Spifflicated (spĭf ’lə-kāt-əd) adj. Past tense. 1. Drunk; 1920s Jazz-era usage. See also: ossified, zozzled. 2. Having one’s faculties impaired by an excess of alcoholic liquor; intoxicated. 3. To stifle, suffocate, ruin, destroy.

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Glaciers cut into a land mass in the last Ice Age and form a massive river, forming an east-west dividing center for a nation. Ten-thousand years later, a newlywed couple aching for adventure pilots a houseboat down the river as they begin to learn of each other’s heart and spirit.

The husband lays the footprint for massive government-inspired interventions on two other great rivers in the west, diverting their flow for the common good. Men find work and self-worth in a Great Depression. Nature no longer takes its course, it takes the husband’s course.  

Micro-organisms die, millions of years of gravity and geologic pressure morphs them into a black gooey liquid that can power houseboats, transport ships, and a 1941 Chrysler Piece of Shit. In the heart of that same Great Depression, a farmer with faith, strikes oil on his wind-swept High Plains pastureland.

The discovery allows the farmer’s son-in-law escape from the tyranny of work, freeing him to live a life of generosity and goodwill.

The tallest mountain on a continent is uplifted by tectonic pressure. Epochs later, a young wife smokes a cigarette in its shadow and uses a World War as camouflage to leave her feckless husband. 

As the son of the couple grows up among the streams, valleys and mountains in the Pacific Northwest, he recognizes his parents’ shortcomings and finds his center in escape. In adolescence, he devises a Two Point Plan, which he executes flawlessly, setting him up for a lifetime of rationalizing that ‘I know best.’

At the end of his life, the Two Point Planner begins to feel, just the tiniest bit. He shares his childhood with his eldest son and the lights go on, man-made obstacles are removed, and things move incrementally, naturally, a few inches back toward the center.


“Mike Matson captures the insidiousness of the illness of alcoholism in a way one who has experienced it can. Spifflicated is a sweeping memoir, one family’s journey through heartache, abandonment and eventually, forgiveness.”

                                                              --Michelle Voth, MPA, Executive Director,
                                                                 Kansas Family Partnership/Prevention & Recovery Services
                                                                 (a substance abuse prevention organization)