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When Severed Ears Sing You Songs by Justin Karcher

March 14, 2017

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“Trying to create miracles for all us dumb fucks

Who just want to see one curse reversed

Before our muscles betray our bones”

-from ‘I Want Michael Fassbender to Hold My Hand and Tell Me Everything Will Be Okay…’

Chapbooks have traditionally been a signal flare or a forerunner for a larger body of work. Sometimes the flare peters out on the way down, and there are other instances where they are strung together before being combined into a bigger collection of poems. When Severed Ears Sing You Songs (2016, Ghost City Press) by Justin Karcher is more of an about-face or a stylistic sidestep after his longer Tailgating At The Gates Of Hell (2015, Ghost City Press).  Fast, funny and philosophical while simultaneously walking the tight rope between timely and timeless.

The city of Buffalo is Justin’s muse. He creates mirth and magic and wonder out of the sub-mundane, the poverty class and the lost souls in a lost city. The phenomenon to Karcher’s poems is that I wrestle cognitively with whether or not they are clever non-sequiturs strung together to suit or if all of the poems are one patchwork diatribe touching down on distinctive benders, evenings we’ve all regretted or dark corners of the city and our scarred psyches at the same time. I’m not sure I want the answer anymore, but I enjoy struggling with the riddle. And there’s a wry gallow’s humor to his work that connects with the reader in a way I haven’t seen in poetry for some time. Too often we’re weighed down with a sort of 18th-century morose self-importance in 21st century poems that shouldn’t exist.

This chapbook strikes me as a writer becoming comfortable with his style, easing into his poems like you’d slide your heel effortlessly into a pair of formal shoes. He has his voice and now he’s checking off every octave. The age-old polarities of sex and death have gotten wonderfully muddy within the pages of ‘Severed Ears’. Now we’re venturing into the ache, the loss, the regret and the existentialism of half-remembered love and the sorrow and sometimes-dread of being alive. Somehow in all of this Karcher gives me hope for the city because if it can cause so much pain, then it means more than Post-Industrialism, decline and decay.

-Tom Waters

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Big Words I Know By Heart Episode 35: “Virtuoso”

March 3, 2017

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John Valby really is a living legend.  More specifically, he’s a Clarence legend.  Growing up in Clarence, everyone either knew him, knew of him, or knew about him.  With over 40 albums and 40 years of wildly offensive songs, limericks and ditties, he’s not only talented and funny, but he perserveres.  I was a little worried about him last year when he came on the show, but this year, he had a spring in his step.  It sounds like his career and his life have hit a new crescendo.  As the only guest on the show who gets a return ticket every season, it was good to see him again, and the same goes for my old editor from Night Life magazine Ed Honeck.  There’s a lot of history with those two.  That sort of comfortable dynamic between the three of us made for another (I hope) entertaining episode.  See for yourself:

Thanks as always to producer Richard Wicka for being the glue that holds the show together, Ed for popping in with less than a week before he’s being pulled in 100 different directions for the Night Life Music & Club Awards, and last but not least Mr. Valby.  May your career reach dizzier heights in the next year, and may your health continue to stymy a host who’s no stranger to the dangers of excess.

#BigWordsVideo will return in a month with young adult author and molecular biologist (you read that right) Gaia Amman.  Do yourself a favor and SUBSCRIBE for bonus clips, alerts for new episodes and other additional content.

Tom

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Big Words Video 35.1: John Valby-‘Topical’

March 2, 2017

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Yikes.

As an ardent defender of free speech for my own selfish purposes for many, many years, I found myself in a position yesterday where I had to take a dose of my own medicine.

John Valby’s unique brand of comedy is not for everybody.  For the uninitiated, he can be a bit…prickly.  This is in the grand tradition of Lenny Bruce, Don Rickles, Andrew Dice Clay and a lot of other comedians whose delivery and comedic timing far outweigh the bombastic nature of their content.  With all that said, there was a moment or two during the taping of the Big Words Video bonus clip where I thought, “This is gonna be trouble.”

Regardless, the entire point of the Bonus clips is for the guest to showcase their talent in any way they deem acceptable.  So there was a brief moment where I hesitated while we rendered and prepared the clip, and then that moment passed and I hit the Upload button.  Check it out for yourself:

I’m not about to start censoring anyone else’s right to free speech and free artistic expression, and when I start looking for inoffensive, politically correct or safe comedy for my entertainment purposes, that’ll be around the same time that I can the show and stop writing books.  YouTube is just like a television set.  You can always turn it off if you don’t like what you see.  If you do enjoy the show, though, SUBSCRIBE for FREE for additional episodes, bonus clips and other exclusive content.

Onward and upward,

Tom

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Big Words I Know By Heart Episode 34: ‘Cineaste’

January 28, 2017

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Much like previous guest, playwright Donna Hoke, film director and author Greg Lamberson’s list of accomplishments were varied, massive and somewhat intimidating.  He’s written and published around 15 books, he’s either written, produced and/or directed over two dozen films.  And to top it all off, he co-chairs the incredibly popular Buffalo Dreams film festival every year, which draws films and directors from around the world to our fair town.  I can be a little OCD when it comes to prepping for the show, so in a case like Greg’s, I had to get a handle on the broad strokes rather than lose myself in his gargantuan back catalogue.  Lamberson turned out to be much more charming during the interview than I anticipated, and there was a mutual respect between the two of us that I think translated in the episode.  Here it is:

Thanks to Lamberson for taking time out of his insanely busy schedule to sit down with me for a half an hour.  Thanks also to Henry Gale for being a little bit better in the Co Host Hot Seat the second time around.  And of course to producer Richard Wicka for bringing it all together and wrapping a bow around it.  Do us ALL a favor and Like, Share, Favorite, +1 and Heart the episode depending on what social medias you’re actively a part of.

See you again in 2 weeks,

Tom

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Big Words Video 34.1: Greg Lamberson-‘Fun Bags’

January 28, 2017

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Coming hot off the heels of the runaway success of ‘Killer Rack’ and toiling away at post-production on ‘Johnny Gruesome’, I wasn’t sure what kind of Bonus clip guest Greg Lamberson cooked up.  He didn’t disappoint.  What follows is the musical sequence for the song ‘Fun Bags’ from the aforementioned ‘Killer Rack’ featuring Troma legend Lloyd Kauffman.  Fun fact: I interviewed Kauffman while he was on location in Buffalo for the movie ‘Poultrygeist’ for Night Life magazine way, way back in 2004 or 2005.  I’m pretty sure he’s still got the print interview on his web site, and if you can’t find it there, it’s still ricocheting around on Acid Logic.  At any rate, ROLL THAT CLIP!

Thanks again to Lamberson, Co Host Henry Gale and the frequently delightful Richard Wicka for producing our episode.  Oh yeah, and SUBSCRIBE to my channel on YouTube for more bonus clips, more bonus content and a lot of delectable secrets you won’t find any way else.

#BigWordsVideo shall return.  In two weeks.  With Taylor Made Jazz musician Van Taylor!

Seeya soon,

Tom

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Big Words I Know By Heart Episode 33: ‘Farcical’

December 31, 2016

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There’s something about stand-up comic Clayton Williams that I’ve liked from the second I saw him hosting at Mr. Goodbar some two years ago for their ‘Uncle Jerry’s Comedy Showcase’.  He’s got a comedic style and a completely off-the-wall delivery that I’ve never seen around here.  I couldn’t wait to get him on the show and I knew he was going to be great, but I had no idea how great.  By contrast, Co Host Becca Barnum has been on my radar for one reason or another for the last year.  When I had someone in film on the show, she just so happened to be in some of the movies, when I had someone with a cosplay background, she just so happened to be in the same cosplay groups, and so on, and so on.

The dynamic was so magical and the conversation was so fluid while we were filming that I barely scratched the surface on my questions, and that’s okay.  We kept on talking after the show and they both got an invite back at a later date and time.  Oh yeah, here’s the show:

Thanks to Clayton and Becca for doing such a great job and thanks as always to Producer Richard Wicka.  We wound up with what I’m sure will go down as one of my favorite show memories, but there’s still a lot more to be made.

Happy New Year!

Tom

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Big Words Video 33.1: Clayton Williams-‘Photogenic’

December 29, 2016

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It’s good to have a backup plan.

I tell every guest about the idea behind having a Bonus clip to complement each episode of the show.  Some bring one, some have a great idea that we do in or outside the studio, sometimes things just fall through or people run out of time.  I asked producer Richard Wicka what he thought of rolling the camera during the post-show photo session and he thought it was a great idea, very “Cinema Verite” (sp?).  In the 3 years that I’ve been doing the show, this was the most fruitful photo session we’ve done to date.  Clayton and co-host Becca Barnum were camera gold, and they came alive during the show as well as before and after it.  If you Instagram, you can see ALL of the photos in the next few days @tomfoolery444.  I’ve been trying to get away from just dumping all of the outtakes in one payload.  Or you can ‘Like’ @bigwordsvideo on FB and see all of the photos there.  Here are the results of the live video feed from the session:

A big thanks to Clayton Williams and Becca Barnum for their enthusiasm, their comedy and the terrific dynamic in the studio.  You’ll see them again soon, but I’m not telling you when.  Here’s the part where I beseech you to SUBSCRIBE to the Channel on YouTube for notifications on new episodes, ALL of the bonus clips and extra incentives that I’m not going to spell out at this juncture.

#BigWordsVideo shall return next month!

Tom

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