Wednesday, May 22, 2024

Ditched Day

Law Enforcement Officer: Good morning, Rocklin Police Department.

Me: Good morning. I would like to report my child missing.

Law Enforcement Officer: OK, let me get some information from you. When was the last time you saw them?

Me: He drove off about an hour ago.

LEO: OK, was he alone?

Me: Yes.

LEO: OK, do you know where he was going?

Me: Yes, Folsom Lake.

LEO: OK, what is the reason you believe he’s missing? Do you think he didn’t make it to the lake?

Me: Oh, no, he made it. I can see him on Life360. He’s there now.

LEO: Um… so you know where he is?

Me: Yes. The Granite Bay beach. At the end of Douglas Boulevard.

LEO: OK. I don’t think I understand. If you know where he is, then he’s not missing.

Me: Well, he’s missing from school. He’s a senior and it’s “senior ditch day” and he’s supposed to be in class, but he’s having fun at the lake instead.

LEO: OK, well, sir, we don’t handle incidents of truancy unless we are asked to intervene by the school, so there’s not much we can do here.


LEO: Sir?

Me: I’d like to report a large party, where I suspect there might be some underage drinking.

LEO: Would this party be at the Granite Bay beach?

Me: Yes, can you dispatch officers to break it up, please?

LEO: Sir, if your son is skipping school without your consent, there is not much we’re able to do about it.

Me: Oh, we told him it was OK. He’s a good kid and he has good grades, so we said it was his choice if he wanted to participate in the ditch day.


Me: So, can you guys get over there and break up the party?

LEO: I’m confused. You OK’d him to go, but you don’t want him there?

Me: I’ve been in meetings all morning.

LEO: With the school?

Me: No, with work. You know, Zoom calls. Meetings. Work.


Me: Right! It’s like, wait a second. What’s going on here?

LEO: You lost me.

Me: Well, why do I have to be stuck here working while he’s at the lake when he’s supposed to be at school?

LEO: Um, sir, are you saying that it’s not fair?

Me: Exactly!

LEO: Sir, there is nothing we can do about this. Besides, he’s in the town of Granite Bay. We don’t even have jurisdiction there.


LEO: Sir?

Me: I’d like to report a stolen car.

LEO: Excuse me?

Me: Yeah, it was stolen from my house here in Rocklin, so you guys can handle that, right?

LEO: Are we talking about your son’s car, sir?

Me: Yes, exactly.

LEO: You told me he drove it to Folsom Lake and is currently there.

Me: Well, technically, I didn’t actually see him drive away in it. Like I said, I’ve been stuck in my office all morning.

LEO: Sir, …

Me: All I really know is that his phone is at Folsom Lake and his car is missing from the driveway. I think we have reasonable suspicion to believe foul play might be a factor. Can you guys dispatch some officers? I’m thinking…

LEO: Let me guess. We should start our search at the Granite Bay beach.

Me: Exactly!

LEO: Sir, I’m going to hang up now.

Me: Aw, c’mon, man! This is so uncool. Fine.

LEO: You have a good…

Me: Oh, wait! One more thing.

LEO: What is it?

Me: Do you have the number for the Granite Bay police?


Me: Hello?



See you soon,



Copyright © 2024 Marc Schmatjen


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Wednesday, May 15, 2024

You Crazy Bunch of Mothers

If the cops didn’t get called on your Mother’s Day brunch, then you might be hanging around with the wrong mothers.

At least, that’s what I’m told.

I went to a perfectly normal Mother’s Day brunch on Sunday. We had fresh fruit and quiche. I was up in Oregon, visiting my parents and my oldest sister, and our brunch was lovely. I then got on a plane to come home to what I thought was going to be a Mother’s Day tri-tip dinner, cooked by my sons. I came home to something a little different than that.

You see, our good friends down the street hosted a neighborhood potluck Mother’s Day brunch on Sunday morning, and I was thankful for that. I was going to be out of town for the morning, so I was happy my wife and boys would be down having a nice time at our friends’ house. The plan was for them to go enjoy the brunch, then I would get back into town and we’d have dinner all together.

I kinda got the impression the plan was changing when I got to the airport in Portland and started texting my wife and boys about what time I would be arriving. No one texted me back. I had sent a long string of unanswered texts by the time I was in my seat being told to turn off my mobile device or switch it to airplane mode.

I had a text from my wife waiting for me when I landed at 6:00 pm, saying that we were probably going to hold off on cooking the tri-tip for tonight.

I arrived home to an empty house and the sounds of laughter and the pop-pop-pop of street pickleball coming from the other end of our little road. I threw my suitcase in the house and strolled down to what turned out to be one of the most epic Mother’s Day brunches ever held.

It had started at 9:00 am, and was still going STRONG at 7:00 pm. There was a live garage band – courtesy of two slightly intoxicated musical dads with acoustic guitars – along with a pool party, a hot tub party, and a cornhole tournament in progress in the back yard, and a pickleball game in the street in front of the house where the moms playing were required to do shots whenever the total score became evenly divisible by five. (It was a loose rule). A large cheering section in lawn chairs had gathered, and I’m pretty sure some of them had wandered in from other neighborhoods.

I’m not sure what kind of traditional brunch food was served in the morning, but they had been through all of that, then onto lunch, and by the time I showed up the party was knee-deep in take-out hot wings and delivery pizzas. My wife was one of the lawn chair spectators, waiting her turn for another pickleball match, and when she saw me she gleefully told me the cops had been called on them.

Our friends’ house sits at the end of our street, between two tee’s of adjoining streets, so it happens that very few cars ever actually drive past the front of their house. You are either turning off our street before you get there, or you would have come around from the other way if you needed to be on the street at the end of ours.

This low-traffic phenomenon makes it a near-perfect spot for a street pickleball court. When you bring the net out, the court sits lengthwise with the road, up against their sidewalk, so there is a full car-width lane to get past it on the other side if you happen to need to drive past their house. Someone – and no one knows if it was a neighbor, a pedestrian, a motorist, or a member of a tennis league – called the police to complain about the “illegally closed off road,” or the “crazy out of control street party,” or something. No one was really sure, including the cop.

Apparently, the cop pulled up, took one look at what was going on, and just shook his head in the “I can’t believe some idiot wasted my time and the taxpayers’ money to have me respond to a Mother’s Day brunch” kinda way. Before he left, he wished all the ladies a Happy Mother’s Day and dutifully reminded all the pickleballers of the obvious, “try not to get hit by any cars.”

Anyway, the music continued, the pool party raged on, and when the sun went down, the floodlights came out to make sure darkness wouldn’t slow down the pickleball tournament, or the mom’s mid-game shots.

My wife, who isn’t as young as she used to be, tapped out at about 9:30 pm, with over twelve hours of Mother’s Day brunch under her belt. I’m a full five months younger than her, so I was able to make it another fifteen minutes or so before I had to pack it in and head for home.

Anyway, happy belated Mother’s Day to all you wonderful ladies out there doing the hard work! And hey, if you don’t have Mother’s Day plans for next year, I’d highly recommend coming by our street. The brunches are legendary.

In fact, it’s possible that Sunday’s brunch is still going on. I left before it broke up, and I haven’t gone back down to check.

It wouldn’t surprise me.

See you soon,



Copyright © 2024 Marc Schmatjen


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Wednesday, May 8, 2024

Cinco de Ulysses Patrick’s Day - Repost

Sunday was Cinco de Mayo, an American celebration of non-American origins, much like St. Patrick’s Day, and Christmas for that matter. Pretty much all of our holidays are imported, now that I think about it, except the Fourth of July and obviously, Talk Like a Pirate Day. And if you have enough rum and fireworks, those two can really start to blend together… Anyway, we got “lucky” this year with the Cinco de Mayo “holiday” landing on a Sunday, which is certainly better than a Tuesday, but still not ideal.

That’s because Cinco de Mayo is the St. Patrick’s Day of May. Both are on a fixed calendar date, which makes no sense, and we don’t get work off for either of them, which makes even less sense. Both have some amount of green added to the beer, and no one from the holidays’ countries of origin celebrates them. Here in the good ol’ USA, however, we embrace them like they were the Kentucky Derby or New Years. And much like New Years, no one knows what we’re celebrating or why. But we’re all Irish for one day in March, and we’re all Mexican for uno dia en Mayo.

The overwhelming problem is that the only people who get to celebrate these two “holidays” with any regularity are students. Specifically, college kids and elementary schoolers. The college kids use the days as excuses to party, and the elementary schools use them as excuses to make leprechaun traps, Mexican flags, and most importantly, eat cookies.

Meanwhile, we adults have to wait until March 17th or May 5th land on a Saturday before we get to party anymore, and that only happens once every 365 years, if my math is correct. Why should the students get to have all the fun? Why shouldn’t the parents get to participate?

We used to have fun on St. Patrick’s Day. We used to drink green beer and actively look for other college kids of the opposite sex who weren’t wearing green so we could pinch them, as is the standard custom.

We used to have fun on Cinco de Mayo. We used to drink Corona with lime and eat discounted tacos by the truckload while wearing giant sombreros, and actively look for other college kids of the opposite sex who weren’t wearing green so we could pinch them, as is the standard custom.

Did we know why we did any of this? Of course not. Did we care that we didn’t know? Of course not. We cared about doing our part to uphold centuries of fake traditions. We cared about beer with the appropriate green holiday additive. We cared about pinching cute members of the opposite sex. We cared.

I’m tired of being left out. I’m tired of not caring. I want to care again. We should get to party, too. It’s only right, since we’re the ones paying for all of this anyway. Why shouldn’t we get these days off work?

Why? I’ll tell you why. Probably because someone still needs to pay for all this, that’s why. But are we going to let that stop us? Heck no! There are plenty of other days during the year we can work. Although, we do already have a lot of holidays…

OK, let’s compromise. We could combine St. Patrick’s Day and Cinco de Mayo into one holiday to minimize the work stoppage but still have some fun. What do you say?

I knew you’d be on board!

Ladies and gentlemen, I officially propose a new national holiday.

We will compromise on the month and have the new holiday in April, since it has always been a travesty that we don’t get April 27th off for President Ulysses S. Grant’s birthday either. We will anchor it around that date but it will need to float, of course, to always fall on a Friday so this party is a three-day weekend. It’s only fitting to include Grant, since he really should be the patron saint of these two holidays anyway. You may not know this, but in addition to being a war hero and a Roman god, Ulysses was a prolific inventor and is actually responsible for creating, among many other things, the taco, green beer, the piñata, and Ireland.

We shall call the new holiday either Dia de St. Mayo Patrick de Grant, or Cinco de Ulysses Patrick’s Day. We can vote on that later.

As far as logistics go, we will simply combine all the current fake holiday traditions into one big three-day weekend of awesome.

The holiday uniforms can remain mostly undefined, but should include the required holiday colors; green, white and red, with an obvious emphasis on green and large sombreros.

Mariachi bands will need to shift their focus a little and include bagpipes and plaid. Irish heel-clicking salsa dancing with be a natural follower to the new groove.

The main holiday beverage will obviously be green Corona with yellow lemon wedges instead of limes to signify lucky gold. Cuervo gold tequila will remain unchanged, since it satisfies both holiday motifs. As an alternative to Mexican tequila, Irish mojitos will be made out of crushed clover and Jameson Irish Whiskey.

Red, white, and green tortilla chips will be served with cabbage salsa, and children across the land will spend the new holiday smacking leprechaun-shaped piñatas filled with gold coin chocolates and corned beef taquitos.

We can work out the rest of the details later. I’m not really sure who’s in charge of new holiday creation over in D.C., so if one of you could forward this on to them, that’d be great.

I’m going to get back to my green Corona.

See you soon,



Copyright © 2024 Marc Schmatjen


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Wednesday, May 1, 2024

Sports Can Be Challenging

I have the honor and the privilege of getting to be the stadium announcer for my sons’ high school lacrosse teams. It’s a lot of fun, and I get the best seat in the house up in the press box, but it also comes with some challenges.

The first challenge comes from my wife, who has never been a stadium announcer and therefore doesn’t believe that I need to be at the field an hour before the first game starts. I think her objection is that I should still be working and making money, but I think we can all agree, that’s not as fun as being at the field.

Pronunciations are one of my biggest challenges, which makes sense based on our last name. I don’t come across too many atrocities like “Schmatjen” on other teams, but every squad has its tough names, and if that kid scores a goal or does something cool, I want Pronav Fananaziria or Stephan Koch to hear their name pronounced correctly.

(That’s one of the things I’m doing an hour before the game starts, and it is a tad dismaying how many coaches don’t know how to pronounce their own players’ last names. If you coach, please be better than that!)

Another challenge arises with the music. I get to be in charge of what music gets played, which is like a dream come true, because I think I was really supposed to be a radio DJ, but accidentally ended up in engineering somehow. Issues arise in two main areas with the music.

First, I have to deal with some of the players who try to have an opinion about the music. I tell them two things: A) Your music is about 95% terrible, and B) the music I play is for the people in the stands who are paying for all of this. You just concentrate on not sucking out there on the field, OK?

The second issue I have with the music is finding songs that aren’t about sex, drugs, and/or have more than one cuss word that I can bleep out with my cool music software. Now don’t get me wrong, I like a lot of the songs I’d never play at a lacrosse game, but I am of the opinion that if an adult is playing music at a school event, that music should be clean. It is surprising and worrisome, when we travel to other schools, how many adults don’t subscribe to that same opinion.

Multi-tasking is one of my biggest challenges, because I am in charge of the scoreboard, the game clock, the music, and announcing who did what. That can present problems, because I am a man and therefore my brain is only capable of doing one thing at a time.

I have found that coaches and refs have a low tolerance for the game clock not starting and stopping correctly on each and every whistle. They also frown upon Taylor Swift continuing to sing “Shake it Off” after the game has restarted, which is a no-no.

I’ve also found parents tend to have an almost zero tolerance level of their son’s goal not being recorded on the big scoreboard within milliseconds after it has occurred.

Speaking of parents in the stands – they account for my biggest challenge of all. Specifically, the problem involving me not being able to move the press box. It’s a three-room building, bolted down to the top of the stadium. I can’t make it budge.

In lacrosse, we all sit on the same side of the field, in what is known as the “home side” by all the adorable football parents who can’t fathom having to ever be near a parent from the opposing team. The idea, which is a smart one, is to keep the players on the opposite side of the field from their parents. That way, the players will get directions from their coaches who understand the game, instead of from their parents, who do not.

Roughly 85% of youth lacrosse parents don’t agree with the coaches’ decisions or the refs’ calls, but to be fair, those parents don’t understand the rules of lacrosse. That’s because it’s a fast and confusing sport. One would hope that they would recognize their lack of understanding and either learn more or be quiet, but that doesn’t seem to happen very often.

Now, if you are in the stands and an obnoxious parent happens to sit down next to you, you are able to move away from them. I don’t have that option up in the box. And, to my great dismay, directly under my open press box window seems to be the preferred spot for obnoxious parents. I don’t know why. I’m just lucky, I guess.

I hear all the usual things you’re expect, like aggressively disagreeing with blatantly correct penalty calls, and instructions to players that make no sense in any sport, let alone lacrosse. But last night, I heard something new.

We had our first game of the section championship rounds last night, and two parents from the opposing team were sitting in the coveted obnoxious zone under my window. Our lacrosse games are twelve-minute quarters, and I’m not lying when I tell you that the mom never once stopped yelling something toward the field for the full forty-eight minutes of regulation, not even counting time outs. She got full credit for stamina.

She hit all the usual highlights, but at one point in the second quarter she brought the awesome. Apparently fresh out of non-helpful technical directions or call disagreements, she briefly switched to nutrition and sports med.

From the top of the stands, in the middle of the action, seventy-five yards away from the players’ sideline on the other side of the field, she busted out, “Hydrate! You guys need to hydrate! Come on! Drink some water!”

I’m not making that up.

Some nights are more entertaining than others.

See you soon,



Copyright © 2024 Marc Schmatjen


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Wednesday, April 24, 2024

A Light at the End of the Carpool, Part Three – The Finale

It was at the beginning of this school year, on September 20, 2023, that I posted a column entitled “Celebration Injury.” I had celebrated too early, and my feelings were hurt. Along with my gas budget and my will to live.

Seventeen months prior to that, I thought I was a free man. In a column in April of 2022, I was giddy with anticipation. Son Number Two was getting his license the next week and I was beside myself with joy because I was about to be liberated forever from the shackles and chains of carpool.

Damn the insane insurance costs, it was going to be worth it. I had been driving kids to and from school in one carpool or another for roughly two hundred years, and it had lost its luster fairly early on.

How much would it cost to add a second teenage boy to our insurance policy? I didn’t care, because money didn’t matter when balanced against carpool. I’ve never been freed from a long imprisonment in a POW camp, but I would imagine it’s a very similar feeling to being freed from carpool.

Well, it turned out that I had done the school day arithmetic, but not the school schedule calculus. I thought, foolishly, that since Number Two the senior and Number Three the sophomore would be at the same school playing the same sport, my carpool days were behind me.

I did not account for the fact that seniors take virtually no classes, and Number Two would be leaving school literally two and a half hours before his younger brother. By the time I needed him to drive his brother home, he’d already been home, eaten two meals, watched a movie, and was at the gym.

That left me and the other neighborhood parents still caged in the carpool POW camp, needing to pick up the sophomores. Damn you, schedule calculus! The one thin silver lining in my carpool cloud of despair was that we only had to pick them up from school. Son Number Two still takes them in the morning. But anyone who has ever done carpool knows that is small consolation. Pickup is waaaay worse than drop off.

So, I had to wait another seven months before I would be freed and get to celebrate for real. Well, my friends, today is the day! This afternoon is my last scheduled carpool pickup ever. Son Number Three goes for his behind-the-wheel test on Friday morning.

Now, granted, he still has to pass the test to get his license, but I’m confident. He’s the most cautious driver of the three so far, and he’s good. He should be just fine.

If you still think I might be counting my chickens before they hatch, think again. Nothing can derail this celebration now. You can Marc my words, if he doesn’t pass his driver’s test, he’ll be walking home from school for the rest of the year, starting this Friday afternoon.

Again, it's hard for me to express the joy I feel when I think of never driving carpool again, but to try to put it into monetary terms, it will be totally worth the cost of whatever bill is coming my way on Friday morning when I add a third teenage boy to our insurance plan.

See you soon,



Copyright © 2024 Marc Schmatjen


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Wednesday, April 17, 2024

The Windshield Factor

My wife thinks I run my windshield wipers too slow when it rains. She always asks, in her adorable, exasperated-with-me tone, “How can you see anything!?” When I explain that I’m not looking at the windshield, I’m looking through it at the road, she just throws up her hands and makes her adorable, exasperated noises. As you might imagine from this, cracks in the windshield bother her way more than they bother me.

We take our Suburban up I-80 into the Sierras a lot during the winter months, because even though Son Number Three breaks the occasional collarbone, I remain inexplicably healthy and uninjured, and therefore able to snowboard with my boys.

**sound of me knocking on any and all wood I can find**

If you have ever been on I-80 in the Sierras during the winter months, you know that with the big trucks and their tire chains, combined with the constant new road damage due to the snow and ice, it’s basically like driving through a shooting range. We also take long road trips in the summer months, so our windshield seems to always have a few chips and at least one crack of some length.

This year’s crack came on fast and spread like wildfire. It started at the very bottom of the windshield right in front of the steering wheel, and before I even had a chance to try to stop it, it had spread all the way to the top of the glass. It was a jagged vertical line directly in front of the driver’s face.

As you can imagine, my wife didn’t love it. But it happened in the fall, even before snowboarding season had begun!

“Honey, it makes no sense to fix it now, right before we’re going to drive into the hailstorm of rocks and busted chain links.”

“[exasperated noises]”

Buying new windshields is one of my least favorite things to do. I rank it just above the stomach flu. That’s because I know, the minute that beautiful new curved sheet of glass gets glued in place, I’m going to have to take the car back outside again and drive it around. Getting it replaced in the winter here is as futile as brushing your teeth while eating Oreos, only far more expensive.

Well, we had one last hurrah up the hill a couple weekends ago when we had a cold spring storm blow through, and now the forecast calls for nothing but sunshine and slush. Son Number Three takes his behind-the-wheel driver’s license test at the end of next week, so I figured it was time. He’ll take the test in our Honda Accord, but just in case something happens, I want to have a backup vehicle ready.

I have a feeling the DMV testing employee might have a problem with the full-windshield crack right in front of the sixteen-year-old driver’s face. It’s very likely illegal, but more importantly, the DMV employee’s exasperated noises would probably result in my son not getting to test, which means I would have to be on carpool duty longer, which is unacceptable.

So, on Monday I said goodbye to my $500 insurance deductible and hello to my brand new, crack and ding-free windshield. That was all well and good, for a few hours anyway.

The glue was probably still drying on Monday evening when Son Number Two – who is turning eighteen on Friday – informed me that he would like to skip school that day to take his buddies up the hill to go snowboarding for his birthday, one last time before the season ends.


He’s going to look pretty silly driving our Suburban up I-80 in reverse.

See you soon,



Copyright © 2024 Marc Schmatjen


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Wednesday, April 10, 2024

Felony Hobbying

I heard something a while back that I always liked – The problem with raising strong-willed, free-thinking adults is that you have to live with strong-willed, free-thinking children.

We have our share of that going on at our house, but really what we’ve mainly been dealing with is interests. So, ours goes more like, the problem with raising Son Number Two into a very interesting and widely-studied adult is that you have to live through all the projects. It’s not as catchy as the original, but it fits our situation perfectly.

Our first inclination that we might be dealing with a renaissance child was the crocheting in the second grade. He was good! There has been construction. There has been photography. There has been 3D printing. There have been internet sales and marketing companies. He’s owned multiple web domains. There has been electrical. There has been woodworking, wood burning (both art and arson), drones, painting, sculpting, drawing, photoshop, pebble art, cake making, and machinery design.

So, when he came to me last year and said he wanted to build a forge in our backyard, it was not a big surprise.

“Why do you want a forge?”

“So I can make knives.”


His first plan had a large homemade cinderblock forge inside an all-wooden Tuff Shed-type structure. He was going to put it where the old play structure currently sits, and he was either going to sell the play structure that he doesn’t own for the money to buy the shed, or make the shed out of the play structure. Details were loose, varied, and stupid.

I decided that catching a shed and two different neighbors’ fences on fire wasn’t one of my bucket list items, so I said no. Now, as every one of you who has raised or is currently raising a strong-willed, free-thinking child knows, that was not the end of the conversation.

I believe I heard the word “forge” about six million more times in the following four days. Just before my brain exploded, we settled on a small, propane, commercially-made, portable forge box that could go in our garage. Who needs to use a garage for cars, am I right?

And thus began the knife making. Like everything else he does, he dove headfirst into it and got pretty good, pretty quickly. He mixed in some artistic photography for his Instagram knife page, got a laser engraver for the handles, and pretty soon his friends took notice.

At this point, for legal reasons, I must tell you that everything I’m about to tell you is completely fictional, made up by me for entertainment purposes only. OK? OK.

One night at dinner, about a month after the forging began, Son Number Two says, “Oh, hey. I sold one of my knives today!”

My response was, “Hey, cool. To who?”

His mother, who is much smarter than me, asked, “Where?”

“To [name withheld for reasons that will become obvious]”

“Where did you sell it?” asked his very smart mother, again.

“My car. I had it in the trunk.”

“Where was the car?”

“In the parking lot.”

“The parking lot of school??”


When the steam stopped coming from my wife’s ears, she started to explain why that was not such a great idea, with words like “weapons” and “campus” and “expulsion” and “no college” and “dumbass” and a lot of other words.

I guess Number Two has some sort of death wish, because he actually interrupted her at one point to try the ludicrously false argument that the parking lot was not technically “on campus.”

It was at that point that I had to physically restrain my wife long enough for him to run.   

He made it out of the situation alive and un-expelled. Fast forward to a week or so ago when he got home from his spring break Europe trip, chaperoned by his favorite teacher and a few other school staff members. The group had taken a day trip to Geneva, so Son Number Two, of course, bought a few genuine Victorinox Swiss Army knives from the source.

He brought home a couple little ones for his brothers and a larger one for himself. I noticed as they were getting ready to go to school that he also had an extra.

“Oh, that’s [unnamed state employee’s] knife. I brought it home for them in my checked bag.”

“Well, that was nice of you. When are you giving it to them?”

“This morning.”

“At school?”


“Well, I guess it’s a good thing your mom left for the day already. Try not to get arrested.”

(Again, I must reiterate, this is all fictional. Totally made up by me.)

I guess if one of your hobbies takes you down the path of High School Arms Dealer, it’s good to be in league with at least one or two insiders high up in the organization…

We really can’t wait to see what this kid does after graduation, and we have money set aside for the next chapter of his life to help him on his way.

Whether it’s used for tuition or bail still remains to be seen.

See you soon,



Copyright © 2024 Marc Schmatjen


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Wednesday, April 3, 2024

Do Your Job Like Nora

This is a message for all you kids out there. And also all you adults who act like kids. And really, also you adults who act like adults. This is a message for everyone, I guess.

This is a story about having pride in your work. This is a story about “Nora.”

Nora is in quotes there because I’m old and I didn’t write it down, so I’m only about sixty-five percent sure her name was actually Nora, but I’m rolling with it because calling her Hostess X makes this sound like a story about sci-fi or street drugs, which it is not.

You see, all three of our boys were out of the country over spring break last week, and my wife’s school district was holding spring break at the exact same time, so we were forced by parental law and basic common sense to escape by ourselves on vacation. We went to Tennessee and visited Memphis and Nashville. I would highly recommend both.

We have two good friends who have spent time in Memphis, so we got restaurant recommendations galore for the birthplace of rock and roll. We ate at Gus’s World Famous Fried Chicken. We ate at Hattie B’s Hot Chicken. We ate at Central BBQ. We ate at Charlie Vergos’ Rendezvous. We had to unbutton the top of our pants a couple times. Totally worth it.

All of those places were amazing in their own right, but one place shined above all others – because of Nora.

Nora is the hostess at a little place called Itta Bena. It sits above B.B. King’s Blues Club on Beale Street, and if you didn’t know it was there, you would never know, because it doesn’t have any signs. Literally none. We had to ask the bouncer at the door of B.B. King’s how to get there, and he told us to go around the corner to Second Street and go up the stairs with the blue awning.

The stairs looked shady at best, and when we got to the top, we were greeted by a blank door that looked equally shady. Thankfully, everything on the other side of the door was amazing.

Backing up to earlier that day, we were at the National Civil Rights Museum, in between chicken breakfast and rib lunch, when I got a phone call. I answered and a young lady asked, “Is this Mr. Schmatjen?” Now, you have to understand, with a last name like Schmatjen, we have a built-in BS detector when it comes to telemarketing. You automatically know if the person on the other end of the phone knows you or not.

If they try to pronounce it like any normal human would, I say, “What is this regarding?” If they pronounce it how my insane ancestors decided they would, I say, “Yes, it is.”

“Yes it is,” I said.

“Hello, this is Nora calling from Itta Bena. Just confirming your reservation with us tonight.”

“Umm… yes. Uh… we will be there. Thank you.”

I hung up the phone with a puzzled look on my face. I didn’t know Nora, and she didn’t know me, but she pronounced my last name flawlessly. My wife, who had been scowling at me for answering my phone in the National Civil Rights Museum, saw the look on my face and asked what was wrong.

“That was Itta Bena calling about our reservation, and she knew how to pronounce our name.”

“Didn’t you make the reservation online?”

“Yes I did.”

“Wow,” my wife agreed. “That is weird.”

When we navigated the speakeasy-type entrance later that evening and made it to the hostess desk, I had almost forgotten about it. But when I said, “Marc for two,” to the young lady that turned out to be Nora, she said, “Ah, yes. Mr. Schmatjen.”

“All right, time out. How do you know how to pronounce our name?”

Nora almost seemed to get a little embarrassed as she explained, “Well, before I make calls in the morning, I do a little internet research to see if I can figure out the hard names, because… well, it matters to me.”

My wife and I both complimented her on that, and then she showed us to our table. We then proceeded to have a phenomenal dinner in the little upstairs hidden restaurant. Itta Bena comes with my highest recommendation, even if your last name is Smith. The food was insanely good.

A few days later, after thinking about how strangely above and beyond Nora did her job, I called Itta Bena and spoke to her manager. I told him how impressed I was that she would take the time to do something that, most certainly, the world would never expect a restaurant hostess to do.

The norm would be for someone on the other end of the phone to ask for me by my first name and then apologize for not knowing how to pronounce the last name. I would then joke with them about how it’s a sight word, or that we should have bought a few more vowels from Pat and Vanna, and then we’d go on about our business.

No one, including myself, would ever expect you to know how to pronounce it when you see it. But Nora made the effort. It is a seemingly small thing, but when you live your life with a last name like Schmatjen, it turns out it’s a big deal.

It was a big deal to her manager, too, because he didn’t know she did that, and he was thrilled to hear about one of his employees shining at their job.

So, my challenge for you folks out there is to attack your job like Nora does. Don’t just show up and do your job. Show up early, stay late, and do your job exceptionally well.

And I said it before, but I’ll say it again – great job, Nora!

By the way, I never did catch your full name... Probably something like Nora Wegrzynkiewicz.

See you soon,



Copyright © 2024 Marc Schmatjen


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Wednesday, March 27, 2024

Construction Rapido – Año Tres

Two of our three boys are in Mexico right now over spring break. Son Number Two would be there with his brothers, but his high school Europe trip for seniors was scheduled over spring break this year instead of right after graduation.

It was actually a tough decision for him, because of how much he enjoyed Mexico the last two years. His brothers are back in Mexicali with a huge group of other high school and college kids from our church, so at this point, I’d like to formally apologize to the country of Mexico for anything my children may say or do while in your beautiful country. Deep down in their hearts they mean well, I think, but they are complete yahoos, especially when in close proximity to each other.

I would also like to formally apologize to Europe. We’d appreciate it if you’d excuse any questionable teenage behavior with Number Two and his friends, and let him come home on schedule.

The group in Mexicali is building houses and holding mini church camps for the local kids. Son Number One is on a construction team building a house for a family in need, and Number Three is on an “Impact” team, getting his butt kicked in soccer by niños y niñas half his age.

This is Number Three’s second year going on the trip, and Number One’s third year. The stories they bring back are amazing. I mean, building houses and serving poor communities is great, and the families are incredibly grateful, and it changed how my sons view the world and got them to understand how blessed they are to live in America with our abundance and prosperity and access to opportunities and all of that good stuff, but that’s not what is most amazing.

The thing that blows my mind about the trips is how fast you can build a house in a country with basically no laws.

If you ignore the whole child labor law hassle it really opens up the workforce. Granted, your average high school freshman isn’t necessarily a huge asset to a construction team, but you always need grunt labor alongside the skilled labor. Plus, you don’t have to spend a lot of time on human resources issues and paperwork with child labor, because they have no rights anyway.

The houses they build have full electrical, with ceiling lights and wall outlets and everything, but that goes incredibly fast when you can just install all the wires and then immediately cover them all up with drywall without waiting for a city building inspector to show up and check everything first.

The same goes for the framing, plumbing, insulation, windows, roof trusses, shingles, etc. Just build it and move on. Get at least one person on the project with construction knowledge and a plan, add the proper amount of high school monkeys, and you can build an entire house in three days.

Literally. Three days. They usually have another day and a half of exterior and interior trim work and painting, but the house is up, functional, and weather-tight in three days.

The trip leaders keep the Instagram feed stocked with daily photos, so we have proof that the boys are alive and well, the house is progressing, and everyone seems to still have all their fingers. That’s a win.

If my Grandpa was still alive, he’d tell you about the time when as a young married man, he bought an empty lot in town, dug a basement, bought an old house across town, moved it over on a large truck, and set it on top of his new basement. My mom grew up in that house, and we got to go see it a few years ago, still standing.

Things used to be simpler, and they still are in places like Mexico. If you bring some construction know-how to the party, you can get a lot done in a short period of time. And it can be accomplished very inexpensively when you rope a bunch of kids into helping.

But only if you’re able to take away their cell phones.

You see, that’s the other thing that makes this all possible. Along with the absence of building inspectors and over-regulation, the kids don’t have access to their phones for the whole week. They are amazingly able to concentrate on and complete tasks.

If they were allowed to have their phones, that three-day house build would turn into six weeks, with 57,000 “I’m building a house” TikTok dance videos and two million selfies posing with power tools.

I don’t think my grandpa would approve.

See you soon,



Copyright © 2024 Marc Schmatjen


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Wednesday, March 20, 2024

Truancy for Jesus

We received a paper letter in the actual mail from our boys’ high school a while back. You just know that’s never good…

Turns out it was a truancy notice. Hmm… truancy sounds like something that happens in other families, not ours…

Apparently, the school was under the impression that our sophomore, Son Number Three, was being chronically late to class. They also listed a day that he was late to school, but it was the day of his DMV permit test. That was on purpose, because you know damned well you don’t schedule the last appointment of the day at the DMV, you schedule the first one.

I found out after further reading that the school was very concerned about his chronic truancy, and that we, his parents, could even be subject to prosecution and jail time if his truancy continued.

Now, wait just a minute, here. I’m not the one skipping class! (Anymore.)

This letter was out of the blue for us, and when I saw who it was “from” I got a little suspicious. It was signed by one of the school’s vice principals that I know and really like. They are a very cool, normal, reasonable human.

It was at that point that I realized the letter was just an automated part of a school district bureaucracy trying to manage a one-size-fits-all approach to everything. And I get it, to some extent. Things need to be fair in the eyes of the law, etc., etc., but I had to laugh. Son Number Three is many things, but a scofflaw is not one of them.

Now, don’t get me wrong – I questioned him about being chronically late to class. And when he denied it, I believed him. I know what you’re thinking – classic parent with their head in the sand, but again, if you know Son Number Three, you know. It’s entirely possible – even probable – that when they call roll he’s being so loud goofing off with his friends that he doesn’t hear his name, but I’m positive he’s there.

What really made his mom and I laugh about the automated truancy notice was his grades. This week’s column was in no way intended to be a “humble brag” or anything of the sort, but the fact is Son Number Three is killing it in school. Always has.

Needless to say, when we read the letter, we just kinda laughed and tossed it in the trash. Maybe the automated truancy detection system could add in a limiting factor for GPA, if for no other reason than to save on paper and mailing costs.

Anyway, assuming they haven’t made that software change yet, I expect to get another letter soon. I just clicked submit on the online absence reporting form for today through Friday. Number Three is on his way to Mexico today as part of our church’s advance team that gets the camp set up for the high school Mexicali mission trip over spring break.

There are educations, and then there are educations. A whole bunch of kids are about to get to be a huge blessing on someone else’s life, and simultaneously receive a Ph.D. in how lucky they are to be living in the USA. If the school district will not forgive Son Number Three’s chronic truancy, I’m confident Jesus will.

And speaking of missing school, our high school senior, Son Number Two, is about to be truant for two full days WITH his physics teacher AND the very same vice principal who was forced to send the letter to us by the school district bureaucracy. They’re going to Europe over spring break and missing the Friday before and the Tuesday after to see more sights.

I’m not sure what the school district is going to do with that situation, but I think I have a solid case for dismissal if I’m brought up on charges.

See you soon,



Copyright © 2024 Marc Schmatjen


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Wednesday, March 13, 2024

LaCroix Rich

I like LaCroix. I like it a lot. Besides coffee and the drinking fountain at the park on my running route, LaCroix is basically my only source of hydration.

I will drink almost any flavor of LaCroix or any of the other brands of sparkling water, except for coconut. I like coconut shavings on things, but coconut LaCroix tastes like sunscreen and leaves a film on the roof of your mouth the same way McDonald’s fries do. Water should not do that. (Fries shouldn’t either by the way, McDonald’s…)

Anyway, the other day I opened a passionfruit LaCroix, which is probably my favorite flavor, even though I wouldn’t know a passionfruit if you threw one at my face. There was no familiar sharp “crack” when the can opened, and when I took a sip, I figured out why. It was completely flat, which goes against what sparkling water is supposed to be. Zero sparkle.

Strangely, the lack of carbonation also changed the flavor of the passionfruit somehow, making it less good and more weird. I shrugged my shoulders and opened another one with the same result. Then I started squeezing the rest of the cans in the 12-pack and realized there had been a catastrophic and unnoticed failure of the carbonator on the filling line, and my entire 12-pack was flat. (I also wouldn’t know a carbonator if you threw one at my face, but I do know it wasn’t doing its job when these cans came by.)

Now, a normal person might have stormed back to the store and demanded a refund. When it comes to LaCroix, however, I’m not normal. Not even close. Just to give you an idea, I’m on my third one since I started writing this. With my garage stocking levels, losing a 12-pack or two is just a minor blip on the radar. I just set the bad 12-pack on the work bench, popped a new one in the fridge, and went about my day.

Walking into the house the next morning, I noticed the succulents on the front porch were looking a little dry and sad. I made a mental note to water them, and then my “need to get rid of that 12-pack” mental note popped up and I immediately saw the symmetry.

Unfortunately, sometimes a situation or solution that makes perfect sense to you might look a little odd from an outsider’s perspective. Like, in this case, if you were walking up your driveway and saw your neighbor on their front porch with a 12-pack of passionfruit LaCroix, opening can after can, quenching their succulents with sparkling water…

I started to open my mouth to explain, but Dave had already disappeared into his garage. But I saw the look on his face…

I swear, Dave, we’re not rich! If our shared fence falls over in the next windstorm, I’m still going to need you to pay for your half. The LaCroix was flat. We’re not uber-wealthy weirdos who baby their decorative plants. I don’t even think we paid for those succulents, honestly. I think my mother-in-law gave them to us…

Oh, well. At least it wasn’t something imported, like Pellegrino.

See you soon,



Copyright © 2024 Marc Schmatjen


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Wednesday, March 6, 2024

Concert-ing My Age

My wife and I went to a concert this past weekend with a group of good friends. She and I have been to a handful of concerts over the last few years, and I must say, I’m not loving the crowds and the noise quite so much anymore. Or at all.

At a normal concert, you get a wide age range that shows up, but the concert this weekend was special. We went to see Tainted Love, which is a semi-local band that does nothing but cover ‘80s and ‘90s top forty songs. Specifically, the songs we grew up with.

So, we discovered on Friday night that there’s a very obvious and almost universal demographic that shows up to a Tainted Love show, consisting of people who graduated from high school somewhere in the late ‘80s to early’90s.

Meaning us. And also meaning, we were all old.

When we got there, it struck me that they had missed a huge opportunity not having the show sponsored by a proctologist.

“Thank you, Roseville! It’s great to be here, and remember, if you haven’t scheduled your first colonoscopy, it’s time! Go see Dr. Phillips at Sutter Proctology. Speaking of doctors, here’s Bad Medicine by Bon Jovi!”

Or if that’s not the vibe the band is going for, at the very least they could be sponsored by a chiropractor or a financial company selling annuities.

Besides missed ad revenue opportunities, I made a few more observations on Friday night:

As an over-50 concertgoer, I like my shows to start on time. I know it goes against the rock and roll lifestyle, but dammit, be punctual. I was annoyed early on when we showed up to closed venue doors and a mile-long line. The tickets said the doors would open at 7:00pm and the show would start at 8:00. It was 7:30. We learned in line from some other annoyed over-50’s that the website contradicted the tickets and had 7:30/8:30 listed.

At that moment I learned that I think 8:30pm is a tad late to be firing up a concert. I’m not going to lie – I like to be in bed by 9:30 these days. To the band’s credit, probably because a couple of the main guys looked to be around my age, they started right at 8:30.

I also learned that I like my rock and roll on the muffled side now. We bought the tickets back in November, so my wife and I gave each other really cool earplugs that another old friend (take that any way you want) told us about. I was even showing them off at dinner before the concert. When the band started (thirty minutes late!) I could hear the music just fine. I pulled one of them out of my ear during the show to see how well they were working, and I was appalled at how loud it was. That was new.

But probably the most humorous observation I made on Friday night was how lame the fights are at an over-50 rock show. You’ll be shocked to learn that alcohol still remains the major – and possibly sole – catalyst for concert shenanigans and general ballyhoo, but things are a little different at a Tainted Love show than an AC/DC concert.

We had a situation unfold in front of us where two guys were pushing and shoving and threatening to throw down, but the potential fight was quickly diffused by my wife and my dentist.

I am not making that up.

Rock on!

(You. You rock on. I’ll be at home.)

See you soon,



Copyright © 2024 Marc Schmatjen


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Wednesday, February 28, 2024

Leap Year - Repost

February 29th is tomorrow. There isn’t supposed to be a February 29th. Not normally, anyway. It’s a leap year. The whole concept of leap year, and our calendar in general, is very strange. I have never agreed with how our calendar works, and I have decided that it is time to stop the madness. I hereby, once again, propose that the world adopt the Smidge Calendar.

Our current calendar is complicated. This stems from the fact that the earth takes 365.2422 days to go around the sun. If we didn’t do the leap years, we would lose six hours off the calendar every year. That’s 24 days off in a hundred years. Not good. I mean, what if your birthday was in that lost month? No party for you. What if the lost month turned out to be October, and we lost Oktoberfest? Totally unacceptable.

A long time ago, Julius Caesar, a huge fan of Oktoberfest and birthdays, introduced leap years to correct for the 0.2422 day problem. Julius decided they would do a leap day every four years no matter what. That is actually too many, since the day fraction is 0.24 and not 0.25, so things started getting out of whack. Fifteen hundred years later, after people got tired of spring starting in the middle of summer, someone with a big brain and an abacus developed a formula. To be a leap year, the year must be evenly divisible by four. If the year is also evenly divisible by 100, then it is not a leap year, unless it is also evenly divisible by 400. Simple, right?

Well, that’s all fine and dandy, and I don’t really have a problem with the leap year math. It’s necessary. What is not necessary is having our months all different. Why have some months with 30 days, others with 31, and one with variable days? It’s too complicated. When I was a kid, my dad taught me a way to tell how many days a month has in it. You count on your knuckles. Start on the knuckle of your index finger as January. Count the months down your fist, landing alternately on your knuckles, and the valleys between your knuckles. When you get to your pinkie knuckle (July), start over on your index knuckle (August). If you are on a knuckle, the month has 31 days. If you are in a valley, it has 30, unless it’s February, then you have to refer to the complicated formula.

The knuckle trick is handy (get it?), but it shouldn’t be necessary. With the Smidge Calendar, you will never need to count on your knuckles like an ape again. My months will all have 28 days. Gone will be the days of not knowing what day of the week the 12th of March is. The days will always be the same number. The month will always start on Monday the 1st. Sundays will always be the 7th, 14th, 21st and 28th. Simple and easy.

Holidays will always be on the same day. You will always know when Thanksgiving is going to fall, and with the new calendar, we can move some of the more flexible holidays to always fall on a Monday or a Friday. Boom, more three-day weekends. You’re welcome!

Now, with 28-day months, we'll need to have 13 of them, to make a year.  We’ll have to come up with a name for the new month. We'll make it fun and have a national contest, and pick the most popular submission. This will be a worldwide calendar, of course, but we'll retain naming rights. This is our idea, and everyone else can just get on board. It won't be a hard sell, due to the New Year’s factor.

Thirteen months at 28 days each only gets you 364 days. The all-important 365th day will occur on what is currently known as January 1st. However, it will now be known only as New Year’s Day. It will not have a number. It will not be a Monday. It will simply be "New Year’s Day," and it will be a freebie. No work will occur. Nothing will be accomplished. It's a phantom day that doesn't exist on the calendar. Relax and enjoy!

Since we can't do anything about the 0.2422 day problem, we will continue with the current leap year formula, and any leap year will have an extra bonus day, known as New Year’s Weekend. Two totally free days every four years (unless the year is evenly divisible by 100 but not 400, obviously). Winning!

While you will be encouraged to do nothing on New Year’s Day and Weekend, inevitably, a certain amount of children will be born on these phantom days. This is where the Smidge Calendar also has a bonus financial planning aspect. Any parent having a child on New Year’s Day will get to choose whether their new child's official birthday will be December 28th or January 1st. This will allow them to decide which tax year they would like their new deduction and tax credit to fall in. Just a happy bonus feature of a new and improved system.

In fact, I don't mean to brag, but the Smidge Calendar has no discernible flaws. It's way better that the current random 12- month system. The only potential downside I can see is a slight long-term hit to the calendar industry, since calendars will now be reusable.

Now, before all you accountants out there have a conniption fit, screaming about financial quarters, please don’t get your starched white knickers in a twist. We'll still have quarters, they're just 13 weeks long now. You're supposed to be good at math, so deal with it. Like I said, no flaws.

I anticipate immediate adoption of the Smidge Calendar as soon as the word gets out. The only thing left to do is figure out where to put the new month. I'm thinking between September and October. They always seemed like they needed to be separated a little more. We could call it Smidgetober. It would be a fun month. We could introduce Smidgetoberfest, the Oktoberfest pre-party.

Just food for thought.

See you soon,



Copyright © 2024 Marc Schmatjen


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Wednesday, February 21, 2024

This Column Continues to Go Downhill

Our regularly scheduled column has been rudely preempted by Ski Week, yet again.

Yes, that’s right, I said Ski Week. Instead of celebrating the glorious birthdays of Martin Van Buren and William Henry Harrison on two separate Mondays in February, like we all did when we were young, our school district changed things up a few years ago.

They tacked on three extra president’s days (both of the Adamses and James Buchanan, strictly because of his kick-ass hair) to the previous two, and lined them all up in a row this week. This phenomenon is nicknamed “Ski Week,” so the idea, apparently, is that we’re all supposed to head up to the slopes and spend the education-free week on a ski vacation.

I have always had trouble writing this column on ski week. In the past, I have railed against the policy of keeping all three of our boys home for nine days in a row, because we never went on a week-long ski vacation, and therefore I was trapped in the house refereeing the World Brothers Wrestling Federation and getting nothing else done.

Now that the boys are older, I’m having trouble writing this column in the middle of February for a different reason. We are finally able to embrace the concept of ski week, or in our case, snowboard week, so now I’m still getting nothing done, but it’s a lot more satisfying!

This happened to be a special ski week for two reasons. The first being that we didn’t get to go snowboarding at all on Ski Week 2023, because it was snowing so hard all week the roads were closed. Too much of a good thing, I guess. The second reason this week is special is because it saw the return of Son Number Three to the slopes.

The rest of us have been going up the hill whenever we could since December, but Number Three wasn’t able to join us due to his collarbone. The collarbone he snapped in half while snowboarding on the very first day we went this season. On the second run of the first day, Son Number Three decided that was the right time to air out the big jumps.

His version of the story involved massive air and an eight-foot ditch he had to clear (reports are fuzzy on whether it was eight feet deep, eight feet wide, or both). It apparently all would have been fine except for another little bumpy dip at the landing zone. The board nosed in and he landed superman-style onto the unforgiving snow (if Superman flew with his arms back at his sides and rammed things with his collarbone).

He is currently leading his brothers in the broken bones department by a score of 2-0-0. He loves to beat them at things, but I’m not sure he’s so happy about it in this case.

He broke it on December 17, and February 17 was his all-clear date to get back to contact sports. That means he can finally suit up for lacrosse again, but more importantly, he can also strap his snowboard back on his feet!

So, you can see why I’m having trouble getting anything done this week. I mean, when you get cleared for active duty on the Saturday before ski week, you really have no choice. You must get up the hill and make up for lost time. And you must do it for multiple days when the fresh snow just keeps falling every night, begging you to come see how sturdy the new collarbone is.

I’m happy to report his triumphant return to the mountains has been a success, and both collarbones remain intact.

For now.

I mean, you just never know. These boys go pretty hard.

See you soon,



Copyright © 2024 Marc Schmatjen


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Wednesday, February 14, 2024

Send a PalmerTine This Year

It’s Valentine’s Day again. Yes, gentlemen, it’s today! If that caught you off guard, and you are starting to panic, you can relax. I’ve got you covered. You can send your sweetheart a love poem this year.

When I think of epic love poems, one man immediately comes to mind. Yes, obviously, Robert Palmer. That sharp-dressed man from the ‘80s, always surrounded by hot women and singing about love.

I think we can all agree that no recording artist alive or dead had a better grasp on love than Robert Palmer. He and his heavily lipstick-ed troupe of beautiful musicians, dancers, and backup singers tore it up, combining catchy tunes and hot guitar riffs with his masterful grasp of Webster’s dictionary and Roget’s thesaurus.  

If we may be so bold as to borrow from his lyrics, we might just be able to come up with an epic Valentine’s poem for you. A PalmerTine, if you will. Let’s take two of his greatest hits – Simply Irresistible and Addicted to Love – and see what we can do.

But a word of caution – use at your own risk. This is powerful stuff!


To my Valentine:

How can it be permissible?

You compromised my principles

This kind of love is mythical

You’re anything but typical


The lights are on, but I’m not home

My mind is not my own

My heart sweats, my body shakes

Another kiss is what it takes

You’re a craze I'd endorse

You’re a powerful force

I’m obliged to conform

When there's no other course

You used to look good to me

But now I find you


Simply irresistible


I can't sleep, I can't eat

There's no doubt, I’m in deep

My throat is tight, I can't breathe

Another kiss is all I need


Your loving is so powerful

It's simply unavoidable

The trend is irreversible

Woman, you’re invincible


I’d like to think that I’m immune to the stuff

But it's closer to the truth to say I can't get enough

You know I’m gonna have to face it, I’m addicted to love


You’re simply irresistible


You’re a natural law

And you leave me in awe

You deserve the applause

I surrender because

You used to look good to me

But now I find you


Simply irresistible


I see the signs, but I can't read

I’m running at a different speed

My heart beats in double time

Another kiss and you'll be mine


You’re unavoidable

I'm backed against the wall

You give me feelings like I never felt before

I'm breaking promises

You’re breaking every law

You used to look good to me

Now I find you


Simply irresistible


I’d like to think that I’m immune to the stuff

But it's closer to the truth to say I can't get enough

You know I’m gonna have to face it, I’m addicted to love


Your methods are inscrutable

The proof is irrefutable

You’re so completely kissable

Our lives are indivisible


You’re a craze I'd endorse

You’re a powerful force

I’m obliged to conform

When there's no other course

You used to look good to me

But now I find you


Simply irresistible


There you go, gentlemen. You’re welcome, but don’t thank me. Thank Mr. Palmer!

Happy Valentine’s Day,



Copyright © 2024 Marc Schmatjen


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Wednesday, February 7, 2024

SwiftyBowl Sunday

That’s right, sports fans. The big game is upon us! Super Sunday is this weekend.

(In case you did not know, the NFL copyrighted and trademarked the name Superbowl and/or Super Bowl a long time ago, so I’m not even allowed to write either of those, so I obviously never would.)

Regarding the upcoming Superbowl, you might be aware that a certain musical recording artist by the name of Taylor Swift happens to be dating a certain NFL tight end by the name of Travis Kelce. Travis happens to play for the Kansas City Chiefs, which is the team that’s getting ready to lose to our beloved San Francisco 49ers in the upcoming Super Bowl.

As of this morning, Travis is unsure if Taylor will even make it to the Super Bowl to watch him lose. What we do know, from this year’s regular season NFL games, is that viewership of Chief’s games and overall interest in football has skyrocketed due to Taylor Swift’s fanbase.

I couldn’t be happier about that, because nothing warms my heart more than knowing the NFL is managing to make even more money!

We know that a lot of “Swifties” have been tuning in, and since the world of Taylor Swift fandom and the world of professional football don’t necessarily overlap anywhere other than with #87, I thought I’d break down a few football positions and terms in case that would be helpful for some of this Sunday’s Superbowl viewers, starting, of course, with Kelce’s position.

Tight End: Offense - The most important position, obviously, reserved for super-famous guys with a ton of charisma. They line up on the end of the offensive line. Sometimes they catch passes. Most of the time they block people and date celebrities.

Cornerback: Defense – This is the guy who will be hassling Travis Kelce a lot.

Nickelback: Defense – A fifth defensive back used in the nickel formation to protect better against a passing offense. Also, a really solid rock band that gets a strangely unwarranted amount of hate on the internet.

Slot Back: Offense – Sort of like Travis Kelce’s position, but a little further back off the line of scrimmage. Don’t worry about this one. No one says slotback anymore.

Quarterback: Offense – Patrick Mahomes – the guy who never throws it to Travis Kelce when he is wide open, OMG!

Line of Scrimmage: The blue line. No one is allowed across this line until the center twitches the ball ever so slightly.

Center: Offense – The guy who gives the ball to Patrick Mahomes, so you can get mad at him for not throwing it to Travis Kelce who was wide open AGAIN, OMG!

Nose Tackle: Defense – The guy the center really doesn’t like very much.

Guard: Offence – Anyone over 300 pounds.

Tackle: 1) Offence & Defense – See “Guard” or 2) Getting the guy with the ball to touch the ground with some part of his body other than his hands or feet, while you are also touching him. This means he’s down, but down like the play is over, not down like first down.

Running Back: Offence - You will see Christian McCaffrey, #23 for the “bad guys,” running with the ball a lot, carrying four or five Chiefs linebackers with him, and scoring lots of touchdowns. He’s a running back.

Fumble: What Christian McCaffrey hardly ever does.

First Downs: What Christian McCaffrey gets a lot of.

Safety: 1) Defense – The guy in charge of not letting the wide receivers catch the ball or 2) When the offence gets tackled in their own end zone, resulting in two points for the defense, and hopelessly screwing up the scoring for everyone’s Super Bowl pools.

Holding: Any time you grab someone who doesn’t have the ball, except when it’s OK.

Pass Interference: Any time a defender does anything at all that would prevent an eligible receiver from catching a forward pass, except for all the things the defender can do to try to catch the pass themselves, since all defensive players are eligible receivers, leading to the question, if I’m a defender trying to catch the ball, what if I put my hand up in front of the wide receiver’s face to catch it? Isn’t that a PI? Not even the officials know the answer.

Interception: Any time the defender catches the ball and doesn’t get called for pass interference.

Unsportsmanlike Conduct: The physical motions and words of the wide receiver after an interception with no pass interference called.

OK, I hope that clears up some of your possible questions. Just try to remember, Kelce/Swift fans - it’s not going to work out for the Chiefs, but at least Travis and Taylor have each other.

See you on Super Bowl Sunday,



Copyright © 2024 Marc Schmatjen


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