Archive for the ‘if they can’t take a joke’ Category

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The Ballad Of Gregg Sansone (Uncut)

March 28, 2016

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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.

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

January 21, 2016

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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.

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On Dasher, On Dancer, On Prozac (Updated)

December 14, 2015

 

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

Happy Holidays!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Checking the expiration date on my NA eggnog,

Tom ‘yuletide’ Waters

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Striking Gold At The WNY Book & Arts Center

December 7, 2014

The Book Reading & Signing today at the WNY Book & Arts Center was something of a fourth quarter Hail Mary.  Is that an appropriate sports metaphor?  I certainly don’t know.  At any rate, attendance wasn’t looking too good from the outset, but a really nice crowd showed up from Amherst, Depew, Lancaster and Buffalo proper, and not only that, they showed up with money!  I’m very grateful to have readers who know that the best way to support local, living authors is with their wallets.  I’m a happy camper after this particular reading, and I certainly wouldn’t mind circling back to WNYBAC again some day.  After two readings in two months, though, this old dog is tired.  That’s it for the live promotions for a little while, at least.  Maybe I’ll see you all on the front lines sometime in the spring.  In the meantime, here’s a clip from today’s 2 hour marathon reading.  Thanks are in order to Rosemarie Williams at WNYBAC as well as all of you who came near and far to see me.  As far as the YouTubes go, you’ll see me (not the other way around) in less than two weeks!

Sharing the Buffalove (ugh…),

Tom Waters

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Book Reading & Signing Announced for December @WNY Book & Arts Center

October 6, 2014

Morning!

I’ve scheduled and secured one more signing for the end of the year. Here are the pertinent details:

Book Reading & Signing w/local humor author Tom Waters
Location:
WNY Book & Arts Center
468 Washington St.
Buffalo, NY

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.

Date & Time:
Saturday, December 6th
2 p.m.-4p.m.

(716) 348-1430

FB Event Page for WNY Books & Arts Center Reading & Signing

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I can assure you that between this event and Hot Mama’s Canteen these are the only book promotions I’ll be doing for the remainder of the year. If you’ve been to one of my readings before, you know how much fun they can be. If you haven’t, now would be a good time to find out. Both events are very important to me. Bear in mind that local musicians play out six and seven nights a week and most people wouldn’t think twice about heading out to see them perform. As a local author (at best) I host only a handful of events a year. Support your local artists! As always, I give discounts on anyone buying multiple books or multiple copies. Someone will probably be filming the event for future inclusion on one of my show sites. Again, please mark your calendar, book a sitter and make this date. With any luck, I will still have copies available for the limited edition print run of Icarus On The Mend: Memoirs Of A Manic Depressive.

Hope to see you there!
Tom

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Icarus Manuscript Fetches A King’s Ransom, Big Words Radio Wins An Award & Doubt It Publishing Looks For A New Author On The Roster

September 29, 2011

With such a large scale project accompanied by an enormous timeline, I thought it would be a natural idea to auction off the original manuscript (along with a copy of the hardcover when it’s released).  I started writing Icarus On The Mend last October (in 2010), spent the last two months proof-reading, spell checking and generally filling any gaps in the continuity and continue to put the finishing touches on the second read-through.  The auction started on FB this week and I’m astonished to see that the only copy that anyone can read for the next year is up to $225!  We’ll find out how much it fetches by close of business tomorrow.

A year from now, Icarus On The Mend will launch on my birthday (October 25th, 2012) in a limited, numbered hardcover edition comprised of 50 copies in an 8.25×10.75 format.  Due to the sheer size of the book (430 pages and counting in 6×9), I had to go bigger in order to make the book cost effective.  I’ve been working closely with a new artist on the cover concept and he’s researching mythology and moths for an acrylic painting due by August 1st.  Returning Doubt It graphic designer Brian Platter (Six Shot Studios) will be designing all three volumes of the book over the course of the next year from the interior to the wraparound cover layout.  Due to the nature (and content) of the book, I’m not in a big hurry to share it with everyone.  Regardless, the book is almost done and there seems to be a very large demand in the market for people to read it.  It’s been soothing to have a project that we can all take our time with for once so that we all make sure that the book is as perfect as it’s going to be by the time you buy a copy.

Once we all get around to October of 2013, Icarus On The Mend will come out in two soft cover trade paperback volumes in a 6×9 format with the addition of at least one new chapter.  Brian Platter is working on an original photo reel cover for the first volume along with an identical photo negative for the second.

The long term objective for all of this is to release a third volume some twenty years from now as a companion piece to the former two.  Many people have asked me how I can release an autobiography when my life is (in fact) not over with yet.  I decided to start writing it a year ago so that I could retain as much information as possible while it was still instantly retrievable.  After ten years of freelancing, it felt like the right time to reflect on my life in order to prepare for the future.  I also feel that my experience with manic depression might be able to help others coping with the illness, whether it’s relatives, friends of those diagnosed or people with the actual diagnosis.

The book has already drawn more controversy than I expected and it’s not even out yet.  For once I wasn’t trying to cause any trouble and it showed up to the party anyway.  The majority of the dissension came from the fact that (in almost every instance), I’ve used real names in this book.  My intent as to why I’d do this has been called into question and I’m going to address this by saying that there are two ways that you can pen a memoir: You can open up a big gray area where you edit what actually happened and try to apply a complementary image to your life or you can work on being unflinchingly honest about yourself and others.  I haven’t compromised my art so far and I’m certainly not going to start now.  I didn’t use real names as a marketing ploy and (unless the events reported could have caused someone immediate harm), I didn’t use real names to cause anything scandalous.  Again, it felt like the right thing to do and my intentions were genuine.

I’m shooting for a $40 price point on the hardcover and a $15 price point on each soft cover.  It’s been awhile since I’ve released a book in hardcover format (If They Can’t Take A Joke), so I’m not sure if this will be possible, but that’s what we’re aiming at.  I appreciate all the feedback that those of you on Facebook have provided in the interim whether it was positive or negative and I’m pretty shocked by the amount of money some of you have been willing to shell out towards the manuscript.  It’s been very encouraging and it’s given me the initiative for that final push towards polishing off what’s left that needs to be done.  This won’t be my last book by a long shot, but the production window is buying me enough time for starting a family, taking a long break (if I’m capable of taking it) or the opportunity to focus on other projects and other authors for Doubt It Publishing.

Wrapping up, it looks as if The Big Words I Know By Heart Radio Hour is receiving a You Rock award at Bravo on October 22nd to commemorate the Busted Stuff two-party from earlier in the year.  British journalist Joel Meadows will be my distinguished guest on Big Words Radio on October 25th, Richard Wicka will be my guest in November and we’re doing the Big Words Finale Show early in December.  The Buffalo News has also accepted my third and final My View submission for the year which should be running some time in October.  They have a three submission cap and one of my goals this year was to hit all three.  There’s also one month left for promising Buffalo authors to submit their original manuscripts for possible publication as a 2011 Doubt It Publishing Author Of The Year.  Manuscripts can be sent to: bigwordsmailbag@yahoo.com with ‘Submission’ in the subject field.

 

Have a great rest of the week and thanks for keeping up,

Tom Waters

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‘Scorpion’ Rising, Icarus Ascends & Rust Belt Books On The Horizon

June 22, 2011

While Mockery is winding down and Mark McElligott’s Random Thoughts From A Broken Mind is still gaining momentum, I’ve been quietly preparing to go full steam ahead with promotions this fall with Poke The Scorpion With A Sharp Stick.  Brian Platter (Six Shot Studios) and I finished the book in record time.  While I originally set a deadline for the final version of the book at August 1st, it’s already done.  You can buy the book in advance by clicking your way over to:

http://www.lulu.com/product/paperback/poke-the-scorpion-with-a-sharp-stick-selected-poems-2008-2011/16069791

Please click the FB ‘Like’ tab to the right of the book and feel free to review, comment or rate the book while you’re there.  There’s a ten page preview of the contents on the page in order to give you a sneak peek at how the book looks.

Starting on July 1st (through the end of the month), I’ll be running a 30% off sale on lulu for those of you interested in buying the book online.  This should offset their shipping rates and make the book more affordable to those of you who live out of state who are interested in picking up the third poetry collection.  After that I’ll be doing a soft launch on Sunday, July 10th at Brennan’s Bowery Bar in Williamsville at 6 p.m. along with Mark McElligott and a live musical performance by Dave ‘The Real Deal’ Waters.  If you’re a former classmate from Clarence High School, it sounds as if the classes of ’92, ’93, ’94 and beyond will be dog piling into Brennan’s on the same day for an informal reunion.  At last count, there will be no less than 50 other alumni showing up, so this event is shaping up to be a real barn burner.  Signed First Edition copies of Poke The Scorpion, Mockery, Slapstick & Superego, Breathing Room Volume I & II, and If They Can’t Take A Joke will be available along with Random Thoughts From A Broken Mind by Mark McElligott and 12 Priests & 3 Gnomes by David Waters.

The hard launch for Poke The Scorpion will hit in August and Mark and I will start touring and promoting in Rochester, Buffalo, Alfred and beyond.  While I was apprehensive about releasing two of my own books in the same year, it was a necessary evil I had to carry out in order to devote the time and energy it’s going to take to bring Icarus On The Mend in on time for a fall 2012 launch as a numbered hardcover limited edition of no more than 50 copies.  I’ll be devoting at least six months to proofreading, editing and re-writing the manuscript so that it’s grammatically correct as well as entertaining from a pacing standpoint.  One year later in 2013 I’ll be retiring the hardcover format and launching two smaller volumes of the same book with the intention of releasing a third volume when I get older.  Somewhere in the interim I’ll release Travesty, a return to shorter form where my bombastic essays are concerned.

Mark McElligott and I will both be reading this Sunday at Rust Belt Books on Allen St. in the heart of downtown Buffalo at 5 p.m.  We may be a little late, so please be patient with us as we’re both driving from the suburbs.  We’re paying to rent the space, so attendance and book sales for this event will be crucial.  The turnout will determine whether I go back to Rust Belt books or not, so if you live downtown, make Sunday count for us please.  This is the first reading I’ve done at Rust Belt in almost a decade.  Mark is polished and primed and almost pitch perfect where his timing and delivery are concerned.  Stockman’s, Caz Coffee and Finnan’s were good practice for breaking his teeth on audience response and now he’s ready for prime time.  Look out, Buffalo, because we’re ready to make a sizeable entertainment dent in the collective populace for the rest of this year and we won’t stop until we win you over.

See you this Sunday,

Tom Waters

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