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 165 of Scriptnotes, a podcast about screenwriting and things that are interesting to screenwriters.

Before we get started, I need to warn listeners that my audio in this podcast will be kind of terrible. It’s because of my own fault. I set a setting wrong. So, this is me speaking after the fact with a better microphone connected properly to my Macintosh. So, Matthew Chilelli has done a heroic job trying to make my audio sound better, but it’s a little bit worse than usual. My apologies. And we’ll be back to normal next week.

[Transition tones]

John: Craig, how are you?

Craig: I’m okay. I’m coming off of a cold, though. I think it went from my kids, to my wife, to me, but yeah, you know that day when you finally feel better? That’s the day you finally feel better.

John: Yeah, it’s sort of the 90% day. Where it’s like you’re mostly recovered. There’s still a trace, a little trace of that cold.

Craig: Yeah, that’s right. But not too bad. I might hack a little bit during this.

John: That’s fine. Matthew Chilelli will edit it all out. There will be sirens to cover it anyway.

Craig: Exactly. I’ll just time it when the sirens come by.

John: Nima Yousefi who is our coder for Quote-Unquote Apps who does Highland and all of our stuff, he was out sick all of last week with the flu. And so this is my annual reminder to everyone to get your flu shots, because the flu just is awful. And you shouldn’t get the flu. And you don’t have to get the flu. So just get a $20 flu shot.

Actually, to tell you the truth, our health insurance —

Craig: It’s free.

John: Free. So, just get your flu shot. The flu sucks.

Craig: Yeah, I know, the flu is stupid. Don’t get that. Is he sure it was the flu?

John: He’s pretty sure it was the flu. It certainly wasn’t a cold. He was out in a bad way.

Craig: Well, it’s probably the flu.

John: It’s probably the flu. And a reason to do it this year I think especially is because if you get the flu shot, you know, it’s not Ebola. So, it can be the situation where you’re like, oh, I’m coming down with Ebola. It’s like, no, you probably have the flu. But now you don’t even have to have those mysterious symptoms that you think are Ebola because you won’t get the flu.

Craig: It’s not Ebola.

John: It’s certainly not Ebola. And you won’t even be the flu if you get the flu shot.

Craig: Right.

John: Right. Today we’re going to be talking about Netflix and the Adam Sandler deal. We’re going to be talking about Turkey City Lexicon, which is this great compendium of science fiction terms and it’s also about writer groups. I thought it was just a great article that Craig linked to, so we’ll talk to that.

Toxic Perfection Syndrome, which is a Craig topic as well. And we’re going to talk about the WGA in 2014. Elections just passed and we should look at what the WGA should be doing and focusing on in the next few years. Big show.

Craig: It’s a big show. We’re stuffed.

John: We’re stuffed. But we have to start with some follow up, and the first bit of follow up is to thank Apple because Apple featured us this last week. They featured Scriptnotes as one of their top podcasts.

Craig: Boy, that made a difference. So, I never really look and see, you know, where we are in the podcast ranks, because of course we make no money off of this, so I don’t care. But we were like the number six podcast in the world for a bit there.

John: Yeah.

Craig: And it’s pretty great.

John: We were number four at one point when Stuart was checking.

Craig: Oh my goodness. That’s awesome. Wow.

John: It’s just crazy for a podcast about screenwriting. It’s wonderful.

Craig: I didn’t even know there were that many podcasts.

John: Exactly. You’ve been on like three and that’s basically it, right?

Craig: Yeah, so I thought being number four was the biggest insult ever. [laughs]

John: [laughs] Yeah. Craig Mazin’s solipsism knows no boundaries. But it was very nice of them to feature us last week.

Craig: Yes, very nice.

John: If you are a new listener joining us from last week when we had Nicole Perlman on, stick with us please.

Another podcast you may want to tune into is the Slate Culture Gabfest because that is happening live tomorrow. If you’re listening to this on Tuesday, it is happening tomorrow on Wednesday. That is downtown in Los Angeles at The Belasco Theatre. Doors open 6:30. There is a bar. And there will be drinks. Craig will be drinking.

Craig: Yeah.

John: You’ll be drinking, right?

Craig: Pretty heavily I would imagine.

John: Yeah, because it’s a podcast. You got to get them before a podcast.

Craig: Right.

John: And the show starts at 7:30. So, if you do not have tickets, go to Slate right now and get some tickets. And join us, because it’s going to be really fun. And Natasha Lyonne is actually going to be the other featured guest. For a long time it was just me and Craig, and then when they got Natasha Lyonne, there’s now a giant picture of Natasha Lyonne and we are like — “and John August and Craig Mazin.”

Craig: That’s appropriate. That is.

John: This last week Slate and Vulture did a piece on The Simpsons. And they had a bunch of famous people talk about their favorite moments from The Simpsons over these gazillion episodes. And so they emailed me weeks ago and so they had written this very good intro, so I wrote a really good answer which was the Homer’s Enemy episode, which is the one with Hank Grimes — Frank Grimes.

Craig: Frank Grimes.

John: I can’t remember his first name because he’s just Grimes. And so I had written this good answer and I was like when are they going to run it. Well, they finally ran it this last week. We’ll put a link in the show notes. And there’s these much, much, much more famous people than me. So, I got like the bottom answer on it. But it was nice.

Craig: They’re asking you for your favorite joke?

John: No, favorite episode.

Craig: Favorite episode. And you went Grimes.

John: And of course, it’s like picking your favorite child. You could say Mr. Plow, come one, there’s so many amazing episodes.

Craig: It’s an easy one for me. I think it was the one where Krusty loses his show. And it’s the Krusty Farewell Special. That may be my favorite.

John: Yeah. I love The Day the Laughter D ied. I love Lisa’s Valentine.

Craig: There’s so many.

John: This could be a whole episode about our favorite Simpsons episodes.

Craig: Yes. Yes. True. True. But what is your favorite single Simpsons joke?

John: God, I would say actually, I’m going to bend that as saying favorite song, which is probably Monorail.

Craig: Pretty great. I think my favorite Simpsons joke is in the episode where Homer was dressing up as Krusty because Krusty was sort of franchising himself, when Krusty and Homer dressed as Krusty — both appear in the mobster hangout. And one of the mobsters rubs his eyes and says, “I don’t believe it. I’m seeing double. Four Krustys.” [laughs] That’s just —

John: It’s so good.

Craig: So good. Ooh, I don’t know how they think of that. That’s so good. Four Krustys.

John: Continuing our follow up, Austin Film Festival, Craig will not be there because Craig is going to be at a wedding. So, putting friendship above his duty to the podcast, which is completely unrespectable.

Craig: Yes. Yes.

John: But luckily Susannah Grant has agreed to fill in and take your place.

Craig: Well, she’s a much better looking version of me. And she’s smarter.

John: She’s kind of a terrific writer.

Craig: She’s smarter than I am. She’s more successful than I am. She’s better looking than I am.

John: There are a lot of reasons why she’s a better co-host than Craig Mazin.

Craig: I mean, she’s nicer than I am. [laughs] Oh, that’s a great get. I love it.

John: So, Richard Kelly will be a guest as will Peter Gould from Breaking Bad. Peter Gould who was my film teacher at USC.

Craig: Well, spectacular.

John: Also, there are some other guests to be announced, so that will be fun. We’re also doing a Three Page Challenge there which will be second rounders from the Austin Film Festival’s Screenwriting Competition. And the panelists on that one will be Franklin Leonard and Ilyse McKimmie, so Franklin Leonard from the Black List, and Ilyse McKimmie from Sundance. So, that is going to be a fun time, too.

Craig: Wonderful.

John: Craig, we had announced on our previous show that if we got to 1,000 premium subscribers we would do a dirty episode just for subscribers.

Craig: Yeah.

John: How close do you think we are?

Craig: I’m going to say that we picked up 600 people.

John: That would be inaccurate. But we are now at 906.

Craig: Whoa!

John: So within the next week or two I think we will be able to cross over that threshold.

Craig: Oh, that’s great.

John: So, if you’d like us to cross over that threshold, go to and sign up. It’s $1.99 a month. You get all the back episodes. You get the bonus episodes. And you get the dirty episode. But we need to figure out who should be our guest for the dirty episode. So, if you are a premium subscriber, please tweet at me and Craig and tell us who you would like to see as the guest on the dirty show.

Craig: On the dirty show.

John: Because it’s going to be good.

Craig: It’s going to be dirty.

John: It’s going to be dirty. Let’s get to today’s business. So, you linked to this article that Adam Sandler has made a deal with Netflix for four movies. Tell us about it.

Craig: Yeah. Well, it’s a pretty big deal, actually. I mean, you know, I’m the guy that’s always going, oh well, look, people are jumping up and down saying this is the new way of doing things in Hollywood and no it isn’t, but this might actually be the new way of doing things.

So, Netflix signed an overall deal with Adam Sandler where they’re going to make four movies and he essentially has, they’re kind of implying has pretty much control over those movies. And he’ll be given an ample budget. And I’m assuming that because, you know, he had a pretty lucrative deal and was making pretty big movies with Sony. And what’s remarkable about this is that Sandler is sort of saying and Netflix are both saying we think that big movies can now be piped directly to an audience and skip the theater experience completely.

And that’s a little earth-shattering I think.

John: So, the article you linked to, it was unclear. You think that they’re not going to even just do a token theatrical run? You think they’re only going to go directly to home?

Craig: Absolutely. Why would they do it in theaters? I mean, the whole point is to get people to subscribe to Netflix. So, no, I think it’s going to be exclusive on Netflix. And I have to say, you know, I’ve read a couple of articles that predictably said, “Oh, Netflix, what — Adam Sandler is stupid, blah, blah, blah.”

Yeah, you’re stupid. It’s not about what the movies are that you like or don’t like. It’s about Netflix having access probably to better metrics than anybody else in our business. If you think about what — their database of what people watch, where they watch it, how frequently they watch it. My guess is they looked at their numbers and saw that Adam Sandler movies are extraordinarily popular with their subscription base, which I should point out is international.

Adam Sandler’s movies tend to do extraordinarily well overseas, particularly for a comedian. So, I think they ran the numbers and they’re like we can’t miss on this. And it’s also intriguing to me because Adam Sandler movies aren’t really movies that demand a theater viewing. They tend to be more appreciated frankly in their ancillary release after the theater experience when Adam Sandler fans purchase them and watch them over and over, often while they get high. [laughs]

John: I was going to say dorm rooms. We were in the same brain space there.

Craig: I’ve got no problem with that. Or, or, that’s one kind of Adam Sandler movie. The other kind is a family movie like Grown Ups and Grown Ups 2, which are then watched over and over by kids. And so I actually think this makes an enormous amount of sense. And I suspect that a lot of agents woke up this morning or yesterday when this news came out and said, “Uh, I should probably get this for one of my guys.”

John: Yup.

Craig: And the question now is does this become something that we start to see a lot of. And if that happens, then the people that got to start worrying are the movie theaters.

John: Yes. So let’s think this all the way through. So, let’s first talk about who else is like an Adam Sandler and it would be another actor or be a filmmaker who makes a consistent kind of thing, because there aren’t a lot of actors I can peg and say there’s an Adam Sandler movie. Adam Sandler is very much identifiable with every movie that he’s in, as opposed to Kevin Costner who is like an actor in movies and sometimes a director.

Craig: Yeah, Sandler kind of runs his own little Sandler studio over there.

John: Melissa maybe?

Craig: Maybe, yeah. I mean, Melissa I think is starting to get that way. I think a guy like Tyler Perry —

John: Tyler Perry. Absolutely.

Craig: Could easily do something like this and probably should. I think he’d probably end up making more money. I mean, because remember, one of the things that happens when you make a movie is if the idea is I’m going to get paid some money and then get a piece of this movie, your piece of the movie is negatively impacted by anything that costs money.

Well, what costs a lot of money? Distribution. Marketing. Huge costs for distribution and marketing. Typically larger than the cost of the movie itself.

Well, unless you’re on Netflix, because then —

John: But Netflix is going to do tremendous marketing — they’ll have to promote the shit out of it, but then they don’t have to do all the other distribution expenses.

Craig: Well, yeah, A, they’re promoting it heavily on their own thing, right? Whereas even though, for instance, Disney owns ABC, Disney has to pay ABC to run ads. And they have to run ads on other channels, too.

Netflix can promote their own stuff on their own system which people are using frequently. And obviously they’re trying to get more of a subscription base. But the distribution costs are essentially zero. And that’s enormous. It’s a huge advantage to them.

So then if you’re an artist, you theoretically would be dealing with a much lower overhead situation where your percentage of the returns would trigger sooner and be against a larger base. So, guys like that run their own show, I mean, for instance Woody Allen, who I suspect is probably way too wedded to film and the cinema experience, but Woody Allen could do this if he wanted to.

John: Absolutely. If you have an identifiable brand. If you came in with like people know you and want to come see your things regardless. Kevin Smith maybe could do this.

Craig: Yeah. If you have a brand, I could see absolutely Netflix. Now, I think they’ve signaled with this deal it’s not going to be enough to be Kevin Smith. We we’re actually aiming for people that have and can make $100 million regular movie theaters. So, they’re making a big bet here but they’re also signaling to everybody else, hey, you know, come on over. It’s interesting. Really interesting, I have to say.

John: So, we could probably find the transcripts from when we talked about Netflix going into television, when it did House of Cards and Orange is the New Black. And that seems like, well, that’s foolish, or at least weird, because we had never really seen Netflix as being a company that was in the television business. And suddenly they were trying to be in the television business, well that’s crazy.

But it ended up being very successful for them. So, I wouldn’t bet against Netflix.

Craig: Yeah, well, Netflix is becoming the other HBO. And we know that HBO spends money on things that attract people to their subscription base. I mean, I think that probably what we had commented on was that Netflix wasn’t going to kill network television, and it hasn’t. It hasn’t come close to it. Nor do I think this will kill traditional film distribution.

But, this may be good news for those of us who are screenwriters because as we talked about often one of the things that’s really impacted us negatively is the reduction of feature films that are being made, because there are only so many theaters and only so many studios that make these things. If Netflix is serious about this, they could become a viable new option. I presume that they will make these movies under a WGA deal.

John: Yeah, it would feel really strange not to. It would feel strange because the people who write Adam Sandler movies have traditionally been WGA writers. And so for them to start to try to make these movies with people who are not in that stable feels really strange.

Craig: It would feel strange. And I’m guessing that Orange is the New Black is a WGA show. I presume as much. So, hopefully that’s the case. That becomes a very enticing thing. Suddenly there’s another studio making movies. But this is a really — it’s an interesting development. I’m — this one, of all the new media is changing the world stories that I’ve read, this one could mean something.

John: So, Craig, you write big expensive comedies. You haven’t written an Adam Sandler, but you could write an Adam Sandler comedy. I wrote a Kevin James thing that never got made. If we were to write these movies, what kind of deal would we be taking because, you know, in looking at this there’s potentially no residuals, correct?

Craig: Yeah.

John: There’s no secondary market. The whole market is for that. And are you writers as a made for television, or what’s the contract?

Craig: I think there are some residuals. I think if you make something that’s direct to video there is a certain formula for residuals on it, depending on the airings. I think. I would have to look into that.

But, essentially on something like this you would have to negotiate with the people making the movie who have a fixed budget for what percentage of portion of that budget you get. And, again, that’s why it makes sense with Sandler, because Sandler has guys that he writes with. He writes with Tim Herlihy, and he writes… — So, you know, they can sit down and go, okay, well here’s the money we have, this is what I’m taking because I’m Adam Sandler, here’s what we have left. I think we can carve this amount off for you. Okay, that sounds good. Great. Now, we’ll just go.

Because he’s not going to get into a thing where it’s like, well, we’re going to develop for awhile and then we’re going to hire another writer, and another writer. And it just won’t be that, you know.

John: Yes. So, my question which was also unclear in any of these articles it they’re going to make these four Adam Sandler movies, but is Adam Sandler free to make other moves at other places?

Craig: It appears that he is. Yeah, that’s what I read, that he’s not married to them. I don’t even know if it’s a first look or anything like that. He’s going to make four movies for them. And he’s kind of the perfect choice because he will make four movies for them, no question. I mean, it’s not like he’s ever disappeared for six years. I mean, the guy makes a movie a year, practically, right?

John: Yeah, I mean, he makes more than a movie, maybe two.

Craig: Maybe more than a movie a year, right.

John: And his movies are not complicated to make. I mean, because they are generally high concept comedies with kind of a rotating cast of the same — Rob Schneider probably, wow, I’m going to make more movies for Netflix. The same people are going to be showing up in his movies again and again. They know how to make those movies.

Craig: Right. And he has a stable of directors that he works with. There’s a whole machine in place. They are a kind of self-sufficient, they are a group of people, you know, Frank Coraci and all the guys that he works with, that you can kind of go, okay, money in/movie out. We don’t need to build a whole machine there. It’s built.

So, it makes sense for everybody. And my guess is that Netflix looked at some numbers and went we can’t lose. This is a zero miss proposition.

John: So, let’s take four Adam Sandler movies out of the business — basically pick one Adam Sandler movie a year out of the box office, it’s not the end of the world. Like, none of these movies are the top grossing movies of the year. But they’re profitable for most people to make them.

Craig: Well, maybe, that’s the thing. Some of them are and some of them aren’t. And the reason why is because it costs so much to market and distribute. So, you know, when you have a movie like Grown Ups, absolutely. Hugely profitable. When you have something like maybe That’s My Boy or, is that was it was called? I think it was called That’s My Boy. It just didn’t do that well at the box office. You put those earnings against what it cost to release, it’s a tougher proposition.

And so that’s why this is kind of a win-win for everybody. I’m fascinated to see how this works out. And I have to imagine that we’re going to see more of this.

John: So, second is an article that you lined to called Turkey City Lexicon. Where did you find this? Did someone send this to you?

Craig: Yeah, it was tweeted to me. And I just loved it. I loved it.

John: I loved it, too. So, what we’re looking at is an article from The Science Fiction & Fantasy Writers of America. And the blog post, this one is edited by Lewis Shiner. There’s a Bruce Sterling second edition here. But it’s talking through the science fiction writing workshops. And before we get into sort of the terminology of the Lexicon, I thought their description of the writing workshop process was really fascinating.

They described this process where you get the writers together. Everybody has to print out some of their short stories, science fiction short stories, and then you trade them and everybody sits and reads them and marks them up. And in the process of giving notes to people was very much like an AA meeting in a way, where you had to go around in a circle and you’re not allowed to sort of speak back until everybody has spoken their peace about your story.

Craig: Right. And it sounds awful.

John: Yeah, it does sound — it just sounds awful.

Craig: Yeah. I don’t like it. I understand how it could be very valuable for new writers, particularly new writers who don’t have access to decent criticism. But it sounds frankly like too much. I mean, it’s hard enough to hear one or two people go through a lengthy critique. But to have ten of them do it? It just seems like it would take forever. It’s boring. At some point it’s just too much. You start to shut down. [laughs]

I don’t know, I just didn’t like that part.

John: The only thing I could sort of say in its defense is it gets you to think sometimes critically about your own writing because you’re seeing the mistakes other people make.

Craig: Yes.

John: And as I started out as a screenwriter, reading a bunch of screenplays and reading a bunch of terrible screenplays at times made me recognize the things I never wanted to do. So, this may be an opportunity for people to take a look at writing that’s not the best Ray Bradbury science fiction writing of all time, but is sort of more on their level and see like well these are the mistakes that this person is making. I’m not going to make those mistakes.

Craig: Right. And so what they’ve done is they’ve compiled with very cute names some of the mistakes that keep popping up over, and over, and over. And some of these are very specific, I think, to science fiction, but some of them I think we could imagine easily occurring in screenplays.

John: Absolutely. And they’re just terrifically well named. I mean, from the very start, the Brenda Starr dialogue. Brenda Starr dialogue referring to the Brenda Starr comic strip which often had these speech bubbles that were sort of floating above the city. And it’s like, but who is that? And so this Brenda Starr dialogue refers to when there’s long passages of dialogue that seem unconnected to a place. It’s like you’re not really establishing a place where this speech is happening.

Craig: Yes, and we will see this in screenplays. I call it ticker tape screenwriting where it’s just streams of dialogue and where are they, what do they look like? So, there are things like this. Some of these things, again, they are more connected to novels, but in looking for some of the ones in here that work with our thing.

John: I like Gingerbread. So, Gingerbread is their — sort of when you use a really expensive, fancy words and fancy structures to do something just sort of like to distract you from the fact that there’s actually nothing there. And because in fiction you’re actually reading the physical words as the reader, you notice that. But sometimes that even applies to movies where you see like people did something in a really fancy, complicated way when there’s really sort of no reason to do it in a fancy, complicated way.

Craig: Right. And they have something called False Humanity, which I think is such a clever term. “An aliment endemic to genre writing,” and I would argue to a lot of screenwriting, “in which soap-opera elements of purported human interest are stuffed into the story willy-nilly, whether or not they advance the plot or contribute to the point of the story.” And I will see that in screenplays where suddenly people are talking about, you know, how they’re suffering from cancer and this has nothing to do with anything that’s going on. It’s just poking me in a button and making me supposedly feel something for them. It’s just irrelevant to anything else.

John: Yeah. It’s sort of spray on notion.

Craig: Right.

John: Like it’s not actually endemic to the nature of the story or to the scene. It’s almost like someone giving notes like I really want to love that character more. And so you sort of give them some weird backstory that has no bearing on the plot whatsoever. It’s frustrating.

There’s a thing here called Not Simultaneous, which is also kind of Ing Disease, I-N-G disease, which is that sense of, they describe it as “Putting his key in the door, he leapt up the stairs and got his revolver out of the bureau.” And sometimes you will see that in screenplays where you’re trying to combine a bunch of action into one sentence, but that’s not all happening at once. Screenwriting especially is such a present tense situation that those are separate things. Those are actually separate whole locations. And so you can’t just sort of bunch them all together in one sentence.

Craig: And then here is Signal from Fred. “A comic form of the ‘Dischism’ in which the author’s subconscious, alarmed by the poor quality of the work, makes unwitting critical comments: ‘This doesn’t make sense.’ ‘This is really boring.’ ‘This sounds like a bad movie.'” And I’ve seen this in screenplays where someone goes, “None of this, this doesn’t make any sense.”

There’s one screenplay I read where two characters are doing something that is physically impossible. And I go, wait a second, that’s not possible. And one of them says, “This doesn’t even make sense, does it?” And the other one says, “Eh, just go with it.”

John: Just go with it, that’s the sign.

Craig: Signal from Fred. I like it.

John: Other terms I loved were Card Tricks in the Dark. So an “Elaborately contrived plot which arrives at (a) the punchline of a private joke no reader will get or (b) the display of some bit of learned trivia relevant only to the author. This stunt may be intensely ingenious, and very gratifying to the author, but it serves no visible fictional purpose.”

And, man, I’ve seen that a lot where you were able to do something really, really clever, but it didn’t actually pertain to the story that I just saw. And Card Tricks in the Dark actually is a great description for that.

Craig: It’s so good.

John: We’ll see why that’s magic because there’s no lens on this at all.

Craig: Yeah, we don’t get it. One of my favorites is: You can’t fire me, I quit. [laughs] That’s an attempt to diffuse the reader’s incredulity with a preemptive strike, as if by anticipating the reader’s objections the author had somehow answered them. “I would have never believed it if I hadn’t seen it myself.”

John: Oh yeah.

Craig: [laughs] Yeah, except that you made him see it yourself and none of us do believe it. And I see that a lot, too. I mean, these are all, like some of these are versions of shining lanterns on things, but a lot of times it’s just — you’re just trying to get away with stuff, you know?

John: Yeah, with that last one you sort of picture the cutting to grandpa on the rocking chair on the porch like, “I never would have believed it if I hadn’t…”

Craig: Yeah. “It was one of those amazing coincidences that can only take place in real life.” Yeah, well, yes.

John: And this is a genuine concern for a lot of movies is Idiot Plot: “A plot which functions only because all the characters involved are idiots. They behave in a way that suits the author’s convenience, rather than through any rational motivation of their own.”

Craig: It’s just so true. And this happens all the time. [laughs] Idiot Plot. It’s so great. I mean, it really is —

John: Especially in comedies, especially if it’s a high concept where like people have to just go with it to establish that this thing could possibly happen, but I think if we have any recurring theme on this podcast it’s getting back to being honest with what characters in that moment would do. And if you need characters to do something that doesn’t fit your moment, you actually probably need to — you can either change your characters or change the moment. But just forcing them to do something that is not natural for them in the moment is never going to be a good choice.

Craig: It’s never a good idea. And then my last one I’ll give out is Funny Hat Characterization. “A character distinguished by a single identifying tag, such as odd headgear, a limp, a lisp, a parrot on his shoulder, etc.” And you do often see this in movies where somebody is just — they’re the one thing.

John: They are the one thing. And the one thing characters, I find them actually to be fine if they’re going to show up in one scene.

Craig: Yeah.

John: If that helps you remember them in one scene, or kind of if they’re going to be in two scenes that are long time apart, having that one thing lets you sort of remember them — that can be great. But if they’re going to be along for the ride, you got to find something else that’s going to distinguish them and make them feel like they’re integral to things, because so often that one thing is just weird.

Craig: It just becomes grating. I mean, you’re right, if it’s a day player and they’re job is to be the guy pumping gas who says three things, sure. Like a good example is in Planes, Trains, and Automobiles the guy that picks them up in his truck and he’s just sort of like [snort/snoring noise], you know, he does that thing with his nose, that’s a Funny Hat Characterization. But he wasn’t a big part of the movie.

Yeah, if you’re going to actually have somebody in there for awhile, yeah, you got to give us a little more than that.

John: An example of it done well for me is in Pitch Perfect. I can’t remember the character’s name, but the girl who sort of whispers under her breath.

Craig: Lilly. Right?

John: Lilly. Yes. And we talked about her on the show before. And she’s great, but there’s a build to it. It’s a rounding device. It keeps coming back to her doing things and then finally you get these little great bits and moments. It’s sort of her one trait, but it’s funny. And so you like every time that you get one of those little moments with her.

Craig: Yes. And you can, I think, get away with — you know, Pitch Perfect is a kissing cousin to Police Academy. The sort of ensemble broad character comedies where you’ve got seven people and each one of them has a specific talent, you know.

John: Yes.

Craig: So, that worked there. But, yeah. Anyway, this is a good list. I really enjoyed reading it. Anytime we pick up these lists of clichés it’s just fun to read. And a decent reminder to us all that people are watching, [laughs], and they know what we’re doing.

John: Yes. So, Craig, next topic, you described it as Toxic Perfection Syndrome.

Craig: Yeah. So, I was thinking about this lately. And, I could be wrong, but I think that this is something everybody does. Every writer does this, whether they’re professional or aspiring. And the idea of Toxic Perfection Syndrome is you write something and you begin as it’s being completed, perhaps in the time between your submitting it and your receiving feedback, you begin to daydream about this overwhelming positive response.

John: Yes.

Craig: In which somebody is going to call you and say, “This is the single greatest screenplay I’ve ever read.” And they are full of unconditional love and approval and it’s just a complete — it’s just “Don’t touch a word of it. It’s perfect. It’s amazing.”

The cousin of that is the Oscar Speech in the Shower Syndrome, where you very tearfully thank the Academy for understanding how brilliant and perfect the screenplay is.

I suspect that this is something that a lot of writers do naturally because it’s an offshoot of the psychological effort required to actually finish a screenplay. You need to believe that what you’re doing is good. And that part of it is fine. As long as we understand it’s not real once you turn it in, because what happens — the toxic part of Toxic Perfection Syndrome is the feeling that you get when you’re suddenly hit in the face with this icy blast that is nothing at all like the daydream.

John: Yeah.

Craig: Nothing at all. And it’s hard enough to accept criticism and to not judge yourself, but to do it when the context was that in fact this was going to be the biggest thing — it was prefect and everyone was going to love it. That’s wrenching. That is soul-wrenching, and that’s where it gets dangerous.

John: Yeah. So, let’s talk about that space between you’ve finished a draft and you are getting your first reactions back from people. And I know that feeling so well is that you have been through this marathon to finish this draft. And there were ups and there were downs. There were moments where you doubted yourself. And then you finally, you have this thing finished and you have poured everything you have into it.

But then you look at it and you’re like, wow, this is really good. This is going to be a fantastic thing. And then you start imaging like, well, how are you going to get it to these people, how are you going to get it to these people. It’s like, oh, what if this actor wants to do it, what if both of these actors want to do it. How can we…?

You just start to visualize all the things that are going to happen, but then like what if we do a sequel and then you start going forward, forward, forward, forward. And on some level it’s completely understandable that we as writers do that, because it is our job to imagine things that don’t exist.

Craig: Right.

John: And so we are imagining a future for this script we’ve written and it’s pretty understandable that given our process of writing the thing, that we would continue the chart of the success way up into the future. We think like, oh, it’s going to continue exponentially on this path into the stratosphere and it will be Titanic. We will be the unstoppable movie of all time.

And on some level that’s, I don’t know, I never want to sort of kill people from daydreaming because I think being a little bit delusional is required for success in almost any industry.

Craig: That’s right.

John: Particularly one that’s all about just making stuff up.

Craig: Yeah.

John: But how — I’m actually really genuinely asking the question — how do we bring ourselves back down to earth in a way so that when we do start to hear that feedback it isn’t just bewildering and shocking and seems like it’s coming from Mars.

Craig: Well, I think we do what you and I are doing right now which is essentially acknowledging that this happens. Because if we don’t talk about it, then we might think it’s just us. We won’t recognize that it’s a syndrome.

But you’re absolutely right when you say that we’re prone to this because we invent narratives for a living. That’s what we do. So, naturally we’re going to invent a narrative about our own work. And about ourselves and about our careers and how this is going to be received. And in that narrative we’re going to indulge in all of our dramatic tendencies.

The underdog wins. The bad guys lose. Somebody that doubted you all along is sitting in the audience just chewing their Oscar program, you know. And that’s wonderful. And we should feel to indulge in that because it’s a lovely fantasy, as long as we recognize that it’s a fantasy. That no movie that has ever done beautifully in the world started with a screenplay that somebody said, “This is perfect. Change nothing. You’re the best. Let’s shoot it. It’s perfect. Everything is great. Oscar. Legend for all time.”

It just doesn’t happen that way ever. So, if we can acknowledge that it’s a fantasy, then when we’re confronted by reality it won’t be so shocking.

John: Yeah. That makes complete sense, just emotionally and internally I’m trying to figure out how I would talk myself through that process and talk somebody else through that process, because you want somebody simultaneously to be completely passionate and engaged and they have fallen in love. It’s honestly a really good analogy for it is you had somebody wonderful and you are so excited to go out on that first date. Maybe like you met somebody on and you traded emails. And like, wow, this is going to be perfect — we click so well. Maybe you even talked on the phone.

But then you get into that sort of actual first date and it’s not what you think. And you had built this whole narrative about sort of like who he is and how it’s all going to fit. And then it’s just not that. And then you start to doubt, here’s what I think it is: is that you start to doubt that person, you start to doubt yourself, you start to question how did this narrative even come to be. And you sort of destroy everything rather than sort of acknowledging what was possible there.

Craig: Absolutely. And I think that the only solution to that, the only preventative is something that Dennis Palumbo talked about and that’s allowing yourself to indulge in the warmth and comfort of a fantasy without assigning real life meaning to it.

So, if you’ve discovered it’s a fantasy, that doesn’t mean that you’re a delusional idiot who knows nothing. It just means that you’re a human being that indulged in a very comforting fantasy. Similarly, if somebody who you in your mind fantasized would accept you and love you completely is in fact not doing that, but instead is providing conditional affection and criticism, that doesn’t mean they’re no good. They may be the best thing for you.

We just have to allow ourselves to do it but know what we’re doing. Toxic Perfection Syndrome is toxic if you don’t know that you’re fantasizing and you think, in fact, you’re predicting.

John: Yeah. I absolutely agree. Now, Craig, have you ever tried the opposite where you assume that it’s going to be terrible and that everything is going to go horribly, horribly wrong? I can’t sort of name the project, but there was one in which I was like well this is going to be just a disaster. This is not going to work well. This is doomed. I’m only doing this because I have to do this.

And weirdly, of course, it works out great. That may just be luck. But in a weird way it was sort of — I think by giving myself an emotional protection I never got my hopes up too high and I was probably a little bit more realistic with sort of what this situation was.

Many of the times rewrites are kind of that case, where I’m going in and I know like I’m not going to get this to an A. I’m going to try to get this to a B, because there’s not a way to get to an A. Emotionally that’s an easier thing for me to deal with.

Craig: Yeah. There obviously are some projects where you don’t have as much emotionally invested because you are coming along and helping to sweep up, mop up, finish the game, whatever analogy you wish. I will routinely while writing things think to myself, “Well, this is a disaster. I mean, I do this all the time.” Usually, though, by the time I get to the end I’m happy.

And I’ve tried to play the game of let’s do the bad fantasy, let’s fantasize the loss. But I usually stop because I realize I can’t — I’m not doing it well enough. This doesn’t match what actual bad news feels like. Bad news feels so much worse than this.

John: Yeah. Bad news feels like melting through the floor.

Craig: It does. It does.

John: It’s the worst.

Craig: You just feel — you feel like the inside of you is being flushed with something cold and dead.

John: Yeah.

Craig: It’s really — and that’s how you know, by the way. That’s how you know that you are a real writer. If you feel that terrible feeling, ugh.

John: Yeah, it’s a sense of like loss and no one died, but just like all this time that I put into this thing, it’s just like evaporating right before you and you see sort of no end to it.

When I described after seeing the first cut of Go, and I remember praying like maybe we will just never release it because it’s that bad. That’s what it can be. Sometimes it’s just like a phone call you get. It’s like, well, that was just awful.

I was coming into the office yesterday and I saw this look. Stuart had just hung up on the phone and I saw the look on his face. I’m like, oh no, something terrible has happened. And it was. He had just gotten a piece of bad news. And it’s just a physical, visible thing.

Craig: Yeah. And we have to acknowledge that. You know, when we get this bad news and we feel this, that it’s not precious to feel these things. It’s totally normal and it’s nasty. Nasty to feel these things. But, in a weird way once you kind of let yourself feel it, it gets a little bit better.

John: It does. And the other thing I basically said in Episode 99 with Dennis Palumbo is when you feel yourself getting these really strong emotions, I find it very useful just to turn on the record and see the little red light on the edge of your vision and just actually experience what it feels like. Because you are a writer and you’re going to be writing character’s with strong emotions. So, feel what it feels like to feel this emotion. And what does your body feel like? What does the world feel like? What are the words you would use to describe how you are feeling?

Craig: Right.

John: Because there’s going to be situations where you’re writing characters feeling this thing and you’ve got to have a memory of what that is like.

Craig: Absolutely. Or, alternatively, [sings] “Turn it off like a light switch.”

John: Just push it way, way down and never let anybody see it. That’s another really good solution.

Craig: Form it into a small tumor.

John: Let’s talk about the Oscar Speech in the Shower. I’ve totally been guilty of that.

Craig: Every writer has done this.

John: Oh, it’s so pernicious. When I’m not fantasizing about like my Oscar speech, and basically the order in which I’ll thank people, and I’ll be classy about it.

Craig: Wow. I love it.

John: Because you’ve got to be classy. How am I going to get done with my Oscar speech before they start playing the strings.

Craig: Right.

John: It’s tough. It’s really a challenge. And do you do the Soderbergh where you don’t even really acknowledge the film. You’re really trying to give a message to the world about creativity and writing? Or are you thanking your mom? Who are you thanking?

Craig: Right? Are you going to do the thank thing? I mean, after all, everyone thanks somebody. I mean, maybe I should do something different. Should I not thank people? I mean, but it’s so funny because the concern about, okay, I got to get this speech done before the time is such a writerly thing. I guarantee you no actor ever thinks about that. Ever.

John: No, exactly. They’re thinking is the camera on me? The camera is on me? Great. Everyone is paying attention to me? Awesome.

Craig: The actor is like what should my face be like? Should I be like bewildered by all the love? Like should I do the Sally Field bewilderment? Should I do graceful, calm appreciation? Should I act like I’ve been there before, or should I just let all of my emotions pour out?

Meanwhile, we’re like, all right, I need — I have 45 seconds. If I speak at a rate of four words per second…classic.

Yes, we all do it. We all do it. It doesn’t make you dumb to do that.

John: Yeah, it’s dumb. And you’re wasting a lot of water because you’re in the shower and the water is running.

Craig: But you’re dumb. But you’re not dumb. You’re sweet and human for doing it. And, you know, we are in a drought, it’s true. That is true. You could always reduce the flow of water while you do your Oscar speech —

John: Sure. A good time to write an Oscar speech, or fantasize about your Oscar speech might be like when you’re on the treadmill or you’re doing some other exercise that’s just incredibly boring.

Craig: Right.

John: Do it while you’re there. Because then at least you’re like you’re burning calories and you’re planning your Oscar acceptance speech.

Craig: Yeah. Yeah. But I can’t imagine any screenwriter has avoided this.

John: So, when I’m not planning my Oscar speech, the other thing I found myself doing way too much of is figuring out like if Beyoncé were to sing the National Anthem at the Super Bowl, how she should do it?

Because it’s really, the National Anthem as we’ve talked about before, is a challenging song to sing.

Craig: Yes.

John: My latest theory is that you are asked to do it, so you’re Beyoncé, and you’re asked to do it. So, it’s really advice for one listener if Beyoncé listens to the podcast.

Craig: Obvs…

John: If you are Beyoncé and you’re going to do it, I think you actually start with America the Beautiful and then from “Sea to shining sea” you hold the Sea into “Oh beautiful.”

So, that first part can be — you can get some big energy out America the Beautiful and then segue that into —

Craig: Oh, that’s interesting.

John: Star Spangled Banner.

Craig: Well, yeah, that could work. I mean, but what if she’s Sasha Fierce? Then it’s a whole different — we got to give her a different vibe.

John: But I think that way you could actually get a little Sasha Fierce with like, because America the Beautiful is lovely. Star Spangled Banner is actually kind of militant. It’s kind of fight. And so then she can get a little Sasha Fierce and I think she’s done the “we’re all brothers and sisters together and now it’s time for let’s fight.”

Craig: The problem with doing the National Anthem is that Whitney Houston did it the best and it’s over.

John: That’s why I think you can’t do the National Anthem like the National Anthem anymore.

Craig: Yeah, it’s done. She nailed it years ago.

John: 100 percent. She just completely — that’s the best you can do.

Craig: You can’t do better.

John: Nope. Done. While we’re making sure that things are the best they can possibly be, the WGA, Craig. So, what does the WGA need to focus on in 2014?

Craig: Yeah, so we’ve got a new board, which is a little bit of meet the new boss/same as the old boss. I mean, mostly incumbents. We picked up a couple of new guys. Jonathan Fernandez, who is terrific. Shawn Ryan, who while he’s new to the board is not new to leadership. He was very active in negotiations for a number of years now.

So, I’m just thinking, well, okay, this is all great. And every time we have an election people talk about the same stuff. Read the book, I’m like here we go.

John: Here we go.

Craig: Here comes the list of all the things that are going to change suddenly when we elect these people and they never do. Ever. And I’ve started to ask this question in a fatalistic sort of way, but also in a realistic sort of way. What the hell can the WGA actually do different or better than it currently does? Because the answer may be nothing, which is a little bit of a bummer because it doesn’t function brilliantly right now, but I’ve been wracking my brain and, I mean, look, ideally enforcement, but they don’t seem to have the capacity for it. And the nature of our rules are such that they’re difficult to enforce.

John: I would say there are two things that I would love the WGA to focus on in this next round. And weirdly they are sort of two internal things and the two things that are so unique to us as an organization as opposed to any other unit. First off, we are the only union that is — we are actually hiring ourselves a lot. And so we’re one of the few unions where this showrunner is hiring these writers, and these writers are working for this showrunner. That’s a unique situation. And I think we have to have a closer look at sort of what that relationship is.

And sometimes the hiring practices that they encounter, both in terms of diversity of representation but also the way we paper team writers. It really comes back to how are we employing ourselves. How are we hiring our fellow writers in television. That feels like something that we need to take a look at.

And it’s not a going to be a comfortable thing to look at because if you are a showrunner, you’d love to have a bunch of teams of writers, but you have to make sure you’re actually treating them well, and you’re treating them fairly.

Craig: Yeah.

John: My second bit is also really about teams. You don’t hire acting teams. You don’t hire directing teams. You can hire directing teams, I guess, but it’s really rare. But you hire writing teams all the time, writing partners all the time. And it’s how you deal with them in features and how you deal with them in television. There needs to be a little bit more parity because right now when you hire a writing team for your show, you pay one salary, but you get two bodies. And how you are able to use those bodies is sometimes challenging. Even two brains, and sometimes you’re not supposed to separate them, but you send one person to set and you keep one person in the room, or send people to different rooms to break stories. That feels crazy. And I don’t think we should be doing that.

Craig: Yeah, you know, yes. Those are all true things and I hope they change. If I had like an overall complaint, like a very generic, generalized complaint about writers, it’s that when we are en masse we tend to be very brave. And when we are individual we tend to be very cowardly.

John: I agree.

Craig: And I don’t like that. And I think you see that where we’ll have showrunners band together and make a big deal of it during strikes, but then individually they just turn a blind eye to all this stuff, which is not cool. Things like paper teaming is just really bad.

John: So, for people who don’t know what paper teaming is, paper teaming is: oh, here are these two writers I want to hire; I’m going to tell them that they are now a writing team and we’re going to basically pay one salary to hire two of them.

Craig: Right. So, you should be paying two people a full salary. Instead you just said, “Hey, you guys are both going to be working like individuals, but I’m going to call you a team just for the hell of it so I can pay each of you half of what I’m supposed to.” And that’s just wrong and we should be fighting that like crazy. And we should call in every single showrunner we have and just say, “Explain yourself. Explain yourself if you are allowing this to happen on your show.”

John: So, it’s not that there needs to be rules against paper teaming and those rules got disbanded, it’s like there were changes in practices and the union was not able to step in and sort of acknowledge that this has changed and it’s not acceptable. This is costing our members.

Craig: That’s right. So, what you have is a situation where every year there’s an election and people say, “Here’s what’s wrong with the guild and here’s how we’re going to change it.” And every year I think to myself, forget what you’re going to do to make the union better. How do you stop the erosion? It’s just been a general, slow erosion and I don’t know if it’s just that there’s nothing sexy about saying, “I have no ideas how to make this union better. I just want to keep it as it is right now and not have it be any worse.” Maybe that’s not a very sexy way to win an election.

It’s dispiriting. And I don’t have the answer. I don’t. I don’t know what to say to the WGA to say here’s how you’re going to make a bright new future for writers. I mean, other than digging in, you know, and holding the line here and now. I’d settle for that.

John: Yeah. Are there any examples of places where you don’t think they are holding the line?

Craig: I think there was an opportunity when they saw that culturally two steps were shifting to one step. There was an opportunity, because it wasn’t a guarantee that there would be two steps. And our contract to maybe shore up two steps for writers who were earning less than a certain amount, which I think would have been a very positive thing.

The paper teaming should have just been jumped on. That should have just been all out legal war on that one. And, frankly, tremendous pressure on the writers who were turning a blind eye to paper teaming.

So, Scott Frank’s very good movie, A Walk Among the Tombstones, is out right now. Have one of the great, I love this tag line from the poster: “People are afraid of all the wrong things.”

The WGA is afraid of all the wrong things. While we were staring into the void and whipping ourselves into a frenzy about what would happen if the network got to air another episode of The Office on your iPad, people were literally losing half of their incomes. We’re afraid of all the wrong things. So, there’s a monomaniacal focus on the companies and these big moves that they do and then just no real attention paid to what’s actually grinding people in the moment on the ground.

John: So, I have a counter example that’s really from this last negotiating committee, which was options and exclusivity.

Craig: Yes.

John: It was a thing that actually did change. That is acknowledging a new reality on the ground with respect of writers on TV shows were being held under option where they couldn’t work on any other shows for a year at a time because the TV season had changed in ways that everything was just upside down.

And so this was one of the few things we really dug our heels in on this last time. And we made some progress. So, I would have loved to have seen that same attention being paid to paper teaming and to these other things, but that’s an example of something that did change.

Craig: You’re right. That’s an example of something that changed. And it also indicates the kinds of changes that I think the guild probably — if I’m going to anything sort of hopeful or constructive here, I think the guild should be focusing on what I would call quality of life issues for writers.

John: Agreed.

Craig: And focusing less on how to combat multinational corporations and internet neutrality and consolidation, vertical integration. Get off of it. We can’t stop any of that. It’s just a waste of time. It’s a huge waste of time. And every day while they’re wasting their time on that nonsense or trying to litigate old battles of old dead things, what they should be doing is addressing quality of life issues for writers because it’s hard enough to get jobs. Then you get them and then suddenly there’s this new world of pain you’re in. That’s what they should be concentrating on.

And that’s a good example of one.

John: Yeah. And so I would list the situation for writer teams to be a similar kind of quality of life thing, because it’s made it incredibly difficult for writing teams to even stay together, or just to make a living writing for TV shows.

Craig: Yeah. I mean, you just have to be careful to not put a rule in that makes it even harder for them to get a job at all.

John: Absolutely. That’s one of those challenging situations where — but the fact is true I think for all union situations, isn’t it Craig though? Where the rule that could ultimately help the writers as a whole could hurt some individuals? And that’s just the nature of trying to do stuff union wide, is that you’re not always going to make the thing that’s best for this individual, but it may be best for the overall class of people trying to do this thing.

Craig: Well, yeah. And now what you have to be careful of is let’s say you said, all right, we pay a writer X. And we currently pay the two members of a writing team X divided two. Well, the new rule is we’re actually going to be paying a single writer X, and we’re going to be paying a team 1.5X.

Well, I could easily see people going, let’s just avoid hiring teams. Let’s just hire individual writers instead. The actual hiring wouldn’t change. It’s just that people in teams would suddenly be disadvantaged. And be disadvantaged by the very thing that was supposed to help them.

You know, that’s where you’ve got to be careful. And, look, we could certainly start with the paper teaming. Like that’s just so to me a quality of life issue that’s just got to stop.

John: The Directors Guild, who often frustrate me, and people who are genuinely writing teams get frustrated by the Directors Guild because Directors Guild does not want two directors on a project partly because they’re I think nervous of sort of this kind of situation happening, where two people are being forced to sort of share one job and to share one salary.

And so paper teaming doesn’t happen in the director’s chair because the DGA is very, very strongly opposed to it.

Craig: Yes. That’s correct. And they don’t like teams for a whole bunch of reasons. Maybe the prime one is that they feel that the single director is the thing that gives them this certain authorial respect. And they’re right. I mean, the singularity of the director does solve a lot of problems for people that are reporting on who made a movie.

But the Directors Guild has, to me, always been better about worrying entirely about quality of life issues for their membership. They are entirely about that. And the guild is not. The guild is entirely about some sort of political stance against corporations. As far as I can tell, that’s their focus.

So, for instance, if you direct a movie under a DGA contract, as I did, you are visited twice on set by a DGA representative who has a pretty involved discussion with you. And make sure that they’re following the rules and ask questions. And then stands and watches for awhile. Nobody come to you in the middle of a production and says, “Let’s go down and see how you’ve been…”

What they do is they call you after it’s over and say, “Hey, how were you treated?” Does it matter how I was treated? You know? Shouldn’t it matter how I’m being treated now? We don’t have that. We don’t do it. We’re just too oriented to a once every three years battle with the AMPTP. We’re too angry at these companies to spend time doing this other stuff. Yup. Yup.

John: Yup. Let’s get on to our One Cool Things.

Craig: Great.

John: Craig, what is yours?

Craig: So, John, begun the drone deliveries have.

John: Ah, I’m so excited about drones.

Craig: I know. So, they’ve been talking, it just seemed like the most ridiculously thing. I didn’t believe it would ever happen, but it’s happening. So, there’d been talk that Amazon was going to try and basically create a drone army of little mini helicopters that would deliver packages to you, because the Holy Grail for Amazon is to skirt around UPS and the US Post Office and FedEx.

Well, DHL, which we’re all familiar with, it’s a big international shipping company, they’ve begun this in a very, very small way. There’s this little island called Juist that’s off of the north shore of Germany. And they’re only accessible by a ferry. And so DHL has created a system of little helicopter drone things that now daily carry packages between the mainland and Juist.

And it’s automated. It’s an automated flight. And it lands in a designated spot where a guy that works for DHL put them all, all the packages on a truck and drives them around and delivers them.

I do think that this makes sense. That we’re actually going to live in a world where there is preserved air space for drone traffic and we’re just going to get stuff delivered to us by drones.

John: See, I think that this example where it’s landing in one place, that it’s a hub and spoke system makes a lot of sense. I think the drone coming to the house is going to be problematic. Just, I’m looking at my house, and we have a backyard, but it’s going to just be weird and uncomfortable. And so your two-year-old runs out there and starts attacking the drone. It just — there’s so many variables that I worry that in actual normal residential life it will be problematic.

Craig: I think they’re going to figure it out.

John: All right.

Craig: I do.

John: I don’t doubt the future. I just think the future is going to probably look a little different than what this is right now.

Craig: I don’t know. But I just like the idea of just streaming done traffic constantly above us, bringing us our stuff.

John: So, your drone could deliver my One Cool Thing. So, two or three weeks ago on the show you mentioned that you had a new razor that you love that has 19 blades and is, of course, great.

Craig: Swivel Thingy.

John: Swivel Thingy. And so sort of follow up to that, that same week I got this thing called Blade Buddy. And I heard about similar kinds of things and this one was well reviewed, so I tried it. It’s a $20 thing you get and it’s basically sort of like how you have a sharpening skill for like a fancy kitchen knife. So, just take the edge and the curl off of a blade, so it’s not like wet stone that’s taking the edge off. This thing is for sharpening normal Gillette kind of razor blades.

And so what you do, it’s this sort of rubberized little stand thing and you brush the blade against it 20 times. Takes like ten seconds. And it just takes the dents off the blade. And so you can use one blade quite a lot longer than you normally could.

Craig: And it works on multiple blades, like the kind you use?

John: Yes, it works great.

Craig: Buy now with one click. And done.

John: And done. But here’s the thing: I do find that the new razor blades are really good and they do make shaving delightful and comfortable. But they’re so crazy expensive.

Craig: They’re ridiculously expensive.

John: You can get, I mean, if you can double the life of one of those blade heads, that’s money very well spent.

Craig: Yeah, this sounds awesome.

John: So, anyway, you will try it out and maybe next week you’ll let us know how it is.

Craig: Great. Done.

John: And that’s our show. So, as always our show is produced by Stuart Friedel. Is edited by Matthew Chilelli. If you like the show and want to subscribe to it, just go to iTunes and click subscribe and leave a comment there. But if you’d like to subscribe to the premium feed, which has all the back episodes and bonus content, you go to and click on the little banner thing. And it says Premium Stuff. And then you put in your information and then you can listen to us on the apps for the iPhone and for Android.

Craig: How much does that cost again?

John: $1.99 a month.

Craig: I mean, it’s insulting now if you don’t do it. And you know our pledge. What’s our pledge, John?

John: We are a money-losing podcast.

Craig: We will always be a money-losing podcast.

John: We will always be a money-losing podcast.

Craig: Don’t you worry.

John: If you have a question for Craig Mazin you should tweet at him, @clmazin. I’m @johnaugust on Twitter. Longer questions go to is also where you’ll find the show notes for today’s episode, so things about the drone helicopters and science fiction lists and Adam Sandler. It’s also a place where you can click to find tickets for the Slate Live Culture Gabfest which is tomorrow. And maybe we’ll even find something about why you should get a flu shot, because you should get a flu shot.

Craig: Yeah, get the flu shot.

John: Get the flu shot. Come on. That’s our show. Craig, thank you.

Craig: Good show. Thank you, John. See you next time.

John: See you next time.