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

Weekdays at 1:00 pm and 9:00 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.

HBO

The 2021 Rock & Roll Hall of Fame inductees have been announced. Artists like Foo Fighters, Jay-Z, Todd Rundgren, Tina Turner, LL Cool J, Kraftwerk, and Gil Scott-Heron got in. Folks like Iron Maiden, Chaka Kahn, Rage Against the Machine, Devo, and Dionne Warwick did not.

And: Mare of Easttown is a seven-episode HBO limited series starring Kate Winslet. The fifth episode airs Sunday.

Bill Smith / Creative Commons

Profanity used to be about someone swearing insincerely to God. Then the Reformation came along and made profanity about sex and the body. 

Today, our most unspeakable words are slurs against other groups at a time when BLM, #MeToo, and cancel culture are driving our cultural narrative.

We talk about the past, present, and future of profanity. 

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.

Why do people smoke cigarettes even though everyone knows they're terribly harmful? Why do women wear terribly uncomfortable high-heeled shoes? Could it simply be because those things are... interesting?

Steve Jurvetson / Creative Commons

Alex Trebek’s imprint as the host of "Jeopardy" looms large over the show, making it hard for anyone else to live up to the impeccable standard he demanded during his 37 seasons as the show's iconic host. But more than a dozen guest hosts have tried, from big winner Ken Jennings to Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers. Who will the next host be and what will the next iteration look like?

Netflix, Inc.

Elon Musk will host tomorrow night's Saturday Night Live. It is, if nothing else, an odd choice.

Speaking of choices, Rolling Stone's list of the 100 Best Sitcoms of All Time is out this week.

Finally, This Is a Robbery: The World's Biggest Art Heist is a four-part Netflix docuseries about the 1990 robbery of the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum in Boston. The burglary was the largest museum heist in history in terms of value (thought to be as much as $600 million) until 2019.

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?

David Stewart Home Gets / Creative Commons

Many of us subscribe to a few (or many) newsletters of our favorite writers and thinkers. Newsletters have become a great way for journalists and others to dive deep into less covered topics and engage directly with their readers in ways not always possible in the mainstream media ecosystem.

The platform Substack is making it easy for them. The subscription-based model offers writers more editorial control and the ability to offer free content and earn a sustainable salary at a time when public trust in media is low, local news is thinning and media content is often driven by social-media algorithms.

OnCall team / Creative Commons

Applications to nursing schools spiked during the pandemic from those who wanted to help. They chose to be nurses at a time when the risk to their own health was never greater. Why are some people willing to run toward the fire when others are running away from it?

Most of us fall somewhere on a spectrum of altruistic behavior. We might adopt a stray pet, donate a liter of blood, or check on an older neighbor. Others pursue a career based on helping others, and, at the extreme end of the spectrum, some choose to donate their kidney to a stranger or rush into traffic to save a stranger's life.

We talk to two nurses, a kidney donor, and a psychologist about nursing and the nature of altruism.

Jjron / Wikimedia Commons

Aaron Rodgers leaked his dissatisfaction with the Green Bay Packers just before last week's NFL opening round. The NFL draft drew about 2 million people and has become something of a cultural event. In essence, he made himself the story within the story. So, what's going on with Aaron Rodgers? Does he have a future with the Packers, another NFL team, or will he head to Jeopardy and date Shailene Woodley?

Trevor / flickr creative commons

As we were preparing for our show on underdogs, I kept saying that we shouldn't overlook the fact that, often, to be an underdog in the first place, you have to be relatively bad at the thing you’re an underdog about.

The more we talked about it, the more I found myself making the case that losers and losing are fascinating.

And they are. There's a whole podcast about political candidates who lost. We romanticize losers in movies and TV and songs and stories.

Werner Schutz / Creative Commons

We're so caught up in fetishizing (mostly) female breasts in film, literature, art, and in the anatomy-defying breasts of comic book heroines, that we overlook the breast as a vital source of food and and as a body part vulnerable to cancer, including young women under forty. How often should we get that mammogram? To breastfeed - or not?

Lastly, how come men can go topless in America but women can't?

The Legacy Of Covid-19

Apr 26, 2021
Alyssa L. Miller / Creative Commons

Yale University's Dr. Nicholas Christakis explores what it means to live in a time of pandemic. He looks at historical epidemics and current medical and social research to help us understand the potential long-term impact COVID-19 will have on people and culture. 

Greek mythology holds that the arrows of plague Apollo shot down upon the Greeks led to great death and suffering. The plague that has brought death and pain over this past year was not brought by an angry god, but an infinitesimal virus that has wreaked global havoc and exposed the best and worst of human behavior. 

We spend an informative and insightful hour with Nicholas Christakis. 

Janus Films

André Gregory has directed and acted in the theater for more than 50 years. He has appeared in a number of movies, including Martin Scorsese's The Last Temptation of Christ, Woody Allen's Celebrity, Brian De Palma's The Bonfire of the Vanities, Peter Weir's The Mosquito Coast, and many more. He has starred in three movies about the theater with the playwright, actor, and comedian Wallace Shawn: A Master Builder, Vanya on 42nd Street, and the iconic My Dinner with Andre.

Gregory's memoir is This Is Not My Memoir. He joins us for the hour.

Denali National Park and Preserve / Creative Commons

We're not the same people today that we were before covid upended our lives last spring. We found ways to survive a deadly and invisible virus, even as it threatened our survival. We learned to work from home, sew masks, Zoom, and create new words to describe our unique situation. And scientists developed vaccines so we could adapt faster than the virus could mutate. 

Now, we're realizing that we don't want to leave behind all of our new "normal" as we prepare to return to the routines of our pre-pandemic "normal."

We talk about that and play some of your essays. 

Sharon Mollerus / flickr creative commons

Hartford native Sol LeWitt was one of the giants of conceptualist and minimalist art.

As an artist, he abandoned the long histories of painting and drawing and sculpture in favor of his Wall Drawings and Structures.

And as an art figure, he abandoned the conventions of celebrity and resisted ever even having his picture taken.

This hour, a look at Connecticut's own Sol LeWitt.

Bernardo Wolff / Creative Commons

Americans like to believe we live in a meritocracy but the odds are stacked in favor of the already lucky and fortunate. We congratulate the "winners" and humiliate the "losers," who are told to better themselves or carry the burden of their failure. 

The 2016 election of Donald Trump was decades in the making.  Like other populist leaders around the world, Trump gave voice to the resentment directed toward “elites” who devalue the hard work and dignity of workers without college degrees.

Picasa / Google

The jury will begin deliberations later today on whether George Floyd's death was caused by his inability to breathe under the weight of Derek Chauvin. Breathing is so automatic that we don't think about it until lung disease, dirty air, poor breathing habits and, now, COVID-19 and police brutality make it hard to do.

We take breathing for granted; we don't breathe deep enough, we breathe too much, and we often breathe through our mouths instead of our noses. 

Republic Records

Taylor Swift has announced plans to re-record six of her previous albums in order to own master recordings of her older catalogue. Fearless (Taylor’s Version), which came out last Friday, is the first of these six re-recordings to be released. Fittingly, this would appear to be the sixth Nose that is substantively about Taylor Swift.

And: If you're socially anxious (and who isn't, really?), you're gonna miss Zoom when it's gone. Oh, and speaking of social anxiety, meet Prancer, the Chihuahua who hates almost everyone.

Bruce Andersen / Wikimedia Commons

New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof recently wrote a column proclaiming that "America Is Not Made for People Who Pee." It hit a nerve. People responded with stories that all seemed to agree with him.

So, why don't we complain about locked doors, long lines (for women), or the lack of a public toilet where one should be? Lezlie Lowe might say that we don't like to talk about bodily functions that are perceived as kind of, well, gross.

THIERRY EHRMANN / flickr creative commons

Popeye. The World According to Garp. Good Morning, Vietnam. Dead Poets Society. Awakenings. The Fisher King. Aladdin. Mrs. Doubtfire. Jumanji. The Birdcage. Good Will Hunting. What Dreams May Come. One Hour Photo. Death to Smoochy. Insomnia. Night at the Museum.

And that's just a super-abbreviated version of Robin Williams's filmography. And it completely ignores his career as one of the all-time great standup comedians. And it ignores Mork & Mindy. And Comic Relief. And so much more.

This hour: A look at Robin Williams, who would've turned 70 this year.

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."

Ajay Suresh / Creative Commons

Fox News broadcast the first episode of Greg Gutfeld's new late-night show, Gutfeld!, earlier this month. They're betting that Gutfeld can turn his talk show format into a successful late-night comedy show for conservatives. The problem is that conservatives don't do political satire any better than liberals do opinion talk radio.

Dannagal Young believes that opinion talk is political satire for the right and political satire is opinion programming for the left. They serve the same purpose; both formats are responses to a lack of trust in mainstream media. Which one appeals to each of us depends less on how "smart" we are and more on how we process information.

PBS

At Connecticut Public, there's a smallish corner conference room thing that we think of as The Crying Room. I, personally, haven't ever seen anyone cry in there, but I've had my suspicions. In any case, where people go to cry is part of the essential geography of the modern office. On the other hand, do we even have offices anymore?

And: Hemingway is a three-part PBS documentary directed by Ken Burns and Lynn Novick. It premiered this week, and all 5½ hours are streamable now.

Reprise Records

Joni Mitchell's album Blue turns 50 this year. It may not have the artistic sophistication of her later albums, but Mitchell's vulnerability endeared her to fans, if not early critics unused to such intimate storytelling. That was okay with Mitchell. She said her "music is not designed to grab instantly. It's designed to wear for a lifetime, to hold up like a fine cloth."

CHRISTEL ØVERLAND PRETENI / flickr creative commons

humor = tragedy + time

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

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

...Derek Chauvin?

AbdulBokeh

We'll be taking your calls during this hour -- and during more of our Monday shows moving forward. We'll still invite guests when we think it's important. Otherwise, we want to talk to you. Call us today at 888-720-9677 between 1 and 2 p.m. EDT.

I'm not sure what you want to talk about today, but consider this: Nicholas Kristof, opinion writer for The New York Times, complained that "America Is Not Made for People Who Pee." It's great that President Biden wants to rebuild highways, fix aging schools, and upgrade our electrical grid, but what about public toilets? Have you had to search for a public toilet, especially during the pandemic? If so, you're not alone.

Legendary / Warner Bros.

So celebrities and their giant water bottles: It's a thing, I guess. And then there's the ABC Carpet couches email thread. Plus: Netflix's dwindling, dying DVD library.

And then: Godzilla vs. Kong is the fourth movie in Legendary's MonsterVerse. It's a direct sequel to both Kong: Skull Island and Godzilla: King of the Monsters (2019), and it's the 12th King Kong movie and the 36th Godzilla movie, overall. Godzilla vs. Kong's theatrical opening (both internationally and domestically) has been the largest of any movie's during the pandemic.

The Allure Of Advice

Apr 1, 2021
Fred Palumbo, World Telegram staff reporter / Library of Congress

John Dunton started the first advice column in 1690. He called it the Athenian Mercury. John, a bookseller, and his four "experts" wanted to answer "all the most Nice and Curious Questions proposed by the Ingenious of Either Sex." One person wondered why they would trouble themselves "and the world with answering so many silly questions." But it was a hit.

People have always been drawn to advice columns. They're a public forum for private thoughts; they're communal, yet anonymous; they reveal human strength, yet vulnerability. Despite their popularity, until recently, most readers in the recent decades have been white women. That's changing.

Erich Ferdinand / flickr creative commons

Did you get enough sleep last night? If you're like most Americans, probably not. You might feel pretty good after six hours of sleep and a strong cup of coffee, but the physical and mental toll of sleep deprivation is high.

We become more impulsive and less mentally agile, and we make more mistakes. Long term, lack of sleep (six hours or less per night) can mess with mood, hormones, and immune systems, and it can increase our risk for diabetes and cardiovascular disease.

Jonathan McNicol / Connecticut Public Radio

For a period of about 50 years, many of America's top cartoonists and illustrators lived within a stone's throw of one another in the southwestern corner of Connecticut.

Comic strips and gag cartoons read by hundreds of millions were created in this tight-knit group -- Prince Valiant, Superman, Beetle Bailey, Hägar the Horrible, Hi and Lois, Nancy, The Wizard of Id, Family Circus... I could keep going.

This hour, a look at the funny pages, and at Connecticut's cartoon county.

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