Tag Archives: Commentary

First Rule of Fight Club

Rules are everywhere. Whether they are imposed on you by your parents, teachers, law enforcement, education systems, employers, or any number of other institutions that scatter the globe, they are out there, and there’s likely someone that’s not you making them. So what’s a person to do?

A while back Umair Haque wrote this on Twitter: “If you follow the rules, don’t expect to win.”

It might be an original quote or he might simply be echoing a sentiment shared by many, certainly by some who have failed in the past, and it’s certainly food for thought. Can you only win if you break the rules? Has anyone who has ever ‘made it’ in this world ever done so completely by the book?

Here’s my recommendation:

Play by the rules until you are in a position to change them – and then change them. 

After that, there are no limits as to what you can accomplish.

Do you think Steve Jobs broke the rules and forged ahead guns a blazin’ to get Apple to the top? It might look that way to some folks, but the more likely scenario is that his path was more subtle. Patient. That is, right up until he was in a position to re-write some of those pesky rules that were standing in his way.

There will always be rules even if you work for yourself. Society seems to impose them whether we like it or not, whether it knows it or not.  Playing by the rules, at least some of them, is important. It allows us to learn, to adapt, and to establish a greater sense of where and how we fit in, and more importantly, where we don’t. From there we can decide if it even matters.

Knowing what the rules are and how to play the game is critical if you ever want to do something about it. You may have noticed a couple of themes here: knowledge and action. Knowing who your opponent is, what the field of play is, what the rules are, and what strategy to use is absolutely key.

You can also possess every bit of knowledge you’ll ever need, but it’s absolutely useless if you don’t get off your butt and do something about it.


Update: Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Dear Diary, the quarterback is taking the head cheerleader to the prom – again. What’s worse, I didn’t get that job because someone’s daddy called a friend from The Club and got him the job instead.

Update: Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Well it looks like the cool kids are taking applications to sit with them at the lunch table again. It goes without saying that I will not be applying. Forget the fact that the price went up ten bucks. They’re still forcing an application process on prospective attendees; and I still think it’s crap.

I can understand not wanting a bunch of shameless self-promoters clogging up the event. I can also understand excluding people that just want to use the TEDx audience to make some sort of statement or protest. But here’s the thing: even with the application process, several people reported to me that last year’s audience wasn’t all that and a bag of chips, and weren’t terribly engaged either; with a great number of faces buried in their smart phones the whole time (FYI,  there’s a lot of Blackberry in this town).

So apply if you must. Heck, I’ll even share the application link for your convenience. If you’re lucky maybe the cool kids will let you play with them at recess too. 

Original Post From: Monday, March 19, 2012

So TEDxWaterloo is happening this week. I won’t be going. Why not, you ask? Good question. I won’t be going because I didn’t apply for the privilege of buying a ticket. Why not, you ask? Another good question. I think having an interest in what the event is all about, being willing to take a day off work, and dropping 45 bucks on the ticket makes me worthy enough. The people at TEDxWaterloo disagree.

To be eligible to purchase a ticket to the event you are required to fill out an application. I didn’t check every single TEDx event, but I randomly selected half a dozen with “availability” as per the event listing from the main TED site and all had some form of application process. Apparently this is a popular trend with the TEDx events. The main TED site simply has the disclaimer “This event is open to the public. Tickets are available. Ticketing policies vary by event.” 

For TEDxWaterloo the application asks you the following questions:

  1. How do you spend your day?
  2. Tell us how you are involved in your community.
  3. What do you hope to get from 2012 TEDxWaterloo DIS CONNECTED event?
  4. What else would you like to share with us?
  5. List at least one website that will help us understand you better (such as your blog, your company’s website, LinkedIn profile, Tumblr, your Flickr account, writing, research papers, C.V., films and book) 

If you read the whole page those questions were taken from, you’ll see a whole bunch of words about wanting people with a “spark” and “energy” and “passion”, and they try to be quite clear that your economic situation or standing within the community or any other “accomplishments” are not relevant.

Really? Then why recommend the applicant share their blog, CV, and other potentially non-relevant information and leave a question wide open like #4? How about a single question:

  1. What are you passionate about, and how would attending TEDxWaterloo make a difference?

Even still, this would just turn the “process” into a different form of essay contest. 

I am passionate about a ton of things, and I can likely articulate this in such a way that my application would be accepted. Of this I am confident. However, just because I wrote it down a little more eloquently than the person beside me I get in and they don’t? 

Where’s the line? Why does there even have to be a line?

Don’t get me wrong, I have nothing against the event, or any of the speakers, or any of the attendees, or any of the volunteers. All of these people are top notch in my book, and I can really get on board with spirit of TED. I’ve drank the Kool-Aid and I like it.

All I want is for the person on the right of that red line to have the same chance at getting a ticket as the person on the left side of it. Submit your personal information and if your name is drawn you get to buy a single, non-transferable ticket. Want the best of both worlds? What about a lottery for 90% of the tickets and an application process for the remaining 10%, with some perk offered for those who took the time to jump through the hoops?

From where I sit, I just can’t see the event being undervalued in any way by accepting a random selection of interested people. Assuming the people who are even remotely interested are no less diverse than the current body of applicants all your demographic distributions will be met as well. Simple statistics has that one covered. 

Wouldn’t it be something if that person just to the right of where the red line would have been drawn gets a ticket, attends the event, and has an experience that changes their life? 

Better yet, what if you meet them there and they change yours?

Think Before You Tweet

(How Twitter is Making Me a Better Person)

Anyone who has spent a few minutes scanning my Twitter feed knows I have a tendency to over share. Granted, there are many out there who share much more and are more vulgar with their language, but I tend to just blurt out the first thing on my mind anyway and if I happen to have my iPhone on me or be near the computer, it goes out to the world.

Make no mistake though, I am fully aware that every tweet sent is out there for the world to see, and as such there’s a certain amount of self-editing that occurs before I hit send. Most of the time it’s a self serving exercise, but regardless of the motivation behind the censorship, it still occurs, and that’s probably a good thing.

However, on Sunday night I got a glimpse into my inner self that indicated there was something more going on than just Internet self-preservation. I was watching the Oscars, sitting with my laptop, and waiting for just the right moment to toss out a zinger and hopefully snag a few re-tweets. My initial attempt at mocking the “Who are you wearing?” red carpet question was a bit of a dud (“I’m not wearing any pants. Underwear by Joe Boxer“) so I was getting worried that maybe I just didn’t have my A-game that night.

Then just as I finished typing something else I thought twice. I cleared the text and refreshed my screen, and immediately read a tweet just sent out by Neil Hedley (“Turning off the Twitter machine for now. The hypocrisy is becoming intolerable. #bullying #Oscars“). Apparently he was taking exception to some of the remarks being put out into the Twitterverse and was fed up. He went on to blog about it here.

Apparently my think twice moment came at the same time as the straw was breaking Neil’s back. Right before I hit send I thought to myself, how would I explain this to my 9 year old daughter?, and I couldn’t think of anything I could say to her that would justify what I was about to tweet. Experience and conscience tells me that in cases like that it’s probably not something that should be done. So I didn’t tweet it.

Granted, that is a far cry from not even thinking it in the first place, but it’s a really important first step. As my personal mission statement for 2012 goes…

Be better, not perfect.

Neil blogged about how he’s lost respect for some of his friends and colleagues who partook in the Twitter celebrity slam fest Sunday night, and though I only know him through a few Twitter interactions and one meeting a few nights ago at his book launch, I can say quite honestly that I hope I’m not one of the people he was talking about.

Twitter is more than just what someone had for lunch or what they did at 4:20 that afternoon. If you’re paying attention it can change the way you think. It certainly has for me, on more than one occasion.

I’m glad I didn’t send out that tweet, and I’m glad Twitter has people like Neil.

Nothing to Hide?

I’m finding it very hard to write this post and not come off as some sort of nut job who is all anti-government, anti-legislation, and anti-this-that-and-the-other-thing who is just sour because the election didn’t turn out the way I wanted.

I have perfectly valid reasons for my disenchantment with the state of the Canadian government right now and nothing sums it up better than the tabling of Bill C-30 (formerly Bill C-51). Leading up to the last election this was just the sort of thing I was afraid of, and now it’s happening, and if we don’t do something about it it’s only going to get worse.

Bill C-5130 is usually summed up with the words “lawful access”, which is exactly what it is. It’s a bill that will grant authorities lawful access to your internet history, your email, and countless amounts of personal information – without a warrant. The cherry on top of this is that in order to be in a position to collect and store this information in case the Feds demand it, Internet providers will need to spend dollars – lots of them – upgrading their systems. Now what are the chances those costs won’t get passed along to the the consumer? I’m guessing slim to none, and slim just left town.

In summary: Bill C-5130 will allow for unfettered access to your internet and email without a warrant and you will get to pay for it.

A while back this government tried to make our Internet more expensive and as a country we went absolutely bat shit crazy by the hundreds of thousands. How there aren’t millions of Canadians going bat shit crazy over Bill C- 5130 is beyond me.

Sign the petition. Demand your MP put a stop to this, and let the Canadian government know that this bill is not OK. Not one bit.

Here’s a CBC news report:

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qLlY4n-17uc]

Some very well done videos to put things into perspective (and a sample for your viewing pleasure here):

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QwqIYHwRcxY]

…and if you have 15 minutes, a mini-documentary:

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xyHnOCDewuQ]

Kev Makes Good

If you read this blog you know about  my history with the writer/director Kevin Smith. It’s been a hot & cold, up & down, tumultuous & tenuious “relationship” that has been going on for more than a year. Well, last night in Toronto, in front of 500 die-hard fans and countless thousands of others on the big screen in over 500 theaters across North America, Kevin and his organization did what they do best, and in the process provided me with some much needed closure.

Upon hearing of his live show in Toronto I sent Jordan Monsanto and Meghan Quinlan an email asking if my art swap deal could be realized. In what can only be described as “lightning fast” reply Jordan indicated she’d put the request in to the venue to have myself  +1 put on the guest list. That was Monday. I was assured a response by Friday. It came and a friend and I were off to the show.

Trying something different, Kevin was doing a live podcast with Jason Mewes (Jay and Silent Bob Get Old) at a movie theater and simulcasting it to theaters all over North America (I’m told over 500 screens). After the hour long podcast Kev and Jay would do a Q&A taking questions from Twitter as well as the live audience.

A few weeks before the show I received an email from Jordan indicating that the venue had oversold the show and were eliminating everyone’s +1’s from the guest list. At first I was a little miffed, but I still had a ticket and I had a friend who was already going (more on that in a second) so I wouldn’t be flying solo. Arriving at the theater I realized something: the venue has control. The bag check, pat down, electronic wand treatment they were giving people was ridiculous. According to Jordan, they weren’t even allowed a merchandise table, which is unfortunate as I was going to leave Kev a gift that I made from my alphabet photography:

“SMOD” by Andrew F. Butters

I lied and said I was only in the possession of a cell phone, and no camera and took my seat. Front row, just to the right of center:

Row AA is good, right? Why yes it is!

Kev doing his thing. Mewes lounging on the couch.

I decided in advance that I would not go to extraordinary lengths to get Kevin and Jay my photography, or to get to the mic to ask a question. I was going to just sit and enjoy the event, and am I ever glad I did. I had a front row seat to a one of a kind event surrounded by TV cameras and hundreds of other great fans. My friend, who recently quit his job and is now writing full time had other plans.

Robert Chute wrote a book, Self-help for Stoners, and really wanted to get to the mic and give Kevin the book (to whom he had dedicated it, along with Joe Rogan). Well Robert had his moment, and he didn’t make a giant douche of himself (which is easy to do when your host does a lot of poop jokes). I completely failed Robert when I didn’t get a picture or video of it! For this I completely apologize and can only say that Kevin was completely gracious upon receiving the book. I was so close to the stage that when Robert handed the book to him I could see Kev off point to the cover and then hear him say, “Oh yeah, I know you!”. So, go read this book (I’m talking to you too Kevin!) Don’t let the title fool you, even if you’re not into smoking pot, the book is great.

So one thing Kevin wanted to do with the show was get in a lot of questions. This would probably be the only downside I saw to the event. Personally, when I go see Kevin Smith I go because he often answers a question with a 45 minute anecdote that leaves you gasping for air, holding your sides, peeing your pants laughing. Because he was answering rapid fire questions in an effort to get as many in as possible (presumably to ensure interaction and continued interest from the remote theaters watching) the responses, while well put together, genuine and honest, just weren’t the type that are in Kevin’s wheelhouse. As such, moments felt rushed, which is hard to do for a 3 hour event, and he didn’t get the chance to really work up the audience and deliver many “hit ’em out of the park” punch lines.

All in all though, it was a remarkably enjoyable experience, and Kevin’s love for Toronto and Canada in general comes through quite naturally, even when he’s not plugging his final movie, a Canadian tale about hockey titled “Hit Somebody”. I can say for sure I’ll go see it, and so will at least a few thousand other Canadians who watched Kevin and Jay rock the stage at the Scotiabank Theater last night.


Back to Business

If insanity can be defined as doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result then this should come as no surprise to anyone: the people running RIM are completely insane. All that the new 2-for-1 CEO swap has done is replace a couple guys who got the company lost with a guy whose compass can’t find North.

So I’ll go out on a limb and say this out loud (in fact at a poker game more than 4 months ago I did just that). RIM should get back to business. Screw the consumer market. I mean, don’t not have a camera and music player and integration with Facebook and Twitter, but don’t sell those bits, sell the stuff you’re good at. The stuff no one else can touch.

There used to be a time when RIM did something that no one else did. Wireless email. It was genius. Then along came text messages and mobile browsers and portable music and cameras and tons of gadgets were introduced to the market, Apple leading the way. Meanwhile, RIM kept doing what it did best, but by this time wireless email had turned into full featured mobile business communications, and they were still kicking everyone ass.

Then, someone over there at 175 Columbia Street thought to themselves, “Holy crap, if we don’t get the consumers on our side we’re done“, and they started to try to play with the kings of consumerism, and they got their ass kicked. Big time.

The thing with consumers is they’re fickle. They change their minds more frequently than a certain former RIM CEO tries to buy hockey teams. Corporations, however, take eons to make any sort of change, and guess what? Tons of them out there are using Blackberries. They’re reliable, they’re secure, and they allow business to happen.

If a hundred million dollar deal is in the works, do you want to send the draft to your CEO on a Blackberry, or with the same toy your kid uses to play Angry Birds?

You’re working on a presentation to the board of directors and you need some financials from Larry over in accounts payable. Do you ask him to send it to the same device currently playing the new Justin Bieber video for your kid or do you use a Blackberry?

Hell, the  President of the United States  uses a Blackberry. Now that’s saying something.

But what the hell do I know. I’m not a CEO, or a market analyst, I’ve never even so much as taken a single business class, and I use an iPhone.

Looking Ahead

Don’t look back, but don’t miss an opportunity to learn from the past.

This is not a year in review. This is a year in preview. Although, having been through quite a bit over the last year I would be doing myself a disservice if I didn’t learn something from the past 12 months. So with that in mind here’s what’s on tap for 2012, with a lesson or two thrown in to make sure I don’t repeat the same mistakes I made in the previous year.

Let’s start with goals. I’m not a huge fan of New Year’s resolutions, but I do think setting a target is important. That’s what I learned last year with my big singing surprise for my wife. Put a date in the calendar. Set it. Make it permanent. Then do incremental things between now and then that bring you closer to that goal. 

A friend of mine uses the technique of working backwards. It’s basically what I described above but works from the end back to the now. Establish your end. Example: By November 6th I want to be able to sing a capella on stage for my wife. Then, go to the step just before that. Between November 1 and 5 I will need to perform in front of a small group of friends. Then go one step before that, and so on. I will need to have taken lessons. How many? With whom? The key is to figure out what you will need to do to get yourself to that step. When you’re done planning backwards, if you’ve end up back in 2011, then you have to re-work your plan so that you can get from A to B in the time you want (practice more, rehearse more, whatever…)

I’ve done this with my writing goals for the year. I’ve started with when I want each of my pieces to be done and worked backwards. The result is a writing schedule where I know how many words I need to write by which days and for what topic. My writing goals for 2012 are as follows:

  • Finish writing and editing 1 novel (100,000 words)
  • Finish and e-publish 3 short stories (10,000-20,000 words each)
  • Write 1 screenplay based on my finished novel (approx. 90 pages)
  • Write 25 blog posts – this one counts 🙂

Another thing I learned from last year is that I must leverage some key P’s: 


Being off work for more than two months with a concussion taught me this one the hard way. Things won’t happen overnight. There will be setbacks. 

You must work within your limits but always know that it’s in you to do more

With that in mind I’ve also set some other goals for the year. All achievable, even with the above goals in play:

Finally, one thing I have learned over the past year is that nothing can be accomplished alone. No man is an island. Everyone needs a little help from their friends. I’ve drawn up three goals that supersede all of the above, and there’s no special formula or methodology to accomplishing them. The road to success with these starts now and continues every day for the next year, and every one that follows:

  • Be a better father to my kids;
  • a  better husband to my wife;
  • and a better friend to all the people in my life.

Here’s to a great 2012!

Think of the Children!

So there’s been a lot of talk about Rick Perry’s latest campaign ad. I’ll show it here just so we all have the same information:

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0PAJNntoRgA]

My first reaction to this was pure and unbridled anger, then a friend on Facebook (with extremely different opinions politically and religiously) tells me that isn’t the point that Perry is trying to make, is that he thinks it’s absurd that kids can’t celebrate Christmas in school? Yes, Perry makes it abundantly clear he thinks the current administration has mounted an attack on his religion. OK fine, let’s run with that…

Here’s why I am still enraged: gays in the military and religion in school are mutually exclusive.

Issue #1: (His) Religion is Under Attack
If Mr. Perry thinks a public education system should force religious beliefs on children then that’s one thing but I personally witnessed 8 year old kids singing “Jesus is the reason for the season” at a “holiday pageant” and many of the kids looked sad and confused, and a couple very upset. I wonder what that would feel like? To be told to sing a song praising a god you didn’t believe in? I happen to think that this is a bigger atrocity than telling someone they can’t just wave their personal religious beliefs around in a public school system, especially when there’s separate religious schools for that and churches open every Sunday.

You can’t possibly accommodate every religion that’s represented in a public school, but since there are associations and communities outside of the schools that do (the aforementioned churches, plus mosques, and temples, …) you accommodate none, but you honour them all in the form of, oh I don’t know… EDUCATION! Which is what the schools are supposed to be for anyway, right?

Feel free to disagree. I know many people will and that’s all fine and good. Welcome to adulthood where people with strong opinions can disagree and welcome to Canada where you can have disagreements freely and not feel the need to kill anyone over it (most of the time. We do have our share of nut jobs).

So Rick Perry wants you to know that this offends him greatly and his country is so backwards because of this religious attack that at the very same time this is going on, gays are allowed to just walk around being gay while defending the country.

Wait a second, he lost me.

It’s a religious attack to allow people to defend, WITH THEIR LIVES, the rights and freedoms he wants so desperately to flaunt wherever and whenever he sees fit?

Holy shit, are you kidding me?

Issue #2: Gays Shouldn’t be in the Military
I thought this issue had pretty much been kicked to the curb but let’s face it, some people don’t like gays no matter what they’re doing (like defending the country or adopting a child who was kicked to the curb), but since when has being gay and serving in the military become a religious issue? There’s a lot of history with respect to gays and the church, but being amazingly patriotic while at the same time being gay is somehow an attack on Christianity? I’m not sure I understand the correlation.

Time for a thought experiment:
How about instead of the “gays in the military” comparison he uses “gays getting married”. Now there’s an issue that’s littered with conflict on how to define marriage, religiously versus legally, that many would actually argue is an attack on some beliefs. It’s an equally polarizing topic, so why not use that as the comparison in the campaign ad? It seems more relevant, does it not?

In my opinion it is more relevant, but it’s not quite polarized enough and it’s not quite broad enough. Gay marriage is only a “concern” in a few States and it’s not a federal issue. The military? Well, they’re everywhere and they’re the reason a surprisingly large number of small town kids end up getting jobs instead of becoming criminals. To over-simplify it, “gays in the military” reaches a broader audience – the audience that Republicans want to reach – so they picked that to use in the ad. Hell, they picked every single word so carefully it makes me wonder how much of a puppet Rick Perry actually is, and who’s actually pulling the strings.

My conspiracy theory: Republicans Bigger than Perry are Pulling the Strings
Rick Perry is pretty much a non contender in the race for the Republican nomination, but the fact that he is a non-contender is exactly why I think the other Republicans want him to do things like this. They win either way. On one hand the Rick Perry supporters get their chance to let themselves be known, and on the other it provides the Republicans an out by way of running someone more moderate and hopefully winning back those middle of the pack swing votes that crossed over to Obama.

If enough right wing religious nuts get on board, the extreme right drives the agenda. I don’t see this as very likely but it does offer up an interesting opportunity for the Republicans to say: Wait, wait, wait. Yes we strongly believe in these things but the Rick Perry’s of the country are too nuts, even for us, so here’s someone else a little less extreme to vote for. Someone a little more palatable. So, come back: Florida, Ohio, Indiana, New Mexico, and Colorado. Let me pour you some Kool Aid.

The sad part about all of this is that the issues that are really hurting everyone always seem to take a back seat to the issues that people are more passionate about. Hey, I have an idea! Let’s get people to make important decisions by ensuring they vote emotionally instead of rationally.

Yeah, how’s that working out?

Kids Make Great Teachers

My daughter’s first spoken word was “shit”. I’m not even remotely joking. She was doing something cute and my wife sent me running upstairs to get the camera. At the top of the stairs I hear from below, “Never mind, she stopped doing it.” I let the expletive slip out and within seconds of the word leaving my mouth from downstairs I hear this cute little baby voice say, “shit”. That pretty much spoiled my chances at the 2002 Parent of the Year award. Her next word a day or two later was “da da”, but it was too late, “shit” would have to go in the books as my first born child’s first word.

She was, of course, just mimicking what she heard me say, but as a parent something like this does make you suddenly very aware that those little ears hear and those little eyes see EVERYTHING. Offspring from all sorts of life learn from their parents. It’s how the world works for many things. You are born (or hatched) and your mom or dad (or both) teach you what you need to know to survive. You pick up a bunch of other stuff too, just by interacting with your environment in general, but you’ll get a ton from your parents whether you like it or not. Sometimes though, the kids will show the old folks a thing or two.

After the big earthquake and tsunami in Japan my daughter and her friends really wanted to help out. The outpouring of compassion they showed was on its own something to be really proud of, but they took it one step further. They started making beaded bracelets and selling them to their friends’ parents for a buck a piece. Some people started donating more than a dollar, and one even sold for $20 on its own. Before they knew it there were school lunch hours set aside for more kids to make more bracelets. They raised over $1000 that they sent to the Red Cross. Did I mention these kids were only 8 years old?

Lesson #1 that kids can teach adults:

You can make a difference. It’s amazing what you can accomplish when you just get off your ass and do something about it. 

I was in the kitchen the other day and my second child (a 5 year old boy) was sitting at the breakfast bar waiting for me to get him going on his juice and cereal. I noticed that when I was preparing everything that his eyes were fixed on my every move. I had to open the new juice, pour it, open the vitamins and take one out, open a new box of cereal, open the inside bag, pour the cereal, close the box, and then put it all away. Not until everything was back in its place did he stop watching me and start eating breakfast. It dawned on me right at that moment that the little bugger was learning. Simply by paying attention he had just learned how to do something. My bet is he picked up a better way to open the box of cereal so he doesn’t rip the tab off every time or tear a giant hole in the inside bag spilling Corn Flakes everywhere.

Lesson #2 that kids can teach adults:
If you shut up and pay attention you just might learn something.

Unfortunately many adults are a lot harder to teach than most kids. Adults come with their own biases and agendas (hidden or otherwise) and tend to take a different approach as a result. Which is really too bad, because we are usually the ones who have the most to learn.


An Evening Without Kevin Smith

Any company’s success lies in how obstacles are navigated and if you can maintain focus along the way. I have seen dot com triumphs and massive corporate failures. When growth occurs too quickly, things get complicated. Great ideas devolve into nonsense. Priorities are juggled. People get lost in the shuffle. Balls get dropped. And everyone is watching. A great example of this is a recent disappointment I had with the filmmaker Kevin Smith’s organization.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m a huge fan and I’m not going to let one problem sully the image I have of Kevin and his work. Kevin makes even the loftiest goals appear within reach. Maybe it’s his self-deprecating style, or the fact that he’s clearly overachieved in the wife department, but something about this guy makes you think whatever your hope, achievement is possible. So when he announced that he would trade tickets to a Q&A and his new movie Red State in exchange for an original tune he could use in a SModcast intro, I was immediately on board.
I spent a couple weeks putting something together (no small feat considering I am not a musician and can’t even read music) and put it up on Twitter. He liked it enough to have me get in touch with Jordan Monsanto and work something out (Jordan handles this stuff for him.) A Twitter exchange and then an email exchange with Jordan resulted in nothing. There were no Canadian dates and even my suggestion that Kev just sign some stuff and send it to me went unnoticed.
Days passed, then weeks. I sent a polite last-ditch reminder email. Nothing came back. I had officially given up.
Then Kevin announced Canadian dates. I immediately sent an email asking if the Toronto gig could satisfy Kev’s end of the art swap. Days passed again with no response. I decided that rather than wait it out and see what happened, I would buy tickets anyway so at least I’d get to see the show. I whined about the lack of response to Rob, a Twitter friend, who sent Kevin a nag on my behalf. Within seconds Ming (Kev’s guy in Jersey) emailed and said Kev offered up tickets or swag. Problem was, tickets for Toronto were sold out. I looked at the swag but none of it was of interest. I’m not a collector of a lot of things except the odd book. I suggested that he could send me a couple of his SModcast books if we couldn’t work something out for tickets. No response.
Meanwhile, Jordan and Kev’s assistant Meghan emailed me, also telling me that the Toronto show was sold out but Kev would be back and maybe I could get tickets to a later show. In this email exchange I suggested that since I had tickets to the Toronto show, and I wasn’t really a swag guy, maybe I could just meet Kev before or after the show in Toronto. A few minutes of talk time with Kevin Smith would certainly make me a happy camper. No response.
I got to the show with Rob and I’m desperately trying to see if I can spot Meghan. She was my in. Rob points out that Kev usually watches the movie from the back and wouldn’t you know it? Four seats were reserved at the back and a couple right in front of those were wide open. We sat and waited. Sure enough, right before the movie started, Kevin and Meghan sat right behind me.
Just as I turned around to introduce myself to them and hopefully lay the groundwork for a possible meet afterwards, some crazy lady comes up to Kevin and starts gushing over how much she’s a fan and if she could just have a second…yip yip yip, yap yap yap. The movie started and she’s STILL talking. At this point I turned around and gave Kevin Smith the “shut the hell up, I’m trying to watch the movie” look – during his own movie! Classic.
Now this is not your run of the mill Kevin Smith movie. This is an excellent edge-of-your-seat psychological thriller. However, the theatre’s air conditioner was broken and I was still suffering post-concussion symptoms. The headache was worsening and I was hot as hell. As soon as it ended I stood up and thankfully they opened a door beside me and let in some fresh air. Meanwhile, people were lining up at the microphones for the Q&A. I tried to walk down but was still feeling less than stellar so I hung out in the fresh air to recuperate. After a few minutes I sat down in the aisle to see if I’d get a turn at the mic. I didn’t. Rob drove me home and I went to bed.
So what happened? I got lost in the shuffle. My art swap deal was (understandably) very low on the priority list and many people that weren’t Kevin Smith were running around trying to do the important stuff first. My item just bounced around until it fell to the ground. It’s not a big deal, but it highlights some of the challenges companies face when trying to bring out the best in their businesses.
It would have been nice to see a little more of Kevin Smith the person instead of Kevin Smith the corporation, but hey, even a good juggler will eventually drop a ball. That’s a given. What differentiates the good ones from the great ones, however, is what they do after they drop it.  

Special thanks to Rob Chute for his shameless nagging of Kevin Smith, his driving skills, his fine choice of Chinese food, and his remarkable ability to wordsmith. I now fully appreciate why writers have editors.