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Talking About Shame, Plague, And Texas Football, With Kelsey McKinney

Dez Bryant warming up before a Ravens game, in less complicated times.
Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images

In trying times, we return to the ancient verities, the home truths that have carried us through difficult moments in the past. One that I myself have found helpful of late is: “Eh, what are you going to do?” We are stuck fast within various horrific failures and their devastating consequences, the sun goes down at about 3:41 p.m. every day and will for the next month, and both professional and amateur sports are just blithely plowing ahead as if everything was more or less fine and the rampaging plague the nation is currently ignoring was an unfriendly scheduling wrinkle. A lot of things suck real bad.

But also, eh, what are you going to do? This week we made our choice by inviting our own Kelsey McKinney onto the podcast to get real upset about it. We talked about the NFL’s ongoing COVID debacle and its most recent eruptions, the longstanding cynicism and specific proximate shames of college football, the enduring humiliation of Texas Longhorns football, and also some other stuff.

Kelsey is a delightful conversationalist, and the format of the show guaranteed that both Mickey Rooney and pioneering Longhorns quarterback James Brown were discussed in some depth. The Funbag gave us the dark and fragrant gifts that it invariably does—difficult questions about difficult cooking, a startlingly frank disquisition on how Drew and I sleep, an unfortunate digression about me buying a super-jumbo D-League shooting shirt at my neighborhood Goodwill, and the urgent question of whether we should just go ahead and conflate some states. There was a brief and respectful engagement with the eternal Is Cast Iron Cookware Bullshit debate, but that ultimately kind of wound up being about being shut up in our homes during a time of great suffering, like everything else.

Drew denied that Appalachia exists, which was a bold gambit that both Kelsey and I pushed back on with maximum perplexity. We talked, too, about Kelsey’s novel, God Spare The Girls, which is real and strong and arriving in hardback in June. She and Drew seemed to get a lot out of that chat, but I as a non-published novelist didn’t have much to say. I just thought about my enormous Idaho Stampede shooting shirt, as I often do in times of trial. It didn’t necessarily help, but eh, what are you going to do?

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