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.

Bruce Andersen / Wikimedia Commons

New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof, recently wrote a column proclaiming that "America Is Not Made for People Who Pee." His column 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. 

Today, we talk about public toilets, including one that people like. 

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.

J. Scott 2 / Creative Commons

Joni Mitchell's album ">turns fifty 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 today's show - 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 1-2 pm Eastern. 

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

Mar 31, 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.

Tony Webster

A number of media critics gave poor grades to reporters questioning President Biden, at his first formal press conference last week. Is there a disconnect between what the media cares about, such as the filibuster and the 2024 election, and what people care about?  

Apple

As with all weeks, it's been a strange week.

First there were the Cinnamon Toast Crunch shrimp tails. And then an enormous container ship got stuck in the Suez Canal. And now there might be another toilet paper shortage. Which would be bad for the Amazon drivers who have to poop in their trucks.

Maybe it's been an especially strange week.

Leeber / flickr creative commons

On March 6, Lou Ottens died in Duizel in the Netherlands. He was 94. I don't think I had ever heard of Ottens before, but the news of his death quickly filled my social media feeds. Ottens, you see, invented the compact cassette in the 1960s.

There's a certain romance to the cassette tape, right? They're more fun than mp3s, for sure. And it turns out they're having a little mini resurgence right now.

Douglas Fernandes / Creative Commons

After a year of pandemic, we're all itching to break from the restrictions of the pandemic. We want to travel and explore. It makes sense; we're hard-wired to explore. Our ancestors would not have survived absent the drive to seek food and safety from the dangers of the day. Safe and satiated, they later sought new lands to conquer and later still, to escape the constraints and cruelties of rapid industrialization.

If the recent pandemic left you yearning to explore, you might be inspired by this show we first aired in 2017. 

Marcela McGreal / Wikimedia Commons

Last week's violence at three spas in Georgia, followed a year of escalating violence against Asian Americans, some of it captured on videos that went viral. Despite visual evidence, New Yorker writer Hua Hsu, writes that this current moment stresses the "in-between space Asian Americans inhabit." It's hard to prove bias when we lack a historical understanding of what Asian American racism looks like. 

Focus Features

It might just be that the pandemic is starting to wind down. Advertisers are anxious to act like it is. We're all maybe anxious to get some hugs back into our lives, or maybe we'll all just always be anxious about hugs. And: How does this all work for half-vaccinated couples? Plus: The Nose sees some parallels in the sexlessness of superheroes.

And: Promising Young Woman is Emerald Fennell's feature-film debut as a writer, director, and producer, and it's made her an Academy Award-nominated writer, director, and producer. The movie is nominated for five Oscars overall, including Best Picture and Best Actress for Carey Mulligan.

jseliger2 / Creative Commons

Writer and essayist Lauren Oyler, joins Colin to talk about Fake Accounts, her new novel on internet culture. They'll also talk about literary fiction, cultural criticism, ghostwriting, and her staunch defense of semicolons, among other things.

Lauren Oyler will be at the Mark Twain House & Museum, Tuesday, March 23, 7-8 pm. The event is free. You can register at marktwainhouse.org

Chion Wolf / Connecticut Public Radio

Every year around this time, there's a big-old college basketball tournament. So every* year around this time, for every* year that this show has been on the air, we've put together a big-old hour of radio about said big-old college basketball tournament.

Until last year, of course.

Green Fuse Films Inc.

On the one hand, obituaries are an amalgam of a bunch of different kinds of journalism: they're feature stories, they're profile pieces, they cover history, and they're hard news too.

On the other hand, the subject is always... dead.

Tom / Creative Commons

A 2019 YouGov survey says that 20 percent of American adults "definitely" believe in ghosts; another twenty-five percent believe they "probably exist."

And, while no data yet proves it, there's a good chance that quarantining at home during the pandemic has led more people to wonder where those nighttime creaks and groans are coming from.  

Some skeptics say that seeing ghosts is part of the human experience and far too common an occurrence for everyone who thinks they see a ghost to be crazy. But there are a lot of reasons to explain why we sincerely believe we're seeing a ghost. Yet, it's hard to convince people otherwise - even when confronted with evidence to the contrary.

In the end, psychologists can offer explanations but no one can definitively prove ghosts don't exist. 

Sony Pictures Entertainment Inc.

Jeopardy! has been part of the fabric of American TV, in a couple different forms and across a couple different breaks, since 1964. It is the longest-running nationally-televised game show in U.S. television history.

At the 2015 Emmys, John Oliver quipped, "The sun could burn out, humanity could flee to another galaxy, time as we know it could cease to exist, but Alex Trebek will still be there scolding librarians from Ames, Iowa, to answer in the form of a question."

Except, of course, Alex Trebek died last year. And before that, Jeopardy!'s long-time executive producer and its long-time contestant coordinator both left at the end of last season.

So what's in store for this quiz show institution?

Discovery Communications, LLC

Criminal Minds. Mindhunter and Manhunt. Cracker and Profiler. Nearly the whole of the Hannibal Lecter universe: Manhunter, The Silence of the Lambs, Hannibal (the movie and the TV series), Red Dragon, and now Clarice.

It seems we're fascinated by forensic psychology, by mindhunting, by criminal profiling.

This hour, we look at three different criminal profilers: James Brussel, the psychologist who helped catch the Mad Bomber of New York in 1957; James Fitzgerald, the forensic linguist who caught the Unabomber; and Bill James, the father of sabermetrics, turns his data analysis on a century-old serial killer mystery that no one had even realized was a serial killer mystery before he and his daughter figured it out.

Grendel Khan / Creative Commons

The southeastern part of our state conjures images of casinos, submarines, and a blue-collar vibe that's just a little different from the rest of the state's image of leafy suburbs, clapboard homes, and town greens that show off Connecticut's colonial past.

The southeastern corner has its own allure, challenging writers and artists mystified by this place that time left alone. It's quirky, a little unruly, and special in ways we can't fully define. Wally Lamb describes it as "more feisty than fashionable, more liverwurst than pate."

Chion Wolf / Connecticut Public

This hour, we talk about two Connecticut dance halls, each springing from the vision of two very different men who took their respective dance halls down very different paths. One's dream soared, bringing thousands of concert-goers to over 3,000 acts over an 11-year history. The other's dream stalled, his elaborate dance hall sitting idle for decades.

Brandon Carson / Creative Commons

We reair Colin's 2016 interview with Patti Smith at the Immanuel Congregational Church in Hartford when she was in town for a Mark Twain House event. The church was filled to the rafters with a capacity crowd of 700 people who remained enraptured by her presence throughout the entire evening. If you don't know her, you may come to love her after hearing this very funny and endearing interview. 

HBO

This Week (or so) in Reassessing Not-Necessarily-Current Bits of Culture: Seuss enterprises pulled six mostly early Dr. Seuss books from future publication. Disney+ added content warnings to certain episodes of The Muppet Show. Amazon tweaked its app logo to look less like, uh, Hitler. Turner Classic Movies launched a new series called Reframed Classics that will, well, frame movies like Gone with the Wind and Breakfast at Tiffany's with discussions of their problematic aspects.

And: Allen v. Farrow is a four-part HBO documentary series that chronicles the sexual assault allegation against Woody Allen by Dylan Farrow.

Olgierd Rudak / Creative Commons

We produced our first show on masks in the spring of 2020. It was when most of us were isolated at home to sidestep the life-threatening illness we've come to call "COVID." The show was about how rapidly masks had become a statement of political identity.

The intensity of the mask battles has begun to calm as we've acclimated to the pervasiveness of masks in our lives. Like them or not, they're here to stay, and they've begun to leave a lasting imprint on our culture.

RKO Radio Pictures

Over just six years, from 1954 to 1960, Alfred Hitchcock made four movies -- Rear Window (1954), Vertigo (1958), North by Northwest (1959), and Psycho (1960) -- that are routinely mentioned among the very best movies ever made. It's maybe an unparalleled run in the history of cinema.

And that's just those four movies. Hitchcock's filmography is full of classics: Notorious (1946), Strangers on a Train (1951), The 39 Steps (1935), The Wrong Man (1956), The Birds (1963). The list goes on.

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