Chion Wolf

Producer/Announcer/Photographer

Chion Wolf is a producer, announcer, and photographer for WNPR and the Colin McEnroe Show.

She co-produces The MOuTH - a live storytelling event at the Mark Twain House & Museum in Hartford. She is also an actor and on the Board of Directors for Night Fall, Inc., a yearly Hartford-based public performance with Anne Cubberly's giant puppets, dancers, and music.

Wolf is a founding member of the Hartford-based marching band, the Hartford Hot Several, where she plays the trash can bass drum. Chion is also a certified judge with the International Chili Society, and is unapologetic about her love for onions.

Click here to visit "Wolfie's Songs" from the Colin McEnroe Show.

Click here for the WNPR Flickr page.

Click here for the WNPR Video page on YouTube.

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National Geographic Channel

This hour's Scramble starts fun and gradually grows darker. We begin with David Rees, host of a television show in which he layers expertise onto simple acts like opening a door or making ice cubes. Its motto is "de-familiarizing the ubiquitous so as to increase our appreciation and wonder thereby." We can get behind that.

Chion Wolf / WNPR

Breathes there a man with soul so dead that he has never written a song parody?

Everybody does right? They get passed around on the schoolyard from the time we're little. Jingle Bells, Batman Smells, etc.

And, you might knock one out for a co-workers retirement party.

And, the internet is one big old song parody farm. In between last week's Nose on which we talked about a really terrible Comcast users service call and now, somebody on YouTube has set that call to music.  No kidding.

Chion Wolf / WNPR

Take a few seconds to reminisce about your childhood "best friend." Maybe it was a boy, a girl, an imaginary friend, or perhaps a stuffed toy. This stuffed toy was your childhood confidant that you dragged everywhere, from the local supermarket to the preschool sandbox, a transitional object that temporarily stood between you and your relationship with your parents. 

Bruce Szalwinski / Creative Commons

Imagine two people. One of them is named Betsy Kaplan, the other, Betsy F.P.R. Academic studies suggest people, on average, would infer a higher intellectual capacity for Betsy F.P.R. Kaplan and be more likely to admire her and think she made more money than plain old Betsy Kaplan. A middle initial, says the scholarly literature, is basically a free ticket to higher status. 

Which makes it odd that each successive generation is less likely, overall, to use them. 

Chion Wolf / WNPR

The song of the summer is not always pretty, but there always is one, and unless something is done quickly, this year's will be "Fancy" by Iggy Azalea, which will make you nostalgic for last year's "Blurred Lines."

Fibonacci Blue / Creative Commons

I was reading a story about some refugees who cabled the President asking for asylum. The President never responded. The federal government had decided not to take extraordinary measures to permit the refugees to enter the United States. A state department telegram stated that the passengers must await their turns on the waiting list and qualify for and obtain immigration visas before they may be admissible into the United States.

The Prodigy Paradox

Jul 17, 2014
Baby Einstein / Creative Commons

In a society which rewards brains over brawn, who better than a prodigy to place your bets on? The answer may surprise you.  

Bobby Fischer was terrible at everything  except chess. His entire life was punctuated by extreme paranoia, bouts of seclusion, and cascading, erratic behavior. Ted Kaczynski, a child math and science prodigy… I don’t have to tell you how that one worked out.  

Thomas Chatterton was writing publishable poetry by the age of 12, and in the immediately ensuing years, wrote work that left its mark on the literature and influenced the  romantic movement. He took his own life with arsenic three months shy of 18. 

Michael / Flickr Creative Commons

Competitive eating has grown far beyond the popular event at local fairs where winners won blue ribbons for eating the most pies.

Today, it's a global sport with its own league, dedicated fans, and professional competitors who train to eat more food than seems humanly possible. Major League Eating, the sports governing body, is largely responsible for the change. Public relations executives Richard and George Shea professionalized the sport, attracting larger crowds every year for more than a decade. This July 4,  Nathan's Famous Hot Dog Eating Championships, the Olympics of competitive eating, drew 40,000 fans to the Coney Island contest.

MomentCaptured1 / Creative Commons

Two snapshots: The first from the publication American Bazaar, right after the German World Cup win. "In the city of Leipzig, a solitary car scuttled along, with the flag attached to the roof. Waving the flag has yet to catch on. Jan Hoffman, who works in Frankfurt, was in New York when 9/11 happened.  'I had never seen so many flags in my life. Here, there are hardly any, although we won football's greatest tournament.

The Colin McEnroe Show is working on a show all about stuffed animals: the history of being attached, or developing a sentiment towards an object that comforts; the business of building them, and the awesome stories people have about their precious squishy toys.

Chion Wolf / WNPR

I'm excited about today's Scramble. WNYC podcaster Anna Sale, host of Death, Sex & Money, is our superguest, which means she gets to pick three topics for her conversation with me.

Her choices are LeBron James and the notion of going home, a new Jenny Lewis song about a ticking biological clock, and the long agonizing death of the husband of NPR broadcaster, Diane Rehm. At least on paper, that's a perfect combination for the Scramble.

Chion Wolf / WNPR

It's time for our cultural roundtable, The Nose! Insert smiling cat face with heart-shaped eyes. With 250 new emoji coming to a phone near you, we think it's time to give these tiny additions to our written language a face with stuck-out tongue and winking eye. Don't go all Hear No Evil Monkey on us!

Propound / Creative Commons

On July 6, 1944, a circus tent in the North End of Hartford caught fire. The tent covered three blocks. It was gone in six minutes. 

Roughly 170 people died. You'll understand my imprecision as we go along. Five employees of the Ringling Brothers Barnum & Bailey Circus pled guilty to involuntary manslaughter, and served minimal prison sentences. One of them, James Haley, was so unscarred by this that he later served for 24 years in Congress.

Chion Wolf / WNPR

Maybe Holden Caulfield was onto something when he ranted about "phoniness." This June, Michael Sharpe  resigned as CEO of FUSE, a Hartford-based charter school management company, when it came to light that he was not, in fact, a doctor, as his biography might have you believe.

That got us thinking about faking it: Why do people commit resume fraud? What is with our obsession with titles? What happens when someone adopts a whole new identity?

Wikimedia Commons

Philippe Petit made his walk between the towers of the World Trade Center 40 years ago. He stayed up on that wire for 45 minutes, made 8 passes between the towers, got down on his knees, and he even laid down on it! But it's more than that one feat - it was a placeholder for a much broader philosophy of risk and creativity, and evidence of who the man really is.

Bernt Rostad / Creative Commons

I'm pretty sure that in the summer of 1992, somebody tried to tell me about Monty Python's Flying Circus. I didn't get it, and there weren't that many chances to  break in as a Python fan. Their actual television show didn't begin airing on public TV in America until October of 1974. Then, in the space of about two years, they changed the face of American comedy. 

This hour, we talk about movie trailers. Maybe you wonder what a movie critic thinks of them. Actually, critics don't see as many as you do because they often go to special screenings.

Chion Wolf

Imagine having no capacity for language acquisition. Imagine developing a language with grammars that are completely independent from the spoken language of the surrounding hearing culture. Imagine being unable to engage in any of the thought processes I'm using right now.  Choosing words and bundles of words to convey meaning, pausing to ponder the interesting similarities between deafness and deficit. Grabbing for a phrase like language acquisition and appreciating the neat little package it represents. 

Chion Wolf

Let's take the most dire problem facing humankind: Climate change has so many negative implications it would take all day to list them. Meanwhile, there's the possibility of a sudden acceleration of a problem caused by the melting of Arctic ice, which exposes more ocean water to warming, which causes more melting, which causes more...well, you get the picture.

Donkey Hotey / Creative Commons

It's that time of year when nine people who were never elected decide all manner of questions about how we live. Monday marked the last round of Supreme Court decisions. By now, you probably know that in a five-four decision, they sided with Hobby Lobby in affirming the rights of employers to invoke their religious principles to opt out of the requirement to provide certain contraceptives otherwise mandated by Obamacare. 

Chion Wolf / WNPR

This week on The Nose, our culture roundtable, we'll tackle "Columbusing," the act of believing that something never existed before you discovered it. Also, this week's biting episode in the World Cup makes us wonder if vampires are setting a bad example.

The Evolution of Game Shows

Jun 26, 2014
Clement B. / Creative Commons

What's become of game shows in America? Since their television debut in 1938 we've seen everything from microwave ovens to million dollar payouts awarded to lucky contestants. Now, in a television culture increasingly captivated by reality T.V., we see traditional game shows being crowded out by reality competition shows at an alarming rate. What will become of the time-honored genre? Are we witnessing the end of an era or will a new generation of Trebeks and Sajaks emerge to save the day?

Jdcollins13 / Wikimedia

You'd think Tai Chi would be a required part of any public radio employee's day, but only on Tuesday did it happen.

Colin McEnroe was hosting a show about sports that are on the rise, like pickleball, roller derby, and even World Extreme Pencil Fighting. When it came time for Tai Chi, he thought it would be cool if we could find a guest who could show us the ropes live. 

Sol Neelman - www.SolNeelman.com

Pickleball is one of the fastest-growing sports in America, and for one good reason: that 77-million-person wave of boomers headed into their 60s and beyond. Pickleball is what you play when your knees and shoulders start saying "no" to tennis. We talk about the game and its sudden surge.

Kevin Wong / Flickr Creative Commons

On Monday, we do The Scramble. And on the Scramble, we always start with a SuperGuest, which means that in defiance of public radio logic, we pick the person first and then figure out what the topics will be. 

This week we started with June Thomas, one of my favorite Slate.com writers and talkers, and someone I assumed would want to riff at least a little bit about pop culture. Instead, her top two choices are Gay Pride month and dentistry.

Chion Wolf / WNPR

Jeff VanderMeer is one of the hottest writers in the science fiction and fantasy genre. MG Lord is a humorist and recovering political cartoonist who has written books about Elizabeth Taylor and Barbie. Louis Bayard writes historical fiction who specializes in detective novels, but his new book features Teddy Roosevelt stalking a mysterious beast through the Amazon. That's the river and jungle, not the book dealer.

Chion Wolf / WNPR

Maybe you think of the banjo as primarily a bluegrass instrument, but try not to forget that prior to about 1830, it was played pretty much exclusively by African-Americans, and it seems to have as ancestors several African instruments. 

Chion Wolf / WNPR

Why pencils? Here's an answer from PencilRevolution.com, one of the many pencil blogs and websites we uncovered while prepping for this show: "The first and best reason to use pencils is because you like them, and enjoy writing, drawing with them. Because you feel better connected to the paper you're writing on (or the wall, etc.), and the earth, from which the clay, the graphite, and the wood all came. Because they smell good. Because sharpening them can be sort of a meditative process. Because you can chew on them. Or for reasons we can't explain."

Chion Wolf / WNPR

New Haven's International Festival of Arts and Ideas is back! The theme of this year's festival is "Transformation and Tradition," and runs from this past Saturday through June 28. You don't want to miss it.

John Dankosky and Where We Live will brighten your breakfast with a performance of a "comic-rap-scrap metal musical." They're just getting started. You also hear about corsets, bicycles, and hunter-gatherers.

Steven Depolo / Flickr Creative Commons

Henry Alford is a very funny writer. I've been laughing at his writing since about 1990, when he erupted in Spy Magazine, with hilarious speculative pieces like, "What If The Pope Were A Dog?"

Not long ago, he was asked to review a collection by another funny writer, Garrison Keillor. He did it, keenly aware that many people who find him funny are the kinds of people who find Keillor tiresome. And, maybe a bigger problem, Keillor had written some columns about gays and atheists that riled up not just Alford's fans, but people he knows pretty well. So what's a critic to do? Alford actually admired some things about the book, and said so. There was pushback. We'll talk about that today on The Scramble.

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