The Colin McEnroe Show | Connecticut Public Radio
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The Colin McEnroe Show

Weekdays at 1:00 pm and 10:00 pm and Saturdays at noon

“The sublime and the ridiculous are often so nearly related, that it is difficult to class them separately.” — Thomas Paine

The Colin McEnroe Show endeavors to prove Paine correct, every weekday. While the topics are unpredictable from one day to the next (previous show topics include whistling, placebos, politics, the nature of divinity, Barbra Streisand, bedbugs, human hydration, dinosaurs, unreliable narrators, ugliness, and raccoons), what is always assured is that a thoughtful, smart, and interesting exploration and conversation with amazing guests will take place about something.

Colin McEnroe is an author, playwright, professor, columnist, and blogger, who is allergic to penicillin and enjoys photographing his dog wearing hats and publishing those photos to the internet.

While we are live, call us at 888-720-WNPR. That's 888-720-9677. 

You can email us anytime at colinshow@ctpublic.org. To reach us in the newsroom when we're not on air, call 860-275-7272.

Contact Colin McEnroe Show Producers:

The Senior Director is Catie Talarski. The Technical Producer is Cat Pastor.

Are you looking for our Radio for the Deaf broadcasts? Those are all collected under our very special, and, if you don't mind us saying so, very nice looking RFTD site.

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.

Jernej Furman / Creative Commons

As of this weekend, the number of people in the U.S. infected with SARS-CoV-2 topped five million, just sixteen days after passing the four million mark on July 23. This weekend's motorcycle rally in Sturgis, South Dakota portends that those numbers will continue to rise. 

Three potential vaccines against the virus have entered phase III clinical trials, in which safety and effectiveness is tested on thousands of healthy people. 

This stage can take months or years depending on how quickly researchers can detect a difference between the two groups, but some doctors believe that we'll have a vaccine sooner than later. Are we expecting too much from a vaccine? And, what about the expanding group of people afraid to trust any vaccine developed at "warp speed"? 

Is it time for another lockdown to get things under control until a vaccine is ready?

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.

Sasa Tkalcan / Jimmy Webb

Jimmy Webb was possibly the most successful songwriter of the 1960s and 1970s. Classics like "Galveston," "Wichita Lineman," "Up, Up, and Away," and "MacArthur Park" were recorded by hundreds of artists from Glen Campbell to Donna Summer. Webb wrote the songs that others made famous.

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.

Sasa Tkalcan / Jimmy Webb

We're reairing this show from September, 2019, when our team traveled to Glen Cove, New York, to interview legendary songwriter Jimmy Webb

We waited a long time for this interview and it was worth every minute of the wait. It was a special day. We broke bread together, met kind people, and enjoyed a day of music and stories from Jimmy Webb's decades of making music. 

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.

The Burkhart Family / Doubleday

Native Americans have been getting forced off their land for a long time.  Although Thomas Jefferson promised they shall know the United States as only "friends and benefactors," he forced them from their ancestral home in 1804 after he signed the Louisiana Purchase.  

Illustration by Chion Wolf

Colin McEnroe Show alum Chion Wolf has a new show: Audacious. Hear this guest episode from her series!

Last year, a 28-year-old guy in Mumbai tried to sue his parents -- who are both lawyers -- for having brought him into the world. He claims his parents didn’t get his consent to live. In addition to being a very bold person, he is an anti-natalist. That is, he believes that it is morally wrong to bring sentient life into this world -- no matter how charmed or how troubled that life is -- and that humanity should stop reproducing, full stop.

Reddit

​On Tuesday's Colin McEnroe Show: How we define what it means to be a hero depends a lot on the values shared by the group that's in power at any given time.

We're seeing it today in the push and pull over the statues of men whose values no longer reflect the values of a changing community.  And time tends to wash away the nuance and complexity of heroes that stand as a symbol of a prior generation. 

Yet, America loves their heroes,  even if only for a time. But ​we have a way of using the language of “heroism” to sacrifice the very heroes we admire.  Many of the essential workers we deemed heroes of the pandemic had to choose between their health and a paycheck. They didn't choose to be heroes. Some didn't want to be.  Others were silenced or shamed for speaking out about unsafe conditions .

Multiculturalism / Creative Commons

Race is a myth; racism is not. I'm stealing this line from Gene Seymour, one of our guests on our show today. 

We're reairing a show with three people who discuss what it's like to be Black in America. The show originally aired in 2017.

We chose to reair it today to coincide with the memorials this week for Congressman John Lewis, who will be the first Black congressman to lie in state in the Capitol Rotunda, after fighting his entire life for social justice.

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.

Do You Speak Corona?

Jul 23, 2020
EpicTop10 / Creative Commons

It took two years for the word AIDS to get from coinage to dictionary. It took COVID-19 thirty-four days. The pandemic has inspired a thousand new or repurposed words, slang, nicknames, and neologisms.

It has changed the way we speak.  

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.

Erich Ferdinand / Creative Commons

Religious scholar Elaine Pagels trusted the Gospel of Thomas to get her through the almost unbearably painful years after the death of her six-year-old son -- born with a congenital heart defect -- followed one year later by the unexpected death of her husband. 

Colin Gillette, Bradford County, PA

The number of people testing positive for coronavirus continues to rise in many parts of the U.S., with sharp rises in places like Florida, Nevada, Alabama, Texas, and Puerto Rico. Yet, President Trump continues to attribute the rise to more testing -- despite the rise in hospitalizations and deaths -- and he wants to reduce federal aid for more testing, tracing, and for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Also this hour: The ABC News/Washington Post poll released Sunday shows former Vice President Joe Biden leading President Trump by 15 points among registered voters, 55% to 40%. A majority of respondents are not happy with the president's handling of the coronavirus, among other things.

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.

Alyssa L. Miller / Creative Commons

Our ancestors viewed sleep as a highly sensual and transcendent experience. Today, about a third of adults have trouble falling asleep, staying asleep or feeling rested. We're becoming a nation of insomniacs.

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.

Pedro Portal / Miami Herald

The number of people being infected with the SARS-CoV-2 virus is rising in 48 states. We're testing more, but the rate of positive tests, hospitalizations, and in some states, deaths, is also rising.

Walking with Dante

Jul 12, 2020
FreeParking / Creative Commons

"Dante's Inferno" is the most famous section of Dante Aligheri's 14,000 line epic poem, The Divine Comedy. But it's only the first part of Dante's long pilgrimage through the afterlife. He first enters the circles of hell, filled with beasts and sinners doomed to the Inferno for crimes like gluttony, lust, and treason. 

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.

romana klee / flickr creative commons

Over the past weeks, cities across the country have implemented curfews in response to George Floyd protests and to enforce stay-at-home orders during COVID-19.

This hour, we discuss whether emergency curfews really keep people safer or become another way to intimidate and discriminate. Also, the history and wisdom of juvenile curfews and what it's like to protest after curfew.

And we learn about early curfews across the pond during the British Empire.

Bufi at de.Wikipedia / Creative Commons

Is it safe to say that we're not yet ready to kiss and make up with the banks whose reckless behavior led to the 2008 financial crisis? A little contrition would go a long way to helping us forgive and forget. That's not happening, at least not with Deutsche Bank, the preferred bank of Donald Trump and Jeffrey Epstein.

Sandy Cole / Wikimedia Commons

The Argus Pheasant is a lifelong bachelor. He mates with multiple females but has no further contact with his mates or the baby pheasants he sires. By human terms, not much of a feminist.

Yet, he stages a chivalrous courtship on moonlit nights on a forest stage he clears with meticulous care. He sings and dances and pecks. He encompasses his 'date' in a cape of intricately-colored four-foot-long feathers. He ends with a bow.  

Evolutionarily, there's no purpose for the spectacular feathers on the Argus Pheasant - unless you consider they may have evolved to satisfy the sexual preferences of the female Argus.

Creative Commons

You're shopping for groceries. Out of the blue your heart starts to race, your knees feel weak, you feel like you can't breathe, like you might be having a heart attack. You wonder if you're losing your mind -- but you're not. You're having a panic attack. 

About 1 in 4 people have had at least one panic attack during their lives, yet few like to admit it. Because panic manifests through physical symptoms that can mimic a heart attack, a lot of people feel shame when they go to the ER and find there's nothing wrong with them. In the absence of a test that defines panic, a lot of people worry they might be losing their mind.  

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.

Joe Giron / www.pokerphotoarchive.com

Maria Konnikova, best-selling New York Times author and a regular contributor to The New Yorker, has long been interested in understanding the balance between skill and luck. How much of her life could she take credit for and how much was the luck of her draw? So, she took a year away from work to become a professional poker player. 

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