You’re looking at posts marked Editors Pick . More Categories »

I’m a lazy turd. You can hear me whine about it here. But I’ve stumbled into a way to motivate myself to do the stuff I don’t want to do in life and in business.

  1. Treat your future self like he/she is a completely different person than you.
  2. Care for that person.
  3. Set things up today so he/she has the best possible chance of succeeding tomorrow. (i.e., fold your fucking T shirt!)

“I decided a while ago that I would only do things that were really important or really fun.”

Lawrence Wright

This was a really great interview. He came from evangelicalism, expanded outside of it but continued to explore stories of faith from Al Qaeda to ISIS to Scientology. (Wright wrote the book which that great scientology documentary was based on.)

Hayao Miyazaki on His Life’s Work

Hayao Miyazahi on His Life’s Work

All that work you’re doing on your company, your reputation, your skills, maybe it all comes to a moment like this.

You’re 72, you just finished a project that took you two and a half years of constant, steady work, you’re on the garden roof of a building your company designed, where you’ve spent the majority of your life for the past 20 years, and you can sense how pointless it is to imagine it all somehow staying together.

“It’s just a name” you say with equal parts broken-heart and indifferent wisdom.

And then you get distracted by a perfect moment of sunlight and leaves.

This was from a documentary on Studio Ghibli called The Kingdom of Dreams and Madness. If you’ve loved Miyazaki worlds like Totoro and Spirited Away you’ll love this film.

This scene struck hard. He’s lived the way I find myself dreaming about and here he is at the end and he’s just as full of dissatisfaction, sorrow, creativity and expectation.

I said this to my friend who was stressing over having kids or not: “In the end everybody loses. It’s not like some people win and others lose. Everyone loses. Nobody wins in the end. This being so, what kind of adventure do you want to have? For myself (and I didn’t know this at the time), my son is the best adventure I’ve found. Nothing else in my life is as dangerous or joyful or exhausting, nothing else — no movie, company or creation — elicits the depth of feeling from within me that my sons have.”

The kid stuff is my story. Regardless of where you land on that, the first bit is true: you’re going to lose in the end and you won’t be able to take anything with you. You could build the best goddam company and bring more magic to people than any of your contemporaries… and you’ll still stand somewhere at the end recognizing that whether it persists or falls apart won’t be up to you. And then the wind will brush your hair and face and you’ll get distracted by something beautiful regardless.

This being so, what kind of adventure do you want to have?

“Your job is to show us something we didn’t know we needed to see.”

A. O. Scott

Patton Oswalt on Depression

“I want blues and pinks, I just want to avoid the blacks and reds. Because the red is when you’re manic and you’re burning everything up, the black is when you want to kill yourself. I don’t mind blues, I don’t mind pinks.”

Patton Oswalt

This episode went on the “listen to this yearly” list immediately. Excellent conversation. Some more quotes below.

“My depression and my ego are two things that I treat equally, just like this, where I go, ‘{gentle parent voice} Oh, here you go, what do you want now? Alright, ok, I’m not gonna give you that, but we’ll do this, how about that? Is that reasonable?” George Saunders said when you deny a fault in yourself you’ve made it ten times more powerful. AND now you have two faults: the fault you had and the lie you’re telling yourself about it.”

Advice for new comedians:

“I hope that you are given two gifts. First, I hope you have a few years of obscurity, where you get to go up and it doesn’t matter if you bomb or kill, cuz you get to develop a purely unique voice. And second, I hope you have one night of just absolute flame out disaster on stage so you can have that experience, wake up the next day and realize ‘Oh, the world didn’t end,’ and you lose that fear.

And there’s another piece of advice Andy Kindler gave me that I tell to every young comedian… Never ever ask another comedian to watch your act or give you advice because even if they give you great advice, and they have the best intentions, all it will do is make you more like them and make you less unique. Figure out on your own, even if you go down the worst side paths… you’re gonna feel like you’re wasting your time but you’re actually not. The wasted time doing something stupid is gonna pay off huge dividends later. ‘Holy shit, I went down some of the darkest fucking paths and I’m glad I did, cuz I know what it feels like to get easy, cheap laughs, and I know that that feeling is actually bad in the long run, so I go for the better stuff.'”

Patton’s advice to Joe Derosa:

“We were backstage at Caroline’s and it was at the time when all those celeb love shows were out. And I said, ‘Patton, i’m working on this bit: if you’re a person who wants to be on one of these celeb love shows, your heart’s gonna burst, yadda yadda,’ and it went on from there. And I said, ‘Patton, is this premise too much like a Bill Hicks joke?’ and he said, ‘I don’t think it’s too much like a Bill Hicks joke, but I don’t know why you’d want to do it. All you’re doing is going on stage and talking about something you already know you agree with. Where’s the exploration in that? What I try to do in every joke is I try to have the moment of discovery. So, how I would do that joke is I would say, I used to hate shows like Rock of Love and Flavor of Love because they just parade these whores around, THEN i realized, these shows are great because they teach us who we need to quarantine (or whatever).’ And I was, like, ‘Holy shit, that’s a hundred times better than the joke I was trying to write.’ Always look for the moment of discovery in the joke. Don’t just go linearly down the path, try to find the path where ‘well I thought this, but now I think this and then that led me to this, bla bla bla.'”

“You really can’t make fun of something unless you love it. Making fun of something you hate, it’s very limited, like, ‘I hate it, it’s stupid, here’s why.’ But you’re like, this thing… I kind of like it, and here’s why.”

What Samuel Beckett Wants

In 1932 a friend (Walter Lowenfels) asked Beckett, “You sit there saying nothing while the world is going to pieces. What do you want? What do you want to do?” Beckett, according to Bair, “crossed his legs and drawled: ‘Walter, all I want to do is sit on my ass and fart and think of Dante.’”

David Vanderveen on Why We’re Afraid of Doubt

“We’re afraid of doubt only because we haven’t learned to love mystery yet.”

David Vanderveen

Not to “understand that it’s important” or to “get the sense that it undergirds everything” but to “love” mystery.

That is an interesting idea. How do you do that without becoming some unhinged crazy person?

Regardless this conversation was a delight to listen to for me.

“Work today for the body of work you want to have in 5 years.”

Barrett Brooks

He said this on our podcast a few months ago and I can’t shake it. I’m not sure what the body of work I want to have in 5 years is, but I know what I’m making right now isn’t it.

Vonnegut on Boaz’s Revelation

“But Boaz had decided that he needed a buddy far more than he needed a means of making people do exactly what he wanted them to.”

Kurt Vonnegut

There were so many great lines from Boaz in The Sirens of Titan. Here’s some more:

“A purpose of human life, no matter who is controlling it, is to love whoever is around to be loved.”

“When you get right down to it, everybody’s having a perfectly lousy time of it, and I mean everyone. And the hell of it is, nothing seems to help much.”

“I found me a place where I can do good without doing any harm, and I can see I’m doing good, and them I’m doing good for know I’m doing it, and they love me, Unk, as best they can. I found me a home.”

A quick read and a good one.

Ursula K Le Guin on Art vs Commodity

Right now, we need writers who know the difference between production of a market commodity and the practice of an art. Developing written material to suit sales strategies in order to maximize corporate profit and advertising revenue is not the same thing as responsible book publishing or authorship.

[…] I see a lot of us, the producers, who write the books and make the books, accepting this — letting commodity profiteers sell us like deodorant, and tell us what to publish, what to write.

Ursula K Le Guin