Tag Archives: Kevin Smith Art Swap

One Hundred

For my 100th published post here on Potato Chip Math I thought I would delve into the history of my little corner of the blogosphere and speak to why I think it has seen so much success over the past six months.

I had blogged before, way back in the blogging heyday of 2005, but after a few years away I was getting the urge to start putting words out in the universe again. I was finally starting that screenplay I had been meaning to write for the last half decade and life was slipping into a nice little routine. Then, on March 24, 2010 I made a trip to the grocery store to pick up some snacks and uncovered a bit of math involving potato chips that got me thinking, I could blog about this. So I did.

Thanks to Tatiana Hedley
for the perfect pic

Then, a funny thing happened on the way to the forum. What started as a random collection of posts, rants, and quirky facts about me started to evolve. In November 2011 I had a revelation after seeing Kevin Smith perform in Kitchener and a few months after that Kevin re-tweeted a link to something I had done. Within  half an hour my blog had more hits on a single day than my total for the previous year. Interesting.

Kev mentions me on Twitter and all hell breaks loose
on my blog (for about half an hour)

I managed to sustain a decent level of interest over the next while by putting a few things out there related to social media, specifically Twitter. Then, in July of 2011 I suffered a concussion. In an effort to work my way through this I started a little thing called 1000 Word Picture and thanks to a few writer friends and a link someone posted to Reddit I was reaching record highs.

Posting a couple times a month on a variety of topics my readership stayed fairly steady and predictable over the next 18 months. I was getting some spikes in traffic when I would comment on other people’s blogs or if I posted something that struck a chord with a lot of people. Then, something happened that would change my outlook and the focus of this blog forever (or at least for the foreseeable future): I won NaNoWriMo.

50,000 words in 30 days
(it’s a lot harder than it sounds)

This was such an amazing experience, not just for my writing, but also in terms of my interactions and relationships with other writers, that I decided I would use this blog for something a little more productive. I would maintain a consistent schedule of posts (something which I had difficulty with in the past) and focus my topics on my experiences and observations as an up-and-coming writer.

Then another funny thing happened on the way to the forum. My blog traffic almost doubled. Pardon? What could I have done to deserve this? Short of over analyzing this I think I can sum it up with one word:

Consistency.

We are barely into June and I’ve already posted more than all of last year. Hell, if I extend that into November of last year we have the fact that in the last six months I have posted 27 times. In the six months prior to that I only posted 11 times and during the same period a year ago only 10 times. That means that in the last six months I’ve posted more than the previous twelve months combined.

Bar Graph!

Probably the most startling statistic is that my monthly readership has increased dramatically. Now, I have been more active in reading other blogs and commenting – which goes a long way towards driving traffic to this site, but the fact remains that once I started delivering a more consistent message on a consistent schedule I started to engage with more readers. Monthly readership of Potato Chip Math has increased 40% over the last six months and more than 50% over the same time period a year ago!

Line Graph!

So there you have it. A look back at the last 99 posts and how a little blog that started about some stupid potato chips became a little bit more. If I am in any position to offer advice I will leave you with the following. Greater blog success can be achieved many ways. Content is key, but so is consistency.

  • Consistent messaging
  • Consistent theme
  • Consistent timing
  • Consistent phrasing

And if you talk to my editor for the Orange Karen short story I wrote, the most important…

  • Consistent verb tenses!

As always, thank you for being here and having read this ūüėČ

~ Andrew

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
http://andrewsalphabet.com

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.

~

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‚Äôt 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 ‚Äúshut the hell up, I’m trying to watch the movie‚ÄĚ look ‚Äď 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‚Äôs 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.


More Than Tweets the Eye

Some people don’t “get” Twitter, which is understandable if you’ve only ever scratched the surface. I have been on Twitter since sometime in 2009, and it wasn’t until recently that I started becoming more active, and it wasn’t until very recently that I started to see its real value. ¬†I can honestly say I this point that Twitter is improving the quality of my life, and I can point to two key moments that opened my eyes to this.

I’m not being overly dramatic just to appease my readership (all 7 of you!) either. Read this short article on ways Twitter can change your life. It may over state some of the claims but the key message behind each one is true. What it fails to outline however is that if you are planning on using Twitter for more than just random updates about friends’ lunches or celebrity gossip then you’ve got to use Twitter just like you would any other tool.

The wonderful Julia Rosien of Social North put together this quick read. It begins, “Whether it‚Äôs a hammer or Twitter, a tool is only as good as the person wielding it.” I’ll take this a step further and suggest that any tool, used for its intended purpose, has the potential to be a very valuable tool. Sure, a pocket knife can open a can of beans, but it’s a much less useful pocket knife if the blade is all dull and bent and you’re sporting a 2 inch gash because the bean juice got on your hand and the knife slipped and now the helpful nurse in the ER is asking you, “Why not just use a can opener?“. ¬†Why not indeed.

More to the point (and hopefully getting us closer to those two eye opening Twitter moments) Twitter users are now using the tool in remarkable ways, 140 characters at a time, FOR FREE. That’s right. Free. Twitter does not charge you to advertise, promote, share, recommend, endorse, or spam, though that last one will get you kicked off (and rightfully so). I don’t know too many other services out there that have the potential to capture such a globally diverse audience, in real time, with no charge.

Celebrities such as Kevin Smith have actually started using Twitter to promote their brand and business. Hell, Kev’s gone a step further and is practically pinning the hopes of his latest movie on word of mouth ¬†advertising, and Twitter was his jumping off point. With over 1.8 million followers on Twitter and a flick that’s looking like it will be in the black before it’s even released it’s hard to argue against the value of the tweet.

It is really just a question of knowing what problem you’re trying to solve:

  • How can I reach a larger, more diverse audience?
  • How can I get immediate feedback on an idea?
  • How can I become more involved with my community?
  • How do I get more than 7 people reading my blog?

My coming out party on Twitter started when I saw this tweet. ¬†It was from a friend of mine that I haven’t been seeing enough of. He works hard and has a family, I’m lazy and have a family. Life just gets in the way sometimes, but after reading about his awesome news I ran straight out and joined the celebration, and you know what? I met some truly amazing people. Friends of friends, and interesting and remarkable people right in my own backyard: Mike, Ben, Melanie, just to name a few.

That led to me hearing about a scotch tasting at the KW Art Gallery where I got to meet Robb, Mark, and Dave, which was followed up by an invite (sent out via Twitter) to Start Up Drinks Waterloo where I had some great conversations with Matt “Dennick” about Twitter as well as good talks with Craig¬†and Tera (who shares my crazy obsession with getting a Twitter @ mention. It’s like crack, I tells ya). ¬†Soon I’ll be off to the Social Media Breakfast and then Ignite Waterloo.

To think this all started with one Tweet.

The other defining moment for me came when I spent a couple weeks putting together a song using some online music creating software. I wrote a 54 second instrumental in the hopes that Kevin Smith would “buy” it and use it for one of his podcast introductions. I tweeted him this, and all he did was tweet this a few minutes later, and within a half hour of me posting the blog entry I 500 hits and the song had over 200 plays. Next thing I knew I was exchanging emails with Jordan Monsanto. Awesomely surreal. ¬†The whole experience showed me that Twitter in the hands of the right people can be a powerful tool indeed.

So whatever problem you’re trying to solve, or whatever it is you’re looking for, all I can say is that Twitter can help. Identify the problem you want to solve, read up on how other people are using Twitter to solve similar problems, and get on there and start getting engaged. ¬†Well, not necessarily¬†THIS type of engaged. ¬†I can think of much better ways to propose, though I do highly recommend¬†sharing the good news¬†on Twitter afterwards.

Punk for Kevin

So Mr. Kevin Smith is doing something quite cool as part of his latest tour and in promoting his upcoming horror film Red State. He’s having an art swap! Music for tickets (or whatever, I’m not sure as the details are a bit thin). Create something less than a minute long that Kevin can own and use for whatever he wants (e.g. intros to SModcasts) and if he likes it, he’ll “buy” it from you for tickets to a show (at least that’s what it’s been so far. I would be happy to exchange it for whatever¬†– or a walk on part in “Hit Somebody” ūüôā ¬†if he’s not going to make it up to my neck of the woods (but I really want to see that flick and Q&A).

So, going under the assumption that Kevin will someday make an appearance back in Kitchener I have whipped up this (suggestion: play it LOUD). Click the red circle:

http://player.soundcloud.com/player.swf?url=http%3A%2F%2Fapi.soundcloud.com%2Ftracks%2F12942572&show_comments=true&auto_play=false&color=cf052e Spunk by andrewbutters

I wanted to title it “SMunk” or “SMpunk” but neither of those really worked. Spunk seemed more appropriate.

Lyrics are done, but need some tweaking before I lay them over the track. You can find them on the SoundCloud website as a comment on the track (start on the 11th measure – right when the rhythm guitar and bass kick in – and are sung one line per measure until the solo drum beats before the final chord).


UPDATE!

He likes it! He really likes it! Okay, he likes it well enough to TWEET ABOUT IT!