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Tag: 2011

The Theme for 2012

It is that time of year again! Time to announce the coming year’s theme! And I know you’ve all been waiting patiently for me to have an excuse to ramble on wildly about my musings about creativity and my own personal journey with it. I know you all love it. Or at least the three of you who read these don’t completely hate it. So, that’s good.

In previous years, the themes have been The Year of 5000 Photos and 50 Short Stories (2009), The Year of 3 Music Videos and 12 Short Stories (2010), and, this year, The Year of 12 Projects (and Slowing My Roll) (2011). Of course, in previous years I had other themes—The Year of Trying New Things, The Year of Writing, The Year of Focus, The Year of Finishing Things, and The Year of Self-Care—but those have not been documented here on The Black Laser, so we’ll mostly ignore them for the purposes of this one-sided discussion. If you’d like to read more on my thoughts on previous years’ themes, go right ahead.

This year, The Year of 12 Projects, has been remarkably successful so far with 13 of my 12 projects completed at this point. I won’t go too much into my thoughts about the year as a whole yet—I’m saving that for its own year-end write up—but let’s just agree that it’s been great. And let’s also acknowledge that it’s the first time ever that I’ve met the goals I set out for myself at the beginning of the year.

Wait, that bears repeating. It is the first time in eight years of giving myself themes instead of resolutions that I’ve actually accomplished what I set out to do.

Holy shit.

Amazing!

I think a lot of what made this year such a success was that I allowed my brain to sort of go anywhere in terms of being creative. I wasn’t limited to one specific type of thing. I could do whatever caught my fancy, and, in turn, I got a lot done. That is great. In fact, a posting I recently read at NPR’s blog about Leonardo da Vinci’s to-do list seems to reinforce that allowing your brain to wander, to be unfocused, is beneficial for getting things done. Not that I am da Vinci, but I seem to have stumbled upon the same results. It goes against years of myself trying to focus on one thing, one goal, one idea. No wonder I was never able to do a damned thing; I worried so much about being focused, driven, single-minded about my creativity that I limited what I could be accomplishing otherwise. Knowing that I do better when I let myself be free is rather refreshing, actually.

While thinking about what I wanted to accomplish for 2012, I recognized that part of my creative palette that I have been really missing this last year and a half or so is my writing. I haven’t written any fiction at all in ages. Do you, avid reader of The Black Laser, recall the last time I posted fiction here? No you don’t. Do you know why? Because it was January 28, 2010. That is terrible. A couple (few?) weeks ago I tweeted, “Do you remember when I used to write stories??? Whatever happened to that, huh??” I wrote it as sort of a joke, but the more I thought about it, the more I realized that it is actually kind of sad. For something that was so important to me that I was going to give up a decent career twice for it, how could it have fallen so far out of my life that the last time I wrote anything of consequence was in January of last year? It’s like having a really awesome girlfriend and then suddenly you stop talking to her at all and then 20 months later you’re all, “Hey, where did she go?? How did she get away from me????” And then after you recognize that you’re all, “Damn, I’d better do something about this because I really miss her.”

And that is what writing feels like to me: an amazing supportive relationship with its ups and downs and pitfalls and triumphs. It has always felt so much more real to me than my ventures into filmmaking or photography or drawing or animation any of the other things I’ve dabbled in. Writing is challenging and because it is challenging it is rewarding like nothing else I’ve ever experienced. It feels good and it hurts and it is scary and I love it. I mean, duh, obviously, look at how I get going on things like this when I give a damn about them. I’m just blah blah blahing all up and down the East River like a crazy man with a garbage bag for a hat.

So that brings us to this year’s theme:

The Year of Writing

A question remains: how do I reconcile the success I had when I let my brain wander with the desire to focus on one specific kind of output? I thought of this, too. I think the key lies in not forcing “writing” to be any one thing, but allowing it to take whatever form I think I want to mess around with at that moment.

The astute reader will notice that this is in fact my second Year of Writing, the previous one being an abortive effort before I had any sense of how to structure these things for maximum efficacy. But I know how to do that now and that means giving myself limits that allow me to be flexible. Funny, right? Limits that allow me to be flexible. But it’s true and it works. Full open-endedness is daunting, but limit the creative sandbox a little and you’ll be surprised what you can come up with. Creativity is problem solving. Give yourself problems to solve.

So what are my limits/goals for this year?

  • 100,000 words – While chit-chatting with Lindsey on the IMs about what my goals should be for this year I recalled that at my peak output, I was writing at least 500 words a day. If I could maintain that every day of the year, my output would be 182,500 words. A massive amount. But I am not going to be so unrealistic and believe that I am actually going to write every single day of the year. Let’s don’t be ridiculous. There are going to be nights where I’ll have my face buried in the computer doing nothing but fucking off on the internet and nights where I am stuck at work late and nights where I just won’t want to write. And 100,000 is a nice, round number.

    What counts toward my 100,000 word count? Anything: letters to my brain, long articles on The Black Laser about whatever, anything for Vox Critica, any fiction, screenplays (who knows???). Basically anything where I give a damn about the quality of the writing. This encompasses quite a lot of what I do and should make hitting 100K for the year not such a daunting challenge. The only things that won’t count are when I’m bullshitting about music videos (unless I actually have something to say, my prerogative) and things like Twitter/Facebook/whatever. I mean, this thing is already 1200 words long. I’d only need to do 84 posts like this and I’d be done.

  • Dance EP – I’ve been talking about making a dance record for a long time. I love dance music. It’s so stupid and fun but can also be really beautiful in the right hands. Those hands are not mine, but that doesn’t stop from wanting to put my own music out there. And it fits under the header of “writing” quite nicely and is so different than writing words that it allows me to play around in a different medium but still be working toward my theme for the year. It will allow my brain to wander when I don’t have anything particularly meaningful to say otherwise.

    What constitutes a Dance EP? Well, as we all know an EP is longer than a single but shorter than an album, so like 3 to 5 songs. I think that is about right. I just want it to be a fun project that makes people want to move and shake their asses and do all that stupid shit that people do that makes them look really funny in photos.

There you have it. 2012, The Year of Writing. 100,000 words or whatever and a dance EP.

And if you think that I think about this stuff too much, I’ll just leave this little snippet of yesterday’s conversation here for you to enjoy.

The Space Pope
4:39 PM The year I did 50 short stories, I kept a word/story count by each date I finished one so I could graph the work.
4:39 PM Jeez, I think about this too much maybe. But whatever.
4:40 PM I could keep a spreadsheet of writing by wordcount/type/date

lfkaufman
4:40 PM You think about most things too much. :)

Now I’ve blown my little secret that I intend to graph my progress. Here’s to 2012!

Welcome to The Black Laser Version 2!

And lo many good things were let loose upon the land!

Finally, after two and half years of life, The Black Laser has received a much needed redesign. It took me ages of hemming and hawing to finally get around to it, but it’s done(ish) and ready to be unveiled. So, what’s new in the land of The Black Laser?

  • New Logo! It’s almost as black metal as I wanted.
  • Sans-serif font! Geometric!
  • Disqus commenting system! Just because!
  • A modern theme! Doesn’t affect you!
  • Uh, some other stuff!

Mostly I want to give the old bat a new coat of paint. It needed it. Of course, I am sure there are things I am going to want to change over the next few days of living with the new design, so don’t mind any annoying downtime here and there while I fiddle.

Stick around, test it out, and let me know if I messed something up. Enjoy!

2011 Gathering of the Juggalos film

And like clockwork, we find ourselves here again. Clocking in at a massive 27 minutes, this year’s Gathering of the Juggalos film is a magnificent testament to self-delusion. You owe it to yourself, your progeny, and all humanity to watch the entire thing. Gaze upon this work and despair.

Man, Sugar Slam is such a terrible actor. Oh my god, I can’t believe I actually wrote that last sentence.

Also, VANILLA ICE?!

DESPAIR!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

A Happy Valentine’s Day from The Black Laser!

someecards.com - I love you like a cannibal loves human flesh

Because I do love you all so very, very much and want to let you know on this beautiful, false holiday, I’ve prepared a little mix for you to enjoy. I was originally just going to post a Carcass video and be done with it, but that felt a little cheap so I spent the last hour and a half preparing a heart warming Valentine’s Day mix for all my readers.

1. Acid Bath “Paegan Love Song”

[audio:http://www.theblacklaser.net/blog/wp-content/uploads/2011/02/01-Paegan-Love-Song.mp3|titles=Paegan Love Song|artists=Acid Bath]

2. Anal Cunt “In My Heart There’s a Star Named After You”

[audio:http://www.theblacklaser.net/blog/wp-content/uploads/2011/02/02-In-My-Heart-Theres-A-Star-Named-After-You.mp3|titles=In My Heart There’s A Star Named After You|artists=Anal Cunt]

3. Neaera “Definition of Love”

[audio:http://www.theblacklaser.net/blog/wp-content/uploads/2011/02/03-Definition-Of-Love.mp3|titles=Definition Of Love|artists=Neaera]

4. Pig Destroyer “Girl in the Slayer Jacket”

[audio:http://www.theblacklaser.net/blog/wp-content/uploads/2011/02/04-Girl-in-the-Slayer-Jacket.mp3|titles=Girl in the Slayer Jacket|artists=Pig Destroyer]

5. Network “Love on the Lips of a Whore”

[audio:http://www.theblacklaser.net/blog/wp-content/uploads/2011/02/05-Love-On-The-Lips-Of-A-Whore.mp3|titles=Love On The Lips Of A Whore|artists=Network]

6. Agents of Oblivion “Dead Girl”

[audio:http://www.theblacklaser.net/blog/wp-content/uploads/2011/02/06-Dead-Girl.mp3|titles=Dead Girl|artists=Agents of Oblivion]

7. Gwar “Rock N’ Roll Never Felt So Good”

[audio:http://www.theblacklaser.net/blog/wp-content/uploads/2011/02/07-Rock-N-Roll-Never-Felt-So-Good.mp3|titles=Rock N Roll Never Felt So Good|artists=Gwar]

8. Converge “Heartless”

[audio:http://www.theblacklaser.net/blog/wp-content/uploads/2011/02/08-Heartless.mp3|titles=Heartless|artists=Converge]

9. Pantera “This Love”

[audio:http://www.theblacklaser.net/blog/wp-content/uploads/2011/02/09-This-Love.mp3|titles=This Love|artists=Pantera]

10. The Red Chord “Love on the Concrete”

[audio:http://www.theblacklaser.net/blog/wp-content/uploads/2011/02/10-Love-On-The-Concrete.mp3|titles=Love On The Concrete|artists=The Red Chord]

11. Carcass “No Love Lost”

[audio:http://www.theblacklaser.net/blog/wp-content/uploads/2011/02/11-No-Love-Lost.mp3|titles=No Love Lost|artists=Carcass]

12. Biohazard “Love Denied”

[audio:http://www.theblacklaser.net/blog/wp-content/uploads/2011/02/12-Love-Denied.mp3|titles=Love Denied|artists=Biohazard]

13. As I Lay Dying “Empty Hearts”

[audio:http://www.theblacklaser.net/blog/wp-content/uploads/2011/02/13-Empty-Hearts.mp3|titles=Empty Hearts|artists=As I Lay Dying]

14. Pro-Pain “Make War (Not Love)”

[audio:http://www.theblacklaser.net/blog/wp-content/uploads/2011/02/14-Make-War-Not-Love.mp3|titles=Make War (Not Love)|artists=Pro-Pain]

15. Slayer “Love To Hate”

[audio:http://www.theblacklaser.net/blog/wp-content/uploads/2011/02/15-Love-To-Hate.mp3|titles=Love To Hate|artists=Slayer]

16. Cannibal Corpse “Infinite Misery”

[audio:http://www.theblacklaser.net/blog/wp-content/uploads/2011/02/16-Infinite-Misery.mp3|titles=Infinite Misery|artists=Cannibal Corpse]

17. Agoraphobic Nosebleed “The Newlyweds Are Raped”

[audio:http://www.theblacklaser.net/blog/wp-content/uploads/2011/02/17-The-Newlyweds-Are-Raped.mp3|titles=The Newlyweds Are Raped|artists=Agoraphobic Nosebleed]

18. Unearth “Black Hearts Now Reign”

[audio:http://www.theblacklaser.net/blog/wp-content/uploads/2011/02/18-Black-Hearts-Now-Reign.mp3|titles=Black Hearts Now Reign|artists=Unearth]

19. The Hope Conspiracy “Defiant Hearts”

[audio:http://www.theblacklaser.net/blog/wp-content/uploads/2011/02/19-Defiant-Hearts.mp3|titles=Defiant Hearts|artists=The Hope Conspiracy]

20. Morbid Angel “Nothing But Fear”

[audio:http://www.theblacklaser.net/blog/wp-content/uploads/2011/02/20-Nothing-But-Fear.mp3|titles=Nothing But Fear|artists=Morbid Angel]

21. Emperor “Ensorcelled By Khaos”

[audio:http://www.theblacklaser.net/blog/wp-content/uploads/2011/02/21-Ensorcelled-By-Khaos.mp3|titles=Ensorcelled By Khaos|artists=Emperor]

22. Celeste “Il y aura des femmes à remercier et de la chair à embrocher”

[audio:http://www.theblacklaser.net/blog/wp-content/uploads/2011/02/22-Il-y-aura-des-femmes-à-remercier-et-de-la-chair-à-embrocher.mp3|titles=Il y aura des femmes à remercier et de la chair à embrocher|artists=Celeste]

23. Killswitch Engage “My Last Serenade”

[audio:http://www.theblacklaser.net/blog/wp-content/uploads/2011/02/23-My-Last-Serenade.mp3|titles=My Last Serenade|artists=Killswitch Engage]

24. Deicide “Till Death Do Us Part”

[audio:http://www.theblacklaser.net/blog/wp-content/uploads/2011/02/24-Till-Death-Do-Us-Part.mp3|titles=Till Death Do Us Part|artists=Deicide]

25. DMX Crew “You Can’t Hide Your Love (Hidden Love Mix)

[audio:http://www.theblacklaser.net/blog/wp-content/uploads/2011/02/25-You-Cant-Hide-Your-Love.mp3|titles=You Can’t Hide Your Love (Hidden Love Mix)|artists=DMX Crew]

There you have it! 25 unrelenting tracks of pure Valentine’s Day LOVE.

And in case you want to download the whole thing and listen to it at home, at work, in the car, at the gym, while making love, in jail, on a spaceship, while fighting orcs, or anywhere else you need a Valentine’s Day soundtrack, you can get it here: Valumtime’s Day 2011

The Theme for 2011

After the unmitigated disaster that was my Theme for 2010, it’s time to reevaluate the way I intend to approach 2011. But first, let’s explore what I set out to do for 2010 and where I think everything went wrong because, without exaggeration, everything went wrong.

The thing you’ll notice first when looking over at the tally for the year in the right hand column is that I accomplished basically nothing of what I intended at this time last year. My grand plans to write something substantial every single month AND make three music videos fell right through the floor. Whose fault is that? Mine, of course. But, the other question is am I upset about it? Nope. Not at all.

Where was all the work? It was there, but not in the places I intended. 2010 was a very busy year for me professionally and with other personal projects. As it turned out, I engaged in a ton of projects through the year.

What the hell did I spend all year doing? Well, I cut a film, 6 other videos, a bunch of commercials, I took the whole summer off, I moved out of my old apartment and adjusted to life as a single man, I traveled around the country, I reconnected with old friends, I made new friends, I made music, I partied way too much, and who knows what else. The bottom line is that I was busy busy busy and I enjoyed (almost) every moment of it.

So, I didn’t get the things done I wanted to get done this year, but in the face of a major shift in my life, I was able to accomplish a number of other things. I feel good about how 2010 turned out overall and have no complaints. Sure, in retrospect I could have slowed my roll a little bit and gotten more done, but I needed to get it out of my system too. I also think that the important part about the theme is not that I make something specific, but that I make something no matter what it is. The idea is to be creatively active, engaged, making things.

The theme for 2011 will be…

The Year of 12 Projects (and Slowing My Roll)

What does this entail? Simple. For each month of the year I will do something creative that requires more than one sitting. It’s not going to be one-per-month to allow for me to do 2 at once or skip a month if needed, but as there are 12 months in the year, so will I walk into 2012 with 12 projects finished. What the scope or nature of these projects will be I cannot say. The only requirement is that they are creative. It could be anything. Right off the bat, I am thinking of redesigning The Black Laser, getting josephdillingham.com up and running, a short story set in OUTER SPACE!!!!, some music, a music video for my friend Mandy, and whatever the hell else my brain comes up with. Make make make.

The other half of the theme is to slow my roll. If you don’t understand what I mean, it can be boiled down to two words: party less. I’ve gone a little nuts this year and it’s taking its toll on me. It’s been the default mode for me this year. When I don’t have anything to do, I go out. Bad news. I need to figure out ways to entertain myself that don’t end with an empty wallet and a scarred liver. Common sense, I think. Besides, I have some trips planned for later this year and it would be nice to be able to afford them.

There it is. Look out for posts tagged “The Year of 12 Projects”. When the first one is done, I will make a new box on the right. Or I won’t. Wouldn’t you like to know?!?!