* Welcome to The Big Jewel, where we are usually willing to take a commonplace saying and follow it to its logical but insane conclusion. This week our guide is John Merriman, who is apparently in the employ of the U.S. Apple Association.

Diary Of A Person Keeping The Doctor Away With Apples

By: John Merriman


Dr. Bernstein stopped by the house around noon today, which was kind of odd since he normally only sees patients at his office. I also don’t remember saying he could just randomly show up at my house unannounced. Anyway, I told him I was going to eat an apple for dessert — I’ve been on a health kick lately — at which point he smiled, apologized, and left.



Dr. Bernstein came back, this time as I was getting ready for work. When I opened the door, his eyes were bloodshot, his face pale, and he appeared to be sweating. He was having trouble forming complete sentences. I ran to the kitchen, grabbed a Red Delicious, and took a bite right in front of him. He kept staring at me, so I kept eating. When I nearly got down to the core, he abruptly walked away, but not without stealing several wild-eyes glances back at me.



Slept for about two hours last night because I kept having nightmares involving Dr. Bernstein strangling me with a stethoscope. Called in sick and spent the whole day driving to every grocery store and farmer’s market in town just buying bushels of apples. Honeycrisp, Gala, Fuji — you name it, I bought it. When I came back, I spotted a shirtless Bernstein lurking around my front yard, so I threw a Granny Smith at him. He didn’t put up much of a fight and ran away screaming.



This morning, as a precautionary measure, I started eating an apple every five minutes. No sign of the doctor today so far, but I know he’s watching me, waiting for me to slip up somehow. If he shows up again I may have to start eating the cores, seeds and all. I have no idea if that’ll even work. All I know is, I once had a life, and now that life has been replaced by whatever you call being too scared to leave your own house while contemplating eating apple cores. I might be going completely, utterly insane.



So apparently all that apple-a-day stuff is a complete load of bull. Now fully nude and foaming at the mouth, Bernstein woke me up at three in the morning trying to break in through the back door. Instead of eating more godforsaken apples, I finally did what a normal person would’ve done days ago and called the police. They arrested him on the spot. Now I have a ridiculous amount of apples in the house for no reason at all. Also, I keep hearing voices coming from their direction, but that’s silly because everyone knows apples can’t talk. I’ve been repeating that to myself while I rock back and forth in a fetal position on the floor, and so far that seems to be working.



Guess who paid me a visit today by trying to climb down the chimney? Hint: it wasn’t Santa, and bail was involved. Well, this time I was ready. I went outside, taunted him into coming out of the chimney and off the roof, and when he was close enough, I knocked him unconscious by throwing an entire case of Mountain Dew at his head. No apples involved at all! Now he’s tied to a chair in my basement. Oh, and I was wrong about the apples — apparently they can channel their thoughts directly into my brain! I hear their voices constantly now, and I have to find a way to get rid of them all. So many voices. So many crisp and juicy voices.



Just came up with a new expression today: “A doctor a day keeps the apples away.” Can’t wait to see if it works!


* Welcome to The Big Jewel, where you haven't lived until you've lived with an amateur installation artist. If you're not sure how to do that, well, our good friend John Merriman has some pointers.

Living With An Amateur Installation Artist

By: John Merriman

Hey, you’re back! Never thought two weeks in Bermuda could go by so fast, right? You and Liz must’ve had a fantastic time. I meant to tell you I wanted to make a few changes to our apartment while you were away, but you had already left by then. It was kind of a last-minute thing, so I’m sorry.

Probably the first thing you noticed is that the door to our apartment is gone. Don’t worry, it didn’t get stolen. I just took it off and put it somewhere else. We’ll get to that.

If you turn on the lights… That’s right, the light switch isn’t where it used to be. See that barbed wire hanging from the ceiling, the one with the chunks of raw meat stuck to it? You either grab a meat chunk, or put these metal mesh gloves on so you don’t lacerate your hands, and then pull the wire down. There you go. Yes, the light will always be red and flashing.

So here’s the kitchen — and the living room, too, since I knocked that partition down. We never really liked it there anyway — well, at least I know I didn’t. Oh, and see that pile of sawdust in the corner, surrounded by razors and cow brains? That’s what happened to the door. And your desk and bookcase too. No, your books are ground up in a different pile of razors and cow brains.

Actually, the “horrendous racket” you mentioned earlier is coming from right inside our bathroom! It’s just a recording of an electric guitar being scraped against sharp metal objects mixed with an aural wash of shrieking squirrels. Yes, the neighbors have complained to the landlord about how loud it is, but he’ll have other things on his mind soon. For example, I won’t be able to cover my half of the rent for the foreseeable future — had to pay for all this remodeling somehow! You won’t mind spotting me a couple grand, right?

Now, don’t freak out or anything, but this other change may be a little on the inconvenient side! I was trying to think of where to put a giant screen to project footage of livestock being gutted and maimed, and I think you’ll agree that no place is better suited for this than your bedroom.

Unfortunately, giant screens and projectors are prohibitively expensive for me, so I decided that a cheaper alternative would be to get real livestock and drizzle red paint on them. I know what you’re thinking, but I’m pretty sure they aren’t bothered by the paint. They just keep doing their usual animal things. The goats jump on your bed sometimes, but only very early in the morning. The cow usually just stays put. That reminds me, I need to run to the store and buy some more cow feed.

Fresh air? Sure, why not? You were already throwing up in the kitchen, so circulating some oxygen is probably a good idea. Although I had to board up all the windows to set the right mood in here, so you might want to try the apartment downstairs. When you’re depicting modern technology’s violent abuse of animals through an interior space, cheery daylight doesn’t make much sense.

Well, once the art schools I’m applying to see pictures of this in my portfolio, I’ll be out of here in no time. And all the alterations I’ve made should really help narrow down prospective apartment mates for you after I’m gone. But thanks for taking this so well — I knew you’d understand. I don’t know what my friends were thinking when they said an avant-garde artist and a tax accountant couldn’t live in the same apartment without wanting to kill each other!

* Welcome to The Big Jewel, where we believe that no life-or-death situation is so dire that resorting to cannibalism cannot help. Apparently John Merriman agrees.

A Candy Store Owner Addresses A Lifeboat

By: John Merriman

Folks, we’ve been stranded on this lifeboat with no food and little water for a good week now, and it’s come to my attention that some of you doubt my qualifications as self-appointed leader. Okay, all of you do. Well, let me just say that considering I own and manage a store that sells candy, I refuse to accept your vote of no confidence.

You see, the candy business is extremely cutthroat. It’s a take-no-prisoners, eat-or-be-eaten industry that hardens you into a sturdy block of street-smart chocolate, so to speak, and fully prepares you for any situation, no matter how delicious.

Excuse me, I meant to say vicious. As vicious as the hungry school of sharks I capably led us away from yesterday, even though we had to sacrifice Susan’s left arm, right leg, and most of her head to do so. I still maintain she was basically dead, despite her protests to the contrary. But rest assured, your well-being has been and will be my first priority, second only to eating you.

What? No, I said “greeting” you! As in getting to know you! Yes, I know that doesn’t make much sense, but we’re stranded in the middle of the Pacific Ocean. People in this situation will start saying crazy things.

In fact, Robert said something pretty nonsensical yesterday. When he suddenly turned into a giant purple M&M, I realized I was hallucinating because they don’t make M&Ms in that color. But I’m sure that giant, correctly colored M&Ms do exist, because that would be so amazingly good to eat right now. Robert disagrees with me, but I think he’s been drinking too much seawater. Come on, Robert! Get real.

Anyway, back to my leadership ability. I once had to decide whether to primarily restock my store with bunny Peeps or just regular Peeps, and in so doing — okay, Robert, before I continue, I have to ask, are you sure you’re not a giant M&M? Because I’m looking at your thin candy shell right now and — fine, fine, forget it! As much as I love M&Ms, they’re not my favorite candy anyway. That would be Snickers, a giant bar of which has suddenly appeared and replaced Liz.

Oh, that is you, Liz. I apologize. Yes, you’re right — how could you be a giant talking Snickers bar? I don’t remember any on the cruise ship, so I don’t see how one could have gotten on this lifeboat. See, I can reason! Despite the severe malnutrition ravaging my body, my cognitive functions are still working perfectly. Let me at least press hard onto your scrumptious milk chocolate surface. If no gooey caramel comes out, then I’ll know you’re telling the truth.

Paul, since when did your arms become giant Twizzlers? Please, stop tempting me by wrapping them around my hands! I won’t hurt Liz, I promise. But I will lick your juicy Twizzler-arms. And Mike, if you could stop trying to pin me down and punch me in the face, that’d be great. I guarantee you’ll be the world’s worst-tasting Milk Dud if you have my blood all over you.

All right, look — think whatever you want about my ability to lead. But can I help it if you’ve all turned into enormous pieces of mouthwatering candy? And also that we’re stranded in a vast ocean of high fructose corn syrup? Don’t you see? Everything is candy now. The whole world has become my store to run, beginning with this lifeboat! And you sweets will now do what I say! Michelle, I command you to get rid of that silly plastic wrapping and expose your Jolly Rancher body for me to suck on indefinitely! Do it or I’ll use this signal mirror to redirect the sun’s rays and melt all of you! Do you hear me?! MELT YOU ALL!!!


* Welcome to The Big Jewel, your source for twisted career advice. This week we bring you the latest from our good friend John Merriman, who has an odd idea of what it means to be a Good Samaritan.

The Good Samaritan

By: John Merriman

You know what sucks? Looking for work as a recent college grad. Despite trying every job search trick in the book, all I’ve been hearing is, “We need someone with more experience,” followed by laughter. Yes, laughter. Because, you know, being unemployed is freaking hilarious.

Well, now it’s my turn to laugh. Forget useless internships. Forget meaningless part-time jobs. I’ve found a surefire way to prove to employers that I’ve got what it takes to excel at the workplace. Nothing will make me look like serious entry-level material more than forcibly involving myself in tragic emergency situations.

I humbly admit this flash of brilliance came to me by complete chance. A few weeks ago, a rest home near my parents’ house caught fire. Peering from the basement that has become my job-searching lair, I could see that the firefighters outside were growing weary from battling the raging inferno. They were in need of someone to keep their spirits up, and not a single bystander was coming to their aid.

As they say at career seminars, I saw a need and I chose to fill it. I rushed outside and immediately began providing the firefighters with a lively assortment of cheers, hollers, and whoops. Perhaps due to some misunderstanding, they paid no attention to me, so I naturally stepped up my game and started slapping their backs repeatedly, often shouting things like ”Come on team, let’s do this!” right in their faces.

Later that night, after my parents released me from police custody, I realized I had gained an impressive experience that would knock the socks straight off my next job interviewer. I gave those tired, despairing firefighters the motivation they needed to bring their all to the task at hand. In fact, I learned the next day that the fire had been quelled with a relatively low number of fatalities. The valuable role I played was a perfect example of the quick thinking, initiative, and capacity to produce results in others that drive employers wild.

Now I’m constantly on the lookout for the next tragedy that will lift my resume straight to the top of the pile. Just yesterday, when screaming EMS personnel roughly shoved me aside as I tried to take the pulse of a man pinned underneath his crumpled motorcycle, I was reminded of the heated shouting matches that will surely erupt between senior vice presidents at my first job. The crucial responsibility of defusing their arguments will inevitably fall upon my young, responsible shoulders.

Ask yourself: who would be more prepared to resolve this kind of conflict — the college grad whose most traumatic life experience was accidentally puking on his roommate’s laundry, or me, a guy who has had to contend with more enraged emergency technicians threatening murder than seems possible in a single lifetime, let alone since graduation?

Some might say that because I completely lack any kind of training necessary to assist in emergency situations, I should just step aside and let the professionals do their jobs. But is that really the attitude that my future boss would want me to have? Should I fail to take on new challenges because ”it’s not what I was hired to do” or ”it’s not my responsibility” or ”they don’t pay me enough”? It seems to me that the people saying these things won’t get very far in their careers.

If my college education has taught me anything at all, it’s that the skills needed to succeed at any job are not learned in the classroom. They are learned in everyday life or in vocational school. Mentioning how I’ve taken a leadership role in random emergency situations will absolutely guarantee success at my next job interview. Assuming, of course, that I will be granted one.

As it happens, I’m rubbernecking at a disastrous pileup on the highway right now and see a perfect resume-building opportunity. Please excuse me as I prepare to inspire a rescue worker to save this injured motorist by throwing pieces of his car at his mostly burned head. I think I can work in some strong examples of persuasive management skills before the police arrive.

* Welcome to The Big Jewel, where we take warning labels seriously, just as we take drugs seriously. We try to read the warning labels before we take the drugs, but it doesn't always work out that way, as first-time contributor John Merriman knows all too well.

Warning Labels, With Attitude

By: John Merriman


Warning: these pills may cause drowsiness, so don’t take them before driving or operating heavy machinery. But do guzzle them like Skittles.

Just kidding! These pills will kill you if you do that. So take them exactly as your doctor recommended. But they do taste like Skittles. That part is true.

Cell Phone

Talking too much on this cell phone will give you an enormous, life-threatening tumor! Wait, has that been proven yet? And more importantly, does it matter? Because the horrified look on your face when you read that was absolutely priceless.


Warning! Do not use if torn. Of course, there’s still going to be some risk of STDs and stuff like that, but you probably have ten of those already, so what do you care? Go nuts.

Carbonated Beverage

Hey! Watch where you point this thing! Don’t you know what “contents under pressure” means?

On second thought, it would be pretty cool to see the bottle cap fly off and hit you right in the face. Film it and post it on YouTube. Make sure you put in a shot of me, though. Showing the label beforehand will give the clip proper context. Of course, that’s assuming you know what “proper context” means.

MP3 player

I seriously doubt that the risk of hearing damage from using this device is something you’d fully appreciate. But you should still know that if you continue listening to that unbearable Top 40 garbage you think is music, your brain will either melt or explode. Really.

Hot Beverage

Did you know that, if you spill boiling hot coffee on yourself, you’ll get burned? No? Well, did you also know that you’re a complete tool? Not that either? Well, now you know.

Rubber Cement

Oh, please. Don’t sniff this. And I’m not saying that out of some misplaced concern for your safety. If you really want to get high, at least smoke pot or something. But inhaling rubber cement fumes? That’s just pathetic, even for clueless losers like you. What’s next, guzzling liquid detergent?


Wow, you’re even dumber than I thought. You really need everything explained to you. Do you seriously want to drink this stuff? Or is it just for the experience of drinking from a large, heavy plastic container? That sounds like something idiotic enough to fascinate you.

Drain Cleaner

Geez, you again? What are you doing, going through your house and reading all the warning labels on everything you own? Don’t you have something better to do? Wait, you know what? Don’t answer that. Just drink the drain cleaner. I can’t even pretend to care anymore.


Are you kidding me? What are you, an infant? Pencils aren’t even supposed to have warning labels. What do you want me to say? “Under no circumstances should you use this pencil to slowly bore a hole in your eye”? Does that do something for you, you sick freak?


Okay, seriously. Stop. Just stop. There is absolutely nothing about this product that can harm you. In fact, I dare you to try injuring yourself with this. I want to see it happen so that from now on, every dishtowel in America will have a label that reads, “Do not roll up, stick down your throat, and try to suffocate yourself. You may die.” I really want to see that happen. You better do it. I’m warning you.