Archive for June, 2008

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Man-cation

June 28, 2008

Starting tomorrow night, I will be at (you guessed it) Rushford Lake and then Derby/Angola wherever the hell that is out near Sunset Bay resting, relaxing, imbibing, reading and eating as much red meat as my colon can withstand.  This is my final week off before our wedding in September, so I plan on enjoying it to the hilt.  Subsequently, there won’t be a Monday update this Monday.  You’ll just have to get by without me.  This Monday, Night Life will be running a summer repeat performance of ‘Wife Beaters & Rollerbladers’ a favorite categorical about the rules of summer enjoyment.  It seems fitting considering that I’ll be living the high life while you suckers are out there in the hustle and bustle with your nose to the grind!  Ha!  Have a great week and I’ll drop you a line from the funny papers,

Tom Waters

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Taking The Super Right Back Out Of Superintendant

June 25, 2008

Author’s Note: This was an assignment from Buffalo Rising ( www.buffalorising.com) that may or may not see the light of day. My esteemed associate editor informed me that she ‘got more than’ she asked for. I truly enjoyed writing this piece, though, and feel that it deserves to see some publication as an explosive take on the McKinley High School issue. Please let me know what you think, Buffalo. Sincerely,

Tom Waters

 

Taking The Super Right Back Out Of Super-Intendant

-or-

A Great Gaggle Of A Beautiful Mind-F*%k

 

Over the course of the last six months, the names Jayvonna Kinccannon, Crystalanne Barton and James Williams have become household names in Buffalo. Symbols of a classic struggle, bastions of discussion around the water coller (has anyone honestly had a conversation around a water cooler?), and key players in an argument that’s gotten people stirred up enough to forget about their own conflicts for at least a little while. A student who’s been railroaded by disciplinary action. A principal who’s gone mad with power. A school superintendent who’s too busy tucking his tail between his legs to accept the blame who passes the buck until no one else will take it in the hierarchal cluster-f&*k that this PR catastrophe has turned into. It’s become a chance for everyone to weigh in on the Buffalo Public School system.

-Let’s stop a second. Take a breath. Are you ready? Here we go:

I side with the Buffalo Public Schools. Yep. And this isn’t a ‘take the opposite stance on the issue for the sake of being different’ situation. Normally, I refuse to weigh in on politics, religion or sports. When my new handlers at Buffalo Rising pitched the op-ed concept to me, I backed away waving my hands in the air comically. But then the issue sat and festered with me for a day. And one unrelenting bitch of a workday hammered it home into my bourbon-soaked brain that wait a minute, I’m actually qualified to give forth my two cents on the issue. After every living radio broadcaster, popular-opinion whoring columnist and left-leaning alternative pundit has proffered their opinion (and possibly past the point where anyone is still listening), this scribbler has some small degree of experience regarding the topic of education in downtown Buffalo.

-I worked downtown for over three years. Front and center on the tarmac of the blast radius of the colossal cluster-fuck of cyclical socioeconomic stupidity, ignorance and arrogance that the core demographic of the city youth project.

I’m siding with Crystalanne on this one. After seeing the majority of Buffalo’s, how shall we say?, less privileged or pampered youth grow up, drop out and/or work their way into the streams of their desired revenue streams, I’ll stand right behind the principal. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to determine that, competent or not, James William is a spineless jellyfish with all the administrative prowess of a pet rock. That’s a losing battle. Yet here we have a tenured city school principal who (while she perhaps went too far and then some) is living with the 1,000 mile combat stare of dozens of generations of mostly impossible odds.

This is the death of the nuclear family. This is the lack of some strong father figures in the household. This is the weight of years of cynicism, a blind and near-incomprehensible mob mentality in urban youth and a next to invisible presence in the crucial upbringing of our city’s children. This is poverty, famine, addiction and a near-suffocating set of less than idyllic value systems being passed on to impressionable off-spring.

We don’t know all the details on the McKinley High fiasco. We probably never will. As a creative writer with a few journalistic instincts, it’s problematic at best to make sweeping statements about a situation that’s been bandied about as a study in absolutes.

Perhaps Ms. Barton over-reacted just a smidge in her disciplinary duties as a figurehead at McKinley High. But I’ve seen first-hand what the onslaught of stupidity, the total lack of grammar and enunciation, the mindset that ignorance, willfulness and petty threats can do to a person. I know because I’ve been in the belly of the beast on that one. I’ve talked with Buffalo Police for years and heard their jaded souls crying to make a small dent in the powder-keg that downtown Buffalo often is. There are some stupid, stupid children in Buffalo.

And the majority of the blame falls on the parents (or lack thereof).

You don’t agree? Fine. Someone had to say it, though. I’ve known genuinely altruistic numbered-school educators beaten down by the weight of their humble task of trying to get through to the handful of kids who showed up, didn’t cause trouble and who genuinely wanted to learn. I’ve seen dozens of children day in and day out on the weekdays skipping school just to wander aimlessly, beat up older residents, work a small con or resort to petty theft. When does the blame stop? When do we stop looking everywhere to vent our anger and start coming to the revelation that children (ideally) should be getting more of their interpersonal and educational skills from the home?

I’ve known teachers who have died inside after seasons of trying to make a difference who become so burnt out from the constant assault of pure idiocy that they shut down inside and drift through their workday, through their careers. I’ve known children who grew up too fast and turned into armed felons, repeat offenders and drug dealers who peel off stacks of fifty dollar bills tied together with a rubber band. I’ve watched every season of The Wire in mute fascination at what a poignant mirror it holds up to the Buffalonian politic in the light of day. Sure, pretend it’s not true. I’m not talking a black and white issue here. This isn’t blacks. This is black, white, gray, calico and otherwise.

Drugs, poor parenting, and a melting pot boiling over at the seams and eating away at the burner. A perceived lack of career options and a ‘why try’ mindset in the cauldron of hate and ignorance in the young mind. I side with Crystalanne more than most citizens. I’ve worked in the heart of the city. A city that’s going slowly mad that practically took me with it. A city where guns go out of the back of convenience stores and wind up in the Police blotter mere weeks afterward. A city where teachers are terrified of small-minded children a fraction of their age because they can’t understand what motivates them or because they’re suckers for a style of intimidation that their small-town values and high-priced education never prepared them for.

I’m not here to hand out solutions, but a great deal of the children in the public school system are misunderstood monsters who need to have their sense of entitlement ripped away from them along with a swift kick in the ass before they fall into a lifelong cycle of either violence, suckling at the teat of public funding or becoming the patriarches and matriarchs of another splintered nuclear family.

Show me the families that sit with their children to review their homework. Show me the parents who reward their children for good manners, good behavior, respect for their elders or a commitment to learn and a hunger to climb the educational ladder beyond basic education. They’re one in a million. I’ve met these families, but they are so few and so far between that it’s heartbreaking.

Exposure to the truth of the matter for prolonged periods can have long lasting and life-altering effects. It’s all well and good to throw concepts and ideals and pie-in-the-sky scenarios together from the cushy comfort of the suburbs or if you have no clue what you’re talking about from the hallowed, privileged desk of a newsroom or an AM radio station. Get real. I’ll say it again. Grow up and get real. The public school system is only a fraction of a larger puzzle, and family (or the lack of family) is at the heart of the issue. Public schools need work, but family planning, positive reinforcement, and an added emphasis on coaching in the home take precedence before any of these other issues can be looked at.

This can’t possibly be what my handlers were looking for at Buffalo Rising, but it’s one hell of a way to introduce myself. Hello, Buffalo. You’ve heard everyone else’s two cents in the din of frenzied voices crying out at the top of their lungs to be heard on this issue and now, begrudgingly, you have mine. Work with your children. Break the cycle. There’s only so much our educators and administrators can do with an eight hour day, a five day week and a school year that’s woefully getting whittled down year by year because the faculty would rather take a ‘mid-spring recess’ after Easter and design a few other days off than deal with the nightmare they look square in the face every week. Good luck, Buffalo. You’ll need that and then some. I’m just glad I’m not confronted with it anymore.

Tom Waters

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Too Cool Review hits BRO (Buffalo Rising Online)

June 24, 2008

     After a week of punching up graphic novel reviews and one poetry collection review, Buffalo Rising has posted my first piece on Alex Robinson’s Too Cool To Be Forgotten.  According to my editor’s reports, the author interview will be hitting stands in the print issue of Buffalo Rising around the 1st of the month.  To read the book review on Too Cool, surf yourself over to:

http://www.buffalorising.com/story/the_mulligan_life_too_cool_to#sca

     Two or three other publications had a chance to run this review, but they didn’t get back to me in time.  It’s a good thing, because this new partnership with BR is turning out to be just the creative kickstart I needed.  And trust me, there’s a lot more where that came from.  So far they’ve been very accomodating with my work and tremendously helpful with feedback.  With a few exceptions, that’s a rare commodity in the WNY area. 

 

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Monday Big Words Update! Week 83 (‘Kicked In The Monthly Mailbag’) Simulcast!

June 23, 2008

     I’m still riding high from yesterday’s Think Twice Radio show.  If you haven’t listened yet, click your butt over to:

www.thinktwiceradio.com

-and click on my ugly mug for some really funny stuff.  Don and Ian made great guests and my buddy Ron and I were practically wetting our pants listening to the show last night during our weekly guy’s night.  Yet here it is a Monday again which means that the new print issue of Night Life magazine is hitting stands all around Buffalo and the lower Canadian regions with a Big Words installment of ‘Kicked In The Monthly Mailbag’, a severely tongue in cheek response to the fact that I begged, pleaded and cajoled for some letters or suggestions from readers and got ZERO responses.  Thanks a lot, folks.  Since I’m still aggravated about that, I’m going to run today’s column right here for you bastards as well.  Take a hint!  My ego needs constant care, feeding and nurturing, so send me some goddamned mail already!  The address (in the event that you haven’t been beaten over the head with it enough already) is: bigwordsmailbag@yahoo.com .  If you want to hear me read your letter on the Think Twice radio show, put ‘Radio Show mail’ in the subject heading.  If you want to see portions of your letter in print, write ‘Print Column’ in the heading.  After lowering my expectations and still getting let down on reader mail, I’m not expecting much.  Thanks for nothing. 

     So that’s all I’ve got.  If you haven’t been checking the site, last week was a busy one, so scroll down if you want to get caught up.  Seeya in the funny papers,

Tom ‘rain, sleet and snow’ Waters

 

  Kicked In The Monthly Mailbag
 
 Last month, I begged and pleaded with all of you to send me some mail so that I could see what you had to say.  I encouraged everyone who read this column to direct their comments, questions and suggestions to: bigwordsmailbag@yahoo.com.  Here’s what I found in my email box.  I will try and answer each email respectfully and pleasantly:
 
 Michele Hanah writes in saying that I can ‘Expand my male organ with infinite inches running on the best therapeutics.’  Thanks for writing in Michele!  While I appreciate your suggestion, my male organ is doing just fine.  I don’t like to brag, but I sometimes knock furniture over with the length and girth of my male organ.  I’m not sure how you can guarantee infinite inches of measurement (as that’s scientifically impossible), but I guess I’ll never know, because I’m not going to buy your product.
 
 Adela Martinez writes to notify me that ’I am looking for a foreigner who will stand as the next of kin to MR.Ruben Martin. After processing the paper works that will reflect you as the next of kin to our late client you will henceforth become the new and sole beneficiary of the total funds.’  She also claims that I can stand to inherit ‘US$30,000,000.00’While this could be a lucrative proposition, Adela, I was really looking for something along the lines of feedback on my articles and rants that run in the pages of Night Life magazine.  I’m impressed that you found an outlet that distributes Night Life magazine in Berlin, Germany, and even I didn’t know that they had such a wide swath of newspaper distribution.  While I could find some good uses for ’US$30,000,000.00’, I highly doubt that you have those sort of funds to give me.  I could buy a lot of drinks for myself and a few for other people with a couple of million.  You’ll just have to find another rube for your ’Spanish Prisoner’ scam.
 
 Nanchang Kyber emailed me with a subject line that read ’You can achieve the whole world with Viagra Pro’, yet her email itself had this to say: Leaving the assistants to clean up and hide the wreckage of the alloy-resonance generator, he gathered all their lab notebooks “for security reasons,” and later destroyed them. The famed inventor liked Co think he was in control of his life.
“Or do you simply miss our fascinating company?” Juno inquired with an abrasive snort. “Perhaps you grew lonely after so much time by yourself.”
She grinned. Selim had taught them how to live by the most austere means, yet whenever they captured supplies from their enemies, the outlaws celebrated. Within an hour, the festivities would begin.’  While I consider myself something of an outlaw, I’m not sure how this is relevant to my recent rants on rules about women (‘Perpetual Estrogen’) and the value of silence (‘Quiet Time Or Else’!).  And while I consider myself a fairly intelligent person, I have no goddamned idea what an alloy-resonance generator is.  Thanks for writing in, though!
 
 So what have I learned from my repeated attempts to get a once-a-month mail column going?  Theory A)With the miracle of the internet, there are still idiots out there who think that some poor sap will fall for buying snake-oil boner fuel and get-rich-quick schemes.  Theory B)Nobody reads this goddamned column in Night Life magazine.  Theory C)There IS a readership for this column, but the readers are too goddamned lazy to interact with said author.  Theory D)There IS a readership for this column, but the readers are either too cheap or don’t have access to a computer, and therefore, the email capabilities offered by the World Wide Interweb.  Theory E)Don’t ask for readers to email you because it’s a waste of time.  Theory F)You’re reading this right now, and you have no idea what I’m talking about and I’m astonished that you’ve read this far. 
 I could go off on a blind rampage here and swear never to do a mail column again, but I never say never.  If you want to send me an email, great.  If not, then go fuck yourself.  I will say that I’m never going to beseech my readership to write in again but I will respond to any emails sent to me.  On to other matters.  A massive announcement!
 Starting in July, Big Words I Know By Heart will be expanding to the realm of a radio show.  I’ll be hosting my own pod cast under the same name online with special guests including Buffalo musicians, artists, writers, businessmen etc as well as reading some of my tirades in the hopes of reaching a larger audience.  My hope is that I can draw more people to the print column and draw the print column people to the pod cast radio show.  Look for the Big Words I Know By Heart radio show online starting next month on www.thinktwiceradio.com.  And as always, you can find out more about my work by clicking on over to www.tomfoolery4.wordpress.com.  Thanks for reading, damn you for not writing, and I’ll see you all next week in the pages of Night Life!
 
  Wondering if Buffalonians even know how to type,
   Tom ’disgruntled’ Waters  
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Big Words I Know By Heart Radio Episode I! Don’s Atomic Podcast!

June 22, 2008
Heyo!
 
    After a fantastic day in the studio at Think Twice Radio and a photo shoot for the dashboard pic, myself and the boys from Don’s Atomic Comics came up with some podcasting gold!  Big Words I Know By Heart Radio is now a reality.  There’s an ‘opening shot’ from the pages of Night Life this week with ‘Double Barrell Diplomacy’ (about visiting Canadians) along with a protracted discussion with Don and Ian about Guinness, comics, Alan Moore, porn, and a few other topics.  Give it a listen or a download at:
 
http://www.thinktwiceradio.com/tom-waters/tom-waters.html
 
    What a great day!  After what we got away with for the first episode, I can’t wait to see how much further Uncle Hal and I can push the envelope for Episode 2 in August!  Thanks to Josh, Rich and definitely Susan Marie for getting my foot in the door.  And keep in mind, this is DEFINITELY a Hard R-rating on Episode I.  If you’re easily offended, don’t bother.  Enjoy!
 
Tom ‘Guinness’ Waters
 
p.s. I’ll be popping some of the studio pics up on Myspace and YourHub later today.  Now it’s time for a nap.  Let me know what you think!
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Buffalo Rising Contributor Bio Up…

June 20, 2008

     Earlier this week, I announced that I’d be joining the team of upstart visionaries in the pages of Buffalo Rising in their monthly print publication as well as online.  Since then, I’ve been ferociously penning some book reviews, shooting the bull with Elena Buscarino (the associate/managine editor?) and conducting and transcribing the Alex Robinson interview (‘Good Grief and Tremendous Flops: Alex Robinson Off The Cuff’).  It’s been a very productive week.  As far as I know, the Robinson interview should be hitting BR in print for the July issue, so keep your eyes peeled for that.  And it may seem like a little thing to you, but I’m excited to see a contributor bio with accompanying picture up on the Buffalo Rising Online web site (complete with Think Twice Radio plug).  If you want to check it out, click on over to:

http://www.buffalorising.com/pages/contributors/

-I’m all the way at the bottom.  The photo is a pic from the morning co-host session on the episode 58 of the Pissed Off World Of Uncle Hal.  Let me know what you think! 

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Why So Serious? Heath Ledger Joker Trifecta/Countdown To The Dark Knight

June 20, 2008

     It’s far from a well-kept secret that I’m a Batman super-freak.  And thank god that we’re less than a month away from Christopher Nolan’s new visionary masterpiece, ‘The Dark Night’ which, as reported, is the only Batman film without ‘Batman’ in the title because, amazingly, Nolan wants it to be a ‘darker’ departure from the last film.  Darker?  Fantastic.  As if ‘Batman Begins’ was a rosy kaliedoscope of happiness and rainbows.  I’m so psyched about the new film (and the accompanying animated film for simultaneous release on DVD via the marketing wizards at Warner Bros.) that I can’t contain myself.  It’s eating away at me that the new feature length live-action film hasn’t been released yet, and I literally cannot wait.  The promos, viral videos and bumper ads on Myspace are eroding what little patience I have regarding the new movie.  On the one hand, I don’t understand why they waited this late in the summer blockbuster season to release what is obviously going to be a cultural event on par with ‘Titanic’, but then again, I can see why WB wouldn’t want to go head-to-head with ‘Iron Man’ or ‘The Incredible Hulk’ (the latter of which I have a mild interest in’. 

     As far as I’ve always been concerned, The Joker is the main star of the show.  I’ve got two and a half short mylar boxes stuffed to the rafters with Batman comics, one-offs and graphic novels and in my humble opinion, The Joker has been the real star of the show the entire time.   Super-hero stories are defined by their villains.  I’ve also had the recent pleasure of reading Batman: Monsters & Madmen (which I was so bowled over with that I wrote a gushing review on for Buffalo Rising) and the impulsive delight of picking up a Batman: The Killing Joke anniversary figurine pack with a delectable vacation Joker, Batman and a trade copy (in whichever iteration or printing, most likely the seventh or eighth or ninth) of The Killing Joke, which is without question one of the top five Batman/Joker stories of all time.  Top this off with a handsome anniversary hardcover of Alan Moore and Brian Bolland’s The Killing Joke and you’ve got a recipe for impatience.  Why isn’t it July 18th yet, goddamnit!  Agh!

     And it doesn’t take a psychologist to determine why I’m so attached to the mythos.  A sociopathic clown who was a former standup comic with anti-social tendencies and a flair for the theatric.  Hmph.  Love it.  Love it, love it, love it.  I’ve seen every single film in the theater (which is a big deal considering that I see about two movies a year on the big screen), I’ve got every copy of Paul Dini’s animated series, a handful of Batman Beyond seasons and a few of the animated films (Batman: Mask Of The Phantasm being the jewel of the crop). 

     Every sign points to Heath Ledger’s performance as being nothing less than once-in-a-lifetime.  The hype factor over his recent death is going to make this the movie of the summer, bar none.  Nicholson (also a hero of mine) is furious that he wasn’t even considered for the role of the Joker, but give me an f-ing break, Jack.  The new series is a re-boot, and there’s no place in the continuity to explain bringing back a 60-something who defined the role eighteen years ago. 

     They say that Ledger spent a month holed up in a hotel room getting a feel for the role reading tomes including The Killing Joke and Arkham Asylum while keeping a notebook so that he could record thoughts that the Joker would find funny.  Good on ya, Heath.  I’m not going to pounce on the bandwagon and pretend that I gave the vaguest shit about his other work, because I don’t.  A Knight’s Tale and Brokeback Mountain?  Couldn’t care less.  Just from the clips, though, it’s clear that he fell hook, line and sinker into the role and knocked it straight out of the ballpark and right into the pantheon on the way out of this mortal coil.

     Plus there’s the collectible factor, which is eating away at me.  After combing the web to find a new action figure that never even APPEARED on store shelves, I discovered that there’s not one, but three new Ledger facsimiles.  I’ve got a small pumpkin patch of Joker figurines at home (the crown jewels being an ’80s era Justice League figure and not one, but two Dark Knight returns Jokers, one in box, one outside the box) so there was no way in hell that I was going without one of the new ones.  Apparently, Mattel came to the shocking conclusion that a likeness of the homicidal lunatic from the new film in Ledger’s visage was too scary for children, so they decided to render the 6 inch figure ‘Collector’s Edition’.   Bullshit.  No company is that stupid.  They’re driving the values up.  It doesn’t take a criminal mastermind to figure that one out.  So aside from a chilling 6 inch figure, they’ve released a watered down 5 inch figure.  And another company has released an 11 inch that’s a spitting image of Heath walking down the middle of the street with a switchblade licking his lips like a rabid dog in the trailers for the film.  It retailed from DC Direct as a bundle pack with Batman (like anyone cares about him).  The Joker statue alone is starting at $125 on Ebay.  While this is slowly eating away at me, I can’t justify spending $125 on a toy that’s going to sit on my shelves of curios in my study. 

     The Joker (as a collectible) has always remained a hot item.  When cases of new figures come out, he’s a variable, he’s a rarity, and he’s the first to dissappear from big box toy retailers before he even make the sales floor.  I’m not a big toy geek, truly.  But I’ve been amassing a small collection of Joker figures here and there that could be the envy of any collector come early August.  I have zero intention of selling any of them, but in all likelihood, I’ll snap like a rubber band and buy the new 11 inch stature.  Along with seeing the new film five or six times in solemn fascination in theaters.  Less than four weeks to go.  Why so serious?  Because I can barely contain myself, that’s why. 

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Knockin’ Em Dead: Monsters Of Verse Aftermath

June 18, 2008

While I wasn’t too happy with the elements (f you too, god!), we survived the brutal hail in time to bring in a rock star crowd at Desiderio’s on Broadway for our Monsters Of Verse performance. Carrie Gardner started out with a well-structured sampling of her new book, Evil Is A Terrific, Rubbery Goblet, Shaky Stage brought the house down with a great set of original compositions, and I did some of my nonsense for roughly 21 minutes. We had a great crowd, sold some books, sold some CDs, and generally partied like it was day that wasn’t a Monday. If you missed the show and you want to catch the readings in all their audial glory, click yourself over to:

http://www.thinktwiceradio.com/sue-marie/sue-marie.html

Many thanks to Jay, Bobby and the rest of the gang at Desiderio’s for letting us stage the event. Thanks also to Carrie Gardner, Shaky Stage, Rich, Sue and Josh at Think Twice Radio for sponsoring, recording and producing the event. And don’t forget the Think Twice web site, because as of next week, the Big Words I Know By Heart Radio Hour is going live! For comic enthusiasts like Shawn Buffum and other well-read intellectuals, I’ll have Don and Ian from Don’s Atomic Comics on for the first episode to talk comic books and other such geekery for the ‘legion of geeks’ that I belong to. ‘Nuff said.

That’s all I’ve got for today. I put in a good eight hours yesterday writing, schmoozing and freelancing and I have no intention of repeating it today, so check out the pics, have a great week and tune in next Monday for Big Words radio!

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‘Token Excuses For Block’ accepted at ArtVoice

June 17, 2008

Florine (the poetry editor for the ‘In The Margins’ section of AV) was kind enough to edit and accept my poem ‘Token Excuses For Block’ for an upcoming issue of ArtVoice.  I read the poem recently (from the manuscript pages for Breathing Room) at the Center For Inquiry and took a shine to it, and thought that it might be worthy of print somewhere.  While I’m still not sure where to place the book, when I’m going to edit it based on Carrie Gardner’s copious notes, or when a good window would be to release it (whether to piggyback it on to a rant collection or trust it to coast on its own momentum), but my working theory is that a volley of publishing credits for said poetry wouldn’t hurt.  I fired a pitch off to BlazeVox books and still haven’t gotten even the courtesy of a return email after six weeks, so odds are that they’re a dead end for the project.  At any rate, I hope someone will let me know when ‘Token Excuses’ hits the stands in the pages of AV.

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Monday Big Words Update! It’s SHOWTIME! The Monsters Of Verse Show Tonight At Desiderio’s!

June 16, 2008

Hey now!

After two beautiful days in Rushford and two days in Angola, I’m rested, relaxed and ready to rock out with my cock out at Desiderio’s on Broadway as part of the trifecta of talent, the lineup of all lineups, the MONSTERS OF VERSE!  Carrie Gardner and I have wanted to do a project together for years now and after a few months of planning and the gracious extra publicity compliments of R.D. Pohl at the Buffalo News as well as Jane Kwiatkowski yesterday in the Buffalo News’ ‘Spotlight’ section (thanks, Jane!), I think we’re positioned to have one hell of a blast.  Think Twice Radio is all set to record the evening, Shaky Stage is ready to bring the house down, and I’ve prepped a few solid rants guaranteed to not only tickle your funny bone, but break it clean off!  We’ll be filming the event as well as snapping quite a few pictures (which I’ll be posting up online later this week), so for those of you who are making it out tonight, thanks in advance.  I couldn’t be more excited.

As for other news, ‘On Spec’, a brand spanking new piece is up on this month’s issue of Acid Logic.  It’s a deep, personal exploration into my writing process that my editor Wil Forbis claims is ‘the best piece you’ve ever written about writing’.  That’s high praise coming from Wil.  If you want to give it a read, click on over to:

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

There’s also a new issue of Night Life out today (Week 82, to be exact) with ‘Double Barrel Diplomacy’, another new rant aimed squarely at our touring Canadian traffic in Buffalo.  Odds are that I’m not going to make friends up north with that one, but so be it, it needed to be said.  Pick it up on stands and gasp in horror at the full tilt outlandishness of my fury! 

And finally, I’ve formed a new alliance with a Buffalo publication/web giant whom I’ve never freelanced with before: Buffalo Rising! 

I’m proud to announce that I’ll be running a series of local and national print and web based celebrity reviews for Buffalo Rising.  I’m looking forward to the new working relationship and can’t wait to see what great interviews and opportunities arise from the arrangement.  I’m glad to be part of the team! 

And finally, we’re SEVEN days away from the inaugural episode of the Big Words I Know By Heart radio hour on www.thinktwiceradio.com .  I’ve got guests coming out of the woodwork for the next year, so this promises to be an interested ride for listeners, guests, and yours truly.  I’m talking writers, musicians, artists and yes, even adult film stars.  You had to see that coming.  No cheap jokes. 

Anyhow, that’s it for now.  I still need to relax and get centered so that I can give 100% tonight when it’s my time to shine.  Additional thanks goes out ahead of time to Carrie Gardner and Shaky Stage for making this what will be a night to remember.  Let’s party!

Excelsior!

Tom Waters

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Buffalo Beast Correction/Give me a break!

June 14, 2008

Compliments of Ian Murphy, I got back from vacation to find this on my comment box:

This story is incorrect. The BEAST switched from a free bi-weekly to a monthly pay, subscription format in January, 2007. The BEAST is also currently available for purchase at shops, bookstores and libraries, locally and across the country. Ask your local librarian if they have the June, 2008 issue!

Check your facts, dick-face.

Sincerely,
BEAST Associate Editor & Art Director
Ian Murphy

Dick face.  Fabulously grown up of you, Ian.  I see that the Beast (in their ever increasingly marginal publication) is still a bastion of professionalism and maturity.  I guess when you piss the entire city off with sophomoric crusades and infantile lists, it’s gets really difficult to a) convince anyone to buy ads for your rag and b)convince any possible distribution depots (i.e.: pizzerias, restaurants and bars) to carry the pigeon liner you call ‘journalism’.  It’s a miracle that Matt Taibi came out of that maelstrom of childish rubbish you call a publication and you’re doing a bang up job of improving the Beast image.  I was wrong.  Keep up the great work, fucko.  I don’t really have the time for another feud right now, but so be it.  As if the Beast has any influence left anyway.  On the upswing, I’m hoping that single mothers get some use out of your paper by wiping their poopy stained infants in the bathrooms of the public libraries with it.  I’ve said my peace.  If you have anything you’d like to send Ian’s way, feel free to contact him at:

ian@buffalobeast.com

Enjoy.

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‘Lancaster Feels Like Home To Me’ (aka ‘Love Letter To Lancaster’) hits My View today in The Buffalo News

June 10, 2008

     I was just telling Lindsay last night (after we got home from a marathon of registering gifts at Target and JC Penney’s for our wedding) that I really hoped the My View piece ran within the next week.  With the performance coming up in six days now, there’s no such thing as too much press to raise awareness.  And lo and behold, I checked the Buffalo News web site this morning to find out that my happy, ‘Tuesdays With Morrie’ style fluff piece grabbed some ink in the My View section.  If you’ve been following ‘Big Buffalo I Know By Heart’ on YourHub, you saw it there first over a month and a half ago in it’s entirety.  If you haven’t, then pick up a copy of the News on stands or click yourself over to:

http://www.buffalonews.com/opinion/myview/story/366572.html

     I’m still upset at any hint of extra business that Ronny’s Takeout might get from gaining mention in the article and would like to stress again that I’m never ordering wings, pizza or anything else from them.  My buddy Ron and I ordered some wings from Desiderio’s on Sunday and they were top notch.  Not quite as perfect as they are when we order in the restaurant, but they’re getting within a stone’s throw of it.  I’ll give the takeout batch a 7 out of 10, which is still head and shoulders above whatever passes for competition out here. 

     I was also ecstatic to find my reviewer’s copy of Too Cool To Be Forgotten in my mailbox yesterday.  I tore through it in one sitting and punched up a 400 word review on spec for Jeff Simon (the arts editor at the News who, frankly, needs no introduction).  I’m crossing my fingers that the book review makes the grade.  As for my print interview with Alex Robinson, that’s found a home with a paper/web empire I haven’t worked with yet in Buffalo.  Any guesses?  Well I’m not telling yet.  I’m really excited, though.  It seems like whoever reads these sites only has the attention span to digest two to three posts per week, and there’s already so much going on that I don’t want the announcement to get lost in the mix, so I’ll wait until I get back from vacation.  But let’s just say that I’m crossing the pond in alternative journalism and that there are great new allegiences on the ho-Rising.  Hmph, ho-Rising isn’t a word, is it?  Oh well… 

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Monday Big Words Simulcast! Shameless Promotional Whoring 2008 Edition on stands AND right here!

June 9, 2008

Morning!

As I’m sure you know by now, we’re just SEVEN days away from the Monsters Of Verse concert at Desiderio’s next Monday.  I’m really glad that Carrie Gardner and I are finally going to have a chance to work together on a performance as we’ve been talking about it for almost four years now!  I can’t tell you how important this is to us, so if you can make the show, by all means, do it.  The new issue of Night Life is on stands with a Big Words edition of ‘Shameless Promotional Whoring 2008’.  In the interest of tipping the scales in our favor, I’m also going to publish the piece right here, right now.  Also, I’ll be going on vacation from this Wednesday until next Wednesday, so I won’t be anywhere near civilization until Monday.  Seeya at the show (hopefully),

Tom Waters

Shameless Promotional Whoring 2008 Edition: One Night Only!

Yeah, you read the headline right, one night only. As you may or may not know, I’m getting married this year, which means that my writing career is taking a back seat for fiscal year 2008. I don’t have the time, money, energy or inclination to launch a book this year. I’ve got a finished one, don’t get me wrong (it’s called Slapstick & Superego), and I’m halfway through the book after that, but you won’t be seeing my next book until some time in the spring of 2009. However, as of this publication date (June 9th), you and I are exactly ONE WEEK away from what will probably be the only public performance I’ll be doing this year. Next Monday (June 16th), I’ll be sharing the stage with renowned poet Carrie Gardner and Shaky Stage, a helluva great band who got their start out in Alden. Here’s the official release:

Carrie Gardner (renowned poet and author of Evil Is A Terrific, Rubbery Goblet) presents a FREE evening of unprecedented entertainment the likes of which Buffalo has never seen before with a reading from her breakout, runaway smash hit book, Evil Is A Terrific, Rubbery Goblet (Authorhouse). The evening will open with a reading from Carrie, a performance from the band Shaky Stage, and close out with a rant or two from local author, bar reviewer and area goofball Tom Waters. All three powerhouse acts will be schlepping and signing their wares (books, CDs, etc.) throughout the evening. Attendance is free and multiple book and CD purchases are strongly recommended. Drinks and phenomenal food will be available from the crack team of culinary masterminds at Desiderio’s on Broadway. Come thirsty, come hungry, and bring many wads of cash for all out consumption and the entertainment extravaganza of the decade, no, better yet, a lifetime! Do not miss this once in a lifetime experience! You’ll regret it for the rest of your life if you do!

If you’ve been to one of my readings before, you know by now that anything can happen and that a great time is had by all. If you haven’t picked up a copy of my last collection of rants, If They Can’t Take A Joke, then now is the perfect time because I’ll be selling and signing the last batch of first edition hardcovers for $20. Carrie will be selling her book for $10. I’m not really sure how much Shaky Stage will be selling their Cds for, but they last time I saw them play live, they were giving away free copies for crowd interaction. So #1, admission is free (and I know Night Life readers love free anything because they come out in droves for it and I‘ve seen it). #2, you’re getting three amazing acts in one night, #3, we’ll be giving away some free stuff and #4, this is the ONLY time I’ll be performing any of my rants on stage in Buffalo this year. What more reason do you need?

Round up your friends, your girlfriends, your pets, and your enemies and meet us out next week for some strong drink, great food and an evening of entertainment that you won’t soon forget. Who knows? Once the night is over, you may need acupuncture or deep psychotherapy to remove the memory from your brain bank. I guarantee you a great time. And if the Night Life troops can fill the bar, I’ll give away a signed hardcover to one of you wonderful swag-hounds.

I’ve been tinkering away on this column for almost two years now and I’m pretty pleased with the niche impact it’s had on reaching a new and unusual audience. And as a megalomaniac, it’s always nice to meet my readers up close and personal and get their two cents while they’re buying me shots. If it’s been your life’s dream to buy me a shot, now is your chance. I’ll be hanging out at the bar swilling Tullamore Dew and pitchers of Coors Light (or as they call it at Desiderio’s, ‘the tom waters special’) all night before I go up on stage, so if you want to hang out and have a great time, I’ll see you there. And after a few doubles of good Irish whiskey, I can’t be held responsible from a legal standpoint for my actions on stage.

So to summarize: next Monday, Desiderio’s, 8pm SHARP! Bring some cash, bring some friends and get ready to take part in the triple threat all out bash of the summer. Are you listening, Buffalo? I’ll see you next week. You might want to take off of work on Tuesday to recover. Make it out in record numbers and perhaps me and the gang at Night Life will do something special for the Big Words 2 year anniversary.

Seeya at Desi’s,

Tom Waters

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Friday Press for ‘Monsters Of Verse’ in the Buffalo News…

June 6, 2008

It came to my attention that R.D. Pohl (the prestigious editor of the poetry section in the Buffalo News) ran a piece about our upcoming event in his ‘Arts Beat’ blog on the Buffalo News web site.  I really appreciate the plug because you can’t beat free promotion and an endorsement from him is like a blessing from the pope in this town, honestly.  The once a month Poetry page is regarded in Buffalo as the Holy Grail in terms of poetry submissions (to date, I’ve never had anything accepted, but then again, I’ve only submitted once), so I know that the literary community takes note of any announcements R.D. Pohl has to make.  Thanks, R.D.!  Carrie, Shaky Stage and myself owe you one!

http://buffalonews.typepad.com/artsbeat/2008/06/liz-mariani-boo.html

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Too Cool To Keep A Lid On: Alex Robinson Booked For Big Words Radio!

June 4, 2008

Like most of my more notable celebrity interviews in the past, I went out on a limb while I was reading Alex Robinson’s Tricked (2005, Top Shelf Productions) and contacted him about a possible guest spot on my new radio show.  A few weeks ago, I just finished Box Office Poison (2001, Top Shelf), loved it and had to read more.  While most people would read a 608 page graphic novel and take a break, I’m like a pit bull with good comic writers/artists.  I tend to sink my teeth in and look for everything else.  Fortune smiled, because he’s got a new book coming out this summer that he’s actively promoting, Too Cool To Be Forgotten.  Alex will be phoning in for an interview in August, filling my dance card for the first three shows.  For more information on Alex Robinson, some free short comics and his live journal, click on over to:

http://www.comicbookalex.com/

Guests one and two will remain a mystery for the time being, but they’re booked.  You better believe they’re booked.  I did let the cat out of the bag on an earlier YourHub comment response, but if you’re that curious, you can find it yourself.  I’d like to leave some of this up to the element of surprise.  So that covers my studio schedule through August and I have two local celebrities waiting in the wings for September and October.  While I don’t want to focus solely on spotlighting buddies of mine or interviewing celebrities, I’m going to try and balance it out as I go along.  Rich is also going to be doing a five minute film with yours truly in July for his ‘five minute video’ series.  God help us all.     

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Monday Big Words Update! 2 Weeks to Monsters Of Verse/3 Weeks Until Big Words Radio!

June 2, 2008

     It’s really bizaare how these short forays back into creative activity gather their own momentum, isn’t it?  The new material continues throughout June in the pages of Night Life magazine with ‘The Great Recession’, one of my shorter pieces about the rise in gas prices and the effect it’s had on the economy which, unfortunately, was rejected as a My View submission at the Buffalo News.  You can’t win ’em all, and sometimes, they’ll reject pieces that were too similar to recently published works.  I don’t read the News every day, so perhaps someone beat me to the punch.  At any rate, I’m running the piece in the Big Words column because I think it makes some valid points and it’s a subject that everyone can relate to, and that all of us have been griping about for months.

     Moving on to other business, the Monsters Of Verse show at Desiderio’s in Lancaster (8 PM) is two weeks from today (Monday the 16th)!  Carrie Gardner, Shaky Stage and myself are starting to get really excited about the performance and Carrie and I have decided to make the rounds at the Center For Inquiry open literary reading this Wednesday at 7 pm to see some old faces, meet some fresh ones and promote the event to a demographic that’s perfect for it.    If you received an Evite or a Myspace event invite, please take the time to RSVP either way so that myself and the crack team at Desi’s have an idea of what sort of crowd to expect/prepare for.  I also mentioned during the middle of last week that Think Twice Radio will be sponsoring the event and recording the entire performance for future podcasting purposes, so if you show up, clap loudly and laugh heartily! 

     Also, now that I’ve agreed to take Think Twice up on their offer for my own radio hour, I’ve been putting the pieces together for the first three or four shows.  Guests have been booked, formulas have been employed, formats have been cobbled together and three weeks from yesterday (Sunday the 22nd), the Big Words I Know By Heart radio show will be born!  May god have mercy on us all.  I don’t want to let too much out of the bag too soon, but I’ve got some big plans for the show.  You won’t want to miss out on the first episode, I can guarantee you that. 

     And in case you missed it, I logged a rather extensive play-by-play on the David Fincher critique I’ve been laboring away on for the last year and a half.  If you’re a fan of the director (or just curious as to what the hell I’m talking about), scroll down to ‘Finding Fincher’. 

     And that’s all the news that’s fit to print this week.  Scoop up your copy of Night Life, fill out your dance card on Evite and Myspace Events, and count the days down until the Monsters Of Verse and the Big Words I Know By Heart radio hour.  A storm’s brewing over Buffalo, and some call it Hurricane Buy My Book!  Just kidding.  Talk to you next week (or sooner),

Tom Waters

     

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Finding Fincher

June 1, 2008

After a long break, I’ve started researching my critical piece on the life and works of director David Fincher this week.  In some respects, I’ve been working on this paper since 2002, and I feel guilty that I haven’t delivered any material yet to Wil Forbis, my editor at Acid Logic, who has been kind enough to supply me with some source material (Dark Eye by James Swallow and a newer version of Se7en on DVD).  I also started reading Sharon Waxman’s Rebels On The Backlot this week, which, while flawed, is a fascinating read that I’d highly recommend to any film enthusiast chronicalling the potent era in the ’90s when auteur directors came back into style (Tarantino, Spike Jonze, Paul Thomas Anderson, David O. Russell, Wes Anderson, and of course, Fincher).  After speaking with friends this week, the parrallels to Easy Riders, Raging Bulls are obvious.  Waxman may or may not have used the book about ’70s visionary directors (Scorcese, Friedken, Spielberg, Lucas, etc) as a template, but there’s a definite mirror effect.  It could just be attributed to the cyclical nature of the movie business, but both make for compelling reads. 

     I really enjoy this type of writing (working on the bio format), but it’s aggravating in many respects.  With an essay or a rant, I can fire out my ideas and find a conclusion oftentimes in one sitting.  I also feel obligated to find some factoids and uncover information about the director that hasn’t been found elsewhere, which is also driving me nuts.  I was honored when Wil emailed me to let me know that both my Philip Seymour Hoffman article and the Bret Easton Ellis critique were referenced on Wikipedia.  I spend more time than I should on Wikipedia on whims, and as a new database, the concept of it fascinates me.  But when does the Fincher piece end?  And now that whoever the contributes out there have deemed to reference my work, I feel an obligation to do the best possible job that I can on the piece for the sake of Wikipedia and more importantly, David Fincher. 

     When I researched and wrote my findings about Bret Easton Ellis, I immersed myself in all things Ellis for three months, reaching a point where I could recite his life, his books and his movies from front to back.  I got to a critical juncture where I literally couldn’t stand reading anything more about him, at which point I knew I was done.  That, and there was a finite amount of interviews and features on the author online, and I reached the limit.  The problem with the movie industry is that there is almost too much information.  Producer interviews, cinematographer interviews, fan sites, technical articles on the technology that Fincher employs.  Maybe it’s not a problem, but there is so MUCH information out there that it’s tough to find the important factoids and sift them out from the rest.  I’d like to be comprehensive and leave nothing to chance.   Watching Zodiac for a seventh or eighth time this week, I’m identifying a bit with Robert Graysmith’s obsessive, note compiling nature.  Where does it end?  And what one anecdote or candid interview will set the bell off in my head that tells me I’m done?  I’ve got 16 pages of ten point font footnotes and six pages of the article that I’ve started.  A vast sea of information split up by personal information, specific movie information, Fincher quotes and the ten million projects that he’s been attached to. 

     And for as much of a long shot as it poses, I really would like to interview Fincher when I’m done.  I corresponded with author James Swallow (Dark Eye) for the sake of tracking Fincher down and he’s at a dead end as well.  He wanted to update his book on Fincher and couldn’t get a hold of the director when they originally sat down for the first edition.  While Fincher has conducted more than his share of interviews in the last year, it’s unclear why he chose the magazines and web sites that he did.  They aren’t all prestigious sites or top name interviewers.  I’ve logged on to any tangentially related web site or article post and put the word out that I’m dying to speak with the director.  And now that so much time has elapsed since Zodiac, The Curious Case Of Benjamin Button quickly approaches.  Well, not that quickly.  The film is releasing December 19th and the Oscar buzz on the film is already into overdrive.  I can’t finish a piece that will be obsolete in five months, so I’d rather wait. 

     In the mean time, I’m going to finish up on Rebels On The Backlot and then re-read the chapters on Fincher on my lap in front of my keyboard for the purpose of logging the notes into this lofty, unreasonably (for me) large article.  I’ll also continue to comb the web for podcast interviews, critical expositions on the last round of films, and on-the-set anecdotes from Benjamin Button.  I don’t think I could ever write a full-scale biography book because my brain would overload.  I’m not built for it, and I’m too much of a perfectionist to survive the ordeal.  I would rather compose a consise, clever biographical essay that hits the key points, discovers some new findings and travels a theme that hasn’t already been established and reinforced over the years.  

     Goddamnit Fincher, how does a decent journalist get a hold of you?!  There’s a small glimmer of hope that he’ll permit an interview after so much research has been invested into his work.  If there’s one personality trait that shines through in my research, it’s that Fincher is a perfectionist, expecting nothing less than 100% from his actors, accepting zero compromise from the studios he works with, and constantly critiquing himself harder than any journalist or cinephile ever could. 

     Since I’ve covered an important actor from my generation (Philip Seymour Hoffman), a controversial writer (Bret Easton Ellis) and I’m closing in on a once-in-a-lifetime director (Fincher), I’ve entertained the notion of writing a bio piece on a stand up comic or a comedy troupe next.  I’ve always wanted to write a piece about Andrew Dice Clay, but there’s nothing in the way of research out there.  All the streams of info have withered up online, and while I’m still interested, his popularity has all but dissappeared (aside from his attachment to the Opie and Anthony show, which, honestly, I’m no longer interested in).  My other project is The Kids In The Hall, so I’ll probably start research on them some time next year.  With my contacts and connections at The Buffalo News, I regret that I didn’t get to interview Scott Thompson recently when they appeared in Buffalo as part of their national tour.  I’ve blathered enough for one day, though.  This is a discussion and a project for another time.  Again, if any Fincher fanatics out there have any leads on reaching the director, I’m all ears.  I’m willing to give up first time exclusive rights to the finished feature article or the interview for a little help in finding Fincher. 

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