Posts Tagged ‘writing’

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

January 11, 2019

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

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

#BigWordsVideo shall return.

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

October 4, 2018

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

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

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

#BigWordsVideo shall return,

Tom

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

October 30, 2017

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

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

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

See you all soon,

Tom

 

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

March 31, 2017

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

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

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

That’s all, folks.

Tom

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

March 30, 2017

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

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

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

Seeya soon,

Tom

 

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When Severed Ears Sing You Songs by Justin Karcher

March 14, 2017

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“Trying to create miracles for all us dumb fucks

Who just want to see one curse reversed

Before our muscles betray our bones”

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

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

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

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

-Tom Waters

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

August 13, 2016

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

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

Stay tuned,

Tom

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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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Poetry Month: (homesick) ryan inlet

April 21, 2016

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

Thanks for reading!

-Tom

 

(homesick) ryan inlet

cold feet padding past

freezing linoleum

morning fog rolling down

the channel

red embers from the previous

evening’s bonfire cooling

crows caw cacophonously

carp flop out of the water lazily

coffee drips deliberately

quietly counting out the

remaining days of a vacation

my Love shifting

snoozing

tossing/turning

beautifully

first cigarette stings

delicious pang of an

a.m. buzz

1950’s space heater

kicking into first gear

near my toes

lean back into a plush

leather chair that’s been through

three or four generations

three or four different families

ashtray precariously balanced

upon the arm

smoke curling up from a green

mug with coin insignias etched

into the clay

(grandpa’s)

duck’s diving in for a landing

on the middle of a placid

liquid landing strip

curtain’s down at the folk’s cabin

crack another comic book

drop another on the stack of the

finished pile

the start of another perfect day

four left.

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Poetry Month: ampersand

April 21, 2016

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

 

ampersand

with a twinkle in your eyes

& a spring in your step

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

& your laugh when you can’t hold it in

& the tiny hairs on the small of your back

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

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

& the way you smoke your last cigarette before bed

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

& watching you naked coming out of the shower

& into the bedroom to get your cotton pajamas

& the quick breath you take coming out of a nap

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

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

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

& holding your tiny hand when we walk through the park

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

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

& the perfect fit we make on the love seat

& the other noises you make with me

& how you can eat a whole bowl of popcorn

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

& your language with your horses

& when you hog the bed

& spending hours playing computer solitaire

& shuffling bills around

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

& how you get goofy after one mixed drink

& your jokes with your immediate family

& the way you look in a formal dress

& when you put up with my friends

& how you make omelet’s better than me

& the two cds you own

& somehow you knew it would all work out

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

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

& when you cry something breaks inside of me

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

& how my friends call you mrs.waters

& your big fluffy bath robe that feels like astroturf

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

& how you got me hooked on drinking coffee every day

& here you are & here i am

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

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Poetry Month: regardless

April 20, 2016

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

regardless of who I am

regardless of what you say

regardless of what This is

regardless of how we feel

regardless of what happens

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

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

 

(hope)

 

above all else

regardless of that

& the other thing

 

yet

 

&

 

still

 

here we are.

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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.

Read the rest of this entry ?

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

January 27, 2016

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

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

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

January 21, 2016

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

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

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

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

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

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On Dasher, On Dancer, On Prozac (Updated)

December 14, 2015

 

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

Happy Holidays!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Checking the expiration date on my NA eggnog,

Tom ‘yuletide’ Waters

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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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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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Rapid Fire: Interview With Brian Azzarello from If They Can’t Take A Joke (2007, Authorhouse)

October 8, 2015

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Brian Azzarello is a tricky interview. I knew this going in, and tried to set up enough pitfalls and death traps along the way that he’d be bound to open up. Who knew that grilling was the topic that would wind him up and get him to open up a bit? The comic writer has turned the industry on it’s ear over the last five years, creating the award winning crime series 100 Bullets and applying his own personal hard-boiled genius to Batman, Superman, The Incredible Hulk (Banner), Hellblazer and Lex Luthor, infuriating some traditionalist fans and picking up some more of his own at the same time. He is to comics what Lon Chaney was to method actors. He dives into his dialogue head first and soaks it up on subways, street corners and dive bars. He knows the street and the words his characters bluster and swear and shout with is genuine. He’s also released Johnny Double, re-tooled Marvel’s Cage and worked on El Diablo. To be short and sweet (which is the way he prefers to write his dialogue and the way he prefers his music, conversation, and art), he is a bitch to interview. He’s squirrely and you need to move mountains very quickly to get past those defenses.

TW: Who was your inspiration for Agent Graves?
BA: Who? Lee Marvin.
TW: You’re obviously a fan of hard boiled crime fiction. Would you care to name some influences?
BA: Oh, god, just the usual suspects, I suppose. Thompson, Wolvert, Goodis. Goodis more than the rest.
TW: You’ve been known to listen to dialogue on subways and in bars. Do you research specific locales for specific titles and has it ever put you in any dangerous situations?
BA: No. No, it’s never…I’ve never been in a situation I couldn’t handle.
TW: How many other creator-based projects are you hiding?
BA: Hiding? I’m pretty open with ‘em to be honest with you, you know? I’ve got a series coming out in October called Loveless, which is a Western. It’s gonna be another ongoing series like 100 Bullets. It’s about a husband and wife…a pair of outlaws during Reconstruction. We’re calling it a noir spaghetti western.
TW:Are you serious about hanging up the capes after your tour of duty with Superman, Batman and Lex Luthor?
BA: Am I serious? Hell yes.
TW: You’ve been well praised for realistic and faithful dialogue of the underworld. Are you a fan of David Mamet?
BA: Yeah. Yeah, sure. Not everything. (laughs)
TW: Who are your favorite country singers?
BA: You mean like current?
TW: All time, current, if you want to go back to the great storytellers or current day…
BA: All time, it’s gotta be Cash. Current, I like Jim White a lot, and definitely Steve Earle.
TW: Cage was phenomenal.
BA: Thanks.
TW: Why did you decide to leave the ending open, though, and do you have any plans to revisit the character?
BA: No, he’s dead, c’mon. I’m…maybe. I think Marvel took that character in a different direction, though.
TW: Between your script and Corben’s artwork, it really blew me away.
BA: Well, you really can’t go wrong with the source material. I just basically did ‘Red Harvest’.
TW: What’s your working relationship like with Eduardo Risso? Have you met him yet at this point?
BA: Oh yeah, I have, we’ve met. We see each other basically about once a year. It’s great, you know? We communicate mostly through email.
TW: Do you have any plans to work with Richard Corben again?
BA: We’ve talked about it, yeah. I definitely would like to work with Richard again.
TW: You’ve been very vocal about fan boys in the past. Why do you think they hang on to their franchises so tightly?
BA: (long laugh) You mean…
TW: A lot of them have complained in the past about directions that you’ve taken with Hellblazer or some of the other big titles for DC and Marvel. They piss and moan about…
BA: They want what they remember, you know? And basically, yeah, it’s not what you remember, or what they remember. It’s…for a lot of these people, it’s like, comics, it’s like…they still read the things?
But they’re reading it for something that they’re not gonna get. They’re chasing that first orgasm again.
TW: What’s your favorite whiskey?
BA: I can’t drink the stuff anymore.
TW: Not even Knob Creek?
BA: Nah, that was my favorite. No man, I just look at a shot glass of whiskey and I get a hangover these days. Now I drink tequila.
TW: That’s how you wake up in another state with no pants.
BA: That isn’t necessarily a bad thing!
TW: How did you plan John Constantine’s cross-country trip initially?
BA: Initially, I just threw him in prison. I didn’t plan to move him anywhere.
TW: You write a lot of your best scenes in a bar environment. Do you write any of your outlines or scripts while you’re in bars?
BA: I used to, but I really don’t anymore. Well, if I’m outta town, yeah, but I can’t do that here anymore.
TW: Too loud?
BA: No. Like…I don’t know, I get interrupted.
TW: Hard Time was one of the best story arcs in the series. Did you have a ball writing the script or is it more like a job when you’re assigned to an established series?
BA: No, definitely it was not a job. I had fun writing Constantine. A lot of fun.
TW: Any more hints on the finale to 100 Bullets?
BA: No hints. Nothing.
TW: It felt like you lived and breathed New Orleans in 100 Bullets: The Hard Way; Have you vacationed there and if so, for how long?
BA: Yeah, I’ve been there a number of times. I’m going again this winter.
TW: Raymond Carver or Raymond Chandler?
BA: Oh man, that’s hard!
TW: If you had to pick.
BA: If I had to pick? I can’t! I can’t pick…no! That’s tough! You know, on one hand it’s like…you go with Chandler, but…if you go with Carver, there’s so much more stories.
TW: Well I know you’re a fan of minimalism and economy of dialogue, and Carver was great at doing that.
BA: Oh yeah, I think so too. He would use the fewest amount of words to just bum the piss out of you.
(laughs)
TW: I found out today that you enjoy cooking. What’s your favorite recipe?
BA: Oh god, I don’t know. I cook all the time. It’s probably…five nights a week, sometimes six. I just got a new grill so I’ve been grilling every night.
TW: I got a Sunbeam a few months ago and took a ’phd in grilling’.
BA: See now, I had a gas grill, and all the guts had to be replaced, so like, in between doing that, I just pulled out a little smoky grill, and I’m using that thing again. I forgot how wood makes food taste. Then after a while I got this thing called the Big Green Egg. It’s this big, ceramic, wood fire grill, like a kiln. It’s all ceramic.
TW: I used to be a prime rib fan and now I’m all for Porterhouse.
BA: Oh, yeah! Porterhouse, you get the two best cuts.
TW: Why did you decide to humanize Killer Croc?
BA: He needed it. I mean, I think…I think the Batman villains work better if they’re human. ‘Cause he…Killer Croc started out as human! I just brought him back to his roots is all.
TW: Have you ever considered doing anything with Swamp Thing?
BA: Probably not. We talked about it, but I don’t think so. Not at this point, anyway.
TW: What was the last comic you read that humbled you?
BA: Whew, geez.
TW: Something that really blew you away.
BA: Let me look here. I’m looking at, like, all the recent stuff I got. Oh, well the last thing that really, really blew me away was Joe Kubert’s Yossel. A hardcover came out from, I think IDW…the publisher. I-Books rather was the publisher.
TW: I read Ex Machina right after Cage and it just hit me like a ton of bricks.
BA: They’re two different tons, too. (laughs) Brian (K. Vaughn) comes from a completely different place than I do with his stories.
TW: Frank Miller took Batman backward and forward. Mark Waid took the entire DC Universe into the future. Will you ever pen an aging icon in the industry?
BA: Man, I don’t know. I have no clue.
TW: (exasperated) I gotta say, you’re a tough interview! (laughing)
BA: Yeah, I’ve heard that before.
TW: I keep hoping I’m gonna hit some landmine here…
BA: Yeah, well, working on the company of characters right now, it’s just, it’s not anything I really want to do.
TW: Well, I know that working on superheroes isn’t what you enjoy…
BA: No, it’s not what I enjoy, and after working on ‘em, it’s…I know why I don’t enjoy them! (laughs) It seems like a lot of the stuff…the whole point is to get to the punch, and that’s kind of juvenile. Especially when there’s guns around.
TW: Speaking of guns, Sgt. Rock: Between Hell and a Hard Place was very good.
BA: Thanks. That was a good experience, working with Joe (Kubert). I mean…it…I’ve been lucky with my artists, know what I mean?
TW: What would you like your epitaph to say?
BA: One more for the road (laughs)
TW:How did Jim Lee talk you into a chat room with Kilgore Trout? The interview came off with this particular fan boy as a bit obnoxious.
BA: With Kilgore?
TW: Yeah.
BA: I don’t know if he was obnoxious, he just like…ehh…I think he was a little close-minded. It’s not just him, but a lot of people have very, very specific ideas of what these characters are and how they’re supposed to operate. And if you deviate from those, you are, you don’t understand them.
TW: They hang on too tight.
BA: Yeah, you know, and it’s…yeah.
TW: You’ve mentioned that you don’t have any plans to work with Jill (Thompson, Azzarello’s wife) on anything, but do you two compare notes, or…
BA: We talk about stuff, yeah. That’s one of the reasons why we probably won’t work together.
It’s much better to approach each other’s stuff with a fresh eye.
TW: (exasperated) That’s all I’ve got! I put two weeks of work into these questions!
BA: Well, do you wanna revisit some of these questions? You can pull something else out if you want.
TW: (sighs) I uh…really wanted to reread more of your stuff. I got to volume four of 100 Bullets and have been tied up with a lot of other things, reading other things. What are you working on right now?
BA: What was I working on today when you called? 100 Bullets.
TW: Are you one of those writers who gets up at the asscrack of dawn at 6 am with a cup of coffee and goes to work?
BA: I usually am up about six or seven. Coffee, newspaper, sit down…
TW: You said once before that you wanted to do a sequel to Johnny Double. Is that on the horizon?
BA: No, I doubt that’ll ever happen right now. There’s other things goin’ on. The next…after Loveless, right now, I’m in development with for three graphic novels. One a year for the next few years.
TW: Do you see any other spinoffs with any of your work? Once 100 Bullets is done, do you see any of the peripheral characters off on their own?
BA: Not for me. When it’s done it’s done, as far as I’m concerned. Unless I’m broke and say, ‘Hey, let’s go back’.
TW: I heard that DC approached Alan Moore to do a sequel to Watchmen and it just seems wrong.
BA: Eh, it doesn’t hurt to ask. The guy could say yes. After 100 issues of 100 Bullets, though, I’m pretty sure it’ll be done.
TW: Did you have the storyboards and the outline worked out from the first issue?
BA: Our original contract was for just a year. So…I kinda…a decision had to be made. Can you get this down to a year or maybe eighteen months. If it’s not doing well, we’ll give you six issues to wrap it up. That was an option. Instead I just said, well, I said yes. I said I could do it…but there was no way I coulda done it. So I figured, we’ll just tell the twelve and if that’s all we tell that’s all we tell. Fine.
TW: What’s it been like working with Jim Lee? He seems a bit more traditional than a lot of the artists that you’ve worked with. Corben’s got a very recognizable look and Risso has a very distinct style.
BA: Well, so does Jim. As far as the superhero stuff goes, I don’t know if there’s anyone any better than Jim. Working with him, I didn’t treat him any differently. I left him a lot of room to improvise…especially the fight stuff that was in there. I left that kind of choreography to him…how to do it. ‘Cause he does it better than me.
TW: I think that’s everything I’ve got. I appreciate you taking the time out for me.
BA: (laughs) I mean, I’m a terrible self-promoter.
TW: You’d rather let the work speak for itself.
BA: Absolutely. I don’t want to be a celebrity. The point of my life is to work.

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Frank Miller Can Blow Me! (from Mockery, 2011 Doubt It Publishing)

October 6, 2015
Miller takes another payday from DC Comics for this fall's upcoming mini-series The Dark Knight III: The Master Race.

Miller takes another payday from DC Comics for this fall’s upcoming mini-series The Dark Knight III: The Master Race.

Author’s Note: ‘*Fill-In-The-Blank* Can Blow Me’ was a regular column (and for all I know, still is) at Acid Logic, the site I’ve written and contributed to since the early 2000’s.  So I was trying to write for that format. With the pre-release controversy machine already gearing up for The Dark Knight III: Master Race, I figured this’d be a good time to post the following click-bait.  First-time visitor to the site?  Then please feel free to Like, Subscribe and stick around for awhile!  -Tom

Originally appeared on AcidLogic.com on August 1st, 2008.

Frank Miller can toss my salad and gargle with the creamed corn. Every one of his ‘great works’ is going downhill at the speed of sound the longer he keeps coming out with new projects. And by projects, I mean the realm of film that he’s somehow blown his own way into.

I love Batman, but I’m not touching the new All Star Batman compilation by Miller with a ten foot pole. My comics retailer told me to buy it and that I’d hate it. Why in the fuck would I buy some piece of garbage for thirty dollars knowing full well that it was going to upset me? Apparently, Miller takes his disgust for the franchise that made him the overly-compromised whore he is today and ‘turns the series on it’s ear’ by ‘shifting the paradigm’. Those phrases are about as original as anything he’s done in the last fifteen years, so they felt warranted.

Frank Miller has lost his motherfucking mind. The Dark Knight Strikes Back had an uninspired title, poor computer generated artwork and a storyline that was more brass balls than character arc. It was a sad, pale imitation of it’s predecessor. I’ve explained these books in full detail many times over, so you’re not getting a synopsis here because I’m too fired up.

In his old age, he’s become a paranoid delusional maniac with a full tilt delusion of grandeur. Sin City the ‘film’ may be a wet dream for frat boys and tough guys, but it didn’t carry over well onto celluloid. 300 was such an obnoxious case study in slow-motion overuse that I wanted to drive out to Hollywood and smack the director in the face with my dick. After giving him the ‘mushroom bruce’, I’d walk over to Frank Miller’s house, where he could commence to blowing my ‘soup can’ of a cock.

Sin City (the black and white graphic novel series) wasn’t really that hot, either. Take every pathetic dime store novel stereotype you’ve ever read, suck the ingenuity that a great crime novelist like Chandler or Hammett would infuse the story with, fuck that story in the ass, water it down some more, give it some ‘hardcore’ balls-out abstract artistic leanings in the panels, take a steaming shot between seven or so perfect bound collections, smear your taint-cheese right at the anti-climactic stupidity of each interconnected ‘story’ in this city, and you have something that resembles a grade school-serial-killer in training’s circle jerk session with a cat he just tortured and drowned in a barrel of lye. Over-rated tripe.

And now, this Christmas, Miller takes the director’s chair a second time to torture the world by fucking up the very spirit of Will Eisner’s Spirit. How fucking dare you, Frank. Climb a chair, slip through a noose and take your own life. Is that too harsh? Too goddamned bad. You’re embarrassing yourself and the rest of the comic enthusiast macrocosm in tinsel town. The last ten years of your artistic life have been a pathetic, flaccid facsimile of your former glory.

You’ve peaked. Call it day. Hang up your hat, kick off your shoes and go home. I don’t like you anymore. My friend doesn’t like you either. Rip that line from Star Wars and work it into the next sequel that you whore yourself out for with DC, you little bitch! Ooh, but you make me mad!

Many writers write their best work before they become financially successful. You’re obviously on the other end of that spectrum. Trust me, I’m not jealous. I make decent money doing what I do, I have leverage where it matters and at the end of the day I sleep on a bed of residual and commission cash (from freelancing and books) with a woman who has (and always will have) the ass of a 16 year old cheerleading captain in Catholic school. Both of these factors give me enough werewithal and gumption to write another twenty books, each one successively better than the next.

Dark Knight Returns is looked upon as one of the most important comic legends in the history of the medium right up there with Alan Moore’s The Watchmen. Alan Moore continues to break every mold and genre he’s compared to while ever-striving to grow the collective audience for the artistic field. Miller continues to back himself into a corner like a half-wit obsessively slapping his own flimsy prick up against a corner.

Batman: Year One is the template upon which Batman Begins was drawn from, and for good reason. Daredevil: Elektra changed my life and the lives of many others with it’s gritty artwork (also drawn by Miller) and it’s haunting ruminations on unrequited love and the prospect of one-time resurrection. After that, Miller has been going downhill faster than Barrack Obama in a soap box derby cotton gin on wheels. He’s done. Finished. Washed up, whored out and stretched to the point of being worse than a contract soap opera writer. If you could travel back in time and see how inspiring and original and ground-breaking you were, you’d climb a clock tower, install a diving board and then jack-knife onto the concrete fifty feet below.

Listen, Frank. If you can’t strive to improve with each literary or cinematic outing, then you’re done. Throw in the towel. Drop your pencils, your word processor, your agent, and then I’ll drop my pants and stuff all seven and a half inches of my ‘babie’s arm holding an apple’ into the back of your tonsils. What’s the smartest thing that ever came out of Frank Miller’s mouth? My dick.

-Yeah, I stole that joke. Just writing about Miller makes me a derivative hack, too, so I’m stopping now to invest my creative energies into something infinitely more satisfying than meditations on a nobody. You fucked up, Miller. Now wipe the spunk of your chin and go away.

Tom ‘Brazilian wax’ Waters

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Big Words I Know By Heart Episode XI: ‘Mulligan’

August 28, 2015
Big Words Video XI Publicity Still by Producer Richard Wicka.

Big Words Video XI Publicity Still by Producer Richard Wicka.

Buffalo’s a small city, and when you’re an artistic type, you tend to bump into the same people over and over as the years shuffle onward.  Public Editor-In-Chief Geoff Kelly and I have been friends for going on fifteen years now, and I’m glad we keep seeing each other.  He was a solid guest, he’s a great journalist and this episode was one year and two shoots into the making.  We originally shot the show in June only to find out that we lost it because of a sound problem.  Geoff was good enough to circle back yesterday for another attempt.  Producer Richard Wicka implemented a new lighting system to his Home Of The Future that gives the show a very crisp look rolling into the second season, Mike P. brought a dry sensibility in the Co Host Hot Seat, and of course, there’s the moustache.  Thanks are in order to Geoff, Richard, Mike and also Brian Platter for recording a new rendition of Jay Desiderio’s original theme music for the show.  Please be kind enough to Like, Share, Subscribe, Favorite, Retweet, +1 or whatever the hell else it is that the kids are doing on their social medias these days!  I’ll see you next week with a brand new rant right here!

Tom

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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

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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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‘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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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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Big Words Radio Turning Point

July 26, 2011

The fourth year for Big Words Radio could be the final one.

 

Downloads have been dropping steadily for the last two months.  I like to stay productive, but I don’t see a discernable benefit to putting so many man hours into punching up a prospectus, booking guests and slaving over the production, sound editing, intro and outro music and everything else involved with each show if the audience isn’t there.  This time last year the show was on a roll while it was nearing extinction on Mypodcast.com.  Roll the calendar forward by twelve months and we’re moving in the wrong direction.  I’m not quite sure what’s happening or where my crowd went where the radio show is concerned.  The books are selling better than they ever have.  Site hits here & everywhere else have been blowing up.  The new Twitterverse following is growing exponentially.  Big Words Radio is dying a slow death & it doesn’t make sense.  Like some hosts I could pretend that the show is better than ever, but I deal in facts and abide by honesty.

Here’s what’s going to happen: If I don’t see a marked increase in free subscriptions on iTunes or a spike in downloads on Mevio.com by the end of this summer, the show is over.  It’s that simple.  I’m not going to keep investing what little free time I have into trying to make people laugh with over the top outrageous comedy if you’re not down with the cause.  In for a penny, in for a pound.  Now’s the time to show me if you’re listening because if you’re not, I’m not doing it anymore.  I’ll pick up my toys and go home.

Maybe the podcasting boom has burst.  Maybe all of you are busy this summer (very probable).  Maybe my readers only have so much time that they’re willing to devote to waxing my ego.  I get that.  In case you haven’t noticed though, I deal in absolutes.  If the show isn’t growing, then it’s time to close the door.

My career as a writer is turning a very sharp corner this year in an incredibly positive way that I never imagined it would & it’s all happening this year at a lightning pace.  As a podcaster, not so much.  Half of my life is most likely over, so I’d like to make good use of the next half.  Please let me know how to invest my time wisely.

Some radio hosts and some writers can create without one person reading or listening.  I’m not that kind of person anymore.  I’ve got too many plates in the air to play by those rules.

If you want the show to go on, hop onto iTunes & subscribe to Big Words Radio in the podcast section under the ‘Comedy’ listing.  Download your ass off.  There are almost 92 hours of material that’s pretty damned funny.  It’s been a good run, but it might be time to hang up my hat and say farewell.

If you don’t have an iPod, surf on over to:

http://www.bigwords.mevio.com

Download 5 episodes.  Download 92 episodes.  Tell a friend.  Listen in your car.  Please spread the word.  It’s been real and it’s been fun, but this could be the tail end of it.

 

It’s up to you.

Tom Waters

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A Few Acres Of Ground To Cover: New Books, New Shows & A Reality Check

May 29, 2011

What a productive week!  After telling multiple newspapers that I had no intention of writing an essay collection ever again, I found a way to write another essay collection: make it fun again.

Unlike any book I’ve written to date, it started with the title: Travesty.  My goal is to make every piece live up to the title of the book and to make sure that every single rant is shorter, funnier and more offensive than anything I’ve written to date.  I also set a few ground rules: nothing longer than three pages, every rant has to be written in one sitting and I can’t cover a topic I’ve covered so far.  I started last week with one rant about the supposed Rapture and haven’t stopped.  One third of the book is already done.  The only problem is that I have no idea when to release it.  Doubt It Publishing has a full dance card for the next two years, so I may have to piggyback it with the numbered hardcover release for Icarus On The Mend in the fall of 2012 and I’m leaning strongly towards that.

Pre-production on Poke The Scorpion With A Sharp Stick (my third collection of poetry) is progressing at a rate that’s astonishing and well ahead of schedule.  Brian Platter (the graphic designer behind Six Shot Studios) has taken the bull by the horns and he’s tackled the book head on with a bold look, some daring choices for the title and content fonts and a beautiful presentation where the headers and footers are concerned.  For those of you who were trusting enough to make the leap along with me where Breathing Room Volume I and II were concerned, you won’t be disappointed.

The content has evolved since the original two poetry books to the point where I’m no longer aping my own heroes and I’ve developed my own voice where poems are concerned.  While it’s not necessarily a jumping off point, it is a progression, so we’re working overtime to create a size format that bridges the jump between Breathing Room Volume I and II.  If you buy this book this fall, you’ll be pleasantly surprised with the growth.  Two major national literary magazines (The Chiron Review and Chronogram) have already gotten on board with three different poems that they’ll be publishing in short order.

I devoted a week to submitting the content to the top poetry trades in the country along with putting the final touches on the manuscript and it’s already paying off.  While poetry books don’t pay off as well as my rant collections, it’s a labor of love and something I would do whether I turned a profit or not.  This new book means a lot to me and Six Shot Studios is doing a spectacular job on the appearance.  Expect the specialty format this fall by the time Mark McElligott and I get very serious about touring on a regional scale.

Last night I reconnected with two dear friends in person for the first time in three years: Greg Sterlace and Paula Wachoviak (sp?).  Greg and Paula are back in town for a limited time and he’s taken back the reins for The Greg Sterlace Show, his wildly popular Time Warner program spanning back over the last ten years.  The results of the show taping were horrific and hilarious at the same time.  For those of you who catch it on TV, it’s the epitome of cringe comedy.  I’ll have a link for you in a week or two, but in the mean time, here’s a sneak preview of a small percentage of the wrongness at play here on the Mr. Ski Mask show that Mark McElligott and I taped almost a month ago.  Click your way over to:

http://sterlace.com/episodes/index.php/2011/04/the-greg-sterlace-show-832

And finally, there are two new belated episodes of The Big Words I Know By Heart Radio Hour available online as well as for free on iTunes.  Almost a month after the actual in-store event (I had to pick up a new SD Card Reader), I hammered out the content and edited it for full-scale enjoyment this morning and posted these two abominations.  Here are your links and synopses:

Episode 61: ‘My balloon knot will stay firmly tied’

Tom kicks off a comic book promotion at Don’s Atomic Comices with a star studded cast of special guests including Carrie & Ron Gardner, Monster Matt, Terry Kimmel, John Kindelan, Michael Hoffert Jr. and Brian Platter.  Newcomer Brian Bogucki gets blindsided while Mark McElligott rolls with the punches.

To hear the show online click on the link below:

http://www.mevio.com/episode/282800/episode-61-my-balloon-knot-will-stay

Tom’s Atomic Bonus Round: ‘Parting Words’

Tom closes out an evening of hilarity and insanity by getting a few more cheap shots in at Terry Kimmel’s expense and dropping a few promotional plugs for once.

To hear the show online click on the link below:

http://www.mevio.com/episode/282797/tom-s-atomic-bonus-round-parting-words

-You can also conveniently subscribe to the show for free on iTunes by searching ‘Big Words Radio’ under the Podcast section as well as the Comedy listing.  The Literature category is a dead link that is no longer active, so please subscribe and the entire library will be at your command!

May was a horrible month for the show in terms of downloads and requests, so I implore you to visit the sites or subscribe to the show.  Without a noticeable increase in traffic I see no reason to keep devoting so much time to working on pre-show prep, research, questions, guests, recording time, production and posting time.  If you enjoy the show, please tell your friends, spread the word and download at will.  Big Words Radio has been booming since September of 2010 and it’s crushing to see the latest numbers.  For a show production that costs me so much in man hours without collecting any monetary revenue, I could really use your help.  Download, listen and tell your friends.  Unlike some other podcast hosts, I don’t cook my numbers.  Despite some recent turbulence that has zero bearing on this month’s numbers, I would really appreciate your ears (and your feedback) on the show.  I’ve spent four years slaving away on a free hobby and it would mean a lot to me if you pitched in and clicked a link or shared the show with the people you know.  All I ask for is a spreading contagion on my stats by the end of June.  Please help me out.

Mockery is selling better and faster than any book that preceded it, so thank you so much for that.  Every appearance has been positive and the book is breaking down barriers heretofore unheard of.  You have no idea how grateful I am for all of the people who have come on board and spread the word about my work and my book.

Three people in the same week commented or asked about the level of my output lately (a lot) and I wish I had an answer for all of you.   I’m in a good place.   The big picture is clicking comfortably into a lifestyle that leads me to bigger and better things along with the ability to write more and publish more often.  Things will only get better from here.  Doubt It Publishing is not a short term subsidy house or a slash and burn print on demand concept, it’s quickly becoming a reality.  I’m going to have to make a hard decision in November when it comes around to picking a new Author Of The Year to work with.

At the risk of sounding insincere or faux-humble, here’s what’s always guided and informed me: William Carlos Williams.  He was a popular poet, a family man and a practicing physician.  After a full overtime shift and an appropriate amount of time eating dinner and tucking his kids into bed and spending time with his wife, he added some hours to his waking existence to writing poems.  I’m an artist from Buffalo.  This is the only option that any of us have for expressing ourselves.  If your work means that much to you, make the time for it.  That’s it.  None of us are busier than William Carlos Williams was, so what’s your excuse?  If what you have to say and want to say is important, you’ll find a way to express it and make the time to do it above and beyond every other responsibility that you have.

I’m nobody special.  Writing is the way that I cope with a world that I can’t grasp or deal with without figuring it out on paper.  None of us are heroes or gods or legends and the majority of us do it because we need to.  Otherwise we’d lose our minds without the outlet.  All of this is work.  All of this is important and vital and crucial to me.  Whether it’s a mountain or a mole hill, this is what keeps me relatively sane.

Thank you so much for making it a lucrative side business.  In another ten years, I hope to make it a career.  Please help me work towards it.

Keeping busy,

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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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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