The Home of Steven Barnes
Author, Teacher, Screenwriter

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

What's Up for 2009?

I don't think that 10,000 hours will put you in the top .1% of your field. It's that 99.9% of the folks in the top .1% of their field has put in 10,000 hours. In other words, you can't get there without that amount of work. But without a gift, and luck, no amount of pure work will get you to the very top. Luckily, you don't HAVE to be at the top to enjoy the benefits of most skills, or even to be considered fantastically successful by most. Or never out of work. I mean, the top 20% in almost any field are never out of work. Worried about your future? Don't worry about being the best. Just don't be in the bottom 80%, and you'll probably be all right.


"Barack The Magical Negro" is a song premiered on Rush Limbaugh, who takes any opportunity to make a racial dig, if he can plausibly blame it on someone else. For the prospective chairman of the RNC to send out copies of it for Christmas, suggesting that it's actually an insult not to the Prez-elect but to "Puff the Magic Dragon's" original writer, is the kind of bullshit that is turning the Republicans into the Grand Old White Guy's party, and they need to be aware of it. Racists delight in being able to flaunt such things and pretend they meant something else. This is playing into their hands, and I guess I have to say that anyone who doesn't see how it could do that is tone-deaf to an entire range of human emotion...or really doesn't give a shit. Of course, there will be others who "get it" totally, but find it convenient to pretend not to.


Best movie I saw in 2008? Slumdog Millionaire. Best acting? Micky Roarke in "The Wrestler." He just sniped at Sean Penn, calling his competitor an "average" actor and a least, according to one source, who says he saw a text message. Way to go, Micky. You were circling the drain, pulled an ace out of your ass, and now are risking a revived career with bitterness and ego. I hope it's not true, or if it is I hope he will shut up. Otherwise, in about ten years we'll hear about Roarke found dead of drugs, living in a storage compartment somewhere.


Watched "Bigger, Stronger, Faster" the movie about steroids. While it doesn't shy away from showing some of the freakier athletes (dig that guy with the biggest arms in the world. Good Lord!), considering the tiny number of people who actually die as a result of it (fewer emergency room problems than aspirin. Of course, a lot more people use aspirin) adults should be free to use what they want. I pretty much agree with that. But I do think that sports fans have a right to decide if they want a "clean" league in their favorite sport. I'm curious about how far the human body can be taken without undue jiggering of hormones and so forth. But it is also great fun to watch people push the envelope.


The year is almost over. What do I want for next year? I want to think about this seriously. Physically, yoga, kettlebells and martial arts seem to be keeping the old carcass together quite nicely, within that "Golden Hour" I like so much. Career-wise, I want to do more film work now that I've got the door open a little. Personally...I want to strengthen my relationship with my sister, to help Jason find more emotional control, and make sure Nicki graduates UCIrvine and enters the next phase of her life with joy and promise. With Tananarive, I want to dance Salsa with her more often, and just make sure that our burgeoning schedules don't take us away from each other (so far so good...I'm just cautious, not apprehensive).


What do you guys want to accomplish in the next year? And what major steps forward have you made in 2008?


Steve Perry said...

What do I want to accomplish this year? After discovering a cure for cancer and how to turn seawater into gasoline ... ?

It'd be nice to sell a big book or movie, make a ton of money, and take a ride on the Vomit Comet. It looks like so much fun and it's not really that expensive -- Zero Gravity Corp./Space Adventures out of Las Vegas charges about five grand for a thirty-minute flight ...

Christian H. said...

I want to sell a movie, direct a movie and get a writing assignment, not necessarily in that order.

Reluctant Lawyer said...

- Get back in shape: Second child (no sleep and no time put a kink in my plans) and a minor injury sidelined the progress I was making in this area. The plan is to do cardio and some weight-training 2 - 3 times per week at a gym next to my office.

- Get back into martial arts: Was training in kempo at a school that I got frustrated with. Have found a new school and will start classes in January. If that does not work, I've already located a few other schools that are close by.

- Work on my relationship with my wife

Reluctant Lawyer said...

Saw an interesting segment with Larry Elder on CNN in reference to the magical negro cd (never thought I'd use those three words together). After dismissing it as a joke and taking the democratic party to task for its history in terms of racism, he was asked if the prospective chairman of the RNC sending out the CD was politically stupid. He refused to answer. Even if you don't think that the CD was offensive, you would have to agree that for a party on the outs (relatively speaking) such an act was not in their best interests. Previously, I just disagreed with Elder on some issues (and agreed on some), now I just think that he's completed consumed the kool-aid.

Master Plan said...

The dude w. the big arms, Greg Valentino I believe, was mostly injecting Synthol.

'Roids too, but for those arms....

Moving to Seattle is the only serious bit of work on my agenda for next year, getting totally debt free will be nice too.

Anybody recommend any good Silat\KunTao places IN Seattle proper btw?

Michael Canfield said...

Rourke's resentment of Sean Penn goes way back. There's a description of a feud between two thinly-disguised characters in Charles Bukowski's 1989 roman-a-clef "Hollywood," where the Bukowski character has to listen to the Rourke character's resentful rants about a rival actor who was born into a Hollywood family and married a pop star, and presumably has not suffered for his art enough.

Lis Riba said...

Because I enjoy your movie critiques, I was wondering if you planned to see Frank Miller's The Spirit

Christian H. said...

Master Plan.

WHY in God's name would you want to move to Seattle? I RAN AWAY NEVER TO RETURN.

I guess if you like fishing in the rain....

Kami said...

I sold my first story this year to a pro market, and I'm hoping to sell more short stories and maybe a novel this year. I'm also working on the Five Tibetans (thanks for the overview at OryCon!) and I'll be IFin until summer (and maybe beyond.)

I read on the Washington Post that Rush's audience has remained flat (hasn't grown nor shrunk) since 2001. Are we waiting for these people to die? Unfortunately he signed a huge contract and will be around until at least 2016. I guess that he speaks for 12 million people, but fortunately those 12 million are a fixed number and hopefully the U.S. will move away from this sort of B.S. Speculation in the article amounts to the fact that due to the internet there are very few radio celebrities left, and that is one explanation for his huge contract.

Lobo said...

I want to finish my stock analysis program and finish my personal finance booklet.

Irene said...

Get into shape. Get serious about improving my silat. Get out of debt. Love my family.

Bill Moonroe said...

Well, 2009 is going to be the Year of Lifewriting for me. I'm finding the CDs very enlightening and useful already, and have already started pecking away at the book. Two of my older stories have been cast upon the postal waters. Since the Nebula Awards are in L.A. this year, I'm planning on attending. Talk about a supportive group of people, and a chance to look into powers and allies.

In 2008, I successfully completed my first run at National Novel Writing Month while also completing the 60-day challenge at Bikram yoga. I just finished the session for day 62.

For 2009, I'm going to stick with the Bikram yoga, applying what I've learned from the Lifewriting CDs about muscle failure, instructive failure, and perfectionism.

On the "someday" list that I'd like to see closer to reality this year, I've been enthralled by Les Stroud on "Survivorman", and am thinking that it would be really a fun thing to attend either the Boulder Outdoor Survival School or Abo Dude's minimalist outdoor survival program. That's going to take some serious time hiking and looking into calorie reduction--I think for BOSS, they recommend being able function on 1500 calories or less a day; most of that from plants.

Marty S said...

At my age I don't make New Year's resolutions I make New Year's wishes. My number one wish is that nobody I care about dies this year. Anyhow best wishes for a great 2009 to everyone.

Steven Barnes said...

Don't think I'll see the Spirit in the theaters. I hear it's dreadful, and LOVED the original Will Eisner books. Yes, including "Ebony."

Daniel Keys Moran said...

An interesting story about Elder.

I called his show 3 or 4 times, back maybe a decade ago. Then one day he was on a rant about the lousy quality of textbooks in LAUSD -- and I called his screener and said that the barriers to entry in the textbook business weren't that high -- but that the money wasn't that good either, not in small volume. That private markets had addressed the problem already and decided there wasn't enough money in it to do a good job.

I could think of ways to fix it -- most of them involving some form of government action. But Elder was a big fan of private markets -- how would he solve the problem, without some top-down governmental approach?

Elder's response was to drop the subject, not take my call, and spend the next half hour bitching about the quality of the schools -- he never mentioned schoolbooks again for the rest of that show.

I don't mind being disagreed with, and I'd even respect "What a good question, I don't know off the top of my head" -- a useful phrase in live situations.

Haven't listened to Elder much since then, and haven't bothered calling again.

Travis said...

What's up for 2009?

LIFEWRITING! Hurrah for Christmas! Steve, enjoy the sushi.

On top of that, some interesting work possibilities. Need to make some decisions and move forward on one of them. Okay, maybe two, but cut the rest off.

Fitness/Martial arts- last year was a big rebuilding year for me. This year just need to keep at it and I'm well on track.

Oh, and my son is two weeks old tonight. It was a good Christmas this year.

Happy Clicker said...

What do I want to accomplish this year? I just bought your year long life writing course package and I want to work with that until I am done. My goal is to move my writing passion into the mainstream of my life - something I have said I was going to do for many years now. I don't want to do anything but write right now. Not work, not play, just write!!! Thank you for the course!

Unknown said...

I've made a long list of things I'd like to do this year, which I don't count as all being resolutions, since I certainly don't expect to do all of them - but I plan to look at the list each month and pick things that I would like to get done that month.

One thing I'm planning to do is take some courses. Computer courses are a definite, since that's my job and I have to keep my skills up, but I'm still deciding between a writing class (maybe Lifewriting?) and voice lessons. Finding a critique group or a community choir is also a possibility.

I noticed that UC Fullerton has some computer forensics classes I find intriguing, but I'm not sure whether to plan to take one of them, since computer forensics is kind of distant from the computer work I'm actually doing (but then, that's part of what makes it look especially fun).

Steven Barnes said...

Travis: congrats on the new son!

Anonymous said...

As usual, I'm reading this blog and commenting late. I don't even know if anyone will ever see this (which allows for a certain openness), but just for food for personal thought and for the hell of it...

This year I'd like to accumulate enough capital and or alternate streams of income to escape my pathetic job. I intend to increase the social and mental stimulation in my life; (Worldcon was a good touchstone for that). I'd like to study and improve at chess. I want to try the 5 Tibetans for a few weeks and see if I think they're worth retaining. In tai chi, I want to develop and be able to apply my fa jing, and to work on ting jing and stepping, (especially with partners); I'd like to get it to the point where I can use it as the genuine martial art. Finally, I'd like to finish a few half-done woodcarving projects and dabble in art a little.

This past year I began studying chess, which I haven't really done much of in the past in the orthodox way except to study my games and mistakes. The main thing I've accomplished this year is almost invisible; I've begun shifting the massive rock of inertia. As it moves a little it becomes easier and easier to move, and maybe I can achieve the change that I need to.

Some guy

B the II said...

on the .1%. I think the 'gift' is the ability to make finer and finer submodality distinctions. but i think that being smart and good at things has a lot to do with intentionally or naturally selecting the right submods for feedback in the first place.

What do i want to do? finish writing my book, knock out a triathalon, start a personal/professional development business and get the green-folks (mechanized tree-huggers) organized in philly.

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