Archive for December, 2015

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Big Words I Know By Heart Episode 17: ‘Thespian’

December 24, 2015

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Back in September, I found out just how much I don’t know about the Buffalo film community after a few short questions with Rhonda Parker.  In that time, I’ve discovered that Michael O’Hear is the soft candy center to the entire scene.  He’s had an astounding career that’s reaching another crest with all of the festival hoopla surrounding Killer Rack.  And that’s just one feather in an already-crowded cap.

O’Hear was a genuine delight to research, watch on screen (he’s a scene stealer to be sure) and interview.  He has a quiet intensity that’s very arresting and charming all at once.  He made for a fantastic guest.  And we must have done something right in the studio, because most of the people involved in the Buffalo Film Community have been kind enough to tell us how much they liked the show!  Thank you for ‘getting’ it.  Enough gushing, though.  Here’s the episode:

Thanks are due to Mr. O’Hear, Buffalo Charlie for making it through the spanking machine not once, but twice, producer Richard Wicka and also Rhonda Parker for the great recommendation.  I book primarily on guest referrals, because who’s a better judge as to who can handle the format or not?  Don’t forget to LIKE & SUBSCRIBE on YouTube!  I feel like I may have said that before…

Tom

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Big Words Video 17.5: Outlaw-The Living Comic Book (Teaser)

December 24, 2015

Guest Michael O’Hear was kind enough to supply me with a really sharp looking teaser trailer for the Outlaw web and DVD series that’s currently in production.  Again, if it were up to me I would never shoot another Bonus clip at the Home Of The Future again, so this was an extremely inventive case of my guest thinking outside the box.  Check out the sharp black and white trailer right HERE:

As always, you can SUBSCRIBE to the Big Words I Know By Heart Channel to see all of the Big Words Video bonuses as soon as they’re posted, get updates on new shows and other related nonsense.  Please take the extra second to Like the show on YouTube!  We’re ramping up production for the next two months, so stay tuned!

Tom

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On Dasher, On Dancer, On Prozac (Updated)

December 14, 2015

 

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Author’s Note: This little ditty is from my 2008 book If They Can’t Take A Joke (Authorhouse).  I think about this one every time the holidays come around and it deserved some rewrites and revisions.  This is good practice as Travesty approaches the finish line, because I’d like to rework every essay in the manuscript one final time before its release in the Fall of 2016. 

Happy Holidays!

Whelp, I’ve survived the holiday gauntlet. From Thanksgiving until January 1st, there is no reprieve. No sanctuary, no shelter, no quarter from family, family meals, stress, anxiety, depression, aggravation, noise pollution, and hustle and bustle on a scale of mental exhaustion. Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Years. Why not celebrate the holidays by running your immune system into the ground, gaining weight, drinking like a fish, and maxing out your credit cards? Holidays are hell on adults, always have been, always will be.

I didn’t really notice it until this year, but more people collectively lose their shit this time of year than any other. I don’t know how I kept mine together aside from the fact that everyone lost their mind around me while I watched. I’m reminded of the relationship between Hunter Thompson and his trusty sidekick in the film/book Fear and Loathing In Las Vegas; one of the two always kept their wits about them while the other loses them. They took turns. I made it straightaway up until three or four days before New Year’s before commencing into total collapse.

My grandfather died five days before Christmas, a fact which never escapes anyone in my family. It’s been six years, but deaths in the family are like cattle brands. Nobody mentioned it this year, but I’m sure we all thought about it. Looming like the ghost of Christmas past, memories of my grandpa and his subsequent passing left an indelible mark on our holidays forever. It seems as if the good ones always go around the really important occasions. That, or there are too many holidays to count, and it just appears that way. Maybe that’s the end result of old age and the stress of the season. I felt my age this year, and perhaps the burden of Christmas shopping and card sending and table settings will put me six feet under when I get older, too.

I’m so sick of shopping and hunting and gathering that I’m considering moving to another country next year between the months of November and March. Maybe I’ll move to Iceland, where they still believe in faeries, Bjork’s music career, and where they have a holiday that celebrates and encourages adultery (I’m not making this up). I’m not a big fan of standing in line on Black Fridays. Leave that to the fucking soccer moms. I don’t chase down bargains or make the six a.m. toy runs the stores like to torture us with. It’s complete madness. Nothing will get me out of bed before eight o’clock (unless, of course, I’m still awake from the night before). By December, people get a glazed, psychotic look in their eyes standing in the checkout lanes. Desperation, exhaustion, and materialism bear down on their tiny brains. Stupid people are much more likely to lose their minds around the holidays because they have less of it to go around. You see them screaming at cashiers, elbowing their way through toys, and clothes-lining Christmas carolers.

One expends a lot of energy participating in family meals, get-togethers and holiday jaunts. Entire days off are chewed up driving to a destination, sitting and talking with loved ones, having a meal, exchanging gifts, toasting champagne, and so on. This leaves you with the feeling that not only don’t you have any free time, but there’s a microverse of frenetic activity that’s taken its place. While I prefer to nap frequently and laze about on days off running the occasional errand, these become a thing of the past in the winter months.

Nothing makes you feel more alone than holidays, especially New Year’s Eve. We’d all like to picture ourselves kissing our intended at the stroke of midnight rather than basking in our own solitude. This is one of the many factors that pushes people right over the edge into insanity. Seasonal violence has a cause and effect. It’s modus operandi is the surmounting pressure that drives people to drink and play bumper sleigh ride with their new luxury sedan, strip the Christmas lights off the tree and hop off of a chair, or gobble up that bottle of sleeping pills like a tender morsel of Christmas ham.

Let’s not forget the big two stressors, either: finances and weight. The average American gains twenty pounds between November and January. So many holiday snacks within reach; fruitcake, turkey, Christmas cookies, egg nog, and scotch. One month on the lips, a new year’s resolution on the hips. Most people worry year round about their budgets, and racking up gifts on multiple credit cards doesn’t help. It’s a holiday recipe for a breakdown.

It’s a good thing the holiday triathlon only comes once a year. It’s probably not any one factor that freaks people out so much as the sum of all of them. That, and the end of another year and the realization that we didn’t do nearly as much as we wanted to in the months preceding it. Expectations for the coming calendar combined with disappointment over the previous one. The thought that we’re getting older at the speed of light, and that another year has gotten away from us. Should old acquaintance be forgot….just give me one solid day off. And let me hide out from family, friends, and shopping centers.

Checking the expiration date on my NA eggnog,

Tom ‘yuletide’ Waters

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Big Words I Know By Heart Episode 16: ‘Convoluted’

December 6, 2015

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Sterlace and I have been pals since sometime in 2008.  He just happened to be at The Home Of The Future while an episode of Big Words Radio was recording.  I didn’t know who was in the Green Room while we were doing the show, but I could certainly hear the uproarious laughter.  The rest is history.  I’ve been on his show, he’s been on mine, and this is his first appearance on Big Words Video.  Producer Richard Wicka was a natural choice for the Co Host Hot Seat because of his innate ability to frustrate and stymy Sterlace at will.  This show was a rollicking good time and I hope you enjoy watching it.  Here’s the link:

Thanks are in order to Sterlace, Wicka and guest board operator Tom Windsor.  As always, if you haven’t yet, please SUBSCRIBE for FREE to the Big Words I Know By Heart Channel on YouTube for upcoming episodes, bonus clips and other additional content.  Actor Michael O’Hear will be joining us in the studio in two weeks as we’re doubling down for December.  See you then!

Tom

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Big Words Video 16.5: Greg Sterlace-‘Exploitation’

December 6, 2015

We shot this clip all the way back in August in the library portion of the Home Of The Future when I did a guest spot on The Real Greg Sterlace Show.  It was originally titled ‘The Big Beatles Heist’, but (in an effort to be consistent with the Big Words theme), we retitled it as ‘Exploitation’ right after the studio show.  Greg discusses his master plan to bilk Beatlemaniacs out of their hard-earned money.  Check it out right here:

Please take a moment to ‘Like’ the clip on YouTube.  Kindly SUBSCRIBE to the Big Words I Know By Heart Channel on YouTube for updates on new episodes, bonus clips and other original content!

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Parrots & Pigeons

December 1, 2015

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Every time I sit at the tables I’m reminded of standup comedy. There are people with thirty years of sobriety, people with a week of sobriety and everyone in between, and it seems like all of them have a routine, or a bit. They share for five or ten minutes. Their life story, their material, goes from raw to refined to polished (distilled probably isn’t the best word to use when talking about sobriety, so I won’t). Their history, their trials, struggles, tribulations and triumphs get buffed out, refinished and reformatted until they have a tale suitable for mass consumption, approval and replication. And in many cases, they tell that story again, and again, and again.

My great fear is that I’ll end up like that, spinning out the exact same ten minute yarn with the same ups and downs and inflections and pauses and punchlines the same way for the next twenty years. I don’t say much at the tables unless I feel compelled to, or if it seems like I can add something to the conversation. There is no shortage of people with nothing to say and plenty to say about it inside and outside the rooms and I refuse to be another one. I suppose that’s my gift to the Program: my brevity. I’ve shot my mouth off enough in my drunken past, so the least I can do for my brothers and sisters is pick and choose my contribution to the rolling dialogue that takes shape in the meetings.

I’ve heard it said that the Program only has two kinds of birds. There are Parrots, who recite what they’ve heard by rote. I’ve met plenty of them, proud of their ability to memorize passages from the book and spew them out when appropriate. Pleased as punch to regurgitate a line or a saying that was told to them. And then there are Pigeons, who carry the message. Given a choice, I’d rather be a Pigeon. There’s more room for improvisation there, don’t you think? It seems nobler to me to find my own spin on the message, but at the end of the day (when you think about it), you’re going to get shit all over the bottom of the bird cage either way. Kidding.

I didn’t stop drinking to be some kind of puppet. There’s a lot more freedom in recovery than that. Saying the same thing over and over would be a kind of hell for me. In two years, I’ve found out how to live. And there isn’t much that any of us can’t do with the notable exception of one thing: We can’t drink. It’s pretty hard to believe that I’ve been sober for two years, but it works 100% of the time if you follow it to the letter. I won’t get preachy with you though, since you’re an innocent bystander.

I’ve discovered a lot more about the Program as time goes along. There is a dark side, but that’s to be expected with any cross-section of the populace. One of the few guidelines we follow is ‘Principles Before Personalities’. Chew on that for a little while. One of my friends says that we’re all sick people trying to get better, and some are sicker than others (I guess I do have a little parrot in me, don’t I? *Squawk!*). There’s a pecking order, whether we honor it or not. There are a few climbers, ‘career daters’ (which is putting it kindly, on the inside we call them ’13 Steppers’), politicians and melodramatic evangelists peppered throughout the groups. I didn’t stop drinking to be a politician, or the grand Poobah of the organization. I don’t need a title, and would prefer to travel in the middle of the herd. I’m also thankful that I didn’t date anyone my first year in (a commonly-held suggestion), because now I’ve got enough sense to see that the women are just as nuts as the men are. I also don’t need any disciples doting on my philosophical prognostications. There are actors and actresses. There are quite a few different kinds of people from all walks of life in every shape, color and creed. It’s a powerful thing to give someone a voice to a room of 60 people, or a table of 20. We all adjust to it differently.

My buddy Mike has a really good point when he tells me that we don’t know what these people were like when they were out drinking, and that their recovery most likely mirrors their drunken debacles to some degree. Bullshit artists. One-night-stand studs. Loud mouths. When I first came in, I looked at anybody with two years or more as some sort of Jedi Knight. There’s a glaring problem with putting anyone on a pedestal, which is mainly the loud crash when they fall off of it. We’re all painfully human, and we’re all on the same broad highway to getting better. For the twenty-odd years that I was ‘out there’, I was grandiose, psychotic and angry. Your best friend or your worst enemy depending on how far along I was on my drunk that night. That problem has been removed.

Even with two years in, I have a sober history now but I’m proud of my blank slate. I’ve tried very hard to avoid drama when I used to be a magnet for it, to strive for something close to humility when pretension and pomposity used to be the order of the day, and to share a kind word with everyone and look for the good in all of them. Everyone’s heart is in the right place, but there are a few with poor execution skills.

So now I have a sober history to build. I have a few steps left out of twelve to follow, but it’s a clear slide to home plate from here. As someone who’s not exactly a joiner, I feel a kinship with a special brand of fucked-up miscreants, malcontents and rejects eager to reform. I’m where I belong with my other dysfunctional family and their endless supply of interesting stories, rehearsed, polished and otherwise. It’s a big dysfunctional family tree. I’m going to take root, stay for awhile and save my applause for the natural punchlines.

Counting my blessings while lining the cage,

Tom Waters

 

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