Eric D. Snider

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Archive for the 'Personal Life' Category

R.I.P. Jeff Vice

Tuesday, May 27th, 2014

(In memory of my friend Jeff Vice, who died Monday after a massive asthma attack and heart failure.)

In 1999, when I started reviewing movies regularly for the Daily Herald in Provo, it was Jeff Vice of the Deseret News in Salt Lake City who showed me the ropes. He gave me publicists’ contact information and helped me get on the right lists. He gladly and patiently let me coordinate my schedule with his, to make sure I hadn’t missed any screening announcements. I felt intimidated to be joining an already established group of Utah critics — Jeff; Sean Means at the Salt Lake Tribune; Scott Renshaw at City Weekly; Steve Salles at the Ogden Standard-Examiner — but Jeff made me feel welcome.

Over the next six years, this core group of us and a handful of others (like Audrey Rock at the Tooele paper; Tony Toscano of TV; Jeremy Mathews at the University of Utah paper) must have watched more than a thousand movies together at various theaters in Salt Lake. I’d heard of cities where the critics were merely civil to each other (at best), but it wasn’t like that here. Led by Jeff’s earnest friendliness and ever-present smile, we were a group of colleagues who became real friends.

At the evening screenings, which were open to the public so we had to get there early, we’d spend the half-hour before showtime chatting about movies and TV. If it was a Monday, we’d repeat lines from the previous night’s episode of “The Simpsons” to each other. If I missed a screening of a movie that turned out to be bad, Jeff would paraphrase “Office Space” and tell me, “Oh, I wouldn’t say you were missing it….” We enjoyed the good movies as a group, endured the disasters together. We socialized outside of “work.” I spent more time in the company of my fellow critics than I did with my actual co-workers at the newspaper I wrote for.

I moved to Portland in 2005. For the next couple years, whenever I’d be back in Utah for something, Jeff would email the gang and arrange for us all to have dinner. It was a sweet, thoughtful thing to do — and Jeff did sweet, thoughtful things all the time. He was generous and kind, an enthusiastic geek with a great big ol’ heart. I called him J-Dawg and he called me E-Roc.

We weren’t in touch very much the last few years, though we recently reconnected on Twitter and Facebook. I actually had a dream about him a couple nights before he died. In the dream, I was back in Salt Lake City and I ran into Jeff in a parking lot, where we stood and chatted about how I was turning 40 this year. In real life, when Jeff turned 40, someone Photoshopped his face onto the poster for “The 40-Year-Old Virgin.” In my dream, Jeff brought this up and joked about doing it for me. We laughed and laughed, and it felt like old times. Even though it wasn’t real, I’m glad I had this last fond memory of Jeff before he died.

My condolences to his family, his girlfriend, and the people who were lucky enough to be working with him when he died. I know the Utah film and geek communities are devastated today. R.I.P., old friend.

(To my great dismay, I don’t seem to have any pictures of me and Jeff together. If anyone reading this does have such a picture, please send it my way.)

Fundraiser for 13-year-old Miriam

Wednesday, June 20th, 2012

This is Miriam. She’s 13 and lives in Utah. In August, she is going to have brain surgery. A malformation of blood vessels in her noggin, probably growing since birth, recently began to cause seizures. The doctors have concluded that surgery is necessary to prevent further, potentially life-threatening, damage.

Now, your thoughts and prayers and karmic wishes on Miriam’s behalf are certainly welcome. But that’s not what this is about.Miriam!

Miriam’s mom and stepdad have health insurance, fortunately. But they also have a $5,000 deductible. They also have another child who began having seizures around the same time as Miriam — seizures which turned out to be caused by something totally different (and far less severe), but which nonetheless required numerous tests and specialists. Oh, and a third kid had an asthma-related emergency-room visit, despite her many and expensive asthma medications.

The point is, Miriam’s parents have enough stress and worries without having to deal with a $5,000 insurance deductible on top of it.

So here’s what we are going to do.

We are going to raise the $5,000 ourselves. Each of us is going to contribute a little, as much as we can afford, whether it’s $1 or $100, or another amount in between, or more than that. (But not less than a dollar. Come on.) These contributions will add up and Miriam’s parents won’t have to worry about money when they are already worried about Miriam’s brain surgery.

BRAIN SURGERY, FOR CRYING OUT LOUD!

PayPal is the easiest way to do this. Miriam’s mom, Sarah, has a “Donate” button on her blog. Go there and click it. The account is jointly owned by Sarah and her husband, Richard. Sarah had to be coerced to let us do this fundraiser — a certain amount of pride-swallowing is involved in accepting help from strangers — and has promised that every penny will be deposited into their health savings account so it can only be used for medical expenses.

I will vouch for her as well. This is legitimate.

For more background, here’s a blog post Sarah wrote a few months ago, before it was clear that surgery was needed. If you would like to contribute via check rather than PayPal, email me (the contact form is under the “About Eric” tab above) and I’ll tell you where to send it.

OK? OK. Let’s do this. As you can see, Miriam is a “Weird Al” Yankovic fan. Surely this grants her a special place in our hearts.

UPDATE: Sarah informs us in the comments below that more than $500 was contributed in the first 24 hours! That’s fantastic! Keep it up!

UPDATE #2 (6/22 afternoon): Sarah reports that we’re at $1,200 already! Please keep spreading the word through Twitter and Facebook and things and such.

UPDATE #3 (6/25 afternoon): Just over $1,800. This is great/not enough!

UPDATE #4 (6/26): Thanks to a few giant donations, they’re at $3,000 now!

Donate here.

Here is some good advice for everyone

Monday, May 7th, 2012

You know I don’t like to get too serious, or too religious (or too anything, really), but I heard this talk a few weeks ago, and it stuck with me. I thought: YES. I agree with these things. We would all be a lot happier if we lived like this. This is terrific advice for all human beings, myself included. And since a lot of human beings visit my website, I thought I would post it here.

The talk, called “The Merciful Obtain Mercy,” is about forgiving one another and not holding grudges and, in general, just not being resentful jerks. You know how sometimes we’re resentful jerks? Well, we shouldn’t be. That’s the gist of it.

Now, the thing is, the talk was given by Dieter F. Uchtdorf (he is German, but nice), a member of the First Presidency of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. That makes him a Mormon. In fact, it makes him one of the top Mormons. Most of you reading this aren’t Mormon, maybe aren’t into the whole “religion” or “God” thing at all. And that’s fine. The counsel Uchtdorf gives about how to live your life is common-sense, gut-instinct, how-could-anyone-argue-with-this? kind of stuff. One of the reasons he gives for living this way boils down to “because Jesus said so” — but even without that angle it is sensible advice.

It doesn’t take a genius to realize that you’ll be a lot happier letting go of negative feelings than you will dwelling on them.

I’ve freely abridged and condensed the talk below, though I encourage you to read the whole thing here. Oh, and I bolded the parts that I liked best, so if you’re in a big hurry, you could just read those. (Why are you in such a hurry, though? My goodness, slow down!)

And before you point it out: Yes, I need to work on this too, SO SHUT UP.

“The Merciful Obtain Mercy”
By Dieter F. Uchtdorf

Strained and broken relationships are as old as humankind itself. I imagine that every person on earth has been affected in some way by the destructive spirit of contention, resentment, and revenge. Perhaps there are even times when we recognize this spirit in ourselves. When we feel hurt, angry, or envious, it is quite easy to judge other people, often assigning dark motives to their actions in order to justify our own feelings of resentment.

Of course, we know this is wrong. The doctrine is clear. Forgiveness for our sins comes with conditions. We must repent, and we must be willing to forgive others. Jesus taught: “Blessed are the merciful: for they shall obtain mercy” (Matthew 5:7).

Of course, these words seem perfectly reasonable — when applied to someone else. We can so clearly and easily see the harmful results that come when OTHERS judge and hold grudges. And we certainly don’t like it when people judge us.

But when it comes to our own prejudices and grievances, we too often justify our anger as righteous and our judgment as reliable and only appropriate. Though we cannot look into another’s heart, we assume that we know a bad motive or even a bad person when we see one. We make exceptions when it comes to our own bitterness because we feel that, in our case, we have all the information we need to hold someone else in contempt.

The Apostle Paul, in his letter to the Romans, said that those who pass judgment on others are “inexcusable.” The moment we judge someone else, he explained, we condemn ourselves, for none is without sin. Refusing to forgive is a grievous sin.

This topic of judging others could actually be taught in a two-word sermon. When it comes to hating, gossiping, ignoring, ridiculing, holding grudges, or wanting to cause harm, please apply the following:

Stop it!

It’s that simple. We simply have to stop judging others and replace judgmental thoughts and feelings with a heart full of love for God and His children. God is our Father. We are His children. We are all brothers and sisters.

I don’t know exactly how to articulate this point of NOT JUDGING OTHERS with sufficient eloquence, passion, and persuasion to make it stick. I can quote scripture, I can try to expound doctrine, and I will even quote a bumper sticker I recently saw. It was attached to the back of a car whose driver appeared to be a little rough around the edges, but the words on the sticker taught an insightful lesson. It read, “Don’t judge me because I sin differently than you.”

We must recognize that we are all imperfect. Haven’t we all, at one time or another, wished with all the energy of our souls for mercy — to be forgiven for the mistakes we have made?

How can we deny to others any measure of the grace we so desperately desire for ourselves? My beloved brothers and sisters, should we not forgive as we wish to be forgiven?

Is this difficult to do? Yes, of course. Jesus said it is easy to love those who love us; even the wicked can do that. But Jesus Christ taught a higher law. His words echo through the centuries and are meant for us today: “Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you” (Matthew 5:44).

My dear brothers and sisters, consider the following questions as a self-test:

Do you harbor a grudge against someone else?

Do you gossip, even when what you say may be true?

Do you exclude, push away, or punish others because of something they have done?

Do you secretly envy another?

Do you wish to cause harm to someone?

If you answered yes to any of these questions, you may want to apply the two-word sermon from earlier: stop it!

In a world of accusations and unfriendliness, it is easy to gather and cast stones. But before we do so, let us remember the words of the One who is our Master and model: “He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone” (John 8:7).

Brothers and sisters, let us put down our stones.

Let us be kind.

Let us forgive.

Let us talk peacefully with each other.

Let us do good unto all men.

Let us return good for evil. Let us not seek revenge or allow our wrath to overcome us.

Remember: in the end, it is the merciful who obtain mercy.

There is enough heartache and sorrow in this life without our adding to it through our own stubbornness, bitterness, and resentment.

We are not perfect. The people around us are not perfect. People do things that annoy, disappoint, and anger. In this mortal life it will always be that way. Nevertheless, we must let go of our grievances. Part of the purpose of mortality is to learn how to let go of such things.

Remember, heaven is filled with those who have this in common: They are forgiven. And they forgive.

Help defeat my friend’s evil kidney

Tuesday, December 13th, 2011

Dawn Taylor was the first new friend I made when I moved to Portland in 2005. We’d had some Internet interactions before that through our membership in the Online Film Critics Society, but we didn’t meet in person until she sat next to me at the “Fantastic Four” screening in Portland. We laughed at that movie and quickly became BFFs.

That makes Dawn’s husband, Patrick Hurley, my BFF-in-law. As tart and sassy as Dawn is, Patrick is sweet and goofy, like a big ol’ puppy. (Dawn is secretly sweet, too, but she won’t admit it.) I got to know Patrick because he came to a lot of screenings with his wife. They’re a fine pair. I love them.

Last year, one of Patrick’s kidneys turned to the dark side and attempted to kill him, having been inspired by an equally sinister gall bladder that had to be forcibly removed. Patrick now requires dialysis a few days a week for the rest of his life (or a kidney transplant; let us know if you have one lying around). His health problems cost him his job, which decreases his ability to pay for the bills incurred by his health problems. He and Dawn do not have insurance. Patrick qualifies for disability payments — but those won’t kick in until March 2012. The government likes to wait a few months before it helps you out, in the hopes that in the meantime you will get better or die.

So here’s what I want you to do: Go to this page that some friends of ours have set up, read more about Dawn and Patrick, feel compassion for them even though you don’t know them, then click the “Donate” button and contribute a few dollars. The account is operated by Patrick’s sister. (Edit: Her name is Erin Davis, her husband is Scott Davis. Their names are on the PayPal account.) All the proceeds will go straight to Patrick and Dawn to help them pay their bills.

I can personally vouch for the 100-percent legitimacy of this cause. Give a dollar, give $10, give $50, give $1,000 — whatever you can give, it will help. These people are my friends, and they need help from their fellowmen. Were you hoping to do something charitable and kind for someone this Christmas season? Here’s a perfect opportunity.

Patrick’s Evil Kidney

Wishing Mom well on her new knee

Tuesday, January 18th, 2011

My sainted mother, known colloquially as Momma Snider, is having her knee replaced today! Wouldn’t you like to post a comment wishing her a speedy recovery and abundant health and happiness??

To answer some questions:

Yes, she is having it done professionally, by doctors.

Yes, the new knee will be made of Wolverine-patented adamantium, and will have super powers, including WiFi.

No, she doesn’t get to keep the old knee in a jar.

No, the knee did not have to be replaced due to a basketball injury.

Yes, one of the perks of having a knee made of metal is that now she will ALWAYS get an extra pat-down at the airport.

No, the knee was not shattered by a loan shark’s baseball bat.

Yes, she has Netflix Instant to keep her occupied while she’s couch-bound and recovering.

No, there isn’t anything Mom likes more in the world than sitting around anyway.

Yes, my dad and my sister Joy, who lives nearby, will wait on her hand and foot.

No, my brother Chris, who lives nearby, will not, because he’s a bastard.

Yes, my mom loves the word “bastard.”

Wouldn’t you like to post a comment wishing her a speedy recovery and abundant health and happiness??

July 6: Tweet-up in the park!

Tuesday, June 29th, 2010

Next Tuesday, July 6, if you walk outside and find yourself in the general vicinity of Provo, Utah, cancel whatever you’re doing and come to Pioneer Park at 5:30 p.m. for the First (and Last) Annual Eric D. Snider Tweet-Up and Gathering of General Merriment for Friends and Strangers!

Strictly informal and casual. Nobody’s providing anything. No specific activities are planned, although I guess if someone brings a piano I’ll do a couple songs, just because it would be funny if someone actually brings a piano to the park. Bring your kids if you wanna. Bring food and beverages if you want to eat and drink. If you just want to sit around and mingle, then just bring your butt and your mingling hat.

Who is invited? Everyone! People who follow me on the Twitters! People who read stuff that I write! People I used to know but haven’t seen in forever! People I am friends with but never get a chance to see when I’m in town because I’m never there for very long and maybe I don’t have their phone numbers anymore! People who are entirely unfamiliar with me but found this announcement because they googled “provo park merriment”! Everyone is welcome, except for former employers!

Here is a summary of the pertinent info, in the manner of an invitation, so that you will think you have been specifically invited:

What: The First (and Last) Annual Eric D. Snider Tweet-Up and Gathering of General Merriment for Friends and Strangers

When: Tuesday, July 6, 5:30 p.m.-???? (“????” probably means like 8:00 or so.)

Where: Pioneer Park, 500 W. Center St., Provo, Utah

For whom: Anyone who wants to come hang out for a while, maybe eat some food (if they bring it themselves), say hello, enjoy the park, &c.

UPDATE: I can now confirm that a celebrity guest named Momma Snider will be in attendance! You will treat her with respect, unless your disrespect is especially funny.

Thank you for the nice things

Monday, September 14th, 2009

My current bout with clinical depression has led to many comical experiences, and I will tell you about them soon, in the form of a special All-Crazy Edition of “Snide Remarks.” But while I have greatly improved over the last couple weeks, I’m still not back to 100 percent, and I’m still taking it easy.

In the meantime, I wanted to thank you all for the extraordinary outpouring of support and understanding that came after I wrote about this on Sept. 3. I was a little worried when I posted the item that it would seem like I was fishing for sympathy and compliments, when really I just wanted to share with you what was going on. (I also wanted to forestall e-mails from readers wondering why I had not yet reviewed “Halloween II” or whatever.) But the comments you posted — and e-mails and tweets you sent — were astonishingly kind and sincere. I can’t tell you how touched I was. A lot of readers over the years have said things in an attempt to make me cry, but this is the first time anyone has succeeded.

If you’re a writer who consistently gets paying gigs and has been around a while, you tend to assume that there are readers who love your work; why else would they keep reading you? But to actually hear from people saying that my reviews and columns have uplifted them or made them laugh or enlightened them — that what I’ve written has actually made a difference, however small, in their lives — truly brightened my spirits. You have no idea.

It was also heartening to hear from so many readers who said they’ve dealt with depression, too. (I love that a lot of other people have also been miserable! No, that’s not what I mean.) I’m glad the stigma associated with this is lifting, and that people aren’t as hesitant to talk about it as they used to be. Depression is awful enough without also feeling like it’s somehow your fault, or that suffering from it makes you a freak. Maybe it’s good that I’m immune to feelings of embarrassment, because I felt no reluctance whatsoever to talk about it openly. And if my talking about it is helpful to other people with the same illness, or to people who don’t know anything about it and need some educatin’, then hooray.

Like I said, I’m still recuperating, still getting back to normal, taking it one day at a time and doing as much (or as little) work as I’m able. Thank you again for your patience, your loyalty, and your kindness. I truly appreciate it.

‘All About Steve’ is a wonder drug

Monday, September 7th, 2009

After several days of suffering almost nonstop from a heavy dose of clinical depression, last Monday night I started to crawl tentatively out of my funk (emotional and olfactory) and felt well enough to attend a movie screening. It was for “Extract,” which I thought I would probably enjoy, and which I knew some of my critic friends would be attending. I had no intention of reviewing it. I just wanted to do something NORMAL, something that’s usually part of my daily life, but without any of the pressure or obligation.

I was right; I enjoyed the movie; it was a good experience. Afterward, my friend Jeff asked if I would be at “All About Steve” the following afternoon. I said I was on the fence. While I’d had some non-professional interest in “Extract,” this Sandra Bullock thing was something I would only see if obligated to, and I was at this point trying to curtail my obligations as much as possible so that I could recover from my illness.

Then my other friend, Dawn, asked me the same question, and I told her the same thing. But she pointed out that “All About Steve” was probably going to be pretty bad, and I do enjoy writing scathing reviews of terrible movies, so maybe this would be a good thing for me to do, to help me get back to normal?

She made a fine point. I went to the press screening of “All About Steve” the next day at noon.

Continue reading…

An update on that leave of absence

Thursday, September 3rd, 2009

I apologize for the vagueness of the note I left a few days ago, indicating I might be absent from my duties for a while. It wasn’t that I didn’t want to tell you what was going on, only that it was still too early to know the depth or extent of it, and, frankly, I didn’t feel up to the task of explaining. But now I will explain.

I suffer from clinical depression. Or, more accurately, I have clinical depression, but have not “suffered” from it in more than six years. I went on Lexapro in early 2003 to combat relatively mild depression and anxiety symptoms, and things have been fine since then. Friends have said in the last week, “I had no idea you had clinical depression!” And that’s exactly the point — the Lexapro (and its generic cousin that I switched to a couple years ago) did its job very well.

But last week, it stopped working. This is not uncommon. Google “SSRI poop-out syndrome” and you’ll see. From what I gather, it is fairly unusual to be able to pinpoint the exact day that the meds stop working — it was Monday, Aug. 24, for me — but I am, after all, an efficient and orderly person. There wasn’t any life event that caused it. Though my 35th birthday loomed, that was not the breaking point. It just HAPPENED. The drugs lost their effectiveness, and my mood pendulum swung back dramatically in the opposite direction.

Continue reading…

From the desk of your dead grandfather

Sunday, February 15th, 2009

Mom sent me a little package with some treats the other day, just because she’s cool like that, and it included this note:

John was my grandfather, who died Nov. 1 and on whose personalized notepad Mom had written this note. A frugal man, John would have appreciated that Mom wasn’t letting a little thing like his death stop her from using his notepads, even if doing so might cause people to think he was sending them letters from beyond the grave.

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