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.

Ways to Connect

Mike Mozart / flickr creative commons

Here's the money quote from a recent Washington Post story on entertainment in the Trump era: "People look at politics when deciding how they feel about a host or actor. Pop culture has now become one more thing that divides us, just like cable news and social media." The Nose couldn't pass that up, and this not-quite-The-Nose show can't pass it up either.

hobvias sudoneighm / flickr creative commons

Semiotics is the study of sign process, which is to say: it's the science of the search for meaning.

And then, part of the underlying premise of semiotics -- which just happens to be part of the underlying premise of The Colin McEnroe Show, itself -- is that there's meaning... everywhere.

RMI Records, a division of Resonant Motion, Inc.

The Noah Baerman Resonance Ensemble's The Rock & the Redemption is a jazz concept album of sorts that recasts the Sisyphus myth around the heroism of perseverance and persistence.

Keyboardist and composer Noah Baerman joins us for the hour.

Warner Bros. Pictures

The Nose is off this week, but we bring you some pop culture topics anyway:

Jon M. Chu's Crazy Rich Asians is the number-one movie in the country, and it's expected to hold onto the top spot on the charts through this weekend. It's on the cover of Time magazine, and it's seen as "a major step forward for representation -- and the industry."

And: Hits are down, and strikeouts are up. Pitching changes and replays are at an all-time high, and take-out slides and home-plate collisions have been banned. As such, baseball greats find the game "very difficult to watch." Is baseball in trouble? (Spoiler alert: Probably not.)

Christel Øverland Preteni / flickr creative commons

humor = tragedy + time

Okay, but then the logical next question is: How much time?

If it's okay, at this point, to joke about, say, The Spanish Inquisition... what about, for instance, the Holocaust? Or AIDS? September 11th? The #MeToo movement?

Focus Features

August 16 -- yesterday -- is kind of an oddly busy day in the history of popular culture. In 1954, the first issue of Sports Illustrated was published. In 1962, Pete Best was fired from The Beatles. In 1948, Babe Ruth died. In 1958, Madonna was born (and so she turned 60 yesterday). In 1977, Elvis Presley died. And yesterday, a new August 16th-shaped dot was added to the timeline of pop culture: the death of Aretha Franklin. The Queen of Soul was 76 years old.

And: The new Spike Lee joint, BlacKkKlansman, is set in 1970s Colorado Springs, Colo., and it tells a story that's about race relations in all of America right now, today. It's "a slapstick comedy, a blaxploitation throwback, and an incendiary Molotov cocktail thrown into the foray of the modern multiplex," and it's being called Lee's "hardest-hitting work in decades."

Chion Wolf / WNPR

The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences this week announced changes to the annual Oscar awards, including a new category recognizing "outstanding achievement in popular film." Eligibility requirements and other details haven't been announced, but that hasn't stopped the film world from having strong opinions.

And: Bo Burnham is a comedian, musician, and actor who was a teen YouTube star. He’s directed a few comedy specials -- including Chris Rock's Tamborine -- and as of this week, his feature film directorial debut, Eighth Grade, is in wide release. Its "queasy verisimilitude" has earned it a 98% score on Rotten Tomatoes.

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.

Alfred A. Knopf, Publisher

The Times of London has said that Martin Amis "is as talented a journalist as he is a novelist." His latest collection of essays and reportage covers 1994 through 2017, Travolta through Trump.

Amis joins us for the hour.

Paramount Pictures

Colin's quite fond of this little piece of trivia: Tom Cruise was five years older during the production of Mission: Impossible -- Fallout than Wilford Brimley was during the filming of Cocoon. And it seems we're all okay with Tom Cruise as a 56-year-old action star. Fallout's opening weekend was the biggest for a Mission: Impossible movie and the second-biggest of Cruise's career.

Fallout is the best-received movie in the M:I franchise too. If you had to pick the five best blockbusters of this decade, you could put together a totally reasonable list made just of Tom Cruise movies. (Here, look: Edge of Tomorrow, Jack Reacher, and the last three Mission: Impossibles. See?) In fact, at this point, if you like high-concept summer popcorn movies, but you don't like comic books/Star Wars/Star Trek/Harry Potter/etc.... what else even is there besides Tom Cruise movies anymore? Not much.

Chion Wolf / Connecticut Public Radio

Kneeling has historically been an act of supplication. An act of reverence, of modesty. An act of submission, even.

But then Colin Kaepernick started kneeling during the national anthem at football games, and eventually, the president of the United States called him and other players like him a "son of a bitch."

And now a Haddam Selectman has started kneeling during the Pledge of Allegiance, and people are calling her names too -- and calling for her to resign.

Republic Records, a Division of UMG Recordings, Inc.

Ariana Grande already had a top 10 hit from her forthcoming album, Sweetener. As of this week, she's got songs at numbers six and eleven on the Billboard Hot 100 with the debut of her single "God Is a Woman." The song and its video have become somewhat controversial in certain corners of the internet.

And: Gillian Flynn's Gone Girl was a literary phenomenon in 2012. In its wake, film/television rights for her previous novels were snapped up. And now, six years later, HBO is airing an eight-episode (and only eight episodes, by the way) miniseries adapted in part by Flynn and starring Amy Adams.

Joerg Neuner / flickr creative commons

Though country music is considered the most popular genre of music in America, its influence is profoundly regional. The style is known for appealing to the white working class, and is largely sequestered in southern and midwestern pockets of the country.

Meanwhile, coastal elites tend to regard the genre with disdain. "I like everything but country" is a popular refrain.

Netflix

Hannah Gadsby is an Australian comedian and writer. Her new Netflix special is Nanette. There are certain ways it's a different sort of comedy special than you're used to. It's, for instance, more of an art history lecture than you'd probably expect. Its audience laughs much less than you're used to. And it'll probably make you cry more than other specials have. Those idiosyncrasies are just some of the reasons Nanette is "the most discussed comedy special in ages."

Apex Photo Company / Wikimedia Commons

During his remarkable career with the Boston Red Sox, Ted Williams earned many nicknames: The Kid, The Splendid Splinter, Teddy Ballgame... but the only nickname that he ever wanted was "the greatest hitter who ever lived."

Discovery Communications, LLC

Thomas Harris's Hannibal Lecter series. "Criminal Minds" on CBS. In the past year, there've been "Mindhunter" on Netflix and "Manhunt: Unabomber" on Discovery.

It seems we're fascinated by forensic psychology, by criminal profiling, by... mindhunting.

Frédéric BISSON / flickr creative commons

We had planned ("planned") to do a show today about how we're getting too familiar with our sinking feelings.

And then that Trump-Putin press conference happened.

Gordon / flickr creative commons

Federal regulatory requirements mandate* that all public media outlets occasionally devote significant airtime to the health and welfare of bees.

Chion Wolf / WNPR

They made a documentary about Mr. Rogers. Does The Nose really have a choice but to go see it? No. It does not. But then, it's "a vital doc," "a tearjerker with a purpose," and "the film we need right now" with "the hero 2018 needs." So we probably should've gone to see it regardless of whether the guy was a public broadcasting icon or not, no?

Believe it or not, Lorena and John Wayne Bobbitt (and their kitchen knife) entered the public consciousness 25 years ago last week.

And this week, former UConn athlete Sue Bird and her girlfriend, Megan Rapinoe, became the first same-sex couple to appear on the cover of ESPN The Magazine's The Body Issue.

Disney

There are three movies that deserve the credit (blame?) for the superhero/comic book movie renaissance/boom(/apocalypse?) that we've been living through now for nearly a decade and a half: Batman Begins (2005), Spider-Man 2 (2004), and Brad Bird's The Incredibles (2004).

thierry ehrmann / flickr creative commons

From his rapid-fire stand-up comedy riffs to his breakout role in Mork & Mindy and his Academy Award-winning performance in Good Will Hunting, Robin Williams was a singularly innovative and beloved entertainer. Dave Itzkoff's new biography is Robin.

And: For the tenth anniversary of his death, a look back at the work of George Carlin.

Chion Wolf / CT Public Radio

Ocean's 8 is about as 2010s a movie as there's ever been. It's a reboot sequel of a series that started with a remake. The fun part, though, is that this movie (unlike the four that precede it) stars eight women. And the even funner part is that it's the number one movie in the country. Our all-star, all-lady (plus Colin) Nose has thoughts.

Universal Pictures

The Fast and Furious franchise includes eight feature films and two short films, and it looks like it's about to include a series of spinoff films. It's Universal Pictures's highest-grossing film franchise with a combined box office of more than $5 billion.

Uhh, how did that happen?

Carlos Mejia / CT Public Radio

You probably know Larry Wilmore as the host of the Black on the Air podcast or of Comedy Central's The Nightly Show. Or maybe you know him as The Daily Show with Jon Stewart's Senior Black Correspondent. Or you could know Wilmore as the co-creator of Insecure and The Bernie Mac Show or as a writer on The Office and The Fresh Prince of Bel Air and In Living Color.

Family Equality / flickr creative commons

Kim Kardashian rose to fame as a friend of Paris Hilton. She has a sex tape. She's been the subject of any number of reality TV shows. Kardashian is, for many people, the very definition of "famous for being famous."

The Nose's charter includes a provision specifically requiring that we cover all things Kim Kardashian. But then, this week, we learned that she has the power to will presidential commutations into being. That's actually almost too much substance for The Nose to parse. Almost. But not quite.

popo.uw23 / flickr creative commons

Mike Pesca is one of our very favorite guests -- on any number of topics. And he's got a new book out: Upon Further Review: The Greatest What-Ifs in Sports History.

Jonathan McNicol / WNPR

Who's afraid of the Bix bad Beiderbecke?

Hartford has an amazing jazz history, and Colin has a lot of jazz musician friends. This hour, a little onstage jazz party.

Colin and the panel look to make jazz accessible to mere mortals. They talk about what makes jazz jazz, invite the audience to sing, and teach the audience to scat.

Chion Wolf / WNPR

Solo is the tenth feature-length, live-action Star Wars film. It is the fifth Star Wars prequel. It is the second Star Wars anthology film (following 2016's Rogue One), and it's the second Star Wars movie to come out in just the last six months (along with The Last Jedi).

It is, though, a number of Star Wars firsts too: It's the first Star Wars picture to have its director(s) fired midway through production. It's the first to star Woody Harrelson. It's the first Star Wars movie that may well lose money.

mslavick / flickr creative commons

We've been trying to push this show out for quite a while now. It's been a bit of a strain, and we got kind of backed up.

But, this hour, we let loose a long look at... constipation.

It should be a big relief for everyone involved.

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