Wednesday, November 24, 2021

Ask Smidge - The Turkey Edition - Repost

Thanksgiving is tomorrow, and if you’re like most of our Ask Smidge readers, you’re just now realizing that you might have to start cooking a big meal in a few hours from now. Just like last year, your extended family may not be able to join you – not because of COVID lockdown restrictions, but because all the time apart has made them realize they never really liked you that much.

So, this whole meal might be up to you to prepare. It’s a scary situation. Believe me, we understand. Many of you know nothing about cooking anything other than Pop-Tarts and Cheerios, so naturally you have turned to the only truly trusted source for all things culinary – the Ask Smidge advice column.

Our inbox has been inundated with poultry-related questions. You ask, we answer! (As always in a fact-based, scientific, and completely non-made-up-on-the-spot manner. We’re here to help, after all.)




I know absolutely nothing about cooking a turkey. What temperature do I use and how long should I cook it?

Novice in Norfolk


Dear Novice,

There is nothing to it. First you have to weigh the bird. Do this while it is still alive, so you can just walk it onto your bathroom scale. Once you remove the feathers and the feet, you’ll cook the bird on high for 90 minutes per pound. Carve and enjoy.





This is my first time doing anything at all with a turkey. We bought a frozen one at the store this week. Do I need to thaw it before cooking?

Frozen in Fort Worth


Dear Frozen,

Thawing is a personal choice. A thawed bird will be slightly juicier, but a frozen turkey will have a crispier skin. If you put it in the oven frozen, simply add five minutes per pound to your cook time.





I have never purchased or cooked the turkey before, and I don’t know what size to get. Do they even come in different sizes? We have three teenage boys and my sister has two teenage girls and a grown son. Please help.

Shopping in Santa Barbara


Dear Shopping,

Yes, turkeys do come in various sizes. Economy, Compact, Intermediate, Standard, Midsize, Full Size SUV, Convertible, Luxury, and Luxury Elite Platinum. You want to plan for about ten pounds of bird for every high schooler, so look for one at your store in the 70-80 pound range to be safe.





I’ve helped with the turkey before, but I’ve never been in charge of the stuffing, and I’m lost. Where do I start?

Breadless in Bangor


Dear Breadless,

Stuffing could not be simpler, because the turkey does all the work. Stuffing is nothing more than full-size dinner rolls that cooked down inside the bird. As the turkey cooks, the rolls break apart naturally and form into the smaller stuffing pieces that you know and love. Just buy a couple extra packages of dinner rolls and cram as many of them as you can into that bad boy before you pop it in the oven. The turkey does the rest!





I’m in charge of everything this year, and I don’t know anything about how to make gravy. Do you even make it, or do you buy it? Help!

Dry Dinner in Denver


Dear Dry Dinner,

As with stuffing, gravy is a breeze because the bird does all the work. Gravy is not sold in stores, because it is a natural byproduct of the turkey cooking process. All turkeys are fed a rich diet of corn starch, flour, and butter from a young age, so as they cook, the carcass secretes the ready-to-eat gravy. Yum! That’s why you always cook a turkey in one of those big pans. Makes sense, right? Enjoy!





I’m cooking the bird for the first time this year, so I’m thinking about switching it up and deep frying it in oil. What do you think?

Oiled in Omaha


Dear Oiled,

Deep frying a turkey can be a great option, depending on where you live. You’re in Nebraska, where it’s likely to be cold this Thanksgiving, so I’d say go for it. If you were in a warmer climate, I would probably advise against it. That’s because there is a 100% chance that you will set your house on fire when attempting a turkey deep fry. You folks in the frigid Midwest will enjoy the extra warmth, while the raging grease fire would just be an inconvenient distraction for people in Florida and California, really adding no benefit to the day.




Well, there you have it, America. You’re all set to cook the perfect turkey and have an enjoyable day with whomever still wants to come to your house this year.

Have a tasty Thanksgiving!


See you soon,



Copyright © 2021 Marc Schmatjen


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Wednesday, November 17, 2021

Please Stop Disclaiming

There is something we need to fix, America. Everything else seems to be running like a Swiss watch out there except this one item. Can we please tell the radio stations they can stop saying, “Message and data rates may apply” when they ask us to text or call into a contest?

I mean, come on! Aren’t we past that by now? Are there actually cell phone users out there that don’t understand how their message and data plans work? And maybe more to the point, who is still out there worrying about their plan’s limits? I guess data is one thing, but do cell companies even have limited text plans anymore?

And why do the radio stations even feel the need to add that disclaimer? What are they afraid of? Someone suing them for not knowing, let alone explaining to them, how their own cell plan works? Who in the hell is going to win that court case?

Plaintiff: “Your honor, this radio station owes me $57.23, because when I texted into their Workday Payday contest it put me over the limit on both my messages and my data.”

Judge: “You are a moron. Leave my courtroom before I have you arrested for being too stupid to be left on your own.”

And why did the radio station lawyers pick that one obvious thing to point out over every other obvious radio station disclaimer they could have?

Caution, you probably won’t love 100% of these songs.

Caution, listening to our ads might give you the impression that you have a rare disease that no one has ever heard of. Talk to your doctor about endocrine pancreatic insufficiency today.

Caution, playing air drums in your car at a red light may permanently ruin your chances with that good looking stranger to your left.

Caution, listening to this station at an extremely loud volume can make your wife annoyed at you later in life when you can’t hear anything she says from the other room.

Seriously, guys, please! Message and data rates haven’t applied in a long time. Let it go.

Now, can we move to the all-Christmas format already? It’s almost Thanksgiving.

Caution, this station will make your wife bug you about putting up the Christmas lights.

See you soon,



Copyright © 2021 Marc Schmatjen


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Wednesday, November 10, 2021

Veterans Day

I am proud to say I have quite a few veterans in my family tree, including my own father, his father, and my wife’s grandfather. The old war story that always makes me smile, however, is one from my mom’s side of the tree.

Brad Dolliver, my mom’s Uncle Brad, was a WWII and Korean War veteran. He was the Captain of a B-24 Liberator in WWII, a bomber named the “What’s Cookin’ Doc?,” complete with Bugs Bunny painted on the nose.

He received his plane and his crew here in the U.S., and they had to fly from his home state of Colorado to Kansas for training, and then make the long trip overseas. On the day they were leaving, he called his wife, who worked at the courthouse, and told her to come out onto the front steps on Main Street at noon.

She assumed he was going to drive up with flowers or a box of candy, so you can imagine her surprise when Uncle Brad’s shiny silver B-24 roared over the center of town, less than 500 feet above Main Street. He was so low she said she could clearly see the face of his tail gunner, smiling and waving from his little bubble window in the back of the plane.

When Uncle Brad got to the end of the street, he pulled back on all the throttles momentarily, then slammed them all forward to the stops, backfiring all four engines on his way out of town. An exhaustive “I Love You” courtesy of Pratt & Whitney, and a crazy-dangerous stunt.

He and his crew continued their low-altitude midwestern barn burning run all the way across two states. He was flying so low over some farms that his tail gunner radioed up to the cockpit to announce that the prop wash from the engines was picking chickens up off the ground and flipping them around in the air behind the plane.

Captain Dolliver only decided to put a little more sky between his plane and the ground when the tail gunner radioed back over Kansas to let them know they’d just sent a farmer diving for his life into the dirt off a moving tractor.

(That incident could very well have been the first chance meeting between the families, since my dad’s side were Kansas farmers, but, alas, we’ll never know.)

Brad said, when interviewed later in life about the flight, quite simply, that none of them knew if they were ever coming back, so they were having as much fun as they could along the way.

As it turns out, thankfully, his whole crew did make it back. Captain Dolliver and his nine men flew thirty missions over Europe, only sustaining one single crew injury, when flak shrapnel hit one of his gunners on their final mission over Germany. That was an amazing feat, since their campaign tour included being shot down on Christmas Day, 1944.

They were hit hard by anti-aircraft fire that knocked out three of his four engines, and he knew they couldn’t make it back to their airfield in England. He was losing altitude fast and heading for the Allied lines in France when he told the crew to bail out. There was heavy ground fog, and he had his eye on a large clearing, but had no way of knowing if it was a field or a lake.

His crew unanimously disobeyed his order and they all stayed with him in the crippled plane. As he recalled, he made the smoothest landing of his entire career that day, thankfully, in what turned out to be a plowed field. He and his crew hitched a ride with a French farmer in a pickup truck, and Uncle Brad assumed they were being taken to the nearest Allied forces.

Fortunately, the navigator didn’t stop doing his job after he got out of the plane. He was paying attention, and informed Captain Dolliver that they were being driven in the wrong direction, toward the Germans. The way Uncle Brad told the next part of the story speaks volumes about his generation and their matter-of-fact style. As he put it, “Somehow my .45 ended up in that Frenchman’s ear, and we got that truck turned around the right way.”

Got to love it.

Uncle Brad and his crew were some of the lucky ones that returned home from the wars they fought. Tomorrow, on the very special day we set aside to remember and thank our veterans each year, let us not forget those who gave their lives for our liberty, and the liberty of other nations. It’s the men and women that no one ever got a chance to thank who deserve our utmost appreciation. Their lives were cut short on our behalf, and that is a debt of gratitude that can never be repaid.

I can’t imagine a sacrifice more grave or selfless than the one the soldier makes when he or she leaves their family behind to fight on foreign soil on our behalf. The physical, mental, and emotional toll must be staggering, but we are reminded of the caliber of people who stand at our defense when we hear them say, as Brad Dolliver said, “We were just doing our jobs.”

The humility and grace of our nation’s finest always strikes and inspires me, and I am always at a loss for words of gratitude when I get the chance to express my appreciation. It’s always just a simple “thank you,” because anything else I would or could try to convey would fall well short of the reverence deserved.

So, from this grateful American to all you VFW’s out there, all I can say is, “Thank you for your service.”

God bless you all.

See you soon,



Copyright © 2021 Marc Schmatjen


Your new favorite T-shirt is at SmidgeTees

Your new favorite book is from SmidgeBooks

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Wednesday, November 3, 2021

An Open Letter to the Medical Insurance Industry

Dear Medical Insurance Folks,

Do you guys remember a couple years ago when I took all three of our boys in for their annual “wellness visits?” Those visits that are supposed to be free under your plan in an attempt to make us think that you care about us getting regular check-ups and staying healthy?

Remember when the doctor noticed a wart on Son Number Two’s foot and offered to freeze it off real quick? I was there, so I remember. He grabbed a spray can of freon (or something else really cold) out of the cabinet on the wall and sprayed the wart. The entire process, including asking if he wanted it done, took less than fifteen seconds.

Do you guys remember that the visit then became a “surgery” in your insanely whacked out system, and you charged me $450 for his free annual wellness visit, instead of the customary zero dollars?

Yeah, that was fun. Good times.

I thought your system was broken back then, but Monday you proved to me that I hadn’t seen anything yet.

Monday was annual wellness visit day, and their doctor confirmed medically what my wife and I had suspected – their feet are huge! He was also able to confirm that Son Number One has a very mild case of regular old teenage acne. While he was checking him out, he wrote him a prescription for some acne cream that is a little stronger than the over-the-counter stuff, hoping to just completely clear him up.

When he examined Son Number Two, he noted that he had an even milder case of teenage acne than his older brother, but asked me if I wanted him to prescribe the same thing.

“Sure,” I said, naively, not believing that even your malfunctioning system could screw something as simple as this up. Ha! I went to the pharmacy later that day to get my dose of reality slapped across my face.

“I have two prescriptions to pick up for my sons. They are both the same thing.”

“OK, yes, we have them right here. This one will be $10, and this one is $147.53.”

I am not making this up.


“Yeah, that’s weird,” said the pharmacist, frowning at the computer screen. “They are the same exact thing. What happened there? Do you have individual deductibles?”

“Yes, but neither of them have racked anything up this year. We haven’t been to the doctor at all.”

“Weird! Let me run it again… nope, came up the same.”

“OK, well, I think I’ll just take the $10 one and they can just share.”

The nice pharmacist promised that she would keep looking into why the prices were so whacked out, but she hasn’t gotten back to me yet. Do you know why I think that is? Because she can’t figure out your insane system either.

Two boys on the exact same insurance plan get prescribed the exact same medicine on the exact same office visit, and Son Number One’s bill is $10, and Number Two’s is $150. How on God’s green earth can you look me in the eye and tell me this system is working?

The only possible explanation I can come up with is you think the acne cream is some sort of follow-up treatment for his wart “surgery.”

Your system is completely and utterly broken.

I’d ask you to fix it, but I have a strong hunch that “broken” is exactly the way you want it.

Kindly bite me,



Copyright © 2021 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