by John Walters

Bye Bye, Tucker

Biologically speaking, Tucker Carlson was always a paradox to us: a host who is also a parasite. We don’t have anything to add to his surprising exodus other than, “Good riddance, and will his successor be even more of a fascist?”

Meanwhile, Carlson’s firing was announced relatively early Monday morning, giving every late-night writing staff ample time to prepare its arrows. But none hit closer to home than this opener from The Daily Show, strategically delivered with utter precision by interim-but-should-become-permanent host Desi Lydic.

Flee Agent

Tyler Buchner was resoundingly outplayed by newcomer/transfer portal arriviste Sam Hartman in last Saturday’s Blue-Gold game in South Bend. And so, before this weekend he’s now made his exodus to Tuscaloosa, where his former O.C. at Notre Dame, Tommy Rees, is now the O.C. A few thoughts:

— You gotta have empathy for Buchner. Missed his junior season of high school with injury, than senior year cuz of Covid, then all but the first game (at Ohio State) last season due to another injury. And then a grad transfer takes his job.

–Alabama? I mean, don’t they recruit as well as any school in the country? And they’re handing their most important job to the backup QB from Notre Dame?

—I wonder if Sam Hartman has once said to himself, I could be the starting QB at Alabama right now. I wonder if Drew Pyne has had the same thought.

—I used this line on Twitter, but if Tommy Rees is such a whiz kid offensive coordinator, why did he look to a player from his old school to come rescue his new offense? Did Bama’s offense languish that badly this spring? It’s not as if they don’t have talent. And isn’t that Rees’ job: to make the engine hum? Feels a little bit as if he’s… passing the Buchner.

So I’m left to wonder if Rees isn’t so much of a coach as he is a consultant at McKinsey: convince your prospective client that only you are able to improve his company, then contract out the actual work to people who, unlike yourself, can actually perform.

—If this goes south, Nick Saban is going to have zero patience with Rees. This is his baby and he’s already used a phone-a-friend. It had better work.

—November 4: LSU (and Brian Kelly) at Alabama (and Rees and Buchner).

The Return Of Baby J

If you’ve not yet caught John Mulaney’s new standup special on Netflix, here’s our skinny: it’s highly confessional about his drug problem. It’s not a single word confessional about how his divorce or his quick relapse into a relationship with Olivia Munn (he does mention their son once, but never his wife or Munn).

Mulaney is a brilliant, highly self-aware comic. He knows what you’re thinking about him, or what you’re about to think about him, 10 paces ahead. One of the highlights of the show is early in, when he performs vaudevillian song-and-dance about how his life has been a nightmare since you last saw him on stage and how all the kids think Bo Burnham is funnier now (it’s true; I do).

At another point Mulaney divulges a highly embarrassing story about just how desperate he was to obtain cocaine, and at the end of the tale, he says, “No matter what you think of me for what you just heard, how low your opinion has sunk, keep in mind that that’s the story I was willing to tell you.”

Loved that moment. There’s no observational humor here; okay, only when he goes off on a tangent on something related to his odyssey that goes all the way back to the age of six (or three, depending on how much credence you put into his opening anecdote). It’s Mulaney in group, sharing the stories of addiction and desperation and shame. And most of it’s funny. There’s a moment near the end of the show, though, where the room becomes quiet and Mulaney is not attempting to make a joke. He talks about how for so much of his life, and public life, it was so important to him what people thought of him. Now, he says, “I don’t give a damn what anyone thinks of me.”

I’m not so sure I believe him. But that would be nice.

As I’ve shared here before, I had an interesting lunch with John Mulaney, just the two of us in the Village, back in April of 2015. He was a rising star and I’d jumped on the bandwagon early. What threw me off when we met was what a downer he was. He was quiet, not particularly engaging, and a little bit insecure. He’d obviously not taken the good drugs that morning.

He was polite. And later that night he invited me backstage to his dressing room, but feeling a tad insecure myself, I declined.

I think you can say that it is brave, what he is doing. Or maybe he realizes he can’t play a room until he addresses the elephant in the room. But I believe there’s another elephant there taking up space. And I hope for his sake that he’s able to stay sober. He’s still, along with Bo Burnham, the most talented comic around younger than 40ish.

The Bucks Stopped Here

A quick notes column on the first round of the NBA playoffs:

–You realize that Miami lost its play-in game at home to Atlanta and then went ahead and took care of the No. 1 seed in the East, the team with the NBA’s best record, in five games?!? WUT!

–Russell Westbrook scored 37 points in a game without attempting a single free throw. The Clippers lost that game.

–Devin Booker and Jimmy Butler have been the best player in either conference. Both are averaging just above 37 ppg, tops in the postseason. I already knew/believed Booker was a Hall of Famer, but what he did both on offense and defense versus the Clippers was astounding.

–How much are Kings fans going to be wondering about Harrison Barnes’ missed three in San Francisco on Sunday? If he hits that, Sac-Town goes up 3-1. Now they trail 3-2 and are headed back to Chase Center.

–The Suns have won five consecutive playoff series…when the opponent’s best or second-best player is out with injury. Can Jokic or Murray be hurt in the next 48 hours? The winner of this series is my favorite to win it all.

— A second-round series between LA and Golden State would, and should, break existence TV ratings records for a non-Finals matchup.

— Had to laugh when Deandre Ayton referred to himself as “Domin-Ayton.” Ninety percent of Monty Williams’ salary goes to managing that curious fellow.

–Damontas Sabonis will never be as good as his dad, but he’s better than I thought he’d be.

–On any other team without the best backcourt in NBA history, Jordan Poole is a star. His one-on-one moves, at this point in his career, are virtually unstoppable. I think he’s a more potent offensive weapon than Ja Morant.

–Something is off with the Celtics. I like either Philly or Miami to emerge from the East, and I think the NBA Finals would be more entertaining with either of those two squads.

–Giannis. The Question. Failure. Fair question, thoughtful answer. Any question that evokes such a viral response means the reporter was doing his job and then some.

Carol Turns 90

We were so spoiled on Saturday nights in the early to mid-Seventies. Saturday night’s lineup on CBS: All In The Family, The Jeffersons, Mary Tyler Moore, Bob Newhart, Carol Burnett. Shows 1, 3 and 5 on that list belong on anyone’s and everyone’s list of Top 10 TV shows.

Carol Burnett turned 90 yesterday. As a young comedic actress she was a huge fan of Lucille Ball and how fitting that the two redheads are the most naturally funny comediennes in the history of television.

Every Saturday night you’d tune in and just sop up Burnett’s opening, where she took the stage, talked to the audience and fielded a few questions. Then there were the sketches, some of the funniest ever written for television. The recurring characters, from Miss Sue Higgins to Eunice, were simply gold. Or, if you’ve never seen their take-off on a certain film classic, titled “Went With The Wind,” find it on YouTube.

Happy Birthday, Carol. We’re so glad we’ve had this time together. And so glad it’s not yet time to say, “So long.” We’re sending an ear tug your way.

Dollar Quiz

  1. What is the world’s northern-most city with a population greater than 1 million people?
  2. What president had the middle name “Birchard?”
  3. James Dean appeared in three films. Which one eerily forecasts his own death (it was released one month after he died)?
  4. How many stitches on a baseball (will accept single- or double-stitch number)?
  5. Name one band that appeared at Coachella earlier this month (I cannot, off-hand).

2 thoughts on “IT’S ALL HAPPENING!

  1. Pure ‘not wikipedia-ing’ guesses:

    1. St. Petersburg, Russia
    2. Rutherford B. Hayes
    3. Rebel Without A Cause
    4. 122
    5. Bon Iver

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