Archive for the ‘buffalo’ Category

h1

Big Words I Know By Heart Episode 55: ‘Ellipsis’

January 11, 2019

6b26ead1-867f-48c8-a60e-814be3021dc5

Co-host Terry Kimmel was proud of how far I’ve come with the local film community in the last few years.  From knowing nothing about to to branching out bit by bit (and with some of his guidance), I feel like I have a basic understanding of what’s going on and which projects are under development.  Rick Masi was a man who’s projects I’d heard spoken highly of (‘Tales Of Darkened Light’, in particular) and the awards and the feedback weren’t wrong.  He is a highly motivated, positive and professional writer/director, and it was a lot of fun to binge on ‘Tales’ prepping for his episode.  Check out the show HERE:

Thanks to Masi, Terry Kimmel for being a perennial punching bag and obviously producer Richard Wicka for putting it all together.

#BigWordsVideo shall return.

h1

Big Words I Know By Heart Episode 54: ‘Minutiae’

December 7, 2018

6E4550E2-CD4E-4A71-ADCC-F02771254C3A

One thing I learned about Rochester comedy was that all roads lead to comic Woody Battaglia.  The man is a powerhouse, hosting multiple weekly open mics, an FM Variety Show (‘Almost Tuesday’ on 104.3 WAYOFM) and an iTunes podcast with a very peculiar twist (‘My Minute With Andre’).  I’m not sure if he’s okay with being referred to as an alt-comic, but his standup stemmed from his love of ‘90s alt comics Eddie Izzard and Patton Oswalt.  The man is accomplished, and it’s intriguing how the flavors of Rochester comedy are just a little bit different than Buffalo, but equally entertaining.  I was, and am, impressed by the volume and consistency of Woody’s comedy.  It made for an informative show.  See for yourself:

Thanks to Battaglia, returning Co Host Henry Gale and of course to producer Richard Wicka for producing the show.  Big Words already returned, I’m just further behind than usual keeping up with it.

Tom

 

 

h1

Big Words I Know By Heart Episode 53: ‘Deja Vu’

October 4, 2018

3A6B00AC-A607-4E7F-91F1-2260EED60815

Back when I did the Big Words Radio podcast, many references were made to the ‘Big Words Poltergeist’.  It was the big bad wolf I could blame for mistakes, mistapings, lost audio material, etc.  Well, you could say that the Big Words Poltergeist struck again last month and it struck more than once.  Or you could just chalk it up to bad luck, or a series of unfortunate events.  During the sound check, my producer accidently did not hit record for the show taping.  I wish I could say it was the first time it’s happened (see also: ‘Mulligan’, my Season 2 episode with Public Editor Geoff Kelly).  Regardless, it’s a testament to guest Shawn Essler and perennial co-host Jason John Beebe’s professionalism that, when we were informed, their knee-jerk response (without a beat or any hesitation) was: Let’s shoot it again.  So we did.  The exact same episode remixed with some questions I didn’t ask the first time and some different responses with a little more foresight.

Was the first taping better or was the second better because we all knew each other better?  You will never know.  And to top things off, all of the outtake publicity photos were purged.  In the aftermath, I thought the entire situation was a shit show.  But you move on and look at the end result.  Shit happens.  Watch it yourself:

Thanks are in order to director, writer and producer Shawn Essler for trekking out from Rochester and going into overtime with us, and to Jason John Beebe as well for becoming a truly solid co-host who made the show better by being a part of it.  I should also thank Richard Wicka for the four years of the podcast that he recorded perfectly, and the five years of this video show that he’s endured with a near-perfect batting average.  So that’s about all I have to say about this one.  I hope the episode was entertaining because it was hell on me to go through it.

#BigWordsVideo shall return,

Tom

h1

Big Words I Know By Heart Episode 52: ‘Luminosity’

September 6, 2018

C93621A9-0200-4C9A-989C-C0694E65CB06

The nice thing about having a room full of comedians is that I don’t need to be funny.  I’m not even sure if I was on this episode, but Guest Don Johnson and returning Co Host Jesse Winterhalter Jr. brought their A game.  Between the two, they’ve been entertaining Buffalo audiences no less than three times a week for no less than two years at their open mics, featured gigs, headlining gigs, special engagements, and so on and so forth.  The sense I got researching Don Johnson as well as talking to him is that he’s not only a comedian, he’s also one of the biggest boosters for the scene around.  See for yourself:

Thanks to Don, Jesse and of course to producer Richard Wicka for tying a bow around it.  These are two guys to keep an eye on because they keep getting better and they’re not going anywhere.  Here’s the part where I ask you to SUBSCRIBE to the show.  So do that.

The show goes on,

Tom

h1

Big Words I Know By Heart Episode 51: ‘Intelligentsia’

August 14, 2018

7D190816-8EC9-407A-8F8C-B1B67206784C

This episode marks the ten year anniversary (give or take a few days) that a) I walked into producer Richard Wicka’s Home Of The Future for the first time (for an interview on Susan Marie’s ‘This Is Not The Apple’ podcast) and b) that Richard and I have been great friends.  In all that time, he’s been many things to me: a friend, a mentor, a creative, an intellectual, and someone who I look up to.  So it was only a matter of time before I had him on the show.  He was a lot more open and at ease in the Guest chair than I expected.  And his pal Julia D (whose last name I wouldn’t even try to spell) helped to take the pressure off of the studio environment we thrive in for the show.  See for yourself:

 

Thanks to Richard for the show and for ten fascinating years with Think Twice Radio as a podcaster and in the Home Of The Future for our discussions, meals, bonfires and video shows.  Thanks to Julia for bringing her West Coast sensibilities to the room.  I’ve still got some catching up to do on this site, so we’ll talk soon.

Tom

h1

Big Words Video 51.1: Richard Wicka-‘Notes From The Ground Floor’

August 9, 2018

6ED676B2-D0A8-49BD-9858-5015C823FA81

I’ve been a very bad blogger.  It’s been some time since a new show and an update of any kind on the site, so this is me catching up.  While this show and Bonus clip were originally posted two months ago, if this is the first time you’re reading about it, it’s new to you!  Below you will find a quick link to Richard Wicka’s very personal, funny and insightful take on the Bonus clip, ‘Notes From The Ground Floor’.  We came up with the title after a discussion regarding the actual translation for the book ‘Notes From The Underground’.  Check it out.  More to come soon.

Tom

h1

Big Words I Know By Heart Episode 50: ‘Licentious’

June 7, 2018

898DBA72-8268-4504-8205-DF42DCF44C70

Before I say anything else, it needs to be said that the above crotch grab was real.  I didn’t think that guest Rick Matthews was really going to go for it during pictures, but it actually happened.  In addition to everything else about the comedian, he is committed to his craft.  He’s in it to win it.

I’m very late in posting this (having just wrapped Episode 51), but I’d been hearing about standup comic Rick Matthews since the first season of the show.  He’s a Comedian’s Comedian: dirty at times, painfully honest and very, very funny.  Having never met him before, I wasn’t sure how he’d interview, and this was one of the shows where the Guest and Co-Host (Kevin Thomas Jr.) took the baton and ran away from me with it.  I didn’t keep up that well, but it doesn’t matter, because it was a great show in spite of the host.  Judge for yourself:

Thanks to Matthews, Kevin Thomas Jr for circling back around to Co Host and, as always, Richard Wicka for housing us, editing and producing the show.  We ran out of time before I got to talk to Rick about his time onstage with Dave Attell (one of my all time favorite comics), but that’s no big deal.  There is no Bonus clip for this episode because one wasn’t supplied.  That’s been a dangerous trend for Season Four, so we’re going to have to work on that.  There’s another show coming up as soon as it posts, so I’ll talk to you all real soon.

Tom

h1

Big Words I Know By Heart Episode 49: ‘Scoville’

March 31, 2018

B844880D-8FFD-4AA4-BAE5-849183329650

Wing King Drew Cerza was originally on the boards all the way back in 2014.  There was a massive scheduling issue though, as Drew had a press conference the same day.  So we finally got around to making it happen this month and Cerza did not disappoint.  The founder of the National Buffalo Wing Festival was a real sport with my line of questioning, he was charming and he was genuinely as interested in chicken wings as I am.  As someone who’s had chicken wings every single week since I was 17, Drew’s Festival is right up my alley.  Co Host Matt Sampson also saved the day by filling the Hot Seat on short notice, so it turned into a pretty damned entertaining episode.  And for those who don’t know, ‘Scoville’ is the official heat scale for spicy foods and peppers named after the man who researched it.  Here it is:

Thanks to Drew, Sampson, and of course producer Richard Wicka for holding it all together.  #BigWordsVideo is taking the month of April off, so have a Happy Easter and we’ll see you in May!

Tom

 

h1

Big Words Video 49.1: WingFest Promo Teaser

March 30, 2018

BC1C4D0F-893F-443D-84DE-6D0A3371F8AA

This Bonus clip is really just a glorified ad, but it’s a really tantalizing montage for WingFest.  I’m not really sure what else to say about it.  I’ve gone, I’ve eaten and I’ve had a great time.  If you want a sampler platter of WingFest or if you’ve never been, this should answer all of your burning questions:

Henry Gale was originally cast to Co Host for this episode, and we had a really neat idea, but things fell through and thankfully Matt Sampson came through in the interim.  Some day we might still try that idea, although I’m not sure how it would work with a different guest.  At any rate, KINDLY SUBSCRIBE to my YouTube Channel for bonus clips, every single episode in the order it was intended for and other bonus content.

#BigWordsVideo is taking the month of April off, but we’ll see you at the beginning of May.

Tom

h1

Big Words I Know By Heart Episode 48: ‘Certified’

March 3, 2018

16938E98-2195-4684-B8C0-A3B86005FB92

Up until the show, Frank Pusateri was someone I’d travelled in the same circles with (even rubbed elbows with), but never officially met.  During my time writing bar reviews for Night Life Magazine (2000-2009), I’d been to more than my share of Night Life Music & Club Awards.  Simply put, it’s the biggest night in Buffalo for the local music community.  Everybody who’s anybody is under one roof.  This year it’s at The Cove on Thursday, March 8th.

Having just released a book (‘Only Gambling’) about a lucky streak on casino slot machines, Frank popped up on my radar again, so I took the opportunity to book him.  On top of that, he won an Emmy Award and he’s received 25 different Buffalo Music Awards including Top Pop Bassist three times in a row along with an induction into the Buffalo Music Hall Of Fame.  Frank’s written what happens to be a really entertaing read, and I told him as much.

This episode also marks the fourth time Night Life Publisher Ed Honeck has been on the show.  As I told Ed, he’s always welcome.  Between his plugs and Frank’s plugs, we had a tough time fitting them all in and even left some on the table (literally).  Check it out HERE:

Thanks to Frank, Ed and as always, producer Richard Wicka for housing my three ring circus.  Frank whipped up some great Bonus clips, so check those out further down this page.

Don’t adjust your set,

Tom

h1

Big Words Video 48.1: ‘Only Gambling’ & 48.2: ‘Leaf In A Storm’

March 2, 2018

6ADD4F4B-75B5-42FC-A007-1D5EB521EECD

I normally ask an upcoming guest for ONE video clip to supplement the show.  Poor Frank got propositioned for two.  He’s promoting his new book ‘Only Gambling’, but I didn’t want to ignore his rich history on the Buffalo music scene.  So there you have it.  Frank’s homework was more complicated than guesting on the show!  He came through with flying colors, though.  Big Words Video 48.1 is a quick forward to Pusateri’s book complete with fancy graphics and a ticker-tape banner along the bottom read by the author.  You can get a taste for the stream-of-consciousness writing style in the book right HERE:

The flip side of the coin is an original song written & performed by Frank’s band Only Humen.  Check that one out right HERE:

A sincere thanks goes out to Only Frank for putting the time in to create two great clips.  A sincere thanks goes out to YOU when you FREE SUBSCRIBE to my YouTube Channel.  I may have said this before, but if you’re not subscribed, you’re missing more than half of what the show has to offer.  Find out what you’re missing by seeing the show in the order it was intended for, bonus clips and other additional SECRET content.

#BigWordsVideo returns in March!

Tom

 

h1

Big Words I Know By Heart Episode 47: ‘Maquette’

February 15, 2018

A22C2E3F-B4D1-4F47-B29E-77DB3076F63C

It’s better to have too many questions and not get to all of them than not enough and too much time left on the show clock.  That’s exactly what happened with this episode.  During show prep, I usually don’t feel ‘comfortable’ going into the studio until I have roughly three pages of questions in a 14 point font including the intro paragraph and the outro plug (which, by the way, I haven’t used for quite a few seasons).  With practical Special Effects producer, writer, actor, director and Craft Services point man John Renna, I’m not sure if we even got through ten questions.

The man was larger than life both in stature and excitability.  I can see why he’s an excellent pitch man for investors and movie distribution companies.  I had to pick my spots to interject and jump in on the conversation, which is just fine by me.  This was former guest Michael O’Hear’s 3rd time in the Co Host Hot Seat, and I found him to be confusingly cordial with me whereas he was a bit prickly and grumpy last time on.  That could have had more to do with a full day on set over the summer, but whatever the case, I still find him fascinating.  See how it all shook out right HERE:

Thanks to Renna, O’Hear, and the ever-ready Richard Wicka for producing the show.   Due to last-minute licensing logistics, there is no Big Words Video Bonus clip to accompany this episode, and that’s all I’ll say on that matter.  What I WILL say is that you should SUBSCRIBE to my Channel (bigwordsmailbag@yahoo.com) to show your free support for the show and to check out all of the other cool bonus content.

#BigWordsVideo shall return this month with author and Emmy-award-winning musician Frank Pusateri along with the Honorable Ed Honeck as Co Pilot.

Don’t you touch that Internet Dial!

Tom

h1

Big Words I Know By Heart Episode 46: ‘Impresario’

January 1, 2018

IMG_2765

One of the most difficult parts of the job as a host with a guest like Sabrina Pena Young is wondering which parts of her varied career to touch down on.  Maybe I’m a little too OCD with my research, but as a mixed media artist (films, music and books), there was a lot of ground to cover.  So we started with her ‘New Genre’ award-winning virtual opera ‘Libertaria’ and worked our way out from there.  Perennial Co Host Terry Kimmel made a great addition, not to mention the fact that both of them are part of the Buffalo Movie and Video Makers (BMVM) together.  We had a lot of laughs and touched a nerve when it came to ‘Trolls’ while we were at it.  Check it out:

Thanks to Sabrina, Terry and, as always, producer Richard Wicka for producing and encouraging.  For all the knocks I give Terry, he’s been incremental to the show, and his help and advisement about the Buffalo film community (in which he’s very active on all fronts) has been monumental.

It should also be noted that Facebook has labeled this clip as ‘Unsafe’, so the link has been erased from their algorithm.  Going forward, I will no longer be able to promote the show on FB that way that I used to, so please do the show a favor and SUBSCRIBE (Richard Wicka’s account) to it on YouTube along with subscribing to my personal account on YouTube (Big Words I Know By Heart) for the compendium clips.  No one involved with the show makes any money off of it and it’s going to stay that way.  I made a conscious decision not to run ads for the bonus clips because it annoys me personally when I’m watching videos on YouTube.  So please SUBSCRIBE for free and show your support for the show.  We do it for the artists and the Views.

Thanks for watching and we’ll see you in a month!

Tom

h1

Big Words Video 46.1: ‘Behind The Scenes’ and 46.2: ‘Spiritus’

December 31, 2017

IMG_2763

I’ll say this about filmmaker, composer and author Sabrina Pena Young.  She came prepared.  Not only did she have two professional Bonus clips to round out the show episode, but she chose to share an exclusive sneak peek at her upcoming virtual opera ‘Spiritus’ with my viewers.  I continue to be surprised and amazed by the variety and the quality of the show’s compendium clips.

Young’s first clip, ‘Behind The Scenes’ is a riveting retrospective of her work with voiceover narration.  It can be seen HERE:

Sabrina’s second clip is the standalone teaser trailer for ‘Spiritus’.  That’s right HERE:

Thanks to Sabrina for putting the time and the work in.  She’s got a very impressive body of work between her films, music and companion novels and she did an awesome job of summarizing all of it in her retrospective.

#BigWordsVideo shall return in January!

 

h1

Big Words I Know By Heart Episode 45: ‘Verisimilitude’

December 2, 2017

A0437D70-7650-481A-9444-AFC90CF3C252

As soon as I saw Arnold Palmer in Rhonda Parker’s uproariously funny speed-dating film gone horribly wrong ‘Lonely Bananas’, I knew I had to get actor Brad Spiotta on the show.  He brought the character to life with his own wardrobe choices, mannerisms and speech patterns, and the results were a riot.  Spiotta was a solid interview: humble, charming and quick with his responses.  I got a little frustrated wth Brad and Rhonda because my usual pop culture references weren’t catching with them, but it still made for a great episode.  Decide for yourself:

Thanks to Spiotta, Parker and of course Richard Wicka for supporting and enduring my nonsense.  We’ve got another stellar line-up for December, so don’t you touch that internet dial!

Tom

h1

Big Words Video 45.1: Brad Spiotta-‘Past Hauntings’

December 2, 2017

064D2D01-F14C-49DC-BCDA-DBAEEF23C38D

Maybe I hammer too hard sometimes on the importance and choice involved with each guest selecting a Bonus clip, but actor Brad Spiotta provided a really good one, and the timing couldn’t have been any better.  With a half hour to shoot each episode, there’s barely enough time for the interview, let alone the time to set a clip up, roll it and then react to it.  Hence the Bonus clips.  Compendiums to each episode where the guest can do whatever they wish.  Hot on the heels of his ‘Best Actor’ win at the Halloween Short Film Festival, Spiotta decided to share the short film that earned him the gold.  Here it is:

Solid cinematography, good pacing, great acting.  Thanks to Brad for taking it seriously.  Oh yeah, and would you mind FREE SUBSCRIBING to my Channel already?      100 clips on the Playlist and a few more Followers would sure put a spring in my step.

I’ll see you all in a month!

Tom

h1

Big Words I Know By Heart Episode 44: ‘Tenacity’

October 30, 2017

F9F6E594-4A40-47BD-80F8-952ED04C6DD4As former guest Emil Novak said, author Gary Earl Ross is the real deal.  His bibliography is gigantic and varied, from murder mysteries to courtroom dramas to anthologies to poems to historical ‘speculative fiction’, if he hasn’t done it all, he will by the time he’s done.  While I don’t think we ever officially crossed paths in the last twenty years, we certainly travelled in a lot of the same circles, so it was really nice to finally sit down, meet the man and get into his career in depth.  Here are the results:

Thanks as usual to producer Richard Wicka for putting a bow around it, Gary for coming on and Co Host Lori Lume for making time for us.  Contrarily, I’ve known Lori since the notorious Buffalo Small Press Book Fair of ‘08 (where we got into very real and serious trouble for excessive use of a bike horn).

Hey, do us all a favor and SUBSCRIBE to the show for updates on new shows, bonus clips and other miscellany.  It’s the other red button on the YouTube dashboard.

See you all soon,

Tom

 

h1

Big Words Video 44.1: Gary Earl Ross-‘Afterward’

October 28, 2017

EC4ED5B9-DAE0-4E65-917D-E5B7DB39B784

I was almost entranced watching Gary Earl Ross read for this Bonus clip.  There are authors who don’t give readings at all in public, authors like me who stammer through their work and don’t rehearse ahead of time, and then there are authors like Gary, who reads in a calm, cool and collected manner, pacing himself, reading for an audience and hammering on the right passages for dramatic impact.  I’m not sure if he picked up that talent during his years as a professor, throughout all of his years at scheduled readings, or if he’s simply at peace with himself and his finished products.  It made for a great clip, though.  Here goes:

To give the man one more plug for good measure, you can find out more about Gary’s books, plays and career at: garyearlross.net

#BigWordsVideo shall return…

Tom

h1

Big Words I Know By Heart Episode 43: ‘Exuberance’

September 30, 2017

B6A648D7-4259-4672-9336-E5230BE962A8

I stumbled onto Rochester comedienne Madelein Smith’s standup about a year ago.  After seeing her Julie Andrew’s singing Lil’ Kim bit, I knew I had to at least try to get her on the show.  She has a, well, an exuberance on stage that’s outstanding.  Her on-stage persona is strong, theatrical, charismatic and very, very funny.  This was a strong episode, and Mark McElligott is a perennial co-host who can roll with the punches no matter who the guest is.  Check it out:

Thanks to producer Richard Wicka, Madelein and McElligott for helping to make a solid show.  Thanks are also in order to musician Roger Pleasant of UpRise studios for a new show theme rendition that, unfortunately, didn’t come through on the sound boards.  We’ll try harder next time.

See you in a month!

Tom

h1

Big Words Video 43.1: Madelein Smith-‘Crowd Work’

September 29, 2017

BD506385-5AA1-4DA7-B885-445EADCCABE0

I can honestly say there’s no Bonus clip quite like this one.  While Madelein has a lot of slick, polished and professional clips from her long, varied and award-winning standup career, this one is something else.  This particular clip is any stand-up comic’s dream.  Madelein has to deal with a heckler at a small bar in Tonawanda who won’t shut up, so what does she do?  She lights the guy up.   For about seven straight minutes.  Check it out here:

 

 

Thanks to Madelein for the unique footage.

#BigWordsVideo returns in October!

Tom

h1

Big Words I Know By Heart Episode 42: ‘Nepotism’

September 7, 2017

IMG_2510

Almost a decade ago (when I was just getting the audio podcast off the ground), I somehow hit stride on the time frame and the level of wrongness by Episode IV lacing into my Uncle Dick.  Out of over 100 shows and clips, Episode IV and V remained as fan favorites because they were brutal, unforgiving and ferocious.  You can still listen to them on the Internet Archive.  There’s also a quick link to the right of this Home Page.

Now that we’re four years into #BigWordsVideo, I’ve been taking some calculated risks with the guests and getting around to guests that I’ve wanted to have on since the planning stages.  Dick was at the top of the list.  I’m always going to be harsher on family and friends than I would ever be out of the gate with people I’ve never met before, or that I don’t have a personal relationship.  My Uncle Dick is the champ.  He didn’t flinch and I didn’t expect him to.  Diabetes Dave has a quiet intensity that lends itself well to the show too.  Feast your eyes on THIS:

HEY!  Kindly SUBSCRIBE, will ya?!

Thanks as always to producer Richard Wicka, ‘The Other Richard’ Dick Lobdell and Diabetes Dave for coming through in a pinch.  Season 4 is off to a good start.  No end in sight.  Yet.

See you at the end of the month!

Tom

h1

Big Words Video 42.1 & 42.2: Dick Lobdell-‘It’s Hard To Be Humble’ & ‘Angel’s Song’

September 5, 2017

jobaselevatorrepairman[2]

Growing up with my uncle, we got a lot of campfire concerts on demand, so it wasn’t difficult to throw a few requests out for the Bonus clips for this episode.  ‘It’s Hard To Be Humble’ by Mac Davis is just a really funny song that Dick made his own.  ‘Angel’s Song’ is an original composition of Dick’s that he prefaced with a touching story about his granddaughter’s wedding ceremony.  Check them out right here:

I WISH I could tell you there was more music, but you’d have to be a SUBSCRIBER to the #BigWordsVideo Youtube Channel to figure that out.  I still want to capture one of Dick’s bonfire concerts on video.  There’s always next year.

#BigWordsVideo shall return!

Tom

h1

Big Words I Know By Heart Episode 41: ‘Displacement’

August 12, 2017

IMG_2443

Stand-up comic Daniel McArdle is young, ambitious, eager, and yes, funny in a way that draws from his strengths, so it’ll be interesting to see how he does hosting the Rust Belt Comedy Showcase at Nietzsche’s on Tuesday nights.  When I was doing my prep work for the show, every single comic I talked to had nothing but nice things to say about him, which is rare.  Former guest and Co Host Clayton Williams a.k.a. ‘The Maestro Of Comedy’ is either a natural, a savant or one of the hardest working comics on the scene, because his stand-up kills me.  Having those two in the studio together made for a really entertaining episode.  Find out for yourself:

Thanks of course to McArdle, Williams and obviously producer Richard Wicka for coordinating everything.  Comedians make perfect guests for the show because they’re fast, they’re funny, and they don’t flinch from the questions.  #BigWordsVideo blasts off into Season 4 later this month with a guest who’s been a long time coming.  Tune in to Episode 42 or Free Subscribe to the Show to find out!

Tom

 

h1

Big Words Video 41.1: Daniel McArdle-‘Big Fat Shame’

July 31, 2017

IMG_2445

Helium Comedy Club’s annual ‘Buffalo’s Funniest Person’ contest is a really big deal for local standup comics.  My latest guest, Dan McArdle, did not take home the gold.  That honor was awarded to former guest and co-host Jameel Key, who’s also extremely funny.  McArdle was kind enough to provide his clip from the contest for Big Words Video.  Every comic has their own style and their own approach to the stage.  Dan’s is one part awkwardness, one part awe-shucks and another part that’s nakedly honest.  He’s a very likeable guy.  And yes, funny.  So check out the Bonus clip!:

Thanks to Daniel for providing such a professional clip to bookend the episode.  If you want to, you know you can SUBSCRIBE to the Show channel for updates on new episodes, Bonus clips and other secret content, right?

#BigWordsVideo shall return in a month,

Tom

h1

Big Words I Know By Heart Episode 40: ‘Transference’

July 14, 2017

IMG_2398

In the midst of all my movie-related research for the past three years on the show, actor Alexander Sloan McBryde has popped up a lot.  The guy’s a natural.  I’m not an actor, so I’m not sure what techniques he employs and I don’t care.  He’s got ‘it’.  Whether it’s a bit part or a feature role, he lights up the screen every time I’ve seen him, so it was only a matter of time before I landed him on the show.  He was a great guest: animated, lively and intelligent.  We were lucky enough to get Jason John Beebe back in the Co Host Hot Seat and master thespian Michael O’Hear scored special guest status.  It made for a solid show.  See for yourself:

A big thanks goes out to Alexander, Jason and Michael for making a phenomenal episode.  And as always, thanks to producer Richard Wicka for orchestrating behind the scenes.  #BigWordsVideo returns in two weeks with comedian Daniel McArdle, so don’t touch that…internet?

Tom

h1

Big Words Video 40.1: Alexander Sloan McBryde-‘Inside The Actors’

July 7, 2017

IMG_2404

Episode 40 and the companion Bonus clip were exactly what I needed after Episode 39.  Meeting actor Alexander Sloan McBryde and seeing him riff with fellow established actors (who often share the same IMDB credits) was fantastic.  The vibe in the studio was great, the chemistry was perfect and the talent level was off the charts.  I handed over the Sony PJ340 to McBryde literally seconds after the episode was over and he kicked into high gear grilling Co Host Jason John Beebe (pronounced Bee-Bee!) and interviewing Buffalo institution Michael O’Hear.  Here were 3 men who didn’t take themselves too seriously comfortable enough with their level of talent to let that translate on the silver screen, the small screen and all parts in between.  Roll that clip!:

Season 3 of Big Words Video is drawing to a close with one more episode to shoot.  Do us all a favor and SUBSCRIBE to the show for FREE on YouTube.  A few Likes and Shares wouldn’t hurt either.

Seeya soon,

Tom

h1

Big Words I Know By Heart Episode 39: ‘Agrarian’

June 22, 2017

IMG_2381

To be completely honest, this was an episode where I was relieved when it was over and done with.  It’s no fault of the band’s, but the Big Words Poltergeist reared it’s ugly head, we got off to a really rough start on the episode and the chemistry was all wrong.  The two main cameras that I rely on during the show were set on Demo Mode right out of the gate.  My co-host (who had a calm demeanor and would have been terrific paired with anyone else) didn’t really mesh with West Of The Mark.  West Of The Mark didn’t really mesh with me.  I’d rather not dissect and extrapolate what and how many things went wrong, but just about everything went wrong.  At the very least, we got some laughs in and nobody died.  See for yourself:

Thanks to West Of The Mark, Joe and producer Richard Wicka for getting me through this.  There’s a new episode rolling out next week and even by accident, it’s bound to go smoother than the one that preceded it.

Tom

 

h1

Big Words Video 39.1: ‘My Church’ & 39.2: ‘Wagon Wheel’ w/West Of The Mark

June 8, 2017

IMG_2378

After a lot of misunderstandings, miscommunications and technical difficulties, we filmed the Big Words Video Bonus clips with country supergroup West Of The Mark before the episode of the show as opposed to afterward.  The less said, the better.  They’re a great band and a great group of guys with amazing talent, so please don’t try to read between the lines here.  This is one of those cases where I feel as if the Bonus clips will hold up better over time than the episode itself, though.  Their harmonies are incredible, their timing as a band is really impressive, and to think that they’ve been playing together in one iteration or another for as long as I’ve been a professional writer is miraculous.

Their cover of ‘My Church’ was their pick.  ‘Wagon Wheel’ was a request for my son Benjamin, who loves the Darius Rucker version as well as the original recording by Old Crow Medicine Show.  I was shocked to find out that Bob Dylan co-wrote the song, and that I didn’t know that until I was crediting the clips.  You learn something new every year.  Please enjoy:

 

A big thanks goes out to West Of The Mark for lugging their equipment into the studio, lugging it out and then lugging it in again.  Thanks also to producer Richard Wicka for being patient with the show’s production in the summer when our friendship is strained and we only see each other on the way in and on the way out of each show.  Rich has a strict ‘No Drums, No Bass’ rule that I wasn’t aware of.  I’ll have to remember that the next time I’m crazy enough to shoehorn an entire band into a shoebox.

Do me a favor and SUBSCRIBE to the Channel already, will ya?  Nobody gets paid, we do this for Views.

#BigWordsVideo shall return this month….

Tom

h1

Big Words I Know By Heart Episode 38: ‘Contingent’

May 4, 2017

IMG_2336

Despite rumors that pop up once in awhile, I have no plans or desires to be a standup comedian.  Writing humor and hosting a comedy talk show are not the same thing.  However, I have a great deal of respect and admiration for standup comics who are good at what they do and I’m always trying to figure out how their thought process works.  Kevin Thomas Jr and Jameel Key are very, very good at what they do but they approach standup from completely different directions.  Kevin has a down-to-earth humility to his delivery and his material paired with the approachability of a college instructor.  Jameel works best when he’s working blue, and his anecdotes and his jokes are so personal that they can’t possibly be anyone else’s.  Getting both of them in the same room for the same show was a case of the stars being in alignment.  This was an episode where I sat back and let these gentleman do what they do best: riff.  See for yourself:

Thanks to Kevin and Jameel for bringing their A game.  Thanks always to producer Richard Wicka for letting us barrel into the studio and hammer out the show.  #BigWordsVideo will be back in 4 weeks with country supergroup West Of The Mark!

Tom

h1

Big Words Video 38.1: Kevin Thomas Jr.-‘Afterglow’

May 2, 2017

IMG_2338

Returning guest and Co Host Jameel Key and I shot the breeze before the episode and  I handed over the Bonus Clip camerawork to him.  We both agreed that Jameel’s clip from Season 1 was bad.  Really bad.  Back then, I had Rob Bender ask Jameel about the evolution of a joke.  It was awkward and starchy.  So I figured I’d let him decide when and how to film Kevin Thomas Jr.  He started rolling right after the episode, which is typically when we all get up, stretch and breathe a sigh of relief.  The three of us had a really good dynamic during the show and Jameel ran with that.  Here’s the result:

Thanks to Jameel for circling back, Kevin for coming on and as always, producer Richard Wicka for having us.  You know how I mention SUBSCRIBING to the channel on YouTube?  For updates, new episodes, that kind of thing?  You should do that.

#BigWordsVideo will return this month with award-winning country band

West Of The Mark!

Tom

 

h1

Big Words I Know By Heart Episode 37: ‘Improvisation’

April 10, 2017

IMG_2303

Van Taylor is one of the nicest guests I’ve had on the show.  Like Ed Honeck told me, the guy’s a saint.  He’s been doing good work for the troops for over three decades, volunteering his time and talents for the Food Bank Of WNY, and he’s just a very positive human being.  Admittedly, I went easier on him when he came on than I have been with a lot of guests in the past because it would be comparable to interrogating Mother Theresa.  He’s a super nice guy.  And what’s funny is that he was originally scheduled (and agreed) to come on my audio podcast back in 2012 and…I stopped doing the audio podcast.  So it took us five years to make it work and even that took one last reschedule because he had a major surgery operation.  Van was worth the wait.  See for yourself:

Thanks to Van for being patient, the Mighty Matt Sampson for co-hosting again and the always lovely Richard Wicka for producing the show.

I’m excited to announce that ‘Buffalo’s Funniest Person’ winner Kevin Thomas will be guesting in 2 weeks with veteran comic, former guest and frequent Helium headliner Jameel Key co-piloting.

Seeya then,

Tom

h1

Big Words Video 37.1: Van Taylor-‘Ain’t No Thang’

April 8, 2017

IMG_2304

Van was kind enough to share an exclusive live performance from the ‘UB On The Green’ concert series at (obviously) the University Of Buffalo.  I told him before the show that I’m a very piano-driven person when it comes to music, and Mr. Taylor does not disappoint.  There’s a reason why he’s been a driving force in jazz music on the front lines and off around the world for over 30 years: he’s that good.  See for yourself:

If you want to see the sheer scope and variety of bonus clips for the show for the last 3 years, SUBSCRIBE to the Channel.  Oh, and you’ll get an update every time a new episode drops.

#BigWordsVideo shall return,

Tom

h1

Big Words I Know By Heart Episode 36: ‘Sequence’

March 31, 2017

IMG_2296

I went on the hunt about a month ago to find some good writers to guest on the show.  Italian novelist Gaia B. Amman came highly recommended and made it to the top of my list.  Her writing style is sharp and colorful, she’s not afraid of the camera and she’s got a great sense of humor.  Her Italian Saga series of books have a cult-like following and she’s very positive and nurturing with her fan base.  I was tying up loose ends on my research before the show and my co-host cancelled an hour and a half before taping.  Heh.  The behind-the-scenes anecdotes for the show are almost as good as the show, but I’m not going to start dishing now.  Terry Kimmel shuffled some personal engagements around in order to co host the show at the eleventh hour.  Here’s the end result:

Big thanks go out to Gaia for jumping through all the pre-show hoops and delivering a really professional #BigWordsVideo bonus clip, and for being a truly entertaining guest.  I owe Terry a large debt of gratitude for showing up under duress and bringing his A game. And as always, thanks to Producer Richard Wicka for wrapping it all up and putting a bow on it.

Please FREE SUBSCRIBE to Richard Wicka’s YouTube as well as mine (bigwordsmailbag@yahoo.com) for updates on new episodes, bonus clips and other hidden content!

That’s all, folks.

Tom

h1

Big Words Video 36.1: Gaia B. Amman-‘Blame It On Nico’

March 30, 2017

IMG_2288

Often before the studio episode I’ll give my guests the option of shooting their own Big Words Video Bonus clip in advance to save time in post-production in the studio.  Once in a blue moon, they do just that.  Author Gaia B. Amman did a great job with her Bonus clip and I joked with her that her title credits and bumper ad at the end of the clip were more professional than anything the show has ever done, and she humbly admitted that she did everything on iMovie.  Check out her reading of Chapter 1 of An Italian Adventure HERE:

One of the many things I was impressed with about Gaia was that she seems to have her marketing, publicity and audio/visual plan all figured out, so thanks to her for prepping a clip ahead of time.

#BigWordsVideo will return NEXT WEEK with jazz great Van Taylor.

Seeya soon,

Tom

 

h1

When Severed Ears Sing You Songs by Justin Karcher

March 14, 2017

IMG_2265

 

“Trying to create miracles for all us dumb fucks

Who just want to see one curse reversed

Before our muscles betray our bones”

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

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

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

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

-Tom Waters

h1

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

March 3, 2017

img_2279

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

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

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

Tom

h1

Big Words Video 35.1: John Valby-‘Topical’

March 2, 2017

img_2273

Yikes.

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

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

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

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

Onward and upward,

Tom

h1

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

January 28, 2017

img_2233

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

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

See you again in 2 weeks,

Tom

h1

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

January 28, 2017

img_2234

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

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

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

Seeya soon,

Tom

h1

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

December 31, 2016

15724989_10154657923371014_2218423576871149579_o

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

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

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

Happy New Year!

Tom

h1

Big Words Video 33.1: Clayton Williams-‘Photogenic’

December 29, 2016

img_2207

It’s good to have a backup plan.

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

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

#BigWordsVideo shall return next month!

Tom

h1

Big Words I Know By Heart Episode 32: ‘Prima Facie’

December 10, 2016

img_2175

…which is a legal term for ‘on the face of it.’  I thought it was a good fit for a title because a) Guest Michael Bly is a litigation attorney in addition to being a musician and b) There’s a lot more to him than his party-loving rockstar facade.  This was an episode that was originally scheduled back in November of 2014, but Mike had to cancel at the last minute due to traffic coming home from a Bills game in Michigan or something like that.

I’ve known Michael Bly since somewhere around 2005.  Recollection is hazy because I drank quite a bit back then, but I’m pretty sure longtime pal Gregg Sansone introduced me to him at The Hidden Shamrock (now shuttered) in Depew during a Night Life magazine assignment.  We just keep bumping into each other.  Mike was kind enough to do 2 hours of the Big Words Radio podcast back in its’ heyday and even circled back for the Big Words Radio Finale Roast that was supposed to be a joke but actually came true.  For those of you who want to hear the podcasts, you can click the link to the right on the page here or just search it on the Internet Archive.  Not sure if this is too much backstory, but again, I’m trying to do a bit more than just ‘Here’s the episode, please watch it.’  He’s a charming person, a talented musician and yes, he’s a really, really nice guy.  I met Co Host Jason Garra during a Buffalo News review assignment at Woody’s Pub in Lackawanna when he was with band-in-residence Helicopter Pilot.  It made for a cozy, hopefully entertaining show:

Thanks to Bly, Garra and producer Richard Wicka for another enjoyable outing.  Now that I’m don’t hit the bars anymore, it’s good to find an excuse to catch up with old friends who are still on the circuit.  For the love of God and all that’s holy, SUBSCRIBE for new shows, bonus clips and additional unlockable content!  Comedian Clayton Williams will be joining me at month’s end along with actress/comedienne/cosplayer Becca Barnum.  Don’t adjust your laptops, monitors and tablets!

Tom

h1

Big Words Video 32.1: ‘This Love’ & 32.2: ‘Buffalo’-Performed by Michael Bly!

December 9, 2016

img_2177

I’m always at a loss for how to present the #BigWordsVideo Bonus clips here above and beyond ‘Here’s the clips.  Click here.’  This time, I’ll share a little story behind the clips.  Unfortunately, Michael Bly’s favorite guitar was stolen a few weeks ago, so he brought a new-ish guitar (make and model already forgotten) to the studio with him.  We were unsure if his acoustic would even work if we plugged it into producer Richard Wicka’s sound board, so we improvised by placing one of the headsets in front of the guitar and Mike kept his headset on his head.  The sound came out incredibly well, but if you watch the videos, you’ll see a foam microphone sticking up from the bottom left corner of the screen.  It all worked out in the end.  Hence we have Big Words Video 32.1 with a very entertaining rendition of Maroon 5’s ‘This Love’ (from their Songs About Jane album over a decade ago) and Big Words Video 32.2 wherein Michael performs his original song ‘Buffalo’ from his second album, Stay True.  

I’m always amazed when we have a musician in the studio and they bring their A game under less-than-ideal conditions, so thank you to Michael for that.  We’ve been friends for a very, very, very long time, and I have to say that his vocals and his guitar-playing have improved by leaps and bounds from our days back at the Hidden Shamrock in the stone ages.  Thanks as always to Richard Wicka and to Jason Garra for bringing his A game in the Co Host Hot Seat.

And please, pretty please, SUBSCRIBE to the CHANNEL for updates on new shows, more bonus content and other miscellany!

#BigWordsVideo is doubling up for December, so I’ll see you in less than 3 weeks!

Happy Holidays,

Tom

h1

Big Words I Know By Heart Episode 31: ‘Emanata’

November 28, 2016

Comic writer/artist Jason Yungbluth and I share the same twisted mindset.  We originally met back in 2002 for one of my very first ArtVoice print interviews (back when I was freelancing) and hit it off right from the jump.  His ongoing comic Deep Fried stands next to Reid Fleming: World’s Toughest Milkman as one of the funniest, most off-the-wall comics I’ve ever read.  His art isn’t the weaker end of the bargain either.  Going back through his issues to prep for the show, I picked up some strong shades of R. Crumb, a little Bill Wray and his own distinctive style, which is just…fully realized.  As co-host Mark McElligott put it, ‘He’s got IT.’  After the interview, Jason moved to Rochester to blaze his own trail and find a larger comic market.  This was the first time we’d been in the same room together since ’02.  It was more fun than I expected.

Thanks to Jason, Mark and the ever-present producer Richard Wicka for a great episode.  I’ve got a soft spot for the comic book industry, and I wish I could land more local talent in the field.  Oh and hey, SUBSCRIBE to the show for updates, bonus clips, yada yada.  A thumbs up wouldn’t hurt, either.

#BigWordsVideo is doubling down in December, so don’t adjust your monitors.

Tom

h1

Big Words Video 31.1, 2 & 3: Trilogy of…?

November 28, 2016

I was trying to come up will some alliteration there, but I’m at a loss for words at the diversity and ingenuity of the following 3 Bonus clips.  Guest Jason Yungbluth was kind enough to provide a dark, gritty, gruesome trailer for his incredible 400 page Weapon Brown graphic novel as well as a holiday-themed stop-motion festive pancake clip that’s also wrong on a number of levels.  Check ’em out:

Conversely, perennial Co Host Mark McElligott brought something to show, too.  His lifelong project and character Starchy is almost a reality.  You can check out one of his animated cartoons to promote the project right HERE:

Thanks to Jason and Mark for bringing a level of professionalism with their videos that is heretofore absent from most of my proceedings.  I like the variety and the breadth of their humor showcased in these clips.

#BigWordsVideo shall return.  Sooner than you think.  Please SUBSCRIBE in the meantime.

Tom

h1

Travesty & Mockery iBooks/Pulp 716 next Saturday!

November 4, 2016

travesty cover jpeg

I figured it was time to join the ebook revolution.  While studies have shown that a lot of readers are switching back to print books, I personally prefer to read digitally.  It takes up less shelf space and the books are cheaper.  In addition to designing the layout and interior for the print copy of Travesty, Bill Dyson quietly worked on the ebook editions for both Travesty and it’s predecessor, Mockery.  You can find them both for $9.99 and $6.99 (respectively) right HERE:

Travesty

Mockery

And finally, I’ll be signing books next Saturday afternoon, November 12th at Pulp 716 in Lockport along with cover artist and pal Mark McElligott.  Due to old age and other obligations, I won’t be promoting Travesty as actively as I used to, so this may be your only chance to get a signed copy of it before spring.  I hope to see you there!

Sincerely,

Tom

 

h1

Big Words I Know By Heart Episode 30: ‘Grand Guignol’

October 28, 2016

img_2137

So here’s how this episode went down.  Last year, when Rhonda Parker was on, she name-dropped Michael O’Hear and Jason John Beebe.  In the heat of the moment (and because I think it’s funny to quip back while we’re rolling) and, to be honest, I said ‘Never heard of ’em.’  I still don’t know much about the film scene, but I felt like and asshole, and afterwards, I figured it would balance out my karma to have them both on down the road.  Michael O’Hear came on back around…January and Jason and I finally coordinated our schedules this month.  He was a great interview: quick, funny, and just a super-nice guy with quite a list of film credits for…whatever age he happens to be.  Here’s the episode:

Fun fact: ‘Grand Guignol’ literally means ‘large puppet’ in French, so I felt that the title worked on two levels.  Thanks to producer Richard Wicka, Beebe for fitting us in during his ‘Crossbreed’ location shoot in Buffalo, and perennial co-host Terry Kimmel for enduring a Herculanean amount of punishment.  SUBSCRIBE, LIKE, SHARE, RT…do whatever you’ve gotta do to get the word out!  We don’t do it for any money, but we do it for your love and admiration, so spread it around!

Tom

h1

Big Words Video 30.1: Jason John Beebe-‘Uber’ (Rough Cut)

October 27, 2016

The actors and directors who’ve come on the show so far have continued to amaze me with the quality and diversity of their Bonus clips.  ‘Uber’ director Mick O’Donald was kind enough to give us permission to share the web series he’s working on with Beebe.  It is a ‘rough cut’, so it still needs a soundtrack, editing and a lot of other production-type things that are out of my realm of experience, but it looks promising.  The first episode is a fun blend of ‘Curb Your Enthusiasm’ meets ‘Taxicab Confessions’.  Give it a look-see:

Thanks again to Mick O’Donald for the assist and the upcoming series!  For those of you who enjoy the Bonus clips (or #BigWordsVideo in general), there is no Indie Go Go.  We don’t even have a Kickstarter.  It’s not about money.  So do us a solid and SUBSCRIBE to the show for FREE!  You’ll get updates and notifications when new episodes hit!

#BigWordsVideo will return in November with Rochester cartoonist and Buffalo native Jason Yungbluth!

See you in the funny papers,

Tom

h1

Big Words I Know By Heart Episode 29: ‘Aberrant’

October 9, 2016

img_2098

Why are we always so cruel to the ones we love?

I’ve got nothing but love for Jesse Winterhalter’s brand of stand-up comedy.  It’s personal, it’s uncomfortable and he forces you to question your deeply held truths.  His podcast (‘Doing Nothing Is Art’) is one of the most professional podcasts I’ve ever heard, his stream-of-consciousness delivery is incredibly honest, and he’s smart.  Can you tell I like the guy?  He made for a great guest.  Roger Pleasant, it turns out, is a lot slicker when he’s behind the camera rather than the front of it.  Give it a watch:

Thanks are in order to producer Richard Wicka, Winterhalter and Pleasant for a solid episode.  I’m rooting for guys like Jesse.  Buffalo needs more of them.

Tom

h1

Big Words Video 29.1: Jesse Winterhalter-‘This Is A Comedy Show’

October 7, 2016

About a year ago when I was shooting video for Heather Stack’s appearance on #BigWordsVideo at the Tudor Lounge, I saw Jesse’s stand up act for the first time.  He’s got this magic combination of intellect, hilarity and…a very dark place.  His set was fantastic.  With everyone else who was booked, it took a year before he could come on the show.  Thankfully, Jesse got Roger Pleasant, Roger’s four duffle bags of cameras and myself in for his headlining stint at The Tralf for ‘This Is A Comedy Show’.  It made for a great Bonus clip:

This is the part where I beseech you to SUBSCRIBE to the show for more Bonus clips, behind-the-scenes footage and other surprises.  So do that.  #BigWordsVideo will return this month with actor Jason John Beebe!

Seeya soon,

Tom

h1

Big Words I Know By Heart Episode 28: ‘Oracle’

September 9, 2016

image

Lou Fasolino (a.k.a. Lou Forecastolino, a.k.a. WLou) was someone I instantly wanted to book as soon as I saw his weather forecasts.  He’s naturally funny, I could tell he’d be great in an ad lib scenario, and he’s likeable.  He was slated for next March, but after a cancellation for the Season 3 Opener of #BigWordsVideo, I asked and he accepted.  He’s even more likeable in person.  It was a well-rounded show with Brian ‘The House’ Platter returning to the Co Host Hot Seat.  Even with a month’s notice, Lou’s producer failed to supply a bonus clip, so this episode shares the unique distinction of having no complementary or supplemental material.  That’s all I’ll say about that.  Here’s Episode 28:

Please make sure to ‘Like’ and ‘Share’ as if your life depends on it.  Thanks to producer Richard Wicka, Fasolino and Platter for filling in in a pinch.  Even with two years under our belts it feels like I’m just getting warmed up.  Stand-up comic Jesse Winterhalter strikes later this month for Episode 29, so #BigWordsVideo will return…

Tom

h1

Travesty Now Available!

August 19, 2016

image

I’m pleased to announce that Travesty, my 12th book, has been released!  After five years of writing it on and off (before and after Icarus On The Mend, my limited print run memoir), proofreading, polishing and then collaborating with Mark McElligott on the wraparound cover art as well as graphic designer Bill Dyson on the interior, fonts and book design, Travesty is live and ready for purchase.  You can buy the book direct from lulu.com HERE:

Travesty

There’s also a permanent Quick Link on this site’s ‘Link Section’ for return visitors.  For reasons having mostly to do with my work schedule, I will not be actively promoting the book until late October, so you can buy BEFORE the official launch on lulu. Amazon.com, B&N.com and other fine retailers in the mean time.

This book was a direct sequel to my 2011 humor collection Mockery, so if you enjoyed it, you can get more of what you loved here.  Every book evolves in some unpredictable way while I’m working on it, and this one went from my trademark psychotic rage-based rants into more of a throwback silliness that I had when I initially started writing in my teens.  It’s also the first collection that was laid out according to theme instead of a chronological table of contents.  Three essays were cut, the proofreading process was rigorous and the final edition underwent a font size expansion for those of us who don’t like to squint.  I’m very proud of it, and McElligott and Dyson both did a terrific job with the small suggestions and concepts I bounced off of them.

In addition, this is the first Doubt It Publishing title to be launched with it’s own ISBN number.  That may not mean much to you, but that’s a serious sea change in the way I’m doing business and the way the book is distributed.  At 40 years old with 12 books behind me, I’ve started making an effort to preserve what I have while planning for the future.  Travesty is not my final book, but I’m taking a break before I chart a new course.  I hope you enjoy it.  This won’t be the last time you hear about it.  Please help spread the word by Sharing the link on your social media, ‘Like’ the book on Facebook,  List the book if you’re a Goodreads member and by all means, tell all your friends!

Sincerely,

Tom

h1

Big Words I Know By Heart Episode 27: ‘Monarch’

August 13, 2016

image

It’s been a busy summer!  Between polishing and preparing Travesty and wrapping up Season 2 of #BigWordsVideo, I’ve been remiss in posting this last episode.  I booked ‘Persona’ writer/director Charlie Simmons back around September of 2015 and he rode out from Rochester last month to tape the show.  Actress/model Airy Nikohl came up from Niagara Falls.  To make things even more interesting, I hadn’t met or spoken to either of them until we got in the studio.  The results were pretty cool.  Find out for yourself:

Find the time to SUBSCRIBE to Big Words I Know By Heart on YouTube.  Thanks are in order to Charlie, Airy and, as always, Producer Richard Wicka for indulging us.  Season 3 rolls out at the end of the month and we’re just hitting our stride.

Stay tuned,

Tom

h1

Big Words Video 27.1: Persona Web Series Teaser

August 6, 2016

This Bonus clip is pretty self explanatory.  Director Charlie Simmons has been working overtime to make his Persona project perfect.  How’s that for alliteration?!  He was kind enough to bring a really slick teaser in with exclusive content for my viewers.  You can see the results below:

#BigWordsVideo will return this month for the Season 3 Home Opener!  We’re just getting warmed up…

Tom

 

h1

Travesty Inbound!

July 20, 2016

travesty cover jpeg

Hey all!

After five years of working on the book on and off, rigorous rewrites, edits and scrubbing for typos, #Travesty, my eleventh book of humor, is almost ready!  It clocks in at a respectable 204 pages and it’s going to retail at $19.99.  Above, you’ll see the gorgeous wraparound cover with art by Mark McElligott and fonts William Dyson II.  I’m really excited about this book.  I’ve put a lot of myself into this book.  I can’t wait to share it with all of you, but not yet.  It’ll be ready this fall from Doubt It Publishing!

Stay Tuned,

Tom

h1

Big Words I Know By Heart Episode 26: ‘Matriarch’

July 13, 2016

image

This was an episode I looked forward to taping for a very long time.  I saw Heather’s standup back in September (see below) and, from talking to her on and off, knew she’d be a lot of fun in the studio.  She’s a natural comedienne, she’s funny, off-the-cuff and incredibly clever.  After two co-host hopefuls dropped out, I tapped Brian Bogucki at the last minute and it turned out that he had a Buffalo Comedy connection! Six degrees of Buffalo, indeed.  We all had a great rapport right off the bat before the cameras started rolling.  Some shows are painful to watch afterwards and this wasn’t one of them.  I thought the pacing was great, the jokes were organic and the conversation just flowed.  I wish every comic was this ‘on’ when they came on.  There’s a lot more coming down the pike, too.  In the mean time though, see for yourself:

Thanks to Heather, Brian, and of course producer Richard Wicka for allowing all this insanity in his home every single month.  PLEASE SUBSCRIBE!  #BigWordsVideo will return in roughly two weeks with Rochester director Charlie Simmons!

Tom

h1

Big Words Video 26.1: ‘Lewd & Lascivious’ & 26.2: ‘Lysergic’

July 5, 2016

Comedienne Heather Stack is self-assured, conversational, and yes, really funny on stage.  Since she was originally booked for #BigWordsVideo back in October of 2015, I met her out at her open mic at The Tudor Lounge the month before to shoot some footage.  What follows is her opening set as well as a bonus bumper clip between other comics.  As Heather (and Tyrone Maclin) have explained to me, one of the host’s duties while running an open mic for other comics is not to run too long.  It was fortunate that Heather got a good opening set in before an evening of other great comics.  See for yourself:

 

h1

Big Words I Know By Heart Episode 25: ‘Dramaturgy’

June 23, 2016

image

I’ve been a bad talk show host.

Here we are a week away from the next episode and I’m just posting the previous episode now.  Chalk it up to procrastination, call it the aftermath to my comeuppance, call it whatever you want, but here’s last month’s episode.  I felt ill-prepared and intimidated by my guest Donna Hoke, a playwright, staffer for Buffalo Spree magazine, children’s book author and a lot more.  Maybe I read too far into her personality, maybe not, but it threw me off guard and it was noticeable.  That’s okay, though.  The two questions I ask myself after every show are 1. Was it entertaining? and 2. Was it funny?  I can respond affirmative to both for this show whether it was at my own expense or not.  Justin Karcher was terrific in the Co Host Hot Seat.  See the whole big hot mess for yourself:

 

Thanks are in order to Hoke, Karcher and the always-lovely Richard Wicka.  I’ll see you all back here in approximately one week.  Approximately.

Tom

h1

Big Words Video 25.1: Donna Hoke & Justin Karcher-‘Hamilton’

June 2, 2016

I got the sense that either Donna and Justin hadn’t seen each other in a long time, or that you could lock them both in a room for three days and they’d still be pontificating and arguing when you opened the door.  Quips and gossip and barbs were flying and they downshifted to a delightful debate about Buffalo theater once the camera started rolling after the episode.  See for yourself:

#BigWordsVideo will return later this month with a long-awaited guest spot from award-winning comedienne Heather Stack!

Don’t you touch that dial.

Tom

h1

Wardrobe Malfunction

May 2, 2016

image

Author’s Note:  The good news is that the rough manuscript for my next book Travesty is finally complete.  The downside to is that I’m completely exhausted, so I didn’t write anything new this month.  As a result of that, I’m re-running this popular rant about my lack of fashion sense.  It originally ran on BuffaloComedy.com in early 2015.  Enjoy!-Tom 

I have never been mistaken for a peacock.

My fashion sense makes no sense whatsoever. Throughout my life I’ve been clueless as to what’s hip, what’s sensible or even what’s practical where my wardrobe is concerned. I got off to a very rough start. Early childhood photos feature our hero wearing hand-me-down plaid bellbottoms (long after they were trendy and before they made a comeback), soccer jerseys (which, if memory serves, I only played soccer for a week until a girl kicked me in the shins and I discovered a lifelong disgust for orange rinds) and a candid middle school church play photo where I’m wearing loud orange dress pants with a rayon/polyester flannel. All of these pictures have been destroyed so that no boy ever makes the same mistakes that I’ve made. In 40 years, my dress style has improved at more of a slight geological pace.

Our grammar school Phys Ed coach nicknamed me ‘Tommy Shoelaces’ because I could never be bothered to tie my shoes. There’s a rare First Communion photo with a light gray dress coat and elbow patches, for godsakes. In high school, I accidentally bought a woman’s trench coat from Burlington Coat Factory and wore it for months before somebody pointed it out to me. I didn’t wear jeans until I was about 26 because I thought it was a sign of conformity and now they’re almost all I’ll wear. They’re easy, comfortable and hold up in hardworking environments.

The story goes that Einstein had five identical suits because it saved him from wasting valuable problem-solving when it came time to pick out an ensemble every day. I have also never been mistaken for Einstein. Tim Burton always wears black because it’s an easier wardrobe choice. This hasn’t helped his directing choices as of late. Most men are inherently too lazy to bother figuring out what they want to wear every day. This is a running theme.

It was brought to my attention just this year that turtlenecks are not cool, that they’ve never been cool and that no man should be caught dead wearing them. I never received this alert when it originally aired. What’s wrong with turtlenecks? They worked for Steve Jobs! An entire generation of beatnicks ran with them and they did okay. All of a sudden some fifty years later they’re not ‘hep’ anymore? That’s the problem with fashion trends: they’re so fleeting. I can’t keep up even if I tried or paid attention.

On a sunny day a month ago I notice that a lot of men were wearing soft, almost effeminate pastel plaid short sleeve shirts. I wouldn’t be caught dead wearing one of those. It seems to me like there’s an upper echelon of pretty men who are on the crest of what’s in and what’s out and then there are the great majority of middle-aged men who just grab whatever passes for the new style that happens to come off the rack at Target or J.C. Penney’s. I literally just figured out in January that a ‘Moto’ leather jacket was short for ‘Motorcycle’, which explains why the cuffs are shorter. Perhaps someone pointed that out to me, too.

The women in my life are either very tolerant, love me anyway (with the exception of my ex-wife) or they’re content to make small, subtle suggestions as to what I should or could wear. Or they just assume that I’m stubborn, resistant to change and generally cantankerous. They’re right on all counts. The bulk of my closet (which could never be remotely misconstrued as resembling a wardrobe) consists of free videogame vendor t shirts from a prior job, bizarre impulse purchases from high school that I don’t even fit into anymore but tell myself I may fit into again some day, a few eclectic sweaters that would have made great stand-ins on ‘The Cosby Show’ and comic book themed shirts riddled with cigarette burns from my part time job at a comic shop that’s been closed for at least two years. So to summarize, if you took a cursory glance at my shirts and pants you’d assume that I’ve never gotten laid, will never get laid, and have no plans to get laid even by accident.

Some people want to stamp out world hunger and others aspire to a Pulitzer, but it’s my lifelong dream to have a tailored suit sculpted to my hairless and misproportionate gorilla-like-carriage that I can wear for all of the weddings and funerals that I don’t get invited to. A year and a half ago I stumbled onto a really comfortable $8 cotton shirt. I bought four of them in four different colors. There’s a cargo shorts drawer that’s more of a graveyard for shorts that are destroyed as well as jean shorts, which no one has ever deemed to be in season for any season that occurs on this planet. It would take me three or four incarnations just to be looked down upon by a metrosexual, and I guess I’m okay with that. It’s easier to accept that you have no clue how to dress than to try really hard and fail miserably. Are feather boas coming back around? That’s okay, I don’t have any yet anyway.

I can pull off capri pants, right?
Tom Waters

h1

Poetry Month: Pleasures Of The Damned

April 25, 2016

image

I still had a few lingering thoughts about Poetry Month, so I thought I’d run my 2008 review of Charles Bukowski’s Pleasures Of The Damned.  It was the poet’s final and mammoth posthumous publication.  Bukowski’s impact on free verse cannot be overstated, and without his influence, there would be no Breathing Room(s).  This review originally ran in Buffalo Rising. -Tom

As far as Charles Bukowski’s work is concerned, you either enjoy his work or you don’t. As far as I’m concerned, any artist who can pen 54 books is worth looking into. Almost two years ago, a friend of mine read a poem of his aloud, with a roaring campfire in the background, during a summertime couple’s cocktail get-together–and I was hooked for life.

I’d rather read books, listen to music or watch films from an artist who’s consistently above-par than fixate on the tiny visionaries who knock one or two dingers out of the park and then disappear. It’s a testament to the poet’s already extensive and prolific career that he passed away in 1993, and Ecco books has been publishing uncollected volumes of his work practically every year since. Even death couldn’t shut Bukowski (aka: ‘Henry Chinanski’) up. Sadly, all good things must come to an end, and The Pleasures Of The Damned: Poems, 1951-1993 (Ecco, 2007) marks the final note in a swan song the dead, drunken lout has been singing for fifteen years beyond the grave.
The final note plays like a familiar variation on an old jazz standard because a lot of work previously published in other collections makes a return visit in the pages of this fanatic-magnet of a hardcover. Bukowski’s heirs must have scoured the final drawers in his writing nook for one last run at the residual checks, as a smattering of new, previously uncollected verse can be found peppered throughout.

It doesn’t help that I just recently tore through The Roominghouse Madrigals: Early Selected Poems 1946-1966 (Ecco, 2002) along with The People Look Like Flowers At Last: New Poems (2007). Make no mistake, I don’t regret the purchase, and jump at the chance to buy any hardcover from a writer I’m enthusiastic about. It’s just a bit of a letdown to find out that I’ve already read more than seventy percent of the work within.

If you’ve read Bukowski’s work and you don’t own much of it, or if you want something literary and high-minded to show off on the coffee-table nook for your pretentious cocktail guests or in the bathroom for quick laughs and heartwarming forays into the fragility of the human soul, buy it at once. If (like me), you are systematically collecting everything the author has written and you’re starting with the larger volumes first and working your way down to the slimmer collections, you might want to hold off. There are better posthumous selections out there and they’re all marked up at boutique prices in whichever eccentric local book retailer or soulless conglomerate you can find them.

And for the uninitiated, Buk’s work is certainly worth reading. He was a champion of the underdog and an anti-elitist in the best possible sense of the term. A drunkard, a womanizer, a socially challenged citizen and a compulsive (and mostly successful) gambler at the race track, but a genius just the same. His work truly appeals to poetry lovers who think that they hate poetry. That’s how I got sucked in, and two years later, I’m still voraciously devouring every last verse in whichever books I haven’t bought yet.

Many critics bemoan the fact that his work was more structured, honest and true in the poetic sense before he become an underground sensation among skid row types, loose women and those who aren’t afraid of five to ten stiff drinks. While this may be true, the testament and the sheer weight of his own Akashic library will live on forever. His style of free verse has left a generation-spanning cacophony of enthusiasts, acolytes and derivative hacks. Present party included.

h1

Poetry Month: (homesick) ryan inlet

April 21, 2016

breathing room vol.I cover

I’m going to close out this little exercise with a final poem about a place that’s very dear to my heart: Rushford Lake.  Fun fact: The cover image for Breathing Room Volume I: Free Verse was a picture of my boat dock from our cabin in Rushford.  This poem found its way into Poke The Scorpion With A Sharp Stick (2011, Doubt It Publishing), my third and, in all likelihood, my final book of poetry.  I had a few lingering thoughts about the month that I might entertain next week. 

Thanks for reading!

-Tom

 

(homesick) ryan inlet

cold feet padding past

freezing linoleum

morning fog rolling down

the channel

red embers from the previous

evening’s bonfire cooling

crows caw cacophonously

carp flop out of the water lazily

coffee drips deliberately

quietly counting out the

remaining days of a vacation

my Love shifting

snoozing

tossing/turning

beautifully

first cigarette stings

delicious pang of an

a.m. buzz

1950’s space heater

kicking into first gear

near my toes

lean back into a plush

leather chair that’s been through

three or four generations

three or four different families

ashtray precariously balanced

upon the arm

smoke curling up from a green

mug with coin insignias etched

into the clay

(grandpa’s)

duck’s diving in for a landing

on the middle of a placid

liquid landing strip

curtain’s down at the folk’s cabin

crack another comic book

drop another on the stack of the

finished pile

the start of another perfect day

four left.

h1

Poetry Month: ampersand

April 21, 2016

Here’s another poem from breathing room vol.II: rhymes & relics (2008, Doubt It Publishing).  I’ve always been pretty fond of this one because I love the ampersand icon, the word itself and the repetition throughout.  I hope you like it too.

 

ampersand

with a twinkle in your eyes

& a spring in your step

& the way you smile (lips pursed at the corners)

& your laugh when you can’t hold it in

& the tiny hairs on the small of your back

& the little noise you make when i rub you just right

& how you fit just right in the crook of my arm

& the way you smoke your last cigarette before bed

& your scent next to me when i’m waking up

& watching you naked coming out of the shower

& into the bedroom to get your cotton pajamas

& the quick breath you take coming out of a nap

& the um-hmm you tell me when we’re sharing ice cream

& your body in my arms when you jump up and hug me

& your hair through my fingers when we’re driving home

& holding your tiny hand when we walk through the park

& how you shuffle around in the kitchen when we cook dinner together

& our cat who melts around you and can’t stand me

& the perfect fit we make on the love seat

& the other noises you make with me

& how you can eat a whole bowl of popcorn

& the quick kiss you give me when you just get home from work

& your language with your horses

& when you hog the bed

& spending hours playing computer solitaire

& shuffling bills around

& when you pop in and wrap your arms around me when i write

& how you get goofy after one mixed drink

& your jokes with your immediate family

& the way you look in a formal dress

& when you put up with my friends

& how you make omelet’s better than me

& the two cds you own

& somehow you knew it would all work out

& how you get fired up over the same things i do

& the face you make when i surprise you with a candy bar

& when you cry something breaks inside of me

& you can tease me when no one else is allowed to

& how my friends call you mrs.waters

& your big fluffy bath robe that feels like astroturf

& how bright & professional you look in ten minutes before you leave for work

& how you got me hooked on drinking coffee every day

& here you are & here i am

& you’re part of everything i do & see and i wouldn’t have it otherwise.

h1

Poetry Month: regardless

April 20, 2016

I’m not a fan of overly long introductions for brief poems, so I’ll make this short and to the point: I’ve always enjoyed the idea of starting out with a rigid structure thematically and then breaking it down on the page.  This poem, ‘Regardless’ from breathing room vol. II: rhymes & relics (2008, Doubt It Publishing) does exactly that.  I hope you like it.

regardless of who I am

regardless of what you say

regardless of what This is

regardless of how we feel

regardless of what happens

regardless of the war, the economy, gun control, abortion rights, the stock market,

the flight navigation of endangered birds, the way the wind blows, the trajectory of rockets, the preponderance of lint in pockets, what goes on in the mind of the timid schoolteacher and the fourteen year old boy, the death of the automobile, the death of human thought, the death of good manners, the death of organized religion, the death of a decent conversation, the death of the nuclear family as a concept, the ‘life of the mind‘, the life in the tiniest of all living organisms, the life of random interconnected & almost unseemingly impossible events & the living breathing embodiment of

 

(hope)

 

above all else

regardless of that

& the other thing

 

yet

 

&

 

still

 

here we are.

h1

Poetry Month: Lonely

April 19, 2016

Here’s another little ditty from Breathing Room Vol.I: Free Verse (2008, Doubt It Publishing).  While I am my own worst critic, I don’t hate this one.  We’ll hop over to a different book tomorrow.

Lonely

more often than not

we do it to ourselves

in quiet rooms

silence roaring

watching the sun

slowly race

from one end of the room

to the other

 

stretching the distance

between ourselves

and everyone else

paying more attention

to the buzzing sadness

between our ears

giving in to the little

voice of indecision

screaming itself hoarse

hiding out from

inner peace.

 

h1

Big Words I Know By Heart Episode 24: ‘Ahimsa’

April 13, 2016

image

I’m always more ferocious on the show with my friends because I know they can take it.  Longtime pal and one-man-band Gregg Sansone is certainly no exception.  The kid gloves came off and the laughs broke out in the studio for this explosive, no-holds-barred episode.  Gregg knows how I operate.  Diabetes Dave stepped up to the plate for a return trip to the Co Host Hot Seat.  The chemistry between the three of us was near-perfect.  See for yourself:

Thanks are in order to producer Richard Wicka, Sansone and Diabetes Dave for bringing their A game.  If you like what you see, PLEASE SUBSCRIBE!  And don’t miss the bonus clips below!

Tom

 

h1

Big Words Video 24.1: ‘Me & Julio’ & 24.2: ‘Wandering/High Time Again’

April 13, 2016

Musician Gregg Sansone threw me a curveball in the studio when it came time to record the #BigWordsVideo bonus clips after the episode: He brought his Breedlove guitar.  While I know and love the man for his piano-playing, he’s also an incredible guitarist.  So Gregg pulled up a stool, plugged in and performed Paul Simon’s classic hit ‘Me & Julio (Down By The Schoolyard’ for the first clip and a double header of the James Taylor/Charles Grean song ‘Wandering’ and Gregg’s very own country composition ‘High Time Again’.  Feast your eyes and ears right here:

Now I’m not sure if I’ve said this before, but LIKE & SUBSCRIBE for additional episodes, bonus clips and updates!  We’ll see you all in a month!

Tom

h1

Discourse Correction

April 4, 2016

image

 

“When I have nothing to say my lips are sealed.

Say something once, why say it again?”

-The Talking Heads, ‘Psycho Killer’

Talk doesn’t have to be cheap. One of my bugaboos is meaningless small talk. I would rather wait out a long, uncomfortable silence than fill the void with inane chatter that accomplishes nothing and fails to further conversation. In my line of work, it’s referred to as an ‘ice breaker’, but during the rest of my waking life, I’d vastly prefer a dead vacuum of words instead of offering up nonsense.

It’s been said that you should never talk about politics, religion or the weather. I don’t remember if that was in reference to sales, getting your hair cut, foreplay or simply polite discussion between strangers, but nobody abides by that rule. People who talk about the weather make me fucking nuts. In Buffalo, debate and dissent regarding the weather is a living, breathing, malleable organism, and everyone has a talent for locking and passing along the most far-fetched, fantastical forecast. Given a range of light flurries or the next ice age, your average horse’s ass will throw out ‘Fred The Weather Clown is calling for a meteor the size of Brazil made of solid black ice followed by a flurry of dippable Dots.’ Out of a hundred predictions, average temperatures and year-over-year norms, it’s never a middle-of-the-road prediction. Maybe that says more about the dolts who drudge it up to perfect strangers, maybe not: ‘Team Hurricane 3000 claims an 84% chance of Armageddon preceded by lakes of fire and spotting in women aged 55 to 60.’ It must be Biblical fact then.

Sports fans make the rather large assumption that you also like talking about sportsing. I don’t. My friend Rich plays into this and seems to think he can reach a common ground with people and find out more about their thinking process by knowing about sports and talking with his friends about it. I’m not willing to go that far. I really don’t understand the return on investment sitting on my ass on the couch for entire Sundays yelling at the television. There is enough in my life to upset me without transferring my ambitions and personal happiness onto a corporately held entity parading as a franchise. What I really don’t get is people droning on about sportsing out in public while their sport of choice is currently in progress. If it was important to you, wouldn’t you be at home having a discussion with your television while it was airing?

And religion is a non-issue. Most sane people don’t engage, foster or bring up religion with strangers. Most of us are spiritual and not religious, whatever that means. A great many of us sacrifice live bait to our Aztec snake gods naked during a blood moon while coated in Hershey syrup in a very private and personal way, so we don’t feel the need to bring it up or indoctrinate others. The people who bring up religion as an ‘ice breaker’ are typically the people I run screaming from. I have nothing against religion since it’s never done anything grievous or humiliating to me, but I have no interest in discussing it with people outside of my role-playing, Safe-Word-uttering coven. The less said the better.

If anything, politics are offered up without any solicitation, urging or insistence, and the people who normally inject it into the atmosphere are also the people with the most militant, half-cooked, far left or far right of center viewpoints anyway. I’m surprised at the political non sequiturs I hear without any forewarning or lubricant. Things like “All my taxes go to Albany, thanks very much, Mr. Governor!” from the affluent upper-class doctor or “It’d be great to own a small business if it weren’t for Ralph Nader.” from the guy with 45 bumper stickers and a man bun. I try not to engage or encourage these kinds of people because their jumbled calls to arms can only invariably be followed by rampant bigotry, generalized silliness or unfounded carpetbaggery or skullduggery.

*Confession: I’ve wanted to include both the terms ‘carpetbaggery’ and ‘skullduggery’ into an essay and felt that this was my best shot. I hope that some day you will grow to accept and embrace my decision.*

Finally, there is what passes for what’s left of the Monday morning water cooler discussion. A great majority of us don’t have the indulgence of a water cooler at our place of business, haven’t personally seen a water cooler in 2.5 years, and have never had a discussion as a result of being in the vicinity of a water cooler. Now that we live in a hip, post-‘cut the cable’ revolution era where there are 7,000 different stations, streaming services, Viewmaster Exclusive one hour puppet passion plays and other programs, we’re at a loss for a universally shared experience.

If it’s a reality show or a talent competition, my emotional investment is -7 multiplied by zero fucks, carried by I Really Don’t Give A Shit. Whatever that adds up to, that’s where I stand on either program. I don’t need to know which industry darling won the finals at the Polynesian Breakdancing Awards or who took home the gold on ‘Bosnia’s Got Marginal Saucier Skills’. The point is that there are more shows than there are people now, so whatever you watched or downloaded or uploaded into your retinas last night that was exciting isn’t necessarily a show that anyone else on your continent tunes into.

I understand that it’s difficult to find common ground with complete strangers in everyday life, but I would rather be myself or dive right into the meat of a conversation than default to small talk because it’s easier. The weather doesn’t matter to me, I’m not hardwired for sports, religion is a landmine and a lot of people have horrible taste in television. I guess you could call me a real people pleaser.

Tom Waters

 

h1

The Ballad Of Gregg Sansone (Uncut)

March 28, 2016

image

Author’s Note: This interview has been on a wild ride in the last ten years.  A shorter edit originally appeared in Buffalo Spree magazine, the longer format ran on Acid Logic and the version you’re about to read finally found its way into my fourth book If They Can’t Take A Joke (Authorhouse, 2007).  Gregg’s been a dear friend of mine for more than 15 years and with his 55th birthday approaching, I thought I’d revisit this interview.  

If you’ve participated in (or just enjoyed) the Buffalo music scene for the last six years, Gregg Sansone is a pervasive, melodic, keyboard-driven entity. The two-time Buffalo Music Award Winning Solo Artist Of The Year plays out at clubs, bars and other venues over 300 nights a year (when he’s in peak physical condition), and his cover shows run the gamut of Steve Winwood to Elton John to Stevie Wonder. Dabbling in rock, jazz, blues and classical standards, Sansone has become a local icon and a national underground phenomenon. I saw Gregg play (or channel, to be more accurate) Elton John covers at Route 66 in downtown Buffalo four years ago, and I’ve been a Sansonite ever since. His two and three hour shows are lousy with fans, electric in their intensity and craftsmanship, and brilliant to witness. I had the opportunity to sit down with Greg at my apartment in Lancaster while he was recovering from major back surgery (he had a disc removed).

TW: You haven’t had a drink since you were 15. Why is that, and do you find it surreal to play out at clubs and bars for the majority of the year in the company of people who are soused out of their minds?

GS: No. Alcoholism runs in my family. I’ve got a huge family. Eight boys and one girl. Some people put down meat and become vegetarians. I had the hindsight as a fifteen year old to say ‘You know, I’m addictive as hell. I have a real addictive personality. I’m just not going to do this. Otherwise, I think it could be a problem, and it just stuck through college and everything else. Like anything, I stuck with it and it developed and it’s been years and years. I have a blast (at the shows). People come up to me and say ‘Man, you were hammered because you were dancing on the bars!’ and I say, ‘No, but awesome, thanks man.’

TW: How does your strongly held belief in Buddhism inform your singing and songwriting?

GS: Songwriting and instrumental writing are different. They’re along a spiritual line, but my performances are an extension of what I believe in anyway about myself. Buddhism isn’t a religion as much as it is a philosophy. They didn’t invent being honest and they didn’t invent being good people, they just do it well. So you can apply it to any faith that you have and for me, it just helps me to not want to kill everybody. Or when someone is drunk and they fall into my keyboards and everything, now I don’t want to drag them into the parking lot. Before (Buddhism) I did.

TW: Do you think the era of disposable pop/porn performers like Britney Spears and Ricky Martin is nearing its end, or is it more of a popular music cycle?

GS: I think human nature is human nature, and within music, I’m no expert on anything. I’m just an Italian from Buffalo. Before them when Madonna got really popular, they produced people like Jody Watley, and-

TW: Rick Astley.

GS: People like that, that’s exactly right, but specifically female singers to sound like her (Madonna). Tiffany, Debbie Gibson, so it does go in cycles. I think the American people, we’re a disposable society. There’s a huge portion of the population that buys into that, and they just go into whatever’s popular. But there’s this undercurrent of people like us that-

TW: Observe?

GS: Observe and evaluate and say, ‘This is good, this doesn’t work for me, that’s kinda bullshit. I know that you love Elton John for instance, as do I. People like Elton John, Eric Clapton, Paul McCartney and even Madonna, and I’m not a Madonna fan, but she’s stood the test of time. They’re not a flash in the pan, and for good reason. If we didn’t have those people, it would be a sad, sad world with the boy bands, although Justin Timberlake has broken from that and has really made a name for himself. I mean, I don’t think he’s going anywhere.

TW: And Mark Wahlberg-

GS: Mark Wahlberg is kinda cool in the movies, though! When he was Marky Mark it was a different story.

TW: Your best one night stand story after a show:

GS: Um, my best one night stand story after a show-because I have one night stand stories during a show.

TW: That sounds like the better story.

Read the rest of this entry ?

h1

Bat To The Future

March 21, 2016

image

Author’s Note: With BuffaloComedy.com having gone the way of the dodo (where this piece originally appeared in January of 2015) and Batman Vs. Superman just 5 agonizing days away from its theatrical release (which I’m not laying any bets on until I see it), I  thought now might be a good time to revisit my reflections on the 75th Anniversary Year of the Dark Knight Detective.  This is an essay from the upcoming book Travesty.   

By the time you read this, the year-long celebration of the 75th anniversary of the first appearance of Batman in Detective Comics (in 1939, for those of you who don’t have a calculator nearby) will have come and gone. He’s a character who has endured the test of time, and you may know Detective Comics by their abbreviation: DC. I caught hell some years ago for defending the cultural importance of the impending theatrical release of Christopher Nolan’s The Dark Knight (2008). It was a week-long troll battle in a lesser publication and I hate to be the guy who said I told you so, but I was right, Buffalo. That film changed the superhero film forever and demolished most (if not all) box office records. I’m getting ahead of myself, though. What follows is a personal recollection/celebration of the mythos. Dates and citations have been left out, messed up or guessed at because the author is lazy.

I’ve been a Batman fan almost all of my life. As a child, I got into the comics around the same time that I caught the syndicated reruns for the high-camp television version with Adam West, three separate Catwomen and the famed ‘Bat-usi’. This led of course to Batman:The Movie, which we have to thank for the ‘Bat Shark Repellant Spray’ incident. The utility belt can only hold so much. The Caped Crusader has gone through a lot of incarnations over the decades he’s traveled through, which may be one of the secrets behind his staying power. While it was corny and cheesy (‘camp’ is an ironic form of comedy that borders on being an endangered species), the tv series hit home for at least a few seasons.

The ’80s was a great time to get into comics since the medium was growing up in terms of maturity and readership. Frank Miller’s The Dark Knight Returns made such a gritty impact on the pulp multiverse that college courses are still taught dissecting its importance. The story zeroes in on Batman coming out of retirement in order to stomp out the threat of a mutant gang, subvert government opposition to superheroes and to square off with Superman. Miller followed this up with Batman: Year One, a mini-series that focused on the roots of billionaire Bruce Wayne’s lifelong war on crime.

Toward the end of the decade, comic icon Alan Moore applied his craft to The Killing Joke, a one-shot story where the reader is taken through a retelling of The Joker’s origin, Commissioner Gordon’s daughter is crippled by same, the Commissioner’s sanity is tried by The Joker and Batman’s is questioned at the close of the arc with a punchline and a recurring pattern of raindrops. The Joker postulates throughout the book that the difference between sanity and insanity is just one bad day. Batman tries to prove him wrong.

In the early ’90s, mainstay Grant Morrison took a turn with Arkham Asylum: A Serious House On Serious Earth. I re-read this book almost every year and always come away with something new in this layered psychological examination of the aberrant psyche. Batman infiltrates the asylum (which the inmates have taken control of spear-headed by the Joker) and tries to keep his head while everyone else’s is long gone. This is interspersed with the story of how Arkham Asylum came to be, which is quite haunting to say the least.

Meanwhile, in the single issues, there was the groundbreaking A Death In The Family, a story arc that was revolutionary because DC set up 1-800 lines so that readers could vote on the fate of Robin at the hands of (you guessed it) The Joker. For you younger readers, people used to have phones in their house attached to the walls that we called ‘Land Lines’. A 1-800 number was a ‘toll free’ number that residents could ‘dial’ on said Land Lines. Spoiler alert (not sure if it’s a spoiler alert twenty five years later): the readers killed off Robin. Luckily, nobody ever stays dead in comics for some reason, and that particular Boy Wonder (there have been around four) came back in Under The Red Hood.

Read the rest of this entry ?

h1

Big Words I Know By Heart Episode 23: ‘Schadenfreude’

March 16, 2016

image

The Buffalo standup comedy scene is on fire, and Allie Brady is one of the comics who’s right at the center of it.  After interviewing 3 comics so far (with more on the horizon), it’s fascinating to explore each of their individual voices, styles and, by extension, their acts.  Brady has this slight pause before she delivers a brutal politically incorrect punchline that I really admire.  In the studio, she was fast, relentless and hilarious.  To top it off, her website (stilltoosoon.blogspot.com) is one of the funniest projects I’ve read online in a very, very long time.  Britney Hoffman was a little deer-in-the-headlights in the Co Host Hot Seat, but I thought she rounded out the dynamic quite nicely.  Roll that clip!

A big thanks goes out to Brady, Hoffman and the always-lovely Richard Wicka for putting it all together.  PLEASE SUBSCRIBE for new shows, bonus clips and other additional content.

Tom

h1

Big Words Video 23.5: ‘Irish Spring’ & 23.6: ‘Shitty Girl’

March 16, 2016

I’m starting to think it’s a better idea to send someone out into the field to get these Big Words Video Bonus clips.

I don’t enjoy being out in front of a crowd scene anymore.  There was a time where my ego insisted on it, but these days I’d rather hang out in the background and let the star be the star of the show.  Harvesting these clips with a consumer camera demands that the ‘director’ get right up on top of the action.  Music production man Roger Pleasant of Uprise Studios went on location to Magruder’s in Lancaster for Green Gorilla Comedy’s ‘Irish Spring’ showcase a few weeks ago and came back with two really solid clips from standup comic Allie Brady’s act.  See for yourself:

Using the same Sony PJ340 I’ve been using, Pleasant got a great angle, sound and lighting in HD.  Allie’s comedy speaks for itself.  Putting someone else at the helm of the camera does too.  If you like what you see, SUBSCRIBE!  We’ll be back at it next month with longtime pal and journeyman pianist/performer Gregg Sansone.

See you then,

Tom

h1

Dante’s Double

March 1, 2016

image

You could fill Lake Erie with the amount of hot sauce I’ve ingested.

Nothing would live, grow or thrive there, so basically, it would be the same lake. I’ve been eating chicken wings at least once a week since I was around 17. Technically, chicken fingers were my gateway poultry. My buddy Ron and I got together every week to play video games and we commemorated the event with chicken fingers. And hot sauce. When I got my first apartment, I got my first fryer. Shortly thereafter, I gained about 40 pounds. Studies show that those two events were interconnected somehow. With no self control and the understanding that I was too lazy to deal with the mess of making wings at home, a new tradition was born: wings once a week. This is the point where I could say ‘A hero is born.’ or ‘This is the stuff of legend.’, but my artistic license expired yesterday. It’s best in this situation to borrow from the poorly named 1980’s Fred Ward star vehicle Remo Williams and go with ‘The Adventure Begins’. Cinephile Note: The adventure began and ended with that horrible movie. Let’s get back to the wings…

There are a lot of things that Buffalonians lay claim to: losing at football, losing at hockey on a technicality, losing on ‘Best Places To Live’…you get the picture. Chicken wings really did originate in Buffalo though, at the famous Anchor Bar in the city. Chicken wings happen to be the one thing about Buffalo I embrace. In the rest of the country they travel under the nom de plume of ‘Party Wings’ (makes sense), ‘Hot Wings’ (I like to use that one because it drives my boss into a fit of rage) and yes, ‘Buffalo Wings’. Hot Tip: If they’re listed as ‘Buffalo Wings’ on a menu, you’re probably at a chain restaurant that doesn’t have the faintest idea how to make chicken wings and you’ll end up with a soggy, buttery embarrassment in a plastic basket. ‘Buttery Embarrassment’ also happens to be how I refer to the loss of my virginity. Chicken wings are deceptively simple in their execution. Cook until crispy, douse in hot sauce with a fire hose and mix with butter for those with indigestion.

Around here, the base hot sauce is Frank’s Red Hot. I was not paid for that endorsement, but would like to be. Most places use Frank’s. In the rest of the country I’ve seen diners that give you a 2 oz. shooter of Tabasco for 30 chicken wings (I’m not sure how that would even work), Sriracha (which I’ve never had but would like to try) along the southern border and a lot of sad kitchen-made pastes that were more ketchup than anything else. Spoiler Alert: Ketchup does not resemble hot sauce in any way, shape and especially not form. My palate is so accustomed to Frank’s Red Hot that I’ve gone off in search of other strains of sauce. As a hot sauce enthusiast, you build up a tolerance to heat over time. Useful Factoid: A unit of heat with peppers is measured in ‘Scovilles’, whichb were named after the inventor of the system.

Unlike the rest of my family, I have the constitution of a billy goat. My older brother gets an upset stomach after oatmeal and my younger brother chews on Tums like they’re Tic Tacs. I was not paid for either of those endorsements, but would begrudgingly accept payment in the form of check, money order or chicken wings. By the time I was 25 or so, I’d worked my way up from Medium wings (half butter, half hot sauce) to hot wings (all hot sauce) to more explosive options. Sauces that incorporated jalepeno peppers (they deliver that extra mule kick to your mouth at the end of every bite) habanero peppers (which add a very distinct flavor to the sauce while incinerating your insides) and eventually, ghost peppers. Ghost peppers are no joke. On the Scoville scale, ghost peppers reside somewhere in the vicinity of Dante’s final circle of hell, if that circle included screaming, crying and praying on the toilet all at the same time.

Many argue that the hotter wings that are available aren’t enjoyable. While there is a small subsection of guys who feel the need to prove their masculinity by devouring wings they normally can’t handle, often can’t handle during their demonstration, and definitely won’t handle ever again without a medical staff on standby, some of us have worked our way up to it. Crying is a factor. It’s more of a chemical reaction than an emotional catharsis. It also takes place if you happen to wipe your eyes with the same napkin you used to wipe your sauce-spotted hands with. Or if you don’t wash your hands and scratch your eye hours later. Don’t do this with ghost peppers. Ghost pepper sauces will make you their bitch. Plain and simple.

I hate to say it, but I may have reached an age where I have to start traveling down the heat index. My endurance with the hotter sauces may have reached its apex. For every cause there is an effect. That, and I can’t imagine carrying an IV of blue cheese around with a stainless steel diaper when I’m 50. It’s time to put on the brakes a bit. Blue cheese is for punks. It’s an easy way out of the heat that serves to mask or neutralize it. Milk neutralizes the pain, too. I prefer soda. My Buffalo brethren insist it is called pop. They’re wrong. That’s neither here nor there, though. I like a nice cold glass of Diet Dr. Pepper with my wings. I was not paid or coerced by the good people at the Diet Dr. Pepper bottling plant, but would feign refusal and quickly accept large monetary gifts in the form of gold doubloons or solid ingots stacked in a triangular fashion.

Nowadays, I order a double (20) of wings every Thursday because you get a price break per wing at 20 and I can always finish them off for an additional meal time. The additional meal time may take place before I get up from the table the first time. There’s a great debate between drums (drumsticks) or flats (the actual wings) with solid arguments for both. Drums are easy to eat in public and they tend to crisp up better if you prefer yours crispy. I’m a flats man. My dad was a flats man and his father before him. We’re flats people. Honestly though, I like flats because they’re more tender, they soak up more sauce, they taste better on the reheat and they don’t have as much gristle as the drums. Believe me, I’ve done the research.

By a stroke of luck (and the one good genetic card dealt to me), my severe height has cancelled out any blood pressure issues that might accompany someone who eats a double of wings every week. It’s right on par. If I were a superhero, that would be my super power: Slightly Average Blood Pressure. Villains everywhere would tremble at the sight of my triage. I’ve been training for this all my life. Now I just need an outfit that’s stain resistant to the corrosive concoctions I crave.

Fired up,
Tom Waters

h1

Big Words I Know By Heart Episode 22: ‘Balladeer’

February 24, 2016

image

John ‘Dr. Dirty’ Valby is pretty close to my heart.  His sense of humor and his career are ideal for the show.  The man really is a living legend, and I’m pretty honored that he promised to come back on the show every year for the long haul.  So far, I’ve tried to avoid a ‘swinging door’ policy for guests, opting instead to let former guests circle back to co-host or welcoming good co-hosts back.  John Valby is the only exception.  He’s funny, he’s talented and he’s the opposite of politically correct.  Again, he’s perfect for the show.  With a last-minute drop-out in the Co Host Hot Seat, Night Life Publisher (and longtime pal) Ed Honeck came through in a pinch.  They have some shared history together which helped with the overall dynamic and comfort level.  You can watch Episode 22 of #BigWordsVideo right HERE:

Thanks are in order to Valby, Honeck and Richard Wicka for being so accomodating.  PLEASE SUBSCRIBE to the Big Words I Know By Heart Channel on Youtube for bonus clips, new episodes and other associated buffoonery.  This was a fun episode to shoot.  I look forward to having John back on next February.

Tom

h1

Big Words Video 22.5: ‘Medley’

February 24, 2016

Producer Richard Wicka got such a good sound from Tom Sartori’s clips over the summer that we decided to utilize the same set-up for John Valby by wiring him to the Home Of The Future.  John (who brought a satchel overflowing with lyric notebooks, stray notes and even lyrics written on the back of crossword puzzles) treated us to a medley of some of his classic favorites with updated verses as well as some material from his newest album Keep Calm And Valby On.  See for yourself right here:

Thanks are in order to Richard for his enduring patience and Valby for indulging us.  If you like what you see and you’d like notifications for new bonus clips as well as the history show…PLEASE SUBSCRIBE!  #BigWordsVideo will return in March with award-winning comedienne Allie Brady!

New rant next week!

Tom

h1

Reg’s Retirement Plan: Elton John In His ’60s

February 12, 2016
image

Photo Credit: The Guardian

Author’s Note: I desperately wanted to keep writing and researching this piece, but I’ve never missed a deadline, even if it was self-imposed.  There were a lot of other avenues I could have gone down, but decided to polish it off and send it off into cyberspace on time.  And I would like to blame WordPress’ style difficulty for the lack of italicizing for album titles, etc.  A longer version will most likely end up in my next book Travesty.  I hope you like it! -Tom

Any fanatic will tell you about the law of diminishing returns. Elton John fans are no exception. After hearing the classic songs, the classic albums and the go-to ballads for lazy radio DJs, we get burnt out. I could happily go the rest of my life without hearing either version of ‘Candle In The Wind’, but as a completionist, I own the 40th Anniversary Edition boxed set for Goodbye Yellow Brick Road (with the original track, remastered), the quickly rushed post-Diana B-Side ‘Goodbye England’s Rose’ (the A Side was ‘Something About The Way You Look Tonight’ from the Big Picture album), the moving version mere days before throat surgery from Live In Australia, and every live album and DVD wherein Elton has trotted the ballad back out. During a vicious feud with The Rolling Stones’ Keith Richards, Keith told an interviewer that Elton made his career and his fortune from ‘dead blondes’. Hardly true, but it’s another factoid floating around in my head from my years as a faithful fan.

The point is that any fanatic is hungry for new material or a different spin on the greats, whether it’s a new studio release that’s just so-so, a just-because live album or the opening of some metaphorical vault full of master tapes, alternate tracks and raw cuts. I’ve heard ‘Your Song’, ‘Bennie And The Jets’, ‘Saturday Night’s Alright For Fighting’ (the radio has made me hate it) and the dreaded ‘Candle In The Wind’ almost as many times as Elton has performed them, which is why I don’t listen to them that often. So when there’s a new addition to the discography, I greet it with open arms. I run the album into the ground on repeat in my car, scour the internet for videos (since that’s where they premier now) and troll for print interviews from the latest junket. I’ll say this much: for two guys who are a whisper away from 70, Elton and Taupin are still giving 100%. Is it is good as their first wave of success from ’69-’74 when they were churning out two albums a year for their contractual obligations with Dick James? It’s not a fair comparison.

Despite all the coke and the casual hook-ups from the ‘80s and his Never-Ending Shopping Spree, Elton might bury us all. With sobriety, a steady tennis regimen and a quadruple bypass he’s still going strong. Thank God. We’re lucky to have him. It’s incredible to ponder that little Reginald Kenneth Dwight started out playing saloon songs in corner taverns when he was 15 and he’ll still be pounding the ivories this March when he turns 69. He’s had more Top 40 hits than Elvis Presley, he’s been knighted (which used to be reserved for the rare elite and not just every other British musician over 50) He won an Academy Award as well as a Grammy for Album Of The Year for The Lion King. His musical Billy Elliot has been in production for over a decade. He’s outlasted almost all of the artists from his era and shattered so many records that he’s become peerless. He’s been called a living legend and a national treasure, but to most he’s known as the ‘Rocket Man’. Once he broke his habit of staying on the Billboard Charts (or once they stopped being relevant in the wake of the music industry imploding as a result of iTunes), his new releases tapered off to a trickle. He reached a stage as an artist where he took his time to make sure each album was what he wanted before he put it out. Let’s look at the last ten years.

Elton and Vegas were bound to find each other. It just makes sense that Elton would sign a 3 year deal with Ceasar’s Palace in so that nations of adoring fans could find him instead of touring around from ‘the end of the world to your town’ (‘Captain Fantastic’). The first show took place in February, 2004. 3 years came and went and kept on going. In addition to limited-city world tours by himself and a tour with Billy Joel in between, The Red Piano revue in Vegas morphed into The Million Dollar Piano in 2011. It was filmed and re-marketed as a concert film with the usual lineup of popular hits. Surprisingly, a long-playing gem from Caribou (‘Indian Sunset’) was included on the main concert film. A bonus concert covered some songs that were off the beaten path.

Why don’t we call Elton John and Leon Russell’s The Union (2010) what it was: the resurrection of Leon Russell figuratively and literally. It was also Elton’s attempt of ‘having to go back to go forward’. The album got off to a very bumpy start. According to interviews with John and Russell while they were promoting its release, Elton tried to farm the idea out to occasional touring mate Billy Joel. While his boyfriend David was cycling through his iPod on vacation, Elton was moved to tears when he heard Leon Russell, who was an even bigger star than Elton when they met during John’s big U.S. week-long debut at L.A.’s Troubadour back in 1969. Few pop stars share Elton’s enduring popularity, and Russell faded away from the spotlight into obscurity.
Billy Joel wasn’t interested in the project. I remember a plum line from Joel with USA Today where he claimed that Elton told him he should put out more albums, while Joel told him he should put out less. For those who remember, Joel announced his retirement from songwriting on his final studio album River Of Dreams (1993). I get into this argument often, but I have more respect for Elton because he keeps composing, recording, performing and aiming for new heights instead of giving up and cashing in when his coffers get light. That, and I’ve always had the sneaking suspicion that Joel’s lyrics and subject matter aimed squarely and deliberately at the heart (and purse) strings and struggles of the blue collar working class whereas the bulk of John & Taupin’s songs are decidedly more cerebral, poetic and classically centered. But I digress.

Read the rest of this entry ?

h1

The Divine Pop Comedy

February 8, 2016

image

Author’s Note: With the release of Wonderful Crazy Night (Elton and Taupin’s 33rd album), this seemed like a good time to revise and post this excerpt about the ‘aught’ albums from ‘Reg Soldiers On’, a 50+ page long-form essay about Elton John and Bernie Taupin’s lives, careers and their discography from my 2009 book Slapstick & Superego.  I’ll be posting a new essay this Friday about the three studio albums that followed once I’ve had a little time to digest the newest release.-Tom

Composer/Performer/Legend Elton John and longtime lyricist and classical poet Bernie Taupin’s trio of studio albums from 2001-2006 were a fruitful, fascinating journey, and I’m sure that there’s more to come. From a fanatic’s standpoint, Songs From The West Coast would have made a perfect swan song for the performer. I don’t regret that he’s lived and recorded since, but the album is so perfect, and so close to the roots of Elton’s glory days in the ’70s that it’s near-impossible to trump a second time in his career.

Elton even claimed in his classic bridge-burning interview style that this would be his final studio album. Listening to the tracks, it’s no surprise that this was the first series of songs in ages where Elton and Taupin composed the album together in person. It brilliantly refers back to the roots of his success while avoiding all references to such. ’Emperor’s New Clothes’ (a Billy Joel homage), ’Dark Diamond’ (with Stevie Wonder on harmonica), the sublimely simple and existential ’Birds’, and the retrospective yet hopeful ’This Train Don’t Stop Here Anymore’ stand out as hallmarks to the late musician’s career. Taupin draws from a reserve of inspired lyrics for this album with stunning skill, and drives it home with ’Original Sin’ and ’I Want Love’, a song that shows us the team is still capable of sucker punching us into a state of romantic catharsis: /A man like me is dead in places/Other men feel liberated/I want love on my own terms/After everything I‘ve ever learned/.

Elton’s boyfriend future husband David Furnish was photographed for the album cover as the cowboy. Director of Operations Bob Halley was captured for the shoot as the man being handcuffed to a squad car outside of the diner. This series of videos was nothing short of astonishing, with Robert Downey Jr. lip synching Elton’s vocals to ‘I Want Love’ to Justin Timberlake portraying an uncanny ‘70s Elton in ‘This Train Don’t Stop Here Anymore’ to Liz Taylor and Mandy Moore showcasing the video to ‘Original Sin’. With a small handful of duds, it’s a shame that ‘West Coast’ came out a week before September 11th, 2001 in the States. It could and should have fared much better on the charts if it wasn’t for the deep psychic and socioeconomic impact of the terrorist attacks.

Read the rest of this entry ?

h1

Big Words I Know By Heart Episode 21: ‘Anthropomorphic’

February 5, 2016

image

This may be the funniest episode we’ve done so far.

I’ve been tracking creator Stephen Nawotniak and artist Jeff Perdziak’s Mubu The Morph children’s series since the release of the first book last spring.  I went to Clarence High School with Stephen over 20 years ago and (up until shortly before the episode) hadn’t seen him since.  The books have a positive message and when I ran into them, told them I’d love to have them on the show but wasn’t sure if it’d be a good fit considering their source material.  Boy was I wrong.  We had a rip-roaring good time filming this episode and returning co-host Mark McElligott rounded out an inspired cast.  Once we got moving, I had a tough time keeping it together when I’m normally pretty good at projecting a starchy talk-show-host-like persona.  Episode 21 was a lot of fun, and very, very funny thanks to everybody involved.  See for yourself:

Many thanks to producer Richard Wicka, Mark McElligott for the never-ending abuse, and especially Stephen and Jeff for rolling with the punches.  This is proof positive that children’s book authors (and illustrators) have a good sense of humor.  The heavy show rotation is coming to an end, so I’ll give you all some time to get caught up on the backlog.  Stay tuned to the website because I’ve still got a few tricks up my sleeve this month.

Tom

 

h1

Big Words Video 21.1 & 21.2: Jeff Perdziak’s ‘The Menagerie’

February 5, 2016

image

These two Big Words Video bonus clips were a cinch.  I was really pleased with the over-the-shoulder artist’s perspective we got with Graham Nolan for 18.5.  Let’s face it: It’s cool to watch an artist at work.  This time (to avoid shaky-cam), I posted a tripod behind artist Jeff Perdziak while he fleshed out two of the central characters from his upcoming creator-owned graphic novel ‘The Menagerie’ (which is coming out this fall from the Visions Comic Art Group).  See both installments for yourself:

You know, if you like this sort of thing, it’s twice as nice to ‘Like’ it on YouTube.  You can also take it one step further and PLEASE SUBSCRIBE to the Big Words I Know By Heart Channel on YouTube.  Just putting that out there.  #BigWordsVideo will return on February 23rd along with ‘Dr. Dirty’ John Valby!  We’ll see you then!

Tom

h1

Breath Of A Salesman

February 1, 2016

image

One of the first things I learned about fine-tuning my pitch was a little trick called ‘clearing the mechanism’. No matter what I’m in the middle of when an Up (my turn on the sales rotation) comes in to look at *Widgets*, I’m trained to take a step back, clear my head and check my breath before I give a couple or a One-Legger (husband or wife flying solo without their significant other) my undivided and complete attention. Let’s face it: Nobody wants to buy anything from someone who smells like they stumbled into a garlic clove patch for lunch, stuffed an entire can of spinach between their teeth or a salesman with pretzels and coffee breath issuing from their word-hole. I take a moment, focus on the journey we’re about to embark upon together and roll into it.

Paunch is a dead giveaway for a good salesman. I’ve met a few energetic, wiry, skinny types, but on the whole, you can spot a top earner by the love handles spilling over his belt. A guy who’s a top performer is also a guy who’s putting food on the table, eating well, or splurging his Spiffs (cash incentives for upselling) on fancy dinners out. The gut also has a lot to do with avoiding real work. Born salesmen are noticeably absent when manual labor is going down, electing instead to follow up on Leads, Prospect a fresh Up, ride a desk, smoke a cigarette, decide to get lunch or play with their phones. While I don’t own a smart phone, I still know how to play Scrabble, troll *Social Media* and check the weather. Go figure.

I never thought I’d wind up in sales. Some children can tell you by grade school that they want to grow up to be a lawyer, a fireman or a claims adjuster for a multinational corporation. Those kids were boring then and I find them boring now. At last count, I’ve had 38 jobs. Maybe not that many, but I’ve got a desk drawer full of name tags, personal business cards for companies and stores that don’t even exist anymore, lanyards and other assorted company memorabilia that hold no resale value except as mementos of associate positions and career paths that have been derailed, stunted or emergency ejected. If you take a cursory glance at my resume from five years ago, you’d find that I have a strong background in management, customer service and retail. I’m surprisingly happy, fulfilled and neither pressured nor coerced to admit that I’m good at it. We’ve all had jobs that we suck at where we drag our feet in every morning, count the minutes, keep our heads down and do our best to barrel through it. At least I have. This job isn’t that for me.

Salesmen get a bad rap. Most people conjure up a stereotypical used car salesman in their heads: Insincere, cheesy, and sleazy. I am none of those things. While I have a great fondness for cheese (especially ALL the Jacks), it has never rendered me cheesy. When I’m deep into a pitch selling *Widgets*, I try to find the warm, fuzzy place in my heart where Empathy resides. When I’m at the top of my game, it’s because I found that sweet spot. I wear my heart on my sleeve, which is shocking considering that I’m such a sarcastic asshole the other 98% of the time that I’m awake. From what I’ve gathered, all of us save the very best of ourselves for that window of opportunity when we’re making money based on our personality. It’s the nature of the beast.

Developing a pitch is like crafting your own lightsaber or finding your own spirit animal, take your pick. It’s a fine-tuned dress rehearsal tailor-made to the customer you’re dealing with and spun from your best attributes. For me, it’s equal parts empathy, customer service, humor (naturally), informal interview, body language and honing my listening skills. Hearing what people are saying and giving them ample time to talk are easier said than done. We’re conditioned to run our mouths and take what we hear on the surface, so it’s taken some time to be more considerate and to keep my word-hole shut. People love to talk about themselves, so in a lot of scenarios, just letting a couple or a person open up and actually listening when they do will seal the deal.

We all follow a Process where I work. I’m not going to tell you what that process is. There are blood oaths involved, animal sacrifice, full moons…just kidding. I’m just not going to reveal the mystery. My best analogy is that our Process is similar to a classic symphony. We all have to hit on the same notes, but the way that we play them and the inflections we give them are our own. Ego gets in the way once in awhile, and when that happens, I typically start to misfire. Whenever I think that my way is better I start tanking, and it takes a painful reappraisal of what I’m doing wrong to get back to the basics. Admitting that I don’t know everything and that my style or my opinion can sometimes be wrong. This is earth-shattering stuff to accept if you’re an old dog who’s reluctant to new tricks.

We are an impulsive, flashy and cynical lot. My boss collects watches. Another boss plays tennis and skis like there’s an Olympic medal at stake. I collect dress shirts, computers, movies, essentially anything pop culture that isn’t nailed down when my commissions come in. Most of the salesmen I work with treat golfing like it’s a religion. Golfing’s not for me. Like most sports, it takes too much time, there’s too much open exposure to the sun, I’m not a patient man, and as an Irishman, I’m a sore loser. And a sore winner.

I could pen a motivational manual about our cynicism. ‘Buyers are liars’ is a common mantra in sales. People will say whatever they can to get out of a closing scenario and skate out to ‘think things over’, ‘talk to the wife’ or ‘sleep on it’. All of those excuses are bullshit. I’ve learned to look for the real reason behind the Stall and dig for an honest answer. If an Up walks out the door, I’m trained to react emotionally as if they aren’t coming back. Let it go and move on to the next one.

One of my favorite lines out of all the training sessions, webinars and philosophical tracts I’ve attended, watched and read is this: Life is interesting, so be interested. I couldn’t agree more. The people I meet and talk to come from all different walks of life. They all have their own families, stories, hopes, dreams and aspirations. Like I said, when I’m deep into a pitch and really nailing it, it’s when I’m diving into who people are and what makes them tick. Following up on what they’ve told me and finding out more. And it always helps to pop an Altoid after we’ve all had fried blooming onions. You may not know this, but they’re curiously strong.

Second prize is a set of steak knives,

Tom Waters

h1

Big Words I Know By Heart Episode 20: ‘Cognitive Dissonance’

January 27, 2016

image

Alan Bedenko is a great writer.  As I said in the intro, I might not always agree with his political leanings, but I love the way that he gets his point across and I usually learn more about topical issues by reading his columns in The Public or his posts on BuffaloPundit.com.  As a guest on the show, he had a well-thought-out response to every curveball we threw at him, he was funny, witty and most importantly, he doesn’t take himself too seriously.  This was a great chance to pull out all the stops and work in some political jokes that wouldn’t have landed on any other episode.  Everybody involved did a great job including my co-host, ‘The Mighty’ Matt Sampson.  The two questions I ask after every show are 1) Was it entertaining? and 2) Was it funny?  We fired on both cylinders and more in this one.

Please make sure to ‘Like’ and ‘Subscribe’.  Thanks are in order to Alan, Matt and producer Richard Wicka for knocking it out of the park on this episode.  We had a lot of leftover questions at the end of the show, so there’s a distinct possibility that Alan could return down the line.

h1

Big Words Video 20.5: Alan Bedenko & Matt Sampson-‘Rogue’s Gallery’

January 27, 2016

After twenty episodes, I can honestly say that Matt Sampson came to the table as a co-host with more preparation than anyone who’s filled the Hot Seat thus far.  He had a full page of typewritten, double-spaced questions, a genuine enthusiasm for politics locally and globally, and when he chimed in he was intelligent, entertaining and inquisitive.  He still had a lot of questions left after the episode, so I gave him free reign for the Big Words Video Bonus Clip.  See for yourself.  Oh, and before I forget, Like, Share & Subscribe while you’re at it, eh?

h1

Normal Consciousness Will Be Resumed: Lucifer Creator Mike Carey In His Own Words

January 21, 2016

lucifer

Author’s Note: Everything old is new again.  With ‘Lucifer’ hitting the small screen next week on Fox, I felt it was appropriate to dust off my print interview with creator Mike Carey from my 2007 book If They Can’t Take A Joke (Authorhouse).  Nine years later, Lucifer remains my favorite comic series of all time.  Fox better not fuck it up.  -Tom 

For the uninitiated, comic writer Mike Carey is the second coming as far as Neil Gaiman’s fantasy masterpiece Sandman is concerned. After the Sandman library ended its epic run, he resurrected Samael, also known as the Morning Star, better known as Lucifer. The Eisner Award-Winning Vertigo title has gone on to a great deal of financial and critical success and, never one to rest on his laurels, Carey has kept busy writing a number of inspired story arcs for John Constantine: Hellblazer, Batman, and the one shot hardcover The Furies.

Lucifer: The Wolf Beneath The Tree (DC/Vertigo) explores the series roots while rushing towards its sad but inevitable conclusion. Writer/Creator Mike Carey and artists Peter Gross, Ryan Kelly, P. Craig Russell and Ted Naifeh delve into a fable behind the construction of the kingdom of heaven and what happened to Lilith after her exile from the garden of Eden. Furthermore, the volume follows Lucifer’s continuing struggle to escape the grip and shadow cast by his father and his battle for universal autonomy.
For the uninitiated, the series is a high watermark for quality in adult graphic fantasy, chronicling the Morning Star’s resignation from the duties of Hell and subsequent dealings on the earth and beyond. Over the course of the series, Lucifer has double crossed God, created a world in his own image, battled the heavenly host on his own terms and tangled with more than his share of adversaries while somehow managing to come away stronger with a clever remark in tow. The dialogue is incomparable for the medium, and the series is a lightning rod for some of the most talented artists in the business. In terms of fantasy, there are no substitutes for Lucifer.
I had the opportunity to speak with Mr.Carey on an overseas call from his London home regarding his writing, his love for comics, and his obsession with myths, fables and fairy tales.

TW: Have you put a great deal of research into the occult and demonology in order to write Lucifer, or is it part of a life long fascination with myths and fables in general?

MC: It’s more the second than the first. It’s a lifelong fascination. I do specific research for specific storylines, but I was a lit major at university (Oxford) and I did Latin and Greek at school, so I’ve always been sort of interested in myth. I’ve always been saturated with the myths of certainly Mediterranean cultures. As I’ve sort of gone through my first degree and my higher degree I continue to sort of revisit the themes I was fascinated by.
To some extent, it comes from my weird background. I was born in Liverpool, and my dad was Catholic and my mom was Anglican and this is in one of the most sectarian cities on the British main lands. Mainly second and third generation Irish immigrants. So religion was a big part of my childhood and yet I was slightly detached from it because I came from this family where there was a kind of religious truce going on. And this was a city that was experiencing a religious Cold War. It was a part of my upbringing without my ever being a believer.

Read the rest of this entry ?

h1

Big Words I Know By Heart Episode 19: ‘Recluse’

January 18, 2016

image

I’ll let you in on a little secret: I have a bucket list of guests in my head for the show.  While I’ve been apprehensive about doing two shows a month this winter for fear of the law of diminishing returns in terms of viewership, three is absolutely out of the question.  In spite of this, forces converged on the Home Of The Future studios this afternoon and I ran into my old pal Jim Pray.  He’s not a celebrity per se, he doesn’t have anything to promote, and he’s sworn off doing any radio or video spots for the last four years.  He’s in my Top Ten on the bucket list.  I’ve been wearing him down and it took a lot of coaxing to get him to sit down and do a show with me.  It was worth it.  I’ve met a few people in my life who are hilarious because they’re being hilarious when they don’t know it.  Jim’s one of those people.  I’m glad to count him as one of my friends.  We did a show with no script, no co-host…no net.  Give it a watch right HERE:

 

 

So yep, three shows this month.  Just like that.  Buffalo Pundit and Daily Public commentator Alan Bedenko is coming on in about a week.  Do you know at the end of the movie credits how they say ‘007 Will Return In’?  That.  That all over.  Tom Waters will return in #BigWordsVideo 20!  Subscribe and Share, folks, Subscribe and Share.

See you soon.

h1

Big Words Video 19.5: Jim Pray-Spock & David Bowie

January 18, 2016

The above title is 100% clickbait.  It’s also relevant to the discussion we had after the episode, so it’s justified.  And funny.  And topical.  So there.  Jim Pray remains a fascinating specimen and a really interesting guy to me.  I’m glad that he broke his four year media blackout and made an exception for me.  You won’t regret watching him in action.  Here’s the Bonus clip:

h1

Big Words I Know By Heart Episode 18: ‘Mythos’

January 14, 2016

image

Graham Nolan has been on my bucket list since I started Big Words Video.

He’s a phenomenal artist, a veteran from DC Comics and the man co-created Batman’s Bane, for god’s sakes.  Delving into the research and prep for the episode, I gained an even greater appreciation for his career.  A 6 year run on Detective Comics, 6 on ‘The Phantom’ comic strip, 12 years on ‘Rex Morgan: M.D.’, a creator-owned web comics (‘Sunshine State’)…the list goes on and on and on.  I saw this a lot, but it was an honor to sit down at the same table with Nolan.  We take for granted that we have such an artistic visionary in our own back yard.  Michael Hoffert Jr. was a natural fit for the Co Host Hot Seat on this one because he knows more about chapter and verse in the comic industry than I ever will.  Just watch the episode for yourself, will ya?

A huge thanks goes out to Mr. Nolan for not only making the time to do the show, but braving some pretty gnarly ‘Lake-Enhanced’ (the new buzz term the meteorologists are using this year) snow on the drive out and back.  Thanks are also in order to producer Richard Wicka and Michael Hoffert for knowing the biz back to front.  If you want, did you know that you can SUBSCRIBE to the Big Words I Know By Heart Channel on YouTube?  For FREE?  Well you can.  I’ve also heard that it’s possible to LIKE & SHARE these clips on the YouTube interface.  You should try it.  You really should.  There’s another episode en route in less than two weeks, so we’ll all see you soon!

Tom

 

 

h1

Big Words Video 18.5: Graham Nolan-Batman

January 14, 2016

image

Okay, so this was really, really cool.  As a Big Words Video bonus clip, this is something that was in the back of my mind for a long time.  We did an over-the-shoulder shot with Graham Nolan while he went from a blank slate on his IPad Pro to a rough finished sketch.  The entire process took about seven minutes while we peppered the clip with some follow-up questions.  Just a really, really cool way to complement Episode 18.  Check it out right HERE:

Thanks again to Nolan for doing the show!  And for those of you reading, SUBSCRIBE to the Big Words I Know By Heart Channel on YouTube already, will ya?

 

h1

Creature Of Habit

January 4, 2016

image

‘I’m still waiting on my Fruity Pebbles.’

This is not a sequence of words in the English language that any grown man should ever say to another human being. Hearing that line at an e-cigarette purveyor made me seriously reconsider the overall manliness of the guy who uttered the line, my own masculinity, and the choices behind my decision to join the e-cigarette demographic. Vapers at large are a douchey and superstitious lot. I have a serious issue identifying or comparing myself with them.

They fall into the same camp that subscribes to unemployable and scary homeless derelict beards and their accompanying beard oils, effeminate pastel flannels which I am also not a fan of, and sturdy combat/work boots worn by those who will never see combat or gainful employment. The term ‘e-juice’ is also a phrase that I’m uncomfortable with. It sounds disgusting. And the hundreds of different flavors are often embarrassing to say aloud. Pink Kiwi Dildo, Green Tea-Bag and Root Beer Ball Sac spring to mind. I’m a creature of habit (clearly), so I stick with Peanut Butter Cup (not exactly an affirmation of my Man Card) during the day and Cuban Cigar at night.

Over a year ago I decided to quit smoking because I couldn’t bear the thought of dressing my son up and taking him outside during the winter to feed the monkey. That was my line in the sand, and I felt like I’d be the worst father in the universe if I did that. It was not a conscious choice to avoid cancer or take better care of myself. After smoking between a pack a day to two packs for the better part of twenty five years, I gave it up because I was unwilling to make my boy an unwitting accomplice to my habit.

Little did I know that to many people, it’s a lifestyle. There are accessories, a level of mechanical aptitude for advanced e-cigarette smokers (rigs, mods, and erector set bongs), and a practiced and self-entitled pretentious sense of cool that accompanies blowing billowing clouds of mist into the atmosphere. When I was a kid, most corner stores had candy cigarettes for kids. They were bubble gum sticks packaged to look like cigarettes that let off puffs of powdered sugar when you blew on them. It was a great way to teach kids how to smoke before they were allowed to smoke. Looking back, I can’t believe that something like that would make it past the marketing phase, but they were different times.

Cigarette smoking (and e-cigarette smoking, by extension) aren’t any more sophisticated, cool, hip or European than the candy cigarettes were. We’re all blowing cancerous candy clouds of smoke. When I see a kid crossing the street with a tricked out brick contraption billowing great goddamned plumes of vapor, it doesn’t look terribly cool to me. I won’t argue for or against electronic cigarettes, but the logic behind it makes sense to me. Rather than ingesting a few thousand poisons, I’m taking in the one that counts: nicotine. The devil I just met is better than the devil I know.

When I initially went into a shop and made my first point of contact, my only request was for something small. Size doesn’t matter to me, and it didn’t seem practical to put my mouth around some monstrous metallic cock in public. I don’t understand how we live in a post-Industrial culture that can cram a computer into a wristwatch, but the technology hasn’t come far enough along to create a nicotine dispersal unit that’s smaller than the candlestick in Colonel Mustard’s Den or a box of Cracker Jacks. Many devices are built to house a pair of batteries that would outlast five nuclear winters; I just wanted something small that would fit into my pocket and make it through a typical day. Three devices later, I found a rig without serious structural flaws that did just that.

Somehow I have more paraphernalia now than when I was a pothead. Instead of pipes, one-hitters, roach clips and rolling papers I have miniature e-cigs, medium rigs, small droppers, larger bottles, ‘wicks’ (which aren’t really wicks per se, but metallic cylinders or ‘atomizers’ that are referred to as wicks) and battery chargers. Every component, part and parcel has a ‘No Garbage Can’ logo on it, so the unused garbage may be as difficult to dispose of as uranium, old prescription drugs, guns, porn or E.T. cartridges. Not that I’m speaking from experience…moving on, then.

I know too many people who have tried to quit cigarettes cold turkey only to go back to it. There are more still who turn to e-cigarettes after decades of smoking thinking that they can step down and quit within a few weeks. I’m giving myself a few years to gradually wean myself off of nicotine. There are actually days when I forget that I have my device with me, or I realize that I haven’t puffed on it for a few hours, which is pretty incredible considering that I used to smoke every hour on the hour like clockwork. Unless I’m stressed, it’s often an afterthought. Or when I’m in the mood for the infused flavor blast of Pink Kiwi Dildo.

Vaping in the boy’s room,
Tom Waters

h1

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

December 24, 2015

image

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

h1

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

h1

‘Vantage’, an essay from the upcoming book Travesty

July 6, 2015

image

I’m turning 40 this year and there’s nothing funny about that.

Here’s the secret, though; the whopping truism that you grapple with your entire life: No grown up has any fucking clue or handle on their life. No clue whatsoever. I grew up operating under the assumption that I’d reach an indeterminate adult age where everything made sense, where I got my life together and the rules of the universe just clicked into place. That will never happen because that scenario doesn’t exist. I will never ‘get it’, and I can’t even tell you what ‘it’ is because I don’t have it and am happily resigned to the fact that I’ll never get ‘it’. I just won’t. Nobody will, and that’s okay.

Now that I’m on the other end of it, I can report back that adults don’t have the market cornered on any profound wellspring of wisdom any more than children do. In some cases even less so. At the core of it, many of us are just scared little kids who have been too busy to work out issues or defects or personality flaws that we’ve carried for three decades. There is no doubt that I’m not much further along psychologically or developmentally than my 2 year old son and I’m probably not the only near-40 year old who can admit that.

Since birth, I’ve had the innate ability to look back by a year and marvel at how far I had my head up my ass. Through my powers of deduction and reasoning, I suspect that I will have that talent well into my old age. By that same logic, I presume that a year from now I’ll be able to look back and draw the conclusion that I had my head up my ass right now. I am a work in progress, and everything is relative.

The big relief (for me) is that I’ve lost my mind so many times in the last 39 years and now there is no grand finale during a phase of my life where all of my friends, peers and co-workers approaching or reaching the same age are obviously losing theirs. I’ve seen the fad beach/Atkins/all hot dog/no carbs/strictly watermelon and free range kale diet for the women looking to erase the irreparable damage that three kids and/or three decades of neglect will do to a woman’s body. I’ve seen the muscle car/motorcycle/sudden interest in guns/hunting and/or the outdoors that somehow reaffirm a man’s masculinity and sense of self after having it systematically stripped away from him due to an overbearing wife or an emasculating job.

Biologically my warranty ran out yesterday. Scientists claim that men reach their peak in terms of growth and sexuality around the age of 23 and I’m certainly not going to disagree with that. Testosterone levels wane, I have a bald spot that’s ideal for a yarmulke or Gregorian Chanting, my ear hair sprouts up like some nightmare Horn Of Plenty and I have to pick and choose how, when and if I’m going to incinerate what brain cells and neurological pathways I have left because they are now finite. As my father is fond of saying, I can’t do it like I used to. Most of my get up and go has gotten up and went. And a hundred other corny hackneyed sayings.

And those are really the only two flavors of mid-life crisis that I’ve seen. We’ve all already worked out most of our divorces or new career trajectories, our relocations, expatriations or major idealogical or spiritual tectonic shifts in our ’30s. Most of what I’ve seen has been more of a renunciation of the lives we’ve already lived; a flat rejection of everything we’ve worked for up until that point. I suppose my recovery falls under that heading, too. All of the crises already in progress have been obvious Mid Life Crises.
There’s the sense that I’m on a long journey and I’ve charted a new course halfway through. It’s probably that way for everyone. You have a clear sense of direction as you establish your identity along with your place in the world and all of a sudden you change your mind in a very contradictory fashion. I spent my 20’s flying by the seat of my pants, hopping into bed with any interested parties, writing for anyone who’d take me and developing a cynical sort of world-weariness. I was trying to be different…just like everyone else. I spent my ’30s trying to be a regular adult with a regular lifestyle grappling with where a square peg fit into a round world and what my obligation as a citizen was to that world.

Those last two decades went out the window recently. 40 is the soft reset, the reaffirmation of the values that propelled you this far that you forgot about or compromised your way out of. It’s the striking realization that you are going to die. I’m not invincible anymore and the glass is half empty now. I’ll leave the half full nonsense to the idealists. If I’m really lucky I’ve got another forty years to go. It’s time to work on making a bigger dent. With the magic of futuristic retrospect, I can assure you that I had my head up my ass when I said that.

     -Tom Waters (39) is the author of twelve books of humor, memoir and poetry. He’s written for The Buffalo News, Buffalo Spree, Night Life Magazine and quite a few other publications during his career. He’s also the host of Big Words I Know By Heart, a YouTube talk show that pushes the boundaries of the polite interview format. Waters lives in Clarence with his son Benjamin and his rescue cat Morris

h1

Big Words Video 10.5: ‘Phonaesthetics’

June 2, 2015

Justin Karcher was like a force of nature once the camera started rolling for this bonus segment.  I’ve seen a lot of poetry readings in my time and I’ve been around that world more than a bit and it was pretty clear watching him work that he has a well-worn place in his head where he goes when he reads from his poems. It was something to see in person behind the camera and that energy translated very well into the segment. Check out Big Words Video 10.5 right HERE:

Karcher is the real deal when it comes to poets.  He’s not a tourist and not a ‘hobbyist’.  I look forward to seeing how his bibliography plays out.  Please take an extra minute to SUBSCRIBE to the Big Words Video Channel to receive updates on new shows as they arrive.  There are only a few episodes left before Season One comes to a close and there are still some great guests down the road!

Tom

h1

‘Aqua Vita’ goes live on BuffaloComedy.com

May 6, 2015

Aqua Vita

This was more of a traditional rant that just flew out onto the page when I was writing it.  After the small, silly controversy that ‘Cosmopolitan Cop Out’ caused last month on BuffaloComedy.com, I decided to follow up with a harmless, silly little ditty about a time-honored subject that I’ve covered dozens of times: dentistry.

Check out the new essay here:  Aqua Vita

Please give it a Read, give it a ‘Like’, ‘Favorite’, ‘Retweet’ or any other number of sharing and liking functionality on whichever social media you’re navigating at the time.

As part of a larger whole, Travesty is well on the way to completion as a book clocking in at around 170 pages.  The body of work that the book represents thus far is well-rounded, concise and should be a pretty damned entertaining read if I do say so myself.  I’m not going to put this book out until it’s just about perfect, but we’re on target for April of 2016.  It’s been a long wait for this book, but it’ll be worth it.

Talk to you soon.

h1

Clarence Sun Print Interview

April 15, 2015
Mockery by Tom Waters: An essay collection formatted to mimic a standup comedy act.

Mockery by Tom Waters: An essay collection formatted to mimic a standup comedy act.

Two weeks ago Clarence Sun Editor Alicia Greco interviewed yours truly for a feature interview leading up to my recent reading and book signing at Milkie’s On Elmwood.  Whelp, the interview ran on Saturday and the book event was a real hit at Milkie’s and I liked the venue so much that I booked it again in the fall!  To read Greco’s interview, just click on the pretty link:

You’ll find our interview on Page 2.  Kudos to Alicia for doing a great job of balancing information with revelation.

As for the reading, I have some video clips from the show that I’m working on, so you’ll see those soon.  Last week was a busy one so I’m playing catch up.  Talk to you soon!

h1

‘Cosmopolitan Cop Out’ appearing on BuffaloComedy.com!

April 6, 2015

Cosmopolitan Cop OutMy writing process is changing.  That, or I’m raising my expectations for what I demand from myself as a writer.  Between the challenge of writing new material and editor Kristy Rock’s criteria that all submissions remain positive, it’s been a new kind of endurance contest.  ‘Cosmopolitan Cop Out’ is a perfect example of this.  I actually started writing this essay from scratch….three different times.  I think another component of this is that I’ve written so many essays for so many years that I can picture about a thousand different directions, slants or angles to every theme before I start writing it.  Whatever the case may be, I’m pretty happy with the way ‘Cosmo’ turned out.  It’s a rumination on spending time in the ACTUAL city of Buffalo, along with a recognition that those of us in the suburbs identify with the city even though we don’t actually live in the city.  I’ll shut up and let you read it for yourself, though:

Cosmopolitan Cop Out

As per usual, kindly take an extra minute to ‘Like’, ‘Share’, ‘Retweet’, ‘+1’ or whatever the preferred mode is for the 42 different social networking platforms for sharing and liking what you see.

It’s a damned busy week for this guy!  The new rant dropped today, there’s a new webisode of Big Words I Know By Heart rolling out this Wednesday on ‘the YouTubes’, The Clarence Sun will be running an interview with Yours Truly that editor Alicia Greco conducted and on Sunday I’ll be doing a Reading & Signing at Milkie’s On Elmwood from 2-4 p.m.  Whew!  You’ll hear more from me as the week plays out.  I hope you like the new rant!

Excelsior!

Tom

h1

Big Words I Know By Heart Episode VIII: ‘Tomahonky’

March 24, 2015

image

Just when I think we’ve pushed the envelope as far as it can go, we manage to go that little bit further.  This episode of Big Words I Know By Heart was an absolute delight and easily the most offensive show yet.  While I try to home in on one topical joke for every show, there was a glaring hot button issue that was screaming to be made fun of.  If you’re a Buffalonian (or perhaps, even on a national level), you know what I’m talking about.  We went there and we kept going there.  Standup comic Jameel Key was a great guest to have and Rob B. rounded out the trifecta nicely.  Enough gabbing though, here’s the show:

Please take the time to ‘Like’ the show on YouTube and if you want, you can Subscribe to the Big Words I Know By Heart Channel for free and get updates whenever a new show hits!

Thanks are in order to Jameel Key, Rob B. and producer Richard Wicka for another great show.  Science Fiction author Diane Meholick is on deck for the next thrilling installment in April!

Seeya soon,

Tom

h1

Big Words Video 8.5: ‘Deconstruction’

March 24, 2015

Before we shot the Bonus Clip as a companion for the show episode, Jameel and I talked about the evolution of a joke in relation to doing standup; where it starts, how it opens on stage and where it ends up. For the video, Co-Host Rob B. delivers the probing question and Jameel Key does a damn good job of explaining his process:

Please take the time to Subscribe to the Big Words I Know By Heart Channel on Youtube and take an extra moment to give it a Like or Share on all of your 58 social networking apparatus.  I will be phasing out my multimedia blitz going into Season Two of the show in August, so if you would like automatic updates a free subscription is the way to do it.

Thanks again to Jameel and Rob for blocking out the time in the studio.  You’ll be seeing me very soon for Episode IX!

h1

ArtVoice’s ‘Best Of Buffalo’ Polls are now OPEN!

March 22, 2015

image

Hey all,

ArtVoice’s prestigious and king-making ‘Best Of Buffalo’ ballots are now open.  Please take the time to register and vote for Yours Truly as well as any and all friends of my show.  You can sign up and vote right HERE:

ArtVoice Best Of Buffalo

…and here are my recommendations, talented people and loyal friends of #BigWordsVideo.  As long as you have an email address, you’re eligible to vote.  This is a really big deal for a lot of these people, so please take the time to vote.

Best Website: BuffaloComedy.com
Best Poet: Marina Blitshteyn
Best Local Writer: Tom Waters
Best Photographer: Nancy Parisi
Best Video Artist/Filmmaker: Emil Novak Sr.
Best Burlesque Performer: The Stripteasers
Best Standup Comic: Jameel Key
Best Movie Theater: North Park
Best Jazz Musician: Will Holton
Best Rock/Blues Musician: Tommy Z.
Best Jazz Act: Will Holton
Best Rock Act: Black Widow/Widow Maker
Best Country Act: Blood Money
Best Original Music: Busted Stuff
Best Acoustic Act: Michael Bly Band
Best Local Hip Hop: Art ‘Way Of Life’ Shepard
Best New Band: Folkfaces
Best Open Mic: Wednesday’s At Milkie’s On Elmwood
Best Club DJ: DJ Soma
Best Female Vocalist: Lana Notaro Hergert
Best Male Vocalist: Michael Hund
Best New Restaurant: Hot Mama’s Canteen
Best Chef: Bob Desiderio
Best BBQ: Al-E-Oops
Best Beef On Weck: My Little Margie’s
Best Burger: Grover’s
Best Steak: The Red Osier
Best Ice Cream: Taffy’s
Best Wings: Penora’s
Best Fish Fry: My Little Margie’s
Best Italian For Family Dining: Desiderio’s/Lancaster Ale House
Best Stellar Restaurant Service: Desiderio’s/Lancaster Ale House
Best Bookstore: WNY Book & Arts Center

Happy Voting & Good Luck, Everybody!

Tom

h1

‘It’s All About The Benjamin’ goes live on BuffaloComedy.com

March 2, 2015

It's All About The Benjamin

Writing Travesty has been entirely too much fun so far!  And the more I think about it, the more I would prefer to let the book’s release slip to 2016 rather than rush publication.  We’ll see how the year plays out, though.  I’ve been approaching my writing and, by extension, the release of any future books from an entirely different perspective.  I don’t want to rush books anymore.  I don’t want to cut corners or shove a second draft out.

Anyway, the latest essay (‘It’s All About The Benjamin’) went live on BuffaloComedy.com this morning.  It’s a categorical humor essay about early parenting.  It went through about four different drafts and re-writes before I was happy with it, but I’m pretty proud of the finished product.  If you’re a parent, you’ll really enjoy this one.  Even if you’re not, there are a lot of laughs per sentence here:

It’s All About The Benjamin

I was reluctant to go back to the well so soon where being a single dad was concerned, but after putting some thought into it, I reached the decision that ‘Write What You Know’ overrides any other factors in play.  This essay was originally 6 or 7 rules and kept building until it reached 10.  There’s not a lot of fat on this piece.  I tried to write (and re-write) it efficiently without a lot of extraneous exposition.  I hope you like it.

Please take an extra minute to give it a FB Like, a Retweet or a ‘Share’ on any of your various social networking.  I’m happy to share some of my works in progress for free and this is a small way that you can return the kindness.