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.

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 twenty-six 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.

Today, 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.

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.

Johannes Gärtner / flickr creative commons

Nietzsche called Richard Wagner "a volcanic eruption of the total undivided artistic capacity of nature itself," and Thomas Mann said he was "probably the greatest talent in the entire history of art."

More than a thousand movies have Wagner on their soundtracks, including classic scenes from Apocalypse Now, The Blues Brothers, Bugs Bunny cartoons, and Charlie Chaplin.

But, there's a reason Woody Allen says too much of Wagner's music gives him "the urge to conquer Poland." Wagner is nothing if not a problematic figure. As the new book Wagnerism: Art and Politics in the Shadow of Music puts it, "An artist who might have rivaled Shakespeare in universal reach is undone by an ideology of hate."

DonkeyHotey / Creative Commons

Sachitha Obeysekara / flickr creative commons

To round out the year, we round up the best jazz of the year. We've done this every year for at least the last seven years.

Marc Tavernier / flickr creative commons

2020 was ... not great.

But, from a pop culture point of view, it wasn't so bad either. I mean, we got the Hamilton movie, The Queen's Gambit, the final season of Schitt's Creek, David Byrne's American Utopia, the Borat sequel, "WAP," I May Destroy You, Tiger King, two new Taylor Swift albums, Ma Rainey's Black Bottom...

The list goes on.

This hour, The Nose looks back at the year in pop culture that was 2020.

Beth Beverly / Diamond Tooth Taxidermy

When you think of taxidermy, you may imagine a trophy room in which mostly male hunters have mounted the heads of 12-point stags along wood-paneled walls. If so, your image would be incomplete.

Taxidermy has gone through many iterations since gentleman scientists turned to taxidermy to understand anatomy during the Enlightenment. Victorians added a touch of whimsy, decorating their homes with birds under glass and falling in love with Walter Potter's anthropomorphized cats.

The Battle For Butter

Dec 27, 2020
Creative Commons

We tend not to think much about that pat of butter we put on our morning toast, including how the store-bought sweet cream butter we're eating likely pales in comparison to the rich, nutty flavor of  the cultured butter not found in many stores.

Chion Wolf (file photo) / Connecticut Public Radio

Toward the end of every year since 2014, we've picked a day and put "Big Al" Anderson, Jim Chapdelaine, and Colin in a room together, sung some songs, told some stories, and wound up with some sort of a holiday special.

The "in a room together" part of that is essential… and just not going to happen in 2020.

So, in lieu of doing a new show with Al and Jim, this year we've gone through all six of the previous shows we've done and pulled out some of the best songs -- 11 of them, no less -- and some of the best guest appearances and some of the other best bits and bobs and we've added a brand-new version of an age-old Big Al song that Al and Jim sent along special. And we've wound up with this sort of best-of edition of our annual holiday spectacular.

Netflix, Inc.

Ma Rainey's Black Bottom is George C. Wolfe's film adaptation of the August Wilson play. It stars Viola Davis in the title role and Chadwick Boseman in his final film performance, and it's available to stream on Netflix.

Christopher Nolan's Tenet was the first tentpole movie to be released in theaters during the pandemic. It did okay business (it's currently the third-highest grossing film of 2020), but nothing like what Warner Bros. would've hoped for in a normal time. It's still in theaters, and it's now available to buy on physical disc or from digital platforms. It will be available to rent digitally in January.

Blogtrepreneur / Creative Commons

It could be months or years before the US government knows the full extent of last week's sophisticated cyberattack that targeted private tech and security companies and federal agencies like the Energy Department and National Nuclear Security Administration.

President Trump dismissed the significance of the attack, tweeting that "everything was under control." He refused to criticize Russia for the attack, claimed without evidence that it could be China, and contradicted Secretary of State Mike Pompeo's acknowledgement of Russian involvement. Yet, the President continues to fight the election results and has considered declaring martial law to overturn the election.  

We Like To Watch

Dec 18, 2020
Robert Couse-Baker / 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.

This hour: A serious appraisal of television with The New Yorker's television critic.

Avis Charley / Avis Charley Art

Native Americans exerted their political power in the 2020 election. A record-breaking six Native-Americans were elected to Congress and Native American votes tipped the scales in Arizona - which went blue for only the second time in seventy years. And U.S. Representative Deb Haaland (D-NM) is on President-elect Biden's short list to be Secretary of the Interior. 

Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc.

2001: A Space Odyssey. Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned To Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb. A Clockwork Orange. The Shining. Full Metal Jacket. Spartacus. Eyes Wide Shut.

This hour, a careful consideration of the filmmaker Steven Spielberg called "the best in history": Stanley Kubrick.

An Ode To Yodeling

Dec 15, 2020
Creative Commons

What is yodeling, anyway? Some consider it singing, some say it's an ululation, and still others consider it merely a means to herd animals. Whatever yodeling is, one's thing clear: Yodeling has been around for thousands of years and shows no signs of disappearing.

DonkeyHotey / Creative Commons

Each state's slate of electors will cast their votes for president and vice-president today. President Trump won't win today. Nor will he win in the final Congressional certification on January 6, despite talk among some Republican legislators about plans for some type of electoral coup during the final vote count. 

Netflix, Inc.

Mank is David Fincher's feature film portrayal of the writing of Citizen Kane. Gary Oldman plays the title character and Kane screenwriter, Herman J. Mankiewicz. Mank hit Netflix last Friday, and it's already got lots of Oscar buzz.

The Godfather: Part III is a movie that was actually nominated for seven Oscars 30 years ago (it didn't win any), and it's the third film in a series that had already won nine Academy Awards, including two Best Pictures. Part III, though, has always been thought of relatively poorly. And so, for its 30th anniversary this month, Francis Ford Coppola has rejiggered it and rereleased it as The Godfather, Coda: The Death of Michael Corleone. This new version is four minutes shorter, starts with a different scene, ends slightly differently ... and is ultimately the same movie.

Jeremy Gaunt / Creative Commons

Are we on the verge of societal collapse? We tend to worry about the big explosive stuff like nuclear war, asteroids, and solar flares when we consider end-of-the-world-as-we-know-it scenarios. The reality is that most "fallen" civilizations gradually decline over many decades with a banality that can barely register. 

We often remember the decline of civilizations as the fault of poor leaders or natural disasters but it's more like death from a thousand cuts from conditions like inequality, corruption, and political dysfunction. That's (partly) what happened to the Roman Empire

Alvaro Galve / flickr creative commons

Seventeen AFC East championships. Nine Super Bowl appearances. Six Lombardi trophies. Twenty seasons pairing maybe the greatest head coach in the history of the NFL with maybe the greatest quarterback in the history of the NFL.

At the same time, there are words like "spygate." "Deflategate." And even "solicitation in Florida."

This hour, a look at one of the all-time great (and all-time most divisive) sports dynasties: the Tom Brady/Bill Belichick/Robert Kraft New England Patriots.

Ciro Duran / flickr creative commons

In May, I discovered (along with the rest of the internet) a video on YouTube of a guy in his loft in Surrey, England ... solving a Sudoku puzzle. It was intense, a roller-coaster ride, and, ultimately, sublime.

Those are not words you might expect someone to use to describe watching a stranger solve a little number puzzle, but here we are.

Roger Cohen, a former columnist and current Paris bureau chief for The New York Times, longs for a return to decency - a moral shift away from a Trump Presidency characterized by retreat, self-obsession, and a lack of respect for truth or decency.

He welcomes the tenor he anticipates President-elect Biden will bring to the White House, but cautions against a return to the status quo. Too much has changed that still threatens liberalism and the Western alliance. 

HBO

Warner Bros. announced Thursday that all of its movies for all of 2021 will be available to stream on HBO Max the same day they debut in cinemas. The movie theater chains see this as "doomsday for the theatrical experience."

And: Three strange, metal monoliths having been discovered in recent weeks, one each in Utah, Romania, and California. The ones in Utah and Romania have since disappeared, and the one in Utah had stood undiscovered for at least four years before it was found.

Finally: The Undoing is a six-part HBO miniseries starring Nicole Kidman and Hugh Grant. Its finale aired Sunday.

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