Follow Friday
PLUS: Alexandra Petri, Rose Eveleth, and Ed Zitron bonus picks

Follow Friday's new Patreon!

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Big news: Starting today, for as little as $1 a month, you can support Follow Friday on Patreon!

Other than the warm fuzzy feeling you get from helping an indie podcaster out, you'll also get cool stuff when you back us: A shout-out on the show, your name in the show notes, sneak peeks at upcoming episodes, AND — most importantly — bonus mini-episodes! Today on the podcast, we're playing three examples of what those minisodes will sound like.

These are never-before-heard bonus recommendations from three popular recent guests: Flash Forward host Rose Eveleth, EZPR founder Ed Zitron, and Washington Post humorist Alexandra Petri. They talk about an accessibility consultant who knows how to break writers' block, a semi-anonymous teenager who's more knowledgeable about the NFL than anyone on ESPN, and a comedian/podcaster whose tweets capture the zeitgeist.

To get even more cool people to follow every month, visit and become a backer today. And if you have something you want to promote on the show, or a podcast or other creative project you want help with, check out the higher tiers there as well.

Follow us:
- This show is @followfridaypod on Twitter, Instagram, and TikTok
- Eric is @heyheyesj on Twitter

Like the show? Please visit and leave a review on any of the platforms listed there. Your review will encourage new listeners to take a chance on Follow Friday.

Theme song written by Eric Johnson, and performed by Yona Marie. Show art by Dodi Hermawan. Additional music by Purple Planet Music.
Full transcript of this episode
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ERIC JOHNSON: Today on Follow Friday, we're going to talk about writer's block, stairs in space, the NFL Draft, bad teenagers, evil dalmatians, and what Abraham Lincoln said about podcasting. AND some very exciting news about the future of the show.

[theme song]

ERIC: I'm Eric Johnson. Welcome to Follow Friday, a podcast about who you should follow online. Every week, I talk to creative people about who they follow, and why. This is a guided tour to the best people on the internet, led by your favorite writers, podcasters, comedians, and more.

Today, we're gonna hear from three of those creative people, who you've already heard on the show before, but first: I'm excited to announce that Follow Friday is now on Patreon!

Starting at just one dollar a month, you can support this podcast, and help me ensure that it stays free for everyone.

Podcasting is like eating a grandfather clock: It's time consuming. For every half hour of podcast that makes it onto the show, there are hours and hours of work behind the scenes: Booking the guests, researching their follows, writing scripts, editing the show, editing the transcript, telling people about it... It's a lot! So if you are able to spare the change, I would love to have your support.

And if you back Follow Friday on Patreon, you also get a bunch of cool stuff. You'll get a shout-out on the podcast, your name in the show notes, sneak peeks at upcoming episodes, AND — most importantly — bonus mini-episodes! In addition to the main show, which is and will remain free, Patreon supporters will also get exclusive bonus recommendations from our guests every month.

You get all of that starting at just $1 a month, and it's a pay-what-you want sort of thing. So if you really like the show and can chip in $3 or $5 or even, dare I say it … SIX dollars a month, I would super appreciate it.

Later in the show, I'll tell you more about what you can get at the higher tiers on Patreon. But now, I want to play you one of those bonus recommendations. This a never-before-heard pick from Flash Forward host Rose Eveleth, who was on the show a few weeks ago. Enjoy...

ERIC: Rose, I asked you to tell me about someone who makes you think. And you said Ace Ratcliff, who's on Twitter @MortuaryReport. They're a freelance writer, artist, consultant, and photographer. Ace also describes themself as a former mortician, which I guess is where the name Mortuary Report comes from.

In your email, you said Ace "always asks really good questions." So talk about where you've read or seen their work and what makes their questions so good.

ROSE EVELETH: Ace is part of a very small writing group that I have, which is literally two people plus me; three people total. We meet every Sunday and we are all working on various writing projects, whether that's fiction or a memoir or whatever it is. And I feel very lucky to be able to talk to them all the time about stuff. What I was referencing when I say they ask really good questions is often, I'll send over whatever we'll critique for that week that I'm working on.

And I'll just be aaah, I don't know. I'm stuck or I can't figure out whatever, and they always know the right questions to ask about how to get through it and questions that are going to open up that door. They're just very thoughtful about that.

I feel like all of my writing has been so much better because of that, because they ask these questions that are always really good. Whether it's fiction or nonfiction, they're really good at pinpointing that thing that you need to figure out and help you work through.

ERIC: At the risk of making you relive some writer's block trauma here, can you remember any specific example where you were really struggling with something and then Ace swooped in and said, "No, it's this," or asked the right questions to help you unlock it?

ROSE: I feel like I have a tendency in many ways to want to explain every step of the process, for how a character gets from A to B to C. And you don't actually have to do that a lot of the time in fiction. But I'm very literal, often. So I'll be like, "They had to walk over here and do this thing." And they'll always be like, "Do we need to know that?" And I'll be like, "No, we don't."

They're very good at asking those questions. That's the one I think of a lot. Also, if I'm stuck on a character, they'll often say, "Well, how do you think they feel about...?" And they'll ask me questions about the characters that are often very clarifying, where I'm like, "No, they would not react that way. They would react this way." I think that's also very helpful.

ERIC: Ace is also an accessibility consultant. They use a wheelchair, they live with several chronic illnesses. Maybe I'm forgetting something obvious, but I feel like we almost never see disabled people in sci-fi. The only thing I could think of was the former captain of the Enterprise in Star Trek.

So I'm wondering, how often does this come up on Flash Forward, either in the fiction you're doing, or in the real-life scientists you're talking to. Do accessibility issues, disability issues come up?

ROSE: All the time. And one of the goals of Flash Forward is to remind people that, in fact, the future is for everybody. Everybody's going to be there, and we need to be thinking about what it is that we're designing for. Ace actually has a really great piece about why there are so many stairs in space in the future in science fiction? Why are we still doing this? Which is a great piece and I think it's on Gizmodo.

Ace has actually been on Flash Forward before talking about disability issues and talking about privacy and what you have to give up sometimes; what people make you give up when you're disabled, to tell people about your medical disclosures and stuff like that.

I often will turn to them if I'm working on an episode and be like, "Hey, is there a missing disability angle here?" I'll ask them those questions and they're always really useful. It's really important to me to make sure that Flash Forward is painting a picture and talking about a future that includes everyone. And that includes people with disabilities.

CRISPR, hopefully, won't turn into eugenics in which we just eliminate everyone. That would be bad. That's not the future we want.

ERIC: That's the dark side of your personality that you mentioned before. It's not that far of a leap to go from, "Hey, CRISPR is amazing" to "Oh no, CRISPR could become something really, really bad."

ROSE: Yes, it is. That's a tough one. And on the episode we did on CRISPR for Flash Forward, I talked to a bunch of disability advocates and disabled folks about how it feels to hear that kind of language all the time.

ERIC: That was Rose Eveleth from one of my favorite podcasts, Flash Forward, talking about why she follows Ace Ratcliff, who is on Twitter and Instagram at @MortuaryReport. You can get more bonus recommendations like that one when you support Follow Friday at

Now, if you go to that page, you'll see that there are other tiers beyond the $1-and-up pledge I was talking about earlier. If all you want is the bonus episodes, then that's great. Pick the "Small Fri" tier, pay what you want.

But we also have the "Big Fri" tier. If you pledge at that level, then here on Follow Friday, I will read a fun, unique ad for whatever you want. So if you have a website, a startup, a newsletter, a podcast, or a social media page that you'd like to promote, or just something you want to say to the world, pledge at that tier and I will tell everyone about it. AND I will read your name in the credits of every episode of Follow Friday, not just the first one, as long as you are a backer.

You'll also get all the same benefits from the "Small Fri" tier — the bonus episodes, the sneak peeks at upcoming shows, and your name in the show notes.

And then we get to the top tier on, which I call the VID, or Very Important Duck. Believe me, the name could have been worse. At this tier, you get all the stuff I've been talking about, including the bonus episodes and the promo every month. AND THEN, on top of that, you also get a 1-on-1 call with me every month to talk about your podcast or other creative project or anything else you want. All of that together is $150/month.

I am a podcast consultant by day, so if you follow me because you're interested in podcasting, this is a great value. During our 1-1 call, I will share anything and everything I can think of that will help you achieve your specific goals.

So to recap: Small Fri backers get the bonus episodes, their names in the show notes, a shout out on the show, and so on. Big Fri backers get all of that plus a longer promo for their work every month. And Very Important Duck backers get all of THAT plus a 1-1 call with me every month.

The last thing I should say is that there are only four Big Fri spots and four Very Important Duck spots available at a time. So here's my infomercial: Act now! Supplies are limited! Operators are standing by.

(Not really. No one's standing by. Sorry.)

And now, let's listen to another bonus recommendation. This is the kind of thing you'll be hearing when you support us on Patreon at any level, starting at just $1 a month. This one comes from Ed Zitron.

ERIC: Ed, I asked you for someone who's an expert in a very specific niche that you love. And you said Simpfortyrie, who is on Twitter at that name, @simpfortyrie.

So I'm going to read what you said in your email to me when you were sending over your picks. You said, "This is a kid. I am confident he's a teenager. Nevertheless, he has some of the most astute views on the NFL and college football I've ever seen."

ED ZITRON: Correct.

ERIC: So that's quite a claim. Could you elaborate on that? What sort of views is simpfortyrie sharing?

ED: So leading up to the NFL Draft, which go to the end of April, he was analyzing each quarterback down to their mechanics, how they could improve, why they were doomed in certain cases because there were such fundamental issues. What they specifically do is they alter their mechanics; the way they position their body.

This incredible insight... I mean, just niche of niche and the true draft jams, which every outlet does, except with incredible detail, really specific, esoteric things like this undrafted quarterback who was in Florida, who went to Arkansas, called Philippe Franks, all of these conversations. And then occasionally, like, "The girl who I like said..." just a thing about being a teenager.

I worry that one day, he'll grow up and then just be an angrier teen. I don't know. But outside of him complaining about classes, he'll be talking about all of these very specific... He's talking today about DJ Uiagalelei. Wonderful name. I can't pronounce it. I'm not going to try to say it, I consider that offensive.

"I doubt DJ will ever win a Heisman unless Clemson changes their scheme." Just that kind of stuff, which is fun. But then he'll go on an entire thread about why Kedon Slovis, who plays for USC, why he's going to be a dud, and just eviscerate these quarterbacks in such a way...

And he'll do standard things where he'll just do it and then just move on. But then he'll occasionally dig in so deep on stuff and it's wonderful. I really just enjoy it. And no one I know follows him and I don't believe he follows anyone I know.

ERIC: I was going to ask about this, because he doesn't have a lot of followers. He has about 54 followers.

ED: I don't know how he got on my feed, I have no idea.

ERIC: And now he's one of your favorite sports commentators.

ED: During the NFL Draft, he was one of the most fun people to watch because, past the first round of the NFL Draft it gets kind of boring, maybe past the second round, not with this guy!

This guy was @-messaging me saying, "Please don't take Creed Humphrey." He was talking about the Raiders and he was talking about a center linemen in the third round of the NFL draft. That's why I'm on this Twitter shit because you have this random guy you meet through pure happenstance who is now...

And I'm sure he's been wrong at some point, who knows? But he is now this guy that I can look to for really specific thoughts on the NFL or college. And frankly, I've @-messaged him a few times and said, "Hey, what do you think of this?" And he's always got an answer.

It's just a lot of fun. I really enjoy it. And I wanted to think of someone who was not someone anyone would follow. And I worry, of course, like any teenager, that he goes somehow bad. I don't know. I hope he doesn't go like that, but he's shown no sign. He is just a teenager. And he'll complain about girls occasionally and it's like, "Oh remember being young? Remember that?"

ERIC: Yeah, it's a rough analogue of, do you remember Moneyball where Brad Pitt plucks Jonah Hill out of some back office, where he's just hunched over a computer and it's just, "I want you to run the Oakland A's with me." That's you and this guy. I feel like you two should team up and then become football coaches or something.

ED: And here's the thing, I don't really know about his life and I almost never want to know.

ERIC: It's kind better not knowing. Yeah.

ED: He occasionally mentions his own mechanics. So I wonder if he's like a varsity quarterback. He may be in college, who knows? I'll never know. It's kind of magical. And this hearkens back to the elder path internet, when you didn't really know everyone and anonymity, yes, has a great deal of problems. So many, but at the same time, you just knew who were just avatars.

Back when I played EverQuest, there were all sorts of people that I knew and will only ever know as their EverQuest persona. And there's something innocent about it. I don't know. He's also very astute and very bright. But at the same time, not knowing is kind of nice.

ERIC: That was Ed Zitron, talking about why he follows Simp for Tyrie, who's on Twitter at @SimpForTyrie. We're going to take a quick break now, but we'll be back in a minute with another bonus recommendation, this one from Alexandra Petri. Stay with us.

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ERIC: Hey! Welcome back to Follow Friday, where today we are celebrating the launch of our Patreon page, which you can find at

We're going to close today's show with one more bonus recommendation from a previous guest. But first, I just want to thank every one of you who has been listening over the past 20 episodes. I really love making this show, and seeing people discover it and talk about it and share it with their friends makes me so happy.

I also want to thank all of the guests who have been on Follow Friday, as well as the people who have been recommended on the show. In both cases, many of them have helped spread the word and said some very nice things on social media. I see it all and I appreciate it greatly.

But now, let's get to our last bonus follow of the day. This one comes from Washington Post humorist Alexandra Petri.

ERIC: Alexandra, I asked you for someone who makes you laugh, and you said the comedian Broti Gupta, who is on Twitter @BrotiGupta. Talk about why you love Broti's work and why she makes you laugh.

ALEXANDRA PETRI: Well, not to be all Hannibal again, but she wrote this great piece about Hannibal Lecter, where he's apologizing and refers to tears as "face sauce," which is one of the funniest things I've read in a long time. But also, she recently did this really great thread that was just her answering advice about TV writing.

That's one of the funniest things I've read in such a long time. It's not only great advice about TV writing, but it's a great parody of the genre and also, individually, the jokes are really funny. I highly recommend that. That made me chortle with a full belly... I'm so sorry I described laughing that way.

ERIC: Scrolling through her Twitter feed, it's delightful, because she's making very good jokes about whatever people were talking about on Twitter at the time. She's one of these comedians that are plugged into the zeitgeist. A couple of days ago, she said, "But it doesn't make sense. Why the hell would she hate Dalmatians unless a few of them pushed her mom over a cliff or something?"

ALEXANDRA: That was great. Oh my God. I did see that movie in theaters.

ERIC: You did?

ALEXANDRA: Yes, it was my triumphant return to theaters and it was just as bad as I wanted it to be. I can't believe that those dalmatians were really the villains.

ERIC: I have not seen the movie — we're talking about Cruella — and it's similar to Cats actually. I don't want to see it just because the insanity that I have built up in my mind of whatever this movie is, I think, surpasses the actual enjoyment I would get out of watching this possibly very bad movie.

ALEXANDRA: I think the other thing about it is it's half an hour too long because 30% of it is her telling you things that you've just seen happen on screen in a voiceover. And then there's another additional 15% that's just her telling her friends things that you just saw happen on screen and also heard about in the voiceover. Do you want all the fun of an oral narrative of the kind passed down since Homer, but also all the fun of watching a movie with Emma Stone in it? Now you don't have to choose! I wish they had chosen, but I would love to have Emma Stone narrating her adventures to me in classic ... but this was too much.

ERIC: Broti also co-hosts a podcast called Lecture Hall with the actor, Dylan Gelula. Do you listen to the show?

ALEXANDRA: I'm pretty bad at listening to podcasts. I always approve of them. If I commuted, I would for certain, once I finish getting my husband to listen to David Copperfield. My priorities are in great order.

ERIC: Lecture Hall, I think you can only get it if you back them on Patreon. So neither of us has actually listened to this show. I have nothing interesting to say about it, but ...

ALEXANDRA: But it is there and you should! "For those who like that sort of thing, that is exactly the thing that they would like," as Abraham Lincoln said about podcasts.

ERIC: I will say that the membership levels they have on Patreon are pretty amazing. It says "$5: You get to listen to the podcast, nothing bad will happen to you."; "$15: One of us will incept your dreams and kiss you on the lips one time only." And it goes on up to "$1,000: Go nuts. God's not looking."

I'm sure there are some podcast listeners out there who have $1,000 lying around; might as well give it to Lecture Hall.

ALEXANDRA: Yeah, go nuts, God's not looking. That's beautifully constructed. I like that very much.

ERIC: Is there anything else about Broti's work that I might not have seen? Anything else that really resonates with you or that really just cracks you up?

ALEXANDRA: I feel like within the sentences, there are just very funny jokes. Recently, somebody had posted on their calligraphy Instagram that they had broken up. And it was just very heavy to post on calligraphy Instagram, but I was so glad someone had found that so that I could then spend the rest of my afternoon deeply invested in what was going on with that.

ERIC: Calligraphy Instagram drama!

ALEXANDRA: The internet is still a place where dreams can come true or sorrows can occur in a way that you can observe as a non-participant.

ERIC: That's the best tagline for the internet I've heard.

ALEXANDRA: "The internet: A place where things happen to people."

ERIC: "Visit scenic internet." put that on the postcard.

ALEXANDRA: "All the jokes you could wish and some you couldn't wish."

ERIC: That was Washington Post humorist Alexandra Petri, talking about why she follows Broti Gupta, who is on Instagram and Twitter at @BrotiGupta.

I wish my Patreon tiers were as funny as Broti's; they're not, but I'm still pretty happy with them. What do you think, should there be a $1000 tier called Biggus Duckus? I don't think most people would get the reference, and even fewer people would patronize it, but that is absolutely, what it would be called. Biggus Duckus. Anyway...

One more time, go to to support Follow Friday and independent podcasting. You can do that starting at just one dollar a month.

Follow me on Twitter at @HeyHeyESJ and the show on Twitter, Instagram and TikTok @FollowFridayPod. And please follow or subscribe to Follow Friday in your podcast app, to get new interviews like this one every week.

Follow Friday's theme music was written by me and performed by Yona Marie. Our show art was illustrated by Dodi Hermawan. Additional music by Purple Planet Music.

That's all for this week. This is Eric Johnson, reminding you to talk about people behind their backs … and when you do, say something nice. See you next Friday.

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