Wednesday, April 29, 2009

The Marx Brothers


If you appreciate humor, you’ve got to check out this blog. It’s called The Marx Brothers and it’s all Marx Brothers all the time.


I am sunburned. This is funny because… OK, I guess it’s not funny. People do look funny when they’re sunburned.

I asked my teenaged daughter to help me think of something funny to write about. She helpfully responded with, “Dad, maybe you shouldn’t try to write a funny blog if you don’t have anything funny to say. Maybe you should write something profound.”

To which I replied “I had anything profound to say, I wouldn’t waste time cracking wise, now would I?”

My wife was kind enough to throw her two cents in, “If you don't have anything to say, why are you writing at all. Isn’t that what twitter is for?”
I said, "Why you, I oughtta ..." to myself.

Nothing like support from the family, huh?
I'll be sure to get back to you if I come across anything funny or profound.


Steve McQueen starred in a television show called Wanted: Dead or Alive. The King of Cool played tough as nails bounty hunter, Josh Randal. McQueen carried a sawed off Winchester rifle in a holster of his side. What a stud. 94 episodes were produced between 1958 and 1961. You can catch the show on YouTube.

Sunday, April 26, 2009


1960s television shows were cool. Fantasy situation comedies were the rage. There were shows about witches, genies, Martians, monsters, ghosts, and talking horses; there was even a show about a car that was possessed by a spirit. But for my money, The Flying Nun was at the top of the fantasy situation comedy heap. The show was based on a novel called The Fifteenth Pelican. What a spectacularly ridiculous premise. Sally field portrayed Sister Bertrille, a novice nun, assigned to a convent in Puerto Rico. The strange wind patterns, her funky headgear and the fact that she weighed just 90 pounds made it possible for her fly. Her side-kick, Carlos Ramirez, was a millionaire playboy who sounded a lot like Ricky Ricardo from the I Love Lucy show.

Why can’t they make shows like this anymore?

Here are the lyrics to the theme song. They were only used once, in the sixth episode.

Who needs wings to fly? Certainly not I.
I prefer to take up on the breeze,
Follow any swallow that may please my fancy.

I just close my eyes, tiptoe through the skies.
Long as there's a habit standing by,
Who needs things like wings to fly?

Writing Report

I got nothin’. Teaching responsibilities, track meets, meetings and training sessions have been keeping me awfully busy. I’ve been lucky enough to secure a summer school job and I’m boning up on the curriculum. I’m staying on top of my responsibilities but it’s been tough to find the time to do any writing.

Here’s my latest writing plan:

1. I’m holding off on my latest novel, The Really Weird Science Guys. I’ll take another crack at it when things slow down.
2. But I will continue blog when I can.
3. I’ll also continue to post selections from The Eight Fingered Criminal’s Son.
4. It’s time to look into self-publishing The Eight Fingered Criminal’s Son. But first, I need to find a legitimate editor.
5. The Spirit Guide Bar is going to need one more revision.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

"The Worst Waterman in the World (1986)"

A Short Story from The Eight Fingered Criminal's Son
“The Worst Waterman in the World (1986)"

by W.Z Snyder

© 2006 William Snyder

I may have been the worst waterman ever to wear the Sparklettes uniform. Two and a half years out of college, I had experienced short careers as a bad insurance claims adjuster, a fairly satisfied landscaper’s assistant, a stand up comedian, a cable television host, and a waiter. I also had forked over three hundred bucks in order to earn a certificate from the American School of Bartending. Believing I was headed nowhere; I decided it was time to take on a real job. A friend had a Sparkletts Water route and was pulling a good income. He put a word in for me and I was quickly hired. My official starting position was that of a relief waterman, meaning I took other water guys’ routes when they called in sick or on vacation. Sometimes the directions were good and sometimes they were not. As I mentioned, I was a terrible relief waterman, constantly getting lost and often coming in from my routes long after the sun went down. While I absolutely hated the job, I did undergo some memorable experiences. Delivering water allowed me to see how a true cross section of Los Angelinos lived. I entered thousands of homes over my six months with Sparkletts, delivering water to the wealthiest neighborhoods and the poorest neighborhoods, as well as some of the toughest parts of town.

The scariest place I delivered water was called The Jungle. It was a giant cul-de-sac, probably a half-mile long, located in South Los Angeles. The regular water guy was a former NBA basketball player named Randy Smith. I was assigned to take his route the week he vacationed in Spain. It’s strange for me to imagine a guy delivering water in The Jungle one week and sipping sangria on a Spanish beach the next. Hell, it’s strange to imagine a guy plummeting from professional athlete to waterman. But I guess life is like that. You might think delivering water would be an enormous financial step down for a former professional athlete, but some water guys were pulling in six figures. And this was the mid eighties. Randy had played into the late seventies when NBA salaries were nowhere near the infinitesimal amounts that have become commonplace today. Randy gave me perfect instructions for the route. He had been robbed at gunpoint while working his route more than once. The man talked about being robbed matter of factly. I didn't get the idea he felt anger or fear over the situation. To Randy, the experience of staring down the barrel of a loaded gun and the probability that it would happen again were just part of the territory. It was one of the most lucrative routes in LA and he was willing to take a little yin with his yang. Or is it yang with his yin?

“Bill, you got to be part of the streets. Blend in. Don’t ask no questions. And you don’t want nobody thinking you scared. They’ll eat you up if they do, Bill. An’ keep a twenty with you all the time, cause if somebody wanna rob you, you better have somethin’ for ‘em.”

The Bloods street gang controlled this neighborhood. There were a couple of big ferocious dudes in red sitting on the hoods of cars on either side of the street at the entrance to the Jungle. The same two guys were there each day. I never looked at them, just drove right by, giving it my best to blend in with the scenery. I followed Randy’s advice to the letter; keeping that crisp twenty-dollar bill in my pocket, ready to give it up at any time. When the gang-bangers approached I was fully prepared reach into my pocket and pull out that twenty. I kept waiting for someone to stick a gun in my face but it never happened. The boys in red never said boo to me. With Randy’s precise directions, there were no surprises. My week in the Jungle ran snag free. As a matter of fact, it was the only route I finished on time every day.

I delivered a lot of water to poor Mexican illegal immigrants. Being from Mexico, they didn’t trust the same LA tap water I drank every day of my life. At what point did we as Americans become convinced we need to pay ridiculous prices for the same H2O that comes cheap out of the faucet? I suppose I should climb down off of the fence and state that I believe this whole bottled water business is an Emperor’s New Clothes kind of story. The day is going to come when someone sells people special purified air for ten bucks a bottle. Most of the homes were neat and clean inside. Dinnertime deliveries were especially tough because the food smelled so damned good. I can still savor the mouthwatering aroma of frijoles and tamales being prepared in those tiny kitchens. I’m telling you it was murder. I was usually far behind schedule and wouldn’t be eating until much later. Another thing worth mentioning is that these poor Mexicans who worked for less than minimum wage always paid their bills on time. More than once, I came upon vacant apartments with little white envelopes addressed aguacero (water man). The people had gone back to Mexico but made it a point to pay what they owed. I guess to them, it was about honor.

You can read this story in it's entirety in DART SAFETY AND THE PURPLE BIKINI AND OTHER ADVENTURES OF THE EIGHT FINGERED CRIMINAL'S SON. See current postings for information on how to purchace the book.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

The King of Cool, Germany, and The Ten Commandments

Why all this business with Steve McQueen? I don’t know, but I can’t seem to make myself stop.

Apparently, they haven’t forgotten the King of Cool in Germany. I'm not trying to say he's David Hasselhoff, but they haven’t forgotten him. The following factoid comes from Bluesfrau over in Germany.

Steve McQueen wrote the screenplay for The Ten Commandments.

Sunday, April 12, 2009



It’s a beautiful Easter Sunday in Chandler, Arizona. Thanks to yesterday’s storm, the sky is blue and the smell of rain is still in the air. It’s been all about tradition this Easter weekend. The girls dyed Easter Eggs while my wife and I watched The Ten Commandments. What a movie! Just thinking of the music makes me want to do something heroic. Of course the girls woke up to Easter baskets loaded with marshmallow peeps and we carried out the obligatory egg hunt. They found all the eggs but one. The Easter bunny got a little too crafty with the hiding business. I suppose we’ll smell it out in a few days.

Steve McQueen’s first film role was a bit part in the 1956 film, Somebody Up There Likes Me, which starred Paul Newman. McQueen was paid 19 bucks a day.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Steve McQueen, Howard Hughes, Steve Hawes, Kiki Vanderweghe, and Julie White


Fellow blogger, David C. Pointed out that the state of Indiana is responsible for The Ku Klux Klan and Dan Quail. I feel compelled to point out that Steve McQueen was born in Indiana. As far as I know, he never challenged anyone to a real life sword fight but I did read somewhere that McQueen once threatened to break Howard Hughes’ nose.


Here’s a photo of Julie White and Steve Hawes. Julie is my wife’s sister. Unlike my wife, Julie reads my blog. Hawes enjoyed a 10 year NBA career, playing with the Rockets, Hawks, Blazers and the Sonics. Hawes and I met at the NBA Legends Brunch. I took a photo with him thinking he was Kiki Vandeweghe, who also played in the NBA. It was pretty humiliating when we both realized I had mistaken him for Vandeweghe. As a matter of fact, I felt like a complete idiot. Julie and my brother-in-law, Brett, ran into Hawes after the all star game. She made it a point to remind him of my blunder and capture the moment with a photograph. O don’t have my photo with Hawse because, surprisingly enough, I deleted it trying to load it onto my computer. So here is Julie White, the woman who reads my blog even when her sister - my wife, does not, with the man who is not Kiki Vandeweghe.

Thanks for reading , Julie…

Friday, April 10, 2009


Antonio Smith, former Arizona Cardinal and neighborhood celebrity has moved to Texas. The Dallas Texans offered him something like two million dollars a year to sign with them. The Cardinals were only paying him something like a million dollars a year. I ran some figures is my head and realized I’ve been working since 1976 and still haven’t made my first million. I can’t comprehend a million bucks a year, let alone two million bucks a year. Back to the subject at hand, Antonio Smith is a nice guy and I wish him the best.



A deadly sword fight took place in Indianapolis last night. A 77 year old woman was killed trying to break up the duel between her 69 year-old brother-in-law and her 39 year-old grandson. Both men are in the hospital. They really shredded each other up. Details are sketchy.

All I want to know is who the hell fights duels – with swords? A life was lost and the whole thing is quite tragic; I get that. But a sword fight? Maybe the two idiots had seen too many Errol Flynn movies. I wonder if one of the idiots said the words , “I challenge you to a duel.” Maybe just one of the guys was a psychopathic idiot and he came after the other guy with the sword and the other guy picked up a sword to defend himself. Wait, who has swords lying around the house?

Is there anything to be learned from this madness?


First, never try to break up a sword fight. And second, never underestimate the stupidity, the recklessness, the sheer lunacy of your fellow man.
A sword fight?
A sword fight?


I didn’t get any work on my book done this week. My teaching responsibilities kept me busy and I’ve been spending a lot of time on the blog.
I received the following rejection email today, the first in over a month.

Sorry, not for me.

Short, firm, and to the point. Could a rejected writer ask for anything else ?


The King of Cool was on Richard Nixon’s notorious “List of Enemies.” Ironically, Steve McQueen’s political beliefs were conservative.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

More NBA Legends


Meeting this man was a real honor. Dolph Shayes of the Syracuse Nationals, considered the first modern basketball forward, represented a bridge between eras. He continued to nail the set shot long after the jump shot had come into vogue. Shayes is one of just three men to average at least 12 rebounds a game for 11 consecutive seasons. The other two? Wilt Chamberlain and Bill Russell. Shayes was the first NBA Iron Man playing from 1952 to 1961 without missing a game The guy played an entire season with a cast on his arm for cryin’ out loud. His streak finally ended when he shattered a cheek bone. Tough guy, huh? Dolph is a twelve time all-star, a Hall of Famer and a member of the 50 Greatest Players of All Time.

Dolph Shayes in action

Here's Dolph Shayes coaching the Philidelphia 76ers. That's Wilt Chaimberlain just to the left of the bald guy.

Here's Dillon with Mark Eaton. You know, I think the guy on the left just might be Ernest Borgnine.

Despite being 7 feet, 4 inches tall, Eaton did not play high school basketball. Upon graduating he became an auto mechanic. Three years later an assistant basketball coach convinced him to play for the Cerritos college basketball team. Eaton would go on to play 11 seasons with Utah Jazz. He was arguably the greatest shot blocker in NBA history.

Here’s a shot of Dylan with NBA great David "The Machine" Smith. The Machine played five glorious years with the Los Angeles Clippers, averaging 25 points and 10 assists per game. And then he just walked away from the game, the notoriety, and the money. He said he wanted pursue other endeavors. Smith proceeded to write a bestselling novel, a critically acclaimed book of poetry and a Tony Award winning Broadway play. Still unsatisfied, he enrolled in medical school. Today he practices medicine, pro bono, at small clinic in El Salvador. Talk about a renaissance man! OK, I have no idea who the guy in the suit is, but I’m relatively sure he’s a former NBA basketball player.

Here's Dylan with 7'7 George Muresan. He played with the Washington Bullets and costarred in a film called My Giant with Billy Crystal. I'm talking about Muresan, not my nephew.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

The NBA Legends Brunch


This is Jayden White. She is my niece. Unlike her brothers, she has a conscience. She eventually gave in to the tidal wave of haranguing #167 Dad readers and drove to my house where she personally loaded the prized shots onto my computer. Thanks to Jayden, my readers in Germany, Sweden, India, Pakistan, Hong Kong and yes, even Canada, can finally see those NBA Legends Brunch shots I’ve been raving about! I thank you, Jayden and so does that freezing schmuck up in Canada.


Here is a shot of Steve McQueen. I'm pretty sure he was not at the NBA Legends Brunch...


Here's a clip of my nephew, Dylan with Kevin Johnson. KJ is one of the greatest Phoenix Suns of all time. He is, however, a terrible driver. I know this because I watched him come very close to running my nephew down in the street not long before this picture was taken. Kevin Johnson is the mayor of Sacramento.


Here’s a shot of Bob Love, Dylan and yours truly. Love played for the Cincinnati Royals, the Milwaukee Bucks and the, Chicago Bulls. A lifelong stutterer, his handicap didn’t affect his basketball skills; his jersey has been retired by the Bulls. He hit hard times soon after his basketball career ended in 1979. Broke and washing dishes for minimum wage, he attended speech therapy classes. In 1993 he returned to the Chicago Bulls as director of community relations. Today, Bob Love is a highly sought after motivational speaker.


I took this shot. Notice the perfect symmetry. It's almost scary. That's my nephew, Dylan, my brother-in-law, Brett, and my other nephey, Brady. Brady is the guy who had his skull pierced by a falling arrow.

To be continued...

Tuesday, April 7, 2009



Steve McQueen served as a pallbearer at Bruce Lee’s funeral.

Monday, April 6, 2009

Steve McQueen, Another Load of Nothin' and My Mother-in-Law


Steve McQueen’s first lead role was in The Blob, a 1958 horror film


It looks like that poor freezing Canuck will just have to wait for the riveting story and pictures from the NBA Legends brunch. I’m still waiting for one of the White kids to email me the digital photos.

Thank you, Jayden.
Thank you, Brady.
Thank you, Dylan.

But I’m not bitter.


As a kid, I can remember dreading the concept of marriage. I owe this fear to the old Bewitched television show. Darren Stevens was married to a hot blonde witch. The down side of the situation was his mother-in-law, Endora. She was a witch too and she hated him. The old bag was constantly changing the guy into things like donkeys, blenders and kitchen tables - the poor slob. Things worked out much better for me in the mother-in-law department. My mother-in-law is one of the nicest people I’ve ever met – and she likes my writing. My wife won’t even read my writing. I guess she’s afraid it’s going to be really awful and she doesn’t want to deal with the ugly truth that I’ve been wasting my time cranking out hundreds of pages of idiotic gibberish when I could have been out there making MONEY. I’m off course again, now aren’t I? This is about my mother-in-law, the anti Endora. The last time I saw her she told me she laughed five times, out loud at my blog postings. Perhaps she’s just trying to make me feel good. If that’s the case it worked. She made me feel great. Beats the hell out of being turned into a kitchen table, doesn’t it?

Sunday, April 5, 2009

A Whole Lot of Nothing

To my highly valued readership, I can only extend my sincerest apologies. Today I can offer you absolutely nothing and I’ll tell you why.

About two months ago, I was lucky enough to attend the 10th Annual NBA Legends Brunch with my brother-in-Law and two of my nephews. It was a once in a life time experience. While I had some technical problems with my daughter’s digital camera, my nephews snapped myriads of incredible pictures depicting yours truly hobnobbing with some of the greatest names in the history of basketball. My nephews said they would be happy to shoot me the digital photos via email.

That was two months ago. Yesterday, I talked to my niece about the situation. She assured me she would email the photos as soon as she got home. I rushed home and banged out an eloquent, thought-provoking posting to go with the mind blowing photographs. This morning I raced to check my email. Would you like to know what I found? I found a big fat donut, a whole lot of the nothing. Surely, you can empathize with the disappointment, the devastation, the loss of innocence.

I am compelled to call out my niece and two nephews. Their names are Dylan White, Brady White and Jayden White.

If you are an Arizona reader and an associate of one of the White kids, please tell them I’m not angry or bitter, just disappointed, maybe a little hurt. Tell them it’s not about Uncle Bill. Tell them I’ve got readers in Germany, Sweden, Thailand, and India. I’ve even got readers in Canada for crying out loud. You don’t need to check your eyes - I said I’ve got readers in Canada. You tell those White kids I hope they sleep well tonight. You tell them not to worry about some poor Canadian schlep sitting up there freezing his tail off, twiddling his hockey stick, hoping for something substantive to read. It ain’t goanna happen today, my Canadian cousin, not on this site. So if you see Brady, Dylan or Jayden White basking in the warm Arizona Spring sunshine, you tell them I said thanks, thanks for a whole lot of NOTHING.

Friday, April 3, 2009

On Dangerous Projectiles

I spent the afternoon officiating the discus throw at a high school track meet. It’s a good side gig. The athletes call me sir and the coaches always make it a point to say thank you for helping out. I even got a t-shirt and a barbeque sandwich out of the deal. The only thing I don’t like about judging this particular event is getting hit in the head with the discus. Don’t worry; it’s nothing a little ice, a couple of aspirin and a cold beer won’t cure.

Speaking of getting hit in the head with dangerous projectiles, my nephew was once shot in the head by an arrow. It was Christmas morning. My nephew was screwing around with a bunch of kids and one of them had a bow and arrow. They were seeing how high they could shoot the arrows. One of those arrows fell from the sky and embedded itself in the top of my nephew’s skull. Although the whole thing was a horrific bloody mess, the kid wasn’t seriously injured. They say the top of the skull is remarkably thick. I wasn’t on the scene that Christmas morning, but I picture my nephew with the arrow sticking out from the top of his head just about every time I see him.

What’s the point? If you’re going to judge the discus throw or stand around while people are shooting arrows into the sky, you should probably pay attention. About that ice, aspirin and cold beer…

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Yuk, Yuk, Yuk..

I feel compelled to follow up on yesterday's posting. Today is April 2 while of course, yesterday was April 1. And I guess this is the part where I say April Fools.
Yuk, yuk, yuk...

Wednesday, April 1, 2009


I've got big news - life shaking news. I just received a substatial offer for an advance on my novel, The Spirit Guide Bar from a major publishing company. I may or may not hold out for six figures. Things are pretty crazy at the Snyder household tonight.

More to come tomorrow.