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

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.

Rachel Eliza Griffiths

Ficre Ghebreyesus and Elizabeth Alexander were born two months apart in 1962, he in Eritrea, she in Harlem. They didn’t meet until 1996. He was an artist and a chef at a New Haven Eritrean restaurant he owned with his brothers. She was a poet and professor. She had been teaching at the University of Chicago, where she had also met a senior lecturer named Barack Obama. She married Ghebreyesus. She delivered Obama’s 2009 inaugural poem. In 2012, a few days after her husband’s 50th birthday, he died abruptly. Her new book, “The Light of The World,” tells that story.

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. 

Forty-five years ago, the attention of the nation and much of the world swung toward New Haven, where the murder trial of Bobby Seale and Ericka Huggins had made the city a magnet for Black Panther outrage and pushed New Haven to the brink of anarchy.

It's an amazing story with a cast of characters that includes not only the Panthers, but future black leaders like Kurt Schmoke, a Yale student who would become mayor of Baltimore, and J. Edgar Hoover, Jerry Rubin, Allen Ginsberg, Archibald Cox, Spiro Agnew, Kingman Brewster and Tom Hayden.

Chion Wolf / WNPR

Everybody's a film critic, right? I mean, who walks out of a theater with no opinion about it? Also, nobody's a film critic. By that, I mean that most people resist deep analysis of a film. A frequent refrain is "Hey! It's just a movie."

For a film critic like David Edelstein, the key word is engagement.

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 gofundme.com.)

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

Andre Silva / Creative Commons

On the series "NewsRadio," the character played by Phil Hartman once said, "Experience once taught me that behind every toothy grin lies a second row of teeth."

Smiling is a universal way to show happiness. But not all smiles are happy. In reality, we smile less for happiness than for social reasons that have nothing to do with happiness. That said,  few things are more ingratiating and calming as another person's genuinely warm smile. But, maybe it's because a genuine smile is such a great thing that we're always looking for the false one. 

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.  

Finchlake 2000 / Creative Commons

Today, we take a deeper look at the beaver.

Beavers are sophisticated eco-engineers, one of few animals capable of broadening biodiversity and currently considered of the keys to reversing climate change. They build sophisticated dams and deep-water ponds that stem erosion of riverbanks, create cooler deep-water pools that support temperature-sensitive plant and fish species, and increase the water table, a big deal for Western states suffering the impact of worsening drought.

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.

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