★★ The gray had yellow undertones. A few drops of rain flicked down. Downtown there were more but smaller drops, then more and fatter ones. A moment of brightness passed quickly. The roof was cold. A few small blue patches opened in the north, where they couldn’t do much good. They grew and briefly almost reached the westering sun, and a pulse of warmth came on. A gust of chilly breeze chased right after it, sending an empty beer can scraping a few inches along the glass of a tabletop.
In Fortune, Dan
a defense of Silicon Valley:
[W]hat about the countless networking and software companies that are, at their core, trying to improve the efficacy of communications? You know, that little human endeavor that in past generations has resulted in everything from the printing press to the carrier pigeon to the telephone to the Amber Alert? Are those efforts disposable, just because some may be quixotic or callous?
This, it turns out, is a helpful template for defending practically any industry.
There are many ways to take a bath, and just as many ways to perform a baptism. Some Christian traditions sprinkle a little water on the foreheads of infants or adults, drop by holy drop, and call it a day. Immersion is something else, and plenty of denominations have full-body fonts in their sanctuaries—or know where there’s a river or creek nearby deep enough for wading. Lots of hymns are available to mark the occasion, but country music also has its fair share of songs about baptism.
Carrie Underwood had a big hit last year with “Something in the Water,” a song she co-wrote about following a “preacher man down to the river,” experiencing a conversion where you get “washed in the water, washed in the blood.” In his 2008 song, “Muddy Water,” Trace Atkins sang, “There’s a man in me I need to drown,” while almost a decade earlier, Kenney Chesney recorded a beautiful duet with Randy Travis called “Baptism” where “it was down with the old man, up with the new: raised to walk in the ways of light and truth.” That imagery is borrowed from the liturgy itself, which usually begins by evoking the protection of Noah and his family from the flood and the parting of the Red Sea so that the Israelites could pass safely; it’s not only a time to consider the baptism of Jesus in the Jordan, but more perilously all the times that people were drowned, right along with their sins.
The story of Mad Max: Fury Road centers on the escape of a harem of young women in a “war rig” driven by the unstoppable Imperator Furiosa, a splendid Amazon played by Charlize Theron, with the aid and counsel of Mad Max Rockatansky (Tom Hardy, glorious as usual). The women’s captors, a terrifying patri-army of punk-rock hot rodders and their leader, Immortan Joe, spend almost the whole movie in furious pursuit of the fugitives in the most explosively rip-roaring gasoline-spitting rocket-fueled action flick in about forever. But much of the critical conversation surrounding the film, which saw a respectable box office opening of forty-five million dollars, has centered on its gender politics.
Women are portrayed as warriors and survivors in this movie; on the other hand, the harem girls are so young, shapely and lovely and so scantily clad that they resemble nothing so much as a herd of supermodels waiting around for Steven Meisel. The women need Max’s help in order to escape their pursuers; on the other hand, he needs theirs. So there’s as much fodder for the Men’s Rights Activists at Reddit and elsewhere to complain about the weakening and “feminization” of Max (“Nobody barks orders to Mad Max”) as there is for Jezebel’s “Hysterical Man” to claim, “The New Mad Max Film Is So Feminist My Scrotum Killed Itself”.
★★★★ The air conditioner had drowned out the soft buzzing of the phone alarm for an hour or more. Ivory-colored clouds drifted from west to east, separating till bright white light slapped the surfaces on Broadway. Downtown, the clouds were knitting back together. Once more it had been a mistake to go out without a jacket; it would have been superb jacket conditions—the month speeding by but the temperature refusing to hasten into summer. Brightness returned. The breeze filled the unfastened purple graduation gown of a young man slowly crossing Houston Street. Green maple samaras traced the foot of the churchyard wall on Prince Street. The sunset clouds were a rich magenta, flaring suddenly to shining pink, as a thin and ghostly crescent moon edged away from the glass apartment tower.
On Tuesday, in a gymnasium at the Johnson Houses in East Harlem, Mayor Bill De Blasio announced a new plan to revitalize and expand New York City’s public housing stock. Currently, more than half a million New Yorkers live in housing run by the New York City Housing Authority—nearly four hundred thousand in the city’s three hundred and thirty-four public housing developments, and another two hundred and thirty-five thousand in Section 8 housing. Founded in 1934, during the depths of the Great Depression, NYCHA began a long, slow slide into insolvency in the late eighties, as the federal government began divesting from public housing across the country. According to the New York Times, had earlier funding patterns held, the Authority would have received over a billion dollars more in federal funding than it actually has since 2001. They didn’t and it hasn’t, so the city’s public housing program is falling apart. “This is, at this moment, the worst financial crisis in the history of NYCHA,” De Blasio told dozens of reporters and a handful of tenants. “Literally the worst.”
The Authority’s buildings, more than three-quarters of which are over forty years old, require approximately seventeen billion dollars in unmet capital needs. “All types of repairs need to be done for the long haul, and the resources have not been there,” the mayor said. Moreover, “NYCHA has approximately one month of surplus cash on hand—one month, and after that will go into deficit.” If nothing is done, the mayor said, the housing authority’s deficit will build to two-and-a-half billion dollars over the next decade.
De Blasio bracketed his presentation of the plan to save NYCHA—branded NextGeneration NYCHA—with calls for the federal government to re-invest itself in affordable housing and infrastructure. “The federal government has to be much more of a key contributor again,” the mayor said. In response to a question regarding how much time he’s been spending away from New York City, the mayor said, “If you wanted the federal government to get back in the affordable housing business, one of the only ways to get there is with a more progressive tax system.” Last week, De Blasio traveled to Washington, D.C. to present a federal policy agenda with Senator Elizabeth Warren, and then to California to speak at UC-Berkeley with former Secretary of Labor Robert Reich. “I hold out the hope if we do that well, and if we join with cities around the country that we might be able to get more of the resources we have long been waiting for,” he added. (Many of New York’s mayors find their office taking them outside of the city: Michael Bloomberg, for example, spent many weekends in Bermuda.)
With SNL‘s 40th season wrapped up, we’re taking a look back at the past year to recall the highs, lows, and other memorable moments as the show ended its fourth decade on the air. Below, we reexamine the 21 episodes of Season 40.
Like any lineup in showbusiness — whether it’s a summer movie schedule or a season of Saturday Night Live — tentpoles are crucial. An SNL season may feature a plethora of first-time hosts enjoying their moment in the sun, but it never goes too long before bringing in a seasoned veteran host who can guarantee a win. Recent seasons have been tentpoled by the likes of Alec Baldwin, Steve Martin, Tina Fey, Justin Timberlake, Jimmy Fallon, and Will Ferrell — tried-and-true SNL hall-of-famers who know how to deliver the goods. That left room for a few duds, as well as wild cards like Jon Hamm, Zach Galifianakis, and Melissa McCarthy to sneak in without expectations and join the ranks of all-time great hosts.
That’s what made Season 40 such an odd case. Rather than structuring the season with several tentpoles, we were given one big one: the 40th Anniversary Special in February, which showcased all of the aforementioned regulars, and then some. The anniversary was a thrilling and emotional climax for the show, but its magnitude cast an inevitable shadow on the season that contained it. SNL watchers always let our nostalgia for past generations blind us from the present, but here was a three-and-a-half hour highlight reel of everything we once loved about the show, with hardly any of those highlights coming from the recent era. There was plenty of retrospect, but little prospect. For example, it’s hard to credit Colin Jost and Michael Che with the undeniable progress they’ve made behind the Weekend Update desk after a parade of greats like Chevy Chase, Jane Curtin, Dennis Miller, Kevin Nealon, Norm Macdonald, Jimmy Fallon, Tina Fey, Amy Poehler, and Seth Meyers. It’s like college basketball player having a solid opening game, with Jordan dunking at halftime.
The star-studded anniversary also dried up the pool of tentpole hosts (with no Five-Timers Club members this year), leaving well-liked but less-proven regulars Bill Hader, Jim Carrey, Dwayne Johnson, and Louis CK to prop up the season. They did… mostly. Between a few pleasant surprises from first-timers (Martin Freeman) and old-timers (Woody Harrelson), the episodes this season rarely left people buzzing in the days that followed.
Below is a ranking of the episodes this season (not including the 40th Anniversary Special, which was less an episode of SNL than an extended circle-jerk). As with last year’s ranking, we measured episode quality by asking ourselves a few questions: What, if anything, was memorable about this episode? Were the sketches clear, funny, unique concepts, or were they the same predictable bits we’re tired of seeing? Did the host complement the cast, with sketches that made good use of his/her skills? And finally, did the episode contain any awful sketches about a bickering old couple waiting for an Uber?