#Livefrombehind Is How Entertainment Should Be Done

My pal Chris Ward and I went to see Kevin Smith’s Live From Behind last night at the Regal Green Hills 16. For those that don’t know, it was a 3 hour laugh fest that was broadcast live from Toronto, Ontario to hundreds of theaters across North America. Our theater was one of 2 in Nashville that hosted the event, and if you have never watched a live event on a movie screen, you should try it. It’s the next best thing to actually being at the event.

If you follow Kevin Smith at all, you know he is an out of the box thinker when it comes to presenting his brand of storytelling. It works really well because he understands better than most in entertainment how to best reach his fans. He offers them value for their money, while at the same time allowing them to be a part of the show. In the case of Live From Behind, the audiences at theaters around North America were encouraged to tweet in their questions with the hashtag #livefrombehind. He and Jason Mewes answered as many questions as they could within the allotted time, both from the live audience in Toronto and from Twitter.

The show was broken into two parts. Part 1 was a live Smodcast featuring he and Mewes. The second part was the Q & A. If you don’t regularly follow Mr. Smith, he has created a network of podcasts that feature he and his associates (his wife too) talking about everything from the very deep to the very banal. He calls them Smodcasts, and they have developed quite a following.

The Smodcast portion of the show was very funny, with only a few slower moments. Those were typically during the parts when Kevin and Jason descended into those personal interactions that only they  really understand. It is essentially the same type of thing that happens when we get with old friends, and you have that little language that only you understand. To the outside world, it makes little sense. It’s not at all a bad thing. This portion of the show was at its best when they were telling stories about their everyday lives.

The second part of the show was the Q & A portion. Chris and I saw Kevin in Lexington at the University of Kentucky several years ago, and we have watched several of the DVD recordings of his other Q & A’s. Quite simply, they are hilarious. Just remember, they can be rather blue, so if you are faint of heart, you might want to see something else. Otherwise, if you haven’t seen one before, I highly recommend it.

It really was a good time, and I’m sure it was made even better because we were in a movie theater with other Kevin Smith fans. The communal laughter really added to the feeling of almost being there live. Hopefully other entertainers will look for new and innovative ways to connect with people. This type of engagement makes for an incredibly fun time.

Published by Jonathan, on February 3rd, 2012 at 7:21 pm. | Tags: , , , | No Comments

Red State Is a New Step for Kevin Smith

I just finished watching Red State, this year’s thriller from writer/director Kevin Smith. I have got to say that this one will stick with me for a while. Smith’s movies are usually the type that I watch when I’m feeling blue, and need a feel good, if profane, pick me up. Movies like Zack and Miri Make a Porno, Clerks and Clerks 2 are usually just what the doctor ordered. This is not one of those, however.

That is not a bad thing. I have heard Smith talking about a lot about how he went wrong with Zack and Miri. He felt he was playing to his past, and not moving forward with his talents. First off, I loved Zack and Miri, but I get where he was coming from. This movie stretches what people are going to think of a “Kevin Smith” movie, and people will just not be able to pigeonhole him anymore. The bottom line? The man is a great storyteller.

The story begins with 3 high school kids driving to meet a woman they think is going to have sex with all three of them. Instead, the woman is a part of a right wing religious cult that has much more sinister plans. Pretty soon the ATF gets involved, and maybe even the rapture. To give away anymore of the story would take away part of fun. This movie just works really well at going in unexpected places.

Michael Parks, as Abin Cooper, is probably the highlight of the film. He is perfect at playing the role of a true believing madman. His character is the head of a religious sect that is a cross between the Fred Phelps clan and the Branch Davidians. John Goodman turns in a solid performance, and you are going to notice a few very short performances from the likes of Stephen Root, Kevin Alejandro and Marc Blucas.

I would give this film a solid rating, and I really like where Kevin Smith is going with his career. He is great at comedy, but he clearly possesses a more varied talent. I hope he gives us more films like this in the future.

Published by Jonathan, on October 29th, 2011 at 10:05 pm. | Tags: , | No Comments

This Story Is Winding Down

I’m sure Kevin is glad this is starting to lose steam. He’s provided some more final thoughts with the series of video clips below. You should also listen to the new Smodcast he did with the girl that sat next to him on the last flight. It’s quite good.

Published by Jonathan, on February 17th, 2010 at 9:35 pm. | Tags: , , , , | No Comments

The Last Word…Maybe

I know this is starting to get old, but here is Kevin Smith’s response to Southwest Airlines’ 2nd statement. All in all, I think he was gracious, if not disappointed.

Lots of folks still telling me to stop crying and lose weight – as if that’s what this was all about. Easier to tell the lie about the whiney Fatso than the truth that someone at Southwest fucked up. “Sure, someone fucked up, Lardo” You’re saying. “You and your fat gut! This is YOUR fault because you’re fat!”

Once again: I know I’m fat. The point of all this? I’m not too fat for Southwest Air, yet someone deemed me so. *sigh*

Then, suddenly? A glimmer of hope: a little after 12 noon (roughly 48 hrs after being deemed Too Fat To Fly), Linda (a rep from Southwest Airlines) called my house.

Very sweet, warmly compassionate and apologetic, Linda assured me they’d been trying to track me down for at least a day, but my cell phone was indicating a full voicemail box.

First, there was the serious “Mea culpa” – very sincere, very meaningful, from an actual individual who didn’t then spend the next two paragraphs telling me it was still all my fault because I’m fat.

In fact, Linda admitted (without urging) that the whole situation was handled really badly, and that the blog write-up was in error.

Linda told me that, before I got anywhere near the plane (remember: I was hoping to get on standby), they were having a space issue on board with another passenger who’d purchased two seats, and they were having a problem moving already-seated passengers to accommodate this person. Enter me, who – Linda admitted – WAS NOT A PROBLEM. She fully acknowledged that I wasn’t bounced by the Pilot… BECAUSE THE PILOT PROBABLY DIDN’T EVEN SEE ME.

According to Linda, with the melee surrounding boarding and finding a second seat for the other passenger, the Pilot called for a quick settlement of any outstanding issues so that they might take off. And even though I was already planted in my arm-rest lowerable, seat-belt-buckleable seat, I got the hook.

So the Pilot DIDN’T bounce me because I couldn’t fit in the seat. In fact, it sounds like the Pilot had very little to do with bouncing me at all. And Linda said she just found this out today, as they gather info from all involved.

But if that’s the case, then who made that call to yank me? Someone had to actually point a finger and say “Him. He goes.” And not only that, but they then stood behind a fabrication that I was being ejected because I was too fat for my seat.

Regardless, I thanked Linda and told her she was the nicest Southwestern employee I’d met in the last 43 hrs. And then, I asked when Southwest was going to update their blog, to which she said soon, and we hung-up pleasantly. And as pleasant as Linda was, clearly the notion of me going on Larry King scared the shit out of somebody over there.

I was very nice but very firm/clear with Linda: Southwestern needs to make this right. And “right” is Southwestern falling on their sword over a situation THEY CREATED and continued to mismanage for nearly 48hrs.

So I swore to Linda, up and down “Get me a document to sign, and I’ll swear on my child’s life and penalty of all I own that I’ll never sue your Airlines. But just PUT THE FUCKING TRUTH OUT THERE THAT I’M NOT TOO FAT TO FLY, AND THAT THIS WAS ALL AN UNFORTUNATE ERROR ON SOUTHWESTERN’S PART.”

This is the piece Linda wrote.

She called me a little bit ago to see if I’d read the piece. I put her on hold, quickly read it, then got back on the horn.

“Linda – there’s nothing about me not being Too Fat To Fly,” I said.
“The people around you said they had to lean over to make room for you,” Linda offered.
“Linda, they didn’t! The older lady was leaning against the window like she was gonna nap, and the lady to my left was already leaning toward the aisle. I would never pick a seat that might possibly make me look even fatter because I don’t fit in it or something.”
“That’s the report I have,” she continued, then sighed and added “This is so embarrassing to talk about.”
“Wait – what people around me?” I asked.
“The people seated next to you.”
“You guys went to their houses and interviewed them?”
“No.”
“Then where’d that statement come from?”
“Others people around you.”
“Linda, there was nobody but me, the two ladies, and Suzanne. Are you telling me this is Suzanne’s report?”
“The report we received said the ladies were leaning away from you.”
“They were already leaning when I sat down! They didn’t lean because of me! I even asked them both if I was a problem. But you said you took their statements, and now you’re saying they weren’t interviewed at all. You said we’d get to the bottom of who made the decision to boot me, since it WASN’T the Pilot.”

And Linda apologized and pointed out the blog apologies for putting me on and taking me off the plane, as well as the refunded fares.

“But the last paragraph is still all about your two seat rule. By including it, you guys are still saying I was Too Fat To Fly – or at least NOT correcting it. You even say ‘You’re not here to debate the decision the Employees made.’ But when we spoke, you told me they were wrong, and THAT’S why I was happy and ready to drop all this. I don’t want your money, I just want you to put in print what you told me: that I was grabbed because I was the last guy on, not because I didn’t fit with the arm rests down, or because I couldn’t buckle the seat belt. Because I did. And we both know this.”

I feel like a broken record with that stupid “But I could buckle and fit” shit. Pathetic, right? Grasping at any dignity straws. But that’s what you do when you’re kinda stripped of your dignity.

I could hear it in her voice: the sad frustration. Somewhere between the two phone calls, the bounty that was hinted at got a lot smaller. And while the apology is a little deeper now and more sincerely-worded than it was in the initial “apology” blog (thank you, Linda), it still infers that I need two seats to fly on Southwest Airlines.

I begged her to just put the truth in the about me and the seat belt and arm rest – at least admit you guys were wrong: that I wasn’t Too Fat To Fly. And while in phone call #1 it seemed promising, it didn’t happen. There was some standard corp-speak about how they’re going to examine their “Person of Size” policy, and how they know it needs change. I sincerely hope it does. That shit with the Girl on the flight was just heartbreaking and shameful.

But to be honest, I was looking for a little exoneration so I didn’t have to keep exonerating myself. And while Linda was kind and respectful, if they’re gonna stick with this “Well… he needed two seats…” shit, then we’re just back to square one.

You guys screwed up, SWA; why’s it so hard to own up to it? Now I’m gonna carry this Too Fat To Fly shit around like herpes for the rest of my life, and it was never even true.

So, Linda: I appreciate the effort you made, the time you spent with me on the phone, and the work you put into this. You, too, were a reasonable cat during our conversation.

But wrapping up with a repeating of that 2 seat policy (the one THAT HAS NO BEARING ON MY CASE) is a reminder that you guys haven’t learned anything: you’re still blaming it on the Fatty. Still, you tried. Thank you for that, Linda – and for being human.

Southwest, I appreciate you refunding my airfare. But if you’re not gonna admit I wasn’t Too Fat To Fly, then I’ll cover it.

But, folks? Tomorrow? Let’s Tweet about other stuff, shall we? This is starting to taste mediciney and fruitless.

“Well it proves one thing, Mr. Hooper. It proves that you wealthy college boys don’t have the education enough to admit when you’re wrong.-Quint, Jaws.

Published by Jonathan, on February 16th, 2010 at 5:52 am. | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | No Comments

Southwest Has More To Say

Southwest Airlines has more to say. They have finally had a phone conversation with Kevin Smith. I don’t know where this goes from here, but here is their statement:

My Conversation With Kevin Smith

Mon, 02/15/2010 – 18:50 — Linda Rutherford

I had the chance this afternoon to speak directly with director Kevin Smith. I let him know that in my 18 years here at Southwest, I have never dealt with a situation like what has been unfolding in the last 48 hours. I let Kevin know we have refunded his airfare. I told him we made a mistake in trying to board him as a standby passenger and then remove him. And I told him we were sorry.

Now, 48 hours later, after talking to many involved, we know there were several things going on that day and that our Employees were doing their best to get his flight out safely and on time, including finding seats for everyone and trying to accommodate standby passengers. The Captain did not single Kevin out to be removed, but he did ask that the boarding be completed quickly. At that time, our Employees made the decision to remove Kevin after a quick judgment call that he might have needed more than one seat for his comfort and those seated next to him.

Although I’m not here to debate the decision our Employees made, I can tell you that I for one have learned a lot today. The communication among our Employees was not as sharp as it should have been and, it’s apparent that Southwest could have handled this situation differently. Thanks, Kevin, for your passion around this topic. You were a reasonable guy during our conversation.

Southwest, like most carriers, has a policy to assist passengers who need two seats onboard an aircraft. The policy is an important one for the comfort and safety of all passengers aboard a plane, and we stand by that 25-year-old policy. This has our attention, and we will be reviewing how and when this delicate policy is implemented.

I find this to be a step in the right direction, and I hope they’re sincere. At least they didn’t reveal anymore of his personal information. I do feel like they gave mere window dressing to his primary concern: treating people of size with grace and respect. We’ll see where this goes.

Published by Jonathan, on February 15th, 2010 at 7:41 pm. | Tags: , , , , , , | No Comments

Kevin Smith vs. Southwest Airlines

Well, I guess I may as well weigh in (pun intended) on this one too. If you’re not a Twitter user, then you may not be aware of a Southwest Airlines captain’s decision to kick writer/director/actor Kevin Smith off a flight for being over weight. The problem is, they did this after allowing him to board the flight, and after he’d already been recognized by several passengers. Of course this was quite embarrassing. He immediately started tweeting about it, and Southwest found themselves in a PR nightmare.

You can read his Twitter feed to see all of his comments right from the beginning. Southwest had released a statement on the situation, but it seems to be unavailable as of now. I’ve created a PDF of the Google cache version of the statement that also includes user comments. Here is the statement itself:

Not So Silent Bob

Sun, 02/14/2010 – 14:57 — Christi Day

Many of you reached out to us via Twitter last night and today regarding a situation a Customer Twittered about that occurred on a Southwest flight. It is not our customary method of Customer Relations to be so public in how we work through these situations, but with so many people involved in the occurrence, you also should be involved in the solution. First and foremost, to Mr. Smith; we would like to echo our Tweets and again offer our heartfelt apologies to you. We are sincerely sorry for your travel experience on Southwest Airlines.

As soon as we saw the first Tweet from Mr. Smith, we contacted him personally to apologize for his experience and to address his concerns on both Twitter and with a personal phone call. Since the situation has received a lot of public attention, we’d like to take the opportunity to address a few of the specifics here as well.

Mr. Smith originally purchased two Southwest seats on a flight from Oakland to Burbank – as he’s been known to do when traveling on Southwest. He decided to change his plans and board an earlier flight to Burbank, which technically means flying standby. As you may know, airlines are not able to clear standby passengers until all Customers are boarded. When the time came to board Mr. Smith, we had only a single seat available for him to occupy. Our pilots are responsible for the Safety and comfort of all Customers on the aircraft and therefore, made the determination that Mr. Smith needed more than one seat to complete his flight. Our Employees explained why the decision was made, accommodated Mr. Smith on a later flight, and issued him a $100 Southwest travel voucher for his inconvenience.

You’ve read about these situations before. Southwest instituted our Customer of Size policy more than 25 years ago. The policy requires passengers that can not fit safely and comfortably in one seat to purchase an additional seat while traveling. This policy is not unique to Southwest Airlines and it is not a revenue generator. Most, if not all, carriers have similar policies, but unique to Southwest is the refunding of the second seat purchased (if the flight does not oversell) which is greater than any revenue made (full policy can be found here). The spirit of this policy is based solely on Customer comfort and Safety. As a Company committed to serving our Customers in Safety and comfort, we feel the definitive boundary between seats is the armrest. If a Customer cannot comfortably lower the armrest and infringes on a portion of another seat, a Customer seated adjacent would be very uncomfortable and a timely exit from the aircraft in the event of an emergency might be compromised if we allow a cramped, restricted seating arrangement.

All of the above may be true, but there are kind and gracious ways to handle this. I see no reason why the ticketing counter can’t deal with issues like this, thus saving embarrassment to the passenger. While they should respond like this for any customer, at least Kevin can bring this issue to light. I certainly understand the desire to provide a comfortable seating experience to every flyer, but a little grace and kindness can defuse situations like this.

He has recorded a podcast about the experience. I’m sure it will be spicey.

Published by Jonathan, on February 14th, 2010 at 5:36 pm. | Tags: , , , , , , , | No Comments

Cop Out Red Band Trailer

Here is the red band trailer for Kevin Smith’s new movie, Cop Out. The green band (general audiences) trailer didn’t offer much enticing, but this one makes the movie look great. I am certainly looking forward to it. You’ll have to enter your age on this one in order to get permission to see it.

Cop Out debuts February 26, 2010.

Published by Jonathan, on February 8th, 2010 at 7:06 pm. | Tags: , , , , , , , | No Comments

Kevin Smith iPhone App

Amidst all of the hullabaloo about Alabama, I forgot to mention that there is now an official Kevin Smith iPhone app. It’s actually quite entertaining, but is really just geared to the Kevin Smith fans. Entertainment Weekly recently listed it as #3 in their “Must” list. You can download it for $.99 in the iTunes App Store.

Published by Jonathan, on January 18th, 2010 at 10:55 pm. | Tags: , , , , | No Comments

For The Love Of SMod 2

Stark Toons did it again. Here’s another hilarious animated clip of the SModcast podcast.

Published by Jonathan, on November 4th, 2009 at 7:40 pm. | Tags: , , , , , | No Comments

Really Funny Kevin Smith Animation

Anyone who reads this space is well aware of my affinity for Kevin Smith. He and his longtime producer, Scott Mosier, have a podcast called SModcast. Some creative folks animated a clip from SModcast. I hope you enjoy. BTW, there is some salty language.

Published by Jonathan, on August 24th, 2009 at 8:35 pm. | Tags: , , , , , | No Comments

My Top 5′s – Movies

I’m going to write a periodic series about my top 5′s. Since my wife doesn’t always love being my captive audience, I’ll let you all be. I’ll start off with my top 5 favorite movies. Clearly, you’ll have differing view points. That’s the fun of this. Give me your top 5′s. Remember, I’m not claiming these are THE top 5 ever. They are just my favorite 5.

  1. Rear Window (1954) – I love Hitchcock, and this is my absolute favorite. Jimmy Stewart is brilliant, as is Grace Kelly. In fact, it is extremely rare to find someone who’s beauty is matched by their acting talent. The exchanges between Stewart and Kelly offer much humor. I marvel at how well this movie holds up over time. It still keeps you on the edge of your seat.
  2. Dark City (1998) – This mind-bending film from Alex Proyas came out around the same time as The Matrix and The Thirteenth Floor. All deal with our sense of reality, and whether anything is “real”. Each took separate paths to explore this concept. Dark City starts out as a film noir, but evolves into much more. Proyas cleverly takes the story from crime film noir to sci-fi to fascinating character study. Jennifer Connelly, Rufus Sewell and William Hurt are terrific.
  3. Spaceballs (1987) – Mel Brooks has made several great movies, but I really love this one. I can probably quote most of the script from memory. Brooks successfully lampoon’s the two most popular sci-fi franchises: Star Trek and Star Wars. However, he lampoons other movies and genres as well. There is an especially funny dig at Alien.
  4. National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation (1989) – This is my favorite Christmas movie. In fact, I can watch it year ’round. Chevy Chase is at the top of his game. Randy Quaid is terrific. I’ve seen this movie dozens of times, and I still crack up at the sight of Randy Quaid wearing a white sweater with a black dickie. This is another movie I can nearly quote from memory.
  5. Serenity (2005) – Even with all the press the Star Wars prequels received, I would have to say Serentiy is the best sci-fi movie of the decade. Joss Whedon made a magnificent movie. For those that don’t know, Serenity is a continuation of the short lived Firefly series. Fox grossly underestimated its popularity, and the groundswell of support got this movie made.

You may notice the lack of a Kevin Smith movie, but if I were doing a top 10, he’d be there. There are so many movies I could have put here. Rocky, Chasing Amy, To Kill A Mockingbird, High Fidelity and Swingers come to mind. Feel free to comment. I would like to see your favorites.

In Case You Missed It

Here is the Kevin Pollak Chat Show interview with Kevin Smith. It was quite good. Remember, you can download this in iTunes’ podcast section.

Published by Jonathan, on June 29th, 2009 at 1:12 am. | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , | No Comments

Kevin Smith with Kevin Pollak

For those that don’t know, Kevin Pollak has a web based talk show. Kevin Smith was on tonight. They broadcast every Sunday evening at 5pm Eastern. You can watch it here. I would highly recommend you watch. You can also find Kevin Pollack’s show in iTunes’ podcast section.

kevinonpollack2

Published by Jonathan, on June 28th, 2009 at 6:11 pm. | Tags: , , , , , , , | No Comments

A Series With Kevin Smith, Part 10

This is the final installment. I hope you’ve enjoyed it as much as I have.

Published by Jonathan, on June 13th, 2009 at 7:43 pm. | Tags: , , , , , | No Comments

This Guy Just Makes Me Laugh

I’m going to continue to show my man-crush on Kevin Smith. I’ve heard him talk about this on the Q & A DVD’s, but I hadn’t seen it until now. It’s nearly 10 years old. F*#@! brilliant!

Published by Jonathan, on June 6th, 2009 at 6:02 am. | Tags: , , , | No Comments