Wednesday, February 24, 2021

This Round Finally Goes to the Husband

My wife and I had a major breakthrough in our marriage on Monday. And by breakthrough, I mean I won a round.

As you have no doubt heard at countless weddings, 1 Corinthians 13 tells us that love is patient, love is kind, blah, blah, blah, “love keeps no record of wrongs.” That part is not true. Every married couple keeps records of wrongs, and I am WAY behind in the count.

But on Monday, my wife actually conceded that she had been wrong about a long-held belief regarding the messiness of one of my personal hygiene habits. I am talking, of course, about my weekly high colonic. Ha! No! Just kidding. Don’t stop reading. I’m actually talking about brushing my teeth.

If you are married, or share a sink with anyone, and that sink has a mirror above it, then you are all too painfully familiar with the toothpaste-spittle-splatter-on-the-mirror debate.

Wife: Look at these spots all over the mirror!

Husband: OK.

Wife: That is gross!

Husband: Not really.

Wife: Yes it is! They’re from toothbrushing and they’re all from you!

Husband: No way those are all from me.

Wife: Yes they are! They’re not from me, so it must be you.

Husband: Oh, OK.

Wife: OK? Is that all you have to say about all these gross spots on the mirror??

Husband: [runs away, if he knows what’s good for him]

My beautiful wife was so convincing in her denials of spittle culpability and so adamant about my overall toothbrushing grossness, that I never even questioned her. (That probably comes from a veteran husband survival instinct, more than anything.)

But the pearly white dental tables have turned. We were talking with friends the other night who were raving about their activated charcoal toothpaste. Yes, for those of you like myself who had never heard of this stuff, I mean jet-black, Kingston briquette, charcoal. In toothpaste.

They convinced us that it tastes just like normal minty toothpaste, even though it looks like a tube of graphite grease, but in a completely opposite-of-what-you-think-is-going-to-happen way, actually whitens your teeth. So my beloved wife made a special trip to Target just for charcoal toothpaste, and naturally came home with a couple workout shirts, some leggings, $349 worth of makeup and shampoo, some throw pillows, and a food processor.

Oh, and the crazy black toothpaste.

She brushed her teeth with the new toothpaste Monday night while I was also in the bathroom.

After smiling at me, mid-brush, to show me that she looked like she had just licked the inside of a barbecue, she rinsed and checked out her teeth in the mirror to gauge any immediate change in whiteness.

And then the miracle happened. No, she did not go back to Target to return everything. She stopped looking in the mirror and started looking at the mirror, and boom!

She said, “Well, I guess I can’t blame you for the toothpaste mirror spots anymore.”

Score one for the husbands of the world! Can you believe it? We got a win, boys!

She actually called herself out on it! She had dark black toothpaste spittle spots on the mirror, and they were most undeniably hers. I didn’t even bother to inspect the mirror. I just played it totally cool and gave her a small laugh and a shrug, like, “Whatcha gonna do?” (More veteran husband survival instinct there. Take note, new guys.)

The record of wrongs is not a written document, you see. It’s a mental tally, and by playing it cool I scored more points than I ever could have if I had been the one to point it out. Of course, I could never be the one to point it out, because as a man, I am physically incapable of seeing the spots on the mirror in the first place.

And that is the main reason why I will NEVER use the charcoal toothpaste myself. Don’t get me wrong, I wouldn’t mind having whiter teeth. I’m just scared to death of what the mirror is going to look like when I’m done. All my new plus points would be instantly erased.

Good luck out there, gentlemen.

See you soon,



Copyright © 2021 Marc Schmatjen


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Wednesday, February 17, 2021

This Column is Going Downhill Again

Our regularly scheduled column has been rudely preempted by Ski Week, 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. Apparently, they think we’re all rich.

They tacked on three extra president’s days 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 guess I forgot to let our school district know that we don’t have thirty-eight thousand dollars lying around for just such an occasion.

And our school district failed to check with any of the surrounding districts to see if they were also populated by the idle rich and doing the same thing. Turns out they’re not. Since my wife teaches in a neighboring district, our ski week, could we afford it, would be momless.

Sure, we might be able to shave a few thousand bucks off the total cost with one less lift ticket and no overpriced ski lodge chardonnay, but if you think I’m taking these three monkeys skiing by myself, you’ve obviously been drinking something a lot stronger than wine.

So, what I’m telling you is, the kids in Rocklin, which unfortunately includes MY kids, have the ENTIRE damn week off. And not only that, but this particular week has weekends on BOTH sides of it! Do you know what that means? It means my three boys have been here at home with me now for five whole days in a row already, and we still have four more whole days, also in that row, left before they go back to school.

Those of you with kids, or those of you who have met kids before, should now understand the fact that I’ve got nothing done in the last five days, and that trend will continue for the next four. In particular, I haven’t been able to write this column. I haven’t been able to do anything useful. (Author’s note to aspiring writers: Take notice of how I deftly implied that this column is actually useful through the trickery of italics, even though there is absolutely no historical evidence that would support that claim.)

So, to all of you who are not currently on a weeks-long ski vacation, I apologize for not having a column for you today. I don’t know why our school district is choosing not to celebrate the President’s Days as our forefathers intended, but one thing is certain – our distinguished eighth and ninth presidents are rolling over in their ornate, gold and diamond-encrusted graves.

As for you folks who are swooshing down the slopes this week and sipping expensive ski lodge cocktails in plush leather chairs in front of magnificent fireplaces while I spend another day eating cold pizza and refereeing at the World Brothers Wrestling Federation, I’ll say this:

I am NOT sorry that I don’t have a column for you this week. You’re probably too busy to read it anyway, what with all your swooshing, and expensive sipping, and plush fireplace sitting, and stacking gold coins in your Rolls Royce, and snorting caviar, and whatever else it is you people do.

But I’m not bitter. I would never wish for you to have a skiing accident and break a bone or anything like that. That’s just not right.

But I do kinda wish you’d fall off your wallet in the lodge and get a mild sprain.

See you soon,



Copyright © 2021 Marc Schmatjen


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Wednesday, February 10, 2021

There's a Problem with Facebook

Ladies and gentlemen, I am here today to report on a potentially serious problem I discovered last night. No, not that I’m so old I can hurt myself by sleeping wrong. I already knew about that problem. I’m talking about Facebook. I think it might have a huge glitch.

I got into bed last night, and as usual, said my prayers for an injury-free night of sleep. I was just about to close my eyes when I noticed the blue glow of a computer screen coming from my office down the hall. Realizing I had forgotten to shut my computer down, I hauled myself out of bed and headed down the hall to turn it off.

I got back into bed forty-five minutes later.

When I got to my computer, Facebook was up on the browser. I went to shut the computer off, but Facebook made me name my rock band first by combining the color of my underwear with the last thing I ate. We are the Blue and White Nachos. I was then forced to pick between four different trays of delicious fried food. There was a crawfish and fries tray, a wings and tater tots tray, a garlic bread and mac ’n cheese tray, and a mini burgers and fries tray. It was a very difficult decision that I agonized over for a while, but ultimately I had to go with the wings and tater tots because of my love of the tot.

I was then told that my earlobes were the same distance apart as my nipples, so I had to go check that in the mirror and it was a lie. I went back to shut off the computer but I had to take an ‘80s movie challenge first. The question was simply how many of the twenty movies listed had I seen, but the average score was shown as thirty-nine percent, which was ridiculous. I murdered that score. I had seen all of them except one. I then had to email myself a reminder to finally see Who Framed Roger Rabbit.

I went back to the browser to shut off Facebook but before I could I had to watch a ten-minute animated video on how Pablo Escobar spent his billions of dollars in drug money. That was followed by a Mexican restaurant life hack video where you get a Styrofoam to-go container, but instead of taking your tacos home, you pour your margarita in there and then punch a little straw hole in the top of the lid. I was making a mental note to tell my wife about the margarita trick, and also about how Pablo Escobar had two submarines and his own zoo, but got sidetracked by some kid going absolutely crazy at a Georgia Tech welcome speech, followed by the first seven minutes of Conan O’Brien’s 2011 Dartmouth commencement address.

The rabbit hole had quite a few twists and turns from there, ultimately terminating in a video of a guy cutting a frozen bass out of an iced-over lake with a chainsaw. When he got the chunk of bass-filled ice free and pulled it out, there was a frozen pike underneath with its teeth clamped to the tail end of the bass.

At that point, as I glazed over wondering just how fast that lake actually froze over, my mouse cursor was finally able to reach all the way up to the log out button, and I was finally able to shut my computer down. I’m not even sure how it happened, but I was simply unable to get out of the Facebook program until that point. Due to this programming flaw, whatever it is, I lost almost a full hour of sleep.

I hope you’re not experiencing the same problem with your Facebook account, but being that it’s a web-based program, I suspect you might be. I really think we ought to let someone over there at Facebook HQ know about this so they can look into it.

I think they’ll be genuinely surprised at how much of our time they’re accidentally wasting!

See you soon,



Copyright © 2021 Marc Schmatjen


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Wednesday, February 3, 2021

Ask Smidge - The Groundhog Edition

Yesterday was Groundhog Day, a magical day when we finally get an accurate weather report from a truly trusted source: the ghost of Willard Scott. Just kidding. (A quick Google search tells us he’s somehow still alive.)

No, obviously we get our weather predictions from a huge rodent. Punxsutawney Phil emerged from his burrow after a long winter’s hibernation, saw a news report that 2021 was still just as bad as 2020, and immediately went back down in for six more weeks of hiding from it all.

Our inbox has understandably been flooded with groundhog-related questions. You don’t know how this odd tradition works, who is in charge, what a Punxsutawney is, or even what a groundhog is. We are here for you, and let me be the first to reassure you all – you have come to the right place.

The Ask Smidge advice column should always be your first stop for any questions about meteorology, zoology, geographology historology, or rodentology. We went to college for far longer than you’re actually supposed to, after all.



What exactly is a groundhog? We don’t have anything like that in Hawaii.

Wondering in Waimea

Dear Wondering,

You have rats and mongooses in Hawaii, so just imagine if those two species somehow got together and produced a very fat, slow, drunk uncle. That’s what a groundhog is.




Are groundhogs and woodchucks the same thing?

Questioning in Queens


Dear Questioning,

Yes, groundhogs are also known as woodchucks. Good call. So, once you know that, it begs the question of how much ground would a groundhog hog, if a groundhog could hog ground. (And I believe they can hog ground better than they can chuck wood.) Groundhogs are related to squirrels and are a member of the marmot family. Not to be confused with the Marmot company that makes insanely expensive jackets, using, as far as we know, no part of the marmot family. Amazingly, groundhogs are also called whistle pigs. (We are not making that up.) Not to be confused with the Whistle Pig company that makes insanely expensive whiskey, again, as far as we know, using no part of the whistle pig itself.




Why is Punxsutawney Phil named Punxsutawney Phil? What the hell is a Punxsutawney?

Confused in Columbus

Dear Confused,

Punxsutawney is actually the name of a town in Pennsylvania, roughly sixty miles northeast of Pittsburgh, which is another town in Pennsylvania that has never sounded like somewhere you’d want to live. Or even visit. Punxsutawney is where Phil lives and was named when they completely ran out of normal names for towns in Pennsylvania and just decided to dump all the Scrabble letters onto the table and see what lined up. Much like how my forefathers came up with Schmatjen.




Why do they use a groundhog to predict the arrival of spring?

Perplexed in Peoria


Dear Perplexed,

It was an accident. The people of Punxsutawney are constantly drunk. I’m talking like 24/7 hammered. They originally thought it was a small, fat, magical weather dog.




Has the pandemic affected Phil’s prognostication?

Quarantined in Quebec


Dear Quarantined,

While the American whistle pig and its weather predicting abilities seem to be immune to COVID, the pandemic did put a big damper on the annual hoopla in Punxsutawney. The Groundhog Day Festival normally takes place at a hill called Gobbler’s Knob. It is the highest point in Pennsylvania and was named after the town’s founder and Scrabble game owner, Phil Gobbler. (No relation.) Literally hundreds of tourists from as far away as the next town over usually gather at Phil’s burrow (the woodchuck, not the founder) to watch the weather-predicting rodent do his thing. This year’s event had to be done virtually, which presented two major problems. First, the town council had to purchase a computer and get Wi-Fi, neither of which are readily available in Pennsylvania. The second issue was the economic impact, not only of the cost of the laptop and the Wi-Fi, but also the loss of tourism dollars. Sadly, the town of Punxsutawney is not expected to financially recover from the loss and is expected to declare bankruptcy as early as tomorrow.




How old is Phil? How many “Punxsutawney Phil’s” have there been over the years?

Curious in Cape Cod


Dear Curious,

This is from the Punxsutawney Groundhog Club’s official website:

There has only been one Punxsutawney Phil. He has been making predictions since 1886! Punxsutawney Phil gets his longevity from drinking the "elixir of life," a secret recipe. Phil takes one sip every summer at the Groundhog Picnic and it magically gives him seven more years of life.

See what I mean? I am serious when I say they are drunk all the time. The “elixir” they are talking about is Rolling Rock beer, brewed right down the road in Latrobe. They are constantly hammered. “Phil” was actually a ferret this year and they didn’t notice. That’s how drunk they are.


Well, there you have it, America (and Quebec, wherever that is). You asked and now you know everything there is to know about weather vermin.

We’ll wait this winter nonsense out, whenever it is scheduled to end, and I’ll see you at the big Groundhog Picnic this summer! We’ll all raise a green bottle of “elixir” to Phil. Who knows? He might even be a groundhog again by then.

See you soon,



Copyright © 2021 Marc Schmatjen


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Wednesday, January 27, 2021

A Fifth Open Letter to the School District

Dear folks in charge of the decision making down at the School District,

I wanted to write again to make sure you were all still awake and paying attention, since it seems like you aren’t…

We are on school day 236 of our two-week quarantine to flatten the curve on this COVID thing, and school is still being held at my house. Last week we started your insanely ridiculous AM/PM schedule, where school is supposedly “five days a week” on campus, but I would argue that point. For some reason, my kids are still in my house with me all morning until lunch time, when you graciously accept them on campus for three full hours in the afternoon.

Congratulations on cramming two whole days of school into a mere five.

This has all been done in the name of public health, and specifically in your case, as you keep pointing out to me, for “the health and safety of our students,” which you tell me nearly every day is your “top priority.”

Your breakfasts lead me to believe that is a huge pile of steaming crap. Allow me to explain.

Since COVID quarantining increases the average appetite by approximately 3000%, you guys decided to give every student in the entire school district free breakfast and lunch every day for the whole school year. I guess COVID also increased your school budget by 3000% as well?

Anyway, my wife and I have a consistent track record in the past of never letting our kids eat the school lunches, because learn how to make your own damn lunch at home, kid. And also, we like our money, and I can feed them for less than the school lunches cost.

That all changed when you went to the totally free plan. We cannot feed them at home for free because we don’t have access to our children’s grandchildren’s future tax revenue like you guys do.

And now, with the amazing new AM/PM zoo you have created, the breakfast/lunch combo meals are “grab ‘n go” style. No one is eating lunch on campus anymore, because that would take up literally 33% of their school day, so if any kid happens to wander near the cafeteria now, they are handed a plastic grocery bag full of food. It is at this point I need to put food in quotes. They are given a bag full of “food.”

Some of it is actual food, although the mystery ingredients in that thing you are calling a BBQ sandwich are highly questionable. It looks like the unholy coupling of a burger patty and a McRib sandwich, being held together with the gel from the top of a can of Spam.

Anyway, it’s your breakfasts that are the real problem, and the reason why I don’t think you have any intertest whatsoever in the “health and safety of our students.”

The first time one of my boys brought home a bag containing “breakfast,” they pulled out a sleeve of white powdered mini donuts. You know, the kind you see at the gas station. The super-healthy donuts were paired with a nice chocolate milk. Powdered donuts and chocolate milk? Are you serious right now?

The next breakfast that came home had Pop-Tarts.


So, just to recap thus far, you, as a school district, are physically on record as promoting the idea to our children that powdered mini donuts, chocolate milk, and Pop-Tarts are healthy breakfast choices.

I was just shaking my head at that point, but I was willing to look the other way, because I wanted the powdered mini donuts and Pop-Tarts for myself. I lost my cool, however, when a third breakfast came home containing an individual bowl of Froot Loops.

Froot Loops!

They aren’t even made out of actual food. The people that make Froot Loops are so divorced from actual food that they don’t even know how to spell “fruit.”

Have you guys even read the ingredients list on Froot Loops? The very first ingredient is sugar. In case you aren’t aware – and I am assuming, based on the fact that you handed my son Froot Loops, that you are not – the ingredients are required by law to be listed in order of their overall volume in the recipe.

So, since I still feel like I need to explain that to you, what that means is there is more sugar in one Froot Loop than there is anything else. It is a Loop of sugar being held together by some other minor ingredients.

And just a quick scan of the rest of the list tells us that the boys down at the lab are holding all that sugar together with a small amount of wheat and corn flour combined with Red 40, Blue 2, Yellow 6, and Blue 1. Yum!

So, again, you are keeping our children out of school in the name of health and safety, and at the same time handing them Froot Loops. I gotta tell you, the sugars, chemicals, dyes, and preservatives in that crappy excuse for a cereal have got to be far more dangerous to them than COVID ever hoped to be.

I don’t know how long you intend to keep this up, but as long as you’re in a spending mood and keep doing this grab ‘n go free food plan, can we ixnay the sugary breakfast crap, please?

I would really rather you just handed the kids a bag of crushed glass instead. Even the kindergarteners would have enough sense not to put that in their mouths.

Yours in educational excellence through continued partnership,



Copyright © 2021 Marc Schmatjen


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Wednesday, January 20, 2021

Power Mega Super Smidge Lotto Ball Bucks

I like keeping my money, so I don’t normally spend much of it at all on the lottery. My mother-in-law and I split a California Super Lotto Plus ticket for two dollars each week, just simply because winning $15 million would be neat, and if you don’t buy a ticket, you won’t have a 1 in 438,000,000 chance of winning. I also stand outside in thunderstorms trying to get hit by lightning, just to increase my chances.

Recently, however, I have been laying down four whole additional dollars at a time each week, buying tickets for both the Powerball and the Mega Millions games. That’s because the Powerball jackpot is estimated to be $730 million and the Mega Millions jackpot is up to $970 million.

That’s almost a billion just on the Mega Millions, which is also probably your odds of winning it. Still, mathematicians will tell you your odds drop infinitely if you don’t buy a ticket. (Mathematicians are theoretical number geeks, however, and this is real life, so in this case when they say “drop infinitely” they mean “stay exactly the same.”)

But here’s the really amazing thing about when these jackpots get so high – the next jackpot grows at a massive rate because so many new people like me start playing. For instance, the Mega Millions jackpot that myself and every other living soul in forty-seven states failed to win in yesterday’s draw was $865 million. The projected jackpot for the Friday draw – just three days later – is $970 million. People are going to spend $105 million in three days on tickets, just for this one lottery game.

No one won the Powerball jackpot on Saturday either, and we all spent $90 million on new tickets for tonight’s draw.

Just between those two games, we, as a nation (minus the three loser states that refuse to participate like a bunch of money-saving nerds), have raised $200 million in ticket sales.

I have a proposition for you. Let’s increase our odds dramatically.

Why let the state governments rake in all that money just to tell us that nobody won again?

“But, Smidge, the money goes to benefit the schools,” you might say.

Yeah, right. Let’s not kid ourselves, here. You just know that money, like every other dollar going to the government, gets funneled through someone’s brother-in-law’s law firm first for the “environmental impact study and resources report” on school spending allocation and inclusiveness, only to come out the other end in the form of a huge yacht for their mistress.

Let’s not let that happen again. She already has a fleet of yachts. And his other mistresses do too. They could start their own navy, for Pete’s sake. Let’s keep that money with us, shall we?

Here’s my plan: When no one wins those two games again, roughly one million of us are going to go out and spend two dollars on new tickets. Instead of doing that, I propose that you one million nice folks send me your two dollars. I will put those one million names in a, presumably, very large hat, and draw the name of the winner.

No complicated numbers to pick in a heavily-weighted scheme that is essentially impossible to win. We’ll have a guaranteed winner of $200 million. And your odds of winning skyrocket. (They skyrocket from non-existent to virtually none, but still, they skyrocket.) And we will all go to bed the night before the drawing knowing for sure that one of us is going to win a butt-ton of money.

And if you’d like to fool yourself into thinking that you are “doubling” your chances of winning by buying two tickets, feel free to send me four dollars. Just be aware that the mathematicians are laughing at you. (More than they were before.)

So, what do you say, intrepid gamblers of the forty-seven cool states? Let’s do this! Venmo me your two dollars and we’ll get this thing going.

One of us is about to be filthy, stinking rich!

See you soon,



Copyright © 2021 Marc Schmatjen


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Wednesday, January 13, 2021

Revolution Liz, 2021’s Weepy Mascot

Whelp, we all had high hopes for 2021. I mean, things were kinda looking up in December. England and Russia were starting to vaccinate people against COVID, and we had reports of our own vaccine that would soon be available to relatives of people high up in the Pfizer organization.

Then we watched New Year’s Rockin’ Eve, coming to you live from a completely deserted Times Square, and got the indication that 2021 might not be all we thought it was going to be.

JLo showed up on a stage full of random statues and pillars, to a crowd of yellow and purple beach balls. Standing thirty-four feet above the stage, she was a feather-covered bride on top of a giant feather-covered wedding cake. She was alone on top of the goose-down cake, because the groom had left her at the altar, presumably because she showed up to the ceremony wearing a homemade diamond encrusted hockey mask.

It went downhill from there.

Well, OK, technically that train wreck happened in 2020, so we’re still going to be good, right?

And then came January 6, 2021.

On January 6th we all found out that the security at our nation’s capital is on par with the security at a McDonald’s. A large group of very excited protesters turned into an angry mob and decided it would be fun to just walk into the Capitol. The Capitol, as in, the building where The Congress of the United States of America, the largest superpower on planet Earth, meets to make laws and vote on them and stuff.

It only took a few minutes for a bunch of people not authorized to be in the building to be in the building, actually interrupting and shutting down an actual session of Congress. The actual Congress of the United States of America.

What the actual hell? Can I just go sleep at the White House tonight if I want?

Speaking of the White House, Yahoo’s White House correspondent Hunter Walker was on the scene and interviewed a surprisingly dimwitted woman – our nation’s new revolutionary heroine (or perhaps heroin?), Elizabeth from Knoxville.

Hunter encountered this woman crying (understandably) and wiping her face with a towel outside the Capitol building during the riot.

“What happened to you?” asked Hunter.

“I got Maced!” replied the stylishly-dressed, red-faced and snotty (both literally and figuratively) woman. “I made it like a foot inside and they pushed me out and they Maced me.”

Then, presumably to make sure we all knew the name of our new national savior, she added, “My name is Elizabeth, I’m from Knoxville, Tennessee.”

When Hunter then asked Elizabeth from Knoxville why she had been trying to get into the building that she very clearly was not allowed to be in at the time, she responded, with a surprising amount of indignation in her voice, bordering on all-out participation trophy generation entitlement, “We’re storming the Capitol. It’s a revolution!”

So, just to be clear here, Elizabeth from Knoxville, you are upset that the man with the can of Mace didn’t like your revolution? Is that it? And hats off to you for the heads-up thinking to announce on camera that you just committed a federal crime, and then to give your first name and city of residence for good measure. I’m actually a little surprised you didn’t give us your Instagram handle, too.

“I’m Revolution Liz. Follow me in Insta! OMG, I love how my scarf actually still goes with my red Mace eyes! Revolutions are hard, guys, like, for real. OMG, I’m probably going to end up suing that Mace guy or something.”

Thanks for the wake-up call, Elizabeth. You’ve actually been a great help to your country. You’ve shown us that our nation’s seat of power has the security of Chuck E. Cheese, and we’ve raised a group of people who get personally offended if they happen to get Maced while actually attempting to actually overthrow the actual government of the actual United States of America. Holy crap!

Maybe they should have used an actual mace to get their point across to Elizabeth from Knoxville.

Who knows? Maybe a cop in riot gear swinging a giant heavy pole with spikes on the end might be the deterrent we need to help folks remember to not commit treason?

Apparently pepper spray and bullets just aren’t doing it anymore.

Looking forward to seeing what you have to offer, 2022!

See you soon,



Copyright © 2021 Marc Schmatjen


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Wednesday, January 6, 2021

About the Author, 2021

Here at Just a Smidge, we continue to gain new readership each year. This past year alone we have documented as many as two new readers. So, for both of you just joining us, welcome! Let’s start the New Year with a little meet and greet, shall we?

Hi. I’m Marc Schmatjen, aka Smidge, and I’m the lone staff writer and head Totino’s pizza roll heater-upper here at Just a Smidge. Based on how much money I make writing this column, it would be inaccurate to call this my job, so let’s just go with “hobby.”

I am a forty-eight-year-old husband of one and father of three. My wife is an amazing woman who usually teaches math in a classroom to high school kids with a range of abilities, but this year is running Zoom calls with straight-A high school students asking them to turn their cameras back on and politely inquiring how they managed to do the test question the way Google does it instead of the way it was actually taught to them by her.

We have three boys, whom we affectionately refer to as Son Number One, Two, and Three. Two of them are teenagers and all three of them are loud and smelly and they eat a lot.

Anyway, enough about my wife and kids. Let’s talk more about me. Here are twenty other things that you should probably know about me, in no particular order:

1) I would be aging incredibly well if I were ten to fifteen years older than I am.

2) My grandfather killed General Patton's dog. That is the single most historically outstanding thing anyone in my family has done. We are a proud people.

3) Walking out into bright sunlight makes me sneeze. I am one of only an estimated seven people in the world with this disorder. We have a club. I inherited this trait from my grandmother, whose husband once killed General George Patton’s dog.

4) I am related to U.S. president Grover Cleveland on my maternal grandmother’s side, whose husband (my grandmother’s, not Grover Cleveland’s) - I believe I may have mentioned this - killed General George S. Patton’s beloved English bull terrier, Willie. I don't really care about being related to Grover Cleveland since he’s not Teddy Roosevelt. Teddy once got shot in the chest while leaving his hotel to give a speech. He continued on to the auditorium and gave an eighty-four-minute speech with a bullet in his ribs. Teddy was by far our coolest president.

5) A few of my literary heroes are Roald Dahl, Dr. Seuss, Erma Bombeck, Michael Connelly, and Dave Barry. My grandfather did not kill any of their dogs, that I am aware of.

6) My once-fantastic eyesight is relaxing like a tired dad in a Barcalounger. My arms are not long enough to read small print anymore, or even the medium print. Also, every other part of my body aches.

7) As an author and a writer, I am not afraid to say that books of non-rhyming “poetry” with sentences like, “My mind is a seedless grape, grasping to comprehend the melancholy oration, drowning in a cacophony of humanity…” etc., are written by people who are too scared to attempt to write anything that is required to make sense.

8) My face is going numb. Why does this happen to men? You see old guys all the time eating dinner with food stuck to their faces. We just can’t feel it on there anymore. My chin is completely dead at this point.

9) My three favorite flavors are burnt pepperoni, slightly burnt bacon, and well-toasted sesame seeds. Basically, if it has caught on fire, I want to eat it. Except for my s’more marshmallows. Those should only be browned. (And they will end up stuck to my chin, where they will remain until my wife scolds me.)

10) I was in shape once. I swam 100,000 yards in one week when I was in high school. (That’s 57 miles, for you English majors). I could not swim more than 57 yards today without needing a floatation device, an oxygen tank, and a defibrillator. See number 11.

11) I love chocolate and bacon and I sit all day. See number 10.

12) I constantly get my left and right mixed up. This makes driving directions with my wife fun.

13) I am a recovering engineer, so I know there are only 10 kinds of people in the world: those who understand binary, and those who don’t.

14) My favorite joke of all time is: A guy walks into the psychiatrist’s office wearing nothing but underwear made out of Saran wrap. The doctor takes one look at him and says, "Well, I can clearly see you’re nuts."

15) I like writing dialogue.

“You do?” they asked in unison.

“Yes. I do,” he said solemnly.

16) I like most foods (see number 10), but I have a deep, abiding hatred for cantaloupe. If bacon is a 10, cantaloupe is a negative 3000.

17) I love to travel and I love to stay home, but I don’t want an RV. Go figure.

18) My absolute favorite thing that has ever happened on this earth – and I am including my marriage and the birth of my children in that – was when the Oregon State Highway Division tried to disintegrate a dead whale with a half-ton of dynamite in 1970. I wasn’t around yet, but thankfully they had video cameras back then. (Just Google “Oregon Exploding Whale.”)

19) I hope to one day be in charge of detonating something as large as a dead whale, but so far, my wife has not let me.

20) I only type with three of my ten fingers, so this is all very impressive, if you stop and think about it.

So, there you have it, folks. You now know everything you need to know about me. We'll be back to our regularly scheduled programming next week.

See you soon,



Copyright © 2021 Marc Schmatjen


Your new favorite T-shirt is at SmidgeTees

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Wednesday, December 30, 2020

2020 - A Craptastic Year in Review

Let’s take a look back at this dumpster fire of a year, shall we?


Even before the whole coronavirus mess started, the year was already in a complete shambles. Murder hornets had arrived in the U.S. from Asia and the entire continent of Australia was on fire. Iran declared war on two of our military bases and then shot down a commercial airliner, and the U.S. House of Representatives attempted to impeach the president. When that failed, they impeached the murder hornets instead. All of that was overshadowed, of course, by the tragic news that Prince Harry and Meghan Markle were quitting the royal family. Iran then declared war on the royal family and released murder hornets in a London scone factory to show they were serious.


We all started hearing more about something called COVID-19 that either gave you the sniffles or killed you instantly. Then things really got bad when a man named Bad Bunny in a bedazzled silver trench coat and a white napkin on his head actually performed alongside real singers at the Super Bowl halftime show. NASA astronaut Christina Koch returned to Earth after a record 328 days in space, saw the Super Bowl halftime show, and immediately returned to the international space station. Shortly afterward, a movie called "Parasite" swept the Oscars, further validating Christina’s decision.


In a monetary signal of what was to come, the Dow Jones Industrial Average suffered its worst single-day point drop ever of over 2000 points. Americans responded by investing heavily in toilet paper. The WHO (both the band, and the World Health Organization) declared the coronavirus outbreak a pandemic after hearing the news that Tom Hanks and his wife Rita Wilson tested positive in Australia. They also tested positive for third-degree burns since the entire continent was still on fire. The NBA suspended its season, announcing in a statement, “We’ll be damned if we’re going to play basketball while one of our nation’s most cherished actors is sick AND on fire.”

The Dow fell another 2,300 point after the U.S. released the Netflix documentary, Tiger King. All remaining sports canceled their seasons, including Broadway shows, but the most telling sign of how bad things had become was the closure of Mount Everest, leading many people to say, “Huh?”

The Dow set another single-day point drop record at 2997 after the news that bars in New York were closing. Apparently, all the stock traders just ran out of the building to check if that was really true.

School stopped happening at school and began happening, rather poorly, in our living rooms.


The U.S. government, in an attempt to make everyone feel better about living room school, sent us all a bunch of money. Every single penny was spent purchasing toilet paper. Grocery store bag boys were revered as being brave, “essential workers,” leading most police, fire, and medical professionals to say, “Huh?”

The entire world began to learn how to use Zoom video conferencing. No one has figured out the mute button as of yet.


George Floyd died while being restrained by Minneapolis police officers, sparking worldwide protests against anti-black racism, police, and/or police procedures. Sadly, massive rioting, looting, and arson followed, leading the legitimate protesters to probably ironically wish there were more police around.


Toilet paper sales skyrocketed as reports came in that North Korea had cut off communication with South Korea after destroying the Inter-Korean Liaison Office. South Korea responded by saying, “Oh, wow. No kidding? We didn’t even know we still had that office. OK, best of luck, guys.”

Living room school mercifully ended for the summer.


In the clearest sign of the rapidly approaching apocalypse, rapper Kanye West announced his candidacy in the 2020 presidential election. Americans responded by continuing to hoard toilet paper.

Appalled by Kanye’s announcement, or by the price of his tennis shoes, God began earthquake, hurricane, and fire season. Rightfully so, Los Angeles was the first area targeted.

America finally got some good news as we learned that beloved Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg reached a net worth exceeding $100 billion, becoming only the third centibillionaire, alongside Jeff Bezos and Bill Gates. We also learned that between them, those three men own 100% of the toilet paper manufacturing businesses worldwide, so it all started to make sense.

A rare thunderstorm from remnants of Tropical Storm Fausto ignited hundreds of wildfires in California in a record number of lightning strikes. This was, thankfully, coupled with a record-breaking heat wave. As most of California burned and the rest of the state choked on the smoke, we got some more good news; Apple Inc. became the first U.S. company to be valued at over $2 trillion. And they did it without owning any toilet paper manufacturing!

Not to be upstaged, shortly after the Apple announcement, Jeff Bezos became the first person in history to have a net worth exceeding $200 billion, spurred, no doubt, by toilet paper sales. Ever the comedian, Mr. Bezos was quoted as saying, “With toilet paper, I make money on both ends.”

With a second heat wave, California set a new record for the area of land destroyed by wildfires. Oregon, not wanting California to have all the fun, had over 10% of the state’s population evacuate their homes due to their own wildfires. Meanwhile, hurricane Sally brought catastrophic flooding to the southern US after making landfall, prompting Californians and Oregonians to unanimously wish they had hurricanes for the first time ever. Rioting continued in Portland, Oregon, presumably because it was the one part of the state not on fire.


President Trump tested positive for COVID-19 and entered quarantine, where he tweeted, “This disease is great. It’s huge. Everyone is talking about it. It’s going to be big. We’re excited about it. Everyone is talking about it. It’s going to be huge.”

Rumors flew that Halloween would be canceled due to the pandemic, and/or a massive shortage of toilet paper for mummy costumes. Children across the United States logged into their parents’ Amazon accounts and bought their own candy. As a result, Jeff Bezos became the first quazadrillionaire.

With hair salons still shut down, and the resulting lack of tax revenue from their historically honest and accurate tip reporting, the national debt surpassed $27 trillion for the first time. Apple was quoted in an official statement as saying, “Sorry, we really can’t help. We only have $2 trillion. That’s not going to cover it. Did we mention we were worth $2 trillion? Yeah, it’s no big deal.” Jeff Bezos was heard clearing his throat in the background.

Meanwhile, Pizza Hut filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection after closing 163 restaurants; a move that baffled economists since marijuana is legal in so many states now. On the marijuana front, protesters in Portland, Oregon, knocked over a huge statue of Abraham Lincoln, apparently forgetting why they had been protesting since May.

In yet another clear sign of the looming apocalypse, the Los Angeles Dodgers won the 2020 World Series, their first in 32 years. While Dodger fans blindly celebrated, the rest of us fully understood that this “season” was a total joke and the “World Series” didn’t actually count, but whatever.

To round out the month of October, as Americans celebrated a sterile and boring Halloween with Amazon candy, Typhoon Goni made landfall in the Philippines, becoming the strongest landfalling tropical cyclone in history, prompting the world to ask, “What the hell is the difference between a hurricane, a typhoon, and a cyclone?”


In response to five months of continuous Portland rioting, Oregon naturally became the first state to decriminalize possession of small amounts of narcotics, including heroin, cocaine, and LSD. In an effort to revitalize Pizza Huts around the nation, voters in Arizona, Montana, New Jersey, Mississippi, and South Dakota voted to legalize marijuana.

The world waited on the edge of their seats as Edith Montgomery, the eighty-six-year-old Nevada state election clerk, counted the entire state’s presidential ballots by hand at her dimly-lit card table. The process was further slowed by her breaks for Ensure and regular naps. Many, many naps later, by both Edith and the two presidential candidates, the election was decided for Joe Biden. President Trump immediately tweeted, “This disease is great. It’s huge. Everyone is talking about it. It’s going to be big. We’re excited about it. Everyone is talking about it. It’s going to be huge.”

With the election chaos behind us, we were free to focus on the really important story that Elon Musk overtook Bill Gates to become the second richest person in the world, with a net worth of $127.9 billion, behind only Jeff Bezos. Bezos immediately put out a statement saying, “Why are we even focusing on these guys? I’m worth more than both of them combined, pretty much. The only person I’m not richer than is Apple!”

Spurred by the good news on the Musk/Gates/Bezos front, the Dow increased by 500 points to surpass 30,000 for the first time, so I guess all the record-breaking losses weren’t really that big a deal after all???


Since the COVID vaccine was taking too long, the House of Representatives instead passed a bill, known as the Marijuana Opportunity Reinvestment and Expungement Act, to decriminalize recreational cannabis at the federal level. On an unrelated note, every statue of anyone has finally been knocked down.

Days later, Russia began mass vaccination against COVID-19 with the Sputnik V candidate. We are not making that name up. The vaccinations went ahead despite having only been tested on one monkey, which later died. The world is not hopeful for Russia, since the CDC confirmed that Sputnik V is literally just a syringe full of vodka.

It took all year, but 2020 didn’t end without COVID cases finally being reported in Antarctica, the last continent to report infections. They are currently awaiting Sputnik V, but plan to drink it.

And against all odds, the year of 2020 – a four-digit number that has become synonymous with anything that is going poorly – is ending on a good note. Perhaps in a move to shore up worldwide morale, Nepal and China have finally officially agreed on Mount Everest's actual height, which is 8,848.86 meters. (58,944 feet, 3 inches). Jeff Bezos immediately purchased it. It remains unclear if it has reopened to hikers yet.


Good riddance to 2020. Let’s all raise a cold glass of Sputnik V, and welcome in 2021. Cheers!

See you soon,



Copyright © 2020 Marc Schmatjen


Your new favorite T-shirt is at SmidgeTees

Your new favorite book is from SmidgeBooks

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Wednesday, December 23, 2020

The 2020 Do-It-Yourself Christmas Letter

Much like your sense of self-worth and your will to put on real pants, you’ve also completely lost your desire to write a Christmas letter this year. Hey, don’t beat yourself up. This is 2020! Who could blame you?

But now it’s two days ‘til Christmas and you’re kicking yourself about it while you sit motionless in your couch divot in the same pair of pajama pants you’ve been wearing since Halloween. There’s no way you can get a coherent letter put together in time now.

Well, once again, ol’ Smidgey Claus has got you covered. I have created the 2020 DIY Christmas Letter Grid. Just pick one item from each column in order to string together a sentence that best fits your 2020 experience. Repeat as needed to fully recap your dumpster fire of a year.

Now, get to it. There’s no time to lose.








We lost

our jobs


the election.

We hoarded



the hurricanes.

We sheltered with

toilet paper


the wildfires.

We cried about

Tiger King

in the middle of

the couch.

We prayed for

at least 20 pounds


the lockdown.

We binged

junk food

prior to

the DOW crash.

We gained

the vaccine


the rioting.

We bought

personal hygiene



We worried about



social distancing.

We abandoned

essential workers


distance learning.

We lived without

Amazon Prime


a Zoom meeting.

There you go. Now add a “Merry Christmas,” sign, and send. You’re all set.

Don’t say I never did anything for you! Now hunker down in your couch divot and let’s pray for 2021 to get here ASAP.

Merry Christmas, y’all!

See you soon,



Copyright © 2020 Marc Schmatjen


Your new favorite T-shirt is at SmidgeTees

Your new favorite book is from SmidgeBooks

Your new favorite humor columnist is on Facebook Just a Smidge

Wednesday, December 16, 2020

Party Like it's 2020

‘Tis the season to be jolly, but that is proving a little harder this year, because 2020 ‘tis not the year of the Christmas party, or any other party, for that matter, except perhaps the communist party, because commies are the worst, and so is 2020.

Chances are, your annual Christmas get-togethers have been torpedoed by COVID, just like your job, your children’s education, your favorite sports, your waistline, and your sanity. Well, that doesn’t mean the fun has to stop! It just means it’s going to be a little different this year.

Here’s how to handle the cancellation of each type of Christmas party.

1) The Annual Extended Family Christmas Party

Look, we’re not going to lie to each other, here. You’re sad about this one, and also a little happy about this one. Yes, you will miss the good food and the five to ten people you were looking forward to seeing, but you will not miss Uncle Eddie cornering you for half an hour to talk about his enlarged prostate. Schedule some cocktail hour Zoom calls with the select few and drink a toast to Aunt Edna’s new hip.


2) The Neighborhood Christmas Party

Depending on your neighbors, you may or may not have been looking forward to this one. Never fear, there is good news here for both sides. Schedule a night (weather permitting) for everyone to put some lawn chairs out on their own driveways and huddle around the portable fire pit or barbecue. If you actually like your neighbors, you can then wander down the sidewalks and visit with them from an appropriate social distance. If you weren’t too thrilled about the party in the first place, you can stay on your own driveway near your own fire, pound the eggnog, and politely request that all passersby stay safely on the sidewalk. If they don’t comply, repel them with flaming marshmallows. Ho ho ho.


3) The Casual Social Acquaintance Christmas Party

You got put on the guest list for this one years ago when a friend of a friend suggested adding you, and you’ve been stuck reluctantly going to this party full of randoms ever since. Reply to the cancelation notice with “regret” while casually mentioning that you converted to Islam during your recent time in prison, and happily kiss this one goodbye.


4) Your Company Holiday Party

This is a blessing for everyone involved. Your spouse won’t have to endure the small talk hell that comes with this dreaded event, and it’s very hard for you to get fired because you had one too many spiced rums and peed in the potted plant at home. As long as the holiday bonus check still finds its way to you, this is a win all the way around. Just remember, when you get drunk at your own house, you won’t have access to the full-size office copier, so you’ll have to take pictures of your butt with your phone and get them to your coworkers via text. Cheers!


5) Your Spouse’s Company Holiday Party

Again, this cancellation is a huge blessing. Your spouse won’t have to fret all night about your inevitable embarrassing behavior, and you won’t have to get drunk with all the other uncomfortable spouses who don’t want to be there. Just keep your fingers crossed for that holiday bonus, fire up Netflix, and sip some eggnog on the couch with your honey. And for this one, once the whiskey you put in that nog kicks in, you can take pictures of your butt with your phone and text them to your spouse.


6) Your Small Christmas Party with Your Group of Good Friends

This one is not canceled. These are the people you’ve been hanging out with this whole time. Light the yule log and get your jolly on. Merry Christmas, y’all!

See you soon,



Copyright © 2020 Marc Schmatjen


Your new favorite T-shirt is at SmidgeTees

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Wednesday, December 9, 2020

A Slightly Modified Christmas

We all know that 2020 has been a little funky, both in terms of COVID completely turning our lives upside down and also in terms of how your house smells since your kids have been going to school from your living room for nine months.

Well, Christmas 2020 isn’t going to be any less funky, so buckle up, buckaroos. We’re about to have Christmas COVID style. Here’s a short rundown on how it’s going to work this year.

For starters, many of you have been putting off your family Christmas pictures due to the obvious outbreak of COVID hair. You and your spouse are almost unrecognizable to each other at this point, and your children look like the end result of a drunken hookup between Cousin It and a yeti.

You’re going to need to bite the bullet and just do it. That cutesy holiday snapshot of your family isn’t going to get any prettier, and chances are, one of your kids is pretty good with Photoshop, so there’s some hope.

Christmas cookies are going to need to be contactless this year. You can still attempt to bake tasty treats for your friends and neighbors, but it will be challenging to say the least. Since we apparently know nothing about how COVID works, we must assume that it can survive 350 degrees for 20 minutes. That means you cannot come within six feet of any of the ingredients without being in a full hazmat suit.

Extra-long mixing spoons aside, your shopping cart was probably within six feet of you, another shopper, or a clerk during the ingredient purchasing process, so you’re really finished before you even started.

Best to just bake all the treats you would have normally made as gifts, then eat them all yourself with an eggnog chaser in front of a Hallmark Christmas movie marathon.

Santa will still be at the mall, but he will be inside a large plastic bubble, so your kids won’t get to sit on his lap. Also, the mall will be closed, so the best we can do is have you drive by with the kids and wave to him through the glass doors while he’s in his plastic bubble. Also, the glass doors will be covered with plywood to prevent looting.

Santa’s North Pole workshop is still open, being deemed an essential service, however the elves now have to work in cohorts of ten, on a rotating hybrid schedule to be able to maintain a six-elf-length spacing around the work benches. If one elf tests positive for COVID, the entire cohort, and any cohorts working in an adjacent workshop area, will need to quarantine until 2021. This has the potential to affect toy production, but the good news is Amazon seems to have ramped up to fill the gaps. We should be OK.

Speaking of elves, the Elves on the Shelves are no longer allowed to return to the North Pole each night, or at all, actually, due to the cohort quarantine shelter-in-place lockdown distance learning travel restriction slow the spread flatten the curve rules. This means they will now stay in your house 24/7, which presents a problem. Homesick elves will drink heavily to mask the pain, and a drunk elf is an unpredictable elf. Hide the peppermint schnapps and the spiced rum or you will be in for some very odd and distasteful elf pranks. Let’s just say you won’t be able to trust any of the chocolates in that See’s Candy sampler, if you know what I mean.

Since the reindeer naturally quarantine in a cohort of nine, they will be ready to go on Christmas Eve. Nothing drastic has changed about Santa’s delivery method this year since he is the original social distancer. He will enter and exit your home as usual, but your Santa treats will obviously need to be modified. In lieu of a plate of cookies and a glass of milk this year, you need to leave him an unopened school lunch milk and a sealed snack-size bag of Famous Amos chocolate chip cookies, both floating in a bucket of hand sanitizer.

Speaking of hand sanitizer, that brings up the one change in Santa’s gift-giving procedures. Naturally, Santa will social distance, but even with the fur-lined winter gloves, Santa is unable to deliver your gifts in a truly contactless manner. As such, all your presents will be completely covered in hand sanitizer this year. Also, all your presents ARE hand sanitizer.

Of course, all Christmas Eve caroling will need to be done via Zoom this year. This could present a never-before-seen issue for you and your Charles Dickens-clad choir group. People on Zoom will now be able to virtually do what they always wanted to physically do in the past, but were too polite – shut the door on you. Expect a lot of black screens and audio connection “problems.” Sorry, and best of luck to you crazy kids!

And lastly, popcorn strings will not be strung on the Christmas tree this year. All homemade popcorn strings have been deemed essential emergency supplies by the federal government and therefore cannot be wasted on the tree. They will instead need to be stored in the bathroom to be used as a last alternative in the event of a catastrophic nationwide holiday toilet paper shortage.

Good luck with that, and happy holidays!

See you soon,



Copyright © 2020 Marc Schmatjen


Your new favorite T-shirt is at SmidgeTees

Your new favorite book is from SmidgeBooks

Your new favorite humor columnist is on Facebook Just a Smidge