“Brain Crack” Will Keep You From Being Creative

This week, I was at VidCon. The whole conference rearranged my mind, as it does every year — it’s a celebration of all the ways YouTube is changing creativity.

But one thing that really stuck with me was Ze Frank’s short talk about “brain crack,” the addictive habit of keeping “good ideas” in your head rather then executing them. It’s a call-back to one of his old videos. Here’s how he elaborates:

If you don’t want to run out of ideas the best thing to do is not to execute them…

…the bummer is most ideas kind of suck when you do them. And no matter how much you plan you still have to do something for the first time. And you are almost guaranteed the first time you do something it will blow. But somebody who does something bad three times still has three times the experience of that other person who is still dreaming of [actually doing it]. When I get an idea, even a bad one, I try to get it out into the world as fast as possible, because I certainly don’t want to be addicted to brain crack.

To me, brain crack is much more than a fear of “running out of ideas” and therefore, saving them[*]. It’s much more of what Ze hits in that last part — a fear of doing it wrong. A fear of screwing up. Not just the fear of “Oh God, I have to do this right or they won’t see it for the great idea it is.” It’s more the perfectionist fear of, “Oh God, I have to do this right or they won’t see me for the great person I am.”

And the worst part is that the fear of embarrassment or of just learning from mistakes keeps you from actually being creative — not just being creative in your head — but it keeps you from creating, which is the whole point.

If you’re looking for more, here’s Ze Frank’s video.

[*]“Running out of ideas” is more like a level-two problem, once you’ve escaped from a little bit of that brain crack. Once you’re executing a lot of projects, you start to feel like THIS ONE might be your last. (It’s not.)

A Sports Site Setting the Standard for Scalable News

You may have heard that the EIC of Engadget left a little bit ago… And his new project is a collaboration with SB Nation, a sports news site. Tech to sports… Odd transition, right? It’s because he was so blown away by the technology behind how SB Nation publishes news. SB Nation is completely new to me. They’re worth keeping an eye on.

I really think the blog network has taken over as the gold-standard new media company and they’re mastering it at scale — 300 distinct, niche sports sites and 400 paid staff writers. They also have some really cool ways of updating developing stories on the site. Give it a look-see.

Wired Wish List 2010

Snappy watch, right? You should see the write-up.

I whipped up a few of my favorite new products this year for Wired’s 2010 Christmas Wish List. They’re just mini witty reviews. But the one I did for the ultimate garden hose nozzle is quite fun, if I do say so myself:

Pulling back the Nelson’s macho fireman-style grip may be the only way to look totally badass while watering tulips. You’ll cut time with triple the flow of a typical garden-variety nozzle. Commanding up to 250 psi, it can knock bird poop off a second-story window. But don’t get carried away: If the neighbor’s house catches fire, you should probably still call 911.

Good Rule to Live By

Today, I got a text from a good old pal. I had sent him a check in the mail and before I sent it, I wrapped it in a sheet of paper — before I did that, I printed an image on the sheet of paper — an inside joke.

He said, “I nearly choked laughing at the picture you wrapped the check in.”

I responded, “Yeah, I figured a blank sheet of paper was a missed opportunity. Haha…”

He responded, “Good rule to live by, I’d say.”

He’s right.

Featured on LMU.edu!

My alma mater, Loyola Marmount University, featured some of my work in web video on their homepage! Check out that sexy picture! An excerpt:

[Chris Lesinski says] that the whole-person education at LMU made it possible for him to apply his knowledge to every platform — digital or analog. “Whether I’m shooting a video for web or writing for an old-fashioned magazine or newspaper, LMU taught me the storytelling principles that make it all work,” he says.

Awwww… “eduction of the whole person.”

You can read the whole feature at LMU.edu.

Audience Development for Revision3

I’m doing Audience Development for Revision3! Revision3 is a digital studio in San Francisco that creates roughly 20 original HD programs that you can watch online, on your phone or on a fancy internet TV box thing. I interned there a few years ago.

Audience development includes a lot of cool stuff but it basically means that I’ll be doing what ever it takes to earn more views for Revision3’s shows. I’m just going to work on getting the biggest bang out of my 8-hour days. If, somehow, adding pictures of Jason Derulo to the thumbnails for every episode of every show turns out to have the best ROI, that’s what I’ll do. But things like solid title copywriting, keyword optimization and forging new distribution agreements are likely to have more of an impact on viewership.

Thumbnails are going to make a big difference. But including pictures of Jason Derulo won’t be that important. Including pictures of Justin Bieber will.

Lesinski’s Favorite Movies of 2009 — Just in time for Oscars

Oscars tonight! What what!

But c’mon, who really cares about best sound design? I don’t. You don’t. Probably sound people don’t even care. We’re all in it for the best pic. So, with that in mind, I’m rolling out the red carpet for my best pic picks. As in: These are the 10 movies I enjoyed most in 2009, in order:

A Single Man

Everyone in this movie is beautiful. I’m not gay, but even the guys in this movie are beautiful. And this movie deals a lot with homosexuality — but homophobes needn’t beware — there’s no such Broke Back Mountain spit-in-my-hand kind of stuff. And that actually says a lot about this film. It subverts the whole ridiculous stereotype that gay people have lots of gross hook-ups and instead develops them as real people with real relationships. And Colin Firth gives a performance that has to win Best Actor tonight. HAS TO.

Goodbye Solo

THANK YOU FOR AN INDIE FILM THAT ISN’T QUIRKY AND HIPSTER-FAKE! The characters in this story are so mindblowingly genuine and the performances compliment that. If that fact doesn’t sell you, I know what will: A cab driver is asked to transport a client to an obscure cliff – one where the guy is going to presumably kill himself. And the cab driver has to convince him not to do it. Heavy.

State of Play

An all-star cast in a political thriller with musings on the future of journalism. If you do not like this movie, you will not like me either. It has everything I love. Though this wasn’t my favorite movie of the year, it’s one I insist everyone see. Look out for a special appearance by my car.

The Hurt Locker

Yes, please, I would like to watch a guy disarm several IEDs in Iraq.

Bomb-disarming scenes are the best — and I’m not even being sarcastic. So, this movie is just a whole movie of that. It’s just bomb-disarming. In fact, the bomb inside you that makes you like Avatar just a little bit — this movie will even disarm that!


Every year there is at least one really good sci-fi movie. No, this year’s wasn’t Fern Gully 2.0 (Avatar). It also wasn’t that movie which was one-half “The Office” and the other half, suddenly, a sci-fi crap-thing with where the writer realizes, “OH MAN! I have to wrap up this ‘plot’ thing — I forgot about that!” (District 9)

Instead, the sneaky-good sci-fi movie was Moon. This is the directorial debut of David Bowie’s son! What’s not to like? You’ll be watching it and thinking, oh — I know this sci-fi movie. I know what’s going to happen. And then THAT DOESN’T HAPPEN. That’s what makes good movies. And that’s why Avatar and District 9 blew. Moon is truly top-notch sci-fi.

Drag Me to Hell

Sometimes it gets hard to see through all the Saw movies. And all the Paranormal Activity. But there ARE good horror flicks in the mix, and Drag Me to Hell owns it. This movie is exactly how visual effects should be utilized in modern horror — it’s subtle but still makes you terrified. And if you think a talking goat sounds like something from a children’s TV show, think again. And, in case you haven’t noticed, I love genre movies.

Sin Nombre

If you live in an area that might have gangs, Sin Nombre movie will make you deadbolt your doors every night.

An Education

A girl is all prissy and wants to go to Oxford. But then this guy exposes her to culture in the REAL WORLD and she changes her whole perspective! Get it? It’s like asking the question: “What is AN EDUCATION?”

How cliche does that sound? It sounds like a script based on every study abroad conversation you’ve ever had. And yet, the writing in this movie is pristine and rings true. You’ll fall for Sarsgaard as hard as the girl in the movie does even though he’s a freakin weirdo! He’s like a pedophile in this movie! But you’ll love him! What a dirty trick.

In the Loop

If you think it’s too pretentious to list “Dr. Strangelove” in “favorite movies” on your Facebook profile, but you still like Dr. Strangelove, then this movie should instead take its place. It’s like if Arrested Development were about warfare. The characters just explode with personality and the writing is WITTY!

The Cove

Going to SeaWorld turns out to have these ridiculously nasty upshots. Seriously. This doc will make you FLIP. (Get it?)

Other noteworthies:

Confessions of a Shopaholic

Yes! I liked this movie! It actually pulled off slapstick like 9/10 times, which hasn’t happened since Chris Farley died.

Inglorious Basterds

If you think bomb-disarming is tense (The Hurt Locker) you should see what Quentin Tarantino can do with a glass of milk. It’s really good. But as usual, it’s complete director overindulgence, which disqualifies it from my list. That’s like student film shit. Too long and too being-about-obscure-German-film-history.

Bright Star

It might be boring for the first half… but it has one of the best villains of the year. And it will make you reconsider making out with random people. Because this is a love story betwixt two lovers who BARELY DO THAT. What the F?

Movies I hated, probably more so because people like you wouldn’t stop talking about them:


Note that I regret not seeing these things: A Serious Man, 35 Shots of Rum, Crazy Heart, Let the Right One In, Precious, Bad Lieutenant, Antichrist

Mentioned on Diggnation

A few weeks ago, I wrote an article that poured one out for GeoCities, the ancient network of websites that Yahoo axed after buying it for way too much money. The article, “Goodbye GeoCities: 7 Retro Things We’ll Miss Forever,” hit the Digg front page and top in all topics with over 1400 Diggs.

But more importantly, it earned a spot on last week’s episode of Diggnation (skip the intro, it’s the second segment above… or follow this link). That’s right. Being mentioned on an actual television show every week isn’t enough — I’d like to be mentioned by two drunk guys on a couch in a web show instead.

It’s been a goal of mine for about 3 years to get an article on Diggnation. Check that one off the list.