Wednesday, December 30, 2009

The Arizona Justice League of Photographers and the Banana go to Canyon Lake and Tortilla Flats

The amazing photographs on this posting are available for your viewing pleasure thanks to blogger, Kavita of India...

Armed with a tank full of gas and a few cameras and a fresh banana, the Arizona Justice League of Photographers headed East of metropolitan Phoenix to do their thing at Canyon Lake and Tortilla Flats.

Clif the Lawyer barely eludes a giant banana. You're reading the sign right - it does say 14 feet, 3 inches.

Clif the Lawyer gets up close and personal with a giant banana.

Former New Christy Minstrels singer, Eric the Photographer has no idea of what looms behind.

Too late...

When a banana's got to go, a banana's got to go.

The giant bananas are absolutely ubiquitous.

Clif the Lawyer, Eric the Photographer and Rick the IT guy exchange banter in the presense of the giant banana.
The banana shares a few stories and jokes with Clif and Eric.

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Christmas 2009

It’s over?

I’m a lucky schlep. Family, kids, Christmas tree, fire in the hearth; it was all there.

I did a lot of wrapping. My wife scratched the records.

Bah dump bump…

Actually I spent about ten hours wrapping presents.

Speaking of rapping, I like to tell my students I was the best rapper in my old neighborhood in back in L.A. This was a time when guys like Ice Tea and Snoop Dog were just coming up. But I was the best of them all. Everybody knew I was the best because all of the mothers in the neighborhood brought their gifts to me. I was known for my tight bows and sick use of ribbons.

Bah dump bump…

I’m in the habit of making note of the quirky aspects of life. You want quirky? How does three and a half hours in a Target store sound? Yeah, I spent three and a half hours in a Target store.

It all began with fellow blogger, Kavita in India. She left a comment on my last blog pointing out that I could take my camera card to a photo shop and have the pictures transferred over to a disk. I’d been trying to figure out how to get the photos on my camera for a couple of weeks.

So I told my wife I was heading over to the photo department at Target. My wife came along to “pick up a few things.” Thanks to Kavita I had my pictures on the disk in 30 minutes.

However, my wife was just getting started; she was in the zone, casually browsing the aisles, stopping for discourse with a dozen or so friends and acquaintances. After two hours I had a seat at the food section and stared at my watch. I wondered if we’d hit two and half hours? No way would we make it to three hours I was excited, in a quirky kind of way, when my wife checked out at the three hour and 31 minute mark.

You don’t see that kind of thing every day.

Three and a half hours in Target, that’s pretty quirky.

Happy Holidays

The Justice League photos are coming.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

The Arizona Justice League of Photographers, Canyon Lake

Question: How many teachers does it take to transfer 100 photos from a digital camera to a computer?

Answer: More than the number living in my house.

The Justice League of Photographers recently explored Canyon Lake and Tortilla Flats. I took close to 100 photos. Thanks to modern technology I can show you exactly one. Why just one photo? If I could answer the question, I could probably download the photos now couldn’t I?

I returned from the photo shoot raring to upload the photos. As you probably know, uploading is a simple process that entails connecting the camera to the computer with, catch this, a USB cord and clicking on the right places on the computer screen. That’s right; I know what a USB cord is. I clicked on the screen but nothing happened. Three hours of screwing around with the computer yielded me no pictures.

I decided to seek out the expertise of my coworkers. The next door teacher is a camera/computer aficionado; he immediately ascertained that my USB cord is a piece of junk. Using his top of the line USB cord, he expeditiously transferred the pictures to the, get this, K drive on my work computer. That’s right folks; I know what a k drive is Now that the pictures were on my k drive, all I had to do was email the folder to my home computer. Long story short - I get it; it’s a little late for a long story short - the email wouldn’t accept the whole file and I was only able to send one picture, one banana picture.

The next day I sought out a different camera/computer specialist. He told me I needed to buy a little ten dollar box. This box would hold my camera card and transfer pictures much more easily. Finally, a simple answer. I mean, what could be simpler than a ten dollar box?

On the way home I stopped at Radio Shack. I showed my camera to the 16 year-old clerk.

“I need the little ten dollar box for the picture card.”

OK, my description was far from eloquent but she seemed to know what I meant. Rolling her eyes, she snatched a package with the little box and rang me up.


“I though these little boxes were ten bucks.”

“21.50.” she said coldly.

“Are you sure this little box will work on my computer?” I asked handing her my debit card.

“Just follow the directions.” she said handing me my receipt and box.

I thought about telling her that if her Radio Shack gig ever went south there was a Subway down the street where she’d fit right in.

I know this is hard to believe, but even with box, I was not able to successfully transfer the pictures from the camera to the computer. Although the kid wasn’t very happy to see me again, she took the box back and credited my card with the 21.50.

And so I have this Banana picture.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Steve McQueen, Research Papers and Ten Bucks

My mind has been turned to muck. This is the direct result of grading 100 four to six page research papers over the last ten days. I’m telling you I can’t take it any more. Come to think of it, I don’t have to take it any more – until next year.

Grading these papers has actually made me stupider. I know what you’re thinking; is stupider a word? Doesn’t the use of stupider, at the very least, reflect indicate bad grammar? Didn’t I just get done telling you that grading them research papers made me stupider than I was before?

Allow me to share a few examples of antiknowledge that lingers in the recesses of my brain as a result of reading these research papers:

The Woodstock Festival was held to protest the War of 1812.

The Vietnam War was fought between the United States and Korea.

Adolph Hitler and the Nazis were communists.

George Washington owned a Coca Cola bottling plant.

There were a few good papers but the truth is I put heckuva a lot more work into grading than my students put into writing the papers. The lack of effort was no surprise. This is the fourth year I’ve been assigning research papers to high school juniors. I used the word assigning because I sure as heck don’t appear to be teaching them anything.

A couple of years ago a student turned in a paper on thr influence of Elvis Presley on American culture. He wrote that Elvis was so angry over his daughter’s marriage to Michael Jackson that he refused to speak to her for two years. For the benefit of those who don’t follow American pop culture, the king of rock and roll died at least a decade before Lisa Marie’s marriage to Michael Jackson.

This year’s assignment called for the class to compare a post 1900 American movement to a pre 1900 American movement. Five students didn’t even respond to the prompt. Three students wrote papers advocating the legalization of marijuana, citing highly respected academic sources such as,, and

I’ve got to ask, were the authors of the three papers high when I gave the assignment???

Did I mention that the papers were really bad? The average score is in the low 60s. Man, last night I had a dream about grading bad research papers.

I gave the unit by best shot. I’ll try some new approaches next year.

I'm guessing Steve McQueen never graded a research paper in his life. He was too busy driving fast cars, running around with hot chicks and beening the king of cool.

It's not like the only thing going on in my life has been bad research papers and antiknowledge. For example I found ten bucks in the street last week.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Hey, Buzz!

I'm beFrank and I approve this blog!

Bill (we call him, Buzz) was having some formatting trouble with his blog, so he gave me access to try and fix the problem.

I think things are back to relatively normal (an entirely over-rated concept, if you ask me) and I hope there is an increase in hits because I'm sort of guest posting.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Steve McQueen, Subway and Si Senor Restaurant

Adventures at Subway

I recently stopped in at a local Subway sandwich shop for lunch. I've been a Subway fan for years. Where else can a guy get a tasty halfway healthy lunch for three bucks? Nowhere, that's where. The shop was empty. A somber middle aged woman was beyond the counter to not greet me.

"Hello." I said.

She said absolutely nothing. As a matter of fact, she pretty much gave me the stink eye. I could have walked out - but I was hungry.

I ordered a meatball sandwich on Italian herbs and cheese bread.

She opened her mouth to ask, "Toasted?"

"Please." I responded.

Removing the sandwich from the oven, she complied with my request to add lettuce, tomatoes, black olives, banana peppers, jalapenos, Chipolte Southwest sauce and light Parmesan cheese.

"Meal deal?" she asked, looking at me as if I had a swastica carved into my forehead.

"Just the sandwich."

"Two thirty-nine." she said.

I handed her three dollars and she dropped the change into my hand.

Another customer appeared behind me.

"Can I help you?" she said looking right through me.

I didn't get a can I help you.

"Hold on a minute." I said.

The woman looked at me, stink eye on maximum.

"Who owns this place?" I asked.

"I do."

"And you don't see fit to say thank you when a customer frequents your place?"

Nothing but major leaue stink eye.

"I tell you what, I'm never coming back here."

She smailed and said,"Thank you."

Is it just me?

Si Senor Restaurant

Si Senor is a quaint little Mexican joint in Chandler, Arizona where people never give anyone the stink eye. My wife, daughter and nephew work at this bastion of New Mexico style gastronomic ecstasy. My three yougest girls and I eat there every week.

The owner says it’s the habaƱero chili peppers that make the food so exceptional. An interesting side effect of the super chilis is beads of sweat cascading down my temples. With women, their noses seem to run. It's quirky cool to watch men dabbing their napkins to their brows and woman daintily wiping their noses with expressions of pure, brainless culinary bliss.

Meals come with chips and four salsas, the best of which, and the hottest, is the white. I’m due for a heavenly stuffed shredded beef sopapilla – in about an hour.

It’s good to have some thing to look forward to, something spectacular.

And no stink eyes.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

John Prine

The guy in the picture is John Prine. There's a good chance you've never heard of him. He is arguably the greatest singer, songwriter, guitar picker never to make it into the mainstream. His lyrics are so incredibly true.

Here is a particularly captivating verse from Souvenirs, a song he co wrote with Steve Goodman.

All the snow has turned to water
Christmas days have come and gone
Broken toys and faded colors
Are all that's left to linger on
I hate graveyards and old pawn shops
For they always bring me tears
I can't forgive the way they rob me
Of my childhood souvenirs

By the way, Souvenirs is John Prine's mother's favorite song.

Click on this link if you'd like to see John Prine perform Souvenirs.

Here is the chorus from Sam Stone, a haunting song about a drug addicted Vietnam vet.

There's a hole in daddy's arm where all the money goes,
Jesus Christ died for nothin' I suppose.
Little pitchers have big ears,
Don't stop to count the years,
Sweet songs never last too long on broken radios.

Johnny Cash covered Sam Stone.

Click on this link if you'd like to see Sam Stone performed.

The ticket you see above is mine. There's a story that goes along with this ticket. Friday afternoon one of the secretary's sent out an email offering six free John Prine tickets for the Friday night show. I raced to the secretary's desk and picked up one of the tickets. The business of seeing John Prine perform wasn't going to be easy. You see I was obligated to accompany a group of students to an academic competition across town. You never know with these competitions; they can end as early as seven o'clock or go on until eleven. The show started at eight but there was a warm up band. It was a proverbial crap shoot. The bus returned to our home school at 9:30. There was still a chance I could see John Prine sing. It would be worth the 45 minute drive to downtown Phoenix just to see him play one song.

As drove toward Phoenix I began to reevaluate the situation. I was pretty darned tired. And I had to get up at 5:30. Since there had been a warm up band, John Prine must have begun his performance at nine at the latest. It was ten o'clock . "The guy's got to be seventy." I thought. "A seventy year-old isn't going to play much longer than an hour." And I was pretty darned tired. I understood I would regret turning around and going home more than I would have regretted losing a little sleep as I pulled off the freeway and headed home.

And so I have this ticket.

Last night I came home, cracked a beer and watched a few John Prine songs on Youtube. It was nice. It had been a good day. I enjoyed being with my students at the competition. It's good to have a job from which I can drive home every day knowing I at least tried to do something good.

I was walking down the road, man
Just looking at my shoes
When God sent me an angel
Just to chase away my blues
Now everything is cool
Everything's okay
Everything is cool
Everything's okay

- Everything is Cool by Jon Prine

Steve McQueen did not see the John Prine show Friday night.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

"A Potent Memory (1993)"

A Short Story from The Eight Fingered Criminal's Son
“A Potent Memory (1993)"
by W.Z Snyder
© 2006 William Snyder

A Potent Memory
East Valley Accommodation School

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Steve McQueen, a Pogo Stick and Washington Irving

Pogo Sticks

My daughters complained that they were bored. Being the genius that I am, I offered five bucks to the first girl to reach 100 pogo stick hops - in the back hard. They raced into the back yard and I paused to marvel at my brilliance before getting back to my coffee and morning paper.

Five minutes later they were back in the house wanting to renegotiate. I guess feeling like a genius for five minutes is better than never feeling like a genius at all.

The Devil and Tom Walker

My students recently read Washington Irving's The Devil and Tom Walker. It's one of my favorite short stories and I'm amazed at how the 150 year-old chronicle has maintained its relevance. Irving uses the story to absolutely shred slave traders, hypocritical Christians and money lenders. I don't run into many slave traders, these days but there doesn't seem to be any shortage of hypocritical Christians or unscrupulous bankers.

The Devil and Tom Walker is one of the funniest stories I've come across. Most of the humor was too subtle for my high school students to pick up. They did get a kick out of the situation when Irving explained that Tom Walker had no fear of the devil after putting up with a woman like Mrs. Walker.

As with the stories of Faust, Daniel Webster, Robert Johnson and Charlie Daniels' fiddle player, The Devil and Tom Walker centers on the devil's offer to make Tom Walker a rich man in exchange for his soul. He also asks Tom to be a usurer, that is a money lender, one of his own "peculiar people." The devil suggests that Tom charge two percent interest a month, that is 24 percent a year. Modern American banks rouinely charge their cusomers 24 percent or more today, don't they? As Tom Walker grows old he tries to cheat the devil by attending church, singing and praying louder than the rest and pointing out all of the townsfolk who break the rules of the church, all the while destroying lives, cashing in on his customers' misfortunes during the week. Of course, in the end, the devil takes Tom into the bowels of the earth where the hypocritical money lender will burn for all eternity.

In a day and age when Bankers seem to get away with such unspeakable behavior, Irving's classic tale is - comforting.

The Coolest Cat in History

You may be wondering why I included a photo of Steve McQueen from the set of The Magnificent Seven.

No reason.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

The Arizona Justice League of Photographers Rides - the Train III

Thought I'd post a few photographs from the most recent Justice League photography shoot.

These pictures were taken by Eric the Photographer. As the handle implies, he actually takes pictures for a living. Eric is our Yoda, our Mr. Miagi, our Seargent Carter...

Got to tell you, I'm really digging this reflection image. From left to right, that's yours truly,Clif the Lawyer, Mario the Chef, and Eric the Photographer.

The streets of Phoenix were absolutely deserted.

Look, here's a shot of me talking on a cell phone next to a phone booth. Bet you don't see that everyday.
Then again, maybe you do. It could be that there's an old phone booth in front of your office and every stinking day some joker stands next to the booth, talking on his cell phone while shouting, "Hey look at me. I'm standing next to a phone booth talking on a cell phone. Bet you don't see that every day."

Here's the historic Luhrs Tower. Built in 1929, this building served as the backdrop for a scene in Hitcock's Psycho as Janet Leigh crossed the street with the bank deposit she was supposed to make for her boss.

These guys were singing:
I come from the land down under
Where beer does flow and men chunder
Can't you hear, can't you hear the thunder?
You better run you better take cover.
Weird, huh?

It's all about the clouds.

Here's Mario the Chef yucking it up with Marge and Hank at The Coney Island Grill.

The Arizona Justice League of Photographers shoot it out in downtown Phoenix.

Absolutely nothing happened to any of us while were standing in front of this building.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

The Honest Scrap Blogger Award

Fellow blogger, Midlife Job Hunter at seen fit to pass the Honest Scrap Blogger award along to me.

Here are the rules of the award:

1. “The Honest Scrap” award must be shared.

2. The recipient has to tell 10 true things about themselves that no one else knows.

3. The recipient has to pass along the award to 10 more bloggers.

4. Those 10 bloggers all have to be notified they have been given this award.

5. Those 10 bloggers should link back to the blog that awarded them.

Here are ten things most people don’t know about yours truly.

1. I used to have an invisible friend by the name if Ishkabibble. He was animated in the style of a cartoon and looked and sounded a lot like the Frito Lay Frito Bandito. I had to give him up when I hit 30.

2. I grew up in the same town and on the same street as the Wilson brothers of Beach Boys fame.
3. My uncle, Ronnie Alison played little league baseball with Dennis Wilson. He was also the college roommate of Burt Ward of TV’s Batman show.

4. Hollywood actor, Gene Hackman once pushed me down when I was working as an usher at a Los Angeles Lakers game.

5. When I was 14, I was involved in a head on collision in which I was catapulted twenty feet into the middle of an intersection before walking away without a scratch.

6. I can sing the Scarecrow, Lion, and Tin Man songs from the Wizard of Oz on demand. Each time I sing one of these songs my wife says I should learn a new song.

7. Walter Cronkite once said hello to me.

8. My favorite Halloween candy is the 100,000 Dollar Bar.

9. It is my strong belief that the Russians, the Cubans, and elements of organized crime and the United States government were involved in the assassination of John F. Kennedy and the ensuing cover up of the conspiracy.

10. I once wrote a play called Bad Bar Plays #1. Sorry, I really had to reach for number ten.

I hereby pass the award onto the following blogs:

My Room
Blog author, Kavita provides amazing insight into the culture India. Very cool blog.

Nothing to Blog About
Hailing from Michigan, USA, this unique blog blends photos and stories. Funny stuff.
W. M. Morell
W.M. Morrell is an outstanding writing blog out of New Zealand.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Two Chiefs and One Indian

Last week I was asked to attend an American Lit meeting. The American literature department at my high school has five teachers. Two of the five teachers share the position of level lead. I was the only teacher to show up to the meeting who is not a level lead. There I was sitting in a desk, while the two level leads delivered their presentation to me. I sat in that desk and absolutely laughed my ass off. I couldn’t help it.

“What’s so funny, buddy?” asked one of the department leads who is a year younger than my oldest daughter and always calls me buddy.

“Am I the only one that sees the humor in this?” I asked in between snorts.

The two of them stared at me like I was dancing naked with my hair on fire.

“Humor?” the kid asked.

“Don’t you guys think it’s funny that it’s just me?”

Again, they hit me with the dancing naked with my hair on fire look.

“Don’t you guys think it’s funny that there are two level leads for a level that has just five people?”

The crickets were chirping and the forty percent of the level that were level leads continued to stare blankly.

“You guys really don’t see the humor in this?”

The woman looked like she was trying to catch flies while the kid cocked his head and said, “You remind me of my dad.”

Saturday, October 24, 2009

The Technology Wars Continue

I guess you could say I’m effectively losing my ongoing war with technology. My desktop computer crashed and burned a couple of weeks ago and I’ve been trying to function on an old computer a thoughtful relative lent to the family. The borrowed Dell is incredibly slow. I’ve been told it has just 50 goats or rams or gigabytes or maybe it was flux capacitors. If you're one of my fellow bloggers and you’ve noticed I haven’t been leaving responses on your postings, it’s because it now takes me approximately seven hours to leave a response. Ok, it doesn’t really take seven hours but the bottom line is it takes a lot longer to do anything on this computer but I’m not bitter. Not e. Oh yeah, the m doesn’t always work on the keyboard.

So I’m dealing with the computer situation. But another technology snafu manifested itself this week. My cell phone stopped working a couple of days ago. Now my cell phone is a standard source of ridicule at the hands of friends, family and coworkers. It’s very a basic cell phone, no camera, no internet access, nothing slides out for texting, no snappy whistle, no secret decoder ring; it’s just a phone One of my students got a look at y phone and said to me, “Hey Mr. Snyder, the year 2000 called, they want their cell phone back.” I get it. The kid nailed me with a witty line. I’ll give him that. At any rate, it was a busy week and I didn’t get a chance to stop by the cell phone store. I mentioned that my cell phone was out to one of my classes. One of my more tech savvy students offered to take a look at it. I handed it over to him and the kid flipped it over and turned it on. I didn’t tell the kid that I didn’t realize the phone had been turned off. Yep, I didn’t think to check to see if the phone was turned on. Yep, I’m feeling like a complete technological moron about right now.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Clif the Lawyer has a Blog and Arizona Justice League of Photographers Rides - the Train II

I'd like to take this opportinity to blatantly plug fellow Arizona Justice Leaguer, Clif the Lawyer's new blog. Check him out at :

Clif the Lawyer is one of the smartest guys I've ever known. And he's got an unstoppable left handed hook shot.

Here are a few of my shots from the Arizoona Justice League's train shoot.

Artsy, huh?

It's alive.

At some point hanging out with talented photographers like Eric the actual professional photographer, Clif the Lawyer and Mario the Chef will start to rub off on me.
Or not.

Here is another of my failed attempts at a group shot.

I fully intend to post a few of Mario the Chef and Eric the Photographer's shots this week.
What did one hat say to the other?

You stay right here, I'll go on a head.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

The Arizona Justice League of Photographers Rides... The Train

On Saturday, October 10th the Arizona Justice League of Photographers rode the light rail to downtown Phoenix. We purchased our all day passes for 3.50 and waited. The 10:15 train slowed down a bit ahead of the stop. As we jogged ahead to make the train the heartless bastard left us in the dust. Eric the Photographer noticed the driver giving us a hand signal that must have meant we were number one in his heart.

We caught the next train where I attempted to get a group photo. It’s not as easy as you’d think, not if you’re technological nincompoop like me.
As I was trying to get the shot, I mentioned to the guys, that I had made up a joke that had already been made up by someone else.
"Hey fellas." I said, "What did the governor of California say when he wanted to become a composer? I'll be Bach."
Clif the Lawyer (behind the camera) proceeded o ask, "What did the governor of California say when he wanted to become a chicken? I'll be bach, bach, bach, bach."
I should point out that he sounded very much like a chicken.
I might also point out that I laughed - very hard. It's inprtant that I include this kind of thing so you can get the real feel of an Arizona Justice League of Photographers shoot.
After 27 failed attempts, I was able to get a shot of all four of us. (left to right) That's Mario the Chef, Clif the Lawyer, Eic the Photographer and yours truly. By the way, no one checked our passes. We could have ridden for free - if we weren't the ethical types.

Downtown Phoenix was pretty much deserted.

There was an awful lot of construction going on. I thought everybody was broke.

Here's a shot of Mario the Chef trying to keep up with Eric the Photographer. It's not the Mario walks so slow, it's just that Eric is the fastestwalker I've ever seen.

Hungry from all of that fast walking we ducked into a joint called the Coney Island Grill.

This joint had some serious atmosphere. That's Marge and Hank and they run the place.
We spent a half hour or so enjoying hot dogs, burgers and sodas.
I don't remember hearing Hank speak. But Marge, she was the Energizer bunny, baby. She went on for 30 minutes without stopping.

Hank and Marge are from Chicago, but they've been in Phoeniz for 30 years. She's a former legal secretary and back in the day, she ran a tight ship. Marge told us stories about Phoenix power brokers like Phil Gordon, Fife Simington, and Janet Napolitano.
The food was good, but it was Marge that really made the experience.
If you're ever in downtown Phoenix you're missing out if you don't stop in to have hot dog with Marge and Hank ant the Coney Island Grill.

I like this shot. It was taken right after we left the Coney Island Grill. I forgot I was still holding half a cup of Diet Coke when I raised the camera to shoot this magnificent picture. Drenched myself. Anything to provide a little entertainment for my fellow Justice Leaguers.

This picture had to be taken. There's got to be a story behind the pink rose with a broken stem.

There are more photos to post and stories to tell. Eric sent me some beautiful photos. I just have to figure out how to load them up. Look for The Arizona Justice League of Photographers Rides - The Light Rail Part II later this week.