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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Fox Searchlight

Last weekend, Saturday Night Live did a thing it rarely does: it apologized for a joke it had made in poor taste. Pete Davidson, the comedian behind the joke and the apology, is a unique figure in the history of SNL.

This week's biggest pop culture story is probably the death of Marvel Comics's Stan Lee. The Nose also wants to take a moment to acknowledge the death of the voice of HAL, Douglas Rain.

And: Academy Award-winner Melissa McCarthy? Is that a universe we're headed toward? Her turn as Lee Daniels in Can You Ever Forgive Me? just might get us there.

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.

Amazon Studios

Last week's Nose painted itself into a bit of a rhetorical corner and somehow found itself arguing that Idris Elba is too old to be James Bond. And while historically that's true, it's not an argument we're proud to have made. Thankfully, this week, the universe has been kind enough to redeem us with the announcement of your new Sexiest Man Alive: Idris Elba. Of course, that's no reason not to make a new bad argument about Elba, like that he's, say, too macho to be the sexiest man alive?

And: The Amazon Prime series Homecoming is a few firsts. It's Julia Roberts's first TV series. It's the first scripted TV drama based on a podcast. And it's Sam Esmail's first new television project since Mr. Robot.

BBC

Carly Rae Jepsen hadn't released a Carly Rae Jepsen single from a Carly Rae Jepsen album in three years... until Thursday, that is. Her new single and video is "Party for One," and it's the "perfect self-love anthem for 2018."

And: The six-part BBC miniseries Bodyguard is British television's highest-rated drama since Downton Abbey and the BBC's highest-rated drama in a decade. The only broadcasts with similar ratings this year were things like the World Cup and the royal wedding. And now Bodyguard is on Netflix.

Warner Bros. Ent.

In terms of box office, 2017 was the biggest year in the history of horror cinema. One wonders: Why? And then this year has brought us Hereditary, A Quiet Place, and now Netflix's The Haunting of Hill House.

This hour: a look at our current horror through the lens of our current horror.

Jonathan McNicol / Connecticut Public Radio

Louis C.K.'s surprise return to a comedy club stage in late August was widely covered and discussed. His subsequent performances have maybe sparked less internet conversation, but they're just as confounding. This week, the owner of one club where C.K. has been performing has made a couple media appearances to explain his thinking about the whole thing.

And: Damian Chazelle is the director behind the three-time Academy Award-winner Whiplash and the six-time Academy Award-winner La La Land. His new movie, First Man, stars Ryan Gosling as Neil Armstrong.

AMC

You know all the reasons Trump won, right?

Economic anxiety. Racial anxiety. The forgotten working class. The forgotten rustbelt...

But what if the real cause were something much simpler and much more pervasive: our popular culture.

Warner Bros. Ent.

We now have no fewer than four big screen versions of A Star Is Born.

There's the 1937 original, the Judy Garland/James Mason remake, the Barbra Streisand/Kris Kristofferson remake... and now's there's the Lady Gaga/Bradley Cooper remake, which is directed by Cooper, and which might just take the fall movie season by storm.

This hour: a Noseish (but not quite actually The Nose) look at the phenomenon of A Star Is Born.

Brandon Giesbrecht / flickr creative commons

So, when Prince died (which was two-and-a-half years ago), we announced that we were finally going to retire our theme song (which was a Prince song). And then we promptly did... nothing at all.

Earlier this year, though -- and in typical Colin McEnroe Shovian fashion -- we decided that this non-problem was a big problem. And so, in order to try and hopefully finally fix this non-problem big problem, we did a whole show about theme songs -- ours and other people's.

Serial Productions / This American Life / WBEZ Chicago

So we did a Nose last week. It was good. It was about the second season of Slow Burn and the third season of Serial, and it was kind of also about how both of those shows tie into our present moment in interesting ways and that that's kind of interesting and suchlike.

We thought it went well.

You probably would've thought so too.

Except you didn't hear it, so how would you know? That present moment that I was just talking about got in the way: We were preempted by some Senate Judiciary Committee vote or something.

So we brought the show back for this week. We hope you'll like it now too.

Daniel Hartwig / Flickr

The postseason proper is upon us!

Baseball has already played four winner-take-all games in three days. The Dodgers and the Brewers won their divisions in a pair of extra, tie-breaking game number 163s. And then the Cubs and the A's saw their seasons end in the two Wild Card Games.

And now we're onto a round of real, full-length, five-game series. The two National League Division Series start today, and the American League's DSes start tomorrow.

Slate

It's been... quite a week. It kinda seems like nothing happened in pop culture at all this week, doesn't it? Regardless, The Nose has a mandate to satisfy.

Slow Burn is Slate's scripted, narrative impeachment podcast. The first season covered Watergate and President Nixon. The second (and current) season is covering Monica Lewinsky and President Clinton. It has a strong, willful woman at its center. It has some sexual malfeasance. It has some questionable testimony.

Serial is This American Life's scripted, narrative true crime podcast. The first and second seasons covered Adnan Syed and Bowe Bergdahl. The third (and current) season covers the court system in Cleveland. It has some justice and plenty of injustice. It has some lawyerly delays and obfuscation. It has at least one questionable judge.

Chion Wolf / WNPR

The celebrity profile is dead. Or dying, at least, according to The New York Times. Case in point: the Times's own terrible profile of the great Maya Rudolph. Counterpoint: The Washington Post's fascinating, and self-eviscerating, profile of the formerly great Chevy Chase.

And: Nicole Holofcener's new movie is a Netflix adaptation of Ted Thompson's novel of the same name, The Land of Steady Habits. You'll never guess where it's set. (Actually, you might not. I'm pretty sure it's never said in the movie, and they shot it in Tarrytown, New York. But it's meant to be Westport, Conn., which is why The Nose is covering it.)

Chion Wolf / WNPR

Actress Cynthia Nixon lost the Democratic gubernatorial primary in New York yesterday. Did she lose because of the kind of bagel she eats? Probably not. But from the Nose's point of view, what could really matter more than that?

And Vulture, last week -- "as the discourse rages on about whether or not political correctness is destroying comedy (spoiler alert: it isn't)" -- ran a piece on the jokes comedians regret. But here's the real question: Do we want comedians regretting their jokes, tasteless or not?

Jonathan McNicol / Connecticut Public Radio

You may have heard that Bob Woodward has a new book out.

It was number one on Amazon... before it came out. It was into its seventh printing -- a million copies... before it came out. The president Twittered about it at least a dozen times... before it came out.

Well, now it's out.

This hour: a look at the phenomenon of Fear.

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."

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