Jonathan McNicol | Connecticut Public Radio
WNPR

Jonathan McNicol

Producer, The Colin McEnroe Show / Host, The Second First Season

Jonathan started at WNPR as an intern in 2010 and was hired later that year. In his work, Jonathan is always just trying to figure out a little bit of how the world works, while paying special attention to the absurd and the just plain goofy. He is as likely to produce a show on America’s jury system as he is a story on all the grossest parts of the human body. His work has been heard nationally on Here & Now and locally on WNPR’s talk shows, on Morning Edition, and on All Things Considered.

Jonathan comes to radio from a background in, of all things, graphic design. He lives in the greater New Haven area.

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Netflix, Inc.

Kim Kardashian and other celebrities "froze" their Facebook and Instagram accounts for one day this week "to protest the spread of hate speech and misinformation on those platforms." Meanwhile, Kardashian's husband had the strange sort of week that we've maybe grown to expect from him, but seemingly with more public peeing in it than we're maybe used to.

And: Cuties (Mignonnes in the original French) is the feature film debut of Senegalese-French writer and director Maïmouna Doucouré. The movie's release on Netflix has been controversial, to say the least.

Jonathan McNicol / Connecticut Public Radio

Bob Woodward is 77 years old. He's in his 50th year at The Washington Post. And he just yesterday published his 20th book.

Rage is Woodward's second book about the Trump presidency. Two years ago, on the day after the first one came out, we did a show about it.

So we've gotten that band mostly back together again, and we've spent the last 30 or so hours cramming.

Netflix, Inc.

It's been a week of ending things, really. Keeping Up with the Kardashians is ending after 20 seasons. Diana Rigg -- Emma Peel on The Avengers and Lady Olenna on Game of Thrones, among many other things -- died at 82. And, of course, people are trying to end the whole world with their gender reveal parties.

And then there's I'm Thinking of Ending Things. It's Charlie Kaufman's first movie for Netflix, and it stars Jesse Plemons and Jessie Buckley. It's based on Iain Reid's novel of the same name, which makes it the first movie Kaufman's ever directed not from his own original screenplay.

a hole
Mike Burns / flickr creative commons

In November, 2016, we did a show about all the problems presented by, well, a-holes. And so it seems only logical to expand our scope a bit and do a show about all the problems presented by, well, a hole.

For instance: How many holes are there in a straw? Did you say one? Okay, cool. Then how many holes are there in a sock? (A relatively new sock, I mean.) You said one again, right? But how can both of those things be true at the same time?

Or, put another way: What happens to the hole in the donut as you eat the donut around it? This gets into mereology, the theory of parthood relations -- for our purposes, the parts and wholes of holes and the wholes the holes are parts of.

Your head hurts a little, right?

United Artists Releasing

Carole Baskin is going to appear on Dancing with the Stars. And with that, I've typed the least surprising opening sentence in the history of Nose posts.

And: When Bill & Ted's Excellent Adventure came out in 1989, Alex Winter (Bill) was 23 and Keanu Reeves (Ted) was 24. Winter and Reeves are now 55 and 56, respectively, but that seems to be no reason not to put out a third Bill & Ted movie, 29 years after the second one. Bill & Ted Face the Music is now available on all your video-on-demand platforms.

And speaking of sequels to classic 1980s teen movies, the first two seasons of Cobra Kai have moved from YouTube to Netflix (who will produce a third season) and they've found a new audience.

Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc.

2001: A Space Odyssey. Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned To Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb. A Clockwork Orange. The Shining. Full Metal Jacket. Spartacus. Eyes Wide Shut.

This hour, a careful consideration of the filmmaker Steven Spielberg called "the best in history": Stanley Kubrick.

Netflix, Inc.

This week, the NBA, the WBNA, MLB, MLS, tennis, and eventually the NHL all postponed games and matches in response to the shooting of Jacob Blake in Kenosha, Wisconsin.

And: A Tweet listing the "Top 7 Warning Signs In a Man's Bookshelf" -- including "Too Much Hemingway," you see -- caused a bit of a fuss on the Twitter.

Ciro Duran / flickr creative commons

In May, I discovered (along with the rest of the internet) a video on YouTube of a guy in his loft in Surrey, England ... solving a Sudoku puzzle. It was intense, a roller-coaster ride, and, ultimately, sublime.

Those are not words you might expect someone to use to describe watching a stranger solve a little number puzzle, but here we are.

zenilorac / flickr creative commons

Numbers are so fundamental to our understanding of the world around us that we maybe tend to think of them as an intrinsic part of the world around us. But they aren't. Humans invented numbers just as much as we invented all of language.

This hour, we look at the anthropological, psychological, and linguistical ramifications of the concept of numbers.

And we look at one philosophical question too: Are numbers even real in the first place?

Atlantic Records

The No. 1 song in the country -- "WAP" by Cardi B featuring Megan Thee Stallion -- seems to make just one concession to commercial decorum: its acronym title, which I won't be spelling out for you here. It's being called the "gloriously filthy song of the summer" and subversive "in almost every way, even as it plays with the limits of explicit expression."

Speaking of troublesome songs: Does The Band's classic "The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down" belong in the same category as bits of culture like Song of the South and Gone with the Wind?

And finally: Has it turned out that Kevin Costner's 1997 box office bomb, The Postman, is "the most accurate dystopian movie?"

NEON Rated, LLC

The Nose is worried about movie theaters. The pandemic has done such damage to the industry that Hollywood has started treating the U.S. as a second-run market. And now the Paramount Consent Decrees have ended. (We're not exactly sure what that means, but it's not good.) Is the future of movie theaters... Walmart drive-ins?

And: She Dies Tomorrow is a horror-comedy-thriller written and directed by Amy Seimetz. It was supposed to premiere at this year's South by Southwest, which was canceled. She Dies Tomorrow is out now on video on demand platforms.

Quinn Dombrowski / flickr creative commons

"It is the rare person who doesn't own a pair of sweatpants." I am, it turns out, that rare person. Sweatpants are just too warm, is my take. But I do own a number of pairs of cotton pajama pants. They're my sweatpants proxy.

Back before the pandemic became the central preoccupation of our existence, back when we made our radio show in, ya know, a radio studio, I would always get a little dressed up on my show days. I'd wear a jacket. Or a tie. Or a jacket and a tie.

Now that we're all working from home all the time, I spend the great majority of my work hours in pajama pants and stocking feet and a bathrobe. But when it comes time for one of my shows -- like this one, for instance -- I change out of my PJ pants into jeans or chinos. That's what "a little dressed up" means these days: putting real pants on. (Or even "hard pants," as they're now known.)

Bob Ross, Inc.

It's been 25 years since Bob Ross died and 26 years since his The Joy of Painting went off the air. But there are 52 episodes of the show available to stream on Netflix. Bob Ross and Chill is a thing. The 403 full episodes available on YouTube have accumulated something approaching 250 million views. And last summer, The New York Times did a big Bob Ross investigation.

This hour: a look at the undying force for permed hair and puffy little clouds and happy little trees that is Bob Ross.

Plus: Could we do a show about Bob Ross without also talking Thomas Kinkade? No we could not. And so no we do not.

Taylor Swift/Republic Records

The Federal Communications Commission requires that The Nose cover each and every new Taylor Swift release*. Folklore is Swift's seventh number-one album, and it's become, in just two weeks, the highest-selling album of 2020 so far. But rather than just spending a segment talking about the album... We came across a term that's new to us: cottagecore. Folklore is, apparently, cottagecore. We're not entirely convinced that cottagecore is a thing, but we're covering it anyway, and we'll get to Folklore that way.

Jonathan McNicol / Connecticut Public Radio

Laura Nyro's most famous compositions -- "Stoned Soul Picnic," "Stoney End," "When I Die," "Wedding Bell Blues," "Eli's Coming" -- are jewels of mainstream music, and her covers of songs like "Jimmy Mack" and "Gonna Take a Miracle" are legendary.

But she was uncomfortable under the spotlight and withdrew from it to become the Belle of Danbury.

popo.uw23 / flickr creative commons

Sports! There are sports!

Baseball's back. At least for now. With almost all of the teams playing games. And only, ya know, two of them having big COVID outbreaks.

The NBA exists in a Disney World "bubble," and it hasn't had a single test come back positive yet.

The NHL is doing two different kinds of tournaments at once in two different "bubbles" in Canada.

The arenas and stadiums are empty and quiet, but for the cardboard cutout fans and the piped-in crowd sounds. And the whole thing may well be a bad idea anyway...

But there are sports! At least for now.

Home Box Office, Inc.

This New or Second or Third Golden Age of Television has been going on for 20 or 25 or 30 years now. Peak TV just won't stop peaking. For decades, there's just been no way to keep up. But then… suddenly we've all got a lot more time on our hands in our houses. And instead of finally watching The Wire and The Americans and Homeland and whatever else, we're all just rewatching Parks and Rec for the eleventeenth time.

And, hey, whoa: The New York Times bought Serial productions.

And finally: I May Destroy You is a BBC One and HBO show starring and written and created by Michaela Coel. Set in London, the series is a comedy-drama about consent and, ultimately, trauma.

Jonathan McNicol / Connecticut Public Radio

My son, Simon, is a year old. His mother and his grandmother are both librarians. His father is, well, me. Simon is, predictably, obsessed with books.

Back before everything changed, we'd gotten into a pretty good reading routine. Every morning before Simon went to his grandparents', we'd read a big pile of books. Every evening when I got home from work, we'd read a big pile of books.

We'd read Goodnight Moon. We'd read Little Blue Truck. We'd read Peek-a Who? and Peek-a Moo! and Peek-a Zoo! We'd read Who Hoots? and Who Hops? We'd read Dear Zoo and Mr. Brown Can Moo! Can You? and Each Peach Pear Plum and Spooky, Spooky, Little Bat and Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See? And then we'd probably read them all again.

Hotel du Vin & Bistro / flickr creative commons

Historian Christine Sismondo says that "America, as we know it, was born in a bar."

Taverns were where the Boston Tea Party was planned. They were where court cases were carried out, where land was bought and sold, where immigrants came to congregate.

Over the centuries since, bars have fostered so much social change. And today, they're where we go to meet people, to catch the game, to talk about our problems, to relax.

Disney

Four years ago, over the course of three days, film crews documented the musical Hamilton as performed by nearly its entire original Broadway cast. Eventually, Disney bought the distribution rights to the movie and planned to release it in theaters next fall. But then there was a pandemic, and people were stuck in their houses, and the film dropped on Disney+ earlier this month.

We Like To Watch

Jul 15, 2020
Jana Vanden Eynde / flickr creative commons

For decades, we didn't take television seriously. We saw it as ephemeral, as "chewing gum for the eyes," as, literally, furniture.

And then, around the turn of the century, things started to change. There was The Sopranos. The Wire. And, at the same time, shows like Big Brother and The Amazing Race. For Emily Nussbaum, it was Buffy the Vampire Slayer that forever changed her take on television.

And now... the president is a TV character.

This hour: A serious appraisal of television with The New Yorker's television critic.

Tony Hisgett / flickr creative commons

Sand is the most abundant material on Earth. And, other than water and air, sand is the natural resource we consume more than any other -- more, even, than oil.

The pyramids are made of sand. Our roads and driveways and sidewalks are made of sand. Concrete buildings and their concrete foundations are made of sand. From computer chips to computer screens, window panes to lightbulbs, breast implants to the Hubble telescope, sand is basically the essential building block of civilization.

Humans are estimated to consume almost 50 billion tons of sand and gravel every year.

Oh, and, by the way: We're running out of it.

Universal Pictures

The raft of renaming going on right now obviously hasn't spared popular culture. The Dixie Chicks and Lady Antebellum are now The Chicks and Lady A, respectively. Björk's record label changed its name. Democrats want to rename John Wayne Airport. FedEx has formally asked the Washington Redskins to change their name, and Guilford's board of education voted to drop the town's "Indians" nickname. And, while Splash Mountain is going to keep being called Splash Mountain, it won't be based on Song of the South anymore.

And: The King of Staten Island is the sixth feature film directed by Judd Apatow. It stars Pete Davidson (who also co-wrote the movie with Apatow and Dave Sirus) as a 24-year-old high school dropout who lives with his mother on Staten Island. It's available for rental on digital platforms.

Universal Pictures Home Entertainment

Bill Murray, Eddie Murphy, Chevy Chase, Steve Martin, John Belushi, John Candy, Rick Moranis.

Animal House, The Blues Brothers, Beverly Hills Cop, Caddyshack, The Jerk, Ghost Busters, ¡Three Amigos!, Funny Farm, Spaceballs, Stripes.

We maybe didn't properly appreciate it at the time, but the 1980s were one of the most fertile periods ever for screen comedies and screen comedians.

This hour, a look at the mavericks who shaped a whole comedy aesthetic and at some of the most popular movie comedies ever made.

Warner Bros.

The movie musical died a long, slow death a long time ago. Right?

Well, except that there's La La Land. And Moana. And The Greatest Showman and A Star Is Born and Mary Poppins Returns. Oh, and Bohemian Rhapsody and Rocketman. And Frozen II and The Lion King and Aladdin.

Those are just from the last five years. And I could keep going, but then I might forget to mention that Steven Spielberg's version of West Side Story is scheduled to come out this year or that the Hamilton movie comes out next week.

This hour, a long look at the long-dead movie musical. Long live the movie musical.

Hernán Piñera / flickr creative commons

We've done this show every year since 2013. We almost certainly didn't do it 2012. But we did in 2011. And there's good circumstantial evidence that we did it in 2010 too, but no actual record of that possibly inaugural episode survives.

Point is: Our song of the summer show is a bit of a tradition. It's a tradition that... makes some people angry, we realize. It's a tradition that we're not sure has ever made anyone happy.

And that all has to do with how we define the term. We use the Amanda Dobbins definition:

Jonathan McNicol / Connecticut Public Radio

No one likes a cloudy sky. A cloud on the horizon is seen as a harbinger of doom. We feel like clouds need to have silver linings.

But here's our thesis: Clouds are unfairly maligned.

Consider this: From almost any vantage point (literally -- any vantage point in the universe), clouds are planet Earth's defining characteristic.

They're what changes, what moves. They're what's going on on our pale blue dot.

Miramax, LLC

No Country for Old Men. Fargo. The Big Lebowski. Raising Arizona. Barton Fink. Miller's Crossing. Blood Simple. The Ballad of Buster Scruggs.

Over the past 36 years, Joel and Ethan Coen have reliably been among the most recognizable voices in moviemaking.

This hour: a Noseish look at the work of the Coen brothers.

Jonathan McNicol / Connecticut Public Radio

The leagues are working in earnest toward starting back up. The NBA has a plan. Major League Baseball can't seem to work one out. Major League Soccer might beat them both back onto the field.

How is this all going to work? What are sports going to look like when they start playing games again? Should they start playing games again?

Amazon.com, Inc.

We've all seen any number of emails and Tweets and Facebook posts this week from companies supporting protests and the like. Entertainment industry firms have jumped on that bandwagon too, but The Washington Post's Alyssa Rosenberg has a different idea about how those particular players might be able to help: by shutting down all the police movies and TV shows.

And: Comedian Sarah Cooper has found an elegant, perhaps surprisingly effective way to lampoon the president. She just lip syncs to his own words.

And finally: The Vast of Night is the feature film debut of writer and director Andrew Patterson. He financed its $700,000 budget himself, and after its premiere at last year's Slamdance Film Festival, Amazon acquired it. The Twilight Zone-style sci-fi mystery debuted on Amazon Prime last weekend.

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