Wednesday, November 30, 2022


Yes, it’s that time of year again, when the debate rages around the yule log, merry and bright – is it eggnog or egg nog? One word or two?

While you argue amongst yourselves, I thought I’d share my foolproof recipe for this traditional holiday beverage.


6 large egg yolks

3/4 cup sugar

2 cups milk

2 whole cloves

Pinch cinnamon

1 cup heavy cream

1 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg (lightly packed)

1-1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract

4 egg whites

Your favorite bourbon whiskey


Gather together all the ingredients except the bourbon, and find a large saucepan. Throw all of the gathered ingredients into the trash and use the saucepan to defend yourself against anyone attempting to give you eggnog. Pour the bourbon over ice and enjoy with or without regular Coca-Cola. Your choice!

Eggnog, as the name explicitly states, contains eggs as a primary ingredient. You are not Rocky Balboa. Eggs are not a beverage. They are meant to be eaten with bacon and used to make cookies and cakes. They are basically snot until cooked, and therefore it should be obvious to anyone not to drink them.

Eggnog was invented long ago during a horrific drought and ensuing bourbon shortage, by some very poor, very uneducated peasants. They got bored with the straight cows’ milk and did something unspeakable – added raw eggs to it.

When the drought was over and people heard about what they had done, they tried to save face by pretending it was a good idea and adding bourbon to make it a “festive” holiday drink. In reality, they were just trying to get drunk and forget they were drinking eggs.

Let’s not perpetuate this horrible mistake onto another unsuspecting generation. Stop the madness. Keep your children safe. Tell them to just say no to nogs of any kind.

See you soon,



Copyright © 2022 Marc Schmatjen


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Wednesday, November 23, 2022

Ask Smidge – The Turkey Edition - Repost

Thanksgiving is tomorrow, and if you’re like most of our Ask Smidge readers, you’re just now trying to figure out what to do. That big, fancy meal isn’t going to cook itself, and you have no idea what you’re doing. 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 or without a life-threatening oil fire. Your choice.

Have a tasty Thanksgiving!

See you soon,



Copyright © 2022 Marc Schmatjen


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Wednesday, November 16, 2022

Band Together to Lose

With the college and pro football seasons in full swing, and Thanksgiving right around the corner, it’s time to look back on a historic gridiron moment and give thanks that we weren’t part of the band.

November 20, 2022 will be the 40th anniversary of The Play at the end of The Big Game.

If you are unfamiliar, I’m not being generic or randomly capitalizing words like I normally do. The Big Game is one of the oldest college rivalries in the United States, which began in 1892 right here in the Golden State, when Stanford University played Cal Berkeley for the first time.

No one wore helmets or shoes, and the ball was not just pigskin – it was a live pig. The final score was Cal at a half pence and Stanford at a quarter shilling. It was a jolly-good contest!

The rules and scoring have been refined over the years, but The Big Game lives on. The 125th Big Game is this Saturday, November 19th. Home field swaps each year, and it’s an even year, so the game will be at Cal, as it was on that fateful day in 1982.

The Cal Bears led 19-17 in the final minutes of the 85th Big Game, but at the end of the fourth quarter, the Stanford Cardinal (named after a pine tree, of course) mounted an impressive comeback.  

Starting from their own 13-yard-line, on a dismal 4th and 17, Stanford, led by THE John Elway himself, drove all the way down the field to kick a go-ahead field goal with only four seconds left on the clock.

I’m not sure why Cal had been ahead at all, because having John Elway was a clear advantage for the Cardinal since he was already the quarterback for the Denver Broncos at the time. He was just back in town visiting family over the Thanksgiving break.

Be that as it may, with what should have been the final score of Cal 19 – Stanford 20 up on the scoreboard, Stanford kicked off to run out the remaining four seconds on the clock, and so began, The Play.

The Cal Bears recovered the short kick and were immediately swarmed by the Stanford special teams defense. The Stanford special teams marching band was behind them, waiting patiently behind the end zone for the clock to say 0:00.

When the four seconds of regular time had expired, the Stanford special teams marching band proceeded jubilantly onto the field in a very disorderly fashion to celebrate their “win.”

The only problem was that the game was still going because the Bears were busy lateraling the ball backward. Three laterals later, the Cal Bears were inside a protective swarm of Stanford band members, many of whom were providing some of the necessary Cardinal-on-Cardinal blocking for the Bears players to pull off two more miraculous laterals and steamroll into the end zone for a touchdown.

Gary Tyrrell, a Stanford trombone player, was the Cardinal’s last line of defense, but he and his instrument were absolutely leveled in the end zone at the conclusion of the miraculous drive. As KGO radio’s Joe Starkey had an on-air aneurism, the scoreboard was changed to Cal 25 – Stanford 20, and so concluded what Joe hailed as "the most amazing, sensational, dramatic, heartrending, exciting, thrilling finish in the history of college football!!" right before he dropped to the ground like Gary Tyrrell and his trombone.

So, as you enjoy The Big Game this Saturday, remember to give thanks. Give thanks that you weren’t one of those band members, or one of those Stanford players that was blocked by a member of their own band.

And also remember the important lesson that Trombone Tyrrell taught us all that day – if you’re going to go out on the field to help, at least learn how to tackle.

See you soon,



Copyright © 2022 Marc Schmatjen


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Wednesday, November 9, 2022

No Time to Change - Repost

This column was originally posted on March 16th of this year, when we once again changed the clocks for “Daylight Saving Time.” We reverted back to “Standard Time” over the weekend, and we’re all screwed up again. Night now officially begins around lunchtime.

Enjoy the column again as a reminder that we need to keep the pressure on Washington. If they can pull through for us, by this time next year we really could be done with this madness.


It is entirely possible that the federal government is about to do something that I will like. That rarely happens. And by rarely, I mean never.

I have been saying for my entire adult life that we have enough laws. We have far too many, actually, since there are laws about what kind of light bulbs I can have in my house and how much water is allowed to be in my toilet.

I have also been saying that the federal government should be part time and be paid accordingly. Career politicians are THE problem with any government, and if we could just make it so the lawmakers had to have two or three jobs to support themselves and their families, we would actually get some hardworking, sensible people in there. But alas, no such luck.

There is one more law that needs to be written however, before we drastically revamp how Washington works, and it appears as if it might just be happening now. I am, of course, referring to the abolition of twice-yearly “daylight saving” time changes.

No one likes changing the clocks. Whomever came up with the idea was a complete psycho, and we were (and are) complete morons for continuing to go along it. Our kids get up waaaay too early in November and we need a pneumatic jackhammer to get them out of bed in March. It’s a gigantic pain in my ass having to remember how many clocks I own (garage sprinkler timer, I’m looking at you), not to mention trying to remember how to set the clock on our overly complicated car stereo. But most notably, it messes with my wife’s sleepy time, which is hazardous to everyone’s health.

In short, it’s dangerous and it sucks.

But now, there might be an “extra” hour of sunlight at the end of the long, dark time change tunnel. An unprecedentedly bipartisan bill has passed through the senate this week that would get rid of clock changes nationwide. Currently, it’s a state-by-state decision whether or not to change the clocks, which makes even less sense than changing the clocks in the first place.

I mean, we already have time zones, which although obviously necessary, are still confusing. Just think about those poor people who live and work near the time zone line. If you lived right on the line, how would you ever know store hours, or what time practice starts. How would you ever plan anything?

“I’ll see you at three o’clock.”

“Which three o’clock?”

What if you lived in one time zone and worked in another? That’s my idea of what hell would be like. So, why have we allowed individual states to further complicate things by not changing their clocks when the rest of us had to? It’s absolute madness.

The chaos could be coming to an end on November 20, 2023. The bill – which in true government megalomaniac fashion, they have named the “Sunshine Protection Act,” as if our benevolent leaders on Capitol Hill are somehow actually shepherding the sun for us – would keep the entire country on what we just changed to – Daylight Saving Time.

We can’t just stay on DST now and never touch the clocks again, because airlines and other transportation entities apparently don’t know how to use computers. But if the bill passes – and so help me, House of Representatives, it better – we would only have to endure one more set of ridiculous clock manipulations before everything will finally be logical again.

That is, unless the Association of Early Morning Winter Joggers or some other such group has a powerful, monied lobby. Then the career politicians may be swayed by a series of generous donations to their wife’s brother’s various non-profit organizations, and vote poorly.

I mean, no politician in Washington is dumb enough to actually want to continue changing our clocks, right?


I’ll be here holding my breath.

See you soon,



Copyright © 2022 Marc Schmatjen


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Wednesday, November 2, 2022

Team Ibuprofen

Son Number One is a high school senior this year, and last Tuesday night we attended what we thought was his last water polo game. He has been a Whitney High School goalie for four years now, and we have thoroughly enjoyed watching him play.

What we didn’t know last Tuesday was that he would play one more game last night. We were informed that the team was hosting a final scrimmage of the season.

Against the parents.

Hmm, I thought. That doesn’t sound like a great idea. That might be fun for a soccer team or a basketball team. I mean, sure, there are always going to be parental injuries in something like that, but water polo might be the only high school sport where inviting the parents to a fun scrimmage against their children is legitimately life-threatening.

Well, I thought, at least two of the kids on the team, my son included, are certified lifeguards, and the coaches have CPR training. Plus, they have those portable defibrillators at the pool. We might avoid a tragedy.

A few of the dads were really excited about the game. I was more than a little hesitant. My wife called me yesterday morning and asked if I was looking forward to it.

“Well,” I said. “Sorta, I guess.”

“What’s the matter?” she asked.

“Nothing, really. It will be fun to play against the boys and everything, but it’s just that it’s going to hurt. A lot.”

You see, I played water polo in high school and college. None of the other parents did. Some were wary. Some were full of hope. They were looking forward to it. I, on the other hand, knew exactly what we were getting ourselves into.

I was probably twenty-two years old in my last polo game. I’m fifty now. I’ve been out of the water longer than I was in it. That’s not a recipe for success. Plus, I’m fifty. Fifty is not young. Not by water polo standards. Not by any standard, really.

Did I mention I was fifty? Well, we hit the water last night and I was just praying not to pull my groin. It was cold and damp outside which didn’t help much. At least the high school kids didn’t have to worry about their arthritis acting up.

At the end of the first quarter the score was a fairly respectable 6-2. It was a low scoring second quarter, ending at 8-3. Things cranked up in the third and we started the fourth quarter with a score of 13-4. When it was all said and done, the scoreboard said 15-8.

Parents 15, players 8.

Yeah, you heard me. We crushed them!

At this point I should probably mention that the parent team was given a huge gift a few days before the game – Whitney high school alumni. We had four former players – now college water polo players – show up to help us.

They were a great help. And by great help, I mean they absolutely carried our team. I think the dads accounted for two or possibly three of our goals. The college kids scored the other twelve or thirteen. And if a dad scored, there was most definitely an assist by a college kid.

And they were suffocating on defense. The high schoolers only hope of scoring on us was being guarded by a dad. And when I say “guarded,” I mean swimming next to someone who was in the process of drowning.

We basically kept the college kids in and rotated the dads on every score change. We had guys calling for subs and paddling to the side of the pool while the ball was still live because they had a cramp, or just couldn’t breathe anymore.

Both my calves cramped up during the game. Mercifully, not at the same time. I was playing goalie, and was able to massage the knots out while the college kids were down at the other end scoring again.

In order to keep from destroying the poor little lads, we played mostly dads in the fourth quarter. The one or two college kids in with us still kept things under control, but the high schoolers were scoring on me at will if they were near a dad. After twenty plus minutes of water polo already, whatever gas we had in the tanks was long gone.

I was completely underwater for at least two of the goals they scored on me. In my defense, I’m fifty and had calf cramping issues. I also nearly drown one of the seniors when there was a loose ball in front of my goal. But again, in my defense, he’s one of the lifeguards and he should have known better than to get near me.

The boys didn’t get the win they were so sure was in the bag before the game, but they did learn two valuable lessons. First, they will get bigger, faster, and stronger in college. Second, never get close to a drowning full-grown man. We are desperate, and we will take you down with us.

Thankfully, along with the win, all the parents left the pool in their own cars and not on a stretcher. That, in itself, is a big win. But it wasn’t without a cost.

Everything hurts.

See you soon,



Copyright © 2022 Marc Schmatjen


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