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Sacred Oafs, Holy Madmen, Culture Wars, Things Of That Nature

Grant Williams of the Boston Celtics holds the ball while Jimmy Butler makes a Jimmy Butler Face in an Eastern Conference Finals game..
Megan Briggs/Getty Images

I wouldn't say that Drew or I are on our best behavior when we have a guest on the podcast, exactly. Maybe the more salient point here is that our "best behavior" is still pretty feral, but the point I was endeavoring to make, and hopefully will have made by the time this sentence ends, is that we feel compelled to do our best to ask interesting questions of our interesting guests. I think we've done that decently well of late; at the very least, I feel like I have learned something about the Hollywood labor showdown and the process of one of my favorite writers in the last couple weeks. Which I suppose is to be celebrated and all that, but also do you have any idea how exhausting it is for someone with my collection of deficits and defects to try to act not just normal but smart for even an hour at a time? To go that long without randomly doing my famous "dumb guy" voice or going off on a long, vague, ultra-heated stem-winder about whatever global issue is troubling my brain at that moment?

Anyway, it's just Drew and I this week, so we didn't have to worry about any of that.

Freed from the burden of having to act normal, Drew and I instead just got out there for 57 minutes and acted like ourselves. This meant a decently deep discussion of the state of the NBA Playoffs with the Finals all but set—the Celtics, annoying to the last, are currently prolonging both their own agony and everyone else's. Special attention was given to celebrating the extremely different but similarly singular brilliances of Nikola Jokic and Jimmy Butler, the uniquely infuriating and hard-won virtuosity of the Heat at their peak, and the special fun of watching difficult and complex basketball things being made to look easy. I shoehorned an old observation about the San Antonio Spurs and Steely Dan into this, so don't get your hopes up too much. It's decently substantive, but it is still very much Drew and me in goofus mode.

Once we pretty much cut ourselves free from the sports stuff after the break, the goofusing intensified notably. In the back half of the show, we talked about the odious and ultra-cynical idiocy surrounding the Los Angeles Dodgers' Pride Night, cooked up by kooks and out-of-state reactionary dorks, and the broader state of the odious and ultra-cynical idiocy in our politics. The phrase "went Bud Light on us" is quoted here, and the hair-trigger mentality and baffling coded communication of our online culture warriors comes in for some analysis/dragging. We each got some political dudgeon out of our respective systems, but right at the moment when we could've calmed down and steered in a different direction we decided to address Warner Bros. Discovery chief David Zaslav's terrible and terribly received commencement address at Boston University, with some help from clips of that speech. This gave us an opportunity to be rude to one of the real villains in our popular culture, and also to do what I think of as The Scharpling Maneuver, which is more or less saying "stop, stop, cut it, that's enough" over audio of something terrible. That alone represents a real career achievement for me, and honestly we could have stopped there and I would have been happy.

But we didn't! Instead we remembered some explosive kick returners and mourned the end of the Explosive Kick Returner Era, and followed a Funbag question's prompting to Remember Some Teams. Once I'd celebrated the brief and thwarted renaissance of the Pittsburgh Pirates and the time their fans briefly broke Johnny Cueto's brain, and Drew remembered the Buffalo Bills team that wound up on the wrong end of the Music City Miracle, we were all set. It will be a struggle to be normal next week, and the week after that. But it was not just nice but healthy to be ourselves for an hour.

If you would like to subscribe to The Distraction, you can do that at Apple PodcastsSpotifyStitcher, or wherever else you might get your podcasts. Feel free to discuss this week's episode in the comments below. Thank you as always for your support.

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