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.

Chion Wolf (file photo) / Connecticut Public Radio

It's Friday, but our pop culture roundtable is off this week.

Today, in lieu of The Nose, an hour with America's Greatest Living Film Critic, David Edelstein.

Ryan Caron King / Connecticut Public

Who would have guessed a face mask would become the latest cultural symbol of our identity, one more way to express our politics, our sense of style, and our deepest beliefs in what it means to be American.

GIUSEPPE MILO / flickr creative commons

Nyctophiliacs rejoice! The color you know and love (black) is now blacker than ever before. And never mind that black is not technically a color. The point is that as you were traipsing through graveyards and reveling under the night sky, scientists were busy inventing two new shades which are so dark they'd make Wednesday Adams reach for a flashlight.

Heather Hazzam / Wikimedia Commons

Connecticut will reopen some businesses on May 20, as coronavirus-related hospitalizations continue to decrease.

This may be good news for business owners and unemployed workers, and for those looking for a glimmer of light at the end of a long tunnel.

It may be scary for people with greater risk for having severe illness from COVID-19 and front-line workers with greater exposure.

The bottom line is that we still don't fully understand this virus. And, not all of the 40 states set to reopen are prepared to scale up the testing, tracing, and isolating necessary to prevent a spike in the curve.

Netflix, Inc.

Twitter announced on Tuesday that its employees who can work from home can continue to work from home -- for forever, if they want. One wonders how many companies will follow suit -- and how employees will feel about such an arrangement.

And: Ryan Murphy is the showrunner behind things like Nip/Tuck, Glee, American Horror Story, 9-1-1, and The Politician. In 2018, Murphy signed the largest development deal in the history of television with Netflix. His new miniseries, Hollywood, is the second project to come out of that deal.

Merlin Tuttle / Merlin Tuttle's Bat Conservation

Bats get a bad rap. People are afraid of animals that tap into our deepest fears and revulsions. Bats aren't cuddly, they fly at night, have big eyes that can’t see, and conjure creepy images of vampires who steal the  blood of the unsuspecting as they sleep. 

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?

Magic Piano / Wikimedia Commons

We can observe how economic inequality in America plays out during this pandemic by watching who gets help and who gets ignored.

Two America's live side by side, often in the same community. Nowhere is it on display more than in Greenwich, Conn., where hedge fund managers in gilded mansions live across town from minimum wage workers in local service jobs.

The inequality on display today is the byproduct of decades of policy choices that benefit the wealthy.

Also this hour: We help you make sense of the sometimes conflicting news about COVID-19 with the host of the podcast This Week In Virology.

Netflix, Inc.

23 Hours To Kill is Jerry Seinfeld's fourth-ever standup comedy special and his second for Netflix. It hit the streaming service on Tuesday, and The Nose thinks it's great. And also that it sucks.

And then: Waco is a six-part miniseries that tells exactly the story you'd guess it tells. Taylor Kitsch plays David Koresh. Waco was the big, original launch title for the Paramount Network when it rebranded from SpikeTV in January, 2018. So why is it relevant now? One wonders, but it was recently added to Netflix, and it's been trending there for weeks.

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.)

The One About Joni Mitchell

May 5, 2020
Wikimedia Commons

Joni Mitchell is a singer-songwriter from Alberta, Canada. In 1968, her debut album, Song to a Seagull, was released and since then, Mitchell has become one of the most influential and greatest recording artists. Mitchell has won nine Grammys, including a Lifetime Achievement Award, and countless music awards, and her albums are considered among the best ever made.

We're big fans. It turns out we're not alone.

t-mizo / Creative Commons

It's hard to fathom the idea that more people have to die from COVID-19 before we come out on the other end of this pandemic. Is it time for political leaders of both parties to have an honest conversation about the moral trade-offs of this pandemic and how to balance them toward the public interest?

Focus Features

There are plenty of questions about what the future of live performance looks like right now, and, in certain ways, no form seems more displaced by social distancing and everything else than does standup comedy. As such, people are just going to have to try new things, right? New York club comedian Ted Alexandro's YouTube comedy special is one of the first such experiments.

Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc.

Three years ago, we did a show where we asked which fictional dystopian future we were actually already living in. Now that we've arrived at, ya know, this present moment, that show has been on our minds. But we've realized we've got a new set of questions now too.

Travis Isaacs / Creative Commons

Humans typically make enough collective noise to keep the earth vibrating at a steady hum. But the pandemic has quieted that hum enough to let seismologists study the vibrations that can be hard to detect in the din of our noise.

National Museum of Health and Medicine / Creative Commons

This show originally aired on July 25, 2018.

Two years ago, Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security, alongside government leaders, ran an intricate simulation of a rapidly spreading pandemic. Their goal was to talk about the difficult ethical questions that arise in the event of a public health crisis. These are the same questions we find ourselves confronting today.

 

White House / Wikimedia Commons

People in several states came together last weekend to protest against stay-at-home orders. Their actions followed President Trump tweets of support to "liberate" their states and start reopening the economy. Dr. David Grew makes the case that resuming "normal" business activity in the absence of testing and credible messaging will do more economic harm than good. 

Also this hour: What would President Selina Meyer do in a pandemic? How about Logan Roy? We talk to Frank Rich, the Executive Producer of HBO's VEEP and Succession. Could even they do a better job?  

Lastly, we talk trash with an essential worker. 

Matthew Glover / flickr creative commons

Fiona Apple's new album, Fetch the Bolt Cutters, is currently the best-reviewed album, um, ever, according to Metacritic. Bon Iver has a new benefit single out that seems to have been written specifically for the present moment. Norah Jones has a new tune. Bob Dylan has kind of randomly put out two new songs, one of which charted in the U.K. despite being very nearly 17 minutes long.

And then, here's a trivia question: There are five artists who have charted singles in the Top 40 in each of the last four decades, Michael Jackson, Madonna, U2, Kenny G... and who's the fifth? Would you believe it's this guy?

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.

Wikimedia Commons

In March, President Trump blamed our global pandemic on China. When that didn't work, he blamed the World Health Organization (WHO) for not responding quickly enough to the virus. When that didn't work, he blamed governors for not getting their own supplies. Now, he says immigrants will take away American jobs.

The Bible defines a scapegoat as one of two kid goats. One goat was sacrificed and the living “scapegoat” was supposed to absorb the sins of the community and carry them into the wilderness. Is that what's happening here? Are the president's scapegoats supposed to carry away the sins of Mr. Trump?

Netflix

That headline is just a direct quote from James Poniewozik's Audience of One: Donald Trump, Television, and the Fracturing of America. I was torn between that line from the book and this one:

Donald Trump is not a person.

Poniewozik's take is that "Donald Trump" is really a character that Donald Trump has been playing on television since at least the early 1980s.

Ryan Caron King / Connecticut Public

One can't help but wonder if the President understands that getting through this pandemic will not be a quick sprint. 

On Thursday, the Trump Administration announced guidelines for states to begin reopening the economy, with a goal to begin by May 1. On Friday, the President personally encouraged protesters in Michigan, Minnesota, and Virginia, to "liberate" their states from onerous social-distancing guidelines imposed by their Democratic governors.  On Saturday, protesters from other states joined the fray. 

National Theatre

Last weekend, Saturday Night Live aired a prerecorded special, "Saturday Night Live at Home." Tom Hanks hosted from his kitchen. Michael Che and Colin Jost did Weekend Update from their living rooms and by Zoom or something similar. Chris Martin covered a Bob Dylan song in front of handwritten "ENTRANCE TO TRAIN" signs.

All of the late night shows are operating in some similar way right now. Jimmy Kimmel hosts from his living room and has people like Jason Bateman on by Skype or whatever. John Oliver sits at his desk in front of a mysterious white wall. Samantha Bee hosts from the woods.

Travis Wise / flickr creative commons

I haven't been grocery shopping in 21 days. The last time I went, March 26, was a harrowing experience.

It was before this particular grocery store, at least, had started limiting the number of customers in the building at a time, before it had made aisles one-way, before it started wiping down carts after each use and providing sanitizing wipes for customers to use.

Staff and customers alike didn't seem to understand just how far six feet is, and the aisles were too narrow to afford that sort of distancing anyway. Fresh meats were in short supply, cleaning products were nowhere to be found, and canned and frozen foods were few and far between.

And so I haven't been back.

CEA

Before the pandemic, most of us craved of a little solitude away from the hustle of life. Now, we've been  been thrust into a form of solitude far from the idleness of the lazy summer afternoon we imagined. Our minds are restless with uncertainty and fear and without the usual distractions we turn toward when being alone with ourselves becomes too painful to confront. 

NIH Clinical Center

Health experts have released multiple plans that all call for some version of the same thing. We need to conduct widespread testing, trace contacts of the infected, and quarantine those contacts BEFORE we can ease social distancing measures. 

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 The 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.

Image Catalog / Creative Commons

Your sex life doesn't have to suffer just because you're cooped up at home every day. Researchers say that sex is a healthy way to calm the anxiety of pandemic, even if you live alone. Virtual dating, masturbation, and coronavirus-related porn are more popular than ever.

Tom Hines

Ocean Vuong emigrated to Hartford from Vietnam when he was two years old. His family brought with them the trauma of an American-led war that ravaged their people and their culture. How do they retain their culture and assimilate into one that doesn't want them?

His family struggled in a Hartford very different from the city that many of us experience. It's a place that still exists in the shadows.

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