Sunday, October 26, 2008 

Steven Adler of GNR Gives The Rock & Roll Kitchen A Plug

NOW THAT VH1'S "CELEBRITY REHAB" SEASON 2 HAS BEGUN AIRING THIS WEEK, I'M STARTING to get calls from people who know I know Steven Adler of Guns N Roses, telling me they've seen him on that show. If you think about it, that program is pretty much a dead-nut conversation starter of (true or false): "Is any publicity good publicity?" I mean, the whole show is built around being screwed up & famous - I guess that helps some viewers feel like they're not that bad off, compared to them? And even though it reveals the worst in a person, the power of TV is also in full force, which will undoubtedly increase his visibility worldwide.

If you ever have a chance to talk with Adler, he'll let you know pretty fast that 1. Every dream he had with music came true, in a big way; 2. He's tried to kill himself "so many times"; 3. What he really wants most before he dies is a reunion with the original Gunners - even if it's only all of them being in the same room & chatting.

Now that he's putting it all out there on national TV, I don't think I'm giving anything away by revealing that, during his visit to the studio last fall, all the behavior he's described on VH1 was in full force here. Which really sucked. As I once told him to his face: It doesn't matter who you are, what you did or how much money you have - if you're passing out with a lit cigarette in your hand in somebody's house, there's NOBODY who's okay with that.

That said, I had many many many opportunities to videotape Steven in some less-than-ideal moments (and I was encouraged to), but somehow felt like it was a violation of trust. We all know rock stars are no angels - especially ones with drug problems - but I didn't want to be the snaky worm who splattered these moments all over the internet. And maybe one day I'll share some of those moments, which were both sad and funny at the same time. But for now, here's a clip of him giving The Rock & Roll Kitchen a shout out, which shows (I think) his true, sweet nature.

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Wednesday, October 22, 2008 

Exposure Room

THERE'S A WEBSITE that's taking free video uploading to a new level, called

I first heard about it a few months ago from a shooter in Nashville who had posted some of his video reels on there, and I could barely believe what I was seeing.

Although I'll forever be grateful to for breaking things wide open with online video sharing (and I dig for looking even better), it's very limiting for detail-oriented producers, as their whole model is knocking down big video files into smaller Flash format files. Translated - everything gets washed out into a fuzzy look, and nothing is sharp. Welcome to

Whoever created that site really hit a home run and, in my opinion, helped quickly define where online video is going. It's High Definition-friendly, and the footage is stunningly clean, sharp, balanced tones, gorgeous. Not to mention truly being a place to see high-quality video from professionals. If you're a serious shooter or editor, have a look & put your stuff up for others to see!

Saturday, October 18, 2008!

Heather B. Armstrong, © Armstrong Media, LLC. All rights reserved.

ANYBODY ELSE OUT THERE HEARD OF HEATHER B. ARMSTRONG & DOOCE.COM? I can't say I would have ever thought twice about visiting her blog in a "normal" flow of events, but I happened to see her featured on a national TV segment (ABC's Nightline, I think), and she looked like a complete star to me - fun, a little wild, brilliant, profane, free-form, ex-Mormon, entertaining. I also thought they mentioned developing a movie around her? Who knows about that, but I do know TV producers pretty much can't seem to operate without putting labels on people or situations to function, and they call her a "mommy blogger." Pretty funny - however limiting. Calling her that is like calling me a line cook - just a tiny, tiny, tiny part of the bigger story. I'm sure there's plenty of women out there with kids who like to blog, and that's all well and good; But unless she was the standout writer she is, there's no way her being a "mommy blogger" would ever get her noticed by visitors and advertisers. Advertisers with lots of money willing to pay to get next to those who visit her site.

Unlike other folks I've met along the way and picked for stardom before anyone else, Heather is no "early pick" by me: She mentioned on air TV that, based on a million unique visitors a month to her site (wow), she makes $40k A MONTH (a
t least, that's what I think she said. DAMN GIRL). A million different people want to read what she writes, every month. So why am I writing about her?

I sent her some of my Totally Chipotle products, less than a month ago. Today, I get a hand-written postcard from her, which totally surprised me, and also reveals what a geek I am: Being in the professions I am (food, music, entertainment, marketing), it's EXTREMELY rare for anyone to say thank you, return a phone call, express gratitude for anything I do, say thank you when they make money directly from my work & connections (did I mention my love/hate position on musicians?). And so, to have someone I KNOW is busier than hell and getting bombarded frequently with solicitions, mail, TV offers, live appearance dates, etc., get back to me, got to me. In a good way. Here's an excerpt: "... cannot wait to try the bloody mary mix, coincidence that that has become one of my favorite drinks. Much love from Utah, Heather B. Armstrong." Yes, it would be sweet if she liked the stuff enough to give it a mention on her site... Beyond all that, I was already a fan; Here's some content from her website, in case you'd like to see for yourself what I see:

My name is Heather B. Armstrong. Some of you may remember me as Heather B. Hamilton. I am married to a charming geek named Jon. We live in Salt Lake City, Utah, with our four-year-old daughter, Leta Elise, and our six-year-old SuperMutt, Chuck, and a ten-month-old miniature Australian Shepherd, Coco. The chaos in our house is unreal.

I am a Stay at Home Mom (SAHM) or a Shit Ass Ho Motherfucker. I do both equally well.

In a previous life I was a web designer. I lived in Los Angeles, California, for several years where I worked for drug-addicted executives and discovered what life was like as a recovering Mormon. This means that life was filled with PowerPoint templates and lethal amounts of tequila. I dated several actors and met a handful of celebrities. Everything you've ever heard about Los Angeles is absolutely true, especially the parts about traffic and actors: they really are that bad.

I grew up in a small suburb of Memphis, Tennessee, and graduated valedictorian of Bartlett High School in 1993. The reason I am telling you about the valedictorian part is because being able to say, "I was the valedictorian" is the only privilege I ever got in life from achieving that goal. No one ever hired me because I was valedictorian. The lesson to be learned from this is: AIM LOW. Save yourself the time.

My parents raised me Mormon, and I grew up believing that the Mormon Church was true. In fact, I never had a cup of coffee until I was 23-years-old. I had pre-marital sex for the first time at age 22, but BY GOD I waited an extra year for the coffee. There had better be a special place in heaven for me.

I attended BYU from 1993-1997 and graduated with a degree in English. I firmly believe that BYU is the most horrible place on Earth, worse even than Disneyland. The one skill I learned in college that serves me well now is not how to solve differential equations or how to write a paper deconstructing The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock, it's how to distrust organized religion. I am no longer a practicing Mormon or someone who believes that Rush Limbaugh speaks to God. My family is understandably disappointed.

I started this website in February 2001. A year later I was fired from my job for this website because I had written stories that included people in my workplace. My advice to you is BE YE NOT SO STUPID. Never write about work on the internet unless your boss knows and sanctions the fact that YOU ARE WRITING ABOUT WORK ON THE INTERNET. If you are the boss, however, you should be aware that when you order Prada online and then talk about it out loud that you are making it very hard for those around you to take you seriously.

This website chronicles my life from a time when I was single and making a lot of money as a web designer in Los Angeles, to when I was dating the man who would become my husband, to when I lost my job and lived life as an unemployed drunk, to when I married my husband and moved to Utah, to when I became pregnant, to when I threw up and became unbearably swollen during the pregnancy, to the birth, to the aftermath, to the postpartum depression that landed me in a mental hospital. I'm better now.

In October 2005 I began running enough ads on this website that my husband was able to quit his job and become a Stay at Home Father (SAHF) or a Shit Ass Ho Fuckingbadass. He takes both very seriously. This website now supports my family.

I love bourbon, chips and salsa, Britpop, and television that excels at being really awful.

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Thursday, October 16, 2008 

Custom Pumpkins & Halloween Highlight Reel

ALTHOUGH I DO MY BEST TO PRACTISE WHAT I PREACH (in this case, using online video to get the message out about a product or service), I'm just like everyone else - I don't really get paid directly to work on my stuff, so it gets pushed to the side in favor of the more immediately profitable ones. However...

Since it is the season, I decided to spend a little time & assemble some of my pumpkin & Halloween content to our version of the classic cut "Spooky." And speaking of that: A big part of the inspiration for my Halloween CD ("Pumpkin Patch") was because I was truly getting sick of having to listen to the SAME OLD SONGS EVERY TIME I did any kind of Halloween or pumpkin carving event: You know - Thriller, or the theme from Halloween, or Monster Mash, or One Eyed Purple People Eater, or whatever noise was supposed to be scary, but was really just annoying. So I got some talented local guys together and did new arrangements of songs like "Moondance," "Witchy Woman," "Ghost Riders In The Sky," to name a few (and wrote a couple too - what the hell!). Special thanks to Leigh Hanlon for some great photos & video in this piece, enjoy.

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Monday, October 13, 2008 

Halloween Is The Best Holiday!

Anyone who knows me knows I much prefer Halloween over X-mas as a FAR better, healthier holiday. Without going into the many reasons for saying that here (and there are many), for starters, you can spend a little time masquerading as someone or something else - very liberating. Anyway...

Having created a pumpkin carving kit for X-Acto back in the day (my first paid experience as a full-time artist, quite a rewarding confidence builder for me), I know the industry very well, and have carved many many many pumpkins for money.

One thing that went along with that: The Halloween & Party Show in the Chicago area.

Having done many trade shows too (mostly food), the Halloween show is hands-down my fave. Imagine high-tech, Hollywood-level special effects and makeup brains creating their own products, and you're close. Incredibly visual/graphic, funny, fun, dazzling.

My pal Leigh Hanlon shot the video (below) from a few year's ago.

Wednesday, October 01, 2008 

Say The Name Speed Game | Baby Back Blues BBQ

My client/pal Ken Faught from Baby Back Blues BBQ in Plainfield, IL, participated in a rib cookoff last Saturday (Sept 27) here in Chicago. Of course, there was no way to know who would win (Honky Tonk BBQ and Smokedaddy were also there; Willie from Honky Tonk won 3rd place at the 2008 Memphis In May event, pork shoulder, and will be on Check Please this month; Smoke Daddy has been featured on Food Network), so I thought of a way to guarantee a win: Good footage to use beyond the event, whoever took first place (Honky Tonk BBQ did). And so... check out this short video of a little game I made up for Baby Back Blues, where people had to correctly say the restaurant's name 5 times in under 5 seconds (and did I mention there was booze involved?!?!?). FYI, with the exception of Chef Sean O'Brien from Timothy O'Toole's (in the blue chef's jacket, who I met at the event) these are completely random people at the event, I'd never met or spoken with any of them before we got them on camera. It never ceases to amaze me how entertaining "regular" people can be, if you just give them the right scenario...

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