Archive for May, 2007

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Monday Big Words Update! Week 27 on stands (?), Uncle Hal this Wednesday!

May 29, 2007

Happy Memorial Day!

Lindsay and I just got back from spending the holiday at her parent’s cottage on Lake Erie and it was a perfect day!  I wanted to stay longer, but I had to get back and punch up the bar review that we covered Saturday for Gregario’s Gator Pub in Alden, not to mention the usual Monday update.  And with a new month around the corner, I wanted to make sure I got my Night Life columns in on time…

Since it’s a holiday Monday, the new issue of Night Life may or may not be on stands today (but definitely by tomorrow at the latest, distribution wise) with ‘Wife Beaters & Rollerbladers’, a categorical rant on how people should behave during the summer without pissing me off.  I spent last week punching up two new columns for the print edition of Big Words and I’m throwing two other previously unpublished rants in for the month of June.  The list is as follows: ‘Zero Tolerance’ (about my eroding immune system) is going in for week one, ‘Underwear On The Outside Looking In’ (about the difference between comic book geeks and people who simply enjoy comics) is going in for week two, ‘Feedback Distortion’ (regarding reader feedback) hits on week three and ‘A Vacation From My Problems!’ (about what a pain in the ass it is to come home from vacation) is arriving on week four to round out the month.  If you haven’t been picking up Night Life, then you’re already behind the curve.  Don’t miss out on the new stuff because it’s hitting Night Life first! 

And after offending nearly everyone on the planet during my co-hosting spot on Episode 29 of The Pissed Off World Of Uncle Hal, I’ll be going back into the studio after almost two months to take another crack at getting us both lynched!  To listen to any of the archives (or to hear the new episode when it hits this Friday or next Monday), click on over to:

www.powunclehal.com

That’s all I’ve got for today.  I hope you all enjoyed your holiday and I’ll see you in the funny papers,

Tom Waters 

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‘Someone Should Cry For Tracy Zullo’ in The Flask Review Issue #8, ‘conflicted on a sunday’ finds a home with SP Quill

May 24, 2007

I don’t do this often, but I went on a mad submission rampage two weeks ago and one of my favorite poems, ‘Someone Should Cry For Tracy Zullo’, got accepted with The Flask Review, an online web zine that features poetry and prose.  I realize that not all of you dig poetry, but for those that do, check out the poem right here:

http://www.freewebs.com/theflaskreview/waters.htm

 While most of my prose errs on the side of being a drunken wiseass, this one was close to the heart.  When I found out a few months ago that Tracy passed away, I felt compelled to pay her some sort of tribute.  If it’s up to me, I’ll see to it that this poem catches as much print as it possibly can, because she deserves to be remembered as a sweet, talented woman who passed through my life and many others.  Of the two poetry collections I’m writing, I’m co-dedicating the free verse collection to her.  Let me know what you think.   

Subsequently, another one of my poems (‘conflicted on a sunday’) was accepted for the July 2007 print edition of SP Quill magazine.  When it rains it pours, huh?  Since poetry has never been a direct focus of mine, I’ll be spending the next year attempting publication where this is concerned in an attempt to raise awareness regarding the two collections along with some small measure of legitimacy as a poet in my own right.  While the rants and essays will always be my bread and butter, this project is equally important to me.   

And as far as the Buffalo News Gusto Club Watch reviews are going, I forgot to mention it yesterday, but my review on Rafferty’s ran last Friday while the Coyote’s review will be hitting tomorrow.  They must be pleased with the results because I’ve got two more assignments in the next week.  Let the commercial whoring begin! 

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Monday Big Words Update on Weds! Week 26 on Stands, Week 25 Right Here!

May 23, 2007

I just flew in from Rushford Lake and boy are my arms tired.  Am I right folks?  Sorry for the tardiness of the update, but I was out of town this Monday and nowhere near a computer, so here’s your Monday Big Words update on a Wednesday.  The Night Life column that hit two days ago (‘Lucky Charms! Now With More Bell Peppers!’) is an ode to summer grilling, so scoop it up!  You might actually learn something.  As for last week’s meditation on Sabres/American Idol saturation in Buffalo Bars (‘Change Of Season’), I’m running it again right here for your enjoyment/aggravation.  That’s all I’ve got for you this week.  I literally JUST got back into town a half hour ago, so I’ve got a lot of catching up to do and it seems as if every publication I work for forgot that I was leaving, so I need to touch base with all of them too.  I’ll repost soon enough,

Tom Waters

Change Of Season

As a bar reviewer, and someone who spends an unhealthy amount of time in bars in general, I’m prone to the television viewing whims of the average Buffalonian. Unfortunately, I have to put up with the crowd that shows up during Sabres games along with the mind numbing stupidity of American Idol. Now I’m middle of the road where hockey is concerned. It’s not football, so I don’t hate it, and it’s not heavyweight boxing, so I don’t love it with an all consuming passion. Hockey is just there for me. If I’m in a bar, I’ll get into the game, and that’s the only time I’m interested. This sets me apart from the die-hard, face painting, chest pounding hockey superfans as well as newly arriving recruits to the bandwagon, which is at maximum capacity this year. This goes to show you how free thinking and fickle the average Buffalonian is.

And I get that it’s wonderful that we might win the Stanley Cup, and that a solid sports team brings the community together. I get that, so don’t try it on me. It’s good for business, it’s great for the bars, etc., etc. But as someone who admits to not being a traditional hockey fan, the bandwagon phenomenon puzzles me. I went to two bars in one night last week and both bars were stuffed to the gills with overzealous maniacs screaming their heads off in triumph at the Sabres’ feats of derring-do. Where were all these people when the season started? If they’re all really big fans from way back in the day, how come I’ve never seen them out in such large numbers before? That’s my issue.

How can you call yourself a Super Fan if you only show up when the team is doing well? That doesn’t seem terribly supportive to me. I see the same mob mentality in reverse during Bills seasons. Everyone is a monstrously huge Bills fan at the beginning of the season and eventually, the Bills screw it up again and the public stops watching, turns of their radios and they go out shopping wearing Bills gear. I’m an all or nothing sort of guy, so this confuses me. You’re either all in or all out as far as I’m concerned.

The other thing that I don’t get is how you can support a concept that’s constantly changing. Supporting a team this season has nothing to do with the team you supported fifteen years ago other than the name. The players and coaches are constantly changing. I try and reason it out by telling myself that it’s like the gladiators from the Roman era. The Bills and the Sabres are Buffalo’s champions. They represent us in battle against all adversaries and hopefully, they honor our town name. Or something like that. I’ve got a lot of friends who are season ticket holders to both and the bandwagoneers piss them off, too, because they drive up the cost of their tickets. These people actually get behind the teams through thick and thin and they get stuck with the tab. I guess I’ll never understand the on-again off-again fanaticism that sweeps through this town during sports seasons. If anything, it’s taught me to appreciate hockey a little bit when I’m in a bar. Those of you who aren’t real fans just look like posers to me (and real Sabres enthusiasts), though.

As for American Idol, it’s frigging horrible. Between football, hockey, and American Idol, I don’t know which season is more unbearable in terms of length. They all run too goddamned long. I keep thinking that American Idol will be over soon and it keeps coming on! I frequent a certain bar in Lancaster every Tuesday for karaoke and they have a group of die-hards who show up just to watch American Idol and take notes. I sit as far away from the three or four televisions as possible and try to ignore it by making small talk or looking at the Quick Draw machine. I won’t give in to this show. Somebody must be watching it locally and nationally because it gets monster ratings, but I don’t get it. If I wanted to watch a group of talent less idiots going out of their wear to dress hip, I’d visit a college campus. It seems hypocritical that I enjoy karaoke and despise American Idol, but the DJ doesn’t interview each karaoke contestant as if their opinion was a)valued and b)important before and after each song. The key difference with karaoke is that we all realize we’re awful. That’s the beauty of karaoke. You get drunk, you sing badly. That’s how it works.

They’re all idiots, if you ask me. Sanjaya, Kelly Clarkson, Ruben Studdard, all of them. The fact that we live in a world where these average boneheads get record deals and actually milk a few years out of losing on the show makes me furious. The posers and outcasts who audition on American Idol are ten times worse than any Sabres bandwagon, and there’s something about the guy with the golf cap from this season that makes me want to punch him in the head. Dress like a person! All the contestants go to extra lengths to look super hip. Throw on some slacks, fer chrissakes! Lose the trendy hat before it gets knocked off of your head with a two by four! Damnit! The blood pressure medication is not working as well as I’d hoped.

And pretty soon I’ve got the mind-numbing boredom of baseball season to look forward to. Baseball season lasts literally forever. I think there’s a month out of every year where baseball is not running and I’m enjoying that month. I went to a Bisons game once for a bachelor party and thank god there was alcohol because nothing happened on the field and the game went on for the entire day. I would rather watch table tennis than baseball. It’s more interesting. Maybe it’s America’s favorite pastime but it bores the shit out of me. Give me basketball or boxing any day of the week. With basketball, you can tell where the ball is at all times, and boxing is just pure sport. Heavyweight boxing is all payoff and no down time and that’s what I love about it. Baseball is the opposite of boxing: It goes on forever and barely anything happens. It’s a dying sport.

Perhaps this isn’t the best time to announce that I’ve taken a position with a local paper covering sports. Kidding. Whenever I write about the Bills or the Sabres, people get pissed off, but I really couldn’t care less. I’ll call it a truce when you leave the game to the people who really like it instead of people who just latch on to it at the last minute when the team is making our town look good. And if you enjoy American Idol, you don’t deserve an opinion, because you’re an idiot. Do us both a favor and take your own life now before you reproduce another genetically flawed moron. After all, they could grow up and start playing baseball.

All I’m asking is that you give those of us who aren’t number one fans of any of the above a television of our own to watch during peak poser season. Not everyone in this town is a football, hockey, baseball or American Idol fan. Some of us think independently year round and support our pastimes consistently instead of infrequently. Just give me one quiet corner in any bar with bad prime time television or any HBO original show. Any of them. Those are some seasons I can get behind. ’Curb Your Enthusiasm’s sixth season is right around the corner. It’s not too late to subscribe. Call now! My shots of whiskey (and your tips) could be depending on it.

Out of the crease,

Tom ’hat trick’ Waters

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Monday Big Words Update! Week 25 on Stands, ‘Fishing For Solutions’ Right Here!

May 15, 2007

The new issue of Night Life is out on stands today with ‘Change Of Season’, a brand new Big Words I Know By Heart column about what it’s like to be a non-hockey/American Idol fan in Buffalo right now (in the event that there’s someone out there in Buffalo who hasn’t hopped on the bandwagon at this point).  Go scoop it up if you dare because this one is guaranteed to piss people off for one reason or another.  And since I only wrote it for Buffalo, I’m reprinting last week’s Bass Pro column (‘Fishing For Solutions’) below since I haven’t reprinted something for awhile.

I also found out over the weekend that another one of my poems (‘Someone Should Cry For Tracy Zullo’) was accepted at The Flask Review, an online web zine of some kind or another.  Once it’s up, I’ll throw up a link. 

It’s hard to believe, but we’re a week away from the half-way point on the Big Words print column.  I’m aiming for 52 consecutive columns and after that, we’ll see.  The column seems to be taking root with the community by tiny leaps and bounds and if it keeps gathering momentum, then I’ll keep committing to it.  What does this mean for you?  Go out and grab a copy!  Tell your friends about it!  Spread the word!  There’s no better publicity than word of mouth, so get the word out. 

That’s all I’ve got for this week.  I’m going on vacation from the 17th to the 22nd, so if there’s an update next week, it won’t be on a Monday.  I’m going to Rushford Lake where I won’t be near phones, computers, or any of the trappings of technology (on purpose), so I’ll update when I get a chance.  Have a great week and buy my books!

Tom Waters

Fishing For Solutions

Raise your hand if you’re stupid enough to think that Bass Pro is going to resurrect downtown Buffalo. Anyone? I didn’t think so. I don’t know whether to blame the local media or the political PR machine, but it seems like every year or two, there’s some great salvation that comes trotting into town only to dash our hopes against the rocks. Buffalo needs more than a quick fix or a multimillion dollar national chain. And honestly, how many people in the suburbs and surrounding towns are going to drive into the heart of the city or the harbor district to get goddamned fishing lures? Not many. Two years ago it was the idea of plunking a casino down in the middle of Buffalo. That hasn’t happened yet. Ten years ago, it was the Angelica film center from out of town. They lasted about a year and a half and the building got rescued by Dipson Theaters, a local outfit. Fifteen years ago, it was the Empire State Brewing Company. To the best of my knowledge, they packed it in and left town a long time ago. Are you seeing a pattern here? If they dropped a free vending machine that spit out gold bullion in the middle of downtown Buffalo, maybe we’d have an economic turnaround.

The big hot button business this time is Bass Pro, though, and I predict that it’ll be about as successful as the other financial endeavors. In the first act, a big faceless corporation gets lured into Buffalo by a sweet siren song of big profits, tax breaks and prime real estate. In the second act, the company realizes that they’ve made a horrible mistake. In the third act, they leave town in the middle of the night like gypsies and we’re left with another vacant building in the middle of a black hole. Rinse and repeat.

Two or three years from now, every paper in town will be claiming that fill in the blank will revive business revenue for Buffalo and reverse the economic depression we’ve been enjoying for the last thirty or forty years. Whatever it may be, that probably won’t work either. The city needs more than a cosmetic band aid to fix the financial ruin that’s hanging over all of us. Real, lasting jobs (preferably unionized). With auto plants going belly up left and right all over town, we could use some more factories. Give some of those companies out of town the old song and dance and hopefully they’ll a)believe us and b)stay for longer than two or three years. History is just going to keep repeating itself unless we change up our game and try something different.

All of our universities help, but they’re making our students just smart enough to realize that there are no real jobs in town so that they get the hell out of Buffalo and expatriate to another state with lower taxes and better opportunities. Solve that little Sudoku puzzle and we might have a shot at being a boom town again. Students aren’t going to get a six year degree so that they can deal blackjack at the new casino or sell rods and reels, for chrissakes. Sure, Bass Pro is going to create some new jobs, but what’s the quality level? There’s a lot of disparity in this town with class and income and minimum wage retail positions don’t help a whole hell of a lot. Create some real jobs. Find lasting companies. It’s that simple.

Talk to any old codger on a bar stool and they’ll cite just how many mistakes this town has made and when. I’ll be one of them in another thirty years. I’m relatively young and I’m not leaving, but I’m in the minority. A lot of my friends have moved out of town for better jobs, better pay and better opportunities. Most of them stayed and tried to hack it out, but they gave up after they realized that there are more people than there are jobs for the majority of the fields that we train and school for.

I’m neither pro nor anti-casino. I like gambling occasionally and sure it’s going to create more alcoholism and gambling addiction, but who cares? Better that the addicts dump money on this side of the border than in Canada, that’s what I say. It’s not as if downtown Buffalo is full of boy scouts after dark as it is. Addicts are addicts, and providing a venue for them to get their fix doesn’t turn non-addictive personalities into addictive personalities. A casino might help whether it’s in my back yard or not, and it just might bring some high rollers in from out of town. I’m part Indian, and we’ve been getting screwed since time immemorial by the white man, so give the full blooded Indians some deep tax breaks and some of the land that they got swindled out of. Fine by me.

The town has been going around and around and around with this argument since the back half of the last century, and odds are that we’ll continue to have this argument well into the next century. Buffalo used to be a thriving metropolis at the beginning of the 20th century and it’s been on a slow, steady decline ever since. Drum up some real, lasting solutions with long term, committed businesses and maybe the town won’t come off like a sinking ship with a bunch of degreed rats hopping overboard at the drop of a hat. Denial won’t solve it, base pay jobs won’t cure it, and one out of town fishing company certainly isn’t going to. Try a little harder, and then I might believe the pitch instead of the money that’s going into pockets that are a lot deeper than mine. Fill in the blank isn’t going to save Buffalo. Figure it out.

Reinforcing my rod (and reel)

Tom ‘ass pro’ Waters

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Just Buffalo Anthology Update! New Site!

May 12, 2007

It’s a bit bare bones, but I just set up a site five minutes ago devoted entirely to the Just Buffalo Anthology that Alycia Ripley and myself are working on.  If you want info or updates on the project from here on out, feel free to visit:

http://buffaloanthology.blogspot.com/

 I also threw a link at the bottom of this site for your convenience/laziness.  We’ll be updating the site with info as it develops…

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Monday Big Words Update: Week 24 On Stands/Tonawanda Public Library This Thursday

May 7, 2007

There’s a new issue of Night Life rolling out today with ‘Fishing For Solutions’ another brand spanking new rant about the Bass Pro debate written specifically for the Big Words I Know By Heart print column.  Since it’s a painfully local issue, I won’t be reprinting it in the next book, so scoop it up! 

I went to the Buffalo Raceway this weekend and punched up a possible review for the Buffalo News, so I’m crossing my fingers on that one.  I’ve got my first review assignment for them this Wednesday, so it looks like my efforts aren’t going unnoticed.  The News has been great to me so far, and hopefully these Club Watch reviews will be a stepping stone to some other assignments down the road when I have more time to write them…

I’ll also be doing a reading at the Tonawanda Public Library (on old Delaware Rd. or what have you) this Thursday at 7 pm, so try and make it out if you have the time.  This is my last appearance until June, and I couldn’t be happier.  I am frigging exhausted, plus I’m throwing a party and going on vacation next week, so that’s going to take some gumption.  This Wednesday will be the first real day I’ve had off in about six months, so I’m looking forward to sitting on my ass and doing absolutely nothing.  I’m not even going to leave the house.  I’m serious.   

So if you want to see where I weigh in on the Bass Pro issue, grab a copy of Night Life this week!  On stands and completely free!

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Late Breaking Acid Logic Update! Puma Swede hits new issue!

May 4, 2007

     I guess I should’ve checked Acid Logic before I wrote the email newsletter, but the new issue is up with ‘Found In Translation: The Puma Swede Interview’ with the adult film star.  Check it out at:

http://www.acidlogic.com/puma_swede.htm

     She was a treat to interview and I managed to throw in some goofball questions into the mix.  Give it a read!  Thanks to Puma again for taking the time out of her busy day to answer some questions for adult film aficianados everywhere!

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