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.

Fox Searchlight

On Thursday, Hasbro announced that its Mr. Potato Head brand would drop the "Mr." in a move toward inclusiveness. But they also made clear, in a move toward not being yelled at by the internet, that the Mr. Potato Head character (and the Mrs. Potato Head character, for that matter) would continue.

Also this week, the U.S. Postal Service unveiled a new design for its mail trucks. The internet yelled about that some, too.

And: Nomadland is Chloé Zhao's third film as writer and director. It is nominated for four awards at this weekend's Golden Globes, including two for Zhao (Best Director and Best Screenplay) and one for Frances McDormand (Best Actress in a Motion Picture -- Drama).

Nana B Agyei / Creative Commons

Ghostwriting evokes an image of the writer who toils away in obscurity, secretly penning books credited to another. In reality, ghostwriters are just good at turning someone's undeveloped vision into a story that others want to read. Their services are in demand from people wanting help writing everything from celebrity memoirs to Instagram captions and online dating profiles

Self-publishing is on the rise as our fixation on the solitary author and the stigma of ghostwriting recedes. Even rap and Hip-Hop artists are getting on board.   

Today, we pull back the curtain on ghostwriting. 

Carol Rosegg

Thornton Wilder's Our Town debuted more than 80 years ago. It won the Pulitzer Prize for Drama, and, over the decades since, it has continuously been one of the most produced of American plays.

It is known for its spare set -- just some chairs and tables, perhaps some ladders -- and lack of props and sometimes even costumes. It's known for its metatheatricality and its Stage Manager character, who addresses the audience directly and rarely participates in the action of the play, as much as there really is any.

It is known as old-fashioned, sentimental, nostalgic and, simultaneously, obviously and intentionally not old-fashioned, sentimental, and nostalgic.

This hour, a look at perhaps the quintessential American play: Our Town.

Syd Montgomery

The octopus has always been the stuff of spine-tingling legend, like that of the Kraken, the many-armed sea monster believed to drag ships to the bottom of the sea after dining on the crew. Or  Gertie the Pus, the giant Pacific octopus that lives under the Narrows Bridge connecting Tacoma, Washington to Gig Harbor.

In reality, the octopus is more benign but equally fascinating.  Did you know the octopus has two-thirds of its brain neurons distributed throughout its eight arms? Or, that the severed arm of an octopus can walk independently toward a food source and move it to where its mouth should be? 

Ben Novak / Revive and Restore

The US is about to surpass 500,000 deaths from Covid-19. That said, new cases are declining, hospitalizations and deaths are trending down and vaccination rates are picking up, though inequities remain. We talk vaccines, variants, messaging and more. 

Also this hour: A new study finds that House members who hold extreme views receive far more airtime on cable and broadcast news than their moderate counterparts. Changes in the media have incentivized elected officials such as Marjorie Taylor Greene, to build a national brand at the expense of legislating for their local constituents.

Lastly, welcome to Elizabeth Ann, a baby black-footed ferret cloned from Willa, who died more than 30 years ago.  

WarnerMedia Direct, LLC

In a new essay for Harper's, filmmaker Martin Scorsese criticizes the current state of the movie business and all these new fangled streaming platforms and their algorithms. "We can’t depend on the movie business, such as it is, to take care of cinema," Scorsese says.

And: Judas and the Black Messiah is a biopic of Black Panther Party leader Fred Hampton. It is director Shaka King's studio feature film debut, and it's nominated for two Golden Globe Awards. It is one of two movies nominated for Golden Globes this year that portray Hampton (along with The Trial of the Chicago 7).

Bain News Service / Library of Congress

Cartoonist Bill Griffith based his legendary character Zippy the Pinhead on Schlitzie, a real life sideshow 'pinhead' who appeared in Todd Browning's 1932 film, "Freaks." Early audiences were appalled by Browning's use of real side show characters to seek revenge on those who treated them cruelly.

Griffith's graphic novel is his effort to understand Schlitzie and the sideshow family who cared for him. We talk to Griffith and a member of Schlitzie's sideshow family.

Also this hour: the man who saved thousands of premature infants by exhibiting them in incubators at the Coney Island sideshow. 

MARCO VERCH / flickr creative commons

We live in an "Everything Should Take Twenty Minutes" world. Movies are too long. SundanceTV has a show that airs in 10-minute episodes. Tierra Whack has a 15-minute album made of fifteen 60-second songs. Todd Rundgren's memoir has 183 one-page, three-paragraph chapters.

So today, we turn our hour over to five short, little shows about short, little things.

Clemson / Creative Commons

The Senate voted to aquit Donald Trump Saturday after falling shy of the two-thirds majority required to convict him. Fifty-seven senators, including seven Republicans, voted to convict him for "incitement of insurrection" and 43 Republicans voted to acquit Trump for a variety of reasons. 

Reliving the January 6 insurrection during last week's Senate impeachment trial has left many of us sorting through a gamut of emotions along with a lack of closure on the last four years.

Ninian Reid / Fox News / Zuma Wire

As of Monday morning, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell are still working out the details for the Senate impeachment trial scheduled to begin this Tuesday, February 9. Forty-five senators say it's not constitutional. Conservative lawyer Charles Cooper says it is. We talk to Connecticut U.S. Senator Richard Blumenthal on impeachment, intelligence, and more. 

Marvel Studios

WandaVision is a Disney+ miniseries that's part of the Marvel Cinematic Universe and that's set, like, inside the history of television? It follows Elizabeth Olsen as Wanda Maximoff and Paul Bettany as Vision as they try to conceal their superhero powers and blend into a generic sitcom neighborhood. Episodes so far have taken on the look and feel of American sitcoms from the 1950s, '60s, '70s, and '80s.

Jonathan McNicol / Connecticut Public Radio

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 recorded in front of a live audience long before the pandemic put a pause on live audiences as a thing.

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.

Jim Henkens

We have a complicated relationship with our food. We need food to live; yet, we've become removed from the food we eat and how it's grown and processed.  Even with the best of intentions, today's ultra-processed foods make it hard for us to know exactly what we're eating or how the methods used to mass produce our food are affecting our environment and our health. And I haven't even touched on how food has led to war, famine, poverty, and enslavement.    

Alan Light / Creative Commons

Colin interviewed Hal Holbrook on February 3, 2015, in advance of Holbrook's performance of Mark Twain Tonight in Hartford on his 90th birthday on February 17, 2015. Colin wrote at the time that Holbrook was one of the most remarkable people he's encountered of all the remarkable people he's interviewed over the years.

Holbrook was so passionate and fun to speak with that Colin never got to ask him all the many questions about the love of his life, his difficult childhood, or his time spent at Suffield Academy. He hoped for a second interview.

Holbrook died on January 23. This hour, we reair our 2015 interview with him.

Paul Sableman / Creative Commons

Some say the press continues to portray the Republican Party as a "mainstream, center-right entity," long after their words and deeds reflect something more ominous. Is the media failing to convey the extreme behavior of the GOP out of fear they will be accused of liberal bias? It's not the first time the media has been accused of bias or been too slow to see something for what it is instead of what they want it to be.

Also this hour: Five members of former President Trump's impeachment team departed Saturday, a little over a week before the Senate trial is set to begin on February 9. On Sunday, Trump hired lawyers David Schoen and Bruce L. Castor Jr. to take over. Will they be ready by next week?

Vevo

Olivia Rodrigo's "drivers license" is in its second week as the No. 1 song in the country, having debuted there last week. It is the first debut single by any artist to hit the Billboard Hot 100 at No. 1 in history.

And: Pretend It's a City is Martin Scorsese's seven-part Netflix documentary series about Fran Liebowitz that's actually also kind of about New York City.

And finally: How To with John Wilson is John Wilson's six-part HBO documentary series of advice and tutorials that's actually also kind of about New York City.

Stewart Black / 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. 

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

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.

Nicolas Boullosa / Creative Commons

One of the few silver linings of the pandemic has been a resurgence of interest in motels and RV life from a diverse group of millennials who want safe and less expensive options to travel and work during a pandemic.

And motels and RV companies are trying to meet the demand with upgrades and amenities like flat-screen TVs, memory-foam mattresses, and free Wi-Fi.

Some are turning to RV life permanently to travel, live, and work from where they want instead of being tethered to a desk and real estate. The pandemic has shown us that millennials who have never known the security of stable jobs or home ownership feel more "at home" outside traditional places.

Navy Petty Officer 1st Class Carlos M. Vazquez II / Joint Chiefs of Staff

Moderna announced today they were making new versions of their vaccine that can be used as boosters against variants seen in South Africa, Brazil, and the U.K. The vaccine should be effective against variants but it seems to create fewer antibodies against the one that has emerged in South Africa. Either way, vaccines alone will not be enough. We talk about mutations and vaccines. 

Also this hour: The Biden inauguration was the most Catholic inauguration in history. Is a more liberal Christianity on the rise? 

Lastly, a tribute to John McDonough, actor, singer, and a Connecticut native.

The House will transmit its Article of Impeachment charging former President Trump with "incitement of insurrection" to the Senate on Monday.

Gregg Richards

Most of the Western world is organized by alphabetical order, which is so much more than the 26 letters that make up the alphabet. Alphabetical order is an organizing principle that allows us to save, order, and access thousands of years of humankind's most precious documents and ideas. Without it, we'd never know what came before us or how to pass on what's with us. It's ubiquitous, yet invisible in daily life.

This hour, a conversation about how we order our world and why we do it. 

The Legacy Of COVID-19

Jan 19, 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. 

Netflix, Inc.

Tom Cruise's seventh Mission: Impossible installment has been one of the few huge Hollywood productions trying to to figure out how to film during the pandemic. Cruise has been in the news lately for blowing up at his crew for breaking COVID protocols, and now he's back in the news for… buying COVID enforcement robots?

And: Could front porches be just the right "magical intermediate zone" to keep communities connecting during a time of social distancing?

And finally: Nicolas Cage is hosting a documentary series on Netflix called History of Swear Words. Normally I'd try to give you a little more context here, but I feel like that first sentence pretty much covers it.

Previously on Pardon Me (Another Damn Impeachment Show?): House Democrats voted to impeach President Trump on two Articles of Impeachment: "abuse of power" and "obstruction of Congress." He was later acquitted promptly after Senate Republicans voted against calling witnesses or admitting new evidence.

Now (less than 48 weeks later), on Season Two of Pardon Me: House Democrats, along with 10 Republicans, voted to impeach President Trump Wednesday on one Article of Impeachment: "incitement of insurrection." Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., promptly responded that there'll be no trial while he's Senate leader.

The more things change, the more they stay the same.

Kate Hartman / Interactive Telecommunications Program, Tisch School of the Arts, New York University

Do you talk to yourself? Is it a silent inter-narrative or do you talk aloud? What form of address to you use to yourself?

When I'm mad at myself I sometimes address myself as Colin. But, I sense that when LeBron speaks to himself as LeBron, it's more affirming. 

I talk aloud quite a bit. A hangover, I think, from growing up as an only child.

Wikimedia Commons

Wednesday's insurrection by Trump supporters at the Capitol was the culmination of months of Trump perpetuating the lie that the election was stolen from him. The fire he built might have sputtered without oxygen from Republican colleagues and right-wing media intent on capitalizing on his lies.

House Democrats introduced an article of impeachment Monday. It charges President Trump with "inciting violence against the government of the United States," after House Republicans objected to a resolution calling on Vice President Pence to invoke the 25th Amendment. The House will consider the impeachment resolution on the floor if the vice president refuses to intervene "within 24 hours" or if the president refuses to resign.

Netflix, Inc.

Last weekend, a little girl asked her father for help opening a can of beans. Rather than help her, Bean Dad left his daughter to figure it out for herself. For six hours (supposedly). And tweeted about it. It was peak internet.

Also: This will come as a shock (it probably won't), but Kim Kardashian is rumored to be divorcing Kanye West. Or she's rumored to be about to be divorcing Kanye West. Or she's rumored to be considering divorcing Kanye West. Or something.

And finally: Bridgerton is a period drama series on Netflix produced by Shonda Rhimes. It's set in Regency London during "the social season," and you're either super interested in a show with that premise or you aren't.

Stephanie Clifford / Creative Commons

President Trump has gotten away with bad behavior since long before he was elected to the presidency. When faced with an election loss that he couldn't change, he instigated his followers to fight for him. They obeyed his command. He may not be able to get out of the consequences of the actions they took on his behalf. 

matt / flickr creative commons

As our show starts today, the U.S. Congress will begin the process of officially tallying the Electoral College votes in the 2020 elections for president and vice president.

President-elect Joe Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris received 306 votes, President Donald Trump and Vice President Mike Pence received 232 votes, and this should be a pretty pro forma exercise.

Should be. Instead, scores of congressional Republicans are expected to object to the certified votes from a number of swing states. The president thinks the vice president has the power to pick and choose which votes to count. The vice president reportedly disagrees. In any case, the objections are expected to gum up the works -- probably for hours.

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