Super Wild Card Weekend: It stunk, give or take some peak Mike McCarthy behavior, but at least “Super Wild Card Weekend” also sounds dorky and cheap. But that is all in the past, and while our struggle to talk ourselves into that week’s slate of games on last week’s podcast turned out to be well-founded, this week’s slate offers no such challenges. It doesn’t have a goofy new name, and it also doesn’t involve this year’s Eagles or the hideous scowling zombified form of Ben Roethlisberger, and the games themselves look decently solid-to-good. This is all great news, and I for one very much look forward to discovering how it will invariably leave me feeling like I am brutally squandering my precious leisure time/brief moment on earth.
To talk about this—or anyway, to talk about it for the nominally sports-intensive portion of the podcast—we invited the ace Uproxx writer and supreme Sopranos podcast Pod Yourself A Gun co-host Vince Mancini to join us. And while Vince did provide some essential 49ers-fan perspective on his team and its vexing sacred himbo Jimmy Garoppolo, this was less football-intensive than it might have been. This was only partially because the feeling of having an outcome that matters very much to you in the clammy hands of a clammy and over-clever Kyle Shanahan type is increasingly not just a fan sensation but a day-to-day emotional reality. There was some forward-looking stuff, but there were also moments of appreciation for Streaky Quarterbacks Of Yore and the delight of a football game ending after an official turns on his microphone and says, “Yeah the game is over.”
This bouncing in and out of football talk was not because Vince isn’t an able Football Guy. He is. He is just also one of the best culture writers and film critics working, too, and Drew and I were not going to pass up the opportunity to badger him about various movie- and culture-related things while we had the opportunity. It would be nice to report that the result was sophisticated and highbrow, but it wasn’t even 10 minutes into the podcast before all three of us were doing Denis Leary imitations at the same time. It was something to do with pickup trucks. I do not need to tell you that it isn’t important how we got there.
As such, the back half of the episode was a totally liberated spin through the pay-cable channels, from a discussion of David Chase’s gift for balancing high art and classic television doofery, to a frank assessment of circa-now Nicolas Cage and his alternately distinguished and disgraceful choices, to a lively back and forth on the most unbearable and ubiquitous advertisements currently on television. Kate McKinnon was not spared in this, but Gronk probably got it worse. I did not put the stopwatch on it, but I’d bet that we spent roughly as much time talking about Al Pacino and his wonderful choices as we did this weekend’s playoff games. Some podcasts would not do this. They might decide that an in-depth discussion of Pacino’s use of scarves as a load-bearing character development device is less important, or serves listeners less well, than a detailed analysis of, say, Chiefs-Bills. I respect those podcasts and their decisions, and wish them well. I mention all this because, as long as I am the lower-energy half of this one, we will never be that kind of podcast. It’s Pacino’s scarves or nothing. We can do no other.
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