Posts Tagged ‘essays’

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Travesty & Mockery iBooks/Pulp 716 next Saturday!

November 4, 2016

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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

 

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Travesty Now Available!

August 19, 2016

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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

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Travesty Inbound!

July 20, 2016

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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

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Wardrobe Malfunction

May 2, 2016

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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

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Discourse Correction

April 4, 2016

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“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

 

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Bat To The Future

March 21, 2016

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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.

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Dante’s Double

March 1, 2016

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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

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

February 12, 2016
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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.

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The Divine Pop Comedy

February 8, 2016

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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.

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Breath Of A Salesman

February 1, 2016

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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

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Creature Of Habit

January 4, 2016

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‘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

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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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Parrots & Pigeons

December 1, 2015

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Counting my blessings while lining the cage,

Tom Waters

 

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Sly Waters & The Thievius Justinius (Updated)

November 23, 2015

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Author’s Note: With the holiday season coming up, I’d like to kindly remind you to spend your video game shopping dollars anywhere besides Gamestop.  They are an evil, soulless corporation that doesn’t care about their employees, their customers or their stockholders.  I strongly recommend Oogie Games.  They’re local, they’re friendly and they’re competitively priced.  I thought I’d kick the holiday shopping season off with a little ditty about my time at Electronics Boutique from my third book First Person, Last Straw (2004, Authorhouse).  Enjoy!

I fear for the future of our country. I’m horrified of the children of tomorrow. They are barely literate simpletons with attention deficit disorder and poor social skills. Easily excitable and incapable of focusing on any one thing for more than five minutes. I worry about where their attention span will go (or how far out the window it will go) by the time they’ve reached my age. Lord knows mine is shot, but I used to be sharp. It happens some time during your reluctant box step into adulthood. You’re sitting at a traffic light dwelling on credit cards, romance, or a sitcom from the night before and bubbling up from your subconscious you think, “I believe I’ll have a grilled cheese sandwich today”. I’m father to a million children, and they are all addle-brained simpletons lacking in manners. I know because I’ve worked at a video game store for a year now, and it breaks my heart.

It’s not just a freak occurrence or a problem with the local water. One of my saner customers told me that he’d traveled far and wide and ran into the same character no matter what gaming store he’d been to. The most annoying scamps who won’t take a hint. Kids from 6-17 who come into the shop wide-eyed and making a mess in their pants over the fantasy land laid out before them. To them it’s a paradise filled with a million delights. Portly plumbers leaping through the air in raccoon suits, robots blasting the hell out of each other, cars running down hookers; a total sensory overload. And with no cue of body language or encouragement on my part, they shamble up to the counter and start speaking in tongues.

They relate every gaming experience they’ve ever had, rich with adjectives and spittle. Games that are coming out. Games out that they haven’t yet played. I despise these demon seeds. They don’t go away. They don’t take a hint. Shit tumbles out of their mouth whether you listen or not. I walk away from them, turn my back to them, flat out ignore them, snap at them, and they don’t notice. They go on uninterrupted, neurons popping off in their tiny little brains like stove top popcorn. And I hate them. I stop talking to them to concentrate on my work and they continue. I’ve learned that there’s more to life than the conquests and victories you’ve achieved inside of a television. One day I hope that they will too, and piss off somewhere else.

Don’t get me wrong, I love my job. Right now, there’s nowhere else I’d rather be, but in the words of Randall in “Clerks”, ‘This job would be great if it weren’t for the fucking customers’. There’s a lot of things that the corporation neglected to tell me during the interview. Before this, I had a cushy office job with a security company. They installed and serviced home alarm systems. It was 9-5, Monday through Friday. I had my own office, my own desk, and I learned to drink coffee and talk on the phone a lot. I handled the bad psychic end of the business, fielding customer complaints and cancellations across Western New York. I was the company punching bag. A lot of people would consider it the perfect job, but not me. I’m not cut out for 9-5. I really mean that. I’m terrible with free time. I’d been courting Electronics Boutique for a year and a half. I was a loyal follower. I hope I wasn’t as annoying as the bastard children of Ms.Pac Man, but I can’t be sure.

They started me off at a new store in Niagara Falls. I’ve worked in Orchard Park, Cheektowaga, Clarence, and Amherst. I’ve worked in three different malls. I’ve been in music, toys, security, pizza, books, movies, phones, carpet, and outside sales. I’ve never been to Niagara Falls. The people who live in Niagara Falls are a delicious blend of crazy and poor. I don’t know if they’re crazy because they’re poor or poor because they’re crazy, but it makes for an interesting mix. Every five feet there’s a hotel, motel, outlet store or buffet. The traffic is like nothing I’ve ever seen. People drive eighty five miles an hour in all speed zones and come to a screeching halt before turning into a plaza. It’s my theory that five people live in Niagara Falls and the other motorists are zipping into and out of town to get the hell somewhere else. I don’t blame them.

The second day I closed at the new store, someone wandered by outside asking us if we wanted to buy razor blades. The musky smell of poverty is thicker than the trash that rolled onto our lawn outside from the motel next door. This is when the job was still a dream come true. The manager who hired me got pregnant and moved to Florida to be with her family two weeks after the store opened, leaving me clueless, confused, and without an authority figure to report to. I’m an assistant manager by the way. Curt, the gentleman who took over, was a welcome relief. Curt was a soft spoken, semi-balding guy in his ’30s who did DJ work on the side. We both loved redheads, salt and vinegar potato chips and sarcastic wit. We made a good team. He came over from the downtown Buffalo store where I trained, so we already had a good rapport.

The first three months were like paradise. I love video games. I’ve been playing them since I was 6 and it’s been a constant hobby. It was like a dream to walk in every morning and have the store to myself, turning on the demonstration units and processing mountains of interesting titles I’d never played along with old classics that reminded me of simpler times in the industry. The business has grown up a lot in the last thirty years. It’s exploded. To think that we’ve gone from quarter-operated Pong units making millions in bars overnight to a multi-billion dollar a year market with 20 Playstation 2 units worldwide and Super Mario representing the 2nd most recognizable icon next to Mickey Mouse is amazing. To be a part of that machine is pretty interesting. It’s evolving at the speed of light, and it’s probably only a matter of time before 3 dimensions give way to 4 in the console market, and the next big game is a bigger deal than the next movie sequel. In a world full of stale ideas, all the fresh ones are arriving via polygons, cel-shading and bump-mapped Xanadus. But there’s more to life than games. And forty hours a week inside of a peripheral hobby can be trying.

Nobody in retail enjoys the holiday season and if they tell you that, they’re lying. After Thanksgiving, the flood gates open and torrents of vicious, greedy, obnoxious customers issue forth breaking against your point of sale like a sea of assholes. They all want personal attention, the lowest price in five states, and to take out all their seasonally related stress out on you. You see the worst of people during Christmas season in retail. Short tempered, short-changed, and short-sighted, they push your limits to the breaking point. Mantras of interpersonal wisdom like ‘The customer is always right.’ and ‘Treat every customer like your only customer.’ wear thin by December 24th. In my business, it is a war, and we’re on the front lines with no reinforcements arriving.

Following the wave of grandparents and parents seeking the object of their children’s affection are the children themselves. This job has made me hate kids. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t hate all kids, just other people’s kids. Watching them scurry around for twelve months unattended and neglected, I think it would be more humanitarian for me if their makers put them in a cage before they left the house. I babysat for years when I was younger. I worked at Toy’s ‘R’ Us later on and still managed to tune annoying rugrats out. As of today, my paternal instinct is gone. Snip the rip cords and stomp on my balls because I don’t want any children if they’re going to grow up like the ones I’ve seen. Crying, whining, simpering little shits who are given every comfort under the sun to shut them up. Ill-behaved adolescents who haven’t been raised to say please and thank you or keep from wigging out in public. They’re like a cloud of Tasmanian devils, swirling through the front door and leaving a path of destruction in their wake for us to clean up and arrange so that the next half-witted offspring can trash it all over again. We go to great pains to alphabetize everything for easy reference and parents feign ignorance and focus on something else while their demon spawn rearrange whole sections into a case study in entropy. Poor people should incinerate their eggs and buy pets. Stupid people are better off taking a bullet for humanity and pulling out during sex. If that’s too blunt, walk a mile around one of the stores I’ve worked at.

In January, I was asked to take over the store in downtown Buffalo. They’d been robbed at gunpoint. One of the managers was robbed making a deposit. Before they put a security gate in, someone drove through the front window. The store opened on September 11th, 2001. If it was built over a sacred Indian burial ground, I wouldn’t be surprised. Ever the corporate whore, I declined the promotion but agreed to transfer over and help pick up the pieces. Nobody else in the district wanted a piece of this location, so it was worth beucoups brownie points.

Instead of me, they gave the store to Tony, my current boss. Tony worked at the store and had a knack for not taking shit from the customers. If someone threatened to kick his ass (which happens pretty often at the store, to all of us), he’d agree to take it outside and show them his black belt degree. We’re roughly the same age, and, while we don’t have much in common, we’ve worked well together. We took a store that was on the brink of disaster, cleaned it up, and ran it like professionals. Why the past tense? Because I’m leaving in a few months. I’m getting my own store. And it’s a relief, because the downtown location is a living nightmare, every day.

In Buffalo (not the concept of Buffalo in the whole Western New York togetherness sense of the word, but the city of Buffalo itself), there are good neighborhoods and bad neighborhoods, invariably right next to each other. There are sections that you just don’t drive through, get near, or talk about. The city itself is a dying metropolis with no jobs that’s driving its residents slowly mad. It’s a poor, run-down, depressed city. And like a rain gutter, all the trash runs downhill. So where do they go to buy their games? My store. We’re at the epicenter of the city bus route. We’re the heart of the city, located near a Target and a score of other discount stores for the financially impaired. Give me your poor, your tired, your white, black, and hispanic trash. Give me your humble bottom feeders and generations living off of the system.

The first of the month is like a holiday in our store. It creeps up on us and one day, you come into work wondering why it’s so busy for a Tuesday or a Wednesday and it hits you. Oh shit, it’s the first of the month again! But of course! People come tearing into the store throwing money around like George Soros, frittering away their allowance from Uncle Sam. These are the same people who trade their games in at the end of the month, or try to scam us and get their cash back so that they can pay the rent because they blew all their money on the first of the month. Don’t get me wrong, though, we get a lot of people who blow their Social Security Disability checks, too. Crazy people deserve our tax dollars, too, don’t they? Why get a job when you can get a prescription and sit on your ass at home playing video games and talking to your other personalities?

The bottom of the financial ladder contains every stereotype you can fathom. I’m not a prejudiced person, but working at my store has really strained that viewpoint. The majority of the black people who come in to shop smell like they rolled around in a marijuana sauna, or they reek of cheap gin and beer. At eleven o’clock in the morning. Some of the black guys who come in pay for their games by peeling a few twenties from a wad held together with a rubber band, and they don’t look like business analysts. I’ve never seen a hispanic person come in alone. They always seem to roll up in a beat-up, rust-eaten conversion van and pile out of the vehicle family reunion style, in packs of thirty seven. Like a hive mentality, they’ll rip the store to shreds in fifteen minutes and leave having spent ten dollars. The white trash is no better. Three hundred pound mothers with three teeth, hair that doesn’t look like it was washed this side of the century, and a white t-shirt with more stains than rolls of fat smack their ill-behaved kids off the walls when they whine for games. I saw an Italian mom put her twelve year old boy in a half nelson this summer and slam him against the hood of her car because he was throwing a tantrum. It’s pretty disheartening stuff. This must be what talk show audiences do with their free time.

And it turned out that the one black guy we had on our staff was behind the store robbery. That was a real blow to the team morale. Not only did he rob our store, he robbed two other stores within the company and the deposit mugging happened a month after he got hired. Our sewage system has backed up and flooded the back room with shit three times since I got there. So it’s no wonder that the other stores think of us as the hemorrhoid of the region. The first manager who took the store was led out in handcuffs for stealing (along with the rest of the staff) and the second manager up and quit because he was too pissed off with the clientele. My boss and I have made a go of it longer than any other management team since the store opened. What’s our secret? We’ve been through a lot.

Management is a case study in stress and tolerance. How much can you take before you flip out and start breaking things? I smoke a lot of cigarettes. That takes the edge off a bit for me. When I have an absolutely horrific day at work where my face is beet-red and I want to scream against the back of my hand, I go home and sit down in front of the t.v. with a stiff belt of whiskey or bourbon. Not the healthiest way to cope. Plus I’ve got a light at the end of the tunnel. I’m paid very well right now, and when I leave and get my own store I’m certain to get more. Playing career leap-frog is exhausting, and I’m sick of starting over and working my way up through the ranks. It’s a great company with a lot of perks. Health, dental, 401K, employee discount, and lots of freebies. You could fill a closet with all the promotional t-shirts the game companies give out. The majority of them come in black and extra large. The companies assume that most gamers are overweight and like to hide it. They’re right. We’ve got a lot of lofty sales goals and expectations, but I’m not worried about them. We’re a great team that’s been through a lot and whatever doesn’t kill you gets you through another day at our store. Or rather, if you get killed, you can start again from a save point.

Tom ‘Power Up’ Waters

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‘Breaking Dad’ (Revised & Updated)

November 16, 2015

image

Originally appeared on Buffalo Comedy.com September, 2014.

Imagine that you’re made responsible for a meth addict in your own home. Said meth addict trashes everything in your house on the regular, doesn’t get the memo when his entire body is running on empty and it’s time to go to sleep, and he can’t ever be distracted when he has a goal in mind (which is usually some insane directive like opening and closing a cabinet eighteen hundred times in a row or throwing all of your clothes on the floor to climb into a laundry basket and hang loose). Oh, and he makes a B.M. about five times a day and laughs directly at you making eye contact while he’s pissing on you. These are the beginning stages of parenthood.

I have a fifteen month old little angel named Benjamin. His favorite hobbies are: yelling at the top of his lungs while he barrels through the kitchen at warp speed 5, pulling all of my diet soda out of the fridge, throwing it on the floor and then yanking the shelving out, squeezing blueberries between his thumb and forefinger and grinding them into the carpet, and light napping. He has two speeds: psychotic hypomania and unconsciousness. His interests include: spinning wheels to figure out what their general deal is, terrorizing my rescue cat Morris and shitting out pigments that are as yet undiscovered by our standardized color wheel.

I love him more than I’ve ever loved anyone or anything combined and cubed. This has to be with the help of some strong evolutionary failsafe programmed into any parent’s DNA sequence. We protect and nurture our young so that we can maintain and occasionally further our species. You have to love them because they’re nigh-impossible to appease. Note that ‘nigh’ is the key adjective in that previous sentence.

I’m the first parent ever who thinks that their child is the cutest thing that ever scampered, scurried or scuttled. I’m the first parent ever who takes ten thousand pictures of his child blinking with snot running out of both nostrils, apple juice dribbling down his chin and the remnants of his lunch molecularly fused to his clothes like a hybrid Jackson Pollock painting and finds the photos to be adorable. I’m the first parent who thinks that when he pulls his own socks off, shoves a round peg into a trapezoid hole or monkey punches his fists into a xylophone that these are the early signs of genius. I can’t help it. I’m proud of my boy. There’s no avoiding the wave of emotion symbiotically associated with this tiny little perfect facsimile of myself.

I wrote a long time ago (‘March Of The Diapered Soldiers’ from First Person, Last Straw) that I didn’t know how to deal with newborns. If you can identify with that statement, let me make this small suggestion: practice, practice, practice. All it takes is the patience of a saint, the endurance of an Olympic athlete, the medical training of a Home Health Aide, the innate psychic abilities to determine how said newborn feels without verbalizing their emotions or even sending corresponding facial signals, and the olfactory knack of blocking out most of the smells that you’ll encounter around the clock. That’s it. If you can get the hang of that whole situation, you’re good. If you haven’t mastered some, any or all of that, there’s plenty of on-the-job training.

Caring for a child that you had a fairly substantial role in creating is the best way to comprehend the philosophy of living in the moment. You’re forced to mirror your baby, you can see the cogs and wheels and lights and buzzers going off in their head and because everything is new for them, everything becomes new for you again. Laying on the floor and looking sideways changes your perspective on the world so much that you want to do it again. Studying a toy in a way that you truly want to know what the object is inside and out and what it’s purpose is in your life helps you to understand it completely. Seeing other babies, meeting other human beings for the first time and marveling at animals, trees and motor vehicles are all experiences that you cherish and appreciate. Every second of every day is new and fresh and exciting. I haven’t lived in the moment like that since, well, since I was a child. Zen masters urge their followers to see the world through the eyes of a child. There’s a reason for that. It’s so you won’t take the world and everything it has to offer for granted.

If you asked me sixteen months ago or more, I would have told you that most stand up comics lost their edge and stopped being funny once they had kids. That might still be true. I can’t be objective about my life. No one can. Now, though, I get where all of those comics were coming from. They refined their demographic and started appealing to a different audience, mainly people who took the next step in their lives and decided to have children. I’m not saying it’s selfish not to have kids or that it’s a nobler decision to have them. Don’t even try to pull me into that debate. If you have them, though, you better love ’em with everything you’ve got. Go out, procreate and see if I’m wrong. If I am, you can piss all over me and laugh at the same time. I already went through the training module for that one.

buying up stock in Gerber,
Tom Waters

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There Will Be Piss

November 2, 2015

Elmo

“I can do anything I want!”
-Benjamin (whilst flying a cow riding a Jeep and wearing a Batman costume)

My son could grow up to be a serial killer or the President Of The United States, but I’d rather he grew up to be a decent person instead. Raising him is a soft touch. It’s my job to keep him grounded without crushing his dreams at the same time. I don’t want him to turn into every Only Child I’ve ever met, an entitled little shit, a schoolyard bully or another kid from the post-Millenial generation who gets trophies for failing. Everyone tells me that the Terrible Threes are a lot worse than the Terrible Twos. Right now we’re somewhere in between. Developmentally, it’s an exciting and frustrating time. He’s learning the power of Please along with the crushing realization that No is also a possible response. We’re learning and doing a lot of things for the first time (or some cases, the first time in a long time) together.

Here’s the thing about potty training: You’re going to wind up with piss everywhere. Piss on the bathroom floor, piss in the bed sheets, piss on the couch, piss on the ceiling, piss on the cat…in a nutshell, piss everywhere but the potty. To the best of my understanding, the goal of potty training is to eliminate all the variables and piss on absolutely everything until the only option left is the potty. Make friends with piss because there’s going to be a lot of it. I also strongly recommend a foam-based antibacterial agent. In every room.

Eventually, there’s a golden shower at the end of the rainbow. Or is it a light at the end of the urethra?  You know what I mean.  After months of urine-soaked pets, irreplaceable collectibles and all-weather indoor carpets that aren’t covered for Acts Of Juice, you can look forward to upending a concave race car with piss sloshing around in it into the actual toilet. Or some other officially licensed movie/cartoon/toy-inspired miniature commode. Contrary to what you might think, it’s not as glamorous as it sounds, but it’s my duty as a daddy. There was a ‘doody’ pun that could have been utilized there, but I fucking hate puns, so I sidestepped it.

And for the record, I really, really hope that Freud was wrong, because I don’t want to mess my kid’s entire life up by either rushing him to the toilet or telling him to take his sweet time. Sigmund Freud was a cokehead with a cross sampling of kinky Austrian housewives, so he was probably wrong. In the unlikely event that he knew what he was talking about, I’ve chosen to stop using a flare gun when my son sits down on the toilet. I have a distinct memory of crapping my pants in Kindergarten and getting sent home, so I would not be classified by Freudian standards as ‘Anal Retentive’. Subsequently, I grew up to be a portrait of perfect mental health (plus or minus three neuroses). I had a small amount of psychological blowback that stems from getting sent home from Kindergarten for crapping my pants, though. At least it didn’t happen last week at work.

There’s a bittersweet realization every day I’m with my son that he will only be two years and four months old once, or two years, five months and five days old once, and so on. This age will never come back around and no matter how I try to slow it down or wring every second out of every day, it goes by too quickly. I understand why couples keep having children now. They want to go back. They want to hang on to it. This sweet, bear-hugging cuddly age will only last so long and then it’s gone forever. I’m going to be the daddy blowing his nose into his shirt sleeve the first day of Pre-School. Possibly the dad who kisses his son on the cheek dropping him off at middle school. I’ll be the old man blubbering in the back of the auditorium at his high school graduation. But I’m projecting. I really do love him to pieces, even when he’s being a little monster. On those days, he takes after his mother.

I’ve learned to do a lot of things that I wouldn’t normally enjoy or do by myself. We’ve been to every park, nature reserve and playground in a five mile radius. Helpful Hint: Most playgrounds that are structurally engineered for three foot persons are not also suitable for those who are six foot three. We’ve been to a number of petting zoos. Helpful Hint: Wear durable shoes. You’ll know why later. We’ve been to ice cream parlors, toy stores and donut shops. That’s where the word No (strongly, firmly and with conviction) comes in handy along with a predesignated exit strategy in the extremely likely event of tantrums.

Being a parent means training a tiny life form what it is to be a human being. I’m still wrapping my head around what that means, but I’m doing the best I can. It means saying sorry after you bomb a long pass into someone’s foot with a five pound musical snail. That it’s not acceptable to eat microwave popcorn at 8:30 in the morning. Or that it’s not okay to watch the feature length motion picture The Incredibles immediately after watching the feature length motion picture The Incredibles. What’s great is that I got sober shortly after he was born, so we’re both finding out how to adjust to the world together at the same time. To be quite frank, my peeing aim is only slightly better.

Signing our name in the snow for our postgraduate semester,
Tom Waters

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Like A Yo-Yo-ing Hole In The Head

October 1, 2015

I lose what little sanity I have left every time I’m behind the wheel.

Ten years ago I got a speeding ticket for going 55 in a 30 past a police station. My bad. I’m thankful for that though, because I learned in the mandated driver safety course that police only target motorists who speed in excess of 11 miles over the limit. From that point forward I’ve driven ten miles over the posted limit, no more, no less. Life is too short to go 30 miles an hour and I really wish everyone would incorporate this philosophy into their subroutine. As a result, I’ve become more aggressive when driving than I was to begin with, and I was pretty angry before that particular ticket (which is not to be confused with the citation
I got for going 50 through a 30 mph school zone in the summer).

I scream at people in front of me knowing full well that they can’t hear me. I have entire one-sided dialogues with them whether they know it or not. I get that from my mother, who (fortunately for everyone else on the road including passing deer) retired from driving fifteen years ago after a long and illustrious career of vehicle-totaling mishaps that were usually her fault. If I’m stuck behind a slowpoke for five minutes I will pass them out of spite and give them the ‘Thumbs Up’ gesture when we make eye contact. Giving people the middle finger when driving is now officially passe’. It is no longer fashionable. I was a passenger in someone’s car when they gave a neighboring driver the Thumbs Up and loved it instantaneously. It’s insulting, sarcastic and really conveys your dissatisfaction in the quality of their ability to operate a motor vehicle. Shaking your head at people in disgust is good too, but you have to make sure that they see you doing it. I usually pair my Thumbs Up by verbally telling them (or mouthing the words) ‘You’re doing a great job!’ I don’t have road rage. I have road psychosis. I am not a patient man, even less so when I’m trying to get somewhere in an expedient manner, which just so happens to be all of the time.

We’ve all taken the same permit test when we were kids so we’re all on the same page with the notion that the fast lane is located in the left hand lane. That’s an established rule of infrastructure, right? As a result, I am infuriated by anyone’s flagrant violation of this rule. Same thing with turning signals. We all have them. We all know what they do. So fucking USE them. And try using them for longer than a quick blink right before you turn. I blow my top when people are going under the speed limit and cars to the right of me are lapping us. I don’t have any desire to street race or show off my car’s ability (or inability) to go from 0-60 in five seconds, but again, ten miles over the speed limit is legally acceptable, so why wouldn’t you do THAT? These three things short circuit my brain. I flip my shit. I lose my mind.

What’s really challenging for me these days is self-censoring my automotive hate speech in real time for my son. He’s at an age now where he repeats everything he hears and that’s no bueno. All it took was one blasphemous obscenity parroted from the back baby seat before I started making a concerted effort to alter my snappy insults for an All Ages Audience.

‘Move it, F&$K-face!’

-has turned into:

‘Move it, Yo-Yo!’

and:

‘Real nice, you @$%&*!#ing c*&%$#-s#%&ing m@#$%er-@#$%!’

-has been replaced with:

‘I need to get to work, Yo-Yo!’

That is my new go-to when Little Pitcher is strapped into his miniature regulation seat behind me. The last thing I need is reports from Day Care or (even worse) his mother that he’s demonstrating and reciting a College-Level swearing proficiency. I need that like a yo-yo-ing hole in the head.
There’s a small risk that what I’m about to say is controversial, but I’m going to say it anyway. If you’re over the age of 60 and you can’t drive the speed limit, use your blinker or remain within the clearly marked boundaries of any one lane while puttering forward in a straight line, do the rest of us a favor in three easy steps:

1. Pull over to the side of the road.
2. Dig a shallow hole.
3. Climb into it.

Again, that may not be the most politically correct viewpoint, but it’s mine and I’m going to own it. Old people should get the Ever-Loving Yo-Yo off the road. Most of them. And stay off. Furthermore, if you’re going to buy a Buick, be the one person who doesn’t perfectly illustrate the stereotype. Drive faster than 32 miles an hour during rush hour traffic. Use your turning signal to tip fellow travelers off to the fact that you’re going to cut through three separate lanes because you forgot where your poop doctor was located until the last minute. Buy some sunglasses that don’t make you look like Cyclops from the X-Men. That’d be a good start. Or if you don’t fit this demographic, buy a Buick and prove me wrong.

Navigating traffic is a combination of simple math and prejudgement for me. If one lane out of two has forty cars to my immediate front, I glide into the other lane. Statistically, more cars equals more people driving slower than Mr. Magoo on Quaaludes, so the lane with the least cars is least likely to contain idiots. Or more likely to contain less idiots. The fast lane isn’t always fast, and it’s less likely to be fast if there are forty cars ahead of you. If I see a school bus, a garbage truck, a Buick with a miniature mummified corpse operating it, an F150 truck with a short bald guy driving it or especially a minivan (a vehicle and subculture of driver I’ve written about at great length elsewhere) I get into the other lane.

Does everyone with an F150 truck have a quarter inch cock or just the guys? Why does every gargantuan ginormous truck owner have to be a four foot bald man packing a shriveled and flaccid Vienna sausage? Why is that? The simple answer is overcompensation, and the simplest solution is typically the correct one. I see more F150s in Buffalo than you would reasonably expect and it makes no sense. I have never seen anyone in Buffalo using their oversized truck to scale the side of a majestic mountain like they do in the commercials. I have never seen anyone in Buffalo hauling half a forest full of logs in their sterling silver flatbed. I have never spotted a ‘Hemi’-powered vehicle maneuvering through a mud-caked field in some grand off-roading excursion adventure getaway.

What purpose does it serve to drive a gas guzzling behemoth? Is your pee-pee so small that you can’t bear to leave the house unless you negotiate a step-stool or repel into the cavernous cab of a truck? Do you have so much disposable income that you need a higher monthly payment on the vehicle that gets you from Point A to Point B? Do you enjoy hanging out at the gas pump so much that you need an excuse to be there more often because your motorized carriage flash-fries fossil fuels? I’m not a carbon footprint worry wart, but show me any practicality behind that buying decision because I can’t find it. Why is it always a tiny bald guy with a chip on his shoulder driving a truck or a silver-haired septuagenarian hunched over the wheel of a Buick? That’s either brilliant marketing on the part of automotive manufacturers in targeting their core demographic or a case of life imitating stereotypes.

I’m not a ‘car’ guy at all. I have a visual deficiency whereby they all look like boxes to me. Literally. I couldn’t tell you a make or model by looking at it to save my life. They are mostly steel carriages that transport us from one spot to another in my mind, no more, no less. They are holes that we dump money into until they reach the point where they’re more expensive to repair than they are to replace. That’s it. I don’t even wash my car anymore. I used to take it to the car wash once a year when I got my tax return, but I don’t even do that anymore. It’s not that important. Passengers have pointed out that I need to clean the inside of my windshield due to excessive tar buildup and I quit smoking a year ago. I cannot change my own engine oil. I have no interest in learning how. I’ve seen the steps leading up to changing a tire, their sequence and the reasons behind them, but probably couldn’t do that either if the scenario presented itself.

The last time I popped a flat, my girlfriend came over and changed it for me. This is how inconsequential cars are to me. So I don’t grasp how many grown men have created a culture out of classic cars, muscle cars, souping up their cars, souping up their sound systems, racing their cars, working on their cars in their garages and so on and so forth. One of my best friends is a car guy. He even works at a car dealership. We never talk about it. On the occasions that it crops up in conversation, my brain glazes over or taps out until he pulls me back into it. I cannot identify a piston, a carburetor or a flux capacitor in a lineup. I don’t know what they do, nor do I care. We’re from two different worlds, but we still get along. It would probably make for a good sitcom pilot that no one would ever watch.

I’m trying to become a better person, but my driving persona will be the last aspect of my psyche to get an overhaul. All of my worst character defects are on full display like a dashboard hula girl with Tourette’s. Presently, I’ll take a partial progress grade of Thumbs Up.

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Broken Toys

September 1, 2015

If you could somehow corral all my exes into a small stadium, you’d have enough crazy to power the Eastern Seaboard. Realistically, you wouldn’t even need a small stadium. I’m not that much of a stud. You could shoehorn all the participants of my romantic career into a small kitchen. Too sexist? Okay, a studio apartment. It would be a dangerous endeavor, because odds are that if you threw them all into one room, they’d eviscerate each other by lunchtime. My love life has been a lightning rod for psychosis, rage, irrational behavior and flat-out silliness. No less than four of the women I’ve been with had diagnosed mental illnesses either before, during or after our relationship. Someone told me once that ‘Hurt people hurt people’. I prefer to say that the damaged manage to find the damaged. I actually never said that until the previous sentence. I have a profound appreciation for the female race, but somehow I always draw whack jobs.

I firmly believe that there’s a wide chasm between the people you attract and the people you’re attracted to. Occasionally both categories converge, but that’s a statistical rarity. Admittedly, I am attracted to the erratic, the illogical and those who have simply gone around the bend a long time ago. My little brother likes to say “Crazy in the head, crazy in bed.” He’s right. Sex is seldom mechanical or clinical when you spend your time with women who are “a little off.” That’s being too generous. Let’s go with “totally fucking nuts.”

In my 39 years, I’ve dated a stripper, a massage therapist, no less than two former Catholic schoolgirls (who, to my great regret, did NOT hang onto their uniforms), an actress, a deejay, two nurses, a former Playboy Club employee, a marathon runner, a witch, two poets, at least two women with daddy issues, two women with mommy issues, a self-styled hippie, a philosophy instructor and a girl who had a collection of porcelain fairies. No less than three of the aforementioned were bisexuals. I will also gladly go on the record by saying that I will never date a poetess again because their brand of crazy far exceeds any other classification, genus or subspecies of the female race. I can’t really tell you approximately how many women I’ve been with because I stopped counting after eight, which was around the turn of the century. I suppose I was grateful that eight separate women took their clothes off for me and let me do things to them, and assumed that anyone else who wound up with me henceforth was gravy. So let’s just say that I’m in the low double digits for those of you keeping score at home.

To their defense, I freely admit that I have issues. I’m bipolar, I’m a Scorpio and I’m actively enrolled in recovery. Any one of those red flags would fall effortlessly into the category of ‘high maintenance’. The upside to this is that most of my subjects graduate to Muses (or, depending on your point of view or the girlfriend, comic relief) during our time together, so they reap the unintentional benefit of being written about. The downside to this is that (long after the pairing is terminated by either party) I will continue to write about the aforementioned subject long after we’re together, and it probably won’t be in a positive light depending on the conclusion or loose end we left off on. With my objective point of view, I can assure you that the end of every relationship has been the other person’s fault. Moving on, then. Not all women are attracted to me, but the ones who are tend to fall pretty hard. I had to break up with one in therapy and yet another sought inpatient treatment after our relationship concluded. Still another (rumor has it) became a lesbian after I broke up with her. I am neither proud nor ashamed of that. Good for her, though!

I’m not very good in a relationship. It’s safe to say that there’s plenty of room for improvement. Like, well, ALL men, I expend an inordinate amount of energy into the initial chase and capture and lose momentum and/or interest on the follow through. Guys (at least every guy I’ve ever known) are all about the conquest and after that, they lose interest. It could be a biological imperative, genetic encoding, Nature V. Nurture, or it could just be that most men are assholes. I will not dispute that I’m an asshole. It’s fortunate that women fall for assholes.

I wasn’t always an asshole. Like most assholes, I began life as a nice guy, and morphed into an asshole after slowly and systematically having my soul and spirit crushed by women in something that resembled a co-dependent particle collider. I do have a deeply rooted sense of romanticism and chivalry but there are multiple tectonic surface layers of assholery that have to be excavated before reaching that soft candy center.

Most of the women that I’ve been with are not the types of women that you bring home to mom. Quite the opposite, in point of fact. They have been a special breed of wrong, being impulsive, pierced, experimental, daring, exhibitionistic, well-outfitted and highly sexual. All of these traits harvest large net gains in the bedroom. Using an investment portfolio as a metaphor, there is no profit to be had over the long term, though. However, life was never boring with the majority of these girls. Thunderous sex and calamitous fights I can work with. The aforementioned is much more interesting than, say, a stable, healthy relationship with minimum peaks and valleys.

Now that I’m coming out of a five year marriage which was part and parcel of a ten year relationship, I wonder if I will sustain the same classification of woman not if but when I get involved with someone again. I’ve changed and grown emotionally in the last ten years, so perhaps the sort of girl that I wind up with next will be different. Perhaps not. I married the woman I married because she was an exact opposite of virtually every woman I’d ever been with. On the surface, she appeared to be sensible, logical and practical. This translated into an incredibly boring human being and an even more boring partner. Trust me when I say I’m not speaking out of bitterness but rather as an assessment in relation to my other subjects. In the end, it turned out that she was crazier than almost all of them after the relationship rather than during it.

Unfortunately, I am back on the meat market after ten years with no experience in the field. Times have changed, women have changed with those times and dating rituals may be different. As I approach forty, I’m faced with two options: 1.) Date someone younger in an effort to deliberately pick up where I left off emotionally ten years ago and also to avoid very real baggage or 2.) Date someone my own age and get used to dealing with, carrying and encountering great goddamned airports full of very real, very dog-eared, demolished and weathered baggage. I’m bringing quite a bit of my own to the table. I am now a proud single dad, divorcee and actively enrolled in recovery. And there’s that pesky Scorpio thing, if you actually subscribe to astrology.

By some quirk of fate, I’ve leap-frogged into a stratus of women (based on a cursory glance at *Popular Dating App*) that contains cat lovers (possibly multiple cats) who have never been married, early adopters to the stereotypical old maid (also rumored to be cat lovers), women who put their careers first before worrying about starting a family who missed the deadline, bible nuts who can’t find a date in their flock, soccer moms, angry divorcees, women who have something seriously wrong with them under the surface and as a result have never had a long-term interaction with the opposite sex and the dangerously young who are obviously supplementing their steady diet of daddy issues.

Full Discloser: I own one cat.

Fuller Disclosure: He’s also an asshole.

These are dangerous demographics, to be sure, but if history is any indicator, I should be able to cull the crazy out of that flock with relative ease and grace. Do I still pine for a dysfunctional pairing? I suppose on some level I do. Would I like to find out or am I even capable of a healthy, fulfilling, meaningful relationship? The Magic 8 Ball informs me that it’s ‘Highly Unlikely’. I’m drawn to interesting women, and to some extent (as a creative person), I’ve always gravitated towards creative partners.

Today is the first day of the rest of my love life. Note to self: buy a new pair of handcuffs.

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‘Genetically Mortified’ from the upcoming book Travesty

August 3, 2015

I have lost the will to cook.

Now that I’m single again, I don’t have the initiative to prepare, cook and serve full meals. It doesn’t really make sense to me. I used to watch cooking shows morning, noon and night, research recipes and conjure up my own concoctions. There’s no point now. It’s very tough to cook for just one person, so I don’t. When I have my son, I somehow summon the willpower to make one of the four foods that he’s willing to eat (he’s difficult to please, which he subsequently gets from his mother), but the rest of the time my dinner could either be starch and grease out of a bag or a handful of potato chips and half of a flat diet soda.
I’m not sure if I was ever a ‘Foodie’ because I don’t know what that term means, aside from being a pleasant euphemism for ‘Morbidly Obese People Who Can Afford Rich & Exotic Foodstuffs’. ‘Foodie’ is a popular identifier for many, and I think it implies that someone is well-traveled when it comes to cuisine, or that they take extra care and caution to select only the finest ingredients for their palate. Everyone I know who identifies with the term Foodie is 347 pounds, with the singular exception of Food Network Host Giada Delaurentis, who looks like either a lit Jack-O-Lantern or a grinning jackal depending on the quality of the lighting.

I can identify more with being a glutton, which is an extrapolation of being a middle child. I grew up during dinner time with the knowledge that if I didn’t eat quickly, the food might be gone. As a result of this, I usually eat as if there’s a timed countdown and/or a gun to my head. Sometimes I chew. I remember reading a biography about John Lennon and learning that he went through a phase of chewing everything 37 or 38 times before swallowing in an effort to metabolize and fully taste the food while he was eating. I don’t have time for that nonsense.

These days my diet (like most of my life) has been oversimplified. I eat supermarket muffins every morning because that’s one less choice to make when I get up in the morning. For lunch, I consume two pounds of cold cuts making man-sized sandwiches with half a bottle of mustard per sandwich and a slice of cheese for each side of white bread. The guys at work make fun of me for preparing sandwiches of Dagwood proportions, but this is what I feel sandwiches should be. Dinner is my wild card. A great majority of the time I buy bagged rice meals (which contain 3000% of my weekly sodium intake, which is a relief because the salt licks I was relying on have really skyrocketed in recent years due to salt lick speculation in the stock market). The bagged rice meals are often on sale 10 for $10. So that’s about a dollar a week for dinner and a dollar per breakfast by my calculations (carrying the one squared and cubed).

Once a week (minimum), I eat 20 chicken wings for dinner. I’ve been doing that since I was 17. Every week. Depending on what part of the country you live in, they’re known as either ‘Buffalo Wings’ (which isn’t even a thing that exists in reality), ‘Party Wings’ (not sure how that term originated) or ‘Hot Wings’ (which at least makes sense). I typically order wings that are termed ‘Suicide’, ‘Death’, ‘Extra Extra Extra Hot’, or wings accompanied by an asterisked disclaimer advising you to stock toilet paper in your freezer for later that day as well as a silver bullet, Do Not Resuscitate paperwork and a crucifix over the toilet. I’m very fortunate in that I have a digestive system akin to a Billy goat, meaning that I can gnaw on tin cans for fun and profit in my spare time. Actually, it just means that I’ve been grazing on ‘Hot Wings’ for over twenty years now and I still don’t know what heartburn feels like. Trust me when I say that that’s the one positive gene trait I inherited.

I’m at the point with fast food and genetically modified foods where I don’t want to know more than I already do. If I read one more thing about pink goo being injected into reconstituted chicken tenders or wheat that’s sprayed with cancer in a test tube, I feel like I’ll reach a tipping point where I’ll be forced to make a major lifestyle change, and I’m entirely too lazy for that. After stumbling onto a few articles about the organic food movement and about how many non-food stuffs go into a to-go bag, I really don’t want to learn any more. Perhaps my hamburger is hosed off with aborted fetuses before sitting under a heat lamp for a month and then being passed through the drive-through window by a teenager who rinsed his hands in the slop bucket where E. Coli was born and originated from, but ignorance is bliss as far as I’m concerned. And from what I’ve learned about diet sodas, I could be dead before I finish writing this essay.

My diet is deplorable, but that’s an upgrade from downright godawful. I suppose I’m old enough to accept that moderation is not even moderately anywhere near or on my dinner table and that I tried the whole meat vs. carbs Battle For The Belt and I like them too much to root for just one. At my current rate of progress, I should be growing my own bean sprouts and filtering my drinking water through an old gym sock in approximately 128 more years. Fortunately, I practice a habanero hot sauce cleanse once a week. Rectally.

You’re welcome for the visual,
Tom Waters

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Milkie’s On Elmwood: ‘Pull The Other One’

July 30, 2015

Since it’s been awhile (and since I’m at the halfway point where it’s been 3 months since my last reading and 3 months out from the next one), I decided to upload a clip from the Reading & Signing I did last April at Milkie’s On Elmwood in Buffalo on YouTube.  It’s a short rant (‘Pull The Other One’) from my upcoming book Travesty about the Mayan Apocolypse that was supposed to happen in 2012.  We had so much fun that I booked another reading this Fall.  So, without further adeau, let’s roll that clip!:

You may be tired of hearing me say this, but please to Like & Share on YouTube!

I’ll have a brand new essay right here this Monday, so don’t touch that dial!

Tom

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‘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

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‘Wardrobe Malfunction’ goes live on BuffaloComedy.com!

June 4, 2015
The artist as a very poorly dressed child.

The artist as a very poorly dressed child.

I’m not going to lie to you, my writing in sobriety has been challenging.  That, or I’ve written about such a variety of topics from so many different angles that I tend to overthink a theme to death while I’m writing it now.  I really want Travesty to be as close to perfect as it can be before it’s out.  ‘Wardrobe Malfunction’, however, was a fast ditty that was written off the top of my head in one sitting and it was a lot of fun.  There’s plenty to add on to, and in this case I’ll probably noodle around with it before it finds its place inside the book.  This essay is a quick burst intended to make you laugh.  That’s it.  I hope it serves its purpose.  Check it out right here:

Wardrobe Malfunction

I hope you like it.  Between Big Words Video and then chasing deadline a week later with Buffalo Comedy, I could use a break.  Talk to you all next month.

Tom

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‘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.

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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!

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‘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

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‘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.

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‘Time Served’ Goes Live on BuffaloComedy.com

February 2, 2015

Time ServedAs you can probably guess from the accompanying picture, it was finally time to write about my divorce.  Sometimes I write to vent, sometimes I write just to laugh and once in awhile, I write as the only cathartic and therapeutic way to process a turbulent life event that I’ve gone through emotionally.  I’m sure you can guess which category this essay falls into.

There were a lot of avenues I could have taken when writing about my divorce and in the end I decided to touch down on all of them instead of dwelling on any aspect specifically.  With all of the Buffalo Comedy pieces I’ve fallen into a routine of giving each essay one last look-through and one more edit before it’s ready for prime time, so to speak.  You can be the judge, jury and executioner on the final product:

http://buffalocomedy.com/2015/02/time-served/

If you read it and like it, please take an extra minute to ‘Like’ it on the dashboard at the bottom OR ‘Share’ on your networking platforms.  This was a really important writing exercise that I had to work through and while I’m never positive that any edit is perfect, I’m pretty happy with the finished product.

‘Time Served’ will eventually appear in my upcoming book Travesty.  The book is already halfway done, but I’m making a concerted effort not to rush it so the publication date might just slip to 2016.  Thanks are in order to Buffalo Comedy editor Kristy Rock for navigating through my neurotic emails and appeasing my silly whims throughout each submission process.  Now it’s time to go to work on the next one.

Tom Waters

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2015 Reading & Signing Announced April 12th @Milkie’s On Elmwood!

January 7, 2015

In the midst of implementing my overall plan for 2015, I’ve spent a few weeks working with Ed Becher, the booking agent for Milkie’s On Elmwood.  After a volley of emails and phone calls, we finally scheduled, booked and confirmed a date and time for my first reading and signing of the year.  Here are the details:

Book Reading & Signing w/local humor author Tom Waters Sunday, April 12th 2 p.m.-4 p.m.

Milkie’s On Elmwood 522 Elmwood Ave., Buffalo

(716)882-5881 Admission is free.

Signed first edition books available from $15.

I’ve been hearing a lot of great things about Milkie’s lately.  It’s refreshing to discover so many new businesses in the city who are open to ‘out of the box’ promotions as well as supporting local artists.  This is an event that I’m really looking forward to.  With a four month lead time, I hope you all have time to join me!

As far as Icarus On The Mend: Memoirs Of A Manic Depressive goes, I am over the tipping point on the limited print run of special edition hardcovers sold.  There are now less than 25 copies available for sale.  Hopefully I will still have some copies on hand for the Milkie’s reading.  If you are interested in a signed hardcover and would like one beforehand, I can be reached at:

bigwordsmailbag@yahoo.com

That’s all for today.  I’m sure I’ll be booking some other readings this year, but Milkie’s may be the only reading I commit to before autumn arrives.

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‘Bat To The Future’ Appears on BuffaloComedy.com

January 5, 2015
2015 marks the end of DC's year-long celebration of the 75th Anniversary of Batman.

2015 marks the end of DC’s year-long celebration of the 75th Anniversary of Batman.

Since we’re on to a new month and a new year, I’ve got a brand new essay up on BuffaloComedy.com.  It’s on a topic I’ve covered before and most likely will cover again: Batman.  I couldn’t resist the urge to comment on DC’s ‘Batman75’ celebration, so I punched up ‘Bat To The Future a longer essay about the comics, the films, the cartoons and the games with next to no accuracy where chronology is concerned and proudly so.  You can check it out right here, gang:

Bat To The Future

Please take the time to read, Share on any and all networking platforms and to Like on that pesky Facebooks.

When I punched up the first draft I considered putting in the research and including citations along with writing the piece in chronological order.  That notion went out the window pretty quickly.  Much like ‘Reg Soldiers On’ (my essay from the 2009 book Slapstick & Superego)   I opted for a free-association format instead.  This may invite immediate attacks from the sort of comic fanboys who quote chapter, verse and issue number, but so be it.  I thought the piece might be more approachable to the casual reader by not taking that route.

I’m pretty proud of the four essays that have run so far with BuffaloComedy.com and hope that the next eight will follow suit.  Editor Kristy Rock and I have settled into a comfortable routine of submitting two pieces so that she can select one.  That way half of the new material can go live in a timely manner and the other half can be saved for the manuscript of the upcoming book Travesty.

There’s another great announcement to make, but I’ll save that for tomorrow.  Best not to give everything away all at once…

See you in the funny papers,

Tom

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New Year, New Deal

January 1, 2015

2015 is going to be an exciting year for me as well as my company, Doubt It Publishing. For the first time in my life I have a solid battle plan as well as the means to implement it. My vision for the next year in a nutshell is this: Expanding the legacy I have and preserving it at the same time. While some of you may argue that ‘legacy’ is too strong a word, let me proactively counter by saying that every one of us leaves a legacy in our wake either intentionally or unintentionally. If I’m being optimistic, I’ve still got half of a lifetime left. I’d like to make it count. What follows is a specific outline of my plans for the radio show, the video show, my own bibliography and a possible catalog for Doubt It Publishing in the coming year:

I don’t want to lose what I’ve already accomplished. Discovering that The Big Words I Know By Heart Radio Hour had gone offline and off the grid on iTunes (as a direct result of the website Mevio closing their doors) really stung. To date, I’ve ported the 100+ episodes of Big Words Radio twice to two different websites. The process is arduous and time intensive. I really didn’t want to see the show disappear forever from public view. Thankfully (as a result of my renewed passion for reading), I stumbled onto a website that will hopefully never go away. It’s a non-profit project to preserve the best of the internet for generations to come encompassing audio, text and video. Think of it as a PBS for the information age.

The website I’m referring to is the Internet Archive. I’ve been secretly and quietly uploading episodes of The Big Words I Know By Heart Radio Hour chronologically and placing them there in what I hope is their final resting place. They’ve been uploaded under a Public Domain license, which means that anyone who reaches my shows can listen if they like, share with whomever they like or download the shows for free. Episode V was just uploaded yesterday, and I’ll continue to post the entire catalog as the year plays out. You can view, listen and download the current shows available here:

The Big Words I Know By Heart RadioHour

For your convenience, I’m also posting a Quick Link on my website here to the RIGHT of this article. If you listen or download, please take the time to write a brief review of the episodes you peruse.

As for Big Words Video, there are some amazing shows in store for you all and they are all confirmed and booked through to the very end of 2015. Filmmaker and comic book proprietor Emil Novak (Queen City Bookstore) will be my guest in two weeks. Who else is coming on? ‘Dr. Dirty’ himself John Valby, Graham Nolan (the comic creator of Batman’s Bane), Public publisher Geoff Kelly and possibly Tom Sartori, to name just a few. I’ve learned from producing four years of the radio show that it’s a smart move to plan ahead, always have a backup plan and always be prepared. Filming the show (as opposed to interviewing guests over the phone or via Skype) has forced me to give the content more of a local focus. There is a wellspring of talented writers, comedians, musicians and other entertainers with no sign of drying out, and I will continue to help celebrate the homegrown talent we have on hand locally and regionally until further notice.

Big Words Video Episode I: ‘Hang In There, Baby!’ has already passed the 400 view mark on YouTube and from what I’m seeing, it looks like the show keeps picking up new viewers with every episode. Not only that, but the people who watch appear to be cycling back through the other shows as well. Later this month I’ll be exclusively filming on location at the 2014 Buffalo Night Life Music & Club Awards, and with more equipment and a looser leash on Youtube just around the corner, you can expect to see a marked increase in show production in late August when Big Words Video kicks off Season Two. In the meantime, you can support the show by ‘Liking’ and ‘Sharing’ it on Youtube as well as Subscribing to my YouTube Videos (bigwordsmailbag@yahoo.com) for the Bonus Episodes as well as my producer’s (Richard Wicka). It’s been a great deal of fun so far and it’s just going to get better.

As for my books, I own all publishing rights to the last 8 out of the 12 books that I’ve penned since 2002. There’s a larger plan for that too, but I don’t know if I’ll have the time or the resources to get around to that particular wrinkle. As a reluctant and late adopter to the digital revolution, I am hard at work designing multi-format ebooks for my entire catalog. I can’t give you an exact date because I want to make sure that it’s done right (and some editing may be applied to each individual title before they go live), but I can promise you that by year’s end, Mockery and no less than one other title from the Doubt It Publishing roster will be available on iBooks, Kindle format and all other ebook devices.

As far as BuffaloComedy.com, my alliance with editor Kristy Rock will continue until at least October of this year. The freedom I’ve been allowed on the site to write, do and say as I please has been much-needed, and it’s a comfort to know that my sense of humor is still intact after weathering one of the most tumultuous times in my life. Her only request was one for positivity, and that single instruction has helped to drastically change my writing, which is directly coloring the content to Travesty, my next book.

Regarding Travesty’s completion, there is less than a third of the book left to pen. That being said, I am in no hurry, and it will not be released until it is near-perfect. After writing 12 books and releasing 15 in the short span of 11 years, I sincerely feel that I don’t have anything to prove anymore, and should subsequently relax and take my time with any future endeavors. Travesty may come out later this year or early next year. Unfortunately I can’t be any more specific than that. It will come out when it’s ready.

With Doubt It Publishing, I’m reminded of the near-inescapable fate that many independent music and book publishers eventually reach. If history is any indicator, I may be doomed to a catalog that largely shares my last name. I wish this wasn’t so, and will try to do what I can to combat it. The doors are still wide open for local or regional authors looking to find a home for their work. I am going to put on my thinking cap this year and try to find some viable writing talents with fresh and subversive voices fighting for the chance to be heard. If you or someone you know has written a great manuscript that has a fighting chance in a competitive marketplace, queries and sample chapters can be sent to my attention at:

bigwordsmailbag@yahoo.com

Where readings and signings are concerned there will be more, plain and simple. The last two readings were successful financially, so it would be foolish not to continue. Once the winter months recede, you can count on me hitting the road with a PA system, a few boxes full of books and a bicycle horn. Now that I’m older I don’t see the benefit of booking three and four appearances a week for three month campaigns anymore, but I’ll be picking and choosing some select venues and peppering them throughout the summer and fall.

This is a remarkable time in my life and I’m grateful for the cornucopia of opportunities (and mediums) I have to channel all of my creative needs. As always, thank you from the bottom of my heart for taking the trip with me.

Starting 2015 with a bang,
Tom

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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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‘Unplugged’ (an excerpt from the upcoming book Travesty) is up on BuffaloComedy.Com!

December 2, 2014

Three months ago, when Buffalo Comedy Editor Kristy Rock and I were in discussions about my coming on board, she told me that she wanted positive material. For those of you who have followed my writing for any length of time, this is a tall order. So far I’m enjoying the challenge, and it’s actually changing the content for the back half of Travesty, the collection I’m working on right now. My partnership with Buffalo Comedy is something I’m committing to for at least a year, and so at least on my end, I’ve been very pleased with our relationship.  I’ve had good experiences with Buffalo publications as well as bad ones and so far this one falls under the ‘Good’ heading.  Kristy has been professional, helpful and she’s always followed through with her end of the bargain, so she’s aces in my book.

This month starts off with ‘Unplugged’, an essay about willfully reducing my exposure to television. I was concerned that the piece wasn’t funny enough to fit the parameters of the site, but Kristy passed it with flying colors. I often approach writing an essay from two different angles; sometimes I focus on the message primarily, and other times I focus on the humor. In rewrites, I work on finding a balance between the two, but occasionally humor doesn’t ‘fit’ with the overall theme. None of this is here or there, though, and I abhor those who spend more time explaining what their work is about than the elapsed time it takes to appreciate it, so I’ll let you judge for yourself. Feel free to read ‘Unplugged’ right here:

http://buffalocomedy.com/2014/12/unplugged

Please take the time to ‘Like’ ‘Unplugged’ on Facebook, ‘Share’ and of course ‘Retweet’ on Twitter as well as your five dozen other social media outlets. Like Buffalo Comedy says, ‘Sharing Is Caring’. My hope is that you’ll be able to see a bigger picture at the end of these twelve essays. I’ve changed, and so has my writing along with it. That’s enough naval gazing for one day, though. Enjoy!

Thanks,
Tom

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Polar Vortex! ‘McKinley’s & Mad Hamburgers’ from Slapstick & Superego (2009, Doubt It Publishing

November 18, 2014

For those of you who braved the elements last night and made it out to Hot Mama’s Canteen for the book reading and signing, a great time was had by all.  A big thanks goes out to everyone at Hot Mama’s for making it happen.  I will definitely do another one down the road.  Their ‘Navajo’ wings alone are reason enough for a return trip, and it was one of the friendliest venues I’ve ever dealt with in terms of bookings.

For those of you who couldn’t make it, here’s a rant from last night.  Please take the time to Watch, Like & Share!  Enjoy:

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‘Grant Me The Rigidity’ appears on BuffaloComedy.com!

November 4, 2014

imageFor those of you who follow this blog, you’ll remember that I spoke of buffalocomedy.com being a new home for me about a month ago.  After a few discussions with editor Kristy Rock, I’ve decided to write for them once a month.  Well, that month is up and there’s a new essay up there about my recovery.  Wanna read it?  Whelp, click on the link below and take a ride on that superinformation highway, folks!:

 

 

‘Grant Me The Rigidity’, an excerpt from the upcoming book Travesty

Since I’m not a big fan of spending ten minutes explaining what a piece of writing is about for a rant that will take about six minutes to read, I’ll just say that I spent a lot of time thinking of an appropriate way to write about my experience in recovery.  The policy in the Program that I belong to is not to write about it at all.  That’s just too bad. I felt that it would be a betrayal to my readers NOT to include this experience in my lexicon.  I’d rather catch hell (and I’m sure I will) in the short term from my fellow members than suffer from the sin of omission.

It should also be noted that the agreement that I struck with Kristy is a positive one. My new editor wants material with a positive leaning, which is actually a challenge for me.  I think that the resulting writing over the course of the next year will be a happy change of pace.

As for the last go-round, I submitted two previously unpublished essays.  Kristy picked the recovery piece.  Suffice it to say that I have a lot of new material at my disposal, so at best, you’ll be privy to less than half of it as the months roll forward.

Please take the time to click the link above, read the rant, ‘Like’ on Facebook and ‘Share’ via any and all social media that you engage in.  I hope you enjoy the piece.  I’m coming up on one year of sobriety at the end of this month, so the article means a lot to me.

Have a great week!

Tom

 

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Big Words I Know By Heart Episode III: ‘Cork Va-Jay-Jay

October 25, 2014

image

Another solid show!  Now that we’re three episodes in on Big Words Video, we’re starting to hit our stride.  Here is your synopsis:

Big Words I Know By Heart III: ‘Cork Va-Jay-Jay’: Tom goes a round with author D. Mark McElligott (Random Thoughts From A Broken Mind)  to talk about his forced retirement, his new novel and the natural arc of lady parts.  Co-host Terry Kimmel denies any association with taking part in human sacrifice.  You can watch the new episode right HERE: 

As always, please take the time to ‘Like’ & ‘Share’ the show on Youtube, Twitter, Facebook and beyond.  Word of mouth means EVERYTHING as the show is still technically new.

Thanks are in order to Mark and Terry for putting up with my abuse in the name of comedy.  I am forever indebted to producer Richard Wicka for making the magic happen behind the scenes.

I’ll see you all in a month.  I’m bringing in the big guns for Episode IV and it’s going to be a star-studded event.

Enjoy!

Tom

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Big Words Video 3.5: Oratory

October 25, 2014

For this Big Words Video Bonus, Mark McElligott read an excerpt from his book Random Thoughts From A Broken Mind (2011, Doubt It Publishing).  Please take the time to ‘Like’ & ‘Share’ on Youtube.  Thanks!

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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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New Reading & Signing Announced and The Start Of A Beautiful Friendship…

September 29, 2014

At the risk of going all Dr. Seuss on you, I’ve got Bombshell 1 and Bombshell 2. It’s a busy day for announcements!
Bombshell 1 is that I’ll be doing my first reading and signing in almost three years in November. Here are the pertinent details:

Slapstick & Superego: rants and scathing social commentary by Tom Waters (2009, Doubt It Publishing)

Slapstick & Superego: rants and scathing social commentary by Tom Waters (2009, Doubt It Publishing)

Reading & Signing w/author Tom Waters

Date/Time:
Monday, November 17th from 8-10 p.m.

Location:
Hot Mama’s Canteen
12 Military Rd.
Buffalo, NY
14027
(716-783-8222

The owners tell me there may or may not be accompanying live music, so I’ll let you know if that happens. They’re a newer restaurant with a really cool pinup/rockabilly sort of vibe/decor/staff and they’re already getting a great reputation for good (and spicy) food, so I’m looking forward to this one. I’ll be selling and signing the very limited editions of Icarus On The Mend for $50. Once again, there are only ever going to be 50 copies in existence for this hardcover. If you want one, you should probably head on out for this one. I’ll also have copies of my other books starting at $15. I usually give a discount if you’re getting multiple books. So that’s Bombshell 1.

Bombshell 2 is this: I’ve been talking to Kristy Rock (the editor in chief) at http://www.BuffaloComedy.com for the last week or two. She’s got a sharp site with a solid focus on all things comedy in and around Buffalo. Not to mince words, but I’ve always identified with the term comedy versus humor when it comes to my books or anything else. I’m going to be contributing to BuffaloComedy.com for the foreseeable future. Want to read a new essay? Sure you do! You can check out ‘Breaking Dad’ (an excerpt from the upcoming book Travesty) right here (just follow the bouncing link):

Breaking Dad

As always, please take the time to ‘Share’ and ‘Like’ and all of that other fun stuff. That’s enough big news for one day. There’ll be more next week.

See you in the funny papers,
Tom

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Thoughts on a Gone Girl

September 12, 2014

Gone Girl Teaser Poster
I’ve been fascinated with director David Fincher since his shocking feature film debut with SE7EN (1995). Alien 3 (1992) doesn’t really count, because Fox retained final cut and, in doing so, butchered the film. This is well documented and Fincher has voiced his disgust with it’s production in more than one interview. Since the, he has failed to disappoint. His filmography (The Game, Fight Club, Panic Room, Zodiac, The Curious Case Of Benjamin Button, The Social Network, The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo) is (in my mind) flawless. He endures as my favorite director, and I feel that he is the Alfred Hitchcock of my generation.
I’ve always wanted to write a critical analysis on his life and work, but have a sneaking suspicion that it would break me. Having written a critique about the life and work of Bret Easton Ellis (which was included in the publication of If They Can’t Take A Joke, 2007), I realize that I have an obsessive and meticulous tendency to throw myself into research work completely. That, and although it may be morbid, I would rather praise Fincher’s complete body of work than appraise a filmography that is always already in progress. I am such an ardent supporter of Fincher’s creative endeavors that I named my son Benjamin after The Curious Case Of Benjamin Button.
On October 3rd, Fincher’s Gone Girl opens in theaters starring Ben Affleck and Rosamund Pike. It’s based on the novel of the same name by Gillian Flynn. I just finished the book and it’s an intriguing contemplation on the identities we present when we start romantic relationships versus our actual identities, which bleed through over time. The book is about the disintegration of a five year marriage followed by the abduction and/or possible murder of character Nick Dunne’s wife Amy Elliot Dunne. What follows is a suspenseful unraveling of media aggression, police procedure, public relations, predatory litigation and premeditated character assassination. I’d rather not get into spoilers for the sake of readers, but the conclusion was silly and unsatisfying. It didn’t seem faithful to the characters. Luckily, it’s rumored that Flynn (who also wrote the screenplay adaptation) changed the ending for the screen version.
I look forward to Gone Girl with eager anticipation. While many film buffs look down their nose at The Curious Case Of Benjamin Button and/or Panic Room, I don’t share their opinion. It should also be noted that Fincher recently executive produced and directed the first two episodes of Netflix’s popular original series House Of Cards (starring Kevin Spacey and Robin Wright). Notorious for filming multiple takes to find the best organic and natural scene for every film, Fincher is a relentless perfectionist. I can’t wait to see the finished product.

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A Triumphant Return To Acid Logic re: Buffalo Bills Fans, Travesty Keeps Truckin’, Big Words Video 2 Approaches…

September 7, 2014
Acid Logic's accompanying cartoon for 'An Open Letter To The Rest Of The Country (and also the planet) re: Buffalo Bills Fans'

Acid Logic’s accompanying cartoon for ‘An Open Letter To The Rest Of The Country (and also the planet) re: Buffalo Bills Fans’

This is not to brag, but I’ve got enough publishing credits to last me a lifetime. In the last ten years, I’ve written, worked for, contributed or been published in enough papers, magazines, ezines and quarterlies to last me a lifetime. I’d like to think at this point that I can pick and choose when, where and why I publish with anyone from here on out.

That being said, though, there’s a special place in my heart for Acid Logic, one-man publisher/editor/juggernaut Wil Forbis’ online ezine of pop culture. He was one of the first national web sites to publish my work nearly fifteen years ago, and we’ve kept in touch ever since. He was also a guest on the now-defunct Big Words I Know By Heart Radio Hour, promoting Acid Logic as well as his book (same title, with essays from AL over the year penned by Forbis) and his music CDs. As a longtime Californian, Forbis and I just clicked. Those of you who have been following for awhile may also remember that Forbis wrote the forward to First Person, Last Straw, my third collection of essays in 2005.
It is also with the spirit of blind rage that I have towards Buffalo Bills fans that I decided to publish with Acid Logic again for the first time in many years. Forbis’ timing is impeccable; the new issue of AL rolled out today while (in Buffalo), thousands of mindless drones are rallying together for the Buffalo Bill’s Home Opening Game. “An Open Letter To The Rest Of The Country (and also the planet)” rolled out today with top billing. If you missed it here, you can catch the rant here:

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

In other news, the writing on Travesty (my next book) is really starting to gather momentum. The book is almost halfway done. Like any other collection, it’s sure to find its own central theme by accident. It’s been a lot of fun so far. I’ve decided to drop my name from each essay for the very first time in the book’s layout. It seems redundant, and honestly, I’m too old to keep doing the nickname thing after every rant. It was a gimmick that caught on very early in my career and it’s high time to retire it.
And the next ‘webisode’ of Big Words I Know By Heart is a little more than two weeks away. Comic book impresario Kyle Kaczmarczyk (Igor: Occult Detective, The Red Eye, Pulp and the award winning Fubar) will be joining me in the studio on September 24th along with co-host Jenny O.
I’m trying to find a delicate balance in my life where creativity is concerned, so I will make an effort to update more consistently here in an effort to keep you in the loop and up to speed. There has to be a happy homeostasis between overworking to the point of burnout and dropping off the grid for too long and losing readers (or viewers) in the process. I haven’t had it before, but it seems possible now. A lot of things seem possible now.

Stay tuned,
Tom

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‘Out With The Old, In With The Newborn’, a recently rejected essay submitted to The Buffalo News

July 24, 2013

For those of you who may have enjoyed reading this-T.W.

Four hours ago my baby son came into the world and I couldn’t be more overjoyed.  Friends warned me that everything would change.  Now I know that it wasn’t a dark prediction so much as a wish fulfilled, or a positive and much needed redirection in our lives.  After crying my eyes out and holding my wife’s hand in the operating room afterwards, I can’t wait for the new road ahead of us.  At six pounds and six ounces (and about a month ahead of schedule), Benjamin Waters made his smashing debut.    

            For the last three years my wife Lindsay and I have been trying for a child and our efforts finally bore fruit last September.  When she broke the news to me with a pregnancy test in one hand after work and a wry joke (‘Honey, we’ve got a problem’), I cracked a grin and embraced her in the kitchen.  It’s cemented in my mind just like our first date on October 15th in 2004.  There are moments you never forget when you’re building a life together.  Our first date, the day I told her I loved her (New Year’s Eve that same year), our wedding day and now, the birth of our child.

            Since we got married there’ve been a lot of hard times and lean months.  Worse along with the better.  I’ve often said that you can’t appreciate the great moments unless you’ve gone through some tough days.  We’ve weathered out most of the worst and moved along to the best time of our lives.  The rough times we’ve suffered through together have made us stronger as a couple and make the wonderful experiences that much more magical. 

            I’ve always been uneasy around newborns.  I even wrote an essay about it (‘March Of The Newborns’ from my third book, First Person, Last Straw).  This little guy was different.  Benjamin Waters turned me around on the entire concept.  Looking through his tiny eyes and cradling his little body in my arms in the Recovery Room I saw an entire universe that was new and fresh to a being that was about to experience everything for the first time.  Not a carbon copy of myself, but a fresh amalgamation of my wife, myself and the generations before us.  Living proof that all of our accomplishments pale in comparison to the life we create, the true legacy that we leave behind some day.

            Parents warned me about getting no sleep, changing a never-ending supply of diapers and getting peed on in the face.  Another friend explained the situation much better by saying that he never understood the concept of being willing to die for someone until he had a child.  Single people spurned the very idea of it and challenged my love of barhopping, going out on a whim or the freedom of independence.  I gladly give it all up to raise a life that we made together. 

            My study has been transformed into a baby room.  Curios, collectibles and knick knacks from my former life have been relocated, packed up, boxed away and retired.  We bought a new, safer car (not a minivan, thank God) so that my transmission wouldn’t die out when I’m taxiing little Benjamin around.  Since the shower, we have clothes for every occasion, accessories for any contingency and enough blankets and homemade quilts to cover the entire household.  Out with the old, in with the newborn. 

            Everything has changed and this isn’t even the first full day.  After a fourteen hour labor and a day filled with caffeine and one meal, I’m still too excited to sleep.  Two sets of first time grandparents are chomping at the bit to spoil our son rotten and I’m more than ready to slow down, stop being so childish and selfish and take care of our child together.  Children change everything.  For the better. 

Tom Waters

-Tom Waters wrote many Club Watch reviews for the Buffalo News along with ten books of essays and poetry.  He looks forward to an early retirement from all that and a new career in carpeting FaceBook with baby pictures.        

                

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Death & Other Amusements

November 1, 2012

Getting old is bullshit and I’m roundly opposed to it. 

 

In the grand scheme of things, I’m halfway dead.  At 35 (with my current diet, predisposed life span based on the hereditary arc of your average manic depressive and the fact that I haven’t had a physical conducted since my college entrance exam), there are more aspects to my mental and physical well being closing their doors rather than setting up for new business.  The first half of my lifetime has been misspent drinking like a fish, smoking like a coal miner with half a brain and a full pension and eating like royalty from the Dark Ages.  I’m actually gnawing on a turkey leg as I write this while smoking a cigar on the opposite side of my mouth after doing a round of shots this morning.  My willful disregard for any of the natural laws of nutrition is catching up to me and without a third act of repentance after a massive wellness wakeup call, the odds are strong that I’ll drop dead of a coronary within the next ten years.  It’s always a good idea to discuss death when dabbling in comedy.  Death and humor blend with each other like chocolate and impotency.  It’s an unusual combination that’s often incredibly disappointing.   

Here’s what you have to look forward to: Hair loss, your body falling apart and a sleep schedule that’s conducive to psychosis or a career in the Marines among other amusing maladies.  Twenty years ago I wrote about the bizarre onset of puberty and everything that a young man could look forward to in terms of hair growth.  Breaking news bulletin: I am no longer young.  In another twenty years I’ll be on the early end of retirement age while in all actuality I’ll be dead.  Did I mention the comedy of death yet?  If I didn’t, it’s in the last sentence. 

Would you like to wake up at five in the morning because you have the bladder of a small toy poodle without the ability to go back to sleep?  Would you like to wake up six hours after you went to bed because you have a biological clock that kicks you out of bed at a predetermined time regardless of what time you turned in?  Are you looking forward to getting up no matter how exhausted you are because the fluttering wings of a housefly stirred you out of your fitful slumber?  If you answered yes, hell to the no or absolutely not to any or all of these questions, it’s going to happen anyway once you stumble onto the back half of your life. 

People with kids tell me that you won’t get any sleep for the first two years of your child’s life and I wonder how (and if) that will be any different compared to my current sleep schedule.  If it’s not a car door slamming three blocks away at sunrise it’s the urgent need to piss my brains out during the first occurrence of a R.E.M. cycle throughout the course of the morning.  Once I’m up, that’s it, I’m staying up.  After taking a leak I start funneling coffee into my gullet and chain smoking at the computer.  My wife wonders why I’m irritable by the time she rolls out of bed three hours later and I’ve already subsequently demolished a pot of coffee and a pack of cigarettes.  With that sort of breakfast she’s lucky I’m not foaming at the mouth and hell bent on jousting with the mailman at ten paces.

Coffee kicks my ass now.  If I have a cup after five p.m. I can count on staying up until two or three in the morning.  If I drink ice cream after eight o’clock I become incredibly gassy.  I don’t think I’m lactose intolerant but my body says otherwise when it comes to ice cream.  My constitution could be faulty thanks largely to the fact that I’ve eaten suicide wings no less than once a week for the last twenty years.  When (not if) my asshole falls out of my body and crawls into a nearby sewage drain I’ll need a custom made cast iron colostomy bag.  My ongoing diet would make Jack Lalanne vomit blood after two snacks. 

In my early ’20s I had a cute little patch of hair on the back of my head that looked unnecessarily shiny in a mirror.  I also had a high forehead.  Some ten years later that tiny peninsula of thinning hair has turned into a bald patch that could easily host a jumbo yarmulke during my Christmas Day outing to an opening matinee and Chinese all-you-can-eat buffet.  The forehead went from a modified widow’s peak to a five-head to a length of skull that you can screen an opening matinee on.  Charlie Brown will be ripping on my hair loss in another five years and I won’t have a comeback for that bald son of a bitch because I’ll be too groggy from sleep loss and the impending coffee-crash that comes with it.  I come from a family tree of high foreheads, but I’ve truly outdone all of the follicle challenged.  It’s a late Indian summer up there and most of the leaves have already left the building.  After nine books and nine accompanying hair dyes (platinum blonde, black, red and green, to name a few), my hair isn’t bouncing back.  If this trend continues I’ll have to shave my head and fasten a throw rug into my skull with concrete-bearing screws just like Elton John.

The good news is that I’m growing more hair outside of my ear lobes, so that offsets some of the bald patches and receding forehead.  I always thought that I’d look handsome once my hair went gray but it’s falling out or failing to regenerate fast than the salt and pepper conversion.  I made the mistake of trying to shave the horizontal inch-long fronds jutting out from ears and ended up spraying blood down my neck.  I told my co-workers a tall tale about our cat jumping up and scratching me on the side of my ear but I’m positive that no one believed me.  Now I just pluck the hairs out with a tweezer after pulling patches of fuzz out of the inside of my nose.  Do you want more hair in your nose and ears instead of on your head?  Of course you don’t.  Good news/bad news: You’re going to get it anyway.  Be careful what you don’t wish for on your worst enemy because biology is a filthy whore of a mistress.  If I make it to 50 I’ll be fashioning a comb-over from the pigtails protruding from my nostrils. 

I never had allergies as a kid, but at the current trend I’ll need an iron lung just to walk outside.  A mild dusting of pollen leaves me sneezing up hunks of glow-stick colored phlegm and a brain that feels like a hot air balloon.  If a mild cold travels through the area I’m on hospice care for three months.  The last time I ate frozen fish my ass turned into a fire hydrant and I was funneling every fluid in my body out of my mouth and into the bath tub at the same time for three days.  Would you like to know more about my bowel regularity?  Then log in this instant to: www.tomsgoing.org.  Join the other five million subscribers in ongoing chat sessions, photo albums and the increasingly popular creamed corn and cocktail peanut arcade game!

Other assorted things you can look forward to for those of you playing the home version of this game: complete and absolute short term memory loss, diminishing appetite, the metabolism of a sloth with an aberrant thyroid dysfunction and frequent bouts of scurvy, whooping cough, ‘the vapors’ and hysterical blindness.  Mental bonus multipliers include a near-total lack of recall when running into someone you haven’t seen for a few years or more, solidified neuroses on par with an average day in the life for Woody Allen and on-command impotency. 

 

If you’re going to open the show with death, there’s no better follow-up act than impotence.

Has anybody seen my car keys?

Tom ‘hair faux-hawk’ Waters       

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T-Minus Two More Episodes: Big Words Radio Slowly Says Goodbye

November 15, 2011

Saying goodbye is a bitch.

 

It just hit me today that Big Words Radio is nearing a very real and definitive end of the road.  After being a guest on Susan Marie’s ‘This Is Not The Apple’ on Think Twice Radio in June of 2008, producer Richard Wicka asked me if I’d be interested in doing my own show.  I was reluctant, but after chewing on it for a few hours I figured ‘Why the hell not?’

It took a few shows to get my legs, but somehow the format figured itself out.  With my marriage, stress and an unexpected firing, the show turned into my therapy along with a launching pad for some of my favorite local musicians, national comic book artists and writers, adult film stars and a never-ending roster of great co-hosts.  Intentionally Bald Mike soon gained favor as a crucial part of the show.  Insanity, tell-all comedy and schmaltzy sound props quickly became the order of the day.

I can’t believe that it’s been four years.  I can’t believe that I’m two shows away from saying goodbye.  Between three or four different web sites, iTunes and a number of incarnations, put-ons and lurches and upsurges in the rest of my life, this is it.  It was a peripheral hobby that looked promising until it wasn’t.  Listeners started disappearing over the summer and the numbers kept getting worse.  Not one to go down with a sinking ship, I made a clear decision to ride out on a high note.

Tomorrow I’ll be coming full circle by interviewing the man who helped me to get the ball rolling: Producer Richard Wicka.  In three weeks time, every co-host who’s ever appeared on the show has a standing invitation to get back at me for all of my taunts, attacks and threats over the years for the Big Words Radio Finale on Friday, December 2nd from 6-8 p.m.  If you’ve been a co-host in the past and you’ve relocated, please phone your roast in to: (716) 823-1750.  Mention the roast at the beginning of your message and we’ll splice it into the last show.

There are too many people to thank who’ve been involved with the show so we’ll do that another time.  Early on I decided to formulate a persona that was clearly over the top compared to the voice I employ in my books.  Walking in the footsteps of heroes like Don Rickles, Lenny Bruce and Andrew Dice Clay, I figured that I’d host a show that I’d want to hear.  The kind of show that made me die laughing as a kid.  A format that made fun of everything.  Offensive, ridiculous and insane.  I hoped that people would get the gist of the spirit of the show.  I was wrong.

There was a boom in 2009 when the show split onto MyPodcast.com, but downloads and site hits have started vanishing in the last six months.  I guess my brand of comedy is a bit too extreme.  In 2002 I used to run out of breath hearing industry greats like Opie & Anthony in the studio with a rogue’s gallery of stand up comics tearing into each other.  I wanted to make a show that appealed to the comedian’s comedian.  For awhile it looked like it was working.

Best not to drag it out.  Chalk this up to closure.  I’m walking into the studio one last time and then we’re recording the Roast in December.  It’s tough to say goodbye to something that turned into such splendid therapy, but I strive to focus my efforts on projects with the largest audience.  Big Words Radio no longer falls into that category.

Counting down,

Tom

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Book Signing Dec.4th From 4-6 p.m. w/Mark McElligott

November 7, 2011

After a four month flurry of promotions together, Mark McElligott and I are still a bit tired and weary.  Nevertheless, we are planning some book events during the busy holiday season.  On Sunday, December 4th, we’ll both be at Talking Leaves on Elmwood from 4-6 pm signing copies of Poke The Scorpion With A Sharp Stick, Mockery and Mark’s breakout hit Random Thoughts From A Broken Mind.  All three books will be available for $15.  Talking Leaves currently has all three books in stock at both their Elmwood and Main St. locations.

I’m also in the process of setting something up at Dog Ears Books in South Buffalo for December, so stay tuned for news about that.  On top of that, Mark’s shown an interest in booking an event at Café Karma in Lockport, so odds are strong that we’ll book something for him there.

Even when we’re not busy, we’re busy.  I’m promoting lightly on Poke The Scorpion until my calendar frees up, so please try to make it out to Talking Leaves if you want a copy.  My time for the next month is deeply invested in proof-reading an editing a possible manuscript for next year and everything else is on a back burner for the time being.  While my poetry books have never been blockbusters in terms of sales, they’re steady sellers over the years and they mean every bit as much to me as the humor books or other projects.

We look forward to seeing you in December,

Tom Waters

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‘Sweet Is The Smell Of Success’

July 11, 2011

After four long rewarding and exhausting months of promoting Mockery as well as Random Thoughts From A Broken Mind  in the newspapers, on the radio, on the web and in bookstores, coffee houses, bars and anywhere else that would have us, Mark McElligott and I have earned a much needed break for the rest of the summer.  Our little tour was tremendously successful despite spotty attendance, unusual time slots, double bookings (in two separate cases) and other Spinal-Tap-esque occurances.  Mockery is on track to outsell every book I’ve released so far and it’s been selling faster than any book I’ve sold so far.  My wife remarks that every book looks better and tighter than the last.

Poke The Scorpion With A Sharp Stick will be fun to promote, but it’s going to be more of a Travelling Wilburys deal: getting together with old friends and just having a good time for the sake of it rather than running full steam ahead to make money.  I’ve decided to wait until September for any serious promotions but I may pop up in a few unusual places in August.  I was asked to be a celebrity bartender for the third week in August and I may accept.  Mark and I have already booked a convention show at the Marriott in October.  Aside from that, I’m at ease for the next month and a half.  I’ve never traditionally enjoyed promoting books in public settings but this time around was different.  Mark McElligott was a true joy to partner with and we had more laughs than I ever would have expected.  I think that carries through on the live concerts that we decided to post on Big Words Radio.

Brennan’s Bowery Bar was a smash hit last night.  We had a solid turnout and it’s the first reading I’ve ever had where the average book sale was three different copies.  We made a boatload of cash and I’m grateful for every penny we made.  Thanks are in order to Dave Shatzel, Eve Barbour, Jen O’Hare, Lynn O’Hare, Eve Barbour, Nicole Cook, Fred Peterson, Joshua Hanzlion, Jeff Collins and everyone else who turned out last night.  It was the best way to end a long and winding promotion and we’re going to head back to Brennan’s in the fall for the same deal.

As for the rest of the Mockery & Random Thoughts junket, thanks are in order, so here goes: Eve Barbour, Brian Platter, Stephanie Rhinehart, Ryan Miller, Jennifer Lysiak of Metro Source, Jolene Zanghi from Bee Group Newspapers, Brian Kahle, RD Pohl from the Buffalo News, Geoff Kelly from ArtVoice, Dee’s Firehouse, Don and Jon from Don’s Atomic Comics, Maryan’s, Nance Gardner Lang, the Lancaster Public Library, Dog Ears Bookstore in South Buffalo, Jonathan from Talking Leaves, Christy from Rust Belt Books, Tom and the rest of the gang at Finnan’s, Dave Waters, Dave Lopian, Duane Muth, Stockman’s Tavern and every single one of you who were kind enough to come out and see us.  It’s been a long strange trip and this tour of duty is finally over.

This autumn will be a whole different animal.  Mark McElligott will be joining me for some of the promotions while Dave Waters and JR Finlayson will be partnering up for others.  We’re setting our sights for larger territory and we won’t stop at any state line either.  We’re well equipped to take Buffalo by storm all over again and we’re popping out to Rochester, Alfred, Philadelphia, NYC and possibly Charlotte, NC if a few free plane tickets come our way.  This year has been an incredible turning point so far and the last ten are truly starting to pay off exponentially.

 

Thanks for being a part of it,

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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Cheers & Jeers: Events As They Develop

June 8, 2011

Okay, here’s the rundown for this particular week…

 

Doubt It Publishing Author Mark McElligott will be reading selections from his breakout debut book Random Thoughts From A Broken Mind  this Saturday at Caz Coffee Café at 7 p.m. in South Buffalo.  Our turnout was less than ideal at Finnan’s Pub last Sunday, so it would be really nice to see some of you who might be remotely interested in supporting local arts actually show up.  While we both realize that the weather is nice out, we’re in the final stretch of a three month junket and we’re busting our asses to get his book out to a new audience.  If you live in (or near) South Buffalo and you’re free on Saturday, please show some support and stop out to see us at Caz Coffee Café.

Most marketing and PR experts would suggest that I shouldn’t complain about a lack of turnout because it makes me look whiny or it makes us look bad.  I simply don’t care.  Mark and I have both invested a great deal of time and money into publishing two books and promoting them and it seems as if (now that the weather has improved) most of you have no interest in discovering just how funny his book is.  Please prove me wrong.  Clear up your schedule, skip a forgettable trip to the beach or a laughable summer venue and come out to see something real.  If you’re the sort of person who needs a newspaper to tell you what you should be interested in or what you should spend your disposable income on, take a chance for once and discover the actual art scene in Buffalo versus the Reader’s Digest abridged version.  Copies of Random Thoughts From A Broken Mind will be available for $15.

On the whole I’ve been deeply disappointed with audience turnout for this junket.  I have no control over it and there’s no way to analyze it, but many of you have let us down.  It’s easier to do nothing than it is to do something, so take comfort in your complacency.  To those of you who continue to show up for the book launches, readings and signings and those of you kind enough to tell your friends, spend money at our scheduled venues and spend your hard earned money to support our work, we really appreciate it.  If it weren’t for you, we wouldn’t be able to continue creating and publishing new books.  If there were more people like you in Buffalo, there’s a strong possibility that we’d actually be able to make a living wage doing this and we’d be able to produce a larger body of work, but odds are that that will never happen since most people in Buffalo (again) need to be told what art is worth buying by their local media like lost and sluggish sheep.

I appreciate the cross section of you smart enough to make your own decisions and the fact that you march to the beat of your own drummer.  Thank you from the bottom of my heart for making your own informed decisions based on internal judgment instead of a deep-seated need for peer approval or a desire to have someone else tell you what is and isn’t entertaining.  If you receive this message via email, I understand that it’s infinitely easier to delete this message than it is to take the time to read it and react or respond to it, so for those of you who are reading this right now, thank you.  To those of you who reply or react by showing up to a reading, thank you even more.  I’ll get off my soap box now.

At the time of this writing it is now June 9th, so the Doubt It Publishing call for submissions is now wide open until November 1st.  Again, if you’re a local (Buffalo) writer and you have a completed manuscript or a draft in the realm of fiction, non-fiction, poetry or short stories, please send your manuscript in at: bigwordsmailbag@yahoo.com.  One of you will be chosen for publication in 2011 and I’ll give you the full force of my attention and publicity skills to ensure that we both turn a tidy profit on your brain trust in addition to setting up a slate of appearances and book signings.  If you’re willing to put in the work, so am I.

Thanks in large part to graphic designer extraordinaire Brian Platter (Six Shot Studios), Poke The Scorpion With A Sharp Stick is coming along at a brisk pace.  The book should be available by August 1st at the rate we’re going, but I won’t count my chickens yet.  The format size is being developed so that it bridges Breathing Room Volume I and II.  The size of the book will be somewhere in between both, which says a lot about the content.  The cover looks gorgeous and I couldn’t be happier with the bold design choices that Brian has made for the interior.  For those of you daring enough to jump head first into a poetry book, you’re in for a pleasant surprise this fall.  JR Finlayson, David Waters and a host of other local poets and I will be touring throughout Buffalo after the festival and concert season in autumn to promote the book as well as other books.

This Sunday I’ll be returning to Think Twice Radio to interview broadcasting icon Brian Kahle for The Big Words I Know By Heart Radio Hour along with local artist and blogger John Kindelan.  We’ll be talking about censorship, the line that’s blurred between advertising an investigative journalism and the current state of Buffalo broadcasting.  The conversation will be bold and uncompromising, but I’m sure you’ve come to expect that from me.  Your frequent (and often vocal) encouragement has molded me into the person I am today.

These are exciting times.  While my pace may be brisk and my candor unforgiving, it’s all because I’m building the framework for a larger plan.  The first ten years of my professional career as a writer are over.  I’m headlong into the next ten and the scope and landscape of a grander design is well underway.  For those of you willing to participate and play along, I’m eternally grateful.  As for the rest of you, you’re missing out on something very real and extremely fun.

 

Race you to next week,

Tom Waters

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Two New Big Words Episodes Live From Stockman’s

June 7, 2011

More news later in the week, but for now here are two new live performances for Big Words Radio.  It took awhile to work on the audio for these, but here are your synopses:

 

‘For Real: Mockery Live At Maryan’s’

Tom returns to Stockman’s Tavern (where he recorded and thoroughly enjoyed his bachelor party in 2008) for an evening of comedy and music.

 

To hear the show, click here:

http://www.mevio.com/episode/283569/for-real-mockery-live-at-stockman-s

 

‘Is That A Frampton Reference?  Dave Waters Live At Stockman’s’

Dave Waters regales an indifferent and easily offended crowd at Stockman’s Tavern.

 

To hear the show, click here:

http://www.mevio.com/episode/283568/is-that-a-frampton-reference-dave-waters

 

‘Stockman’s’ was misspelled in the synopsis as ‘Stockan’s’, so we all have my wireless keyboard to thank for that.  Sorry, Stockman’s!

The last episode (‘My Balloon Know Will Stay Firmly Tied’) went straight to the top of the download charts with over 600 downloads in two days!  Please keep up the great work and keep listening!  I hope you enjoy the new shows and I’ll be recording a new studio show this Sunday with broadcasting giant Brian Kahle.

More on everything later this week.  I’m in a hurry, so I’ll talk to you all soon.

Thanks,

Tom Waters

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Mockery Live At Maryan’s/Talking Leaves Now In Stock!

April 19, 2011

Saturday was a banner reading for Mockery at Maryan’s.  Even after a losing Sabres playoff game, the crowd was into the material right from the jump and the laughs were legion within minutes.  I’ve been telling Mark McElligott (who’s gearing up for his own slate of readings soon enough) that the events you’re positive will do well often don’t and the ones you never expect to succeed end up surprising you.  It’s always a crap shoot and you can’t predict any one promotion, so the best thing to do is try everything once and stick with what works.  Due to the great audio (and the great crowd), I’ve posted two separate concert shows up on Mevio as well as iTunes.  Here are your synopses:

‘In The Crease: Mockery Live At Maryan’s’: Tom takes to the stage after a losing playoff game for the Buffalo Sabres at Maryan’s in Depew and by some miracle manages to win the crowd over.

-To hear the above episode on Mevio, click on this link:

http://www.mevio.com/episode/276964/in-the-crease-mockery-live-at-maryan

 

‘Love Those Water Boys’: Dave ‘The Real Deal’ Waters rocks out his first live musical set in almost two years at Maryan’s in Depew.

-To hear Dave’s half of the concert, click here:

http://www.mevio.com/episode/276963/love-those-water-boys

As always, you can subscribe to The Big Words I Know By Heart Radio Hour on ‘the iTunes’ by searching Big Words Radio and clicking on the show listed under Comedy.  If you’re a current subscriber, then you already have both episodes!

Thanks so much to Dave ‘The Real Deal’ Waters, Nance, Sam, Val, Mike and the rest of the spectacular staff as well as the crowd at Maryan’s.  If every reading and signing went that well I’d never stop touring!  There are no promotional events this week since it’s Easter week, but I’ll be gearing back up again next Tuesday the 26th at the Lancaster Public Library (7:30 p.m.) and then Don’s Atomic Comics on Saturday, April 30th for my Tom’s Atomic Comic Giveaway promotion from 8 p.m. to midnight!  The book promotions at Don’s always have a special place in my heart because a) I’ve done something there for every single book I’ve released, b) it’s always a great time and c) I’ll make a boat load of cash!  To hear how the last promotion went (Tom’s Atomic Poetry Cliffhanger), you can click on:

http://www.mevio.com/episode/166205/episode-xxx-tom-s-atomic-poetry-cliffhanger

and:

http://www.mevio.com/episode/166196/tom-s-atomic-poetry-cliffhanger-the-shocking

And finally, Mockery is now available at both Talking Leaves books locations, so if you live in the city and you can’t make it out to any of the suburban events, feel free to pick up the new book at the Main Street or Elmwood locations.  Talking Leaves has been another long time friend for every single book over the years.  While it’s a hassle to set up some promotions, Atomic Don and Jonathan at Talking Leaves have never needed more than a phone call to iron out a date and time and for that I’m grateful.

I hope you all enjoy your Easter and perhaps I’ll see you out on the road next week!

Sincerely,

Tom Waters

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Big Words Radio Episode 58: ‘Your Own Personal White-Out’

March 20, 2011

Okay, this episode was just plain wrong, there’s no two ways about it.  This month (for the radio show) has been a real rollercoaster ride of comedy between the ‘Huge Stuff I Rember From Repetition Dude On The Move Station’, and the comedic brutality unleashed upon Mark McElligott.  It’s in everyone’s best interests if we all just have some quiet time to ourselves to reflect on what we’ve done and who we’ve wronged until Fantagraphics journeyman Mark Kalesniko enters stage right in April to talk about his new masterpiece Freeway. For the time being, here’s your synopsis:

Episode 58: ‘Your Own Personal White-Out’

Tom sits down with Doubt It Publishing Author Of The Year Mark McElligott (Random Thoughts From A Broken Mind) and tears him a new one.  In addition, they make some cheap wisecracks about previous co-host Terry Kimmel, statutory rape and the mentally handicapped.  All in all a good show.

To hear the new show this instant click your way to victory at:

http://www.bigwordsmevio.com

-or you can just subscribe right now for free by searching ‘big words radio’ at ‘the iTunes’ store and clicking on the Comedy listing.

The show has toned down a bit in previous months so it was refreshing to have a guest on who I was positive about being able to handle a relentless barrage of jokes that were far beyond wrong.  This is literally the worst show I’ve done on an offensiveness scale since July of 2009, so it was a treat to take the kid gloves off and go to town on an unsuspecting mark (in this case, Mark).

A big thanks goes out to Mark McElligott for being such a great sport.  In addition to getting a taste of what you can expect from his upcoming debut collection Random Thoughts From A Broken Mind, the two of us will be hitting Buffalo with a vengeance this summer to promote both of our books together in a reading frenzy.  Please click, download, subscribe, laugh, rate high and enjoy.  I’m taking a well-deserved break from podcasting until mid-April.

Enjoying long, sticky white donuts,

Tom Waters

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Mockery Soft Launch, Doubt It Publishing Blow Out!

March 1, 2011

Okay gang,
Are you ready for the big secret? I hope you’re sitting down (and why wouldn’t you be if you were at your computer?). Here it is:

-Mockery, my ninth new collection of ONLY funny rants is actually available for purchase RIGHT NOW!

The book launch doesn’t happen until April Fool’s Day (7 p.m. at Dee’s Firehouse in Depew with live band One Hot Minute). Even the local press hasn’t gotten a complimentary copy yet! And I’m going to sweeten the pot on top of all this:

-All of my lulu.com titles will be 10% off until April 1st INCLUDING Mockery.

Slapstick & Superego and Breathing Room Volume I & II AND Mockery are all available for 10% off the cover price. If you order ANY or ALL of these books any time between now and April 1st, you save money, AND you can pick up Mockery for less than what I’ll be charging throughout the launch. Think of it as a huge, wet kiss for all the years that all of you have helped me make money with your continued support doing what I love.
There are some great things in store in the next four months, so a) if you live out of town or b) if you want to save money or c) if you’d rather not make the bar appearances because you’re giving up fried food, having fun or guzzling hooch for Lent, now’s a great time to scoop up some great books. Mockery is going to retail at $15 (my lowest price on a humor collection in over 5 years). You can buy it now for $13.49. Don’t look a gift horse in the mouth.

To buy Mockery this very instant, click here: http://www.lulu.com/product/paperback/mockery/15050885

To visit the entire Doubt It Publishing Shop on lulu.com and save on my last three titles,
click here: http://stores.lulu.com/tomwaters

No gimmicks, no hustle. Please rate high when you visit each individual book. Three years ago I decided to publish two little poetry books on my own because I assumed they wouldn’t make any money. They made a decent amount of money for me, so I branched out. Like e.e. cummings, Allen Ginsberg and a score of other writers, I decided to go into the publishing business. Help me to turn this publishing house into a legitimate one.
Thank you so much. Mockery is a knockout collection and it’s unlike any rant book I’ve released to date. I designed the book to mimic a standup comedy act with light jokes and quick rabbit punches at the beginning, big belly laughs in the middle and a soft, fuzzy feeling at the end. The flow and pacing are better than anything I’ve done to date. I really hope you like it.
So what are you waiting for? BUY MY NEW GODDAMNED BOOK ALREADY!
Start your engines,
Tom ‘literary prostitute’ Waters

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Miscellaneous

February 8, 2011

            A lot of projects are in the planning stages currently and it’s more a matter of juggling and strategy than inspiration and execution.  Book 9 (Mockery) is in the last legs of pre-production and designer Eve Barbour and I are aiming for a hard April launch.  I’ve always been fond of doing book launches on April Fool’s Day (which falls on a Friday this year), so don’t be surprised if you hear about a large public event and bookstore insertion then.  At $15, it’s the lowest launch price of any rant collection I’ve ever released, so I’ll be shooting for volume rather than profit margin. 

            After that, Mark McElligott and I will be going into pre-production on his book, Random Thoughts From A Broken Mind while we schedule appearance dates at the same time.  We’re looking at a summer release date for his book around the same price point.  While Mark’s never published a book before, he’s got a diverse back ground in music, cartooning and stand-up comedy that should translate well on stage once he gets up and running.

            As for the radio show, Eisner and Harvey award winner Dylan Horrocks (Hicksville) will be talking to me and co-host Terry Kimmel on Thursday, February 24th.  Mark McElligott returns as my guest in March and in April I’ll be discussing the hilarious and often controversial books of Mark Kalesniko (Alex, Mail Order Bride). 

            After agonizing over how and when to release the autobiography (Icarus On The Mend), I’m leaning towards publishing a limited print run of 100 hardcover first editions in 2012 for around $29.95 with no complimentary copies for the local or national media included.  Everyone who knows about the book wants to get their hands on it right away, so I might as well give you all what you want.  Once those hundred are gone, I’ll release two volumes of trade paperbacks for $15 each with complementing photo negative covers and possibly an additional chapter. 

            As for the third poetry collection (Poke The Scorpion With A Sharp Stick), I’m not sure how to gauge demand for the book, so don’t be surprised if it’s released alongside one of the autobiography print runs.  While both Breathing Rooms reached (and exceeded) the 100 copy mark, they’re more a labor of love than a concerted business decision.  Poetry is a tough sell in any market, so I was glad to net over $2000 on the first two in the first year.  The third collection will be the last for a long time, so hopefully readers will enjoy the aftermath to Breathing Room by realizing that the content is new and unusual, not just scraps left over from the first two books. 

            I’ve never had this much material on the slate before at any one time.  Hopefully by 2013 I can buy back the rights to Born Pissed and Zany Hijinx, relaunch them with better cover designs, tighter editing and a lower price point.  If there’s one single piece of advice I can offer budding writers, it’s this: Don’t publish with America House.  There’s no reason why you should give 90% of your royalties away to a publisher for a manuscript that you put 100% of your effort and inspiration into. 

            It’s a bittersweet situation to be in.  I’ve got three years before I have to write another word.  I’m considering writing a novel, but for the time being I’m going to rest and relax since this is the calm before the promotional storm.  Thank you for reading and supporting my work.  People often ask me ‘Do you make any money off of your books?’ and my answer is always that I wouldn’t keep putting them out if I didn’t.  From a fiscal standpoint, 2011 is going to be a great year to make money while making people laugh at the same time.

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Monday Big Words Update! Episode 39 up, more copies of S & S en route…

June 23, 2009
After an amazing party/show anniversary on Saturday (and some serious editing on Sunday), Big Words Radio Episode 39 is now online.  Here’s your synopsis:
 

Synopsis:
     Tom looks back on a wildly successful first year for The Big Words I Know By Heart Radio Hour by throwing a party. Former co-hosts reflect on their experience on the show, SoCo Mike commits a serious faux pax by using a vintage Robin The Boy Wonder glass for his cocktail, and special musical guest The Pheonix Resistance rock it out with an original composition (‘Neverending Grace’).
 
To hear Episode XXXIX, click on: http://www.bigwordsradio.mypodcast.com
 
To subscribe to Big Words Radio on iTunes, log on, click on ‘Podcasts’ and search ‘Big Words Radio’.
 
    And the first batch of Slapstick & Superego came and went in rapid succession.  I’ve got another payload of first editions in transit as we speak and should have them in by Wednesday, so if you want one, speak now or forever hold your peace, because they’re going fast!  Early first impressions on the book have been overwhelmingly positive, and I’m looking forward to seeing what the general public thinks once they get their hands on the book late this summer. 
    As far as the yet-to-be-published episodes, I spent last week working on April Foolfest 2.  For a two and a half hour spoken word/music concert, there’s a lot of editing to be done.  Much like the new book, I’d rather take the time to get it right the first time than release an unfinished product, so keep your eyes peeled on the web site and hopefully I’ll be done with it some time this week. 
    And Night Life magazine hits the stands this week with ‘Docker Bums’, an essay about the increasing laziness of our modern world.  With limited access to my backlog, I’ve had to resort to some reprints until the computer crisis passes…
    And that’s all the news that’s fit to print this Monday.  Thanks to everybody who made the party such a huge hit, thanks to everyone who helped/participated on the radio show in the last year, and thanks to the new owners of Slapstick & Superego!  I’ll have your Quixote Wednesday Update for you in two more days…
    Tom Waters
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Slapstick & Superego available NOW!

June 18, 2009
http://www.lulu.com/content/paperback-book/slapstick-superego-essays-rants-scathing-social-commentary/6045728
 
Free fifteen page preview!  Order NOW (seven day standard shipping) unless you want to wait for the launch!
 
Description:
Author, columnist, freelance author and radio host Tom Waters unloads both barrels with his eighth collection and his first book comprised of nothing but high octane rants! No fluff, no filler, just controversial cringe comedy at it’s finest. For first-time readers, Slapstick is the perfect introduction to Waters’ bibliography. For those already initiated, it’s a welcome addition. Slapstick & Superego aims for the funny bone, breaks it and keeps delivering.
 
$19.99, 210 pages, 6″ x 9″, perfect binding, cream interior paper (60# weight), black and white interior ink, white exterior paper (100# weight), full-color exterior ink
 
    Now that I’ve seen it with my own two eyes and signed off on it, I can honestly say that this is the most professional book (inside and out) I’ve ever released!  It’s BEAUTIFUL!  Thanks again to Ian Chrystal and Vicki Robinson for a job well done on a grueling four month project.  Thanks also to Alycia Ripley for a phenomenal introduction (you can read it on the web preview).   
    Now I can work on an official launch and set a date later in the summer (late July or August).  I got the first ten copies and in less than a day, I’m already down to 6, so email ASAP if you want to buy a copy during the Big Words Anniversary Party this Saturday.   
    Ladies and gentleman, start your online ordering!  Ebooks are also available for the low low price of $7.99  More info on the launch as it develops…
 
Tom Waters
Doubt It Publishing
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Big Words Radio Hour Episodes 30 & 31 Up Right NOW!

February 20, 2009
Hey folks!
 
Two new episodes of Big Words Radio are up and running on your worldwide superinformation off-ramp right this second!  Here are your ‘synospsi’:
 
 

Big Words Episode 30: ‘Tom’s Atomic Poetry Kegger Cliff-Hanger!’ (pt.II)
 Tom throws his first official Poetry Kegger at Don’s Atomic Comics in Depew.  Distilled spirits are consumed, comics are purchased, and a fight almost breaks out at the end of the clip.  This episode concludes Part I, which can be found by clicking on the Monsters Of Verse pod-cast show (which can also be found on the Think Twice Site).  This is what’s known as ’cross-promotion’.
 
Big Words Episode 31: ‘The Large Verbiage We’ve Shared Through Rote Activity Podcast’
 With a Democrat firmly entrenched in the White House, Thomas Waters and ’Full Head Of Luxurious Hair Michael’ attempt a show reformat that’s kindler, gentler, and a hell of a lot more liberal.  Guest Lindsay Waters upsets the new world order of things by bringing the content rating of the show from PG to NC-17. 
 
    I would STRONGLY recommend that you wait until Part I of the Tom’s Atomic Poetry Kegger show appears over on the Monsters Of Verse show site before diving head first into PT. II on my own site.  Just a suggestion, though, and odds are that you’re going to do whatever you want. 
    Tonight, I’ll be recording an back to back interview and concert shows with highly acclaimed musician Lenny Revell.  As soon as the shows are finished and posted, you’ll be the first group to know.  In the mean time, perk up your ears and click away over at:
 
 
    Have a great weekend and I’ll talk to you all on Monday for your regularly scheduled Monday Update,
 
Tom Waters
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FINAL Call For Buffalo Anthology Submissions Runs From 1/09-7/09

December 30, 2008

This is it! Alycia is back in town for a brief time and we’ll be committing the next six months to wrapping up the LAST slate of submissions along with securing a publisher for the collection. Close pal Christina Wos Donnelly soothed some of my woes by emailing to say that most anthologies take two years on average. Here are some answers (along with some criteria) to answer some recent emails:

1.) If you’ve already submitted work and had it accepted, feel free to submit more material. The odds of a second (or in some case, third) work from the same author being included are less favorable than the initial submission, but if you believe your other works are capable of surviving the firing line, have at it.

2.) You will only be notified IF your submission is accepted. As working writers, we decided at the outset that chain rejection emails were infinitely nastier than no reply at all. If you haven’t heard from myself or Alycia by next year’s end, then your work didn’t make the cut. Sorry. This doesn’t mean that you’re not a promising writer/artist/poet, your work just wasn’t a good fit for the project. No hard feelings?

3.) We are still accepting poems, so feel free to submit, but the acceptance ratio will be much greater for essays, flash memoirs, historical expositions and works of fiction. The collection as it stands is top-heavy with poetry. Buffalo has a phenomenal poetry scene with a wealth of talented poets, but we firmly believe that there are still a lot of other creative endeavors and headspaces toiling away in Buffalo that deserve greater recognition.

4.) Please, by all means, SPREAD THE WORD! We want this collection to be just as succesful as you do, if not more. Just Buffalo can always use some extra help (financially and creatively), so if you have an altruistic bone in your body, push it to the breaking point. Tell your writing workshop. Tell your friends that have been writing and haven’t gotten a lot of work published on the local front. Tell your peers if you’re firmly entrenched in the heirarchy. If there’s one thing this project has taught us (and there have been a lot of valuable lessons down the road), it’s that word of mouth can hold a lot more weight than a listing in most of the notable newspapers. A Call For Works listing is all well and good, but after the day or the week-long run is over in a publication, word of mouth keeps the submissions rolling in.

5. And finally (before the Final Call For Submissions copy), if you were one of the writers who submitted for the last reading period (summer 2008), we haven’t gotten to your work yet, so don’t be crestfallen…yet. Alycia and I will be hitting the learning curve in the next six months to put this project to bed once and for all. After July, we’ll be rounding up as many accepted contributors as we can for the purpose of putting our heads together in person to decide on a finished project together. This is not a two-party system. This is not a head trip for myself or Alycia. This is a non-profit collection with the dual intention of promoting lesser known creative talents while raising money for Buffalo’s only literary center in a time of need. A finished manuscript is only the first stepping stone on the road to publishing, promoting, marketing and selling the book. Trust us on this one. Compiling the book will be easy compared to the junket we have in store one calendar year from now. We’ll need as many hands on deck as we can get to put this book out in a professional, fiscally viable manner. As always, contributions (creatively and financially) are appreciated.

And now, the Final (and Lord, do I mean final!) Call For Submissions. Happy New Year,

Tom Waters
Poetry Editor

Alycia Ripley
Fiction Editor

Buffalo Authors Alycia Ripley and Tom Waters will be considering any and all submissions of flash fiction and nonfiction (2,000 word max) as well as poetry (10 page max) for inclusion in an upcoming not-for-profit anthology about present day Buffalo. Since the submission period has been extended and the publishing window has been reconfigured to allow for a larger collection, works of fiction as well as historical or biographical essays will be given precedence over poetry submissions due to the current content of accepted works thus far. Submissions will be considered in (as well as) outside of Buffalo, and the material must be topical to modern day Buffalo life, landmarks or Buffalonians in general. All entries must be cut and pasted into the body of an email and sent simultaneously to ‘bigwordsmailbag@yahoo.com’ and ‘alyciaripley@hotmail.com’ with the type of submission in the subject heading (ex: ‘flash fiction submission’).
In addition, please include name, address, email address and published works you would like listed after your name in the completed anthology. The finished book will be published in the Spring of 2010 and all royalties will go towards the betterment and continued success of the Just Buffalo Literary Center. Submission period will run from January 1st-July1st and accepted authors will be notified via email. In addition, any and all parties interested in contributing their time or capital towards publishing, producing and marketing the book are also welcome to email or query.

For more information (as always), feel free to visit the official Just Buffalo Anthology Project site at:

buffaloanthology.blogspot.com

Thank you so much for your interest in the project,

Tom Waters

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Monday Big Words Update! December Suprises…

December 22, 2008

After yesterday’s update, I don’t have a whole hell of a lot to get caught up on. There are no less than three new Big Words Radio shows in the pipeline, but time hasn’t been on my side lately and the file uploading process I have makes it infinitely easier to just drop the shows off at the studio when the weather and the roads permit. As for the roads and the weather, lake effect snow: what’s up with that? Since the wife and I are on lockdown due to Lancaster’s ‘State Of Emergency’ and the Driving Ban, perhaps I’ll try and volley a few shows Rich’s way.

This Wednesday (X-Mas Eve) marks my next in-studio date for recording the show with co-host Josh Smith. As for a guest, we’ve got our pick of the litter and I’m not entirely sure who’s going to be on until Wednesday rolls around because I have two people on deck for the guest chair and they’re both call-ins.

As for both Breathing Rooms, I’m taking a hiatus on promoting the new books in addition to the Monsters Of Verse. The holidays are hectic enough and there’s not much point in promoting anything in Buffalo in terms of in-store promotions this late in the winter. JR Finlayson, myself and our third rotating guest poets will kick back into high gear in February once the elements and the economy are off the ropes, if you know what I mean.

It seems like forever since I got a bar review into the Buffalo News, but, well, I’ve been busy and the News has been busy. You can expect a new Club Watch (or two) within the next week or two.

And a new Night Life presumably hit’s the stands today with the final installment of ‘5 Writers, 3 Musicians, A Director, A Teamster, A Painter, A Boxer and a Game Show Host: A Study In Biographical Pictures’, a critical essay on my 15 favorite biopics.

That’s all I’ve got for you today. Stay the hell at home, don’t panic, don’t find an excuse to leave the house to get milk or eggs or some such nonsense and chillax. The way I see it, this is nature’s way of telling us to get some rest and get caught up on things around the house. Thank god we’ve got whiskey, cigarettes, 800 movies, 2,000 comics and a few dozen video games. Who wants to play video games, though? Talk to you all on Christmas Eve with ‘Quixote Wednesday’,

Tom Waters

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Big Words 2 Year Anniversary Party TONIGHT at Double D’s Queen City Grill @ 8 p.m.!

December 11, 2008

Okay, I can’t believe I neglected to blog this yet and it’s outlandishly short notice, but tonight marks the auspicious 2 Year Anniversary Party for a little column I like to call ‘Big Words I Know By Heart’.  The place?  Double D’s Queen City Grill at 1051 Sheridan Drive on the border of Tonawanda and Buffalo (2 blocks past Elmwood on the left across from a gas station).  The time?  8 p.m. to ?.  What can you expect when you show up?  Celebrity appearances, prize giveaways (books, CDs, t-shirts, movie passes, etc.), crazy stupid drink specials and food specials. 

     Also, due to a very sad event with 12 Pack Jack (my condolences, gentlemen), the Dr. Z Band will be performing from 8 p.m. to midnight!  Live blues, free swag, great food, good company!  What else do you need?

Seeya tonight at Double D’s!  Be there or rot in hell!

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Sunday Newsletter Update: Radio Episodes 8.5 & 9 Up!

August 31, 2008

 

Yep,
    I wanted to write sooner.  I wanted to get the last episode up sooner, but it wasn’t meant to be.  Rich (my producer) had to go in for some medical tests and everything came up rosy.  If there’s one thing the two of us have in common, it’s our love for a holistic lifestyle.  Right.
    Life has just been insanely busy lately.  I’ve been wanting to write more comic reviews, but I haven’t had time.  A week and a half ago, I had a Gusto assignment at Hennessey’s Pub out in Alden.  Last Saturday was my bachelor party, which I decided to make a podcast out of.  That turned into episode 8.5 (since I spent more time partying than recording, it was only a half an hour).  On Sunday (amidst a shit storm of aggravation), I wrote three poems.  Then I got lost somewhere on the 279 and ended up sleeping in my car.  This is why I hate large highways. 
    On Monday (after explaining to my wife, her parents and a few other people that the ‘reports of my death were greatly exaggerated’), I met up with ArtVoice Managing Editor Geoff Kelly at Mulligan’s Brick Bar downtown to record on location.  We had a knockout show and for some reason on a Monday afternoon at a bar on Allen there were six people who were unfamiliar with the term ‘inside voices’.  The podcast turned out great regardless. 
    Tuesday was my night at Desi’s.  On Wednesday, I returned to Buff State to chime in and sit in to enjoy Lisa Forrest’s Rooftop Poetry Club get together.  It was therapy that was well needed.  Weds. night I had a quiet night in with the wife.  That was well needed too.
    Thursday I was at work all day for the most part.  Friday was more work and another quiet night in with the wife. 
    Yesterday I had an assignment for ArtVoice that I had to be vague about.  I’ll just say that if you’re a true Elton John fan, you might be familiar with a certain reverse psuedonym that’s going to be popping up soon in their pages. 
    Check out the podcasts, though.  You can find both over at:
 
http://www.thinktwiceradio.com/tom-waters/tom-waters.html
 
Episode 8.5 Tag Line
 
Tom commemorates his bachelor party with the drunkest podcast yet, strange boobs in the face, Mighty Taco, and projectile vomiting.
 
Episode 9 Tag Line:    
    
Tom sits down and pounds out the magic with Buffalo Wonder Boy and ArtVoice’s Managing Editor in Chief Geoff Kelly. Mayhem ensues, stout is purchased on Jamie Moses’ corporate credit card.card.
 
    The two Breathing Room poetry books STILL aren’t done.  I am now a month over my personal deadline for them and the first volume had better be finished come next week or somebody is going to be in hot water.  My layout person is still working on them and I don’t understand how the pdf can be so difficult when I knocked out Clean Up After Me, I’m Irish in a weekend.  I guess we’ll see what next week brings.  Volume I should be ready for order by the second week of September.  I’ll be in Las Vegas that week for work. 
    I think that’s just about everything.  I’m about three weeks away from my wedding and the majority of my immediate families (and friends, for that matter) hate my guts or think I’ve lost my mind altogether or both.  These things will happen.  In September, the Buffalo News will be running an essay I wrote about my new in-laws in their ‘My View’ section.  That makes my second accepted submission for the year and they allow three per person, so I’ll have to whip something else up as soon as ‘Our People’ runs.   
     Things are really starting to come together career-wise.  Word of mouth on something or other (or perhaps ALL of it) is hitting the ground running and I’d like to think that the money should be around the corner.  Geoff Kelly and I were talking about career goals, aspirations and objectives on Monday and I told him my conclusion was that ultimately, I wanted to keep busy.  Writing is a compulsive therapy for me now.  It’s something I’m going to do no matter what.  I’m knocking on wood here, because every time I say something like that, I block up for eight to twelve months.  There’s still too much to be done.  And I don’t give a shit about recognition anymore, inclusion, or critical fanfare.  I want to make money.  I want to provide for my new three unit family.  I want to be able to leave my job in two to five years so that I can do this full time.  I’m ready.  The steps are in place.  All I have to do now is keep at it.
    I’ll drop you a line again when I have a chance.  Take care of yourselves, Big Words readers.  Seeya on the flip side.
 
    Tom Waters
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Monday Update On Weds./Week 92 on stands/Fall Of Rome…

August 27, 2008

Now most of you know what a neurotic obsessive I am with my web site(s).  So the fact that my computer was demolished thanks to some ambitious hacker with a Trojan Worm this previous Friday caused me a great deal of grief.  For the second time this year, I had to have my computer restored to its default settings so that I could get back on track.  I’m very fortunate in that my future brother in law is a computer wunderkind, so he had it back up and running in a day and a half….

     The other good news is that Rich (my producer at Think Twice Radio) scored me a 15 Gig Ipod for 42 dollars.  So now I get to learn how to upload my 600 CDs (mostly Elton and Dylan) onto this thing.  It’s third generation, but what are you gonna do?

     Over the weekend, I recorded 12 and a half minutes of my bachelor party, read my opening intro and recorded a five minute ‘Question’ segment.  Somehow this worked out to be about a half an hour Big Words Radio Show (episode 8.5).  Check that out over at:

www.thinktwiceradio.com

     I’d give you a direct link to my feed on Think Twice, but the net still isn’t cooperating fully.  I’ll re-edit later on…

     I also recorded episode 9 on Monday at Mulligan’s Brick Bar with Geoff Kelly (managing editor at ArtVoice).  It was a great show, but my producer has been tied up with work obligations, so to the best of my knowledge, it’s not up yet.  It should be by week’s end, so I’ll get back to you as soon as it is.

     This weekend was hell and back and back around again.  I’m still coping with the emotional and psychic fallout.  I really wish that anyone who’s ‘concerned’ about my ‘erratic behavior’ and feels that i should ‘slow down’ could walk a mile in my shoes this summer.  A less durable person would have taken their own life by now or a whole bunch of other people’s and then their own by about mid July.  Four of my friends have had complete meltdowns, the world is crashing down around my ears and I’ve written two entire books, launched a radio show and freelanced my ass off on top of a forty hour plus weekly job.  So yeah, I’m going to be a little erratic.  Deal with it. 

     Five years from now, I’ll look back and see the upswing.  I’ll look on this time as the sheer amount of career leapfrogging I’ve been doing as a writer.  So I would do it again a million times.  When I can quit my day job and do the radio thing or the writing thing full time, things will be a lot easier.  I’m not the praying kind, but if you are, say one for me.  I’ve put my time in.  I’ve been writing since I was 13 and I’ve been on the radio for seven years in one form or another, so it would be really nice to make $40,000 to start to do what I love.  I’ll get there, but it would be nice to get there faster.  It infuriates me to think that there are so many talentless clowns who fell ass backwards into union jobs that I’ve worked my ass off to get to.  It’ll happen, but it really needs to happen sooner rather than later before I snap completely or lose everyone and everything I care about. 

     But I digress.  Week 92 of Night Life is on stands with a Big Words ‘uncut’ column of ‘Love Letter To Lancaster’.  I wanted to run it in August, but I didn’t get around to it.  Later today, I’ll be dropping in on Lisa Forrest’s Rooftop Poetry Club at Buffalo State, my old haunting ground.  Rooftop and the Center For Inquiry remain my two favorite poetry reading venues.  I’m going to try and record the reading for Think Twice, but we’ll see what happens. 

     ArtVoice has also decided to run my graphic novel reviews.  And they’ve given me the green light to do three Pro-Buffalo PD interviews.  At least one writer in this goddamned town should be an ultra conservative, so if it’s gotta be me, so be it.  It’s early in the morning, so I’ll leave you with that.  Four days without the web or a computer has left me behind the eight ball, so I’ve got other things to do. 

     Listen to the radio show.  Grab a copy of Night Life.  We can branch out from there.  Peace out,

Tom Waters

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Monday Big Words Update: Stop The Press, I Wanna Get Off!

August 5, 2008

     If I had a request to pass along to the Fates, it would be that they didn’t let all the important things happen in the last week of each month this summer.  This makes twice now that I’ve had to phone in to Night Life magazine and essentially tell them to ‘Stop The Press!’  With a four rant block of essays already in place, I changed tack in light of last week’s events and decided to publish the Buffalo Rising campaign ala Lenny Bruce by serializing the ordeal.  Every email, every column and every late breaking event will be disseminated in a two or three part column series IN print in Night Life magazine under the auspicious title of ‘Alia Iacta Est’ (or, for those of you familiar with your Latin, ‘The Die Is Cast’. 

     There were a lot of updates I wanted to write over the weekend, but Linds and I skipped town and set sail for Lake Erie.  Some time late on Friday, I finally (after many hits, misses and total mistakes for the notion) came up with a lasting title for Essay Book Six (technically Book 9.  Are you ready for it?  Maybe we should get a drum roll going because the title is unbelievably perfect for the content.

-Drum Roll Please

First of all, you’re all (most of you) familiar with the next Rant Book Title, Slapstick & Superego.  We’ve got that one covered at least.  I’m looking at May or June of next year depending on how long the Breathing Room promotions will spill over.   But the book after that, the rant collection that’s clocking in around 107 pages thus far, is:

-Drum Roll, Please!

Merry Prankster

     I agonize over the naming of things.  This title knocks my socks off, though.  It’s an obscure reference to the ’60s, The Tarot, my lifestyle, the material and my way of life.  It works.  If it turns out that someone else has used that handle, I’m still using it.  It’s perfect, it has a nice ring to it, and I can’t think of Rant Book Six as anything other than.

     I spoke with a lot of Buffalo Industry Veterans today regarding the Buffalo Rising fiasco and they’ve all given me some sagely advice.  Whether I follow it is irrelevant, but it was nice to get their opinions.  People who have been toiling away in the business of newspapers for over a decade (and in some cases, two or three).  In many cases, this experience has opened (or re-opened) a lot of doors for me into new endeavors with old friends and new alike.  A few interviews will be finding their way into the pages of Buffalo Spree, a slick magazine publication with nationwide circulation that Elena was blinded with rage over being unable to trump.  A few others still will be finding a home with ArtVoice after Editor in Chief Geoff Kelly and I manage to trade some old journalistic muckracking anecdotes over a stout or two and come to agreement on the Buffalo Police series.  And I’m going to find a way to work something out with WNY Media, as I think they deserve a few fresh pieces from me after sticking their necks out along with me last week when no one else would.  That takes guts.

     Nicholas Peterson has joined the brigade with myself and Carrie Gardner in putting the finishing polish on both Breathing Room manuscripts.  He’s a wiz on formatting, desktop publishing and layout and he’s been kind enough to volunteer his efforts on rescuing the headers, footers, fonts and formatting headaches that have just about gotten the best of me.  I’ve already begun work on a THIRD volume of poetry (shooting for 3-400 pages for the next tome) entitled Poke The Scorpion With A Sharp Stick which, if I’m lucky, will not be complete for another two years or so with all of the other plates spinning in the air. 

     RD Pohl didn’t see fit to accept any of my submissions for this month’s installment of the Poetry Page in the Buffalo News.  Florine still hasn’t run ‘token excuses for block’, which is understandable as they only seem to run poems once in a blue moon in the ‘In The Margins’ section of ArtVoice.  ‘poem for Lindsay’ continues to garner decent votes on poetry.com, but I’m going to need more credibility for certain parties with the poems if I’m going to move some copies.  It’ll all fall into place over the next three or four months.

     I’m lining up some phenomenal concerts/readings/performances that center again around the ‘Monsters Of Verse’ concept.  Three poets, one location, and the occassional musical guest between sets.  Carrie Gardner, Jeff Finlayson and myself will be headlining a Screening Room reading in mid-December that pays.  Carrie and myself will be featured as readers at the Center For Inquiry as part of Just Buffalo’s ‘Literary Cafe’ readings hosted by the ever-entertaining Perry Nicholas.  All signs point to yes for a launch-window (late October) trifecta reading at Talking Leaves on Main St near UB North.  And discussions are being bandied about regarding doing the official launch at the Market Arcade Film and Arts Center on Main St. downtown.  Most of these events are paying and the majority of them are going to come to pass.  The ‘Monsters Of Verse’ concert concept just feels like more of a downtown Buffalo venue, so I’ll be focusing most of my efforts in and around Buffalo, where poetry seems to thrive in multiple pockets and genres.  Buffalo Spree has even informed me that they’re willing to jump in ahead of the curve and do an Artist Profile and me, which is tremendously flattering. 

     After two months of typing furiously, my right hand is suffering from carpal tunnel syndrome.  I’m afraid I’ll be taking a break from writing (and posting) for the majority of the week so that I don’t put any undue strain on the nerve and tendon clusters in my forearm.  I will, however, be running some emails that a certain Informant on Buffalo Rising has been supplying me with intel from mid-week.  The new Big Words radio show wraps this Wednesday night and Uncle Hal and I are STILL trying to find a good time window to do the 60th episode together.  We’ll hammer something out.  That’s a lot of ground covered.  Talk to you soon,

Tom Waters

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Monday Big Words Update! Week 88 on stands, ‘Editor’s Choice’?

July 29, 2008

     If all goes according to plan (which it hasn’t yet this month), ‘The Importance Of Being Neurotic’, my piece on the intrinsic value of psychotherapy, will hit stands in the pages of Night Life this week.  In the shuffle, I thought for some reason that it was running last week.  It didn’t.  ‘On Spec’ ran in the Big Words column instead.  Too much confusion.  All of this should be ironed out in time for next month, as I won’t be shuffling shows around like a game of, well, shuffleboard, going into August.

     The Pissed Off World Of Uncle Hal 60th episode has been postponed indefinitely.  Due to circumstances beyond both of our control, Hal is taking a break and sorting some other things out and I’ll leave it at that.  It pains me to see yet another friend going through a veritable monsoon of troubles that life is dishing out, but I’ll wait patiently on the sidelines and offer help when it’s asked for.  That’s all I can do at this point.  It’s been a tough summer for a lot of my friends, and it aggravates me that it has to happen all at once.  I’m sure there’s a soothing adage for all of this, but any advice eludes me for the time being.

     And finally, I’m not sure whether it’s a massive pyramid scheme of a scam right now, but I had two poems accepted on the notorious Poetry.com web site, ‘Poem For Lindsay’ and ‘On The Corner Of Average’.  The former (‘Poem For Lindsay’) was awarded with the partially prestigious ‘Poet’s Choice’ award.  Whether or not this carries any weight is beyond me, as these are circles I’m unfamiliar in traveling.  However, it’s always good to have more work up and around online.  You can view (and read) ‘Poem For Lindsay’ over on:

http://www.poetry.com/dotnet/P9003195/999/1/display.aspx

‘On The Corner Of Average’ can be found over at:

http://www.poetry.com/dotnet/P9003195/999/2/display.aspx

     This Wednesday, my celebrity interview with Uncle Hal had to be postponed, so in his place, I’ll be talking with Jay Desiderio from Desiderio’s on Broadway for the second installment of the Big Words I Know By Heart Radio Hour.  If you caught the first episode, you know that you’re not going to want to miss the second episode.  I’ve got a real corker of a rant (if you get the email newsletter, you just read it yesterday) for my opening shot, so grab a comfortable chair and a stiff drink and hop online later this week.   Tune on in late Wednesday night at:

www.thinktwiceradio.com

     That’s all the news that’s fit to print for one day.  Talk to you sooner than you think,

Tom Waters

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