The Nose

DonkeyHotey / Creative Commons

This week, Pope Francis was the biggest thing to hit America since the British Invasion. You could buy Pope-themed dolls, cookies with the Pope's face, hats, coffee mugs, backpacks, and even a Pope Bobblehead.

It was the pope's first visit to the U.S., and he seemed eager and happy to be here. He spoke passionately about the poor, climate change, and the migrant crisis, and cautioned against religious extremism. It has left some people wondering why he met privately and secretly with Kim Davis, the Kentucky clerk who refuses to grant marriage licenses to same-sex couples.

Gerry Lauzon / Creative Commons

Volkswagen is having a moment. Not a good moment, but it's certainly a moment. VW owners are glaring at their vehicles with suspicion after it was revealed the automaker's diesel vehicles were designed to cheat on emissions tests.

Hopefully, VW is not capturing its moment with a selfie because that could be deadly. Plus, selfies are so easy to take, a monkey can do it and maybe even make some money from it.

ocean yamaha / creative commons

Ahmed Mohamed is a 14-year-old Texas student who likes to tinker. He was arrested for bringing a home-made clock to school, because school officials thought it was a bomb. What followed was an outpouring of support for Mohamed, who many said was targeted because of his Muslim faith. President Obama invited him to the White House, Mark Zuckerberg invited him to Facebook HQ, and he even got a scholarship to space camp.  


It was a rocky start to Stephen Colbert's Late Show debut. He admitted he went way over time, and barely got it on the air. But days later, his emotional interview with Vice President Joe Biden reminded us why we just love him so. 

frankileon/creative commons

This hour we'll talk Evan Osnos' in-depth look at the nationalist movement behind presidential candidate Donald Trump. How much power lies with the fringe? 

Creative Commons

“Every journalist who is not too stupid or too full of himself to notice what is going on knows that what he does is morally indefensible. He is a kind of confidence man, preying on people's vanity, ignorance, or loneliness, gaining their trust and betraying them without remorse.'' Those, of course, are the immortal opening words of Janet Malcolm’s book-length essay, “The Journalist and the Murderer.” 


Last week's Republican debate created chaos on the internets:  Trump insulted Fox's Megyn Kelly, which naturally led to ladies live tweeting their periods at the wanna-be President. And a new slang was born: "Cuckservative."  

Sean Benham/flickr creative commons

So we know that everyone in the world is covering the end of Jon Stewart’s The Daily Show today. We know that you’ve probably already listened to an hour or two of radio about Jon Stewart on this very station today.

But the thing is, we’re gonna miss Jon Stewart too.

Peter Harrison / Creative Commons

This past week, a Minnesota dentist and father of two shocked us out of our complacency. Desensitized by the weekly shootings this summer of African Americans by white policemen, moviegoers in theaters and African American churchgoers by a young white racist,  his ambush of Cecil the lion was a visceral blow to our collective gut.  Yes, we're still horrified by the way human beings treat each other. Our outrage over Cecil doesn't change that horror, but animals are somehow out-of-bounds of our cruelty to one another. In some ways, they're like civilians in a war - innocent victims in a world outnumbered by humans with the power to destroy all that is natural in this world.

This hour, the Nose will definitely NOT talk about Sharknado 3: Oh Hell No!

But they will cover Gawker's horrible week. After lots of backlash, the online site retracted a story in which they outed a married executive who solicited a male prostitute. They've now made the pledge to be "20%  nicer." Or maybe just 10%.

This hour, we'll talk about Ben Rothenberg's Serena-driven body image piece, and the stir it caused. Mark Leibovitch's peice on

dierk schaefer

Elinor Burkett, citing Summers' speech and asking if men and women have different brains.

We'll talk about the controversy surrounding one of the Inland Northwest's most prominent civil rights activists. The family of Rachel Dolezal says the local leader of the NAACP has been falsely portraying herself as black for years.

Vanity Fair

Way back -- I don't know -- a week ago, the story of Caitlyn Jenner was pretty amazing.

The gender transition of one of America's most acclaimed male athletes was, all by itself, a watershed.

And how much of a watershed?

Is this like an Ellen DeGeneres moment, when a mass audience suddenly gets comfortable with a new idea?

Jasin Boland/Warner Bros.

Setting into your movie theater seat for "Mad Max Fury Road" you are treated a series of trailers that remind you how many movie screens this year will be taken up with new iterations of old franchises. There's a new Jurassic Park movie coming and a new Terminator.

But Mad Max is a little different. The franchise had lain dormant since and the movies are the work of a single auteur, George Miller, who begot Mad Max and, at age 70, has reimagined parts of it for this latest installment.

Rev Stan/flickr creative commons

David Letterman reinvented television. He's irreplaceable. He was a comedic revolution. According to President Obama, Letterman is "a part of all of us."


This hour on the nose: Sports! Did you know it’s a mistake to include content that makes light of domestic violence? Damn, why didn’t WE know about it here at the Cleveland basketball office place? Like eight or nine of us watched the video and we thought it was totally fine, but now we can kind of see what people object to. Also...

Wikimedia Commons

Which side are you on?

In the mammoth PEN Awards kerfuffle, that is. Table captains have walked out over the award being given to the survivors from Charlie Hebdo. And now 145 writers, including six table captains and such notables as Junot Díaz, Lorrie Moore, Joyce Carol Oates, Eric Bogosian and Michael Cunningham, have signed a letter protesting the award to Hebdo. As LBJ  apparently never said regarding Vietnam and Walter Cronkite (but we'll come to that): Once you've lost Joyce Carol Oates, you've lost America. Francine 

One of the unwritten rulers of a weekly culture show like The Nose is that, if you're willing to "go low," as they say, you could probably alternate between Gwyneth Paltrow and Ben Affleck every week. They're both wonderfully talented, but they're also kind of useful idiots, reliably causing some kind of spectacle we can go after. And they used to be a couple.

Paula Lively / Creative Commons

We don't usually talk politics  on The Nose, but that's OK, because Hillary Clinton isn't really talking politics (much) yet either. Instead, she's just trying to, you know, hang out with all 235 million voting age Americans at once. How does one do that? That's the kind of thing that interests the Nose. 

brokinhrt2 / Creative Commons

What's up with all the weight talk? 

We're not even sure when it started, but Candice Bergen, who was always perfect and who is still perfect, really went there  in her current memoir and book tour.

“Let me just come right out and say it: I am fat.”

Mostly, it feels like someone opening the window and letting the fresh air in, right? And it lets us know that everybody eats and some of us eat too much. I mean, it turns out that the FBI -- which is being held to new fitness standards -- is full of stress-eaters.

Chion Wolf

The only people who might have had a wilder roller coaster ride than Trevor Noah this week were the owners of  Memories Pizza in Walkerton, Indiana. (That's the place that announced Wednesday morning they would not be willing to service the burgeoning market for breadsticks and nacho cheese dip at gay weddings.  By Friday, they had been forced to close temporarily because of all the harassment and had seen half a million dollars raised for them on the site

Anyway, we're not talking about Indiana on The Nose today. We promise.

Chion Wolf

Our topics today involve censorship, transgression, and reconciliation. 

Earlier in the week, The Nose panelists started talking about China's "dancing grannies" problem. This sounds like a Monty Python sketch, but it's real. In China's public squares, droves of people --most of them women and most of them with a little snow on their roofs -- assemble and dance, in various styles, to various kinds of music. 

Colin McEnroe

Starbucks is trying to start conversation about race relations in America, led by baristas across the nation. The effort has had mixed reviews.  

Rex Roof / Creative Commons

Mark Oppenheimer hosts an All-Star New-Haven Nose Panel from New Haven.

For as long as fraternities have acted poorly,  adults have quietly tolerated and even gloried in it. Who can forget John Belushi and Animal House? Too often, parents and college administrators have excused the all-night parties, destruction of property, and drunken brawls as the rude, yet benign acts of those on the brink of entering adulthood, the last gasp of carefree youth. 

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. 

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. 

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?

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.

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.