Wednesday, December 31, 2014

POLAND - The Best Worst Book I Ever Read

Recently finished James Michener's Poland. I've been a huge Michener fan for a couple of decades. My  first Michener book was The Source, the history of the people and events that surrounded a well in modern day Israel. What a ride. I've pored through Michener's books on Alaska, Colorado, Texas, Mexico, the Chesapeake Bay, and Hawaii. Reading the last page of a Michener book never fails to leave me feeling disappointed that the great ride is over.

Poland was missing something. It could have been difficult Polish names that slowed me down. Long technical passages about Chopin and other Polish composers derailed me as well. I just didn't have the background knowledge to follow. While I drifted off from time, Michener always pulled me back. Poland's geographic positioning has lent itself to invasions, lots of invasions. The Polish people have withstood invasions by the Tartars, The Turks, The Swedes,  Russia and the Soviet Union (3 times),  Germany (twice), and I know I'm leaving someone belligerent county out here. The point is Poland remains. The Nazis were responsible for the death of more than 20 percent of the Polish population. Hitler fully intended to exterminate the entire country. After Hitler, the USSR, after centuries of invasions, Poland remains. Michener's story of Poland is one of those great triumphs of the human spirt.

While I list Poland the worst Michener book I've had occasion to read, it's still falls among the best books I've had occasion to read.

* Whoa, this is embarrassing. Michener did write a book called Sayonara. While it was an interesting book about American soldiers who married Japanese women during the Post World War II occupation of Japan, Sayonara wasn't nearly as good as Poland. I totally forgot about Sayonara.

It's not like I'm going to rewrite the whole post.

Sunday, December 28, 2014


I'm sitting at the computer enjoying a Fat Weasel Ale, listening to some extra smooth Miles Davis, and trying to make sense of season six of Sons of Anarchy. I binge watched the thirteen episodes over a three day period. All I can say is the violence would make a Mexican drug lord cringe. It's become damned ridiculous. We've got this small town in Northern California with hundreds of murders going down. In the real world the National Guard would declare martial law. Come on. And none of that bang, bang - you're dead business. Each killing has to be more shocking, more gruesome than the last.
Six seasons, hundreds of killings, and there is just one one character with any semblance of ethics. That would be Nero, played by Jimmy Smits.

Nero is the only good guy in the whole damned show. Then again, it could be that Smits is such a cool cat that I can't help pulling for his character. Where has Jimmy Smits been the last 25 years anyway???
Oh well?
What the hell is the point of this show? 
There is no honor among thieves?
Violence begets violence?
What compels me to watch this horrific blood fest?
The truth is I will watch season six at some point.
Mind you, I'm not proud of this.

Saturday, December 20, 2014

Merry Christmas

In case you're new to SNYDERMANIA, you can get your copy of Spirit Guide Bar, The Eight Fingered Criminal's Son, and the Stories from the Spirit Guide Bar CD on

Spirit Guide Bar is a  is a different kind of Christmas story.

Gotta admitted it, sales have really tapered off. I'm thinking of heading out to the local mall to do some  selling out of the trunk of my car this week.

"Pssst. Hey pal, wanna buy a book?"

I guess I really need to finish that last chapter of my new book.

So I'm five weeks into my return  to the teaching biz. It's been tough taking over a class that was taught by at least five different people, but there has been progress. Most of the students can now raise their hands to speak and refrain from tacking classmates while entering the room. I'm now working on getting them to stop banging their pencils on their desks while I'm talking. It's been at least a decade since I last taught junior high and I completely forgot about the psychotic pencil banging phenomenon. Some of the little squirts obviously do it to see if they can make make scream at them until turn red, and fall to the ground gasping for air. Others, and these are the ones that baffle me, seem to pound their pencils on their desks completely unaware that they are making a commotion.  I knew I has accepting a great challenge when I signed on. Surely, I'll figure something out.

Sound proof pencils?

I do like my students and it  is pretty cool to have a two week break after five weeks on the job.

Maybe I'll take another crack at that last chapter.

Merry Christmas!

Saturday, December 6, 2014


Life is funny. I left the teaching game at the end of the 2012-2013 school year. Seventeen months later, I'm back in the trenches, teaching seventh and eighth graders, many of whom speak very little English. Taking over five classes in the in the middle of the second quarter is no walk in the park. With two of my classes, I look forward to the day my students demonstrate the ability to stay in their seats, and raise their hands before screaming at the lop of their lungs. I'm also looking forward to the day, one little girl calls me Mr. Snyder instead of Mr. Sneeder. 

Early Friday morning, I was making my way through the school hallway when I came face to face with    a cockroach the size of a Buick. A month ago I would have terminated the poor sap. In case you're new to my BLOG, I spent the last seventeen months in the pest control business.  Exterminating insects never  felt quite right. Looking at that giant cockroach, I  smiled and stepped aside to let him pass. 

I drove home Friday night satisfied for two reasons. One, I didn't kill anything. Two, at least I tried to do something good.