Eric D. Snider

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Archive for the 'Portland' Category

Wanna hear me blather and ramble?

Friday, February 12th, 2010

Hey, Portlanders! And people near Portland! Do you want to see a documentary about the history of film criticism, followed by a panel discussion featuring several prominent local film critics and also me? And do you also have nothing else to do on Valentine’s Day? Then I have just the thing!

On Sunday, the Portland International Film Festival will screen the film “For the Love of Movies” at 4:45 p.m. in the Whitsell Auditorium at the Portland Art Museum downtown. Immediately afterward, the filmmaker, Gerald Peary, will join me, Shawn Levy, Aaron Mesh, Erik Henriksen, and D.K. Holm for a panel discussion and Q&A about, I dunno, movie reviewing or something. Individual tickets to the screening/panel are $10, and you can buy them at the door. If you come, be sure to say hi afterward. I’ll be the one with the beard. No, three of us have beards. I’ll be the kind of round-shaped one. No, that’s most of us, too. I’ll be the one named Eric D. Snider.

Crucial info hidden from voters!

Tuesday, October 14th, 2008

This weekend, as I was skimming through something I’d TiVoed back in April, a commercial caught my eye. Oregon’s three leading Democratic candidates for the U.S. Senator’s seat were having a debate, and the local news was pimping it as the lead story that night. What caught my attention was the fact that the candidate standing at the middle podium was substantially shorter than the other two. That made me pause my fast-forwarding. Then I saw that this shorter candidate ALSO had a hook in place of his left hand.

Why did no one tell me that one of Oregon’s senatorial candidates was a dwarf with a hook for a hand?!

His name is Steve Novick. He narrowly lost the Democratic nomination to Jeff Merkley, who now faces the Republican incumbent Gordon Smith for Oregon’s senate seat. I didn’t follow this primary very closely, and I never watch TV news (or even TV commercials, thanks to TiVo), so while I knew the name Steve Novick, I had NO IDEA he was a hook-handed dwarf.

Why was this not mentioned in every news story about the election? How could I have read (or at least skimmed) so many newspaper articles about the campaign and still never know that Steve Novick is 4’9″ and has a steel hook where his left hand should be? I probably would have voted for him on that basis alone!

Apparently Novick himself has made joking references to his unusual physicality, which is cool. All I’m saying is, he needs to do it more often. Get the word out! Let people know that a vote for Steve Novick is a vote for a tiny man who is partly made of metal!

There are better places to put that…

Friday, August 22nd, 2008

Gazing out the window at my local coffeehouse, I saw a guy ride past on a bicycle with a DVD case from Video Verite (a local rental place specializing in non-mainstream DVDs) sticking out of the back of his pants, half in and half out. It was too big to fit in his pocket, and he didn’t have a backpack or anything, so he put it there. I guess I just wanted to warn you that if you rent a DVD from Video Verite, there is a slight chance that it has recently spent time in a guy’s sweaty butt crack. Just FYI.

(Yes, of course I tried to get a picture, but he was gone before I could do it. It’s a shame, because it would have gone nicely in my Gallery of People’s Unfortunate Butt-Related Choices.)

Connie Pashall, 56, of Portland, is ignorant

Thursday, August 21st, 2008

Portland’s Willamette Week went door-to-door to find people who aren’t voting for Obama and to ask them why not. The article is fuzzy on why the newspaper did this, exactly — Willamette Week is often fuzzy on why it does a lot of things — but one of the answers they got caught my attention.

It’s from Connie Pashall, age 56, who says she’s an independent. Willamette Week’s summary of her position:

A supporter of President Clinton during the 1990s, Pashall admits that conservative websites have given her pause about Obama’s heritage. “If there’s anything to his Muslim background, then we’d have al-Qaeda working on our country from the top-down.”

Assuming Willamette Week quoted her correctly, this means Connie Pashall is an astonishingly ignorant woman, one of those people you know exist but rarely encounter, like a billionaire, or a hunchback.

First of all, she apparently believes that being Muslim is the same thing as being connected with al-Qaeda. Really? There really are people who actually think this? I mean, I guess I knew there were. Like I said, it’s just weird to actually come across one.

But what’s more, in Connie Pashall’s view, you don’t even have to be a faithful, practicing Muslim now — all you need is a Muslim background, and that’s enough to make you in league with the terrorists.

I hope the “conservative websites” that have given her pause are on the fringe and don’t represent normal, rational conservatives. I don’t think they do. There are plenty of valid reasons not to vote for Obama, but the belief that his possible Muslim background equals a current sympathy with al-Qaeda is not one of them. That’s an invalid reason, a dumb reason, a reason held by dumb people, a dumb reason held by dumb people such as Connie Pashall, age 56, of Portland. Who is dumb.

The conversation that must have led to this picture

Wednesday, August 20th, 2008

[Photo taken this afternoon in a Portland grocery store parking lot.]

“All right, ladies, let’s go to the grocery store!”

“OK! Let me just put on my too-tight low-rise jeans that leave the back side of my muffin top exposed!”

“And should I change out of my pajamas?”

“Nah, don’t worry about it. I’m wearing the pants that only come up to the bottom of my butt.”

“What if we get to the store and discover we’re out of wiper fluid?”

“Don’t worry, I’ll bring this jug of moonshine just in case.”

“OK, we’re ready!”

“Let’s go!”

“Don’t forget to lock the double-wide!”

Cranky letter to the editor

Tuesday, April 8th, 2008

This letter appeared in The Oregonian on April 3, in response to coverage of the Bruce Springsteen concert in Portland several days earlier:

Bruce Springsteen’s band member tells us that it is a rush to him to “turn your guitar amp up to 11 and scream and shout and be presenting amazing music.” Amazing to me that anyone older than a demented 6-year-old can call that racket “music.”

True, my standards are high, as they are generated by the Metropolitan Opera. But the reaction to the Springsteen noise proves the truth of the old adage that “some people grow up, others just grow old.”

Robert E. Vanderzanden
Woodburn, Ore.

Assuming this letter is legit and not meant as a joke, I have to conclude that Robert E. Vanderzanden is the following things:

1. Very, very old. Anyone who was younger than about 20 in the mid ’50s, when rock ‘n’ roll came around, would almost certainly have succumbed to at least SOME of its charms. To have such disdain for the entire art form — and Springsteen isn’t even “niche”; his stuff is pretty much basic, pure rock ‘n’ roll — you’d have to have been already set in your musical tastes in 1955. At least generally speaking.

2. A pompous crotchbag.

For the record, being a fan of the Metropolitan Opera does not automatically make you a pretentious, insufferable jerk. But citing it as a credential does.

‘Snide Remarks’! And update! And review!

Monday, August 13th, 2007

This week’s “Snide Remarks” is the latest installment of a regular feature, “Ask Eric Stuff 28.” The SnideCast® technology at the top of the column will allow you to listen to it if you don’t like reading; the podcast does exactly the same thing except on your iPod. Or you can use your eyes to scan the words visually, the way the good Lord intended.

Also, there’s been an update on the situation discussed in last week’s column, about the boys who might do 10 years in jail for smackin’ some girls’ booties. On Friday, the district attorney dropped the sexual abuse charges against the boys, which means the possibility of being registered sex offenders for the rest of their lives is gone. They still face the misdemeanor harassment charges, but at least some progress has been made.

And finally, if you were wondering how bad “Skinwalkers” is, you can read my review of it here. I gather no one was interested in seeing it anyway, though, since it made only [Edit: Final figures are in and are slightly higher than estimated; here are the correct numbers] $753,520 over the weekend. Its per-screen average was $1,011. Figuring each theater showed it five times a day, or 15 times over the weekend, that’s $67.40 per showing. The average ticket price in America is $6.55, so that means an average of 10 people attended each screening. Not very encouraging for the folks behind “Skinwalkers.”

Update on ‘Firefly’ and geekhood

Wednesday, August 8th, 2007
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I’ve been enjoying the “Firefly” screenings at Portland’s Mission Theater these last few Tuesdays. It turns out I’d only seen five episodes of the series, so most of it is brand-new to me.

I’m not generally a sci-fi sort of person, and I admit some of the people at these screenings are far geekier than I tend to associate with. (Not that there’s anything wrong with that.) But it’s been interesting to discover that “Firefly,” while surrounded by sci-fi trappings (outer space, the future, etc.), is not always strictly a “sci-fi” show. Many of the stories could just as easily be used in a straightforward action series like “The A-Team” or “MacGyver” or whatever.

For that matter, the show is set on the frontiers of space 500 years hence, and a lot of the frontier resembles the American Old West. Because of that, a lot of what goes on could happen in a Western series, too. Replace “going to visit this planet” with “going to visit this town,” and everything else is the same.

The point is, if you’re generally averse to science-fiction, you might like “Firefly” anyway. Did I mention it’s also very, very funny, often exciting, and full of lively, interesting characters? Well it is!

The free screenings at the Mission have been very well attended, so much so that people are lining up outside an hour early in order to get a seat. And some people have gone even further:

Continue reading…

Portland geeks, unite: ‘Firefly’ episodes every Tuesday at the Mission!

Thursday, July 12th, 2007
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Portland is a great town for geeks. Several comic book writers, artists, and publishers make their homes here. You can’t swing a light saber in this town without hitting some skinny hipster with black nerdy-cool glasses and a vintage T-shirt, ready to talk about why the second half of season 13 of “The Simpsons” was better than the first half of season 9. And Portlanders love the work of Joss Whedon: “Buffy the Vampire Slayer,” “Firefly,” and the film “Serenity.”

My first up-front exposure to this devotion was Tuesday night, when I joined some friends at the McMenamins Mission Theater to watch the two-hour pilot episode of “Firefly.” Sponsored by KUFO and McMenamins, they’ll be screening two episodes every Tuesday night at the Mission until they’ve finished the series … which won’t take long, since it only lasted 15 episodes, counting the two-hour pilot as two.

I had seen the first six episodes that Fox aired back in 2002, but that did not include the pilot. Fox didn’t like the pilot, so they aired another episode as the premiere and didn’t show the actual pilot until the very end, when they had given up on the series and were just burning off episodes. And by then I wasn’t watching anymore.

Shame on me, because I’ll be doggoned if the pilot isn’t a fine piece of entertainment.

Continue reading…

‘Snide Remarks’ 10th Anniversary Feature: A Timeline of Important Columns (Part 3)

Sunday, July 8th, 2007

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[Part 1]
[Part 2]

July 24, 2006, “I Was a Junket Whore”: Fifteen minutes of Internet fame — oh, and it cost me a job, too.

This one earned me 15 minutes of Internet fame, but it had far more lasting repercussions than that: If it weren’t for this column, there is a very good chance that right now I would be the full-time film critic at a major weekly newspaper. Yep, this column cost me a job.

I had been freelancing movie reviews for Portland’s Willamette Week for several months when the paper’s full-time film critic, D., called to see if I wanted to go on this junket. It seemed like it would be fun to do once, just so I could say I did it, and I made the arrangements with Paramount Pictures.

My understanding was that I was going as a freelance writer, not as an official Willamette Week representative, and that WW would buy my story when I got back. The story would be your basic interview feature, incorporating the conversations I’d had with Oliver Stone and his actors.

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Meanwhile, D. had announced that he was leaving WW, and the paper was seeking his replacement. The other writer who had been freelancing for them wasn’t applying for the job, which meant I was the only applicant who already had a foot in the door. D. indicated that if it were up to him, I’d be his replacement. He put me in touch with K., the features editor, and I went in for a job interview. It went well, K. liked me, I liked her, she was less interested in my past (I’d been fired from a newspaper a few years earlier) than in my ideas for the future, and things looked good.

Later that same day, July 19, I flew to Seattle for the junket.

Continue reading…

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