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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.

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).

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.

We had trouble mustering enthusiasm to wrap up our final episode of this second season of Pardon Me. Last week's roller coaster of a trial culminated in 43 senators choosing to acquit on a weak and deceptive defense -- despite a factual and painstaking accounting of how bad the breach was, how bad it might have been, and how Donald Trump incited it.

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).

A museum visitor walks by the display of a bell once belonging to the pirate ship Whydah Gally at the Whydah Pirate Museum, in Yarmouth, Mass.
Steven Senne / AP Photo

In 1984, the Whydah Gally was discovered on the ocean floor off the coast of Cape Cod. It was the first authenticated pirate ship ever found, and it brought to life the tales of treasure from what is known as the “Golden Age of Piracy.”

Apocalypse When?

Feb 19, 2021
Courtesy of National Nuclear Security Administration / Nevada Site Office / Wikipedia

The Doomsday Clock is a metaphor. It moves closer to midnight depending on how close we are to human-made global catastrophe through climate change, nuclear weapons, and pandemics fueled by misinformation and failed leadership. Y’know, the typical folly of humankind.

Find out what time it is from two members of the Bulletin of Atomic Scientists.

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 sideshow 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.

Donald Trump's legal team delivered their defense of the former president Friday. They followed a tightly argued and visceral presentation delivered by House managers that, some say, has made it easy for Republican senators to convict Trump. They likely won't.

We wondered if our show, recorded in part on Thursday, would omit important events that occurred thereafter. Given that many Republican senators have already decided to acquit, why would the defense feel the need to address the 144 constitutional lawyers who debunked their First Amendment argument, the 150 constitutional lawyers who say the impeachment of Trump is constitutional, or the people of this country?

We knew the ending before it even began.

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.

Black and white image of Mary and Luther with their first born, Roy, on Easter Sunday 1941 in New Haven
Courtesy of Jill Snyder

Jill Snyder’s parents carried on a long-distance courtship through letters.

After her mother’s death, Snyder found these letters, and compiled them into a book, called Dear Mary, Dear Luther: A Courtship in Letters.

This hour, Snyder joins us to talk about her family’s story. It’s a lens into the lives of African Americans in the Northeast before the start of World War II.

Snyder tells us why it’s especially important for Black families to document their own family history.

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.

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.

We, The Dog

Jan 29, 2021
Photos: Quino Al (background), Niclas Moser (dog),  ActionVance (human) via Unsplash. Illustration by Chion Wolf.


What do the ways we train our dogs say about us?

You’ll hear about how dogs are trained to search and rescue, dating back to some of our earliest wars. How they’ve been trained by authority figures for hundreds of years to bite - and hold - and sometimes kill. And how the street dogs of Moscow were trained to fly into space - even though it meant their certain doom.

Elizabeth Norman

Venture Smith was enslaved when he was just a boy. He was eventually able to buy his freedom and the freedom of his family. His iconic story of will, perseverance and strength, is central to Connecticut’s history.

This hour, we dive into to the biography of Venture Smith and the history of slavery here in Connecticut.  

We took a chance that House Democrats were going to send the Article of Impeachment to the Senate this week. We were wrong. Instead, the House will transmit its Article of Impeachment charging former President Trump with "incitement of insurrection" to the Senate on Monday.

Why should the House wait any longer when more than a dozen Republican senators are trying to dismiss the impeachment trial before it begins, based on the disputed claim that it's unconstitutional to try an ex-president. And House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy is already walking back his prior claim that Trump incited the riot at the Capitol.

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. 

A high school boy studies with a volunteer teacher at his home, in an iron lung provided by the New Haven Hospital (c. 1943)
courtesy of the Yale New Haven Hospital Archives

It was a plague that came every summer and left thousands of American children paralyzed -- or dead -- in its wake. This hour we take a look at the legacy of polio.

How did the development of the polio vaccine change the course of history?

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. 

Joe Amon / Connecticut Public

Martin Luther King Jr. in Connecticut, a nonprofit organization led by Simsbury High School students, unveiled the town’s newest memorial in honor of the civil rights icon on Monday. 

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.

Trump supporters try to break through a police barrier, Wednesday, Jan. 6, 2021, at the Capitol in Washington.
John Minchillo / Associated Press

The U.S. Capitol has seen countless protests and a number of violent incidents over its two centuries. But what we observed last week, when a mob of President Trump’s supporters stormed the Capitol intent on stopping the count of electoral votes, has been called unprecedented.

Well, less than two weeks into 2021 and the surprises just keep coming. Among the more pleasant ones so far: The popular app TikTok seems to have been taken over by sea shanties. Yes, sea shanties -- those catchy, sometimes bawdy songs of the sea. Just a few measures into one of these ditties and you can almost picture a ragtag group of sailors hoisting the jib in time with the rhythmic pounding of the shanty.

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.

Alex Liivet, Flickr Creative Commons / edited by Chion Wolf


There’s not a lot of great headlines in the news lately. Y’know, between a contentious election, rioting in the Capitol, a raging pandemic, and lots and lots of dangerous misinformation.

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.

Bill Ingalls / NASA

Astronaut Kayla Barron was one of the first women commissioned as a submarine warfare officer in the US Navy. Now, she’s part of another groundbreaking group, NASA’s Artemis Team.

This hour, we talk with Barron about her training for the next set of missions to return to the moon.  The Artemis Program aims to put the first woman on the moon in coming years.

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."

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.

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