I know this isn’t about writing or movies. I’m not sorry. Because some of you need help.

The estimable and dapper BenDavid Grabinski (NOT a Jew, if you could believe such a thing) honored me tonight with this Twitter:

“Every time I cook a steak I refer to an email @DrGMLaTulippe sent me years ago. The man knows what he is doing.”

Now, aside from the fact that he is categorically incorrect about the state of my manhood (which, in reality, does not exist), he is right about one thing: I know a tried-and-true method of cooking perfect-to-near-perfect steaks. It’s a method they use in restaurants all over the world, it’s simple as all hell, and it takes very little time and practice to get right. And even if you DON’T get it right, your steak will still up better than it does normally. Because right now, you’re probably cooking like an asshole.

Before we get started: if you want to cook a terrific steak on an outdoor grill, some of this info is going to be different. The prep and stuff would be exactly the same, while the actual techniques would be tweaked. But I want to say this: if your two options are your stove/oven and a propane grill, go with the stove/oven option every single time. Every. Single. Time. Propane drools. Charcoal rules. My opinion entirely, but for a steak this is really no contest. So remember: oven/stove. Always.

OK? OK. So let’s light this candle, eh? To do that, go to the store. Your mission starts well before you even get into your kitchen.


A facet of grilling that far, FAR too many people ignore: you have to pick the right cut of beef, and it’s not necessary to spend a ton of money to get good stuff.

For now, stick with these cuts: Sirloin, New York strip, Ribeye, Filet, Porterhouse. There are others that work, but these are the most reasonably priced and most readily available.  Ignore flank, chuck, blade, etc. Those are all stewing meats and, though cheap, will be far too tough to grill. Also, if possible, buy your steak bone-in – meaning the beef is still naturally attached to the bone. Cooking on the bone helps keep the meat tender. That in mind, avoid T-bones. There, you’re paying for too MUCH bone weight.

And ah, yes, the weight: for all of these except the filet, which you can get as small as 4oz and still be OK, get a steak that’s at LEAST 6oz, and preferably 8oz-16oz. You have a better chance of cooking your meat to the temperature desired the thicker it is; the smaller it is and you’re more likely to cook it too well-done. Also, try to find meat that’s at least 1.5-2 inches thick, for the same reasons I just listed. Can’t eat it all? That’s why we have refrigerators and leftovers, genius.

This next thing is arguably the most important in the whole process, so listen up, jerk:


Look here:

leansteakHey, that looks good, doesn’t it? NO. NO. YOU STOP. BAD READER! BAD! Steaks NEED some fat to cook, or you’re going to end up with dry, flavorless meat. And that sucks. If you’re afraid of ingesting any fat whatsoever, do not eat steaks. Go buy quinoa or tofu or some other shit like that. Steaks are not for you. Also, get the fuck out of my blog.

This is more like it:



In fact, you can do with even a little MORE fat (which in steaks is called “marbling”) than this, but this is good enough. Again, the fat not only flavors your meat, but it creates wonderful meat juices and makes getting the right temperature much, much easier. For God’s sake, it’s going to taste better! Why are you arguing with me? Is it bad for you? If you eat three of these a day for ten years, yes, you will die of the most spectacular heart attack you can imagine. Your arteries will burst out of your chest and strangle you while everyone you love and cherish watches. Otherwise, you’re fine.

Now, while you’re at the store, you also want to pick up either olive oil or butter – real butter, no Margarine (which is like a BILLION times worse for you than red meat) – some sea salt in a grinder, and peppercorns in a grinder. I prefer butter to olive oil, but I’ll discuss the prep for both. And I can’t stress this enough: NO PRE-GROUND SALT OR PEPPER, AND NO TABLE SALT. Sea salt. Grinder. Peppercorns. Grinder. This will enhance the flavor of your steak. If you just use the pre-powdered junk, it’s not going to be nearly as good.

OK, got all that? Buy these things. And then go home.


So one of two things is going to happen: you’re going to cook your steak now, or you’re going to cook it later.

If you’re planning on cooking later, take a couple steps now to make your life easier. First, take the steak out of the plastic you probably bought it in. Get some paper towels. Pat both sides of the steak dry; this will help it sear better later. When you’re done with that, put it on a paper plate. Get out your salt and pepper. Dust the steak with the salt. What does dusting mean, you ask? Get salt all over the steak, but for God’s sake, do NOT coat it. A liberal amount of salt will go a long way. Now, put your pepper on. Same thing, though you can use a little more pepper than salt. I like to. And you should like what I like, all the time. Pat the meat to dig the seasoning in a bit. Repeat this on the other side. Then slide it in a freezer bag and put it in the fridge.

A note: hold your grinders about six t0 eight inches above the meats while you’re seasoning. This allows some air to get in between the individual grains of salt/pepper, and you’ll get a more even season on your steak. See how helpful I am?

The point here is that the longer the seasoning is on the meat, the more flavorful it will be. You don’t have to do this, and your steak won’t be wrecked if you don’t, but if you leave it overnight with the seasoning on, good things will happen. Food! Also, eventually you can experiment with rubs and marinades. But trust me on this: salt and pepper is all you will ever absolutely need, and my bet is you’ll always prefer just those ingredients.

When you ARE ready to cook your steak, take it out and let it sit on your counter, in its freezer bag, for at least an hour or two. Why? Throwing a cold steak on a hot pan (more on this in a second) will earn you a cold pan, which means your steak will not cook through properly. Which is a problem, even if you’re going for medium-rare. You will end up with a scorched outside and a cold inside. Kind of like if Jennifer Lopez got trapped in a  chemical fire (fingers crossed).

If you ARE going to cook your steak right away, do all the seasoning above as I instructed. If you’re going to use olive oil, drizzle a little on each side BEFORE you season and rub it in, coating the meat. Why would one use olive oil? It will help your meat not get TOO stuck to your pan, and it’ll give it a little extra fat to cook in. Because, as we’ve discussed, fats are your friends!

Is that all done? You are an incredible talent. Now, go get yourself an oven-safe skillet big enough to fit your steak comfortably. Once you’ve done that, preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Why 350 degrees? I’m glad you didn’t ask! This is one major thing that people don’t get about cooking: cooking on the highest heat all the time is a great way to ruin your food. Did you notice there are different temperature settings on your cooktop? They’re there for a reason. Celebrate that. In the oven, 350 is the perfect temperature to cook ANY kind of steak quickly and properly without fucking up the outside and leaving the inside raw.

So…you know, go do that.


Once the little dinging-thing goes off for the oven and it’s heated to 350, put your frying pan on the stove. Turn the burner to HI and – and this is EXTREMELY IMPORTANT – let the pan sit there and get hot for five minutes. This is CRUCIAL because you want to put a nice char on your steak, and if the pan isn’t hot enough, you won’t get one. If you used olive oil, you’re good to go. If you’re using butter, drop half a tablespoon of it onto the pan about thirty seconds before you put your steak on.

Now…well, you know…put your steak on. And then – and again, THIS IS EXTREMELY IMPORTANT – don’t touch it for a minute and a half. Once that minute and a half passes, flip the steak over. Congratulations, you have now created a delicious crust on your steak that is, again, delicious, and will also help seal in all the vital juices that are going to build inside your meat (pornographic, sorry) while it cooks in the oven.

Speaking of the oven – let’s put the steak in THERE now! Flip the steak once more back to the first side you seared. Take the frying pan off the burner and slide it in the oven. The next part here is tricky, and this is where almost all of your trial and error is going to come from. IN GENERAL: for a two-inch-thick steak, 3-3.5 minutes per side will get you medium-rare; 4 minutes per side will get you medium; 4.5 minutes per side will get you medium-well. IN GENERAL: most of you will enjoy your steak cooked LESS and opposed to cooked MORE. But play around with it. Judge it. And not to get sexual in here, but when you take it out to flip it, TOUCH YOUR MEAT. If it’s super-soft, it’s rare. If it’s super-springy, it’s well done. Find the happy medium there.

Once your steak has cooked to your liking, take it out of the oven and place it on a plate. Whatever you do, DO NOT CUT INTO IT RIGHT AWAY. Let all those juices redistribute and soak back into the meat. Yes, your steak will cool down a bit, but an aggressively-warm steak is a trillion times better than a hot steak that’s about to dry out on you. So once it’s on the plate, cover it VERY loosely with a piece of tin foil and walk away for five minutes.

Is the five minutes up? No? WALK AWAY. Fucking hell, did you listen to ANYTHING I just said?

Is the five minutes up? Yes? Then eat your damn steak, you jackal.

I hope this helps. I know it was long (if you’ve ever been here before or know me I can’t write concisely for shit) but it’s better if you understand WHY you’re doing what you’re doing so you don’t develop a bad habit and think it’s OK. It’s not. It is NOT OK.

Also, you’re welcome.


First of all, sorry to the six of you who read this blog that I’ve been away for so long. Work and whatnot. And the flu. And the podcast! If you’re not listening to THE BROKEN PROJECTOR, well…you goddamn should be. So get on that.

Next week, I’m going to write a little piece about facing rejection as a writer. It happens. It happens a lot, and especially when you’re just starting out, just getting a feel for screenwriting. SPOILER: You need that proverbial thick skin. If you don’t yet have it, you need to develop it. If not, the process of screenwriting will swallow you whole. It’s not even a question of if, and the when might happen before you even have a chance to blink.

Scott and I tackle this on Episode 5 of BROKEN PROJECTOR (“Should Han Shoot First?”) in the form of answering a listener question, so give that a listen, and then come back next week for a deeper discussion.

This week, though, it’s Oscar time. And in light of that, I thought I’d take a few minutes to talk about some scripts I really loved over the years.

As many of you know (I’m very popular and people know things about me, if you DIDN’T know), I was a studio reader before someone was dumb enough to pay me actual money to write. In that 4.5 years, I read a TON of scripts – somewhere around 5,000, by my count. I read for my job. I read for my education. And I read because I was DESPERATELY chasing down material that would blow me away. Maybe five out of every hundred scripts I read were REALLY good. So script reading is a bit like heroin – you keep chasing the high of reading a great script. The only difference is that, once you find it, it’s totally worth it all over again. Heroin just, you know, kills the shit out of you.

That in mind, here are a few of my favorite scripts from my time as a reader. Not all of them, but the ones that, for me, really landed. But a few caveats:

First of all, this is lazy as hell. I know all the titles for these scripts for sure; for some of them, though, I’ve forgotten the writer’s name. Honestly, there are a couple that I’m not even sure ever sold, so it’s not like I can look them up. Also, I might get some details wrong. One of these scripts I read nine years ago, and I know the broad strokes and can remember some of the jokes, but I’m fucking old. In other words: the sentiment is wholly accurate, but the finer points might not be. And while I suggest you go out and find all of these for your own reading pleasure/education, some of them may be unfindable. So…sorry for the cock tease there, as it were.

Onto the scripts!


Fucking out on a limb, aren’t I? Starting this list with a Sorkin script? I know. I’ve got balls.

This is one of Sorkin’s unproduced masterworks, a script I read for New Line Cinema during my very first week on the job. Funny story: I remember Luke Ryan and Jeff Katz, who were overseeing the readers at the time (and who were JUST transitioning to exec positions), telling me specifically, “Be VERY careful about what scripts you Consider for the big guys here. Recommend something they really dislike and you might be in trouble.” Good to note. So on, like, my third day, I was given this script. By Aaron Sorkin. For the head of the studio.

Long story, short, I RELUCTANT PASSED ON AN AARON SORKIN SCRIPT BECAUSE I WAS AFRAID OF GETTING FIRED. A few weeks later, New Line bought it for some ungodly amount of money, and my path of sub-mediocrity was officially laid out in unbreakable stone.

Mostly I just really wanted to tell that story. But obviously, this is an incredible script, set during the invention of the television and the struggle that ensued, a classic David and Goliath story. I believe, at some point, it was retitled PHILO. Anyway, just tremendous. Seek it out.


If you want to write scripts, chances are you’ve already read this one, potentially (in my opinion) the best unproduced script in Hollywood. I was so baffled that no one could ever figure this out, and especially once we saw that you could make an enthralling, budget-friendly version of this based on the 300 or SIN CITY model. It makes me angry that it’s still unmade.

For those of you who HAVEN’T read it, do so. It’s a fantasy set in a city where people live alongside fairies, vampires, and all kinds of mythological and invented folk. Someone is killing said fairies, and a fairy-hating detective gets sucked into the investigation of who and why.

Worth mentioning: read the versions of the script before Guillermo del Toro got his hands on it. I love GdT as a director, just like everyone else, but MAN did he muck this one up as a writer. Actually, get both versions, read them, and tell I’m wrong. HINT: I’m not.


I wish I could remember this writer’s name, because oh my CHRIST I want to kiss him/her on the face for this. I read this in my first six months on the job, and it STILL blows me away in its inventiveness and ability to give the middle finger to all that is holy.

It’s a dark, dark, DARK, deviant comedy about a man whose family is cursed by Santa Claus. Once a generation, he comes to steal the true love of the oldest brother in the family and take her to the North Pole to be his Mrs. Claus. When it happens to our protagonist, he thinks all is lost. He’s then visited by the Easter Bunny, a war-hungry near-schizophrenic who’s fucking tired of Santa getting all the holiday recognition and wants to take him down.

Um…it’s REALLY R-rated. And there’s a scene where the main character and Easter Bunny go to wage war on Santa, and we see that the Easter Bunny has a giant statue of himself, festooned in guns and armor and wearing a GIGANTIC codpiece. Also, he throws Easter eggs that are really grenades.

Do you really need me to explain more? Go find it.


This one has such a special place in my heart, because it’s in the exact same mold as one of my all-time favorite movies (A CHRISTMAS STORY), but updated for a very, very specific and wonderful time of my life.

It’s basically the same story as that of Ralphie and his Red Ryder BB gun, but transplanted to the 1980s during the seminal moment for any young man of my generation: the release of the Nintendo Entertainment System. In this story, there’s the one rich kid in the neighborhood who gets his Nintendo MONTHS before anyone else, and his house is basically an asexual brother from there on out. But there’s a tragedy, and all of a sudden, the parents in this small town (outside of Chicago, I believe) ban sales of Nintendo systems. Thus, our 10 year-old(ish) heroes set out to get their own Nintendos for Xmas.

Yeah, so…this is one that I think might be the hardest to track down. Sorry about that.


This is my favorite script I’ve ever read in my life, and I am KICKING myself for losing my hard copy of it. It was on the Black List in 2007 and will probably never get made – but not because it’s not amazing. It is. And if there’s ANY script on this list I demand you seek out, it’s this one.

It’s the story of the writer, Bill Carter (and I believe it’s the same Bill Carter who wrote THE LATE SHIFT, but don’t hold me to that), and his true-life experiences in war-torn Bosnia in the early 90s. After the death of his wife (or girlfriend, can’t totally remember which), Bill heads to Sarajevo, just sort of emptily wandering, maybe even subconsciously suicidal. He starts off as a mere lurker, observing the war from afar, but eventually he falls in with the humanitarian effort and ends up becoming a key cog in the peace process.

It might not sound like it, but more than anything, this movie is FUNNY. It’s not a comedy, per se – more of a dramedy – but if you can eke out real, heartfelt laughs in a story like this, you’re a master. The dialogue is sensational and the characters are perfectly rendered. The big issue here is that it will likely never be produced because the cost of recreating a city at war is probably far too high. But I hold onto the bleak hope that someone like Megan Ellison comes along, says fuck it, and throws money at this thing. It’s beautiful and wonderful and near-perfect. Get your hands on it.


There was a script going around at one point titled the same that eventually became the Chris Weitz movie A BETTER LIFE; this is not that script. Nay, this one is far more…special.

This is a movie about a gardener, strangely enough, who comes across an old terrarium filled with odd plant life. He takes it home and comes to find it inhabited by a tiny little man. The gardener finds that not only can he communicate with the man in the terrarium, but that the man thinks the gardener is God. Over time, the gardener advises the MITT, eventually watching as his fragile ecosystem/universe spirals out of control based on his decisions.

I know this sounds completely fucked, but it’s played straight, as if this is all happening to someone in the real world. And it’s LOVELY. Wish I could remember more about it, but again, I’m an idiot. If anyone gets their hands on this, PLEASE let me know. I’d love to read it again.

IRON JACK by Johnny Rosenthal

I’ll keep this one short, since the description should be enough and I don’t want to ruin the jokes for you: it’s a FORREST GUMP-type story, but written as an absurdist comedy with a main character who’s a pulp adventurer. Set in the 1920s, I believe. It’s fucking hysterical.

This script was the target of a massive bidding war, and I remember being super excited to read it because a film exec called me up at 5PM one day and said, “I need this read in an hour, and I need you to have a definite opinion as to whether or not it’s worth buying tonight.” It was. Laughed my ass off the whole way through.

K-12 by Joey Aucoin

This one hit me right in the bread-basket. It’s a very simple, John Hughesian story of a boy and a girl who meet in Kindergarten and have a relationship throughout their school careers that teeters on the brink between love and friendship. And occasionally hatred.

It’s pretty perfect, and I’ve always been bummed that it’s never been produced. There are challenges – you essentially have to change the main characters often to account for the leaps in age – but it’s totally worth it. I think you’ll find the same if you get your hands on it.


If any of you have any updates or corrections on any of these scripts, having read them yourselves, please let me know and I shall update, giving you credit. Please seek these scripts out – you’ll be a better writer for the education and you’ll have absorbed a few really awesome stories in the process.