Snide Remarks

Snide Remarks

Boys Nintendon’t Cry

When the video-game-based film "Max Payne" was released last week, a critic named Roger Moore said on Rotten Tomatoes that it "suffers from the heartlessness that makes games emotionally inferior to movies. Nobody ever shed a tear over a video-game character's death." Naturally, this led to several dozen people posting angry comments talking about the times that they did, in fact, cry over the death of a video-game character. This reinforces the truism that no matter how ridiculous something is, there will always be someone who has not only done it, but is proud to admit it.

Fact Checking

Here is our analysis of some of the claims made by the presidential candidates in the most recent debate. Obama's claim: "I want to thank Hofstra University for hosting us. I'm very happy to be here tonight." The facts:Obama was not actually happy to be there. He'd been hoping to watch the baseball playoffs, not sit at a table and argue with John McCain.

The Elephant in the Womb

We recently had a blessed event at the Oregon Zoo here in Portland, when an Asian elephant named Rose-Tu gave birth to a healthy baby boy. His name is Samudra, which unfortunately perpetuates the stereotype that young mothers tend to give their children stupid names. Elephants having babies is a big deal in the zoo world. For one thing, while you lazy human mothers can pop out a baby in nine months, elephants work on it for 22 months. For another thing, breeding elephants in captivity is difficult. Apparently elephants are so big and hideous that even other elephants don't like to have sex with them.

The Feeling Is Mutual

Dear Washington Mutual -- I have been a loyal customer of yours for 10 years, if loyalty is measured only in terms of not abandoning you for another bank. I have often considered doing this, usually when you have treated me with disrespect or apathy, but I've always reminded myself that another bank would probably treat me the same way, so why bother changing? So maybe I'm not a "loyal" customer so much as I'm a "resigned" customer, or a customer who has "given up." At any rate, I'm writing to you because it seems that you are in desperate straits, and I want to point and laugh at your misfortune the way you have frequently pointed and laughed at mine.

Oh, Yeah. Canada.

My visit to the Toronto International Film Festival two weeks ago was the first time I'd been to Canada. I started to say that it was the first time I'd traveled that far north, but Toronto is actually south of Portland, where I live. I know it sounds crazy, but it's true! Toronto is one of Canada's southernmost cities. You might even say it's Canada's "Deep South," though that is misleading, given the city's dearth of hillbillies.
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Your Candidate/My Candidate

Your candidate lacks experience. My candidate is refreshingly free from the stain of politics. Your candidate has been part of the Washington system for too long. My candidate is blessed by years of political know-how. Your candidate is a reckless loose cannon. My candidate is a maverick.

The Heat Is Off

Labor Day marks the end of the Summer Blockbuster Season, that magical time of year when the nation's multiplexes are stuffed with explosions, comic book characters, and Will Smith saying, "Aw, HELL no!" But before Hollywood puts away its summer toys and starts getting serious for autumn, let's recall the vivid sights and pungent, bat-like smells that overwhelmed our senses during this most recent Summer Blockbuster Season. Inhuman, mechanical creatures were at the center of many of this summer's films -- the robot in "WALL-E," the cars in "Speed Racer," Kim Cattrall in "Sex and the City" -- but the most popular was "Iron Man," which told the inspiring story of an alcoholic millionaire playboy who reforms himself, and after he reforms himself, he gets the lead role in the movie "Iron Man," which is about a dude who makes weapons.

That’s So PETArded

It's been a while since we last checked in with PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Appetizers), so let's see what the old stone-faced chicken-worshippers are up to, shall we? Put down that veal sandwich and leave your walrus-skin pants at the door! First up: When you think of good, lighthearted fun, you naturally think of PETA. A jollier band of merrymakers you've never met! That's why it's very exciting to learn that the organization has expressed interest in buying SeaWorld, with the intention of setting the animals free and hosting virtual-reality exhibits instead! Wheee!

Uncle Morning Shift

This weekend I took a quick trip back to the ancestral Snider homeland in California for the wedding of one of my many cousins. Much of my immediate family was able to convene for the occasion, which meant a great many more people than usual were crammed into my parents' house. It's a four-bedroom place, but there were 10 of us, so it took some particularly thorny calculus to figure out the sleeping arrangements.

Bike Curious

There is growing tension between two of America's largest factions: people who drive cars, and people who get in the way of cars by riding bicycles. A bicycle is a perfectly legitimate mode of transportation, of course, particularly if you are 8 years old, or Lance Armstrong. The problem is that American roads were designed with automobiles in mind, and cars make up the bulk of road traffic, and cars and bikes don't really interact very well. Cyclists are stuck in this ill-defined netherworld. You're not supposed to ride on the sidewalk, but you're not supposed to be out in the regular traffic lanes, either, except in cases where there's no bike lane, and then you can be out in the regular lanes and the drivers are supposed to treat you as if you were a fellow automobile, except that fellow automobiles accelerate more quickly and don't top out at 15 mph and don't crumple into bloody piles of metal and flesh when you barely tap them with your bumper.

The Fanboys Respond to ‘Romeo and Juliet,’ 1595

o my lordz and ladiez i am soooo excited 2 C shakezpear's new play tonite! i totes luv this story! i just hope he don't ruin it!! i hath my doubts... shakesqueer hath ruined many stories before... i hateth his "comedy of errors" becuz it differeth so much from the ancient Roman plays on which 'tis based... also, shakesqueer is gay. forsooth, b****es, methinks Romeo & Juliet hath replaced Taming of the Shrew (I mean LAMING of the Shrew) as the vilest concoction mine eyez have beheld upon the london stage... methinks seriously, WTF?

I Learned It from Watching You

Going to the movies can be very educational. For example, you learn about sociology when you see teenagers pay $9 for tickets only to ignore the film and spend the whole time sending text messages. You learn about physics when you observe how an ordinary cell phone screen appears as bright as the sun when it's lit up in a darkened theater. And you learn about civics when you are arrested for shoving a cell phone down a teenager's throat.

Gas Pains

For years, we Americans have dealt with rising gas prices the way we've dealt with most of our other problems: by complaining, and doing nothing else. Until recently, this was sufficient. We'd grumble about the highway robbery at the gas pump, and that made us feel a little better as we continued to drive exactly as much as we had before.

A Good Sense of Rumor

Every now and then I like to perform a valuable public service by quoting the gossip magazines and then telling you what's really being said. Gossip magazines aren't hard to read, of course, as they use a seventh-grade vocabulary. But often the messages are couched in polite language that the uninitiated reader might have trouble deciphering. So here are some samples, along with my translations, all taken from the July 7 issues of Us Weekly and Star magazine. What they say: "Gwyneth Paltrow turned heads in a Stella McCartney jumpsuit at 'Iron Man's' L.A. premiere." What they mean: "Gwyneth Paltrow turned heads because people wondered why someone had put a jumpsuit on an ironing board."

Art Depreciation

One of the high points of my recent trip to New York City -- and I plan to write at least 20 more columns about this trip, so get used to it -- was seeing my friends Patrick and Lindsay. They are a married couple, though they were single when I first met them, back in Utah. In fact, I'd like to think I'm part of the reason they got married. It isn't true, but I'd like to think it.

YM I So Tired?

I love New York. This probably comes from not living there. To actually reside there would be hectic, exhausting, and expensive. But visiting! Visiting is a treat. Visiting is also hectic, exhausting, and expensive, but it's over faster. I took a trip to The NYC last month and had the pleasure of seeing friends who had moved to New York since the last time I was there. The nice thing about having friends in New York is that they'll let you crash at their apartments when you visit. The downside is that everyone's apartment in New York is the size of a public restroom stall, making the accommodations wise from the standpoint of economics but not ergonomics. You have to weigh your options: Sure, I can stay here for free. But is it worth it if I have to sleep on a pile of laundry under the sink?

The Signs of New York

Some people take photos of historical buildings or landmarks when they go to New York City. But I figure you can see a picture of the Empire State Building anywhere. So I take pictures of signs. Here are some from my recent trip.

An Exclusive Interview with Indiana Jones

(Note: This feature does not contain any spoilers -- unless your definition of "spoiler" is "any information whatsoever about a movie, no matter how widely it has already been disseminated.") "Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull" arrives in theaters this Thursday -- or at midnight Wednesday night, actually, if you feel like having some late-night adventures. In honor of this sacred event, we've scored a major coup: an audio interview with Indiana Jones himself! Let's listen!

Brovaries, Duderus, Sirvix, Vaguyna, and Fellow-pian Tubes: A Guide to Male Pregnancy

Pregnancy! It is all the rage! Last year, movies like "Knocked Up," "Juno," and "Waitress" dealt with the unwanted kind of fetus-growing, and then hillbilly starlet Jamie Lynn Spears (sister of hillbilly trainwreck Britney Spears) went and got herself a bun in the oven, too. Why, pregnancy is so trendy that even the menfolk are getting in on the act!

Between Barack and a Hard Place

We need to overhaul the way we elect our presidents. The current system, where the campaigning lasts forever, is awful. I mean, the 2008 presidential race has been going on since 1994, and candidates interested in becoming president in 2016 have to start running now. It's already too late to be considered for 2012.

Defence Is De Answer

Most of what I know about CNN I get from watching it when I'm on the treadmill at the gym. There are four TVs above the treadmills, two fixed on CNN and two on ESPN. You might think that with four TVs we could have four different channels, but as it turns out, CNN and ESPN are the only two channels that people on treadmills could possibly be interested in watching. Or at least that is the view of Bally Total Fitness. When you look at it that way, having four TVs is an extravagant luxury.

The China Monologues

It comes around every four years, and while I usually have little interest in it, this year I'm paying close attention. Of course I'm talking about Leap Year. No, just kidding. Leap Year is stupid. I'm talking about the Olympics, to be held this August in the Chinese capital of Beijing. For the average person, the Olympics are usually nothing more than an opportunity to develop a sudden, passionate interest in obscure sports, and to indulge in some good-natured nationalism. (You suck, Albania!) But this year, there is controversy! Due to a crazy quirk of procedural irregularities, the International Olympic Committee accidentally awarded the Games to a backward, secretive country that regularly murders its own citizens! Whoops!

Little-Known Facts

I usually don't do this, but for this week's column I wanted to share something I received as an e-mail forward. It's a collection of trivia that I think is absolutely fascinating. I never knew a lot of this stuff before! I'm passing it on to you as a reminder of what an interesting world we live in!! * * * * * Ronald Reagan was not the first U.S. president to have formerly been an actor. Martin Van Buren appeared in several movies prior to his career in politics, mostly quirky, low-budget independent films.

WTF, TSA?

Frequently Asked Questions at the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) Website. Q: Tell me again why we can't bring bottled water through airport security? A: Two reasons. One, because we have no way of knowing it's just plain water and not something that could be used to make a bomb. Two, because we said so.

Artificially Swedened

If there's a name for the style in which my apartment is decorated, it's Homeless Person Squatting in an Abandoned Tenement. This is fine with me. Sure, I could spend thousands of dollars on nice furniture and decor. But on the other hand, no I couldn't, because I don't have thousands of dollars. I have the essential items -- bed, chair, table, piano, life-size plastic dog, Ron Burgundy bobblehead doll, flashlight, etc. -- and I'm happy with that. Or at least I thought I was happy. Then an Ikea store opened in Portland and I realized how truly miserable I was.

A Crock of Buttars

I occasionally miss living in Utah. One of those times is when a state senator refers to an unpleasant bill as a "black baby -- a dark, ugly thing," apologizes to blacks for his remarks but makes a reference to lynch mobs in the apology, and then exasperatedly refers to African-Americans as "those people."

A Visit to Mississippi, Part 2

(Part 1) Kim and Jen went to Wal-Mart again Friday morning, goodness knows why, and then we drove into the heart of Oxford for lunch. At the center of town is a place called The Square, a charming, old-style town square populated by shops and restaurants. It had been recommended that we have lunch at a place called the Ajax Diner. This proved to be the best advice any of us had ever been given, by anyone, at any time, in our entire lives.

A Visit to Mississippi, Part 1

Sure, the Sundance Film Festival boasts swanky premieres and tons of celebrities, and the Cannes Film Festival is where the elite of the film world gather to hobnob and make deals. But only at the Oxford Film Festival in Oxford, Mississippi, would the opening-night party be held in a private home where over the kitchen sink hangs a small painting of slaves picking cotton.

A Message from Mike Huckabee

My fellow Christians -- excuse me -- my fellow Americans -- I come before you on the eve of Super Tuesday to remind you once again of a very important truth: God wants me to be president.

Male Pattern Badness

I am not particularly manly, as you know from reading my work or talking to me or seeing my picture or knowing what my name is. Cars? Sports? Camping? Hunting? No thank you. The overwhelming majority of my tentative forays into all those elements of ruggedness have ended badly.

The Best of ‘Snide Remarks’: 2007

Some call it momentous. Some call it groundbreaking. Some call it lazy. Whatever it is, it's my favorite chunks from this year's "Snide Remarks" columns, cobbled together into one easy-to-digest serving....

War Is Hell (at the Box Office)

A huge number of war-related films have come out in 2007, and the public's response has been resounding: We do not wish to see war-related films. Actually, I should be more specific. It is only films about Iraq and the War on Terror that the public does not want to see. The public is more than happy to see films about wars involving giant space robots that turn into cars. "In fact, we'd like more of those movies!" is an exact quote from the public.

Unresolved Issues

For some reason I've started getting the magazines Ebony and Jet delivered to my house. This is a mistake, of course. Though the magazines are addressed to me, I did not subscribe to them. They are targeted at a black audience, and as you may know, I am not black. It is one of my deficiencies.

Ask Eric Stuff 29

The "Ask Eric Stuff" feature is so popular that every time we do one, we are deluged with letters, postcards, and telegrams from fans who threaten suicide if we do not publish another installment immediately. It's been over three months since the last one, though, so we hope those fans were only kidding.

You Panhandle the Truth!

It is the season of giving! We gave thanks last week, and now, for the next month, we must give money. People become very charitable during the holidays. United Way, Goodwill, The Salvation Army, all of these organizations are practically overwhelmed by donations in December. Why, poor people eat like kings this time of year! Then in January they go back to starving.
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The Perfect Thanksgiving

A Conservative's Guide to the Perfect Thanksgiving Thanksgiving should be a time of gratitude for all your good fortune (if you can really call it "fortune," considering you worked for everything you have). A Liberal's Guide to the Perfect Thanksgiving Thanksgiving is a time to be grateful for everything you have, assuming you can get past the guilt in knowing how many people have suffered so that you can have it.

Striking TV Writers Are Forced to Find Other Employment

I know it's been stressful for you to join the Starbucks team. I hope we haven't been too scary! I know it can be tough to jump in to an operation that's already in full swing and be expected to learn the ropes. If you ever have any questions, please do not hesitate to ask me! You guys are doing a great job so far! However, there are a few things that I think need to be addressed. I just want to make sure we're all "on the same page," to use some writers' lingo! :-)

The Saggy Bottom Boys

The city of Dallas, like all large metropolises, has many important problems facing it. For example, a great many of its residents are Texans. That's a hurdle few cities have been able to overcome. But the most critical issue on the minds of Dallas officials is this: how to get teenagers to quit wearing their pants so low.

A Nobel Gesture

Between Al Gore winning a Nobel Peace Prize and the Dalai Lama of Tibet winning a Congressional Gold Medal, it's been a big couple weeks in the field of Largely Symbolic Awards Bestowed Upon People Only Tangentially Related to Them. I suspect next we'll see the Pulitzer Prize for Drama given to an improv troupe.

A Mild Pinoyance

It was Isaac Newton who said it best: For every action there is an equal and opposite overreaction. This week's overreactors: the Filipinos. Every last stinkin' one of 'em.

Ahead of the Curves

The United States has fallen behind other countries in some categories -- life expectancy, auto-making, nuclear-weapon-building -- but we still lead the pack when it comes to the production of fat people. No other nation on earth holds a candle to us in that regard. If they did, we would eat the candle, especially if it smelled like vanilla. WE WILL EAT ANYTHING.

The Best of ‘Snide Remarks’: 1997-2007

[The first "Snide Remarks" column was published Sept. 29, 1997 -- 10 years ago this week. In honor of that, Eric has been going on and on about it all year, like it's some kind of milestone or something.] Earlier this year, I spent a few weeks re-reading every "Snide Remarks" column I'd ever written. You're not supposed to laugh at your own jokes, of course, but in many cases I had completely forgotten the details of these columns, and the jokes were as fresh as if someone else had written them. In many instances, even after reading them anew I still had no recollection of having written them.

Uncle Shrek

I got a voicemail from my mom a few weeks ago saying she and my 2-year-old niece, Lindsay, were calling to talk to Shrek because Lindsay wanted to tell him that she had pooped in the toilet. None of this made any sense to me, of course. Had my mother's early-onset senility caused her to dial my number thinking it was that of a cartoon character? Did she know she was calling me but somehow think that I WAS Shrek? It was troubling, not least because apparently crazy Mom was babysitting Lindsay, and who knew what kind of trouble the two of them might wander into. It was like a cat babysitting a monkey.

Smells Like Summer

Whew! Breathe a sigh of relief and put your shirt back on! The summer blockbuster season is finally over, and movies are allowed to make sense again. Join us as we take a brisk, sweaty stroll down memory lane and revisit the summer's most pungent and savory offerings.

You’ll Laugh Your Smirnoff!

This is the story of how I almost became a comedy writer for Yakov Smirnoff. If you were alive in the 1980s, then already your mind is riddled with questions. "How can 'comedy' and 'Yakov Smirnoff' appear in the same sentence?" you ask. "Is that even grammatically possible?"

The Adventures of Spider and Man

I have told you before about my battles with the spiders, which are far more plentiful in Oregon than they were in my last state of residence (Utah), or the state before that (California), or indeed anyplace else on the planet (Earth). My policy has always been one of the utmost tolerance: The spiders may live anywhere they please except inside my apartment. This gives them a lot of freedom, for the vast majority of the world consists of areas that are not my apartment. Why, just stepping out my front door I am instantly within sight of dozens of places a spider could live that are not my apartment.

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Before Ann Landers died in 2002 at the age of 138, she whispered to me on her deathbed that she wanted me to carry on her legacy of answering people's questions in a vague, unhelpful manner. And thus "Ask Eric Stuff" was born! It is an occasional feature in "Snide Remarks" in which people ask Eric (me) stuff, and Eric (me) answers them. It's pretty self-explanatory, really, so I don't know why you keep pestering me for an explanation. Do you have a question you think would be appropriate for "Ask Eric Stuff"? Really? Really? OK, if you're sure. You can submit it here, and if Eric uses it in a future edition of "Ask Eric Stuff," you will win a free T-shirt! (Offer void in the real world.)

Spanks for the Memories

Oregon's Yamhill County is taking steps toward doing something we all support, which is to put as many teenagers in jail as possible. Unfortunately, the charges they're using to justify the incarcerations are getting weaker, as police recently arrested two junior high students for smacking girls' bottoms in the hallways of their school. This is against the law now?! Someone better tell Gen. Halftrack in "Beetle Bailey"!

Inexcusabull Behavior

So this guy in Spain had his 10-year-old son with him for the weekend, and he thought a good father-son activity would be to participate in Pamplona's Running of the Bulls. His ex-wife found out about it, and now a judge has revoked the guy's visitation rights. So we see that the United States is not the only country plagued by activist judges. Where does this guy get off telling a man he can't be with his own son just because he let a bunch of a giant angry animals chase him down a narrow street? Oh sure, judge. I guess YOU'VE never intentionally endangered the lives of YOUR children! I guess YOU'RE a perfect father! Judge not lest ye be judged, Judge.

Urine Trouble

Note: This column contains too much personal information. Also, the story's ending is unsatisfying. Complaints about either of those elements will fall on deaf ears. A few years ago, I discovered one day that I had developed a strange problem: I couldn't pee. That is to say, I could pee, but only if I pushed really hard. Even when I really, really had to go, I couldn't actually do it without a lot of effort.

Wand for the Money

Prepare to have a strong gust of comedy wind blown up your Hogwarts robes! We're having a close-out sale on all Harry Potter jokes! Everything must go! Hurry and read them before they become obsolete!

Weapons of Tax Destruction

The Fourth of July is coming up fast -- it's on July 4 this year -- and to commemorate that special day 231 years ago when the Founding Fathers slapped together this great nation of ours, one New Hampshire couple is insisting that the U.S. government has no right to make them pay taxes. They've hunkered down in their house, armed themselves to the teeth, and declared they would sooner die than pay up. Live free or die, indeed!

Reaching for the Stars

If you don't have a life of your own and prefer instead to revel in the details of celebrities' lives, as reported by the gossip magazines, then you are probably adept at interpreting the truth behind what those rags say. You have learned that they can't just come out and say the nasty things they're thinking, or else the stars won't keep confiding in them, and so they hide the truth behind figurative language. But if you're still a novice at interpreting gossip-speak, we offer as an exercise the following translations of some quotes from the July 2 issues of Life & Style and OK! Weekly.

Sein of the Times

The landmark television program "Seinfeld," which anyone with basic cable can now watch 15 times a day if they so choose, was famous for analyzing the minutiae of everyday life. Giving away unwanted gifts, double-dipping potato chips in a public dip bowl, pretending to admire ugly babies -- it was all fodder for the "Seinfeld" writers. The thing is, "Seinfeld" ceased production in 1998. American life has changed a lot since then, and the show never got a chance to comment on some of the things that are ubiquitous now. But what if "Seinfeld" were still on the air? What would it be like? I think it might go something ... like ... this ...

Getting Tested

Well, I guess it's official: After two years of living in Portland, I'm finally a true Oregonian. I don't mean that I've started doing something ridiculous like selling weed or voting for libertarians. I just mean that I've finally acquired an Oregon driver's license (printed on 100% recycled hemp products), replacing the California license I've had since I was 19.

Two to a Womb

Here is a heartwarming story that will warm your heart and fill your heart with warmth. It's the story of a woman who just gave birth to a set of twins. Cute, right? But wait, there's more! It's the THIRD set of twins she's had! And she had a regular kid before that! So she has seven children total, ages zero to 4 years. Quite a handful! That must be a busy operation there at her house, with all that pooping and crying, not to mention all the pooping and crying that the children are doing.

The Feminine Mistake

I took some film-studies classes at Portland State University in 2005 and 2006, my first academic experience since graduating from Brigham Young University in 1999. PSU and BYU are very different from one another, obviously. At BYU, you can be expelled for smoking marijuana. At PSU, the school mascot is Cheech.

Windsor? I Hardly Knew Her

FACT: Queen Elizabeth II of England is currently in the United States, her first visit since 1991. FACT: The Queen keeps a personal diary and is known to write in it frequently. NOT FACT: Here are some excerpts. Friday 4 May weight 140 lbs., alcohol units 14, cigarettes 38, calories 2,500, beheadings 0. It is our first visit to the colonies in 16 years, and not much seems to have changed. Still the same 13 colonies plus goodness knows how many extra, sub-colonies. (That gaudy American flag is littered with stars!) People still drive their automobiles on the right -- which is to say the wrong -- side of the road. The subjects continue to be v. casual and informal in their behaviour, even to the point of stubbornness. For example, the colony of Massachusetts has not paid me its Tea Tax in over 200 years! To me that sounds like good cause for a beheading.

Out on a Limbo

Good news, dead, unbaptized babies! Turns out there's a chance you're not going to hell after all! This bit of cheery optimism comes courtesy of the Catholic Church, which is starting to do away with its teaching on "limbo." Now they say that babies and young children who die unbaptized don't go to limbo -- which is a good place but is not in God's presence -- but instead are probably whisked straight to heaven, straight into the loving metaphorical arms of the incorporeal, unknowable three-part God.

Cheney Roast

I kind of feel bad for Vice President Dick Cheney. First of all, the two things he is best known for are shooting an old man in the face and telling a senator "go f*** yourself" during an exchange on the senate floor. That's Cheney's legacy: almost killing a senior citizen, and hurling the F-bomb at a congressman.

Ask Eric Stuff 27

All right, you nappy-headed hos! It's time for another edition of "Ask Eric Stuff," an occasional feature in which members of the general population ask Eric stuff, and he answers them sarcastically and with alleged humor. You can submit a question of your own here. Your questions may be used in a feature edition of "Ask Eric Stuff," and if they are, boy howdy won't you feel special! Dear Eric: I had a baby girl this spring. Everyone I know is giving her pink: pink dress, pink hair bows, pink socks. As a staunch feminist, I think this is just wrong. How do I tell people to give her "gender-neutral" items? -- Not a Pink Lady Dear Lady: Just tell them the truth. Say, "I want beige coveralls for my child, because I don't want her growing up feeling like being a girl means she's special or pretty or anything."

In Which Laziness Does Not Pay After All

My old car got wrecked a few months ago, as you know, and I subsequently flew to Ohio to pick up a free 1994 Geo Prizm from Auntie Karen. But whatever became of that wrecked 1995 Toyota Tercel? That is the question that countless (i.e., no) people have asked me, and its story folds in nicely with the continuing saga of the '94 Geo Prizm, which it turns out is the victim of a gypsy curse.

Send in the Clowns … TO HELL!

What's new in the world of clowns? Two are dead and one had his stupid tiny bicycle stolen, that's what! I'm sure you'll agree that circus clowns are ghastly, nightmarish beings whose unfunny mirth destroys all the happiness it comes in contact with. Ironically, the only time they are ever funny is when they don't intend to be -- when a car full of them overturns on the highway, for example, and 30 sad-faced harlequins come crawling out, bleeding and wounded, their red noses honking as they collapse face-down on the pavement. Or when someone bursts into a Colombian circus and shoots two of them.
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A Formal Apology

Thank you all for coming. I've never thrown a press conference before, so I'm not sure how it works. I'm just a comedian who managed to get his own TV show. But I understand I've caused some controversy, and I want to apologize for that. As you know, my name is Artie Stein, and I'm the star of the Fox sitcom "Who Arted?," which airs Thursdays at 8 (7 Central). And as you're aware -- in fact, it's why we're here today -- last week I got into an argument with my friend and co-star, David Schwartz, on the set of our show, and in the heat of the moment, I called Dave something that has caused a huge uproar. I called him a "retard."

Something Wiki This Way Comes

Did you know that Wikipedia is full of anti-Christian and anti-American bias? Well, it is! For example, if you go to the Wikipedia page for "United States of America," you'll find this as the very first sentence: "The United States of America is a country of the western hemisphere, comprising fifty states and numerous territories." Oh, our territories are NUMEROUS, are they? We're just big ol' TERRITORY HOGS, aren't we? Well, excuse us, Mr. Wikipedia!

Whine-oming

Our story so far: I had an overnight delay in Limon, Colo., finally made it to Wyoming, and then found Interstate 80 closed at Laramie. OK, now it was just funny. Getting stuck in Limon had been traumatic, simply because it was unexpected and chaotic. But being stranded AGAIN the VERY NEXT NIGHT ... well, there's nothing you can do about that except laugh.

I Cannot Tell a Limon

Our story so far: I flew to Ohio, collected my free 1994 Geo Prizm, headed west, and got a flat tire in Colorado. It is a very alarming thing to not know where you are. I wasn't "lost," exactly; it's not like I was on some unmarked hiking trail in Bolivia or something. I was on I-70, about 100 miles east of Denver. But that information wasn't exact enough to be very useful. Those of us who live in populated areas forget sometimes that there are places in the United States where NO ONE LIVES. It always seems like such a waste to me: All this pristine, unused land, and not a single Wendy's?

Prizm Break

Our story so far: I wrecked my car, Progressive is a lousy insurance company, and Auntie Karen offered to give me her 1994 Geo Prizm -- if I came to Ohio to get it. * * * The plan sounded simple enough. I would fly to Columbus, pick up my free car, and drive back to Portland. It was early January -- not the best time of year to be driving cross-country -- but I figured if I took a more southern route (I-70 instead of I-80) the weather would be better. Gas should cost about $175 (those Geos get good mileage), I would need a couple nights in a Motel 6 (another $100), and the plane ticket should be reasonable. All told, my free car should cost me about $400.

Not Very Progressive

The nice thing about wrecking your car right in front of your apartment is that you don't have to call a tow truck. You can just roll it back to the curb where you normally park it!

The Audubon Society’s Guide to Celebrity Watching

Park City, Utah, is a beautiful, pristine land that brims with wildlife during all the seasons of the year. But it is only during the Sundance Film Festival that it is home to Earth's rarest, most valuable creatures: celebrities.

Ask Eric Stuff 26

It's time for everyone's favorite/least favorite game, "Ask Eric Stuff"! This is an occasional feature in which ordinary citizens ask Eric stuff, and he answers them in as few words and with as little helpful advice as possible. The feature is wildly popular, except among the hundreds of people who hate it. If you want to submit a question for a future edition of "Ask Eric Stuff," you can do so here. Please note that if your question has a lot of misspelled words, or if you don't capitalize the words that appear at the beginning of sentences, you will be mocked, and your home may be ransacked by grammar-wielding goons. Dear Eric: My pet mouse recently died. She was very sweet and loving, and I miss her a lot. But I'm not getting any sympathy from my family. They all say that mice are gross and I'm stupid for grieving. How can I make them understand? -- Sad in the South Dear Sadist: It sounds to me like they do understand: Mice are gross, and you're stupid. Where's the confusion?

Uncle What’s-His-Name

My fat brother Jeff and his wife, non-fat Beth, are teaching my 2-year-old niece sign language. I think this shows remarkable foresight on their part, because you never know when you're going to be deaf. You think Helen Keller saw it coming? I doubt it.

The Best of ‘Snide Remarks’: 2006

What was once nothing more than a yearly ritual is now an annual tradition. The last week of the year is a time to reflect on the previous 12 months' "Snide Remarks" columns and to reprint the best portions, if any.

If It Happened Today

And it came to pass in those days, that there went out a decree from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be taxed.... And all went to be taxed, every one into his own city. And Joseph also went up from Galilee, out of the city of Nazareth, into Judaea, unto the city of David, which is called Bethlehem; (because he was of the house and lineage of David:) To be taxed with Mary his espoused wife, being great with child. "Seriously, MORE taxes? Wasn't one of Augustus' promises that he wouldn't raise taxes?" "Yeah, but who's going to call him on it? You?"

Eternal Reward: $10,000

One of the best ways to get my attention is to be a crazy person standing on the street corner handing out fliers and shouting at people about being saved. No matter how busy I am, I will always pause to take some of your reading material and peruse its contents.

Wii Are Family

It was a traditional Thanksgiving at the Snider house, very similar to the celebration the Pilgrims had in 1621. Almost the whole family was present, we had turkey with all the trimmings, and afterward we dropped off a load of smallpox-infected blankets at the Indian casino. We carried muskets and wore buckled shoes, too, although that was coincidental.

Rumor with a View

Celebrities! Who doesn't love 'em? NOBODY, that's who! We all enjoy reading about their triumphs, their failures, their breasts, and more of their failures. That's why gossip magazines thrive despite being poorly written and found only at supermarket checkstands, where they are placed among the other items that people only buy unintentionally or on a whim.

Writing Wrongs

Like all writers, I would love to write only what I want and never take on an assignment that isn't interesting to me personally. Unfortunately, writers who insist on being that selective usually starve to death, which is actually good for the rest of us because it thins out the competition, and also because writers are pretentious and we need fewer of them.

The Current State of American Political Discourse: A Tragedy in One Act

NON-PARTISAN MODERATOR: I'd like to thank my guests, Liberal and Conservative, for joining us today for this debate. Hopefully you can illuminate some key points in your separate philosophies, with the ultimate goal of finding common ground as Americans. LIBERAL: Yes, exactly. We all want to make America better. CONSERVATIVE: Quite so. I am pleased to be here.

Hot Library Action

Election Day is still a week away, yet I have already voted. HOW IS IT DONE????? you ask, though why you speak in all-caps and use five question marks, I do not know. Am I a time-traveler? Have I committed a grievous act of voter fraud? Both are plausible and consistent with my character, but neither is correct. I have already voted because I live in Oregon, and Oregon allows people to vote by mail.

Muckoo for Mocoa Muffs

Things are heating up on the cereal aisle at the grocery store, and I don't mean that literally, except in the case of instant oatmeal and I guess Pop-Tarts, which can be eaten warm but are fine without being heated, too. But the heating up I refer to is the fiery pace at which the major brands are introducing variations on their established products, everyone trying to destroy the competition and become the dominant force in the cutthroat cereal industry.

Ken You Believe It?

When I read that legendary "Jeopardy!" nerd-millionaire Ken Jennings was going to be in Portland last week for a book signing, I thought: I bet he would like to have dinner with me while he's in town. I mean, who wouldn't?! I'm a perfectly suitable dinner companion. I exercise proper table etiquette, I don't talk with my mouth full, and there are many restaurants from which I have not been banned.

Ask Eric Stuff 25

Guess what, kids! It's time for another edition of "Ask Eric Stuff," the Nobel Prize-winning feature in which people ask Eric stuff and he plumbs the depths of his wisdom to give responses. You -- yes, YOU -- can submit questions to be used in future "Ask Eric Stuff" columns by clicking this link right here and following the easy-to-follow instructions. Also, please note that when we called you "kids" a minute ago, we meant it metaphorically. We assume you are 18 years old and that the inappropriate advances we make toward you are only distasteful, not illegal. Let the questions and answers and instant messaging begin!

Cirque du So What?

I have a friend in the circus. (Of course I have a friend in the circus.) He is the keyboard player for the live circus band, which I bet you didn't even know they had. I certainly was not aware that circuses employed live musicians. In fact, I was only dimly aware that circuses still existed apart from Cirque du Soleil, which isn't a true circus in that it has no lion-tamers and all its cast members are in league with the devil.

A Whole Latte Love

You know how sometimes you're expecting a particular present for your birthday or Christmas or whatever, but you wind up not getting it? And you know how after you don't get it, you file a class-action lawsuit against the person who failed to give it to you? Of course you do! We've all been there.

Spider Remarks

The relatively cool, shady climate of Portland makes it a haven not just for scraggly, 20-year-old panhandlers and middle-aged ponytailed pot-growers, but for spiders, too. It was one of the first things I noticed when I moved here last summer, once I was able to see past the jobless hemp-smokers and skateboarding layabouts.

The Summer of Our Discontent

Summer is over now, so those brains you left at the door when you went to the movies back in May? You'll want to pick those up again. Better hope you still have your claim check!

Stinking to High Heaven

One of the things we pride ourselves on here at "Snide Remarks," next to our Pulitzer Prize and our ability to tie cherry stems in knots with our tongue, is our constant vigilance on the subject of people who smell bad. We feel that aside from determining the outcome of "American Idol," there is no issue more important to the average citizen.

Shakes on a Plane

To the terrorists who continue to plot the destruction of America, I offer this suggestion: Could you leave air travel alone and go after, maybe, trains? We would appreciate that. In return, America promises that we will continue to fight wars only with countries that have nothing to do with you. Thank you.

The Sweet Mel of Success

With bombs being launched back and forth and casualties mounting, it's been an anxious several days on the world scene. Like everyone else, I've been glued to the TV, eager to know: What will become of Mel Gibson?

Don’t Rain on My Parade

You know who's really stupid? The people who write questions to Parade Magazine. Parade is that weekly thing that comes in your Sunday paper, wedged between the color comics and the Circuit City ads. It's a "magazine" in the same sense that corndogs are "food": only technically and by the broadest of definitions. Mostly, Parade has very short, soggy articles about non-controversial topics such as socks, why eating rice is good for you, and Jerry Lewis. The articles are not boring, but they are not interesting, either. If you talked about the things in these articles at dinner parties, people would listen politely and then instantly forget everything you said.

I Was a Junket Whore

The call came on a Tuesday afternoon. It was the film critic at a weekly newspaper to which I am a regular contributor. The critic asked me: "Do you want to be a whore?" OK, not in so many words. He asked if I wanted to attend Paramount's press junket in Seattle for the movie "World Trade Center," where I'd have the opportunity to interview director Oliver Stone and actress Maggie Gyllenhaal. Paramount would fly me to Seattle and put me up in a hotel for the night. In exchange, I would write a fluffy interview piece about the celebrities and their movie, and sell it to whomever, possibly the paper my friend worked for.

Goin’ Back to Bally

I happened to get on a bathroom scale a few weeks ago, and the scale said some hurtful, offensive things to me. I don't want to get into exactly what was said, but it started with a "2," I'll tell you that much. And nothing good ever comes from a conversation with a scale that starts with "2."

Nice Day for a White Sweating

My friend Smacky had been engaged for many weeks, and I was on tenterhooks waiting for him to ask me to be in the wedding. He doesn't have that many friends, I thought, and certainly none besides me who ever watched ALL the "Friday the 13th" movies with him. Finally, with just three weeks to spare, he called and popped the question: "Do you have a black suit?"

Boise in the Hood

This is the story of how I almost got shot in Boise. I was driving from Portland to Salt Lake City last week and, owing to vagaries of scheduling, had to split the trip into two parts rather than drive straight through. Boise isn't really the halfway point -- it's closer to SLC than it is to Portland -- but the actual midpoint is an empty field near the Oregon/Idaho border, and an empty field has, by definition, no motels in it.

Inventory

ITEMS FOUND IN(1) MY SISTERS' SHOWER(2) - Cetaphil daily facial cleanser (for normal to oily skin), non-comedogenic(3) - Bath & Body Works Pleasures brown sugar & fig shower gel(4) - Bath & Body Works Pleasures brown sugar & fig(5) creamy body wash

Ask Eric Stuff 24

Summertime, and the livin' is greasy! It's time for a June edition of Ask Eric Stuff, the kid-tested, mother-approved feature in which people ask Eric stuff and he replies with witty, quotable answers, the use of which will drastically reduce global warming.

Junk in the Trunk

I recently came into an unexpected bit of unearned money, and it was such a fortuitous event that I thought: I'm going to spend this money on my colon.

A Brief History of ‘Snide Remarks,’ by Noted Mythologist Joseph Campbell

The oldest "Snide Remarks" column known to man, dated about 30,000 B.C., was found scratched on a cave wall in France in 1910. It reads in part:
Me love wheel. Wheel is great invention. But what is deal with wheel going slow on fast path? If you on fast path, you go fast! Me hate slow wheelers.

Stirring the Pot

For a while I was going to a Portland coffeehouse called The Fresh Pot, not to drink coffee, nor to obtain pot -- I think the "pot" in the name actually refers to what the coffee comes in (although it actually comes out of a large machine) -- but to eat muffins and drink hot chocolate and make with the clickety-clack on my laptop. I got to know several of the other regulars by sight, and there was one I wound up talking to who was so unusual I wrote a column about him. The column you are now reading is that very column.
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