Colin McEnroe

Host

Colin McEnroe hosts the daily WNPR show, The Colin McEnroe Show. He is a weekly columnist and blogger for The Hartford Courant and a contributing editor at Men's Health. He has recently concluded a series of columns for Bicycling magazine.

He is the author of three books and one play; and his work has appeared on the New York Times Op-Ed Page and in Mirabella, Best Life, Cosmopolitan, Forbes FYI and Mademoiselle. It is not his fault that only one of those magazines still exists. He frequently moderates the Connecticut Forum and teaches media studies at Trinity College. His books, columns, magazine articles and radio shows have won numerous awards, all of which are in boxes somewhere.

There are times when he still can’t believe it’s not butter. 

Find this Person On

Julia Pistell

In a couple of weeks the nation will be transfixed by a competition in which basketball teams advance through a tournament laid out as a series of brackets.

Can the same process get people more interested in literary fiction? For a decade, the Morning News has been testing that theory. They year we decided to attach ourselves, like remoras, to their enterprise. We asked three super-readers to blow through as many of thoe 16 novels as they could; and today, on a special edition of the Nose, they'll talk their way through the brackets. 

Beverly & Pack, Creative Commons

It's cold, snowy winters like this that make us question why we choose to live in a place where snow, sleet, and wind define one-third of the year.  It's a great excuse to complain, but does it also make us stronger and better people?

Chion Wolf

What did we talk about before there was the dress?  The dress was made for the Nose and vice versa. The Nose is our Friday session when we get smart, funny people together for a fast-moving conversation about culture. The dress -- an otherwise unremarkable striped number that popped up on the internet Thursday afternoon -- took over social media and people’s lives simply because people who were otherwise similarly rooted in reality could not agree on what color(s) it was.

Chion Wolf / WNPR

This week's Nose will feature an out-of-towner (sort of):  Simsbury-bred NY scenester Brendan Jay Sullivan. As if the rest of us on the Nose didn't feel winter-drab and culturally frostbitten already.  Also in the house, Jacques Lamarre and Theresa Cramer. 

At the moment, Santa's bag of Nose ideas seems a little light. 

NIAID / Creative Commons

We’re finally going to do a show about you! And when I say this, I’m not talking to the people listening, but to the microbes living in their armpits and belly buttons. This hour, we tell the humans what you little guys have been doing for them all along -- and how much more you might be able to do with a few tweaks from science.

James McCauley / Creative Commons

A couple of weeks ago, I wrote a newspaper column about the Brian Williams debacle, except it really wasn't about that. It's about the way a relatively small story about a lie told by a news anchor seems to be the only national conversation we can have about our role in Iraq.

Who Killed the King?

Feb 24, 2015
Chion Wolf / WNPR

One of the things you will learn this hour is how close New Haven came to being a possession of Spain. Even if you think you know the story of the New Haven Regicides, the men who fled to the New World rather than face punishment, by which I mean death, for their complicity in the execution of Charles I, we probably have some surprises for you.  

By we, I mean Lord Charles Spencer, who joins me in studio to talk about his new history, Killers of the King. Spencer writes a very brisk and compelling style of history. To put it another way, if you like "Game of Thrones," it's a pretty easy leap from there to this story. 

Coventry Regional Farmers' Market

I totally get the case against the Oscars and I look forward to hearing our friend Steve Almond make it on the show today. The case is that the creative arts and zero-sum games to not belong together because art is fluid and not hierarchical.  How can one performance or movie lose when another wins? It's absurd right? Wrong.

For example, we all know it was appalling in 1995 when "Forrest Gump" won Best Picture over "Pulp Fiction," "Quiz Show," and "Shawshank Redemption." Or, in 1981 when "Ordinary People" bested "Raging Bull." Whether we want to cop to it or not, we have internal standards and we know when they've been violated. This hour on the Scramble, Almond and I will debate that. 

Davidlohr Bueso / Creative Commons

The Academy Awards are almost upon us! It's hard to focus on the best movies of 2014 when you're already looking forward to the next SpongeBob movie, "Fifty Shades of Yellow."

We don't care! It's time for Vivian Nabeta's Rockin' Pre-Oscar Special Edition of The Nose, our culture roundtable.

Alyssa L. Miller / WNPR

My mother was an Alzheimer's patient. I think it's fair to say the disease killed her although like a lot of people in their 80's with serious illnesses, she got caught in a whirlpool of problems that made it hard to pin the blame on any one thing.

Phil Roeder / Creative Commons

There's a new anti-corruption task force in Connecticut replete with billboards asking the public to report the corrupt. This hour, we explore the history of corruption and our complicated attitudes toward it. 

Chad J. McNeeley / U.S. Navy

Elizabeth Warren summed it up in a tweet:

On the next Nose, is there any way we can spin the departure of our favorite truth teller as a good thing?

It might be pretty tough. 

How do we put this in context at the end of a terrible week for the news industry, with Brian Williams being suspended from NBC News for six months, and the death of CBS News correspondent Bob Simon?

Lawrie Cate / Creative Commons

Jews make up 2.2% of the population although it fluctuates depending on who gets counted. The U.S. Jewish population is roughly the same size, north of 6 million, as the Jewish population of Israel. 

And, since there are about 14 million Jews in the whole world, an astonishingly high percentage of them live in those two countries. 

Chion Wolf / WNPR

Our plan, from the  beginning, for today’s episode of The Nose had been to ask the panelists to see “American Sniper” and then discuss this unusual movie – unusual because director Clint Eastwood’s intention was to make an anti-war statement but the movie has been embraced far more ardently by boosters of the Iraq conflict.

By the numbers, it’s a surprising story. “American Sniper” grossed a quarter of a billion dollars in the month of January. Released on December 25, it’s capable of becoming 2014’s highest grossing film, although it would have to catch the latest “Hunger Games” iteration.

Eggstrordinary Eggs!

Feb 5, 2015
Shawn Zamechek / Creative Commons

Just about all of us eat eggs and when we say that, we mean chicken eggs. But, there are all kinds of other eggs you can eat. I cook occasionally with duck eggs and I've tasted goose and quail.

Today on the show, we talk to a farmer who ranches exotic eggs, including emu, and a chef who cooks with them.

Alan Light / Creative Commons

I get to talk to a lot of remarkable people and still I tell you that you're about to hear a conversation with one of the most remarkable people I've encountered in five years. 

Chuck Olsen / Creative Commons

People have been predicting the death of the sitcom since at least 1999, but the current TV season has been so toxic towards them that some observers have wondered whether the sitcom, which has been around since the birth of television, has anything left to say to us. But then again, what is a sitcom? Do sitcoms have to air on network television? Do they have to have a laugh track? Or fill a half-hour time slot? Do they even have to be comedies?

This hour, we consider the art form of the sitcom with producers and critics of the genre. What is your favorite sitcom and what makes it your favorite?

Brian Friedman / Mike Lavoie/Creative Commons

I know what you're asking yourself. You're thinking, I know the Colin McEnroe staff is amazing, but how do they manage to book two big celebrities with the same initials?

Well, you're right. They are awesome. but we did not actually hatch a plan to have guests with the initials M.B. Anyway, we already did a long interview with Michael Bolton. 

At the end of last year, I had a conversation with food writer Mark Bittman, whom I've known since the earliest days of his career. We've been looking for a chance to share that interview with you.

Then we got a chance to talk to Mike Birbiglia, a comedian and teller of monologues who has been on with us twice before.

Deb West / Flickr Creative Commons

On the Nose this hour: pre-watching Super Bowl ads.

Super Bowl advertisers have forced us (conned us?) to live in their world, not just for Sunday, but for days spreading in either direction. This piece explains how, in 2011, a VW ad was released on the YouTube's days in advance of the game and went viral, setting the stage for what we have now: a protracted debate about various ads. You probably have to, on YouTube, sometimes watch an ad so you can watch an ad.

Today, that 2011 ad has 61 million views on YT. Those are people volunteering to watch it, as opposed to people waiting for the game to resume.

Chion Wolf / WNPR

Here's my favorite one. Eighty-four percent of Frenchmen rate themselves as above average lovers. Ninety-three percent of young drivers in another survey said they were above average. And, 68% of the faculty at the University of Nebraska place themselves in the top 25%.

All of those numbers reflect misplaced confidence. It seems to be genetically wired into us in certain ways.

Chion Wolf / WNPR

We decided to bow to reality, and make this hour all about getting ready for the storm. You’ve heard about the storm, right? We begin today with NBC Connecticut meteorologist Ryan Hanrahan, and find out why this particular storm has his profession in such a lather.

Then we move on to what most -- ideally all -- of you will be doing from Monday night through Wednesday morning: staying put.

Culture critic Linda Holmes and I will discuss some viewing recommendations. Watch them until the power goes out. If and when that happens, maybe you’ll still be able to read. You’ve still got time to add to your e-reader or physically pick up some of the books our final guest John Warner and I will be discussing. Warner is one of the commentators in a March tournament of literary fiction.

Chion Wolf / WNPR

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 eleven-year history. The other's dream stalled, his elaborate dance hall sitting idle for decades.

An Ode to Opera

Jan 22, 2015
David Shankbone / Creative Commons

In 2012, the New York City Opera -- what Mayor LaGuardia called "the People's Opera" -- declared bankruptcy. This is/was the opera that introduced Americans to Placido Domingo and Beverly Sills. Make what you will of the fact that the bankruptcy announcement coincided with the presentation of a new opera about Anna Nicole Smith.

This is either a problem very specific to the New York Opera, or part of a virus that has been taking down opera companies all over the U.S. and maybe all over the world. In Italy, where opera receives much more public and government support, one fourth of all major opera companies were in a version of bankruptcy as of 2008.

Jim The Photographer / Flickr Creative Commons

If you want to reach people, sing to them, and make them sing. Experience tells us that singing changes people's relationships to reality, maybe even getting them ready to experience pain in a protest march.

Here's a term that was new to me anyway: "Collective Effervescence". It was coined by the sociologist Emile Durkheim to describe a lot of things, including the state we might achieve if we all got together and sang a song about our political aims. You see this in times of protest, from the streets of Ferguson to the streets around Tahrir Square. When people sing, or hear someone else sing, it activates them.

Mr. Nygren / Creative Commons

There is a simple formula for restoring respect for democracy and other American institutions: just study everything that happens in Bridgeport and do the opposite.

On our weekly news roundtable The Wheelhouse, Colin McEnroe guest-hosts with check-ins on Bridgeport, New London County, and Hartford. 

The capital city is part of a different formula: study how Hartford runs elections and do the opposite. Also, don't park in a handicap spot, especially if you're a lawmaker using your official state plates.

Dave Worley / Creative Commons

The Oxford Dictionary word of the year for 2014 is vape. I can get behind that. It's a word that describes something a lot of people are doing and it really did come of age in the last 12 months. The American Dialect Society, not so much. Their controversial word of the year is #blacklivesmatter, which is not a word or even close to being one word.

Robert Couse-Baker / Flickr Creative Commons

Academy Awards are not intrinsically important; therefore, Academy Award nominations are not intrinsically important, but these things are great moments for starting conversations and taking stock. They work pretty well as mass cultural Rorschach blots, and as is the case with many things, the ways in which they make us unhappy are probably the greatest source of interest.  

Earlier today, Julianne Moore got an Oscar nomination for "Still Alice." She is by far the betting favorite to win the best actress award. But you may remember her better as Franny Hughes Crawford on "As The World Turns." And four or five years before Ellen said "I'm gay," Bill Douglas came out as a gay teenager on One Life to Live. That character was played by Ryan Philippe. In fact, Leo DiCaprio, Maria Tomei, Tommy Lee Jones, Parker Posey, Kevin Bacon, Meg Ryan, they all worked on soaps before they moved on. 

Now there are only four soap operas left – drawn out, dramatic stories that used to be sponsored by soap manufacturers, and now are struggling to maintain relevance to house wives who have a lot more options in the middle of the day. We'll talk about this slice of Americana with those in the industry, and a professor who co-directs “Project Daytime.”

The Spice of Life

Jan 13, 2015
Sarah Marlowe / Creative Commons

The word spice has a kind of urgency. You don't need spice but historically, it's something people wanted enough to travel long, unfamiliar routes to find and bring back. We're going to talk about the lust for spice that helped open up trade and colonization. It's not just the taste or the smell - it was status and a class marker. One was either the sort of family that had turmeric or one was not.

Today on the show, we talk about the history of spice and about its present. It hasn't stopped, in certain quarters, being a luxury item and a status marker.

Aurelien Guichard / Creative Commons

Today on the Scramble, we talk to two cartoonists about the road ahead from the Charlie Hebdo massacre. I'm still wrestling with some of my own questions about what this story means to the world of satire, which I consider vitally important to the health of the world.

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