t feel like it right now. I’ve got ideas like that to burn. Also, I’m supposed to be telling you what it takes to be a writer. So here goes:

First, you have to be born. A writer, I mean. Even in your earliest childhood you have to be aware of that uncertain, obscure, indescribable, ineffable, intangible, impalpable, ungraspable, unknowable nameless something that will enable you later in life to write a succinct, accurate description of any thing or concept whatsoever. For instance, sitting here right now, I could give you a complete summing up of all of human spiritual and philosophical thought for the last 17 centuries in just three words. But I won’t. For writing is more than that. Writing is also ideas.

People never send me letters, but I’m sure they would if it occurred to them, to ask: Where do you get your ideas? And the answer is: I have no idea. Let me illustrate. Right now I am sitting here in front of my old, broken-down, beat-up, dented-in, rusted-out, rotted-through manual typewriter, made in 1897, with the keys in alphabetical order. The “B” and the “U” only work in upper case and the comma key doesn’t work at all. It weighs 92 pounds, the ribbon is always jammed and it smells like a wet sheepdog, but I just love it. I wouldn’t give it up for any fancy high-tech word processor in the whole world. Mainly because all I ever do with the old heap is sit in front of it. For writing, I have a Powerpunch 2000 MegaMag LXPC-3 with 17,000 gigabytes of RAM and a hard disk that can store two copies of all the written works published since the Rosetta Stone. I have a modem that can contact the Space Shuttle and a laser printer that also does my taxes. The mouse alone costs more than a new Audi.

Now, where was I? Oh yes: to be a successful writer you need to cultivate the ability to pick a topic and stick to it. Was that it? No — I’ve got it now: ideas. Let me explain the genesis of ideas in such a way that maybe even you will be able to understand it (don’t thank me — this is my profession):

To have an idea you have to know how to have an idea. And to know how to have an idea you have to have some idea of how the idea-having mechanism works. Nobody has any idea how this happens, not even the world’s top brain surgeons, so I suggest you just bag it and forget about ever being able to write your way out of a broken condom. But hey, you can keep on reading this particular article anyway.

So to continue, to be a good writer you have to develop an ear for detail, an eye for dialogue, and a very good memory so you don’t get things mixed up. Take me, for instance: I remember the day I sold my first story. I recall it as if it were yesterday, even though it happened earlier this month. I was sitting on the porch of the disused fishmeal plant on the coast of Alaska where I had been living for nine years in total isolation, with no heat, surviving on leaves, berries and roadkills, drinking melted snow, sleeping on a pile of rags that I glued onto my skin in the daytime for clothes and sending out short stories at the rate of about one every three hours. All of them came back with rejection notices, until one day when I was sitting on the porch, like I said earlier, I think, and up to the house came a man from the sheriff’s office with an eviction notice, followed by two men from the telephone and power companies to cut off my phone and electricity, a team from the water company to shut off the water and the gas, and a small army of finance company representatives with orders to repossess my car, my television, VCR, stereo, bicycle, rowing machine, all my furniture, my glasses, the dog and the toilet, when just then the mailman came up and handed me a letter.

I was so used to receiving big brown packages containing my returned manuscripts, I was shocked when he reached in his bag and pulled out a slim envelope addressed to me. Imagine my surprise when I opened that letter and read that the state welfare agency was cutting off my benefits and sending someone out to take my children and give them to wolves so they could be raised in a more salubrious environment. Now that I think about it, I remember that I actually sold my first story a little while later, to a cropdusters’ inflight magazine, and even then it only paid $15, so I lost all my stuff anyway.

But that’s the life of a writer. As you’ve no doubt guessed, a successful writer leads a life that is remarkably different from yours. You probably get up in the morning and go to work, come home at night and go to sleep, you poor scum. Well, it’s not that kind of humdrum daily routine for us professional writers, I can tell you. I, like so many innately creative people, prefer to work at night, so I tend to stay up later and later, go to bed later and later, and get up later and later. And that means that the next day I stay up even later, and then go to bed later, get up later, and so on. You follow me? I could go over that part again if you want. So anyway, I started staying up later and later until I was staying up all night. Then I started staying up all night and part of the morning. Then I was staying up all night and most of the morning, then all night and most of the day. In fact, these days I stay up so late that I don’t even go to bed until about 10:00 p.m. the next day. Then I sleep until 6:00 a.m. and get up and work during the day, only for me it’s the previous night.

But that’s just one of the many things that makes life so very, very different for the writer. Another thing is that, now that my name is a household word, I get a constant stream of invitations to a never-ending round of receptions, parties and dinners. Naturally, I am disdainful of any such tiresome, superficial social functions, and I never ever accept these invitations because I know that a person of my stature would be certain to have a simply dreadful time. Why, just two days ago I was at a cocktail party for the second anniversary of the opening of a local all-weather radio station, when a woman came up to me and said, “I’m so glad you could come. Let me take your coat.” Can you believe it? No fatuous questions about my work. No confusing me with some other famous (but, let’s face it, lesser) author. No self-effacing but downright cretinous admission that she always wanted to be a writer too. Probably what she wanted to say was, “I love your books. I’ve read all of them three times. In hardback. You’re the greatest voice of your generation. Possibly of the century. What the hell, the millennium. Oh, and I always wanted to be writer too, but of course I can’t.”

Well, in reply, I said — I mean I would have said if she had in fact said what she didn’t in fact say, but would have if she had in fact said it — “Allow me, dear woman, to quote the famous literary critic and Shakespeare scholar Oliver Wendell Holmes, who once said: ‘Tough bounce, bubeleh — where’s the booze?'”