Wednesday, December 28, 2022

2022, An Expensive Year in Review

Well, what a year, huh? Was 2022 a good year? Yes. Was it a bad year? Yes. I think at this point, we’re all just a little dazed and wondering what the hell just happened. Let’s recap, shall we?


Unlike the mini attempted coup of the U.S. government that we began 2021 with, 2022 starts with some good news. On January 10th the first successful heart transplant from a pig to a human patient takes place in Baltimore, Maryland. Phil Krazinski, the pig heart recipient, is quoted in the recovery room as saying, “They put a what in me? I thought they said a big heart.”

Australia thinks they have pulled a fast one after deporting the world’s number one tennis champion, Novak Djokovic, just ahead of the Australian Open due to his COVID vaccination status. In his health survey, Djokovic apparently checked the box marked “I’m over twelve years old, and therefore medically independent under HIPAA rules, so you can kiss my ass.” Unfortunately, Australia’s hopes for a home team victory are dashed when some fully-vaccinated foreigner named Nadal wins instead.

Cryptocurrency has a wild year. Bitcoin – the world’s most popular and stable of the completely unstable, based-on-absolutely-nothing, make-believe cryptocurrencies – starts January down a whopping 50% from its high in October of 2021. One piece of Bitcoin is only worth $38,000 at the start of the year. However, that’s up 39,900% from its value of $95 in 2013, which makes sense, because Bitcoin’s value has gone up because it went up in value, based on its overall value increasing, due to valuation.



The 2022 Winter Olympics commences in Beijing, China, making Beijing the first city ever to host both the Summer and Winter Olympics. All the major governments of the world decided to give it to them, in exchange for continuing to manufacture of all our cheap crap on Amazon, despite the fact that Beijing is a terrible place to have the Winter Olympics, because they get one inch of snow every three years. Those crazy kids make it work, though, managing to rack up another “first” along the way. The 2022 Winter Olympics is the first time all the ski and snowboard events are held on a mountain of Styrofoam and plastic chips instead of actual snow.

The biggest breakthrough in fusion energy since 1997 is reported at the Joint European Torus in Oxford, England. They apparently produced 59 megajoules over five seconds, which is 11 megawatts of power, and more than doubled the previous record. This had the whole world asking the same question – watt did you guys do, and why did you use a Torus? A Ferrari seems like it would have been a cooler choice.

Gas prices begin to rise in February, with grim predictions for a stop to the increases, causing the whole world to ask, “When will that Torus fusion thing be ready?”

Russia declares war on Ukraine. Russian Self-Elected President Vladimir Putin is interviewed while signing the declaration of war, saying, “This is not a declaration of anything at all. Especially not war. I’m just filling out my grocery list.”



In an emergency session, United Nations member states pass a resolution deploring Russia's invasion of Ukraine and calling for the immediate withdrawal of its forces. In response, Putin is quoted as saying, “Those guys are adorable.”

The US and UK announce a ban on Russian oil, while the European Union takes an even firmer stance, announcing a two-thirds reduction in its demand for Russian gas. Reportedly, not a single leader from the US, UK, or EU ever once says, “Hey, maybe we shouldn’t be relying on getting our really critical stuff from countries run by total psychos.”

Researchers in the Antarctic announce they have found The Endurance, one of the greatest undiscovered shipwrecks ever, which sank in 1915. The skipper, intrepid Irish adventurer and explorer Ernest Shackleton, is found treading water above the wreck, chewing on a piece of seal blubber. Upon seeing the researchers, he is quoted as saying, “Jolly good show, gents. Glad you could make it. I’d love a glass of whiskey if you happen to have one.”



Elon Musk buys nine percent of Twitter on the open stock market, causing millions of investors to ask, “Is there a closed stock market you’re not telling us about?” Musk then offers to buy Twitter outright for six gazillion dollars, or four Bitcoin. Twitter employees publicly freak out about it, mostly on Facebook, citing concerns about losing their relaxed, three-hour workweek.

Global food prices increase to their highest level since the UN's Food Price Index began in 1990. To put that in layman’s terms, one non-medical-grade pig heart now costs three Bitcoin.

The Russian flagship Moskva becomes the largest warship to be sunk in action since World War II. Ukraine claims to have nailed it with Neptune anti-ship missiles, while Putin claims, “It did not sink. It’s a submarine. We just didn’t tell you.”

Average gas prices in the US reach $4.50/ounce.

The Large Hadron Collider recommences full operations, after being down for three years for upgrades. The first two things to be collided are a Torus and a Ferrari.

The European Union accuses Russia of blackmail after gas supplies to Poland and Bulgaria are halted by Russian energy giant Gazprom. Putin is quoted as saying, “I mean, those guys are just adorable! Adorable, I say!”



Elon Musk’s Twitter purchase is put on hold due to a discrepancy in the reported number of bots operating on the platform, and the unfortunate dip in Bitcoin’s value. One Bitcoin is now worth seventy-five cents.

Vladimir Putin is interviewed while literally shooting a shoulder-fired missile across the border into Ukraine, saying, “This? This is not missile. It’s rocket-propelled tennis ball. I’m playing fetch with my dog. Dog very fast.”

Tens of people tune into the annual Eurovision Song Contest in Turin, Italy. In what is clearly a pity vote, the winner is Ukrainian folk-rap group Kalush Orchestra with their song "Stefania," which literally translates to “Swine Heart.”



Canada and Denmark finally end their competing claims for Hans Island by dividing the island roughly in half, ending what was referred to as the Whisky War. The residents of Hans Island respond by saying, “Like hell this is over! Send more whiskey!”

On the only day since February that worked for everyone’s schedule, G7 leaders meet for a summit in Germany to discuss the situation in Ukraine. A ban on imports of Russian gold is announced. “Just so damned adorable!” was Russia’s official response.

Bitcoin rebounds from $0.75 to $78,000.



The 2022 World Games are held in Birmingham, Alabama, prompting the world to ask, “What are the World Games?”

The first operational image from the James Webb Space Telescope is revealed to the public, showing a really, really close-up view of Novak Djokovic flipping off Australia.

The European Central Bank raises its key interest rate for the first time in more than eleven years, from minus 0.5 percent to six Bitcoins.

Average gas prices in the US reach $8.00/dram.



Vladimir Putin is interviewed while literally driving a tank into the Ukrainian city of Kharkiv and shooting at a building. He can be heard saying, “What? This is just my car. I’m remodeling my apartment. Where is Ukraine, anyway? Never heard of it.”

China conducts its largest ever military exercise around Taiwan in response to a controversial visit by Nancy Pelosi, the highest-ranking U.S. official to visit Taiwan since the 1990s. Elon Musk came with her and offered to buy Taiwan if the Twitter thing fell through.

Gasoline is officially tied to the price of Bitcoin, and rises to an average price of $46,000/gallon.



The G7 leaders finally wrap up their June summit and spa retreat and agree to impose a price cap on Russian petroleum exports. Putin responds with a heart and a hug emoji.

Queen Elizabeth II dies at Balmoral Castle in Scotland at the age of 96. After a royal drawing of the straws, her son Charles III succeeds her as King. Prince Andrew could not be located to give a statement. At a ceremony at St. James's Palace in London, Charles III is officially proclaimed King of the United Kingdom and of the Commonwealth realms, which entitles him to an $8.50 raise and all the fish and chips he can eat.

The state funeral of Elizabeth II is held in Westminster Abbey, London. The funeral is speculated to be the most watched television event in world history, which angers Vladimir Putin.

In retaliation for the world’s insolence, Putin threatens nuclear action against Ukraine, saying, "This is not a bluff,” only he said it in Russian, so it sounded totally different.

Shortly afterward, NASA's DART crashes into the asteroid Dimorphos in the first test of potential planetary defense, leading many to ask the obvious question, “Why didn’t we just aim that thing at Putin?”

Hurricane Ian slams into the eastern United States and Cuba, causing catastrophic damage and leaving millions without power, including the entire nation of Cuba. But let’s be honest – the week prior, someone ran a moped into a light pole and left the entire nation of Cuba without power, so that’s a tough one to measure.



OPEC, hearing that global gas prices were hurting the average family, helpfully imposes a production cut of up to 2 million barrels per day. Banks begin mortgage programs for gas fill-ups, with convenient at-pump loan approvals.

The 20th National Congress of the Chinese Communist Party is held. Xi Jinping is elected as General Secretary of the Chinese Communist Party by the Central Committee, beginning a third term as the paramount leader of China. And by “elected,” we mean in the most open, transparent, and legitimate of ways. Thank you, Supreme Exalted General Secretary Jinping, for continuing to bless the world with your inexpensive and incredibly well-made products.

Elon Musk completes his 34-Bitcoin acquisition of Twitter. Taiwan is thrown in as a bonus. Twitter employees find out they have to actually start working. Many at McDonald’s.

Vladimir Putin expands invasion plans to include Taiwan, Westminster Abbey, Twitter headquarters, and Cuba, as long as they’re still without power, which is a safe bet.



Elon Musk abandons Twitter’s blue checkmark verification system and simply makes the blue checkmark available to anyone for $7.99. Thirty-three people are the checkmark-verified Elon Musk within the first ten minutes.

The world population reaches 8 billion. Supreme Exalted General Secretary Jinping (blue checkmark) tweets, “You’re welcome.”

NASA launches Artemis 1, an uncrewed vessel, and if you read that as unscrewed, you’re not alone. Artemis 1 is the most powerful rocket ever launched into orbit – a full twice as powerful as Artemis 1/2. It will orbit the Moon in a slingshot trajectory before returning to Earth with a planned impact point at an undisclosed location somewhere near Vladimir Putin’s office.

The 2022 FIFA World Cup begins in Qatar, which everyone agreed was dumb because they don’t serve beer in Qatar. Not to mention, Phil Krazinski was denied entry to the country on religious grounds. The United States started the tournament with two very exciting ties of 1-1 and 0-0, reminding Americans why we don’t watch soccer the rest of the year.

FIFA bans Russia from all soccer competitions, including the World Cup. FIFA also bans the world’s number one tennis champion, Novak Djokovic, just to be safe. Convinced that free nations have finally done enough, all news channels promptly forget about Ukraine.



Just in time for the Christmas season, gas prices begin to ease back to the level that we would have had a conniption fit about, had they not just been double the current ridiculously high price two months ago.

Elon Musk polls Twitter users to ask if he should step down. It is a resounding yes, and he will comply. As soon as he finds a suitable replacement, he will step down as the president of Taiwan, but he will retain ownership.

The National Ignition Facility, which may or may not be located near the Joint European Torus, achieves fusion ignition – apparently a major milestone in the development of nuclear fusion power, or so they tell us. We remain skeptical since we all still have to buy insanely expensive gas. C’mon fellas! We’ve got a pig’s heart beating inside Phil Krazinski’s chest. How hard can it be to get fusion into a Torus?

Argentina ends up winning the World Cup final on penalty kicks, making Americans wonder, once again, why isn’t the whole game just penalty kicks? That part is actually exciting.

Bitcoin ends the year worth one sixteenth of a Taiwan.


Can’t wait to see what 2023 brings us. Have a happy New Year, y’all.

See you soon,



Copyright © 2022 Marc Schmatjen


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Wednesday, December 21, 2022

The 2022 Do-it-Yourself Christmas Letter

You’ve done it to yourself again, haven’t you? It’s December 21st and you haven’t even started to write your annual Christmas letter yet, have you? You’re out of time, out of patience, and for three years now, you’ve been close to being out of toilet paper.  

Sure, just like our hopes for the future, things look bleak. But have no Christmas fear! While I can’t do anything about your toilet paper situation or your Aunt Ethel’s impending fruitcake delivery, I can certainly help in the communications department.

The 2022 DIY Christmas letter is here, just for you.

So, pour yourself another glass of mommy and daddy’s special holiday cheer, grab a #2 pencil, and start bubbling in the appropriate choices. You’re all set.

No need to thank me. It’s just what I do.


Christmas 2022


O   friends and cherished loved ones,

O   relatives,

O   people from work,

O   people I don’t know on this list my spouse handed me,

Merry Christmas from the

O   Smith

O   Gonzalez

O   Lee

O   Johnson

O   Other _______________




We can’t believe

O   how time flies.

O   winter is here again so soon.

O   how surprisingly lame this year has been.

O   we have to send this damned letter to so many of you.


What a year! We

O   are so blessed.

O   are, we must admit, a little tired.

O   are relieved it’s finally over.

O   seriously need to just sell the kids and move to an island.


2022 started with

O   joy in our hearts

O   a ridiculous amount of snow and ice

O   anxiety

O   a whole lotta mood-altering substances


and is ending with

O   gratitude and peace.

O   even more *%@#&$ snow.

O   dread.

O   jail time, most likely.


Dad can’t seem to

O   sit still,

O   stop complaining,

O   snap out of his funk,

O   put a cork in it,


and he

O   continues to volunteer at the church and the shelter.

O   won’t shut up about gas prices.

O   lives in his pajamas.

O   was on a bender and MIA at least half the year.


Mom hasn’t

O   lost a step

O   lifted a finger around the house

O   shut up

O   been seen


since her

O   record-breaking hip replacement recovery time.

O   epic hangnail incident.

O   lottery numbers were “only three away” from the “big money.”

O   parole officer reported her for not checking in this summer.


Sister lives

O   near us now.

O   day to day.

O   on borrowed time.

O   above a strip club.



O   moved back with her family for a big promotion.

O   pretends to be holding it together, but a relapse is obviously coming.

O   is five states away, and that still doesn’t seem far enough.

O   was named employee of the month at Big Tony’s Gentlemen’s Club and Laundromat.


Brother is

O   switching parenting roles with his wife and staying home with the kids

O   never too far from the couch

O   making one bad decision after another

O   spiraling out of control


while his

O   wife continues to climb the ladder at her amazing job.

O   unemployment checks continue to roll in.

O   bookie keeps contacting us regarding his whereabouts.

O   childhood hopes and dreams slowly circle the giant toilet bowl of life.


The grandkids just keep growing

O   up

O   outward

O   bolder

O   weed


and we wish

O   we could slow time down somehow to enjoy it all a little longer.

O   they would lay off the McCrap and eat a vegetable every once in a while.

O   their parents would actually discipline their insolent little butts.

O   the court system would be tougher on minors.


We hope this letter finds you

O   thriving and loving life

O   before Christmas

O   relatively sober



this year, and we want to

O   extend our warmest holiday wishes to you and yours.

O   let you know we are still alive, despite what you may have heard.

O   make sure we keep in touch, so we have a “what not to do” example for the kids.

O   be done writing now.


If you ever find yourself in town,

O   please come by, we’d love to see you!

O   don’t hesitate to let us know you were here.

O   just remember, we’re away a lot.

O   I’ll bet you’ll be wondering how you got here, you lush!

Have a merry Christmas and a happy New Year!


You’re welcome. Now just sign, copy and send. You’re all set.

See you soon,




Copyright © 2022 Marc Schmatjen



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Wednesday, December 14, 2022

Take the Elf off the Shelf

We are eleven days from Christmas, and if you’re like many of our sad, pathetic Ask Smidge readers, you’ve been moving a little toy elf named Pumpernickel or Frostbite around the house for at least fourteen damn days now.

Perhaps you were even foolish enough to get a pair of them, and you’re forced to come up with wacky elf pair ideas each night.

Or perhaps, you don’t have an Elf on the Shelf yet, but you’re kids have been bugging you and you’re contemplating the idea.

Maybe you’ve dodged multiple bullets and have no idea what an Elf on the Shelf is or what I’m even talking about.

Well, have no fear! Our inbox has been overflowing with Elf on the Shelf-related questions, and as always, we have all your answers.





We’ve held off getting an Elf on the Shelf ever since our kids were born, but now our oldest is in kindergarten and hears about the other kids’ elves all the time. Should we cave in and get one?

Undecided in Union City


Dear Undecided,

Each family needs to weigh the pros and cons of these types of holiday tradition decisions for themselves, because each family is special and unique, but there is no way in hell you should ever get an Elf on the Shelf. Never, under any circumstances. It’s like twenty-five-plus days of having to remember the tooth fairy, but much more annoying and involved. Move your children to a new school or move your family to a new town if you need to.





I’ve heard the term “Elf on the Shelf” before, but I must confess, I don’t know what it is. Can you explain?

Lost in London


Dear Lost,

We’re not 100% sure if it was intended to be a harmless children’s book before it became a gigantic commercial time and money suck, or if it was diabolically planned from the beginning to invade every home in the free world and ruin Christmas, but that is essentially what it is. Hope that helps.  





My husband and I are running out of ideas for what to do with Popcorn, our Elf on the Damned Shelf. He’s already pulled every toilet paper and kitchen cooking prank we could think of, and quite frankly, we’re getting tired of cleaning up his messes. Besides, inflation is killing our family budget. We can’t afford to be wasting toilet paper and food anymore. My husband has searched for new lower-cost, lower-mess ideas on the internet, but none of them are exactly appropriate for children. Please help.

Empty in El Segundo


Dear Empty,

My advice would be to have Popcorn leave a nice note with a candy cane for each kid stating that Santa needed him back at the North Pole permanently due to a horrific industrial accident with the machine that clamps both sides of the Etch a Sketches together, and the resulting multiple-elf shortage on the assembly line. Viola’! No more Elf on the Shelf to deal with, and the kids are happy because they received a plausible explanation and a candy cane.





Our eight-year-old son was on TikTok and saw a compilation video of some less-than-appropriate Elf on the Shelf scenarios, including an Elf passed out with a Barbie doll and surrounded by empty beer cans, and an Elf “refilling” the See’s candy sampler, if you get my drift. What should we do?

Blindsided in Buffalo


Dear Blindsided,

Just explain to your son the unfortunate truth that some elves aren’t as good and wholesome as other elves. You can let him know that it’s not their fault. Their elf parents probably just let them indiscriminately surf the internet on apps like TikTok when they were eight years old, and that’s why they ended up bad. Cheers!





I have completely blown it. We had so much going on this weekend with family coming into town and crazy holiday shopping emergencies, etc., that I forgot to move Cupcake for three days! Our little girl never said anything to me, but I found her this morning looking up at the hanging light fixture over our dining room table crying. Cupcake has been hanging upside down from one of the lights since Thursday morning, and my daughter wanted to know if she was OK. What should I tell her? Please help!

Heartbroken in Hoboken


Dear Heartbroken,

No problem. Just let your daughter know that sometimes when little boys and girls don’t live up to their potential and disappoint their parents, their elves refuse to move. That’s a two-fer! You’re off the hook for accidentally neglecting your Elf duties, and your daughter will surely be trying a little harder in all her endeavors. You’re welcome.




Well, there you have it, folks. All your vital Elf on the Shelf questions answered and all your crises averted. You’re welcome.

Have a fabulous (and hopefully Elf-free) Christmas!

See you soon,



Copyright © 2022 Marc Schmatjen


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Wednesday, December 7, 2022

An Open Letter to Best Foods

Dear Best Foods,

I really want to thank you for providing me with a brand new life experience recently. I’m fifty now, so my new life experiences these days mostly revolve around a different joint becoming painful, pulling a new muscle getting up out of a low chair, or messages from my doctor about my colon.

But you provided me with a new and far less uncomfortable life experience the other day.

You mailed me a condiment.

I’m just writing to let you know that’s a really weird thing to do.

I received a plain white padded envelope in the mail, with absolutely no markings on it except my address and the return address, which was listed as “SOPOST, 14 Henderson Drive, West Caldwell, NJ.”

What is SOPOST? You guys are lucky I opened it. If it wasn’t Christmastime, I probably would have tossed it, but you never know what my wife has purchased this time of year. I sure as heck wasn’t going to be the one responsible for Grandma’s stocking coming up short on Christmas morning, so I looked inside.

Imagine my surprise to find one single fast-food-size packet of your new Spicy Mayonnaise Dressing hot-glued to a postcard with a picture of a chicken sandwich on it.

Look, I’m not going to lie to you – the chicken sandwich and fries pictured on the card look amazing. And from what I can tell from the photo, you seem to think your new Spicy Mayonnaise Dressing goes well as a sandwich spread and as a fry dipping sauce.

That may very well be true, but how am I supposed to tell? You sent me exactly 0.47 fluid ounces of your new sauce. I’m a full-grown man with three large and still growing teenage boys. None of us has ever used just one fast-food-size packet of any condiment on anything we’ve ever eaten.

I mean, I put four packets of hot sauce on each one of my Taco Bell crunchy tacos. My boys ask for an entire separate bag filled with Chick-fil-A sauce cups to go with their chicken and fries. Those things hold way more than 0.47 ounces, and they go through them all.

This is America, Best Foods, as you can tell by both the To: and From: addresses on your weird plain white padded envelope. We love our sauces here in America, and you should know that better than anyone. How are you expecting me to get excited about your amazing new spicy mayo when you send me basically one drop of it? I’m going to run out before I’m halfway through my first bite of chicken.

If you want to market your new sauce with free samples to a house full of American men, you’d best be sending us the 11.5-ounce bottle sitting next to the chicken sandwich in the picture. I mean, have you ever even seen a teenager eat? Suffice it to say, keep your hands and feet away from their mouths at all times. At the rate the food enters their bodies, I’m amazed they taste any of it. You have to have a lot of sauce on there to get any kind of reaction out of them.

And speaking of my boys and your marketing department – if you really want to sell this stuff, don’t send me a single packet all the way across the country in an unmarked envelope like a bunch of weirdos. Get with the times. Pay an influencer on YouTube or TikTok to rave about how amazing your sauce is. That’s how you market to kids, and they’re the ones inhaling all the sauces around here anyway.

You are welcome for the condiment-ary advice,



Copyright © 2022 Marc Schmatjen


Your new favorite book is from SmidgeBooks

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