Somehow, among the 101 columns I wrote this year, I managed to find a few highlights. Don’t think of this as a rehash of stuff you’ve already read; think of it as me being lazy and taking a week off.
No, wait, don’t think of it that way, either. In fact, don’t think of it at all. Just read and, if possible, enjoy.
Out and about
Babies love theater. Bring them, no matter how young. It is perfectly acceptable to give birth in the car on the way over and then bring the baby, still dripping, into the theater. Babies love theater. — “How to Behave at the Theater,” Jan. 11
â€¢ If a film existeth that hath too many lesbians, the Sundance committee hath not seen it.
â€¢ Thou shalt include in thy cast people like Parker Posey or Christina Ricci; behold, if thou casteth Adam Sandler or Cheech Marin, thou might as well throw thy movie in the Dumpster — yea, verily, in the damn Dumpster. — “Sundance Report: The Ten Commandments of Independent Filmmaking,” Jan. 15
I can’t imagine any situation in which I would feel I HAD to dress up as a woman, much less where I thought I could get away with it. Yet people in movies and Shakespeare plays seem to exhaust every other choice and arrive at that option with startling rapidness. They’re always vigorously heterosexual characters, too, insisting the LAST thing they want to do is dress like the opposite sex — but I am skeptical, because I think if you REALLY didn’t want to cross-dress, you’d find another solution. — “What Fools These Cross-Dressers Be,” July 3
I don’t think rap artists should be allowed to star in motion pictures. It’s not because they can’t act; I have come to accept that certain people will always be in movies, regardless of their having minimal talent. (This is known as the Freddie Prinze Jr. Prinziple.) The reason I object to rap stars as movie stars is that they don’t even have names. Snoop Dogg, Ice Cube, Li’l Bow Wow, Dr. Dre — those aren’t names! They’re not even proper nicknames. They’re barely even words. Seems like having a name should be the MINIMUM requirement for being a film star. — “Sinceriously,” May 17
A man in the audience answered his cellphone during the show and then talked on it for about a minute, casually, before hanging up. I don’t know this man or his background, but clearly he is the stupidest man in the world. He must be, if he thinks it’s OK to talk on his phone during a play. What puzzled me is how someone as stupid as he must be is able to dress himself and go outside and be part of society. Shouldn’t he be in a zoo or an institution, being studied by scientists? But maybe the phone call was urgent. Maybe it was the lost and found, letting him know they’d found his 11 missing chromosomes. — “Shmildren of Shmeden,” Aug. 2
Granted, the airlines have been under extraordinary duress in recent months. However, the effect of this has merely been that now, in addition to being incompetent, the airlines are also paranoid and delirious. It’s like going up to a man who’s already insane and telling him his rear end is on fire. — “Delta Bad Hand,” Jan. 2
I learned that it’s impossible to sleep in an airport, due to the prerecorded lady telling you every 10 minutes over the loudspeaker (there’s a reason they call it that) that you are not allowed to smoke in the terminal — which it seems to me everyone already knows. You can’t even bring nail clippers into an airport anymore; does anyone really think you can have fire? — “Cross Words at JFK,” March 20
There was a Korean-born American girl who learned I was visiting England from Utah and who then said, in a very disgusted manner, “You’re not a Mormon, are you?” Telling her I WAS a Mormon shut her up in a hurry. Having seen BYU’s Julie Stoffer on “The Real World,” I knew precisely how to deal with awkward circumstances like this one: I crawled into a cupboard and wept. — “Hostel Takeover,” March 29
With an average humidity index of 150,000 percent, Florida is by far our sweatiest state. That is why it is so attractive to old people, because the elderly, much like the dolphins they sound like, need to be kept moist in order to survive. — “Humid Nature,” April 19
When you give three weeks’ notice, you can get a plane ticket for $150 or so. When you give three days’ notice, they charge you $300, I guess because somehow it’s harder for the plane to fly when it has procrastinators on it. — “Generation Eric,” June 28
I got Dish Network, a satellite service that brings well over 1 billion channels directly into my home, including some from other planets. At least, I assume that’s where the people on “Iron Chef” are from. Certainly no regular people get that excited about cooking dinner. — “Special FX,” Jan. 4
Claire and Monty find England amusing, but they are fed up with certain aspects of it. For example, over there, ugly people are allowed on television. This bothers Claire and Monty, who believe, as Americans, that only attractive people should be televised. “If I wanted to see ugly people, I’d go outside!” Claire says. — “To Bee in Dawlish,” May 1
In theory, stealing is wrong. In theory. In theory, democracy works. And then Nikki McKibbin makes it to the final four in “American Idol” and we realize democracy is a failure. Lots of things work “in theory.” — “Scream of Conscience,” Aug. 21
Never in the history of mankind has a tow-truck driver said, “OK, you’re right. We shouldn’t have towed you. There will be no charge, and I apologize for the inconvenience.” If a tow-truck driver’s brain ever even attempted to combine those words in that order, his head would explode. (Raise your hand if you would like to see this.) — “Towed You So,” Jan. 23
We rode in Gus’ tow truck to the nearest ATM, three miles away, so I could get enough cash to pay him to get my car out of impound. Out of the blue, Gus said, “I bought a new bed.” I was amazed to hear this. I had been searching all my life for the topic of conversation that I was least interested in, and now I had found it! A new bed purchased by an obstinate journeyman was precisely the thing in all the universe that I couldn’t possibly have cared less about. And now I was talking about it! I was afraid if I appeared uninterested in Gus’ new bed that he would change his mind again on how much money I owed him. (“I’m also gonna have to charge you a $25 not-caring-about-my-new-bed fee.”) So I said, “Oh, yeah?” I even raised my eyebrows, the way interested people do. — “Gus Mileage,” Jan. 25
I am told that since RC Willey offers free installation, the installation will only cost $45. (There are charges for various parts.) Apparently, the installation is called “free” because there are no slaves involved. All of the laborers are freemen, being paid wages for their work. It makes me happy to know I am not supporting a sweatshop. — “Fee Installation,” June 5
I had to bail my big fat Greek brother Jeff out of jail. The cost was $650, or $2 a pound. I had to come up with this money because I was the only relative nearby, and because I am believed to have flora growing in my back yard that produces fruit made of cash. In truth, I don’t even have a back yard, and $650 was more than I had in my bank account. Fortunately, Washington Mutual offers overdraft protection, and charges only $22 every time you use it. (Twenty-two dollars is such a low sum that I’m sure the bank loses money on the deal.) — “You Have the Right to Remain Fat,” Oct. 2
Abercrombie & Fitch, the chain of quasi-trendy clothing stores, has caused furor before with its racy catalogues. The pictures in these catalogues feature lithe young men doing manly things like frolicking gaily in the surf or wrestling nakedly on a bearskin rug in front of a fireplace, always demonstrating the best way to showcase A&F clothes, i.e., by not wearing them. — “A&Ftermath,” July 19
Why are there no good-looking polygamists? Does a life of gingham and farm work not attract people with high cheekbones and svelte figures? Or are the good-looking people being ruined by it, going into their first marriage looking like Tom Cruise and coming out of their seventh looking like Tommy Lee Jones? — “The Sardonic Versus,” Sept. 1
Chad contacted an acquaintance who had connections in the modeling world, and next thing you know he’s getting some shots taken to put in his portfolio. He called me beforehand because he was nervous, and I couldn’t figure out what he was nervous about. It’s not like an audition, where you might screw up your lines. For a photo shoot, you’re showing up basically with your face. If you forget your face at home, yeah, I guess you’re hosed. But otherwise, it seems like it ought to be smooth sailing. — “The Problems of the Cute,” Sept. 4
Maybe it’s wrong to marry someone based on something as superficial as good looks or money, but maybe ugly, poor people don’t need love anyway. — “Words of Inspiration: Maybe,” Feb. 27
A New York man sued several fast food chains because he was fat. I saw a picture of this guy, whose name is Caesar Barber, and he sort of has a point: He is very, very fat. If his case goes to trial and there is any dispute over whether or not he is fat, I will gladly testify on his behalf. — “Some Body to Love,” Sept. 22
The controversy over double-charging fat airline passengers began when an internal memo escaped the confines of Southwest headquarters, which are in a shack on the outskirts of Barstow, Calif. (This is also where Southwest keeps its plane.) The memo was to remind employees of a 22-year-old policy stating that customers must pay for as many seats as they occupy, and that ticket agents, if necessary, should remind customers of this fact, preferably in a loud voice and using the expressions “jumbo” and “tons-o’-fun.” … So how much spillage constitutes “occupying”? Where do you draw the line? What, should Southwest put a box at the ticket counter, and you have to stand in the box, and if you don’t fit completely inside it, you have to pay for another seat? YES. That would be GREAT. I would spend hours at the airport, just watching people get in the Fat Box. — “Seating Disorder,” July 10
I was reviewing a play when, during intermission, a woman asked if I was Eric Snider, and when I told her I was, she said she recognized me from my column and added, “You’ve gained weight since that picture was taken.” Apparently, the fact that I write reviews of local theater productions gives strangers license to tell me I’m fat. — “The Problems of the Cute,” Sept. 4
Politics and current events
The billboard I saw on my way to work said this: “The United Nations Wants to Take YOUR Gun!” I was alarmed. How could the United Nations Want to Take MY Gun when I don’t even have one? Are they planning to issue guns to everyone, just so they can take them away? Because THAT sure wouldn’t make any sense. Plus, I don’t want a gun in my house, even if it’s only long enough for the U.N. to take it away. Who knows how long they’ll leave it there before they come get it? It could be days, or even weeks, and in that time, plenty could go wrong, such as my roommate leaving dirty dishes in the sink FOR THE LAST TIME. — “The U.N. Column,” Feb. 1
They are clever with the wordplay over at PETA. Don’t they know that every time you make a pun, a kitten gets shot in the head? — “PETA’s Dragon,” May 24
On Feb. 7, 1993, Cody Judy interrupted a BYU fireside where LDS apostle Howard W. Hunter was speaking. Judy held a briefcase containing what he said was a bomb, and in his other hand he held what he said was a detonator. Those of us in attendance wet what we said was our pants. We also sang some inspirational hymns of God’s love and mercy, which distracted Judy long enough for a bunch of guys to tackle him and beat him senseless. — “Codypendent,” June 7
When I heard about the Toby Keith controversy, my first thought was: Who? Then I did some research and found out he’s actually quite famous in country music circles, which I do not feel snobbish in mentioning are circles I do not travel in, due to my having completed high school. — “Butt Seriously, Folks,” July 5
When you think of stores that sell pornography, probably the first name that springs to mind is Deseret Book. But those purveyors of smut are finally cleaning up their act, starting with a refusal to sell Mormon author Richard Paul Evans’ trashy new novel, “LaVonda Does LaVerkin.” — “An Embarrassment of Richard’s,” Nov. 24
I fear the time may have come that we shall have to start taking UVSC seriously. First it became a state college instead of a community college. Then they began hiring professors instead of hobos. Then they started giving graduates diplomas instead of Chili’s gift certificates. Now, apparently, they will play at the top level of NCAA athletics, competing against other colleges rather than high schools and scout troops. … In the past, we have considered a UVSC athletic event to be on the same level of legitimacy as a same-sex wedding, or a little girl’s tea party to which her dollies are invited — you know, you’d attend if there was nothing else going on, but it’s not like you’ll take it seriously or anything. All that could change now. If UVSC successfully makes the leap from NJCAA Region 18 to NCAA Division I-A, it will be the first school ever to do so without most of its students knowing what those letters stand for. — “UVS-Legitima-C,” Aug. 7
Owen, age 2, is a force of nature. He toddles around ferociously, raging and hollering like a madman. He appears to be speaking, but the words are not from any discernible language. If he weren’t so adorable, I’d assume he was evil. My best guess: He has bees in his head, and the bees are crazy. — “To Bee in Dawlish,” May 1
What in tarnation does a teen-age girl need a cellphone for? My theory is that since they are genetically programmed to talk 24 hours a day regardless of whether anyone is there to listen to them, they prop the cellphones against their faces so they won’t look crazy. — “Chang of Subject,” June 21
How strong is the Mormon influence on the Games? Take a look at some of this year’s events: Women’s Downhill Jump to Conclusions; The Self-Righteous Huff; Slalom Minivan Driving with Non-Operating Turn Signal; Bobsled; Freestyle Scrapbooking; Guilt; Scripture Chase; Preparing Lesson During Sacrament Meeting While Also Distributing Cheerios Among Toddlers Biathlon; Southern Utah County Big Hair Curling. — “Olympics Report: The Molympics,” Feb. 8
Each of Utah’s five Indian tribes were represented in the Opening Ceremonies. I guess we did kill a lot of them and steal their land, so it’s only fair we let them play flutes at the Olympics. I say we call it even. — “Olympics Report: How Much Does Bob Costas?,” Feb. 10
So women are playing hockey now, apparently. I know because I watched them do it at The Peaks on Tuesday. What will come next in the women’s movement? Why, soon they’ll be voting! — “Olympics Report: Women’s Hockey Is Finnished,” Feb. 13
This was my most prolific column-writing year, with 101 columns written. It ran twice a week for most of the year, plus there was Sundance and the Olympics, when I wrote nearly every day. So it adds up.
This is the longest "best of" column I've written. In years past, the column was generally running on page A2, amidst the real news, and it was taking up valuable space as it was. Now, though, it had been moved to the Features section, where there was plenty of room for it to run free, and I could take as much space as I wanted.
Some of these are not exact quotations from the columns. In many cases, minor adjustments were necessary to make them coherent outside of their context, e.g., replacing pronouns with nouns and so forth. Just so you know.