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.

Pop TV

The Nose has been contemplating covering the controversy around the The Ellen DeGeneres Show literally for months now. The show returned with a new season of new episodes this week, and Ellen addressed allegations of a toxic work environment in her monologue.

And: The CBC series Schitt's Creek has been endorsed on any number of Noses over the years, but we've never actually covered it. But then, after it won literally ever Emmy in the comedy category on Sunday (a feat no show has ever before achieved), we decided that this week had to be the week.

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 millenials who want safe and less expensive options to travel and work during a pandemic. 

Andrew E. Larsen / flickr creative commons

Kurt Andersen's last book, Fantasyland, looks at America's "centuries-old weakness for the untrue and irrational, and its spontaneous and dangerous flowering since the 1960s" and how it got us where we are today.

His new book, Evil Geniuses, is a kind of sequel, a companion. It's a parallel history, really, that looks more closely at "the quite deliberate reengineering of our economy and society since the 1960s."

This hour, public radio great Kurt Andersen on "the unmaking of America."

Gage Skidmore / flickr creative commons

Bill Murray has starred in some of our favorite movies of the last few decades: Caddyshack, Stripes, Tootsie, Ghostbusters, Scrooged, What About Bob?, Groundhog Day, Ed Wood, Space Jam, Lost in Translation, all the Wes Anderson films, and so many more.

He doesn't like managers or agents, and, rumor has it, he once agreed to play Garfield because he thought it was a Coen brothers film. (It wasn't.)

And now, Bill Murray is 70 (!) years old.

Yash Mori / Creative Commons

Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg died Friday evening, breaking the hearts of generations of women - and men - who have benefited from her work guaranteeing our rights to equal treatment under the law. 

That same evening, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, announced that a Trump nominee to replace Ginsburg would receive a vote on the floor of the Senate. By Saturday, President Trump was claiming he had an "obligation" to replace her, "without delay." The loss is larger than either man could understand. 

Netflix, Inc.

Kim Kardashian and other celebrities "froze" their Facebook and Instagram accounts for one day this week "to protest the spread of hate speech and misinformation on those platforms." Meanwhile, Kardashian's husband had the strange sort of week that we've maybe grown to expect from him, but seemingly with more public peeing in it than we're maybe used to.

And: Cuties (Mignonnes in the original French) is the feature film debut of Senegalese-French writer and director Maïmouna Doucouré. The movie's release on Netflix has been controversial, to say the least.

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.   

Jonathan McNicol / Connecticut Public Radio

Bob Woodward is 77 years old. He's in his 50th year at The Washington Post. And he just yesterday published his 20th book.

Rage is Woodward's second book about the Trump presidency. Two years ago, on the day after the first one came out, we did a show about it.

So we've gotten that band mostly back together again, and we've spent the last 30 or so hours cramming.

Joe Giron / www.pokerphotoarchive.com

Maria Konnikova, best-selling New York Times author and a regular contributor to The New Yorker, has long been interested in understanding the balance between skill and luck. How much of her life could she take credit for and how much was the luck of her draw? So, she took a year away from work to become a professional poker player. 

Joe Amon / Connecticut Public

Black Americans are more likely to be infected from COVID-19, be incarcerated, live in poverty, and/or be killed by the police than white Americans. It took a pandemic and the killing of George Floyd to crystallize those facts.

Netflix, Inc.

It's been a week of ending things, really. Keeping Up with the Kardashians is ending after 20 seasons. Diana Rigg -- Emma Peel on The Avengers and Lady Olenna on Game of Thrones, among many other things -- died at 82. And, of course, people are trying to end the whole world with their gender reveal parties.

And then there's I'm Thinking of Ending Things. It's Charlie Kaufman's first movie for Netflix, and it stars Jesse Plemons and Jessie Buckley. It's based on Iain Reid's novel of the same name, which makes it the first movie Kaufman's ever directed not from his own original screenplay.

Joe Amon / Connecticut Public

In the wake of resistance to Black Lives Matter protests against racial injustice in cities like Portland, Oregon; Kenosha, Wisconsin; and others, we decided to take a look at race relations in the small towns and suburbs of Connecticut. What we found was disturbing. 

a 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?

United Artists Releasing

Carole Baskin is going to appear on Dancing with the Stars. And with that, I've typed the least surprising opening sentence in the history of Nose posts.

And: When Bill & Ted's Excellent Adventure came out in 1989, Alex Winter (Bill) was 23 and Keanu Reeves (Ted) was 24. Winter and Reeves are now 55 and 56, respectively, but that seems to be no reason not to put out a third Bill & Ted movie, 29 years after the second one. Bill & Ted Face the Music is now available on all your video-on-demand platforms.

And speaking of sequels to classic 1980s teen movies, the first two seasons of Cobra Kai have moved from YouTube to Netflix (who will produce a third season) and they've found a new audience.

Maggie Hallahan / Wikimedia Commons

Hillary Clinton has spent a lot of time in the spotlight. We know her as a First Lady, a U.S. Senator from New York, President Obama's Secretary of State, a candidate in the 2016 presidential election, and as the wife of former President Bill Clinton. 

Yet most everything we know about Hillary as an individual separate from Bill has been filtered through the media, through President Trump's Twitter feed, and through the many conspiracy theories linked to her name. 

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.

The Placebo Effect

Aug 31, 2020
Christian Schnettelker / Creative Commons

Placebo treatments have been making people feel better since long before Franz Mesmer was run out of 18th-century Vienna for "mesmerizing" a young pianist into regaining her eyesight after doctors had given up on a medical cure. 

Doctors often dismiss the placebo effect as inferior to conventional medical treatments - even when studies show that placebos can reduce the pain of arthritic knees as well as in some surgical procedures like arthroscopy

Vlad Povorny / Creative Commons

Officials in the Trump Administration last week videotaped both a naturalization ceremony held at the White House and an HUD official's interview with four New York City tenants on housing conditions. They then  played selected parts from each video at the Republican National Convention without the knowledge of the participants. 

The CDC updated testing guidelines last week to say that people who have been exposed to the virus but who don’t have symptoms or underlying risk factors, don't necessarily need to be tested. After public health officials complained that asymptomatic carriers are more likely to spread the virus, we learned that the recommendations came from the White House Coronavirus Task Force.  

Netflix, Inc.

This week, the NBA, the WBNA, MLB, MLS, tennis, and eventually the NHL all postponed games and matches in response to the shooting of Jacob Blake in Kenosha, Wisconsin.

And: A Tweet listing the "Top 7 Warning Signs In a Man's Bookshelf" -- including "Too Much Hemingway," you see -- caused a bit of a fuss on the Twitter.

Wisconsin Historical Society

America has long been attracted to charismatic demagogues who master the media of their time to tap into America’s insecurities. Long before Donald Trump descended a golden escalator in 2015 to announce he was running for president, anti-communist zealot Joseph McCarthy took America by storm.

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.

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?

The Food and Drug Administration on Sunday authorized the emergency use of convalescent blood to treat people hospitalized with Covid-19. Sunday's decision comes on the heels of a presidential tweet that may have put pressure on the FDA to authorize it prematurely. We talk about this and more news on Covid. 

Also this hour:  The Republican National Convention begins this week, a few days after former Vice-President Joe Biden accepted the nomination to represent Democrats in November's election. We talk about last week's convention, how this week's convention might play out, and other political news from the weekend.  

Atlantic Records

The No. 1 song in the country -- "WAP" by Cardi B featuring Megan Thee Stallion -- seems to make just one concession to commercial decorum: its acronym title, which I won't be spelling out for you here. It's being called the "gloriously filthy song of the summer" and subversive "in almost every way, even as it plays with the limits of explicit expression."

Speaking of troublesome songs: Does The Band's classic "The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down" belong in the same category as bits of culture like Song of the South and Gone with the Wind?

And finally: Has it turned out that Kevin Costner's 1997 box office bomb, The Postman, is "the most accurate dystopian movie?"

Andrew Malone / Creative Commons

The pandemic has led to national shortages in testing supplies, PPE, and now, coins. 

We’ve been predicting a cashless society and the demise of the penny for so long that we may be underestimating how much people still use coins in places like laundromats and coffee shops, and the occasional parking meter. 

And about eight million households are “unbanked” and rely on money orders, pawnshops or payday loans instead of banks. So, where are all the coins?

Also this hour: The world’s earliest coins date back to ancient Greek and Roman culture. And each coin contains information often not found anywhere else in surviving relics of the ancient world. Some numismatists consider ancient coins one of the most important discoveries to fuel the Renaissance. 

Cindy Shebley / Creative Commons

The FDA on Saturday authorized emergency use of a rapid and inexpensive saliva test that could increase testing capacity. It’s quick, less expensive, and doesn't need the chemical reagents that are in short supply.

NEON Rated, LLC

The Nose is worried about movie theaters. The pandemic has done such damage to the industry that Hollywood has started treating the U.S. as a second-run market. And now the Paramount Consent Decrees have ended. (We're not exactly sure what that means, but it's not good.) Is the future of movie theaters... Walmart drive-ins?

And: She Dies Tomorrow is a horror-comedy-thriller written and directed by Amy Seimetz. It was supposed to premiere at this year's South by Southwest, which was canceled. She Dies Tomorrow is out now on video on demand platforms.

Ed Dunens / Flickr

As President Trump talks about draining the swamp in Washington D.C., we turn our attention to actual swamps. Associated with death and decay, while also celebrated for their beauty and biodiversity, few landscapes evoke such contradictory sentiments as swamps.

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.)

Bob Ross, Inc.

It's been 25 years since Bob Ross died and 26 years since his The Joy of Painting went off the air. But there are 52 episodes of the show available to stream on Netflix. Bob Ross and Chill is a thing. The 403 full episodes available on YouTube have accumulated something approaching 250 million views. And last summer, The New York Times did a big Bob Ross investigation.

This hour: a look at the undying force for permed hair and puffy little clouds and happy little trees that is Bob Ross.

Plus: Could we do a show about Bob Ross without also talking Thomas Kinkade? No we could not. And so no we do not.

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