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Pandemic Book Club

Mar 26, 2020
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In the midst of the pandemic, it’s easy to keep the TV on all day. But it’s also the perfect time to take a step back and start a new book -- or even read an old favorite.

This hour, we discuss what we’re reading while we’re stuck at home and how to make reading a daily habit.

Hulu, LLC

As with all things, The Nose has never been a Nose quite like this week's Nose. First off, for almost every Nose ever, we've put four (sometimes more) people in a radio studio for an hour. This Nose is four people talking to each other from very separate places, and none of them is a radio studio.

Meanwhile, we've said goodbye to movie theaters. Tom Hanks and Rita Wilson and Idris Elba have all tested positive. People have been using Tinder as a news service. I mean, it's hard to imagine that we'll ever go back to normal.

And so, we might as well watch some TV then, right? The Nose has tried out Hulu's new adaptation of High Fidelity with Zoë Kravitz in the lead role.

Wikipedia

Reality TV shows like the Discovery Channel's Doomsday Bunkers and National Geographic Channel's Doomsday Preppers perpetuate a stereotype of "preppers" that omits the wide swath of people who engage in preparedness in a less extreme and more varied way.

Talk of nuclear war, climate apocalypse, pandemic, economic instability, and the decline of democracy has led more people to think about how to survive a catastrophic -- if not apocalyptic -- event.

Princeton University Office of Communications

John McPhee is a writer's writer. He's thought of as one of the progenitors of the New Journalism, of creative nonfiction or narrative nonfiction, along with people like Gay Talese and Tom Wolfe and Hunter S. Thompson. But his style is... quiter than those folks'. His writing is transparent. He tends to keep himself out of the narrative. He doesn't even, in fact, have an author photo.

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.

Fort Meade Public Affairs Office / Creative Commons

Populism is on the rise from Europe to India to the United States.

Americans elected Donald Trump on his promise to "Drain the swamp" of a political elite no longer responsive to their needs. Populists almost took control of Germany, France, and the Netherlands in 2017. Former prime minister of Italy Silvio Berlusconi regained power seven short years after being ousted from office for corruption. 

Sparsh Ahuja / Creative Commons

The recent Senate trial for President Trump's impeachment riveted the nation, but little consensus could be reached about the facts of the case or the outcome. Additionally, many in Congress knew how they would vote before the trial began. 

On December 13, 2019, the House Judiciary Committee voted to recommend two articles of impeachment against President Trump, and the full House of Representatives adopted them on December 18. On February 5, 2020, the Senate acquitted the president on both articles.

Going by those dates, the full, official impeachment saga lasted 54 days.

Our side-project, Saturday-show chronicling of the impeachment, Pardon Me (Another Damn Impeachment Show?), launched on December 6, 2019. 11 episodes and 12 hours of radio later, Pardon Me has come to its close.

This hour, in lieu of a proper Colin McEnroe Show, and continuing the Presidents' Day weekend festivities, we present the final installment of Pardon Me.

Four Department of Justice prosecutors working on the case of Roger Stone, a close friend of President Trump, withdrew from legal proceedings Tuesday after Attorney General William Barr overruled their sentencing recommendations. The president had complained about the long sentence.

Barr denied that President Trump asked him to intervene and claimed he wouldn't be "bullied or influenced by anybody." He said Thursday that the president should stop tweeting about DOJ criminal cases. The president took to Twitter Friday to say he has the "legal right." Shortly therafter, the DOJ dropped their probe into former FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe.

Before you think this is more than theater, keep in mind that Barr also set up a process to vet information that Rudy Giuliani is gathering in Ukraine. And he tasked prosecutors to review the case of former National Security Advisor Michael Flynn.

Robert C. Demarest / Wikimedia Commons

Ram Dass' 1971 book, "Be Here Now," was the gateway drug into spirituality for a lot of young people seeking answers in the era of Vietnam.

Dass first tried being a psychology professor at Harvard, where he and colleague Timothy Leary, sought God through experiments with psychedelics. Then, he went to India and found his guru, who taught him how to feel high without the drugs. 

Ryan Leigh Dostie

Ryan Leigh Dostie is an Iraq War veteran. She joined the U.S. Army to serve her country. But before she was deployed, she experienced violence from one of her own when she was raped by a fellow soldier. 

This hour, we sit down with Dostie. She is a Connecticut resident and author of the new book: Formation: A Woman’s Memoir of Stepping Out of Line.

Recent statistics show sexual assaults in the military have surged in recent years. We talk with a retired colonel about this disturbing trend.

And we want to hear from you. Are you a veteran? How do you think the U.S. military should confront this epidemic of violence in its ranks?

Universal Pictures

Cats -- the new feature film based on the musical by Andrew Lloyd Webber and starring James Cordon, Judi Dench, Jennifer Hudson, Taylor Swift, and others -- opened last weekend and grossed $6.6 million in the U.S. It is the 19th-worst opening for any movie in very wide release in history. The 18 movies that opened to less money on a similar number of screens are mostly a bunch of stuff that you don't remember ever existed: Hoot, The Seeker: Dark Rising, Fun Size, Hardcore Henry, Keeping Up with the Joneses, The Wild Thornberrys Movie, etc.

Oh, and I forgot to say: In addition to being a financial disaster, Cats is also... terrible. It earned a C+ CinemaScore from audiences (which is really bad). And it's at 18% on the Tomatometer (which is really rotten). It's so bad that Universal released an updated version to theaters early this week that has hopefully slightly less bad special effects.

sferrario1968 / Pixabay

The bed. It’s a central feature of daily life. We rest on it, recharge in it. But rarely do we reflect on our relationship with it. Until now.

This hour, we sit down with Brian Fagan, co-author of the new book What We Did in Bed: A Horizontal History. We talk double beds, pod beds, Murphy beds ... even Mark Twain’s bed. And we also hear from you. 

We're preempted (again) today as the House Judiciary Committee debates its Articles of Impeachment. So, in lieu of a new episode of The Colin McEnroe Show, we thought you might enjoy this interview we did with Dave Eggers for our new, other show, Pardon Me (Another Damn Impeachment Show?). Pardon Me airs on Saturdays at noon on Connecticut Public Radio, and it's available wherever you get your podcasts.

Dave Eggers is the author of six books for young readers, including The Wild Things; three works of nonfiction, including Zeitoun; twelve novels, including What Is the What, A Hologram for the King, and The Circle; and the memoir A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius, which was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize for General Non-Fiction. He has written three screenplays, including Where the Wild Things Are with Spike Jonze. And he is the founder of McSweeney’s.

Chion Wolf / Connecticut Public Radio

Salem, Massachusetts has long been a focal point in the history of early New England witch trials. But Windsor, Connecticut also has a place on this dark historical timeline: as the site of the nation's first witch hanging. This hour, author Beth Caruso joins us to shine light this little-known piece of Connecticut's past, and talk about how it inspired her novel One of Windsor.

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.

Uptowner / Flickr Creative Commons

Donald Trump's election was the culmination of a venom-filled campaign that was nastier than almost any in recent memory. The mean-spirited comments tossed to voters eager to "lock her up" fell just shy of the malicious rhetoric coming from Thomas Jefferson's presidential campaign in 1796. Jefferson's hatchet-man called John Adams a "hideous hermaphroditical character, which has neither the force and firmness of a man, nor the gentleness and sensibility of a woman."

Chion Wolf / Connecticut Public Radio

Watchmen is a limited series of comic books that became a graphic novel in 1987 and a feature film in 2009. And now it's an HBO series from Damon Lindelof that acts as a kind of sequel to the original comics, set 34 years later.

And: Today is John Dankosky's last day at Connecticut Public after 25 years. There is just no denying that WNPR wouldn't be what it is -- and The Colin McEnroe Show wouldn't be at all -- if it weren't for Mr. Dankosky. The Nose tries to begin to come to terms.

Jonathan McNicol / Connecticut Public Radio

This week, The Washington Post published "The 20 defining comedy sketches of the past 20 years" covering television sketch comedy of the 2000s. It includes a lot of what you'd expect it to include: SNL's "More Cowbell" and "Black Jeopardy with Tom Hanks," Inside Amy Schumer's "Last F---able Day," Chappelle's Show's "Frontline -- Clayton Bigsby."

Chion Wolf / Connecticut Public Radio

Massachusetts has long been a focal point in the history of early New England witch trials. But Connecticut also has a place on this dark historical timeline: as the site of the nation's first witch hanging. This hour, author Beth Caruso joins us to shine light this little-known piece of Connecticut's past, and talk about how it inspired her novel One of Windsor.

McFadden Publications / Wikimedia Commons

A hard-boiled private eye, a glamorous blond, and a hapless drifter all sit at a bar on the seamy side of town. It's night, the streets are wet, the shadows are long. They each nurse a drink to the notes of a mournful saxophone and a lonely piano.  Smoke from the cigarettes swirls in the darkness. 

Sparsh Ahuja / Creative Commons

In January of 2018, a seemingly racist incident occurred on the National Mall. Photos and videos were posted to social media showing a group of MAGA hat-wearing high school students from Covington Catholic High School in Kentucky. One of them, Nick Sandmann, seemed to be mocking and blocking the path of Native American activist, Nathan Phillips. People either jeered or cheered on social media, depending on how it was perceived, long before most of us had any idea of the context of the situation. 

sferrario1968 / Pixabay

The bed. It’s a central feature of daily life. We rest on it, recharge in it. But rarely do we reflect on our relationship with it. Until now. 

This hour, we sit down with Brian Fagan, co-author of the new book What We Did in Bed: A Horizontal History. We talk double beds, pod beds, Murphy beds ... even Mark Twain’s bed. And we also hear from you. 

Chion Wolf / Connecticut Public Radio

On January 31, 2018, Kristin and Mike Song's 15-year-old son Ethan Song, accidentally shot and killed himself at his friend's house. They were handling a gun they knew was kept in a bedroom closet. The gun was one of three guns owned by the friend's father. They were in a cardboard box inside a tupperware container that was hidden in a bedroom closet. The guns had locks but the keys and ammunition were in the same box. 

Sasa Tkalcan / Jimmy Webb

.Jimmy Webb was possibly the most successful songwriter of the 1960's and 1970's. Classics like "Galveston," "Wichita Lineman," "Up, Up, and Away," and "MacArthur Park," were recorded by hundreds of artists from Glen Campbell to Donna Summer. Webb wrote the songs that others made famous.

Sasa Tkalcan / Jimmy Webb

On September 5, our team traveled to Glen Cove, New York to interview legendary songwriter, Jimmy Webb

The interview has been on our "to do" list for four years, and it was worth every minute of the wait. For the first time in CMS history, we've decided to create two shows from Webb's stories and music.

Writer Ocean Vuong, 30, who teaches at UMass Amherst and lives in Northampton, Massachusetts, is among the two dozen recipients of the 2019 MacArthur "genius" awards.

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