Eric D. Snider

Eric D. Snider's Blog

Snippets from the ‘Snide Remarks’ cutting-room floor

So here’s the thing. After I mentioned in “Snide Remarks” last week that I’d been in California for a wedding, I intended to write another column this week about the reception, where my job was to play pretty music on the piano.

But try as I might, I could not come up with more than five so-so paragraphs about the experience. My cousin asked me to play the piano; I did; the end. Nothing funny happened, nor did anything mundane happen that I could make seem funny by means of my scintillating wit and my gift for manipulating the English language.

So there is no “Snide Remarks” this week BUT! If you’re interested, here are the five paragraphs I managed to squeeze out before I hit the wall. Think of them as deleted scenes on the DVD of my life.

* * *

I was in California at some family gathering last year when my cousin Hollie asked if I would play the piano at her wedding reception. Since she was in no immediate danger of actually getting married, I felt safe in saying yeah, sure, someday, whatever. A few months later, she met a guy and got engaged, and now all of a sudden I was being expected to keep my word. What’s up with that?

No, no, of course I was delighted to play the piano at the reception, mostly because that would mean I wouldn’t have to talk to anyone. My feelings about wedding receptions are already on the record, and this one was being held in the town I grew up in, so there would be many well-meaning elderly people wanting to know what I’m doing with myself these days, and I didn’t think they would understand when I explained that I work for the Internet. Safely tucked away behind a piano, I’d be in my own little world, unable to converse with the people who so annoyingly care about me and want to know how I’m doing.

The problem was that, were it not for the piano duties, I probably wouldn’t be going at all. I live far away, and plane tickets are expensive. I was 9 when Hollie was born, so by the time she was old enough to be treated like a regular person, I had gone off to college, and we’ve lived in different states ever since. Consequently, I don’t think I’ve ever had a conversation with her lasting more than about two minutes — the longest was probably at that family gathering last year, when she asked me to play at her then-hypothetical wedding reception. She is apparently well into her 20s now, but when I think of her, she is a toddler, crawling around and putting things in her mouth and earning the nickname “Eats-It-All-y Hollie.”

I’m very grateful, then, that the mother of the bride, my Aunt Janna, offered to pay for my plane ticket as compensation for my ivory-tickling services. Janna used to be able to ply me with candy bars when she needed a favor, but that was when I was a teenager, and the rate of inflation is very high in the nephew-bribing business. This time, I wanted a plane ticket AND a Butterfinger. And of course I felt honored that Hollie wanted me to provide music for the reception so badly that she was willing to make her mother shell out three hundred bucks to get me there. Perhaps someday I can return the favor by having my mom fly Hollie somewhere.

[Some other material would go here, explaining what type of music I planned to play at the reception: mostly old “standards” from the ’40s and ’50s, stuff with pretty melodies and jazz chords, none of that rock ‘n’ roll stuff that the kids listen to.]

I’m not the kind of pianist who has dozens of songs stored away in his head. Apart from a few select numbers that I’ve memorized (“Someone to Watch Over Me,” “Smoke Gets in Your Eyes,” “Meet the Flintstones”), I need sheet music to refer to. (Don’t judge me! Many people need outside aids in order to perform adequately.) Not wanting to bring 50 pounds of music books with me to California — the state has very strict Gershwin import laws — I went through my collection, found the songs I wanted to include in my wedding repertoire, photocopied them, and put them into a binder. I did the copying at my local Kinko’s, where there are signs all over the place telling you not to reproduce copyrighted material — luckily, the company’s interest in enforcing that law extends no further than posting the signs. I stood there for an hour with a huge stack of books, violating one copyright after another, and none of the employees who walked past said anything about it. If they had, I’d have claimed that I was the copyright holder and could make as many copies as I wanted. “Hello,” I’d have said. “My name is Cole Porter III.”

[Here is where I realized the rest of the column could only consist of, “I went to California; the reception was held; I played; the end.”]

19 Responses to “Snippets from the ‘Snide Remarks’ cutting-room floor”

  1. Savvy Veteran Says:

    Eric, I would read basically anything that you write, funny or not, and I’m sure many other regulars feel the same way. There is a certain pleasantness about your writing style that I enjoy, in humor columns, movie reviews, blog entries, or whatever. I guess you probably did make the right decision in not officially making this a Snide Remarks though, as that would imply that it is a straight-forward humor column. I thought it was very entertaining to read however, and I’m satisfied Snide-wise.

  2. Lulu Says:

    I agree with SV.

    My funny quota is satisfied.

  3. Thoughtful Observer Says:

    Eric, thanks for making me feel better about only playing jazz and old standards, and for needing sheet music. I just thought I was a bad pianist.

    Oh, and agreed on the satisfaction of requisite humor for a Monday.

  4. AdamOndi Says:

    You could have pulled a Simpsons-style plot device where you start telling the story about a wedding reception, and that leads to photocopying music at Kinkos and seeing the copyright signs. Then you could go off in the copyright direction and make fun of the ridiculous state of copyright law in this country.

    If you had a woman at your church like I do who is psychotic about never photocopying any sheet music EVER, even for choir performances. Does every ward have one of those ladies, or just the ones I have lived in?

  5. Randy Tayler Says:

    Your stories are all based in TRUE EXPERIENCES?? WTH?

  6. Amp Says:

    I third Savvy Veteran and Lulu. Half-finished Snide Remarks are better than no Snide Remarks at all.

  7. Euphrasie Says:

    Fun. My husband has played several receptions as well, and he agrees that no having to talk to anyone is what makes it all worth it. Rather than photocopying sheet music though, he plays out of a fake book. What’s better than copied music? That’s right. Fake music. 😉

  8. ClobberGirl Says:

    No Snide Remarks?! What the heck are we paying this guy for??

    Oh wait…

    Yeah, same to what others have said Eric. We’d have probably still loved it if it had made it to a full column, but thanks for showing us the draft.

  9. lisapants Says:

    You would think playing the piano would exempt you from having to talk to people, but when I played the piano at my cousin’s reception a few years ago, there were a few people, including the videographer (sp?), who came to try and talk to me and totally distracted me and messed me up.

  10. David Manning Says:

    Such a great start… Too bad nothing column-worthy happened at the reception. By the way, nothing is more irritating to a pianist than trying to converse with him while he’s on the job.

  11. Rob D. Says:

    Still better than the Pulp Fiction deleted scenes……… in.which Tarantino did the right thing taking out.

  12. Auntie Beth Says:

    I liked the love song you sang for the couple, but I don’t think the old folks in attendance caught the humor in it……

    You did a great job at the piano that night. When we got there I thought the music was recorded until I saw you hiding in the corner.

    Can I book you now for Michael’s wedding in 6 years?

  13. daveread Says:

    Yes, every LDS church ward, on every continent, in every age of the world, has (or has had) one of those copyright-enforcement Nazis. There was probably one in Ur of the Chaldees, and on Noah’s Ark.

  14. Jenn Says:

    Oh cool, I thought it was just my ward that had one of those!!! Although it’s way better now that my mom is the choir leader & believes in only using photocopied music!!! What’s even better, it’s photocopied music from her community choir leader, who is the stake president!! 😉

  15. AWOL Says:

    My sentiments mirror those that feel that even half a Snide Remark is twice as good as other posts on the interweb.

  16. Momma Snider Says:

    I didn’t have the slightest problem with Eric copying his own music for his own use for this occasion, but I’ve been trying to get our choirs to buy the music, ever since I became close personal friends with a daughter of the Jackman family of Jackman music. I hate seeing both sides of an issue!

    And yeah, the song he sang was a big hit. It was the song from “Juno” and the bride asked him to sing it as a surprise for the groom.

  17. Sean Says:

    I hate to rain on Eric’s rebel parade, but this particular copying, while technically a statutory violation of the author’s copyright, is probably defensible as fair use. So you’re actually a rebel with a reasonable affirmative defense, which doesn’t feel quite as James Dean

  18. Hollie (the bride!) Says:

    I thought you did a fabulous job and helped my wedding reception even more perfect than I could have imagined. I wish you would have said something funny about the song you sang. Which, by the way, Ryan (my husband) loved the surprise!

  19. Jeff J. Snider Says:

    I’ve been wishing for years that Eric would say something funny, Hollie. I just don’t think it’s gonna happen…

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