'Boring' book of blogs true to Smith's rootsBlogs might be all the rage, but despite the immediacy of the digital age, in a sense blogs can be traced back to a 17th century scrivener like Samuel Pepys, who recorded his day-to-day activities in Restoration England before signing off each night with a jaunty "so to bed."
Not to sound too highfalutin', but that lineage is demonstrated by director Kevin Smith's new book, "My Boring-Ass Life: The Uncomfortably Candid Diary of Kevin Smith."
Smith, who burst onto the film scene with his profanely funny "Clerks" in 1994, was one of the first filmmakers to embrace the Web, setting up his own site, ViewAskew.com. That eventually led to daily diary entries, which he moved to another site, SilentBobSpeaks.com, and then to his own MySpace page, myspace.com/therealkevinsmith.
Smith has recycled a lot of those postings into a trade paperback — good ol' fashioned print — in which he documents his life from March 20, 2005-Dec. 22, 2006, a period that covers the completion of "Clerks II" and Smith's work as an actor in Susannah Grant's "Catch and Release."
Smith apologizes upfront, warning his readers, "It's kinda boring." A typical entry begins, "Wake up, take a shit while playing Tetris and update my online diary in my office 'til (wife) Jen gets up."
As the chronicle makes clear, what sets Smith apart from most of his fellow directors is that he has never abandoned his roots. While success might have earned him first-class travel accommodations and a home in Hollywood, he still heads to the mall when he needs to shop, wolfs down fast food in addition to vegging out in front of the tube. He's perfectly happy catching up on an episode of "Everybody Loves Raymond." In fact, his own life is like a more sexually satisfied episode of that sitcom; in addition to his wife and his daughter, Harley, his household also includes mother-in-law Gail, who serves as his assistant, and his wife's stepdad, Byron.
Part of Smith's disarming charm is that he's upfront about his own insecurities. He's continually amazed that he ever found such a compatible soul mate in Jen, and when she surprises him with an unexpected blow job, he waxes romantic. Professionally, he can't at first believe it when Grant casts him in "Catch," but when he realizes that she expects him to take off his shirt for one scene, he panics. "I almost never take my shirt off. I've always felt that, since I'm so fat and out of shape, it's kind of my civic duty to keep my white, flabby belly covered and my man-boobs out of site." (Grant relents, and the shirt stays on.)
For all the low comedy in which he indulges, Smith also is a shrewd businessman. In addition to keeping open the lines of communication with his fans, he also has used his Web sites to hawk his wares.
And when one poster objects to Smith's rave review of "Star Wars: Episode III — Revenge of the Sith" by writing that Smith's "films combined have lost more money than they have grossed," the director angrily provides a detailed, film-by-film accounting. Take "Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back," for example. According to Smith, it breaks down this way: "Cost: $20 million, Theatrical Gross: $30 million, DVD: $38.5 million."
For Smith realizes that if you're going to open yourself up to the Web's malcontents, you must respond in kind. "Even though some would consider it a waste of my time, I've always felt that if I can't spare a few minutes to show up the jackasses in life, I'm not living to my fullest potential," he writes.
And so to bed.