Saturday, January 31, 2009

Time Travel and Other Stuff

Today I’ve decided to out myself. I’ve been keeping it in too long. I no longer care what people think. A man can’t go through life keeping his true self bottled up. The truth is I think time travel is cool and I don’t care who knows it. Popeye the Sailor said it best when he stated, “I yam what I yam.” As a matter of fact, my next book is going to be about time travel. The last month or so I’ve been secretly reading time travel novels and surfing the internet for whacked out time travel sites, the more whacked out the better. I’m not lurking in the shadows anymore.

Personal reflection has led me to realize my interest in time travel goes all the way back to my early childhood. Yeah, I think my interest in time travel began with Sherman and Peabody’s Way Back Machine. Thanks to YouTube, I’ve been doing a little time traveling of my own. This morning I enjoyed an episode of Sherman and Peabody – for the first time since the 1960’s. It was hilarious. The jokes were intelligent, obviously geared toward adults. And voices were familiar, the same voices from Christmas specials like Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer and Santa Clause is Coming to Town. I remember now that each episode ended with a bad pun. In this morning’s episode, Sherman and Peabody went back to observe the Spanish conquest of the Incas. I know, not the typical subject matter for side splitting comedy but the cartoon was innocuous enough. As the story wound down, Mr. Peabody pointed out the Mountains on the other side of the valley were called the Amos Mountains.

“The Amos Mountains?” Sherman asked.

Peabody shot back, “What’s the matter, you’ve never heard of the Amos and Andes?”

Word on the street is Pixar is developing a Sherman and Peabody movie.

I suppose I should warn you; if you’re going to read this blog, the subject of time travel is going to come up. Yeah, I think time travel’s cool and I’m proud!

This morning my daughter, Scout sat down in front of the computer. She put on my eye glasses and said, “OK guys, guess who I am?” deepening her voice, “Everybody be quiet, I’m trying to write my blog! It’s Saturday and I’m going to be at this computer all day long!” Maybe it’s time to shift down to low gear with this whole blogging business.

The economy is in the toilet and I’m lucky to have a job; I understand this, but I‘ve really had it with getting up at 4:30 in the morning. Honestly, I don’t think I can do it anymore. As a matter of fact I’m not doing it any more. On Monday, I’m getting up at 4:31.

Wednesday was a long day. I’ve been fighting back a cold and I was dragging myself out to the parking lot. Two heavy set kids with long frizzy hair stood in front of the library warming up with their electric guitars. They both looked a little like Hurley on Lost. Their portable amplifiers were plugged into and electrical socket conveniently located on the library wall. I stopped to watch as they belted out a surf guitar tune by The Ventures. They were good. The music took me too my childhood. My first record album was “Surfing” by The Ventures. My uncle gave it to me before he shipped off for Vietnam. I must have listened to that record a thousand times. The two frizzy headed kids pretty much made my afternoon. Life’s a little cooler with a sound track.

Some local high school students have decided to build a school in Africa. The cost is twenty grand and this covers building costs and school supplies. They’ve already raised ten grand. These teenagers are setting a great example for the rest of us. We do have the power to make the world better and these kids are wielding their power.

If you’re interested in helping them out, here’s the contact information.

Donations for Africa Basha can be sent to Basha High School, Attn: Julie Wilkinson, 5990 S. Val Vista Drive, Chandler, Ariz. 85249. Information:

Just about everybody in America is aware the Super Bowl will take place tomorrow. Unlike me, the rest of America has no idea of what the outcome will be. Sure, the so called experts are making their predictions, most of which have the Arizona Cardinals coming up with the short of the stick. One of these knuckleheads had the audacity to call the Arizona Cardinals the worst team ever to play in the Super Bowl. It’s a nasty thing to say, don’t you think? Here’s the deal. Due to a psychotic – I mean psychic revelation, I actually know the outcome of tomorrow’s game and I’m going to share it with you. Call your bookies. The final score will be…

Arizona Cardinals 70
Pittsburg Steelers 6

Thursday, January 29, 2009



I began querying agents for my novel, The Spirit Guide Bar in October of 2008. It is my bold intention to locate an agent and a publisher by January 1, 2010.


Query Emails Sent: 235
Rejections Received: 46
Queries Under Consideration: 16
Miscellaneous: 1


Dear Mr. Snyder,

You’re sample chapter sucked like a Hoover vacuum cleaner. As a matter of fact, you’re nothing but an amateur hack. No wait, you couldn’t hold an amateur hack’s jock strap. I mean to say you couldn’t write your way out of a paper bag. Reading your sorry excuse for prose made my want jab a freshly sharpened number two pencil into my own eyeball. Seriously, I want the five minutes I wasted reading your pathetic sample chapter back. Honestly Mr. Snyder, you are disgrace to the English language. Never contact my office again – never.

Truthfully Yours,


Now this is a rejection letter. There’s no fence riding here, no wondering if I should follow up with a thank you note or submit my short story collection. I can cross this guy off of my list for good. And I can get mad. I can hang this rejection on my bathroom mirror and use it as honest to goodness motivation. Yeah man, this is a real rejection letter.

OK, I didn’t really receive the scathing letter, but I kind of wish I did. Here’s the rejection email I actually received today.

I'm going to pass, but it's an interesting premise and I appreciate the look.

Did the agent really find my premise interesting? Or is this an automated response? Either way, it’s a sweet, kindhearted rejection. Just about all of the rejection emails seem to be sweet and kindhearted. Quite frankly, I’m sick of sweet and kind hearted. It might spice things if just one of these literary agents would shoot me a rejection with a little spite and venom.


Mysteriously enough, the language of the little box into which I type my blog switched to Hindi. Hindi! How does that happen? Don’t ask me, I’m the same guy who spent an hour and a half trying to send a fax last week. Posting the last blog was pure chaos. In a state of manic confusion, I lost my cut and pasted posting twice, froze the computer three times, and spilled a bowl of Lucky Charms on my keyboard.

Today the language is back to English. This kind of thing can’t just happen for no good reason. Can it? Is somebody screwing with me out there? Is that you Curtis the Comic? Look, I was only kidding when I said I was funnier than you are… Technology is not my friend.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

John Updike, Planet Confusion. The Bill Snyder Pushup Program

John Updike died today. Funny thing is I was thinking about him last week. Saturday I posted a favorite Updike line. “Dreams come true; without that possibility, nature would not incite us to have them.” Updike is one of my favorite writers. About twenty years ago I went through an Updike phase. One of my favorite J.U. novels would have to be Gertrude and Claudius, a brilliant prequel to Shakespeare’s Hamlet. I’ve probably read thirty of Updike’s books, but more than the rest, I’ve been affected by the Rabbit series - four novels following the life of an average American man whose life never quite measures up to the dreams of his youth. The Rabbit books inspired me to keep after the dreams of my own youth. I keep telling myself I’m going to go back revisit the Rabbit stories. After hearing about Updike’s passing, I scanned my bookshelves and felt a little reassured when I found an old paperback copy of Rabbit is Rich. That’s the thing about leaving a legacy – John Updike’s gone, but then again he’s not really gone at all, is he?

#167 Dad has been up and running for just under a month. The site received its four hundred and fifty-second hit today. The purpose of this blog is to develop an audience and to an extent, I’ve done that. I suppose I’d be OK with all of this if it weren’t for my old standup comedy buddy, Curtis. He started up a website of his own just about a month ago. It’s called Planet Confusion. It’s an aggregate website. You can access hundreds of magazines and newspapers from around the world. He’s also got articles, polls and who knows what all. It’s a very cool website and you should check it out. The thing is Curtis told me his website picked up 1,200 hits yesterday. Twelve hundred hits! What’s that all about? #167 Dad got nineteen. Of course it’s not a competition. And I’m happy for my old comedy buddy. Way to go Curtis!

By the way, when we were doing standup, I was much funnier than Curtis.

I’m doing pushups in the morning again. I started back on January first with just four pushups. Today I banged out thirty. The plan is to increase by a single pushup each day; you know, kind of like Hercules lifting the calf over his head every day. Barring complications, within five years I’ll be pumping out seventeen hundred and fifty pushups a day. I should mention that I’ve been on this program for several years and of course and I realize I’ll never actually make it to seventeen hundred and fifty pushups. A couple of years ago I did get to a hundred and twenty before I blew my shoulder out. Oh well, I’ll keep after it until I the next time I blow out my shoulder or tear a bicep, or rip my monombulous. It’s not like I’m willing just give up and get old. Besides, I wouldn’t have time to do seventeen hundred pushups. How long would that take, anyhow? Let me get my calculator…

Saturday, January 24, 2009



As was the case last week, my Saturday morning officiating experience was enjoyable. The word, wholesome comes to mind. The boys, coaches and parents were a referee’s dream. The day would have been perfect if only I could wrap my brain around that whole growing wiser with age thing. The game came to a stop when the ball lodged itself between the rim and the backboard. My partner Gino, at least ten years my junior, offered to hop up and tip the ball loose – even though I was standing right under the basket. It was a fourth grade game and the rim was only set at nine feet. “What, you think I’m too old to jump nine feet, Gino?”

“I didn’t say that, Bill.”

“I don’t think you can jump nine feet.” wisecracked one of the coaches.

“Yeah, let’s see you do it, ref.” shouted somebody’s grandmother from the stands.

Never one to turn down a challenge, I took a couple of steps back and leapt higher than I’ve leapt in years. Now a smart guy would have just tipped the ball loose. But I have never been much good at being a smart guy. And I had something to prove to the coach and the loud mouth in the stands. I oafishly grabbed hold of the ball and dropped it awkwardly through the hoop, executing something that could be defined in certain circles as a slam dunk. The kids cheered and I felt good.

I do not feel good right now. In the three hours that have passed since the last game ended I have gone through at least half of a tube of Ben Gay. It seems that I’ve somehow tweaked my foot, and my ankle, and my knee, and my lower back, and my neck and the upper portion of my right ear. If I had it to do over again, I’d have – hung on the rim a little bit after dunking the ball.


Today I’m pleased to offer more proof that this is the year of the seemingly impossible dream. Now the garage sale is officially over and the elementary school principal who lives around the corner has dragged off the last rickety piece of exercise equipment, there is indeed measurably less junk in our garage than there was last night. The good news doesn’t stop there; my wife pulled in the tidy sum of a hundred and thirty five bucks. There is, however, a mysterious pair of size nine bowling shoes in the garage, a pair of beige shoes that were unquestionably not in the garage before the sale. Your guess is as good as mine.


There was no screaming and there were no kitchen fires. The micro waved burritos were bland but they were supposed to be bland. Barit, my eight year-old, was kind enough to point out that you’re supposed to let the hard boiled eggs cool before cracking them. My wife is scheduled to waitresses again tomorrow night. Fueled by Friday night’s success, I’ve taken a courageous gastronomic leap forward, declaring tomorrow evening Taco Night. Tacos can’t be too difficult, can they? I’ll report back with the results of one man’s daring culinary journey.


My vast army of twelve readers is made up of some interesting characters. Clif the Lawyer is one of them. We met when I was hosting educational TV programming at Educational Management group. Clif was my technical director. We had more than our share of laughs creating cheesy educational programming in which I had the opportunity to portray historical and literary figures like George Washington, Sam Houston, Edgar Allen Poe and Paul Bunyan. As was the case with Anders Oglethorpe, Clif and I teamed up in the industrial basketball leagues. He was a crafty left handed post player with a nice hook shot.

Clif’s done a lot of things in his life. He’s a bit of a jack of all trades. As his handle implies he’s a bar certified lawyer. He’s taught law and audio engineering at ASU and the Tempe Conservatory and he’s produced his own music. Clif worked an audio engineer for some of the biggest names in Hollywood.

His wildest story involved the legendarily out of control music producer, Phil Specter. Clif was running the board and the recording session had been going on nonstop for a couple of days. True to his reputation, Specter was consuming various mind-altering substances and brandishing guns. Specter sent the lawyer out to pick up Roscoe’s Chicken and Waffles. The raging maniac summarily consumed his heaping plate and proceeded to throw up all over the control boards. And Clif the lawyer was given the privilege of cleaning up the psychotic genius’s mess.

Soon after, Clif decided to move back to Arizona. California’s loss was Arizona’s gain. Thanks for reading, Clif the Lawyer…


A good portion of this posting was composed with my three youngest daughters in the room climbing on my lap, chasing each other in circles, jumping on the bed, playing Mario Brothers on Nintendo D.S. and generally doing the things kids do. I suppose after writing my short story collection at the public library, writing with three wound up kids running around is a breeze.

Friday, January 23, 2009

Anders Oglethorpe, The Christmas that Wouldn't go Away, Garage Sale Mysteries and #167 Chef


That’s right. It’s official. #167 Dad’s following has expanded from eleven to twelve. Anders Oglethorpe, all six foot ten of him, officially committed to reading on a regular basis this week. Oglethorpe and I met some sixteen years ago. By day we taught school at the old Arizona Boys Ranch and by night we ran up and down the court in the East Valley industrial basketball leagues. We were an unstoppable combination on and off the court. Ok, we probably lost more games than we won but we did have a good time drinking beer and eating wings after afterwards.

Some ten years ago, Oglethorpe, who at one time held the distinction of being the tallest living mixologist in the state of Arizona, met a girl, got hitched and moved to Washington State. We’ve been in contact off and on over the years. The big man tells me he’s traded in his basketball shoes for Skates and a hockey stick. He boasted that he leads his industrial league in penalty minutes. Good going Oglethorpe. Welcome to the army.


The Abominable Snowman is still holding firm in the yard a couple of streets over, there are still a dozen or so unmailed Christmas cards stacked on the kitchen counter, and I just noticed a half empty container of eggnog in the back of the fridge.


Not even close, baby. My wife works Friday nights. My girls hate Friday nights because I cook dinner. Well, cooking is a stretch. My repertoire is pretty limited. They do seem to like my frozen chicken fingers and frozen French fries. And I fry eggs. The stove caught fire when I tried to add bacon to my list of specialties. I tried to boil an egg for one of the girls last week. It looked like something out of a horror movie when I cracked it and the contents cascaded out in liquid form. Tonight, the menu will include, canned refried beans, eggs – fried and boiled, and micro waved tortillas. I’ll let you know how it works out. If nobody screams and nothing catches fire, I’ll call the culinary endeavor a victory.


My wife is having a garage sale tomorrow. She’s selling all of my exercise equipment. Mind you, I haven’t cashed in on exercise; it’s just that I found a good gym. Garage sales are a regular part of my wife’s life. She orchestrates somewhere in the vicinity of fifteen or sixteen of them every year. The crazy thing is there’s always more junk in the garage after the sale than before. I have no explanation for this phenomenon. Perhaps as with crop circles, local farmers are coming out at night and playing an elaborate hoax on my family. There is an awful lot of junk in my garage tonight. It’s bad. Last week I sent my eight year-old into the garage after a hammer and I had to go in there and look for her. It was something like three hours before I finally found her mumbling incoherently between the bench press, a stack of Christmas decoration boxes and the old washing machine. But I’m going with Obama on this one, I’m going to be audacious and show a little garage sale hope, hope that when that last customer putters off with that last beat up piece of exercise equipment tomorrow afternoon, there will be less junk in that garage than there is right now. Remember, this is the year of achieving the seemingly impossible dream.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Penny Pinching 101


Times are tough. As a teacher and the primary wage earner in my household, things haven’t changed. I’ve been scraping by on peanuts for a couple of decades. So if you’re new to the scraping by on peanuts business, take a little advice from an expert peanut scraper.

· First, if you have golf clubs you need to throw them in the lake. That’s what I did seventeen years ago. Fifty bucks for a round of golf? You got to be kidding. By the way, once you’ve made your statement, fish the clubs out of the water and sell them at a garage sale.

· Second, cancel magazine subscriptions. Buy two-week old magazines for a nickel at the library. Also, you can read magazines on line – if your eyes can take the stress.

· Read the paper on line too.

· Check out books and movies at the library.

· Get rid of cable. OK, that’s extreme. At least get rid of the expensive movie channels.

· Make your coffee at home.

· Bring your lunch to work.

· If you forget your lunch, go to Subway. A fully loaded meatball sandwich is just three bucks.

· Don’t eat. OK, you got to eat. How about eating less?

· If you live in Arizona, eat the free grapefruit. Grapefruit is ubiquitous out here. Everyone’s got a grapefruit tree. The streets are lined with grapefruit trees. Why just this morning, I was strolling along the sidewalk and a grapefruit fell from a tree and hit my on the head. What did I do, you might ask? I ate it.

· Drink tap water. Tap water is arguably safer than bottled water. Bottled water it the biggest scam of the last hundred years.

· Buy the cheap beer.

· Never purchase ketchup, mustard, hot sauce or Parmesan cheese. Shove as many of the packets in your pockets as you can when frequenting fast food establishments and pizza joints.

· Sell your dryer at a garage sale. Hang your clothes up to dry in the bathroom.

· Grow a beard. It saves on razors.

· Sneak into your neighbor’s yard and pick flowers for your wife.

· Steal the change from fountains and wishing wells.

OK, I’m out of control; don’t steal anything. But the other measures I’ve listed will save you no less than seven-hundred thousand dollars over the course of the next decade. Don’t believe me? Get a calculator and do the math yourself.

Oh, there’s one more thing you can do if you live in the East Valley section of metropolitan Phoenix. You can take your family to the Pollack Cinemas. I’m dead serious about this suggestion. Admission to the Pollack Cinemas is three bucks. An extra large popcorn and soda with refill privileges are eight bucks. My wife and I can take our three youngest girls to the movies for twenty-three bucks. While a trip to the corporate movie theater is forty-nine bucks. That’s a twenty-four dollar savings. Why go to the corporate theaters?

And Pollack Cinemas are cool. They joint has atmoshere. The owner displays his massive collection of quirky memorabilia on the premises. There is a full-scale diorama of a scene from the Pirates of the Caribbean. Life-sized celebrities are scattered everywhere. Some of my favorites are the Blues Brothers, Marylyn Monroe, Tony (Scarface) Montana, Bat Man, Laurel and Hardy and Ronald Regan. Pollack’s got his vintage lunch box collection displayed in glass cases. My personal favorites are The Partridge Family, The Sons of Will Gannon and Kung Fu. How cool is that. Snatch the pebble from my hand baby!

Selling your dryer, giving up shaving and stealing your neighbors’ flowers might be a little over the top but Pollack Cinemas is the real deal. I think I love you, Mr. Pollack Tempe Cinemas owner man. You are an American hero.


Query Emails Sent: 207
Rejections received: 37
Under Consideration: 15
Miscellaneous: 1


Sorry, I've decided to pass on your work. I receive 5,000+ submissions and queries every year; I can accept only a few new projects. Unfortunately I'm unable to provide specific comments because of the number of submissions I receive.
I suggest checking the agent and publisher listings in JEFF HERMAN'S GUIDE TO BOOK PUBLISHERS, EDITORS AND LITERARY AGENTS. This reference book is published annually.
Best of luck with your work.

And Jeff Herman’s guide can be purchased for a mere $29.95.

Monday, January 19, 2009

The Victorious Neighborhood Hero Returns

The Year of the Impossible Dream continues to churn out miracles. The squad that has been called the worst team ever to make the play offs is going to the Super Bowl. One of the fans at the game was wearing a t-shirt with the words FINALLY, A COLD DAY IN HELL. The grizzled old quarterback teamed up with Superman, Larry Fitzgerald to make it happen one more time, connecting for four touch downs. And of course there’s our neighborhood hero, Antonio Smith, the heart and soul of the tenacious strong right side defense.

It’s worth mentioning another miracle manifested itself when my wife sat next to me and watched the entire game. This woman is not a sports fan. I once asked her how many players she thought each team put on a basketball court. Her answer was, “I don’t know fifteen, twenty?” My wife is a football fan today.

The neighborhood went ballistic when the game ended. There was cheering and fireworks. A representative of the Chandler local police department showed up. Clearly, he was the one guy on the street who wasn’t celebrating. I told him the neighborhood was doubly excited because Antonio is a resident. He looked me dead in the eye and sounding exactly like Dirty Harry, said he didn’t care, that he was a Pittsburg fan. Thank you for being such a stick in the mud, Mr. overly serious Steelers fan police officer. I had plenty of reasons to like the Cardinals, but until I met you, I didn’t have any reasons to hate the Steelers.

The kids made signs for Antonio. We duct taped them to trash cans, fire hydrants, trees and sign posts around the cul-de-sac. My daughter Barit very is particular and she couldn’t figure out where she wanted to hang her sign. She finally decided she wanted to duct tape it to Antonio’s garage door. I told she couldn’t because it could damage the paint. Frustrated, Barit threw her sign down and I was gesticulating like a crazy man when Antonio’s family caravan pulled up. I told Barit to pick up her sign and wave it around. The neighbors came down and cheered for Antonio as he climbed out of his Cardinal red hot rod. Although his leg was banged up, Antonio was more than happy to pose for pictures and share his big day with the neighborhood kids. It was a good moment, a memory my family will treasure for years to come.

You might expect a young athlete to celebrate this great accomplishment by painting the town red with his buddies. And there wouldn’t be anything wrong with blowing off a little steam. But not Antonio Smith; it doesn’t fit his m.o. This young man clearly has his priorities in order. He celebrated with his family. It’s really nice to have a professional athlete in the neighborhood our kids can honestly look up to. I’ve said it before; Antonio Smith is one of the good guys.


I suppose January 21, 1996 ranks highly among of the luckiest days of my life. Twelve years ago today I met my wife. She was stunning. The memory of the perfect evening is crystal clear. We had dinner at the Red Devil. I had the lasagna with a glass of house red while she had the eggplant parmesan with a glass of beer on ice. After finding a lucky penny, we sat together on a Mill Avenue bench and agreed upon the importance of always picking up a lucky heads up penny and always leaving an unlucky heads down penny. She explained that Campbell’s tomato soup is one of the worst things a person can eat. She told me she loved MASH and Seinfeld and that once at the Tempe Improv, she touched Jerry Seinfeld’s index finger. We agreed that To Kill a Mocking Bird is a great book and movie and that Atticus is, hands down, the best father in literature or film. When we said good night, I told her I liked her eyes. She said she liked my – cowboy boots. Obviously things went well. It was a good date and she turned out to be a perfect wife. We even named one of our girls Scout.

My wife doesn’t really read my blog. So if you’re happen to one of my regular readers who know her, tell her a said a few nice things about her.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Technology Wars, Zebra Stripes, Plungers and Mariah Carey


I spent a considerable portion of yesterday afternoon composing a couple of stories about basketball officiating and plungers. The posting is gone now, vanished, poof - just another casualty of my war with technology – and my failure to remember to hit the save button. I’ll have to rewrite the thing. The situation began to slide downhill when I asked my daughter, Macaulay to take the plunger picture you see here with her digital camera and upload it to my computer. My computer froze while uploading. My frustration increased when wouldn’t restart. Feeling a manic need to get the posting off, I called computer wizard, Bryan Frank. Bryan explained that my problem could be the result of tracking cookies and temporary internet files. Although I have pushed clicked on the boxes to delete them, they won’t go way. Although I didn’t even know they existed until yesterday, I really hate tracking cookies and temporary internet files that won’t go away.


When I received the email asking me to officiate three youth basketball games on Saturday morning, I was apprehensive. This is because my last officiating experience eight months ago was less than positive. In summary, I experienced sunburn and dehydration, somebody threatened to kill me, and I threw up in a trash can.

But the pay was seventeen bucks a game and seventeen times three is … well, enough to risk going back out there. And you know what, it wasn’t bad. It was a great way to spend a Saturday morning. The kids, parents, and coaches were all great. The most controversial thing I witnessed was a coach kept calling a couple of his boys Lavern and Shirley. It was good to put the zebra stripes back on. God willing and the creek don’t rise; I’ll be back out there next week.


Ideas for postings come to me in strange places. More than anyplace else, I get ideas in the shower. Yesterday morning I decided to write about my plunger. Like millions of other dads, I spend an inordinate amount of time plunging toilets. I’m talking at least twice a week. Plunging is part of my life and I whole heartedly accept this. There are a few factors that lead to routinely clogging toilet’s in La Casa de Snyder. First, our home is twelve years old. Second, it was built with the cheapest plumbing known to mankind. And finally, I have three young daughters who really like to use their toilet paper, lots of toilet paper. And every once in a while, my five year-old Sophia, likes to send a banana or a Happy Meal toy into the bowls of our plumbing system. And so I plunge.
A couple of months ago, it got bad. Although old school plunger with a broken wooden handle had given me at least twenty good years, it just didn’t have it any more. Always budget conscious, I hate to replace things before their time. Feeling a bit sad about the necessity of casting away my loyal old plunger, I headed to the home depot where I was shocked and awed by their virtual Disneyland of plungers. There were upwards of a dozen models. Although the basic technology has remained the same, there are fascinating new variations. Feeling a little overwhelmed so I sought out help. The plumbing expert suggested the black plastic model I am holding in the picture, assuring me it was the model he used. A tear of joy manifested in the corner of my eye when he told me the price was just eight bucks. Believe me when I tell you I’m happy with my new plunger. A job that once took as long as fifteen minutes can now be easily completed in fifteen seconds. I actually look forward to my next plunging job. It feels good to approach a problem with the confidence that I have the equipment and knowhow to rectify the situation in a mere fifteen seconds.

God, I love my plunger.

For those of you who are socially and intellectually advanced enough to not care about popular culture, you might want to skip the next two sections…


With each passing day I seem to become more disconnected with popular culture. I get this. But still, I am befuddled and unable to fully comprehend the fact that Mariah Carey has officially sold more music than The King of Rock and Roll and the Fab Four. I do concede that the woman is gorgeous, an absolute bombshell. And I do kind of dig her remake of the old Minnie Riperton song; you know, the one in which she hits those ridiculously high notes. Bigger than Elvis? More popular than the Beatles? Sorry, I don’t get it…


At one o’clock the Arizona Cardinals will play the Philadelphia Eagles. The underdog Cardinals are sixty minutes away from the Super Bowl. All of my kids are girls. I’m the lone wolf at my house. My wife suggested that I watch the game at her sister’s house where there are other men which I can yell, burp and scratch. I didn’t argue.




Friday, January 16, 2009

On the Abominable Snowman, Marketing, and Networking


It’s January sixteenth and this morning (I am not making this up) I drove by a house that was still lit up with dazzling Christmas lights. The inflatable Abominable Snow Man and Yukon Cornelius were standing firm on the front lawn. As if this perplexing incident weren’t enough, I stopped by a colleague’s classroom this afternoon and found myself assaulted with ear shattering Christmas music. Did I miss something? Didn’t Christmas come and go three weeks ago. What’s wrong with these people? Here in Phoenix the radio stations actually started playing Christmas music Halloween night. Again, I am not making this up. We’re talking about two and a half months of Christmas music. And these people still haven’t had enough?

But wait, there’s more. I had no idea I’d be entering the Twilight Zone when I expressed my confusion to my wife. Her only response was to ask me to walk a couple of envelopes out to the mail box.
“What are these?” I asked

“Christmas cards,” she said, “I’ve only got a dozen or so left to address.”


I absolutely stink at marketing my writing. This is probably because I hate marketing my writing. I’ve only been sending query emails for Spirit Guide for what - couple of months? I’m telling you it’s frustrating. I’m sick of being rejected and ignored and I’m pretty much ready to quit – dammit.

Some writers belong to writers groups. There is a writer’s group in Phoenix. I checked them out on the internet. They meet on Wednesday evenings at a quaint little coffee shop about forty miles from my front door. I mulled over the idea of attending a meeting - but forty miles is a long stinkin’ way – and I have to get up at four-thirty. And I don’t want to get all jacked up on coffee at night, but I would have to if I wanted to stay awake. And the truth of the matter is I don’t want to sit around in a coffee joint listing to people critiquing my stories. With all that caffeine pumping through my veins, I might punch somebody. Worse yet somebody might punch me back. Come to think of it, my least favorite thing to do is sit through a meeting. I would rather stick pins in my eyes than voluntarily sit through a meeting. No, the writer’s group is definitely out.

The copy of Writer’s Digest I received for Christmas lists the 101 best websites for writers, so I checked a few of them out. Spending an hour navigating these sites left me – well, agitated. I’ll try again when I have more patience, a hell of a lot more patience, like the next time I take an elephant tranquilizer.

So far, I don’t very much like the process of searching for an agent; the concept of joining a writer’s group, or the act of navigating writer’s websites. I do like writing. Perhaps for now I should stick with the very basic advice of a good friend and just “write my ass off.”

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Technology Wars and My Vast Army of Eleven Reguular Readers


Am I the only man in America who can’t send a simple fax without assistance? I spent forty-five minutes trying to launch a fax this afternoon. Finally, I gave up and called the technology guy out to the scene. Thank goodness he possessed the expertise to point out that I was dialing the receiving party’s phone number instead of her fax number.


Query Emails Sent: 186
Rejections received: 33
Under Consideration: 15
Miscellaneous: 1


Please forgive this impersonal note regarding your query, which we have considered but must decline. As we receive a tremendous number of queries, we are unable to respond to each submission individually, but we thank you for the opportunity to review your work. We encourage you to keep writing and to try other agents.

The truth is I appreciate the blatant automated rejection. It’s honest. It saves me the aggravation of trying to determine whether or not it’s an automated response.


I just picked up my 220th hit. If you divide that by fourteen days, that’s… er… well, it’s more than one hit a day. The #167 Dad blog is moving forward. I do happen to know I have eleven regular readers. Did you know Emily Dickenson didn’t have any readers until she died? Yeah, Emily, I got eleven readers and I’m alive, baby. Did you know when Shakespeare started out with just six regular readers? OK, I don’t know how many readers Shakespeare started out with, but he did have to start somewhere and at some point in his illustrious career I’ll bet he had less than eleven regular readers. The point is, I have eleven readers and that’s a good thing – dammit. Thank you, army of eleven. I appreciate each and every one of you.

You may be wondering who makes up WZ Snyder’s vast army of eleven readers? Let me tell you about regular reader. His name is Bryan Frank. You can read his blog at It’s good stuff all about broadcast journalism in L.A. Bryan’s Blog has a quarter of a million hits. This means he has more than eleven regular readers. He often drops feedback in my comment box.
His latest comment reads “ZZZZZZZZ.”

Bryan and I have been friends since college. We’ve collaborated on a couple of writing projects, performed standup comedy together, and co-hosted a cable television show. It’s Bryan who encouraged me to take a serious stab at publishing my writing. I know what you’re thinking. Why would a devoted friend drop such a scathing comment in my box? The answer is quite simple. Bryan dropped the acidic comment because my posting was about football. You see, Bryan is an otherwise normal healthy American man who doesn’t like sports. It’s true. Last Super Bowl Sunday, just for the hell of it, I called Bryan to ask who was playing in the big game. His answer was, “I dunno, the Dodgers?” I have no idea how a man reaches middle age in America with no connection whatsoever to the great American pastimes of baseball, football, and basketball, but he did. Here’s a heads up Bryan. When I call you on Super Bowl Sunday morning to ask, just for the hell of it, who’s playing in the Super Bowl, the correct answer will be the Arizona Cardinals.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Antonio Smith, Kurt Warner, the Arizona Cardinals and the Year of Achieving the Impossible Dream

It’s not my intention to write a sports blog, but once again I’m compelled to talk about the Arizona Cardinals. It’s pretty much official, they really are very good, unquestionably the best team the Arizona Cardinals have ever fielded. Last night they did what everyone said they couldn’t do. They beat the Carolina Panthers. Congratulations, Cardinals. Congratulations, Arizona football fans. As for the team owners, I still don’t like you people very much - but I am going to buy a Cardinals hat.

It’s come to my attention that Antonio Smith has changed up his ritualistic big play flexing celebration. Apparently, he’s taken to flexing only the right arm instead of both arms (as I taught him). He’s calling the move “Strong Right Arm” because he plays on the right side. Just one question big fella, where are my props? It’s true, I’m just the guy that that lives down the street, but I think “Bill Snyder Strong Right Arm” would be more appropriate. Better yet Antonio, you could call it the “B.S. Strong Right Arm.”

It’s uplifting to see Antonio Smith knocking the snot out of opposing quarterbacks on his path to success and fame. He moved into my modest suburban neighborhood four years ago. If memory serves me correctly, he had just been promoted from the practice squad to the official roster. Antonio is one of the good guys. He doesn’t run around town with an entourage and you won’t read about him brandishing guns and driving drunk - you can count on that. It’s not unusual to find the six-four, two hundred and eighty pound giant playing football in the street with fifteen or twenty neighborhood kids. Yeah, Antonio Smith is a genuine role model - for his fellow professional athletes and celebrities.

A little over a year ago I was having a beer at a local establishment, half watching the Sunday afternoon game. Matt Leinart, the young People Magazine quarterback went down with an injury, forcing the coach to send in the grizzled old veteran, Kurt Warner. Just seconds before halftime, Warner, standing three quarters of the field away from the end zone, heaved up a Hail Mary. Larry Fitzgerald leapt into the air, dreadlocks everywhere, and pulled down a seemingly impossible, gravity defying reception. Chalk one up for the old guys. I don’t remember whether or not the Cardinals won the game. I do remember being soothed by the understanding that sometimes talent, hard work, and perseverance coincides with opportunity and the result can be miraculous.

Prior to the start of this season, Coach Whisenhunt made it clear that the People Magazine kid was his starting quarterback. The old warrior is no stranger to adversity; ten years ago he was bagging groceries to supplement his arena football income. But it looked like the grizzled vet was on the tail end of his career. Of course things aren’t always what they seem. Leinart had a sub par preseason and old Kurt was named the starting Q.B. Warner has gone on to lead the team through the greatest season in Arizona Cardinals history.

On New Year’s Eve I posted a blog entitled The Spirit Guide Bar and the Year of the Impossible Dream. The impossible dream is taking place for a grizzled old Arizona quarterback. And maybe, just maybe, a little bit of talent, some hard work and perseverance will line up with opportunity for a grizzled old Arizona teacher writer by the name of WZ Snyder.


Here is an interesting response to a query.

First, let me apologize for the delay in contacting you. I would like to let you know that your manuscript is currently under consideration for representation. We will be in contact with you as soon as possible.

For starters, this is a positive response in that it ain’t a rejection. Even if this is a form response, the agent does say my manuscript is under consideration for representation and I’ll take this as another positive aspect. With all of this positive mojo going on, I’ve decided to try to establish a line of communication with this agent by sending her a second query email, this time for The Eight Fingered Criminal’s Son. It’s been over a year since I sent out query emails for the short story collection. This is because an agent told me it’s nearly impossible for an unknown writer to sell a short story collection. It’s time to switch things up a little. After all, this is the year of achieving the seemingly impossible dream.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Why I Support Teenage Sax in the Hallways of Our Schools

My work day begins with my zero hour class at six-thirty a.m. This means my alarm blasts off at four-thirty. I hope you don’t mind me saying I’ve grown tired of getting up at four-thirty in the morning. Quite frankly, it ain’t natural rising before the sun. And my students, oh my God – just try to imagine trying to deliver a lesson to thirty-three functional zombies as their heads bob up and down or lay in puddles of drool. It’s not exactly a boost to the self esteem.

At the end of the last school year, I told my boss I’d rather cut off my toes than teach zero hour again. You can plainly see what kind of pull I have at my place of employment.

Waking up before the crack of dawn is nothing new to me. The truth is, I’ve been doing this for more than twenty years, zero hour or no zero hour. Early in my teaching career I learned the wee hours of the morning could be incredibly productive. There was no one around to distract me and if jacked myself up on enough coffee, I could get much more work done than in the afternoon.

Back when I was hosting educational TV programming, I was doing shows that went out to the East Coast, so I had to drag my keester out of bed at three a.m. My body never got used to it. There were mornings when I sailed right through red lights. Pretty scary. More than once I showed up to work sporting two different colored shoes. One morning in particular stands out in my memory. The alarm clock went off; I stumbled out of bed, showered, shaved, got myself dressed, climbed into my vehicle, and backed out of the driveway as the radio announcer said, “It’s ten o’clock on a rainy Thursday evening…” I must have screwed up the when I set the alarm. I didn’t have to get up for another five hours. The creepiest result of my three a.m. wakeup calls took place a couple of days after I picked my-father-in-law at Sky Harbor Airport. One minute I was tooling along to work and the next minute four skycaps were cautiously watching me as I sat outside the American Airlines terminal. I had no idea of how the hell I got there. The airport was a good five miles off of my route to work. I must have just zoned out.

Yeah, getting up before sunrise is no walk in the park. And it gets harder with each passing year. But a couple of days ago I experienced something extraordinary. It was five-thirty a.m. when I opened the door to the empty school corridor. I was welcomed with live saxophone music - saxophone music like I’ve never heard before. The acoustics of the empty hallway added something to the mojo of the moment. Following the music to the bottom of the stairway, it became apparent that notes were coming from upstairs. I thought about shouting some encouragement, but I think that would have taken away from the magic. No, I understood the correct move. Taking a seat on the bottom stair, I took a sip of my coffee and savored the moment.

Yesterday I was delighted to hear the sublime melody of Spanish guitar. At the top of the stairs I found an unfamiliar kid in a knit cap and frizzy red hair absolutely immersed in his instrument. Noticing me he stopped.

“You the same kid that was playing sax yesterday?”


“I just wanted to say thanks. Keep playing.”

He flashed a smile as big as Texas and went back to generating his magnificent Spanish guitar music. I walked down to the bottom of the stairs, had a seat and finished my cup of coffee. It wasn’t so bad being up at five-thirty in the morning. In fact it was magic – pure magic.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

More Rejection, the Writer's Digest Yearbook, and a Fashion Question


Here is my latest email rejection.

Thank you for contacting xxxxxxxxx about your book idea for The Spirit Guide Bar. While the story sounds interesting, we regretfully must decline agency representation since we have a full client load at this time.

Please know that this letter is sent with the utmost respect for you as a writer. I wish you the very best in your search for an agent and/or publishing home for your work.

Wow, these people really know how to say no. They obviously ascribe to James M. Barrie’s credo, “always be a little kinder than necessary.” The kindness is greatly appreciated.

Query Emails Sent: 176
Rejections received: 30
Under Consideration: 16
Failure to Deliver Notice: 5


Diligently, I read this magazine cover to cover, hoping to find the tip that could take me to the promised land. Here’s what I walked away with.

1. Paper publishers are struggling while electronic publishers are optimistic.

2. Author’s rarely publish their first novel.
Spirit Guide is my first novel. Do I get any points for the collection of short stories? OK, I’ll write another novel - dammit.

3. Agents aren’t interested in narcissistic triumph of the human spirit stories.
My book is pretty much a triumph of the human spirit story. Narcissistic? Ouch.

4. Molly Glick of the Jean V. Naggar Literary Agency writes,” I hate it when a book begins with an adventure that turns out to be a dream at the end of the first chapter.”
OK, now that’s the way my book starts. No dreams the first chapter of novel number two.

5. According to Scott Hoffman of Literary Management, there is a bias in the industry against older writers. He suggests, “a little bit of camouflage goes a long way."
Am I an older writer? Yikes. I don’t think of myself as an older anything. Perhaps a pair of really baggy jeans and a new tattoo are in order.


Are corduroys out of style? Somebody please tell me. My wife picked up a couple of pairs at Cost Co. I’ve been wearing them on a regular basis because I don’t have to iron them. And I do like that zipping noise they make when I run down the school corridors. My students and coworkers have been cracking wise lately. With a rock solid self esteem like mine, I couldn’t care less what people think. I was just wondering.

Sunday, January 4, 2009

Where Antonio Smith Learned to Flex and Bryan Frank's Take on Pitch Conferences


Arizona sports fans are celebrating the Cardinals’ first home playoff game in something like a hundred and sixty years. Since moving to Arizona twenty years ago, the Bidwell family has fielded one mediocre team after another. But this team appears to be the exception.

I have a bit of a personal connection with this extraordinary Cardinals football team. Antonio Smith, the team’s charismatic defensive end lives three doors down from yours truly. If you’re a football fan, you know that Mr. Smith flexes his biceps like Hulk Hogan after making big plays. It’s a little known fact that I, WZ Snyder, gave him this idea. It all began a couple of years ago on a hot September afternoon; my sweat soaked nephew had just finished the grueling eight and a half hour task of assembling a portable basketball hoop. Noticing Antonio Smith climb into his truck, I called for the ball. It was my intention to show this young professional athlete that the old timer had a little athletic prowess of his own. As he drove by, I threw down an earth shattering old school style dunk on the eight foot rim. When Mr. Smith nodded to me, I growled and flexed my biceps. The next night on Monday Night Football, Mr. Smith could be seen flexing and growling after a particularly devastating quarterback sack. You’re welcome Antonio. You’re welcome Cardinals fans. I do what I can.


In an effort to educate myself about the business of writing and publishing, I spent 5.99 on a copy of Writers Digest. I was intrigued by soon to be published novelist, Susan Breen’s article about pitch conferences. The deal is writers pay ($495. to $895.) for the opportunity to pitch their books to agents and editors. Breen points out that she landed her book deal at one of these conferences.

My gut tells me something is rotten in the state of pitch land. My gut tells me that anyone who asks me to pay them to sell my writing is taking me for a ride. My gut tells me if my writing is good enough, a legitimate agent will eventually take me on; if my writing isn’t good enough, I should keep working it, keep getting better.

Could shelling out a few hundred bucks for a pitch conference expedite the process? I posed this question to my writer friend, Bryan Frank. Frank said, “What you need to do is write your ass off. When you turn to look in the mirror and you have no ass, then you should shell out 800 bucks for a pitch conference.”

Saturday, January 3, 2009



Query Emails Sent: 165
Rejections received: 18
Under Consideration: 16
Failure to Deliver Notice: 5
Miscellaneous: 1

The under consideration category is, to say the least, optimistic. This category includes automatic responses like the one below.

I will be out of the office starting Monday December 15th, returning January 5th. If it is urgent you may try my assistant XXXXXX at XXXXX or XXXXXXX. Please note XXXXX will close for the holidays at 1pm on December 19th and reopen on Jan. 5th.

Optimism is paramount in this agent search business. Somebody named Tom Feather once said, “Success seems to be largely a matter of hanging on after the others have let go.” Charles Bukowski didn’t have the opportunity to quit his job at the post office and earn his living from his writing until he was fifty. A hundred and sixty-five emails is peanuts, just the beginning.

I fired off 10 query emails yesterday. The agent addresses come from a lengthy writer’s reference list I found on line. Not all of the addresses are current as the following response demonstrates.

I am retired.

Using the agent list, it’s possible to send somewhere in the vicinity of ten query emails an hour. If I could just find the time and patience to sit down for ten hours, I could send off - let’s see, carry the five, add the square root of nine - three hundred query emails. It’s all about optimism, baby.


It has been brought to my attention some of my comments have been interpreted to be bitter and approaching mean-spiritedness. Well, bitter and mean spirited is no way to build an audience. And the word on the street is agents are more apt to represent writers with strong blog followings. Therefore, I’m extending my heartfelt apologies to guys who wear #1 Dad shirts, people with eight fingers – or six, the British, Santa Clause, Paul the Apostle, pyromaniacs, filthy stinking rich celebrities, Charles Barkley, Steve Urkel, drunks, barroom brawlers, skirt chasers, Meryl Streep, Myrel Streep fans, cute nuns, The Flying Nun, nuns in general, former Catholics, future Catholics, Catholics in general, lazy parents, obsessive text messengers, and of course, hopelessly stupid people.


Thank you. It’s good to have an audience.

Friday, January 2, 2009


#167 Dad’s Mini Review



The highly acclaimed film, "Doubt" is indeed worth the eight bucks. Though provoking. I gave it four out of five dads. Philipp Seymour Hoffman is dazzling and so is Meryl Streep.

Got to tell you though, I’ve never been a big fan of Meryl Streep. She’s a good actress, but it seems like she’s always staring out of windows, looking monumentally depressed. And another thing, doesn’t Meryl Streep sound like a made up name? What’s that? You’re saying lots of movie stars have made up names? Oh yeah, I guess that’s true. But names like John Wayne and Kirk Douglass don’t sound nearly as made up as Meryl Streep. And like I said, she does spend too much screen time staring out of windows and looking awfully depressed. There you have it; it’s all on the table. Now you know how I really feel about Meryl Streep.

One of the characters is a young nun, played by Amy Adams. I couldn’t get over the fact that she was cute as a button. As a veteran of the 1960’s Catholic schools, I feel compelled to set the record straight on the matter of cute nuns. There were no cute nuns in the 1960’s. End of story.

One more thing, what has happened to the American public? Did a huge percentage of people suddenly become hopelessly stupid or were the hopelessly stupid people staying away from the movies until now?

Note number one to the hopelessly stupid people:
Don’t text in the movie theater. Your flashing phone screen is incredibly distracting to the guy behind you.

Note number two to the hopelessly stupid people:
You’re not supposed to talk on the phone in a movie theater.

Note number three to the hopelessly stupid people:
Leave your kids at home or at the child care center which is conveniently located IN THE MOVIE THEATER.

Where was I? Oh, the review. It’s a good movie, but unless you’re hopelessly tolerant, stay out of the movie theaters. Wait for the video.

Here’s the Spirit Guide Bar rejection email of the day.

Thank you for the interesting query. The concept has many compelling elements but due to our workload and current areas of expertise, I do not believe we are quite the right agency for this project. We are rarely able to add new authors to our roster.

Not bad – as rejections go…

Thursday, January 1, 2009


Thanks for taking the time to read my first post of 2009. Bear with me as I continue to search for my blog voice…

I just fished the third draft of The Spirit Guide Bar. Nice goin’, me. For my next trick, I'm going to pull an agent out of my hat. Just watch.

Here’s a relatively painless rejection email I received this morning.

Many thanks for sending us this proposal, which I read with interest. I considered it carefully but I’m afraid on balance it just doesn’t quite grab my imagination in the way that it must for me to offer to represent you. So I must follow my instinct and pass on this occasion. I’m sorry to be so disappointing, but thanks for thinking of us. Of course this is a totally subjective judgment, so do try other agents and I wish you every success.

These guys are good. I don’t even feel bad.

It’s been a good a holiday break – exactly what I was looking for. There’s been time with my wife, kids and extended family - and time to write. There’ve been the Christmas movies andChristmas music, the beef logs, artichoke dip, enchiladas, and eggnog - lots of eggnog; every year I buy too much eggnog. And then there’s the Christmas tree. It’s been a good Christmas tree. The comfortable aroma of pine is still strong. Honestly, I hate to see it come down. With my nephews, it’s another story. Their pupils explode with excitement every time another tree is tossed out to the curb. They’re probably waiting outside the front door right now, ready to pounce. They discovered that a Christmas tree tossed into an average bonfire explodes into a regular Disneyland for pyromaniacs. Dried out Christmas tree number sixty-three went up in flames last night.

Enough with the exploding Christmas trees, can we talk about Charles Barkley? Just in case your life is so balanced that you know nothing about sports or pop culture, Chares Barkley was a very good professional basketball player who is now a very charismatic basketball announcer. He’s got a lot of money and power. Come to think of it, he’s been talking about running for governor of Alabama. For as long as I can remember, the guy has said and done exactly what he felt like saying and doing. He’s been something of a permanent fixture on the Scottsdale nightclub circuit, drinking, chasing skirts and engaging in the occasional barroom brawl. A few years ago he threw some poor schmuck through a plate glass window – just like in the movies.

Tuesday night the Scottsdale police nailed Mr. Barkley for driving under the influence. Apparently, he had been partying it up with forty or so celebrities and Scottsdale socialites. Among his associates was former network television star, Jaleel White. That’s right, Steve Urkel. All I can say about that is, WHAT THE…? Phoenix’s publicity hungry Sheriff Joe is undoubtedly chomping at the bit. The question is will Sir Charles’s fat wallet say him from an issue of pink skivvies and a few days in Phoenix Tent City?

Every time I hear of a celebrity getting nailed for drunk driving I just shake my head. Aren’t these people filthy stinking rich? Barkley is notorious for routinely dropping thousands a night in the Scottsdale clubs. Charles, why not hire some poor dope to drive you around? I’m extending a public offer to club-hopping filthy stinking rich celebrities in Arizona. I am willing to drive you and your entourage around all night in my regal 1999 Chevy Astro van for the equitable sum of two hundred bucks. This is a legitimate offer. If any of you out there in my loyal army of eleven readers knows a hard drinking celebrity, please send them my way.

My daughters are looming over my shoulder, attaching clip-on earrings to my ears and putting bows in my hair, waiting for me to get off of the computer so they can log onto Webkins. They’re making it hard to concentrate on my writing, but I’m glad they’re with me.

I’m going to play with my kids now.

Happy New Year.