The original post for this episode can be found here.

John August: Hello and welcome. My name is John August.

Craig Mazin: My name is Craig Mazin.

John: And this is Episode 131 of Scriptnotes, a podcast about screenwriting and things that are interesting to screenwriters.

Craig, how are ya?

Craig: You know, I’m — do you ever get this thing, John, I’ll bet you you don’t. I bet you you don’t. But every now and again, and sometimes for stretches of days at a time, I’ll get that butterflies in the stomach anxiety thing.

John: For no good reason?

Craig: For no good reason. And I just sit and I wake up in the morning and there it is. And it kind of lingers all day. It’s really uncomfortable and I feel anxious and I don’t know why. I believe this is called Generalized Anxiety Disorder.

John: Yeah. Sorry to hear it.

Craig: Do you ever get that?

John: I do get that sometimes.

Craig: Oh, you do?

John: And, in fact, I will talk about a little section of my life. These last two weeks have been really busy with the contract negotiations. And then we were supposed to take a trip this weekend. And then the next week was going to be chaotic for different reasons. And I finally just had to say I cannot possibly take a trip this weekend. It just was going to be impossible.

So, we ended up staying home and it’s a lovely weekend in Los Angeles and it’s so much better and more fun.

But, yes, I sympathize with your Generalized Anxiety Disorder. I don’t know, is it technically some sort of like fight or flight instinct that has no basis? Do you know what it is?

Craig: It seems like it. I mean, every now and then I get that. It’s the feeling that you get when, I don’t know, you’re nervous or scared, except that there’s nothing to be nervous or scared about. So, you just get that fluttery — and I guess physiologically what’s going on is that adrenaline tends to divert blood flow and oxygen from your gut to your muscles and that what you’re feeling is the result of that. But it’s unpleasant and I’m not really sure what’s going on. And I just want it to stop.

And the problem with anxiety is that you — then what happens is you feel okay but then you get a little twinge of it again and then you suddenly worry, oh god, it’s happening, and then that’s why it’s happening. You know, it perpetuates itself.

John: Yeah. With me it’s usually I have convinced myself that I’m having a heart attack.

Craig: Oh, that’s a panic attack. That’s a whole other…

John: Well, that’s true. That’s a whole extra discussion.

Craig: Yeah. I never had that. But people who get checked into emergency rooms all the time, with every symptom of a heart attack except cardiac damage.

John: Yeah. Well that’s me twice. I’ve twice had to go to the emergency room with all those symptoms.

Craig: Wow.

John: And they said like, “Yeah, it was good that you came in. But, no, you’re not having a heart attack.”

Craig: Right. You’re just panicking.

John: Yeah.

Craig: Oh my god. The two of us are so panicky!

John: We’re so panicky.

Well, this week let’s talk about some psychological issues. Specifically I want to talk about procrastination and pageorexia based on partly a great article you sent through that we’ll talk about.

But we have a lot of other sort of follow up and bits and news and things. I want to talk about sort of all the changes in the industry with the Aereo lawsuit and the Comcast merger. So, let’s just get to it, okay?

Craig: Yeah. I mean, as long as I don’t freak out.

John: All right. Don’t freak out. I’m here to keep you company.

Craig: Aw.

John: Aw.

First off, we can freak out just a little bit because we have a live show coming up. We have a live crossover episode with the Nerdist Writers Podcast. And I’m so excited because we’ve talked about doing this for a long time. The Nerdist Writers Podcast is potentially the other great screenwriting podcast or writing podcast you should be listening to and we’re going to have a joint show. We’re going to have a joint live show — they do all their shows live — April [13th] at 5pm. It’s at Meltdown Comics. And tickets are available right now. So, you can go get them.

We have a link in our show notes, but if you’re listening to this on Tuesday I would really recommend you get tickets now because they’re $15. They will sell out. And then you’ll be sad that you weren’t there in the audience for us.

Craig: Once again you and are the Jon Bon Jovi of live screenwriting podcasting events. So, yeah, you got to get these tickets.

John: I guess we are the Jon Bon Jovi. I don’t even know what the Jon Bon Jovi means though.

Craig: Well, Jon Bon Jovi keeps selling out — he sells out everything. You, Jon Bon Jovi is a huge — people love Jon Bon Jovi.

John: See, I’m learning things on this podcast even right now.

Craig: Yeah.

John: I should say that this podcast, like all the stuff we do, we’re not making any money off of this. The proceeds from this benefit 826LA, the non-profit organization that sponsors writing programs in Los Angeles. So, it’s another good cause to support.

Craig: I mean, you’re familiar with Jon Bon Jovi in general?

John: Oh, in general I am. But I’m familiar with him as being a thing from the past.

Craig: Right.

John: So, for us to be like the current things, that makes me feel really weird like, oh my god, we’re like some ’80s relic. And I don’t feel like a relic whatsoever. I feel vital and young.

Craig: So does Jon Bon Jovi.

John: That’s true.

Craig: [sings] Shot through the heart, and you’re to blame.

John: We also have some follow up. Last week on the podcast we talked about —

Craig: Just the best.

John: [laughs] I said, “Oh, there used to be this place called The Office where people would go and write.” And I spoke of it in the past tense and that was completely incorrect because it still exists. And so they sent a nice tweet, which I retweeted, saying like, “We still exist, we’re out there.” And I recommend people check it out.

There’s another place called Writer’s Junction which does the same function. So, I did mean for those to rhyme. But, if you are looking for a place to go that is not actually a coffee shop but is more like an office that you can go to and write, those are two options for you there.

Also, last week, Craig said The New Girl instead of New Girl for the TV show on Fox.

Craig: Sorry!

John: And I get it. I mean, it’s so easy to say The New Girl. But, it’s actually called New Girl.

Craig: And, by the way, my current television obsession — I shared this with millions of people — is True Detective. And about, I don’t know, 80% of the time I’ll say True Detectives with an S at the end.

John: Yeah, because there’s two of them.

Craig: There’s two of them and I’m basically a yokel.

John: Yeah.

Craig: Yeah. I can’t get this stuff right.

John: You’re the Cletus of the show. You’re the Cletus and Jon Bon Jovi of the show.

Craig: Cletus. Cletus is the greatest character.

John: He’s so good. Because clearly he was meant to be just a one-time throwaway and they just loved him so much that they brought him back.

Craig: Did you ever see the one where Marge is trying to find a designer dress at a discount price because she has to go to this fancy party?

John: Yeah.

Craig: And they offer her, [laughs], they tell her that they don’t have anything right now, but in her price range there is a shipment expected of partially burnt Sears sportswear coming in. And she’s not interested. And Cletus walks up and he goes, “What time and how burnt?” [laughs]

Perfect line. Ah! He’s slightly discriminating.

John: [laughs] He is. Yeah, so it’s a character that you couldn’t get away with — if he had like a race associated with him you couldn’t possibly do it.

Craig: No.

John: But because he’s just white trash it’s still safe.

Craig: Oh, 100 percent. I talk about this with Malcolm Spellman all the time. We try and track what races are now safe to do. Like what racism is okay. I mean, poor white trash racism, thumbs up. Huge thumbs up. Irish people. Yeah. Green light. Green light.

John: Yeah.

Craig: Asians, I think, are successful now enough where it’s starting to get to be a green light. Bad news for Asians.

John: Yeah. But then you’re generalizing a whole giant category of people rather than being specific.

Craig: Well, yeah, I mean, but that’s the point of racism. [laughs]

John: That’s the point of racism. It should not be precise enough in your description.

Craig: That’s it. The whole point is it’s a very clumsy, ham-fisted way of getting a laugh, a cheap laugh out of an entire billions of people. But, yeah. I think that they are successful enough, powerful enough that it’s happening. It’s happening.

John: All right.

Craig: I feel it.

John: Craig, so we recorded — the last show came out on Tuesday and Tuesday afternoon we put out this new app and I sort of didn’t want to talk about it ahead of time, I just wanted it to be a surprise upon the world, but it wasn’t actually a surprise to you because you’d seen the build of this app quite early on. This is called Weekend Read.

Craig: Yeah.

John: It’s an app for reading screenplays on your iPhone. And can you summarize what your reaction to the app was when you saw it?

Craig: [laughs] Look, you don’t have to set a trap for me. I’m perfectly happy to just jump into your spikes and poison. I have no idea.

John: And told-you-sos?

Craig: And, by the way still — and told-you-sos. I still have no idea why anyone would want to read a screenplay on their phone. On their iPad, sure, I get it. On their phone, it’s just tiny, and I frankly don’t want anyone reading my screenplays on their phone.

So, you sent it and I’m like, “Why would anybody?” It’s perfectly — you did exactly what you set out to do and you did it well, but why would anybody want this. Well, apparently, I’m just, once again, totally marginalized by existence. Everybody wants it. I think it’s your biggest seller, right?

John: Which has really been remarkable. So, Weekend Read is a reader for your iPhone. It basically takes a screenplay and melts it down so you can make it look good on an iPhone, so basically you can take a PDF of a screenplay, sort of like what Highland does, it melts it down and just gives you the text so you can change the size and make it actually readable on your iPhone.

You and I both — well, you said you’ve never ever had to read a script on your iPhone, but I’ve had to. And you basically end up squinting and pinching and it’s terrible. That’s why you would never want to read a script on your iPhone.

Craig: Right.

John: And now you suddenly can. So, we launched the app on Tuesday and within like four hours we’d sold — we’d shipped more copies of Weekend Read than we did of FDX Reader, our first app, which has been out for two years. So, that was remarkable.

Craig: Wow.

John: It seems to be quite popular among people. I just feel like many listeners of the show probably do read screenplays and many of them probably do have iPhones, so if you would like to try it out it’s free in the App Store right now. So, you just download it.

Craig: Look, congratulations. That’s spectacular. One thing that occurred to me when you were talking about how successful the launch had been is that you had — the app is a great name.

John: Thank you.

Craig: It’s a really good name, you know. And it’s one of those names that manages to both say what the thing is but also sound interesting. It sounds like an actual name and not just a description.

John: Yes. So Weekend Reading in Hollywood lingo is classically the scripts that a development executive would read over the weekend. And so essentially a bunch of stuff will come in over the week and then they will sort of assign out the weekend read which is basically everyone on the team is supposed to read these scripts over the weekend. And so it felt like a very natural thing to call a script reader Weekend Read.

Craig: And now they’re going to read them on their phones. “Oh, good for you!” That’s my Christian Bale yelling at Shane Hurlbut. “Good for you!”

John: [laughs]

Craig: Have you ever heard that?

John: It’ll be nice.

Craig: Have you ever heard that?

John: Oh, yeah, that great audio of Christian Bale ranting at people?

Craig: That’s my favorite part. “Good for you!” [laughs]

John: Good for all of us. What Kelly Marcel pointed out, which I think will be interesting to see if it actually kicks in, is that a lot of times actors going out for auditions get sides. And those sides are just a PDF. And so it’s fantastic for them just like, well, it’s now on their phone and that’s kind of all they need. So, we’ll see if that works as well.

Craig: Oh, good, now the actors will just be reading their parts. “Good for you! Oh, good for you!” We got to throw a little clip of that in at the end of this.

John: It’s going to become a meme.

Craig: Did we ever talk about which side of that you come down on?

John: Both of them came out horribly in it I would say.

Craig: Interesting. I disagree.

John: You think Christian Bale came out — ?

Craig: I back Bale 100 percent on that one.

John: Okay. Here is my perception of what actually happened, being the person who was in Shane Hurlbut, the DP’s perspective. For people who don’t know what the hell we’re talking about, this was on the set of Terminator Salvation which was — Christian Bale played John Connor in a Terminator version. And he had a complete flip out on the set against the DP who was Shane Hurlbut I think is his name.

Craig: Yeah.

John: And it was recorded because people were already wearing mics. So, Christian Bale initially came off really badly in this and sort of had to do some penance to dig himself out of this hole.

My gut feeling is that Christian Bale was incredibly frustrated by the situation and he couldn’t flip out on the director, McG, and so he flipped out on the nearest person who he actually could kind of flip out on, which was probably Shane Hurlbut. That’s my perception.

Craig: My perception is that Shane Hurlbut was doing something that I’ve never seen any DP do which is go and tweak lights in the middle of a take. And I guess the deal was it’s coverage, so the camera is aiming at Christian Bale over someone else’s shoulders. Which means all the lights are behind the camera pointing out at Christian Bale.

And you try and clear the eye line for actors so they’re not being distracted. They can perform in the moment. And then while he’s talking here comes this guy that just starts wandering in behind the person he’s talking to and starts moving stuff around.

And I guess he had asked him a bunch of times, “Please don’t do that,” and then the guy just kept doing it and he flipped out. “Good for you!” I’m sorry. This is the weirdest tangent. Like a weird old tangent.

John: It’s a fine tangent.

Craig: Yeah.

John: But let’s get to the meat of today’s podcast.

So, you had sent this great article by Megan McArdle which is from The Atlantic on procrastination. And I loved a little piece of it, but it’s worth reading the whole thing because I thought it was a really smart piece and it’s actually part of I guess a bigger book about sort of the importance of failure.

But, tell me why you sent it and sort of what you got out of it.

Craig: Well, first I got excited because I thought that the child star of Annie had written this, but that’s Andrea McArdle. Megan McArdle — boy, I’m in the craziest mood today.

John: That’s all right.

Craig: I promise you I’m totally sober.

Megan McArdle wrote about procrastination which in and of itself is nearly impossible to do, because it’s been written about 1,000 times, but what I liked about this was that she zeroed in on why writers — I mean, this is the title — Why Writers Are the Worst Procrastinators. And she has a theory.

Look, I’m not sure if her theory is correct. But at least it’s a theory of why it seems to be so much harder for writers than for other people. And essentially her theory is that writers were likely the kids who found writing easy. That is to say writing relative to their peers. So, you’re in English class, you’re doing creative writing, you’re discussing a book, you’re doing a book report — you have to write anything. And everybody pats you on the back because being able to write instinctively and write cohesively and interestingly turns out to be fairly rare. I mean, just walk around. Go into any business and read what people are writing. It’s just hard for most people.

It’s a little bit like singing. Most people can’t sing, but a lot of people can. And people who can sing it comes easily to them, that’s great.

John: Yeah.

Craig: And her point is that this unfortunately starts to — this creates a bad lesson for this kid, because they associate writing with something that is innate and fixed. That is to say this isn’t something I’m going to develop, it’s something that I was given. You have a gift as they say.

It turns out, of course, in the real world, no. You do have to develop your skills. Just because you have natural ability or a “gift” doesn’t mean that you are now ready for primetime or that there are other people that aren’t doing a lot better than you are. You have much to learn, much to learn. And you always will. You always will.

So, what happens for a lot of writers is that procrastination becomes the psychological extension of the fear that they don’t have anything more than what they have.

John: Yeah. I described it on the blog as the best scene is the scene you haven’t written yet. Or like you can’t fail at a scene you haven’t written yet.

Craig: Right.

John: There’s every chance — every time you sit down at the typewriter it’s a chance that you’re going to write something terrible. And so therefore maybe I just won’t sit down at the keyboard and I will do something else instead.

What I think is interesting about writing is you compare this to really kind of anything, like athletics, and so let’s say you’re a kid who is like really naturally athletic and great. And so you are very good at basketball or whatever. At a certain point it’s going to become objectively clear whether you are great at basketball or you were just good compared to your peers. Because you can actually see how good somebody is at basketball.

Writing is actually so much more amorphous. It’s really hard to say who’s a good writer, who’s not a good writer, who is a fantastic writer, who’s an okay writer. But weirdly the writer, him or herself, at a certain point develops a sense of like what is good and what’s bad. And they can recognize sometimes when they’re not writing their best. And there’s always that fear like, well, I might write something just awful. And everyone may — this is, again, the imposter syndrome — everyone may realize that I’m actually not that good of a writer at all.

And so by procrastinating, by putting off that writing you are delaying, you’re protecting yourself. It’s really self-preservation through procrastination.

Craig: That’s right. Because if you’re one of these people that falls into this category that there’s — Ms. McArdle sites Stanford psychologist Carol Dweck who is doing some research on this, and so professor Dweck has this idea that there are people who have the fixed mindset and the growth mindset. The fixed mindset people, basically when they do something they look at it as an indication of essentially what my ability is. Period. The end. That’s it. if you have a fixed mindset and you sit down, and you start writing, and either you don’t like what you wrote, or other people don’t like what you wrote, this is going to shatter some fixed part of your identity. People might as well be looking at you and saying you have an ugly face, you know, you’re far too tall, and I don’t like your eyes. You can’t change it.

Whereas the other kinds of writers, the growth mindset writers, don’t look at their writing ability as some sort of fixed capacity tank. Do you feel like you have both of these or just one, or — ?

John: I think I do have both of them. But I think I definitely am guilty of sometimes picking the easier — that sounds wrong — but in her article she talks about self-sabotage. I’ve definitely witnessed myself self-sabotaging by creating a situation where it was impossible for me to sort of succeed. And so therefore I have an excuse for why that thing wasn’t the best thing I could possibly do.

So it’s like, well, it’s the best I could do in that circumstance. Well, I put myself in that circumstance so therefore is it really my best work?

Craig: Right.

John: Or, not doing that thing that is so incredibly risky because I wasn’t sure if I could write it.

I would say over the last ten years though I’ve been much more aggressive about picking the thing that I’m both sure I can write and also not sure I can write. The thing that’s sort of outside of my comfort zone.

And even I guess sometimes at the start of my career, definitely going from Go to Big Fish, which are not sort of natural progressions, I really tried to push myself to do both of those things.

Craig: Yeah, that’s very —

John: Are you a growth or a fixed? I perceive you — I’ll diagnose you first, but I think I’ll be wrong. I perceive you as a person who is fixed in the sense that you perceive yourself as a comedy writer and yet you very much also want to stretch beyond those boundaries of just a pure comedy writer.

Craig: I, yeah, well the thing is the genre that you pick is probably — it’s probably a symptom of your desire to stay safe and to succeed.

I don’t feel that I’m a fixed person. I do feel like I am always trying to get better and challenge myself, which indicates that I don’t have a philosophical belief that I’m just capped at a certain level. But certainly like you, I’ve made choices to protect myself and like you, lately and particularly lately, I’ve been making choices that do the opposite, that essentially put me out there in an area — I think you said it perfectly. I can do this and I can’t do this. That’s a good place to be. That means you’re not trying to fly, but you’re definitely taking careful steps somewhere. And that’s a good thing.

John: Yeah. And I would say beyond just my pure writing stuff, I think in public speaking and sort of my moderating of panels and my doing stuff at the Academy has been also an expansion beyond what I’m comfortable and safe doing, because it’s just so much easier for me to stay at home and just write on blog. And to go out and have to be in front of a big crowd of people was not natural for me. And yet I’ve gotten much more comfortable about doing it.

I think I’ve told this story on the podcast before, but I’ll summarize it here because it actually fits really well with this sort of fixed versus growth mindset. I was on set and I was watching Spielberg direct this scene. And I was looking at sort of how he was doing stuff and how stuff was going. And I had this momentary flash where I realized like, oh, he’s just working really hard.

You associate these great directors as being these visionary talents who are born with these gifts. And while clearly he has gifts, he’s also just worked really hard. And I could see him — he’s Steven Spielberg, but he’s figuring out all these shots and he’s telling all these people what to do. And he’s really good at doing that, but he’s also just really focusing on it and he’s really working.

And it was one of those moments that was both sort of sobering in the sense that, oh, it’s not magic. But it was also like, oh, it’s not magic. Like I can work really hard, too. And that was actually greatly encouraging for me to see like, you know, it’s really, really hard work but I know I can work really, really hard.

And I think it gets back to Megan McArdle’s point is that oftentimes the people who succeed are the ones who just kind of aren’t afraid of failing. The ones who sort of can benefit from failure or benefit from struggles and learn how to sort of struggle.

Craig: That’s right. It puts you in a tough spot because most people on the planet don’t do jobs where failure is likely. They don’t. I’m not sure — most jobs are fairly safe things. This one isn’t one.

John: You can’t fail at a spreadsheet.

Craig: No, you can’t. I mean, you can, but it’s a different kind of failure. It’s not a failure of you. You can make mistakes but it’s not a failure of the expression of your point of view, your taste. Our brothers and sisters in the film review community, how do you fail? How do you fail?

If you can give Her a terrible review and still be at work the next week, how do you — there’s not failing there. But what we do, there’s failure every day. In fact, it’s built in. When we are hired, the contract is built around the notion that we’re going to keep failing. That’s why there is more than one draft even if it’s just optional. The entire editorial process is built around that. The reason you shoot more than you’re going to keep in the movies, because directors make mistakes all the time.

Why do actors get more than one take? Failure. Failure. Failure. The whole thing is a parade of it. And you have to make your peace with it, or it will absolutely destroy you.

John: It occurs to me that this kind of procrastination that a writer faces sitting down at the keyboard is really just a form of stage fright. It’s that fear that I’m going to get there at the keyboard and I’m not going to be good. And everyone is going to see that I’m not good and it’s going to be awful.

And so therefore I just won’t sit down at the keyboard.

Craig: Yeah.

John: And the difference with stage fright is that eventually you have to get on. They’re going to call your name and you’re going to have to get up on stage and you’re going to have to start singing. And that’s, I think, ultimately what you have to face is a writer is that I have to sit there and I have to type this thing. And even if it’s terrible, I have to get through it because that’s my job. That’s what I’m here to do.

So, let’s just talk a little bit about sort of how you get past those humps and sort of what you find.

Craig: Well, I try and remember, and this is something that McArdle points out. I try and remember that there is no percentage for me to compare what I’m about to do or what I’m doing with finished products, which I think is the demon that plagues us constantly. I’m going to sit down. What should I write? Well, if I write this, that’s been done before. If I write this, somebody else already did that better. If I write this is it too much like that?

Constantly comparing the process, the messy process of cooking, to already completed perfect meals. You have to get ultimately to the place where it’s done. And, of course, we’re all trained to watch and appreciate the best of all those completions. So, I try and remind myself that there is nothing permanent about what I’m about to write. I can always hit delete.

It’s not like I’m expending resources, you know, rare resources to generate three or four pages, only to throw them out. I’m not building a wall, you know, where it’s going to cost me money to build it again. So, I give myself a break in that regard.

John: I think what you’re saying is exactly right in terms of recognizing that the finished product is not what you’re working on right now. You’re working on the process and in McArdle’s piece she points out that we always read, when we read like the great authors, we’re reading their final drafts.

Craig: Right.

John: We’re not reading everything they did along the way. We’re not seeing all their mistakes. We’re not seeing everything they threw out. We’re seeing the finished product. And it would actually be very helpful, I think, sometimes if we saw all the drafts that led up to it so we could see this.

Shakespeare actually weirdly, we do get to see all the different versions of things, and that’s kind of useful. You can sort of see how things grew and how things changed.

When I find myself procrastinating I, you know, the classic rule is you sort of set a timer. And it’s like for the next 20 minutes I’m going to write and I’m not going to do anything else. I’m just going to write. Jane Espenson calls this a Writing Sprint, which is basically no matter what, the next 20 minutes, the next 40 minutes, I’m going to write and I’m not going to stop writing until the timer goes off. That’s a great trick.

Freedom for Mac, the utility that we’ve talked about before on the show, which basically turns off your internet connection for a period of time, also really helpful. So, if you’re sitting there and you can’t get on the internet you’re more likely to be able to focus on the work you’re doing.

Anything else for you?

Craig: Yeah. The other little trick I do is to think about the scene that I’m supposed to be writing and then say, okay, maybe I’m scared to start writing this because I just don’t love it yet. There’s nothing in it that’s getting me super excited. And so I just try and think about it in different ways. Or just let myself think.

If it takes all day I’ll just think all day. If I have to take a walk, or you know me, a long shower is always great. But, when you find that thing that suddenly gets you excited then it’s a lot easier to sit down because it doesn’t feel quite so grindy.

And, by the way, interestingly enough, a lot of the times those things that got us motivated, they come out. It was something that we just needed to do it to not feel bad about moving our fingers over the keys. And there are days when you can take a walk and you feel like you can walk from one end of the earth to the other. And there are days when taking five steps just feels tough.

You have to actually honor that and not punish yourself for having one of those days. It’s totally normal.

John: Yeah. Agreed.

I want to sidestep to another sort of psychological thing which I actually witnessed this week in the negotiating room.

So, basically during the negotiations there is a lot of time where we as the screenwriters are just sitting there waiting for the next thing to happen. And so people are writing, which is great. So, you’re shoulder to shoulder with all these writers writing, which is fantastic.

But one writer who was sitting close to me was struggling to — his script was 116 pages and he really wanted to get down to 114, or 112. And he called it Pageorexia, which I thought was just the best term. And this wasn’t like a newbie writer. This was like a guy with multiple awards and nominated this year for awards. And I just thought it was hilarious that this is this guy who is getting paid a tremendous amount of money to do whatever he wants to do. And he still sweats all of these little details to try to get it down one more page.

He described it as, “Well, if they love it at 116 they’ll love it even more at 114,” which is such a classic anorexia kind of comment. It’s like he’s looking in the mirror and he’s not seeing what the script truly is.

Craig: Right. He’s got script dysmorphia.

John: Yes. But I would argue that in some ways that’s related to the procrastination thing that we’re talking about. It’s a perfectionism as a way of fearing failure. Rather than fear stopping him from writing, fear was getting him gripped into this sort of OCD must make everything perfect.

Craig: Yeah. We are constantly deluding ourselves that we have control over the response to our screenplay when we don’t. We write what we write. And we then give it to entirely different sentient organisms with completely different tastes, experiences, moods. And either they like it or they don’t. But that stuff is about trying to control that which we cannot control.

John: Yeah.

Craig: It does not — they will not like a 114 page script more than that script at 116, ever. [laughs] It’s never going to happen.

John: Yeah. What it’s doing is it’s crossing the line between like sort of professionalism, which is basically like making that look as good as it can. And perfectionism, or sort of needless perfectionism where you’re just moving commas around so that it breaks a little bit differently.

Craig: That’s right.

John: This is a very smart man. So, I can tell him, and he knows that the 114 page script and the 116 page script will shoot exactly the same. You’re not changing the movie whatsoever. You’re just changing the words around on the page.

And yet sometimes we get obsessed about the words on 8.5 x 11 paper, not remembering like, oh that’s right, it’s actually just a plan for making a movie.

I heard a story, which may be apocryphal but it sounds absolutely true, because I feel I like I may have seen this in one of his scripts, that James Cameron when he got to — this is back in the time where you actually would type scripts or they were sort of printed out of things, so they weren’t PDFs. So, he would number it from 70 to 79 and when he got to 80 he would start it again at 70 to 79 again, so he could squeeze an extra 10 pages in. And no one would sort of notice that like it was doubled up there. Isn’t that a great idea?

Craig: [laughs] I totally believe it. I mean, the “it’s too long” is the traditional problem of the screenwriter. I’ve really never had a problem of a script that was much too long. The current script that I am doing is more of an action movie, and so I’ve given myself more length than a typical comedy. And it’s in at 119. And that’s 119 with proper margins and double spaces before the slug lines. And I feel good about that.

I called up Scott Frank in a little bit of a panic —

John: Scott Frank will tell you to turn in a 180 page script. Scott Frank writes long…

Craig: Scott laughed at me and then slapped me around and said, “No one gives a damn. I’ve never turned in a first draft that was shorter than…” Yeah. Exactly. “If it’s under 150 it’s a hallelujah for me.”

The one thing that I do spend time on, and I know Scott does — a lot of writers do — is page breaks at important moments.

John: Yes.

Craig: I do look and see, okay, look, if there’s a big reveal or a moment, I don’t want that to be split up by a page break. If there’s an interesting speech. In fact, I don’t want any dialogue split over page breaks. I hate it. So, I try and — I mess around with stuff like that. But, you know, that’s when the script is done. And that’s just a fun hour or two.

John: Yeah. Let’s segue to our next topic which is a bunch of stuff happened this last week and it’s going to be happening in the next few months which could make everything quite a bit different in the next couple of years. So, I just want to give a little sense of what’s gone on and forecast — a very murky forecast — of what could happen in the weeks ahead.

So, this last week it was announced that Comcast is buying Time Warner Cable, which will create the largest cable company in the universe, I guess.

Craig: Yeah.

John: So, it was the number one cable company, Comcast, buying the number two cable company, Time Warner. It raises just a lot of questions about sort of how powerful can one company be.

Craig: Yeah.

John: Also, happening soon we have Aereo, the company that’s being sued by the broadcast networks. Aereo essentially retransmits over the air broadcast via the internet. And it’s a whole question about sort of what is possible there. What’s going to be legal there.

Craig: Yeah.

John: And then we also have, you know, this is the new season of House of Cards starting. A real question about Netflix and Amazon and now companies are making things that are like television but are not classically television. And how are we going to write for those and how are we going to get paid for those? And that’s a big thing.

Craig: It’s a mess out there. It’s a mess.

John: It’s a mess out there. And they’re actually all kind of related because — so, let’s go back to the Aereo lawsuit.

So, essentially Aereo’s lawsuit is — the broadcast networks are suing this company, Aereo, which provides television, a local channel television, but what they do which is very clever, they have these tiny little antennas and essentially as a subscriber you are renting this tiny little antenna which is often hooked to a tiny little hard drive which allows you to record the over-the-air broadcast in your market and so that you can look at it on your iPhone, your iPad, your computer.

It’s a way of getting your broadcast television to your computer or your other device. And it has this sort of geofencing on it and stuff so you’re not supposed to be able to get it outside of your region. Classically that would be called retransmission.

Craig: Right.

John: And so when cable companies come into a market, or cable companies are in a market, they have to pay the broadcast channels for the right to retransmit their shows.

Craig: That’s right.

John: So, they have to pay, the classically New York, CBS, and I guess it was Comcast had the fight over basically how much Comcast would have to pay CBS in order to rebroadcast.

Craig: It happens all the time. Yeah.

John: And so if you lose a channel, like basically for awhile CBS wasn’t on Comcast, and that was because they were fighting over the price. And the broadcasters make about $4 billion a year in those retransmission fees. So, if Aereo were to succeed the broadcasters would feel like, well, we’re going to lose all that money.

Craig: Yeah. I mean, I don’t understand how this is legal at all. Anyone that watches a baseball game has heard, or any sports event, “This telecast cannot be rebroadcast or retransmitted without the expressed given permission, blah, blah, blah.”

Yeah, how do they do this? It doesn’t seem…

John: I’ll tell you exactly how they get away with it. It’s because of Comcast itself. So, Comcast won an earlier Supreme Court decision with their basically personal DVRs. So, what Comcast was letting it do, and I remember blogging about this a zillion years ago and actually coming down on kind of maybe the wrong side of it. But, so Comcast, the DVR decision, was essentially Comcast wanted to say like, “Okay, so we have this cable subscriber. And rather than having a DVR in their house, they can have their DVR at the cable company.”

Craig: Right. A cloud-based DVR. Right.

John: Exactly the same thing. But it’s one DVR per household, so it really is an individual’s DVR. And so the retransmission is public retransmission, not private retransmission. So, that is the very fine line that Aereo is trying to go for. And apparently the reason why they introduced service in New York City is because it was already in the second court, the second district court when it had that ruling for Comcast that was beneficial. So, it’s going to be fascinating to see what happens.

This case, and now I think it’s supposed to be heard by the Supreme Court in April, so we’ll have a ruling there.

The question is, from a writer’s perspective, and an industry’s perspective, what happens if the Supreme Court says you can do this sort of private rebroadcasting? Well, I think if you’re a cable provider you’re going to say like, well, I’m not going to pay this local channel all this money for this. I’m going to do this thing with the antennas and it will be cheaper for me just to do this thing with the antennas.

Craig: Yeah. I’m always fascinated by these businesses that operate like fatal viruses. There’s the classic question in epidemiology. Why didn’t say small pox just kill everyone? What stopped it? And the answer what stops it is it’s too good at killing people. And it just kills at its hosts in an area too quickly and can’t transmit itself.

I’m fascinated by these companies that their business model is to feast on the corpse of the thing that’s giving them life until there’s nothing left.

John: Well, here’s the thing though. I think from what Aereo would argue back, and I’ll just play devil’s advocate for Aereo here, is that it’s essentially the same thing as what the Cablevision decision was. The subscriber is still getting exactly the broadcast that they would have gotten with their own rabbit ears.

And so they’re still getting all of the commercials. They’re still getting — Nielsen still measures those people. So, technically it’s not that they’re stripping out commercials. It’s not that they’re taking the content away. They’re just giving it to them in the way that they want. And so Les Moonves of CBS said, “Well, if this lawsuit happens maybe we’ll just become a cable channel.”

Well, maybe they’ll just become a cable channel. Or maybe they’ll just start offering on all of your shows for a subscription.

Craig: Right.

John: Which then raised the question of like, well, does that mean that five years from now, CBS, NBC, everything we associate as being broadcast television could ultimately become a subscription service?

Craig: Well, yeah, it could. I mean, the fact that anything is broadcast over the air anymore is, obviously, it’s archaic. But it is so much part and parcel with the way that networks work. And there are still a bunch of places in the country where people use antennas and pick signals out off the air.

John: Yeah. And complicating these things even more, when we switched over to the digital channels — there’s piggyback digital channels. There are basically secondary channels that can go along with this. And so you’ve seen like My Network TV in certain markets or there’s another thing with like Axion or something, that’s considered a piggyback. It’s a secondary digital channel. And the rules for how we treat those are still kind of amorphous. Are they broadcast? Are they not broadcast? Do they fall under those rules? Do they fall under some sort of digital distribution rules?

That’s all strange and complicated.

Craig: Mess. It’s a mess.

John: It’s a mess.

So, but let’s talk about Comcast because what’s so weird about Comcast is if the merger happens, it’s already the nation’s largest internet service provider. It’s the nation’s largest video provider. It’s one of the biggest home phone providers. It controls a movie studio, because Comcast owns NBC Universal, so it controls a movie studio, a broadcast network, and a whole bunch of cable channels. That’s a big company.

Craig: Yeah.

John: Craig, where do you stand on big companies?

Craig: Well, my feeling is that as a professional writer who makes a living from these big companies, that I want them to survive but only to a point. I want them to survive with robust competition.

John: Exactly.

Craig: So, I have no problem. I know the Writers Guild immediately freaks out every time this happens. They absolutely lose their minds over vertical integration and multi-national corporations consolidating the business. My feeling is, good, I’m okay with that. As long as there’s not one or two of them, you know.

We currently have Sony and we have Comcast Universal. And we have Warner Bros. which will exist with its networks and its movie studios and its television production regardless of the cable situation. We have Disney and we have Fox and we have Viacom. There’s big companies out there all fighting with each other. Those companies have the resources to not only make large scale entertainment but they also have the resources to pay us and to negotiate pretty good — pretty good deals with our union, as you’re in the middle of right now.

I think the Writers Guild, this is an area where I’ve never understood the Writers Guild’s full blown paranoia. Paranoia, yes. Hysteria, no. They’re constantly looking at Amazon and Google as some sort of rescuers. I keep screaming to everybody they’re the opposite. They’re the wolf in sheep’s clothing. Non-union shops that are used to bullying everybody out of everything.

I mean, we have five major movie studios, right? Five?

John: Yeah.

Craig: How many major search engines are there on the planet? One. That’s the way Google works.

How many major e-tailers compete with Amazon? I’m going to go with none.

John: Yeah.

Craig: So, I have no problem with these companies doing what they need to do to survive as long as I have options. Frankly, in my house I don’t get my internet from Time Warner or Comcast. I don’t get my phones from Time Warner or Comcast. I don’t get my television from Time Warner or Comcast. You know what I get from Comcast?

John: What?

Craig: I get paid because I’m working for Universal. [laughs] That’s what I get. I get paid.

John: Ha-ha! You get checks.

Craig: I feel like I’m still living — I get checks. So, I’m still living in a world where these companies have vital, large scale competition and I support their — I back their survival as long as there’s enough of them to keep each other honest. How about you?

John: All right. I’m concerned about this merger because it’s literally like, it’s just like number one and two, it’s like 75% of cable in the country would be controlled by this one giant company which doesn’t feel like a lot. And cable is also one of those weird things.

So, broadcasters are subject to these regulations because the broadcast spectrum is there are limited resources, therefore we have a lot of controls over sort of what you can do there and how many players you can have because it’s a limited resource.

But cable is actually a limited resource in the sense that every community had to make deals with the companies who are bringing in this wire. And basically because, so you’re not ripping up the streets a thousand times, they’re sort of near-monopolies in a lot of these markets.

And I do worry that because they are the fastest pipe into the house and it’s essentially only end up having one or now maybe two choices, a duopoly situation where AT&T is the other way you can get the stuff. It could just become really problematic.

And I’ve sympathized on both sides of the net neutrality debate, but I think it becomes a little bit more pressing when you have this giant company that controls the access to households, to so many households, and is making its own content and can therefore in the world of no net neutrality prioritize its content over anyone else’s content. And that is challenging to me.

Craig: In my mind, I don’t see that the company would do that. I don’t think that Comcast/Time Warner would — their merged cable system — if they were to tier stuff would say, hey, it’s going to cost you more to watch these other channels. It’s going to cost you less to watch the ones that we control.

John: But that’s exactly what they’ve done in cable. Cable is tiered. I mean, it already is tiered right now. You can get these channels with this. You can get this, a higher tier, you get these channels.

Craig: But in the way its tiered, they don’t — in other words, Time Warner never gave you a break on HBO. They charge you more for HBO because it’s worth more. My point being that they never — they know the consumers — the demand from consumers is what drives the market price. And if they try and use monopoly pressure. Well, first of all, they’re going to run into anti-trust problems if they start bundling, because that’s basically bundling. You’re not allowed to do it.

But also they’re just going to run into marketplace problems because people are not going to want that. Where I kind of see benefit for professional writers on these non-net neutrality side is if these companies said things like, “Well, we’re going to start charging a premium for super fast delivery of movies. All movies. Not Universal movies. All movies.” And then we would get better residuals. So, that — I could see that as a benefit for writers. But, I don’t, I mean, look, I personally suspect that cable has got another 10 or 15 years left. Physical cable. Because I think ultimately —

John: Before there is some sort of pervasive Wi-Fi?

Craig: Yeah. It’s inevitable. It’s inevitable. So, I mean, this merger I don’t think is a cause for us to twist our underwear up.

John: All right. We’ll see.

We have some questions. Let’s go to some questions. So, Mark in Portland asks, “If pagination isn’t that important,” I think he’s talking about last week’s episode where I ranted on pagination. “If pagination isn’t that important, why use Courier or Courier Prime font?”

I would say that use Courier because Courier is what is expected in screenplays. It’s not that it’s better, or that it’s perfect, or that will exactly match the one page per minute guideline. It’s just what we’re expecting in a screenplay. And anything that’s not that will be met with an “Uh-huh? That’s not what a screenplay should look like.”

Craig: Yup. It’s basically tradition. Simple as that. It’s the tradition that comes from an old school way of thinking about stuff as being a page a minute and all that. And really it was way to try and — all of these things were really ways to foil writers who were trying to cheat either by not writing enough, or by jamming too much into a space. The studios got wise to all of our tricks.

It’s an easy way for them to go, “Oh, okay, well at least we’ve eliminated one variable. They can’t use the super tiny font. They can’t write everything in Times 12, you know.” But, yeah, it’s tradition.

John: I think we use Courier and Courier Prime, even though we have better fonts now, or different fonts that you could use, simply for the same reason why when you’re turning in those papers in college or in high school they wanted you to use a certain font so you wouldn’t cheat.

Craig: That’s exactly right. And it’s style sheets. I mean, Warner Bros. I think still includes all that stuff in the contracts. Margins and all that.

John: Scotty Shumaker writes, “I’m a 22 year old recent college graduate working as a night shift janitor at McMurdo Research Station in Antarctica.”

Craig: Awesome!

John: “I came here to find some adventure and pay off student loans. Because I work alone in a deserted science lab for 60 hours a week I’m able to pass the tedious hours mopping and scrubbing urinals by listening to you guys. I have probably listened to over 100 hours of Scriptnotes in the past few months as well as all seven Harry Potter books, all three Lord of the Rings, and about 100 episodes of a podcast called Inside Acting. I just wanted to say thank you and let you know that your wisdom and umbrage has made its way down to the seventh continent.”

Craig: That is amazing. I mean, first of all, there’s something — doesn’t that sound like the first five pages of a movie? You’re the guy —

John: Oh, come on, it’s a great setup.

Craig: You’re there at the science base on the south pole, but you’re not a scientist. You’re a janitor. You’re just the janitor.

John: You’re the janitor.

Craig: And you’re just scrubbing stuff. And then one day you come out of the bathrooms and everyone is dead.

John: Yup.

Craig: And there’s something — yeah, I mean, it’s great. Anyway, my former college roommate, Eric Leech, I believe worked down at that very station. He’s an astrophysicist. And I think he was there for a year. It’s dangerous down there. When they have their winter, and our summer, you get like 15 seconds or 30 seconds to walk around before they make you come back in. It’s brutal.

John: It’s bad.

So, Craig, I’m hoping that over our many, many episodes of the podcast I’ll get to know all of your college roommates who have all gone on to become famous people.

Craig: Well, Eric and I share a common opinion of the junior senator from Texas.

John: A third roommate.

Craig: Ted Cruz. Yeah.

John: A question from Khrob in San Francisco.

Craig: Khrob?

John: Khrob. K-H-R-O-B .

Craig: Oh, Khrob.

John: Khrob. “Where’s the line for things in your script that are very clearly referencing the specifics of another project? If the Tae Bo movie had a shot — ” So, last week we talked about the Tae Bo movie, or the theoretical Tae Bo movie. I guess it was a real Tae Bo movie.

Craig: It was an actual Tae Bo movie.

John: “If the Tae Bo movie had a shot of the protagonist clearly doing Daniel-san’s Crane Kick practice, but was otherwise its own film, at what point would that cross from reference to homage to plagiarism? If a show like Futurama or The Simpsons builds a whole episode around a known property, the Futurama episode of Titanic, for example, do they pay for that or are they allowed to use specifics given their status as satirical shows?”

Craig: Well, I mean, you can reference any movie you want.

John: Yeah. That’s fine. It’s fine to reference the movie. And I would say like that whole thing about doing the shot, the Crane Kick position, that’s obviously a reference, we get the reference, you’re not stealing anything.

But I will tell you in a very real sense it does happen sometimes where people get uncomfortable, even not a legal standpoint, but sort of like, “I’m not sure we’re in a parody spot here. I just feels like too much the same movie.”

Craig: Yeah.

John: It does happen. That’s a conversation that happens all the time.

Craig: Yeah, look, if you’re trying to parody something, parody is generally protected under the copyright law and fair use. But, let’s say you’re just making a reference so that the reader understands the kind of thing you’re going for, you know, you say something like, “The two of them begin fighting in the elevator. It’s like From Russia with Love,” but you know, something, something.

John: Over peanut butter.

Craig: Yeah, I mean, just so that people understand what you’re going for. That’s okay. I mean, don’t do it lot. You know, it starts to get a little weird. But it’s fine if you feel like it’s going to help convey your intention. You’re not copying something, but you’re saying it’s a little bit like this, but imagine that in this new circumstance. Just, you know, underline the film title and keep going.

John: Keep going.

Hope writes, “I’ve heard you and Craig mention several times on the podcast that now more than ever people should try to shoot their own small projects, like a short film. This helps them learn about filmmaking, see their words on a screen, and has a slim but real possibility of getting them attention either online or at festivals.”

Craig: Yeah.

John: “Would this advice still apply if you have no intention of becoming a writer-director? Is an award-winning short that you wrote a useful calling card as an aspiring screenwriter? Have there been any screenwriters, not counting writer-directors, who have gotten their first success in the industry through a short?”

Craig: Oh, I’m sure.

John: I’m sure there are. But I would say my general advice about like shooting your own stuff is not just as the calling card for yourself, while it can be really great as the calling card, it’s just so you actually understand what it is like to make something as a finished product rather than just a screenplay. And so that’s why — I think that’s why we talk about the importance of going out and actually shooting some stuff, just so you have a sense of what that is, because that is incredibly useful.

But if you wrote a really great short film, and even if you didn’t direct it, I think that is good for you. I think it is great exposure.

Craig: No question. Yeah, the whole point of making your own thing is to be a better writer. And if you say, “Well, I actually don’t want to direct, I just want to write,” which is completely noble and that’s pretty much what I do, then just do it anyway because it will make you a better writer for the person that is going to be directing it.

John: Yeah. A question from Oscar. “A script of mine was optioned by a producer over a year ago. It was a one-year free option. Nothing came of it, even though the producer pushed it and still wants to try to get it made. I don’t want to pull the rug out from under him, but several other producers have asked me to send them the script if nothing was done with it at the end of the option period. How do I handle this? What are my ethical options?

“I realize that legally I can do with my script whatever I wish because the option has expired, and wasn’t formally renewed. But I’d like to do what is right by the initial producer.”

So, what’s your advice for Oscar in this situation?

Craig: In this situation I don’t think the ethics are — there’s no shadowy ethics here. the ethics are that you made a business arrangement and the term of the business arrangement is up and it is now your choice. And you are able to ethically, guilt-free, do whatever you want with it.

The only question I think you need to ask is do you want to give this producer more time? Do you think that this producer actually can get it done, that their passion sets them apart from these other people? And that if they have another three or four months something terrific is going to happen and that’s the person you want producing the movie.

John: I agree with you. I would say — it’s not clear entirely whether this producer has had the option and no one else has been reading your script, because you need other people to read your script. I mean, you want people to read your script. And so no matter what, make sure it gets out in the world so people can see it.

If these other producers are asking about it because they have some plan for how they’re going to do it, I think honestly at this point you listen to their plans and if they sound like interesting plans you let them pursue it.

Now, it could come to a situation where they start to get some stuff moving and this initial producer gets upset and just the whole awkward terrible conversations, but those are awkward, terrible conversations that are happening because there’s movement and because there’s things that are going on with your script. So, that’s only a good thing.

Craig: Yeah. There’s an interesting — I was talking about this the other day with a fellow writer. There is an interesting psychological phenomenon in our business as it relates to the relationship between writers and executives or producers. We writers are expected to be rejected constantly. And either rejected off the bat or hired and then replaced and fired.

We are meant to expect this and to absorb it politely and without fuss. They are not at all expected to handle rejection politely or without fuss. And very often are nasty about it. And I think you just have to remind yourself they — while the day that they’re complaining to you that you somehow have rejected them, they rejected five people before they got on the phone with you.

John: Yup. It’s absolutely true.

Craig: Part of life. Circle of life. Lions and gazelles.

John: And as a circle of the podcast, because it’s now time for One Cool Things.

Craig, do you want to start, or should I?

Craig: Oh, you should totally start.

John: Okay. I actually have two Cool Things, so I’m going to give both of them here.

First one is The Fog Horn, which I thought we had talked about on the podcast, but maybe we haven’t. Many episodes ago, god, 90 episodes ago we probably talked about Popcorn Fiction which is Derek Haas’s short fiction website.

Craig: Right.

John: The Fog Horn is an app. It’s a thing that you can find in the iPhone App Store, the iOS App Store, which is sort of like Popcorn Fiction, but it’s just short stories that every month they put out a new batch of short stories. It’s one of those sort of online magazines. And some of the short stories are terrific, so I would recommend you check out The Fog Horn online. It is a very good experience both as an app and some really good writing in there.

My second Cool Thing was something that, we’re recording this on Saturday, so this happened Friday, was Ellen Page’s coming out speech. So, Ellen Page, star of Juno, came out this week. And if you just saw the headline, like Ellen Page comes out. It’s like, oh, fine, good for her. But I actually — I really strongly recommend you watch the video. We’ll include a link to it if you haven’t watched it yet. Because it’s really just terrifically well written and terrifically well presented in terms of why she feels — why she hasn’t come out publicly before now, why she thinks it’s important to come out.

And last week we talked about sort of a hero sort of needs to be in charge of his or her own story.

Craig: Right.

John: And it’s really very much about that. It’s basically until you can claim your own sort of self-identity you can’t actually control anything else in your life. And so it’s a really smartly done thing and I just sort of — I want to vote for her for something, because it was just an incredibly well presented, incredibly articulate and heartfelt description of both what was keeping her from being public. It was basically the lie of omission. And why she was excited to not be lying anymore.

Craig: Yeah.

John: So, I strongly recommend you check that out.

Craig: It’s great. Chris Nee, the creator of Doc McStuffins —

John: We love Chris Nee so much.

Craig: We love Chris Nee. And Chris made a really good point that one of the great things about the way that she came out in this video was that it was about a minute of “I’m gay” and really seven minutes of her acknowledging that all the people in the room didn’t need her to come out. They were already doing great work. They were already doing great stuff.

She said at some point, “So you guys are doing this, you’re doing this, you’re doing this, you’re doing this, and the truth is you didn’t need me to tell you any of it. That’s the weird part of this.”

And I love that she didn’t — it’s so easy for celebrities to turn everything into me, me, me, and frankly coming out of the closet is a me, me, me, and somehow she made it into a you, you, you, which was awesome.

John: It was really smart. So, the context of this was HRC’s Time to Thrive conference which is this sort of youth and teachers conference they were doing. And it was exactly what you described. It was five minutes of you, you, you, this is the nature of the struggle, and it’s because of what you’re doing that I’m able to come out. And so it was just a thank you.

And it was just perfectly done. Perfectly delivered.

Craig: It was. Well, you know, my One Cool Thing is also a person and it’s, I’m sad, I’m sad John because we found out this week that this coming baseball season will be Derek Jeter’s final season.

John: I can’t tell you how incredibly heartbroken I am to hear this.

Craig: Well, you should be, and I’ll tell you why.

John: I did know that Derek Jeter was a baseball player, so I get some points for that. [laughs]

Craig: Allow me to extend what his value is. Are you a Simon & Garfunkel fan?

John: I’m aware of who they are. That’s the best…

Craig: They are not baseball players. The famous folk singing songwriting duo of Simon & Garfunkel.

So, in their song Mrs. Robinson there is a lyric that says, “Where have you gone Joe DiMaggio? Our nation turns its lonely eyes to you. What’s that you say Mrs. Robinson? Joltin’ Joe has left and gone away.”

And apparently this drove Joe DiMaggio nuts because he was a notorious grump. But Joe DiMaggio is in that song because he exemplified a kind of purity of a time. He was a class act playing America’s game. He was remarkably talented. And he just managed to do it all right. And we love that in our heroes. I mean, he had his stumbles and his falls, and he had his injuries and his mishaps, but he was classy. He was the Yankee Clipper.

And baseball has had lots of heroes and lots of great guys and lots of goats. God knows, so many goats. And in a time when America’s pastime has just been about the most tarnished it has been since the Black Sox scandal of the early part of the century, Derek Jeter has exemplified what it means to just be a classy, great baseball player. He’s done it right the whole time. He’s enormously respected.

And more importantly, now I feel old because Derek Jeter isn’t going to be out there anymore manning shortstop for the New York Yankees. This is going to be a tough season. He’s a shoe-in first ballot Hall of Famer. Never one iota of concern that he was on steroids. He wasn’t that kind of player. But, he has hit some magic benchmarks, well over 3,000 hits and a career average of slightly over 300 which I know is something that you always look for.

John: It’s really my first criteria, career average.

Craig: It’s sad because one of the greats is riding off into the sunset. One of the truly great, great players of a great, great game celebrated by a great, great country. So, Derek Jeter, today and for many months to come you will be my One Cool Thing.

John: Now. Craig, is it possible we’ve pinpointed the source of your anxiety. Was it his retirement that is causing your anxiety?

Craig: No. No. I’m not quite that, [laughs], I don’t like Derek Jeter at all, actually.

John: Not that much. You appreciate it more from a distance. And that’s our show. So, if you would like to know more about the things we talked about today, the show notes are always at You can see the things we’ve talked about. You can see some sort of article that Stuart will find about Derek Jeter. You will also find Ellen Page’s coming out stuff. Many of the articles we talked about today on the show.

If you are on iTunes looking through the App Store you can find the Scriptnotes app which lets you listen to our most recent episodes, but actually our entire back catalog as well. You’ll also find Weekend Read there while you’re there.

If you have iTunes open and you want to leave us a comment or a rating, that’s awesome as well. You can subscribe to us there in iTunes.

And so, Nerdmelt, so we should say the live show at Nerdmelt, the crossover episode with the Nerdist Writers Podcast. Tickets are available now, so don’t wait too long for that because that will sell out. There will also be other live shows coming later on in the spring, but we’ll have those details when they come.

Craig: “Good for you! Good for you!”

John: Craig, have a wonderful week.

Craig: You too, man.