The ’80s Spy Novel That Uncannily Predicted the Rise of Donald Trump

The American people won’t ever be able to trust the system any more, not just the politicians but the whole bloody set-up.” We must hope Allbeury’s crystal ball was cloudy about that too. And how does Allbeury predict it will all resolve? What happens if the dogged agents prove that the president was elected with covert Russian assistance and that he was generally if not specifically complicit? MacKay prepares a dossier which prompts a discreet investigation by intrepid, ultra-professional CIA agent Peter Nolan into connections between the president’s team and the Soviets and a possible “conspiracy to distort the due process of an election.”
Together, Nolan and MacKay painstakingly accumulate testimony and documentary evidence to build their case while trying with varying degrees of success to protect their witnesses, and themselves, from KGB hitmen. John Le Carré, the master of the genre, is even bringing back his most famous character, quiet spymaster George Smiley, in a new novel after an absence of 25 years. He avoids the easy us-and-them oversimplifications of a Tom Clancy, instead exploring, like Homeland, the moral ambiguities on all sides and the toll these fluctuating ethical boundaries take on agents. As the evidence mounts, the CIA chief, Harper, ponders what to do with their findings—which politicians will try to bury the investigation, which will assist it, and what the revelation will do to faith in American democratic institutions. With the subsiding of the Cold War at the end of the ’80s, the heyday of the spy thriller appeared to be over. A British agent, MacKay, recognizes the new American president’s chief of staff and former campaign manager from an old report suggesting he might be obligated to a Russian agent. Like fellow espionage novelists Le Carré and Ian Fleming, Allbeury’s knowledge of the workings of secret services was gained the hard way—by doing the job. Meanwhile, Powell’s wife, who doesn’t like the political world and from whom he leads a separate life, remains in the family home with their young son instead of moving to Washington. We’re going to bring back our jobs.” That’s not to say that Allbeury’s crystal ball was entirely clear: Unlike the present incumbent, Powell is youngish, fit, handsome, and a former junior professor at Yale. The plot, considered unlikely at the time, is enough to give one the unsettling feeling Allbeury was a sort of literary Marty McFly, writing toward a future only he knew. He would be a cypher, and the whole country would be in turmoil for four years.” Worse, “even if … He served in Britain’s Special Operations Executive in World War II and in intelligence during the occupation, then as an officer in MI6, Britain’s equivalent of the CIA, running agents between East and West Germany. I’m the president of the United States, and from now on it’s going to be America first. That would be telling, but as Nolan observes, “Congress would turn their backs on him. Understandably ready for a quieter life, Allbeury moved into advertising, only turning to writing in 1973 at the age of 56—a late spurt of productivity that led to 40 novels and a successful writing career before he died in 2006. The renewed relevance of the cat-and-mouse world of international espionage is uncannily brought home The Twentieth Day of January, a solid example of the genre originally written by British author Ted Allbeury in 1980 and just reissued in the U.S. But thanks to recent events in the news (and several seasons of The Americans), suddenly we’re all au fait with safe houses, double and even triple agents, moles, fake identities, switching cars (or Ubers), kompromat, and other staples of espionage. We have our own bush-fires of inflation and unemployment.” Just last week, addressing the North American Building Trades conference, Trump said much the same: “I’m not and I don’t want to be president of the world. At one point he was cornered in a farmhouse by KGB agents, who left him nailed to the kitchen table. Identified by the Soviet spy chief as a man who “wishes to be in politics for business reasons,” the vain and superficial Powell, says a Washington insider, “just came out of nowhere. He was one of six or seven possible runners. A complete outsider, then—boom, he was the Republican candidate,” with the added appeal of not being a professional politician. Powell is impeached,” Harper says, “those bastards have won. Later his children were kidnapped and abducted to South America. “[F]or too long,” Powell says, “the United States has been expected to act as fireman for every bush-fire in the world. There are many jaw-dropping passages, none moreso than when Allbeury’s describes the new president. The new president, according to his campaign manager–cum-sleeper agent Andrew Dempsey, enjoys the trappings of office “like a kid in a toy shop” but is somewhat fuzzier on policy beyond promising “to slash taxes, cut unemployment, and achieve peace on earth.” Says Dempsey, “He doesn’t know how he’s going to do it but, by Jesus, he’s going to do it.” Whatever Powell’s priorities are, his Russian backers know what they want from him, namely “a peace pact, troops withdrawn from Europe, trade both ways,” and soon the president-elect is toeing the isolationist line.

In Between Blockbusters, Big Directors Are All Making the Same Small Movie

Since Hollywood studios have increasingly squeezed out mid-budget movies in favor of comic-book spectaculars and micro-budget horror, films like Gifted, The Book of Henry, and A Monster Calls take on even more retro resonance: They’re the kind of film that’s supposed to make you say, “They don’t make them like this anymore.” It’s funny, though, that all of a sudden they’re making that same film a little too often. Would you believe that the young child is often more responsible than the adult caretaker? Most certainly. That’s part of the reason that after directing two Iron Man movies, Jon Favreau made the much smaller Chef, where he stars as a single father who quits his fancy restaurant job to start paying attention to his precocious preteen. It’s no wonder, then, that top-tier helmers feeling a little burnt out on big-budget spectacle might want to sneak in a smaller movie here and there just to get back to basics. You can count on it. To some degree, I expect the directors are treating them as penance: After you’ve neglected your family to fly around the world working on a giant blockbuster, what better way to work out your issues than with a film about a distracted parent reconnecting with a special child? For as much as these directors think they’re trading one mode of filmmaking for another, in a way, they’re just toggling between two influential blockbusters: Instead of making Star Wars (literally, in Trevorrow’s case), they’re making E.T. Directing a giant blockbuster can demand two or three years of your life and sometimes more, if you come back for the sequels. But I suspect there’s more to this trend than just personal catharsis. So while Star Wars has long gotten credit for changing the way blockbusters are made, with these gap-year movies, E.T. is finally getting its due, too. This article originally appeared in Vulture. Abrams spent his gap year on Super 8, as purposeful an homage to early Spielberg there ever was … until Stranger Things topped it last summer. You can feel Steven Spielberg’s influence on all of these gap-year movies, which is fitting, since he himself loves to alternate between big blockbusters and smaller-scale dramas. Will there be a notebook filled with thoughtful doodles and math formulas? In ways both large and small, these gap-year movies pay homage to E.T., whether it’s A Monster Calls subbing in a tree monster as its young protagonist’s nonhuman companion, or the abandoned mother in The Book of Henry rocking Dee Wallace’s practical shag haircut. By this point, I’ve grown to half expect it, in addition to mandatory story points about disappointing deadbeat dads, moms in danger or dying, and crucial expositional scenes where our lead child flips through a photo album and sees the parent in a whole new light. In between Star Trek movies and shortly before he directed his own Star Wars installment, J.J. Still, while these films are meant to show what the directors are capable of when they’re freed from the big studio machine, even their more modest efforts are starting to feel a little familiar. While these films all operate in different genres, it’s uncanny how often they repeat the same beats. Will our sensitive kid go up against a grade-school bully and somehow come out on top? Certainly, their sensitive, bike-riding children would get along.) By relying on familiar material, giant tentpole films count on a certain measure of nostalgia to draw you in, but these gap-year movies feel just as retro: Hell, The Book of Henry offers an illustrated poster so 1980s that you expect it to be pasted on a VHS cassette. Take Gifted, this week’s dramedy about a precocious child and the overwhelmed uncle (Chris Evans) who serves as her single parent. At the end of their cross-country adventure together, Favreau’s character goes back into the restaurant business a better man who’s informed by the time he’s spent with his son; so, too, has Favreau returned to tentpole filmmaking after his gap-year movie, only now he’s directing films like The Jungle Book and The Lion King that are explicitly made for families. It’s directed by Marc Webb, who made the last two Amazing Spider-Man movies, but it’s not to be confused with June’s The Book of Henry, about another child genius and his single parent (Naomi Watts), which director Colin Trevorrow squeezed in between Jurassic World and his upcoming production of Star Wars: Episode IX. No film of his wove those disparate impulses together better than E.T., which tells a fantastical story that’s foregrounded in the small and familiar: Before young Elliott establishes his bond with marooned alien E.T., we get to know him as a sensitive kid who’s—you guessed it—dealing with an overwhelmed single parent. With his schedule so packed, Trevorrow had to abdicate the director’s chair on Jurassic World 2, a gig that went to spectacle-seller Juan Antonio Bayona … who just released his own precocious-child/single-parent movie, A Monster Calls, this past December. (Should someone set up Stranger Things single-mom Winona Ryder with Super 8 single-dad Kyle Chandler? It’s gotten to the point that in Gifted, when Chris Evans talks about his stern British mother, I expected Sigourney Weaver to swan in with her posh A Monster Calls accent to establish an unlikely cinematic universe for blockbuster directors’ gap-year one-offs. See also: Gifted Is Advanced in Cuteness, But Only Proficient at Everything Else What’s prompting these similar small movies?

Too Fervent, Too Forceful, Too Much

But sometimes it happens just because you’re old.” Levy’s trip almost certainly had nothing to do with her loss; doctors assured her it could just as easily have happened in New York. Not long after arriving in Mongolia, Levy started to feel a pain in her abdomen. But of course—and this, too, I could relate to—she blamed herself. I was far from alone in finding it haunting; it won the National Magazine Award in 2014. “But it has been made overwhelmingly clear to me now that anything you think is yours by right can vanish, and what you can do about that is nothing at all. It also feels sadly appropriate that Levy’s book appears in this season of feminist disillusion. She declares herself free from this fantasy. I took a reporting trip to Israel and the West Bank during my first pregnancy, feeling resentful when my colleagues urged me to stay away from protests because tear gas is an abortifacient. For a length of time I cannot delineate, I sat there, awestruck, transfixed.” He was alive, but he wouldn’t live. After the miscarriage, he didn’t want to try again. “Death comes for us. Still, it’s worth being wary of this book’s implicit warning against attempting an outsized life. This time, however, the illusions under attack are her own. “Until recently, I lived in a world where lost things could always be replaced,” she writes in her preface. It has grief’s occult logic, in which emotional associations count for more than empirical causality. Five months into her pregnancy, she flew to Ulaanbaatar for a last big foreign assignment. I don’t want to criticize Levy for writing about the shock of foreclosed possibility that comes with female middle age. It was a story that began with maternal ambivalence. The story she tells—and that she tells herself—is a bleak tale of comeuppance. Part of what makes her book at once so gripping and so unnerving is that she leaves little distance between her authorial voice and the raw immediacy of anguish; her pain feels unprocessed, but that could be by design. “It’s time to stop nodding and smiling uncomfortably as we ignore the crazy feeling in our heads and admit that the emperor has no clothes,” Levy wrote. I understood what I took to be Levy’s desire to rebel against the stultifying and often pointless constraints placed on pregnant women by an overly cautious society, to insist that motherhood needn’t mean the end of adventure. “Daring to think that the rules do not apply is the mark of a visionary,” she writes. One trick of depression is to make cruel distortions seem like revealed truth, and it’s hard to tell if The Rules Do Not Apply is describing this process or embodying it. You may get ten minutes on this earth or you may get eighty years but nobody gets out alive. She didn’t call calamity down on her head by wanting too much. “People have been telling me since I was a little girl that I was too fervent, too forceful, too much,” she writes. “When I wrote Lean In, some people argued that I did not spend enough time writing about the difficulties women face when they don’t have a partner,” Sandberg writes in her new book, Option B, which is, fittingly, about grief. Levy’s ambitions and her reproductive decisions weren’t to blame. (Even her infidelity, which she describes in shame-strewn passages, didn’t make Lucy an addict.) The father of Levy’s baby had been a rich friend who’d agreed to help provide for the child and be an avuncular presence in his life. Hillary Clinton’s attempt to defy the rules circumscribing female ambition came to utter ruin. I’d become a cautionary tale, like the women Elizabeth Hardwick described in Sleepless Nights, who ‘wander about in their dreadful freedom like old oxen left behind, totally unprovided for.’ ” In the margin next to this passage, I wrote: “No no no no.” Levy is someone to whom something horrifying happened, but not as a consequence of her audacity or her “dreadful freedom.” If she’s a cautionary tale, what is the moral? “It’s also a symptom of narcissism.”
I can’t begrudge Levy her interpretation of her own life, but I’m not sure what narcissism has to do with miscarriage. She’d suffered a placental abruption, “a very rare problem that, I later read, usually befalls women who are heavy cocaine users or who have high blood pressure. “I had boarded a plane out of vanity and selfishness, and the dark Mongolian sky had punished me.”
Levy’s crushing sense of self-chastisement looms over her new memoir, The Rules Do Not Apply, which expands on “Thanksgiving in Mongolia.” I gulped the book down, both because I love her voice—brassy and mordant, but also luminous and kind—and because, since that New Yorker piece, I’ve worried about her as if she were a friend. (She’s not, though we’ve met once.) Yet while I found The Rules Do Not Apply riveting, I have several real friends who I very much hope don’t read it. “People were alarmed when I told them where I was going, but I was pleased with myself,” Levy wrote. The Rules Do Not Apply is a very different book than Female Chauvinist Pigs, but in both, Levy seeks to puncture illusions about women and liberation. Instead, I was thirty-eight, childless, alone, emotionally and monetarily unprepared to be a single mother. “I thought I had harnessed the power of my own strength and greed and love in a life that could contain it. There’s a dark current of guilt running through this book that makes me terribly sad for Levy and that may terrify readers who have the temerity to wish for both exciting lives and stable families. It turns out that Levy’s marriage fell apart because her partner, Lucy, was an alcoholic. Levy, a globe-hopping writer, spent 10 years making up her mind to have a baby, getting pregnant just before her 38th birthday. It’s certainly possible that Levy has made a deliberate artistic choice to capture the reeling, irrational self-rebuke that comes with fertility disasters. Have children while you’re young, even if you’re not sure or can’t afford it? “When I got on the plane to Mongolia, I was pregnant, living with my spouse, moving to a lovely apartment, and financially insulated by a wealthy man,” she writes. “Thanksgiving in Mongolia” was vague about many of the details of Levy’s life. “They were right. Written at a time when many women had become inhibited about their own inhibitions, Female Chauvinist Pigs suggested that compulsory sexual liberation had, at least in some circles, replaced compulsory chastity, and that many women felt uneasy admitting that it wasn’t making them happy. Three and a half years ago, Ariel Levy published “Thanksgiving in Mongolia,” a New Yorker essay about an intrepid reporting trip that ended in trauma. Don’t marry a woman who likes to drink? It got worse, and she ended up delivering her extremely premature baby, alone, in her hotel room. Did her spouse blame her for taking a risk while carrying their baby? That book captured a social phenomenon that has mutated and grown more intense in the years since its publication: pop culture pressure on women to collaborate in their own sexual objectification and call it empowerment. I hope her readers understand that they won’t, either. I am also a journalist who once traveled constantly and agonized for years over whether to have kids. The Rules Do Not Apply fills in the story. (Maybe all middle age.) I’ve long admired her willingness to explore the way lived experience doesn’t necessarily conform to feminist hope, going back to her first book, 2005’s Female Chauvinist Pigs: Women and the Rise of Raunch Culture. “I liked the idea of being the kind of woman who’d go to the Gobi Desert pregnant, just as, at twenty-two, I’d liked the idea of being the kind of girl who’d go to India by herself.” Perhaps more than most people, I could relate to this. Though she’d written in the past about her marriage to a woman, in the Mongolia piece she refers only to her “spouse.” This spouse barely appears in the story, but at the end, Levy tells us that within three weeks of returning home, “my marriage had shattered.” When I read that in 2013, I thought the collapse of her marriage was connected to the nightmare in Ulaanbaatar. “His lovely lips were opening and closing, opening and closing, swallowing the new world. Near the close of The Rules Do Not Apply, Levy writes wryly and critically of the common desire that “everything happens for a reason.” “Some people need to believe this to indemnify themselves—against miscarriage, or misfortune in general,” she writes. But it has exploded.” This makes it seem as if some personality flaw, some reckless demand for more than she was entitled to, is at the root of her suffering, instead of uncontrollable, amoral chance. I didn’t get it.” It’s not Levy’s fault that her book joins what is threatening to become a zeitgeist of female chastening. Levy presents herself as a lady Icarus, a woman who tried to grab too much and ended up with nothing at all. This left Levy feeling like the possibility of motherhood has been cut off, and she lacerates herself for imagining she had it within her power to create a new kind of improvised family. Be rich? This adventure, however, turned into tragedy. “He was translucent and pink and very, very small, but he was flawless,” Levy wrote. “A month later, none of that was true. Sheryl Sandberg, whose endlessly dissected book Lean In embodied sky’s-the-limit feminist cheerleading, was humbled by the sudden death of her husband. The future I thought I was meticulously crafting for years has disappeared, and with it have gone my ideas about the kind of life I’d imagined I was due.”
This is a book animated by savage grief. Accepting this rule gives me a funny flicker of peace.” Yet I’m not sure she’s as free from magical thinking as she believes herself to be. Still, the way she frames herself as a cautionary tale seems unhealthy, for herself as well as her audience. “I knew, as surely as I now knew that I wanted a child, that this change in fortune was my fault,” she wrote. Had the baby been holding a failing union together?

Watch Rachel Bloom and the Cast of Crazy Ex-Girlfriend Sing Their Way Into Emmy Voters’ Hearts

And since Vella Lovell, who plays Heather, was also absent, David Hull (White Josh, also a new series regular) had to step in for the faux–Spice Girls anthem “Friendtopia.” He doesn’t miss a zig-a-zow. “Remember That We Suffered” is a song about Jewish remembrance, but with Tovah Feldshuh and Patti LuPone missing in action, Bloom had to make do with the gentiles on stage to get by. We’ve saved the best for last, with the song Bloom calls “the hardest song we’ve ever had to write so far.” It also happens to be one of the finest the show has ever put out, a profane breakup anthem that wraps up Rebecca’s toxic relationship with Greg (Santino Fontana). The CW show made their best case at a For Your Consideration Event last week by reminding voters that Crazy Ex-Girlfriend is no ordinary program. The show’s creator and star, Rachel Bloom, was joined by co-creator, showrunner, and head writer Aline Brosh McKenna, as well as choreographer Kathryn Burns, songwriter Jack Dolgen, and a good portion of the cast to discuss the making of the CW’s beloved and bizarre hit. It shows off both Champlin’s vulnerability and her impeccable comedic timing, and the Broadway veteran absolutely nails it live. Only Crazy Ex-Girlfriend’s cast and crew could attend a panel for prospective Emmy voters and wind up with a musical extravaganza. And while no one can sing it quite like Fontana can, Bloom still knocks “It Was a Shit Show” out of the park:
The cast also performed “You’re My Best Friend (And I Know I’m Not Yours),” “Ping Pong Girl,” and the instant classic “(Tell Me I’m Okay) Patrick,” complete with Bloom freaking out about the possibility of alien invasion. Donna Lynne Champlin, who plays Rebecca’s onetime sidekick Paula, has been submitted for Emmy consideration this year for Supporting Actress in a Comedy, and no amount of chitchat about her character’s development could be more persuasive for a nomination than Champlin singing “Maybe This Dream,” a Disney princess–style “I Want” song about Paula’s doubts as she embarks on a new life and career. Your move, Emmy voters. And fortunately for us, they also performed some of this season’s best songs, live. Some cast members and guest stars weren’t in attendance, but the rest of the cast was ready to step in where needed. Scott Michael Foster, a relative newcomer to the show, proved why he deserves his new promotion to series regular with a live rendition of “Let’s Have Intercourse,” which plays up the show’s many meta-jokes about the actor’s handsomeness.

The Ragnarok Trailer Accomplishes the Impossible: Making Us Look Forward to a Thor Movie

(The notable exception is Guardians of the Galaxy, which Ragnarok, not coincidentally, seems to resemble.) He’s since released the winsome Hunt for the Wilderpeople, which blends comedy and action in just the right measure to make it look like Waititi isn’t going to get ground into paste by the Marvel machine. Whether you’re going by box office or quality, Thor: The Dark World ranks at or near the bottom of every list of the Marvel Cinematic Universe’s movies, but the first look at Thor: Ragnarok needs only two minutes to wipe that lackluster history away. The movie won’t be along until Nov. The New Zealand comedian whose most recent movie at the time was the vampire mockumentary What We Do in the Shadows, Waititi seemed like a huge upgrade from the colorless hack work of The Dark World’s Alan Taylor, but the MCU has a history of sucking the distinctiveness out of individual directors. There were already hints that Ragnarok would take a different tack, with Mark Ruffalo previewing it as a “buddy movie” following Thor and the Hulk around the galaxy, but the most promising sign by far was when Marvel hired Taika Waititi to direct. 3, but until then, against all odds, we’re actually looking forward to it. The Ragnarok trailer shows us Cate Blanchett looking like an utter badass as Hela, the Asgardian goddess of death, as well as several glimpses of Tessa Thompson’s Valkyrie, but the best moment comes right at the end, when Chris Hemsworth’s Thor finds himself up against Ruffalo’s Hulk in a gladiatorial contest, and he can’t help but beam when his adversary is revealed: “He’s a friend from work!”
Hemsworth is often called upon for musclebound brooding, but in the last couple of years, Vacation and Ghostbusters have shown that he possesses formidable comedic chops as well, and Thor: Ragnarok finally looks ready to exploit them.

John Oliver Wants to Fix Gerrymandering so That Even Racist Grandmas and Quidditch Players Get a Fair Say in Government

“You can either break up your eight awful relatives and spread them out over different tables, or you can pack them all together at one insufferable table of the damned.”
Surely all this is illegal under the Voting Rights Act? “Think of it as table assignments at a wedding,” suggests Oliver. Well, when a legislator is gerrymandering to disadvantage minorities, then it is. There are two main strategies for this, as Oliver explains: Packing refers to putting as many opposition voters as possible into just a few districts. “There is nothing inherently wrong with redrawing a voting district. John Oliver wants to save our democracy, even if that means letting our worst citizens have their say. Cracking is a tactic that includes spreading the opposition thinly over multiple districts to prevent them from holding a majority in any single one. Oliver hopes that an upcoming Supreme Court case will finally rein in that problem, so that even Americans with poor judgement—be they racist grandmas, adult Quidditch players, parrot-heads, or full-time unicycle-riders—get a fair say in “fucking things up” in our great nation. It’s actually necessary,” notes Oliver. And the strategy works. (It doesn’t help that the current Supreme Court has undermined the VRA and that newly appointed Supreme Court Justice Gorsuch seems inclined to do the same.)
Partisan gerrymandering is not the only factor creating the disparity between our popular vote and actual representation, but it does present a significant threat to our democracy when left in the hands of people who benefit from it. On Sunday night’s episode of Last Week Tonight, Oliver set about unpacking gerrymandering, the redistricting strategy that takes its name from Massachusetts governor Elbridge Gerry and the salamander-shaped results of his cartographical manipulation. “They need to have around the same number of people in them, and populations shift over time as people move, or die, or emigrate to America because their stand-up careers have endured what might be best characterized as a pogrom of indifference.”
But in 37 states, legislators are the ones drawing the lines for legislative districts, which means that whoever is in power can manipulate distribution to keep that power. But if that legislator is instead gerrymandering for his or her own political gain, he or she’s generally in the clear.

Announcing the Winners of the Fifth Cartoonist Studio Prize

Retrofit and Big Planet Comics. Fantagraphics. Rolling Blackouts by Sarah Glidden. Koyama Press. The winner for Best Print Comic is Eleanor Davis for Libby’s Dad (Retrofit and Big Planet Comics), a potent meditation on the complexities of childhood. Canopy by Karine Bernadou. The Art of Charlie Chan Hock Chye by Sonny Liew. We All Wish for Deadly Force by Leela Corman. The rest of the excellent shortlist:
Burt’s Way Home by John Martz. Top Shelf. Beautifully drawn in colored pencils that at once evoke youth and betray tremendous skill, every page of Davis’ brief work is assured and resonant. Drawn and Quarterly. Congratulations to our two winners, who each receive $1,000 and, of course, eternal glory, and join our previous winners: Carol Tyler and Boulet; Richard McGuire and Winston Rowntree; Taiyo Matsumoto and Emily Carroll; and Noelle Stevenson and Chris Ware. St. Rosalie Lightning by Tom Hart. March: Book 3 by John Lewis, Andrew Aydin, and Nate Powell. Making thoughtful use of the web format and drawing creatively on multimedia techniques, Tran tells a striking story about the difficulties of unlearning the lessons we’ve been taught about gender. The winner for Best Web Comic is Christina Tran for “On Beauty,” a story about medical tourism in South Korea. Retrofit and Big Planet Comics. Flying Eye Books. The rest of the excellent shortlist:
Greek Diary by Glynnis Fawkes “I Trained to Fight the Enemy” by Jess Ruliffson Normel Person by Lauren Weinstein On a Sunbeam by Tillie Walden “Rejected Anthology Submission” by Meghan Lands Riverbound by Päivi Niinikangas “The Secrets in My Mother’s Nightstand” by Sophia Wiedeman The Unofficial Cuckoo’s Nest by Luke Healy Wonderlust by Diana Nock
Congratulations to our winners and to all our nominees. The Longest Day of the Future by Lucas Varela. Martin’s Press. Pantheon. The Slate Book Review and the Center for Cartoon Studies are proud to announce the winners of the fifth annual Cartoonist Studio Prize. The winners were selected by Slate’s Jacob Brogan; the faculty and students at the Center for Cartoon Studies, represented by Jarad Greene; and this year’s guest judge, Karen Green, curator for comics and cartoons at Columbia University’s Rare Books and Manuscripts Library. Hilda and the Stone Forest by Luke Pearson.

Carrie Fisher’s Family Says Disney Will Include the Late Actress in Star Wars: Episode IX

“Both of us were like, ‘Yes, how do you take her out of it?’ ” Fisher said. There had been reports of Disney using similar computer-generated imagery methods to maintain Fisher’s role in the franchise after her death—production on Episiode IX had not yet started—but they were quickly shot down. Rather than digitally recreating Leia, the studio will take unused footage of Fisher in the role—likely taken from Episode VIII, given the timeline—to retain the character’s presence. Fisher’s brother Todd explained at the opening night gala of the TCM Film Festival that he and Billie Lourd, the actress’ daughter, have granted Disney the rights to use recently filmed footage of Fisher to create a role for Princess Leia in the finale. In January, the official Star Wars site went so far as to release a statement and affirm that “that Lucasfilm has no plans to digitally recreate Carrie Fisher’s performance as Princess or General Leia Organa.” According to the New York Daily News, this remains the case. Star Wars: Episode IX is slated for a 2019 release. “And the answer is you don’t.”
The most recent Star Wars installment, Rogue One, showcased this new technology, resurrecting the late Peter Cushing and de-ageing Fisher herself. After months of speculation, Carrie Fisher’s family has confirmed that the late actress will appear in the upcoming Episode IX, the final movie of the new Star Wars trilogy. There is no perfect solution to her absence, but this decision should help to revive the spirit of one of the franchise’s most iconic faces and better pay tribute to one of its great talents.

Colson Whitehead, David Fahrenthold, and Lynn Nottage Are Among the 2017 Pulitzer Prize Recipients

Nottage previously won the Pulitzer in 2009, for Ruined. Whitehead’s Underground Railroad, which was covered by the Slate Audio Book Club and positively reviewed by my colleague Laura Miller, is currently in the process of adaptation for the small screen, in an Amazon limited series to be directed by newly minted Oscar winner Barry Jenkins (Moonlight). The full list of winners is below. Pulitzer Prizes for 2017 were announced Monday, awarding annual excellence in journalism and the arts. Fahrenthold, The Washington Post
International Reporting: The New York Times
Feature Writing: C.J. Among other scoops, Fahrenthold exposed the striking discrepancies of the Donald J. Nottage spoke with Slate’s June Thomas about Sweat last year, when the play opened at the Public Theater in New York. An explosive, nuanced, and character-based drama about the Reading, Pennsylvania, steelworkers affected by the decline in American manufacturing, the play has emerged as a crucial depiction of Trump’s America—the territory ravaged by trade agreements like NAFTA and where union power has gone belly up. Chivers, The New York Times
Commentary: Peggy Noonan, The Wall Street Journal
Criticism: Hilton Als, The New Yorker
Editorial Writing: Art Cullen, The Storm Lake Times
Editorial Cartooning: Jim Morin, The Miami Herald
Breaking News Photography: Daniel Berehulak
Feature Photography: E. The novel re-imagines escape from slavery as a literal railroad, deftly interweaving American history into “a myth that speaks to contemporary America.”
On the reporting side, Fahrenthold received widespread praise over the course of the 2016 election cycle for his bombshell reporting on Donald Trump. Trump Foundation and was the first to drop the shocking Access Hollywood videotape in which then–Apprentice host Trump bragged about committing sexual assault. Jason Wambsgans, The Chicago Tribune

Letters and Drama

Fiction: The Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead
Drama: Sweat by Lynn Nottage
History: Blood in the Water: The Attica Prison Uprising in 1971 and Its Legacy by Heather Ann Thompson
Biography or Autobiography: The Return by Hisham Matar
Poetry: Olio by Tyehimba Jess
General Non-Fiction: Evicted: Poverty and Profit in the American City by Matthew Desmond
Music: Angel’s Bone by Du Yun She is now just the eighth dramatist to win the category twice, joining the ranks of Eugene O’Neill and Tennessee Williams, and is the first woman to ever win two Pulitzer Prizes for Drama. Journalism

Public Service: The New York Daily News and ProPublica
Breaking News Reporting: The East Bay Times
Investigative Reporting: Eric Eyre of the Charleston Gazette Mail
Explanatory Reporting: The International Consortium of Investigative Journalists, McClatchy, the Miami Herald
Local Reporting: The Salt Lake Tribune
National Reporting: David A. Among the most notable winners were Colson Whitehead’s Underground Railroad, for Fiction; the Washington Post’s David Fahrenthold, for National Reporting; Matthew Desmond’s Evicted, for General Nonfiction; and Lynn Nottage’s Sweat, which recently opened on Broadway, for Drama. Desmond’s Evicted, meanwhile, was a landmark exposé that revealed the root cause behind the 2008 foreclosure epidemic: poverty.

Kendrick Lamar’s “Humble” Is His Highest-Charting Solo Single, but He Still Couldn’t Unseat Ed Sheeran

1 to his name already, but it’s as a featured artist on Taylor Swift’s “Bad Blood” in 2015.) “Humble” is the highest-debuting rap song in almost seven years, following Eminem’s “Love the Way You Lie,” which debuted at No. Kendrick Lamar’s “Humble” debuted today at No. While Lamar’s debut was impressive, it wasn’t enough to knock Ed Sheeran’s “Shape of You” from its No. 2 in 2010. 1 spot, where it remains for the 11th straight week. 2 on the Billboard Hot 100, a record high for Lamar as a lead artist. The track saw 111,000 downloads and and 49.8 million streams in its first week, perhaps fueled in part by its Young Pope–esque video. You’re going to have that “oh—I—oh—I—oh—I—oh—I" stuck in your head for at least a little while longer. (Lamar does have one No. “Humble” is the second single released off Lamar’s highly anticipated fourth album after “The Heart Part 4.” The album is expected to drop on Thursday.

Laura Poitras Is Reworking Her WikiLeaks Documentary Risk to Take in the 2016 Election

… I was wrong. presidential election, and what a press release describes as “the soon-to-be-completed film” is now slated to be released this summer, first in theaters and then on Showtime. A Cannes premiere, especially for an Oscar-winning director’s next movie, usually lays the groundwork for a run at the fall festivals—Telluride, Toronto, et al.—but Risk was conspicuously absent from the festival circuit, and now we know why. “This is not the flim I thought I was making,” she says in voice-over, after we hear a representative from Assange’s office place an “emergency” call to Hillary Clinton. The first trailer for the film, which debuted on Showtime after the Homeland finale last night, provides further evidence that Poitras continues to wrestle with her subject. If the film didn’t “yield to hagiography,” it was nonetheless an “activist documentary” that made “an overwhelming case for Assange as a political prisoner.” A skeptical review in the Guardian praised the film for asking Assange tough questions but only during a brief section when he’s being interviewed by Lady Gaga. They are becoming the story.”
Given that WikiLeaks’ behavior during the election cast serious doubt on its stance as a neutral clearinghouse for information, a searching examination of its role is long overdue, and Poitras’ willingness to hold onto the movie and take account of new information is a very promising sign. Although the Cannes version was presented as complete, Poitras has continued to work on the movie, incorporating material about Assange and WikiLeaks’ role in the 2016 U.S. “I thought I could ignore the contradictions. When it debuted at Cannes last year, Laura Poitras’ Risk was widely described as a sympathetic portrait of WikiLeaks’ Julian Assange.

Ron Howard Will Tell the Poors to Buck Up With a Film Adaptation of J.D. Vance’s Hillbilly Elegy

We purchase homes we don’t need, refinance them for more spending money, and declare bankruptcy, often leaving them full of garbage in our wake. It’s hard being a conservative in Hollywood these days—like 1930s Germany, according to Tim Allen—so it’s heartening to see that J.D. Thrift is inimical to our being. Imagine Entertainment president Erica Huggins described the book in a statement as “a powerful, true coming of age memoir,” not “a reassuring but dangerous lie about who to blame for the mess we’re in and what to do about it,” so don’t look for the film version to be a grand socioeconomic statement. Hillbilly Elegy, by far the most sympathetic pathologizing of poverty as a cultural problem ever written by a venture capitalist, is being made into a film. Never mind the actual demographics of Trump voters; people love the story of the undeserving poor—not least because it provides a convenient moral excuse not to do anything—and Vance delivered, particularly in this oft-quoted passage:

We spend our way to the poorhouse. Because if there’s one thing conservatives and liberals can agree on, it’s that poor people—who mostly have themselves to blame for not escaping their circumstances—are fundamentally different from the rest of us. Notice any systems or institutions left out of that analysis? Our children wear nice clothes thanks to high-interest credit cards and payday loans. After painting the standard picture of our political spectrum as one in which leftists believe more government will solve our problems while conservatives believe less government is the answer, Vance offers his own take:

I think that both sides are short-sighted because it’s not just the government that’s an actor in these communities, it’s also individuals, it’s also culture and families and neighborhoods. Take this telling exchange from Vance’s interview with Slate’s Isaac Chotiner. Nothing makes people feel better about their own good luck (or other people’s misfortune) than being told they deserve it, so here’s some good news: America definitely deserves a film adaptation of Hillbilly Elegy. Hillbilly Elegy, a memoir of Vance’s coming of age in Middletown, Ohio, and his eventual escape to Yale Law School and Silicon Valley, was seized on by Americans baffled by Trump’s rise to power as the key to understanding the socioeconomic group the rich found it most reassuring to blame: uneducated, poor white people. At first glance, this sounds like a strange message for supposedly liberal Hollywood to embrace, but in fact, Vance is playing the same shell game rich people have embraced for centuries. As Deadline reports, Brian Grazer, Erica Huggins, and Ron Howard will produce at Imagine entertainment; Howard will direct. Vance has finally caught a break. We buy giant TVs and iPads. Instead, it seems likely Howard’s Hillbilly Elegy: The Motion Picture will be a Horatio Alger story, while simultaneously continuing the important work of taking coastal elites on zoo tours.

Fantastical Maps

Florida later conceded that creative hot spots tended to benefit mostly the creative class itself. His ideas include fixing federal housing policy, a universal basic income, and Washington’s leadership on cities abroad and at home. Florida’s latest brings some new data into a competent synthesis of contemporary thinking on cities and inequality. But he has elucidated the very bleak paradox of American urban policy, where cities are forced to concoct costly and inefficient local solutions to problems like homelessness and infrastructure provision as Washington strives to make those problems worse. Florida comes to the problem armed with numbers. Those are some of the ideas to create “urbanism for all.” Other coinages to add to the Floridian lexicon include “Patchwork Metropolis,” in which segregation persists but not in the traditional rich suburb–poor city doughnut form; “the New Urban Luddites” (i.e., NIMBY forces); “winner-take-all urbanism,” in which some cities pull away from the rest; and the “Superstar City Index,” a list of those places, which includes the U.S. After years of studying cities, he has come to believe the problems are more deep-rooted and systemic than a region can handle. Florida’s answer to that question is: both. Where he once, in a previous draft, made the case for national urban policy, he now takes a sharp turn and advocates for increased devolution to the local level. Does inequality hamper growth? If we expand the list to include smaller cities, Bridgeport, Connecticut; Tallahassee, Florida; and Fresno, California, would also be near the top. You’d have to have an awfully good sense of geography to figure out what, exactly, this sorting is telling us about the American city. For urbanist Richard Florida, a key answer lies in our malfunctioning cities, where the clustering of people and capital is “at once the main engine of economic growth and the biggest driver of inequality.” That is the Janus face of the modern American metropolis. Like many on the left (and I’m guilty of it, too), he’s an opportunistic federalist, condemning any “top-down, one-size-fits-all strategy” in favor of local empowerment. It’s safe to say that The New Urban Crisis will not generate the same kind of heat. Wouldn’t that be nice! What is wrong with America? His list of top cities by wage inequality includes the coastal hubs of San Jose, California; New York; Los Angeles; Washington; and San Francisco—but also the Sun Belt metros of Austin, Texas; San Diego; Raleigh, North Carolina; Dallas; and Atlanta. Florida’s suggested solutions seem to indicate the latter. The right ideas at the wrong time. Read all the pieces in the Slate Book Review. At the time a professor of economic development at Carnegie Mellon, Florida leveraged the success of the book into a consulting firm, Creative Class Group, and became an urban planning celebrity. “Nothing remotely like what I envisioned and hoped for is likely to happen now with Trump in office,” he laments in the book’s new conclusion. Creative class theory was alternately embraced and vehemently disputed. He also calls for zoning reform, investment in the infrastructure for density, affordable and centrally located rental housing, raising service industry wages, and investing in people and places to tackle concentrated poverty. I think I would have found prescriptions like that as unrealistic in October as I do now, but at this point even Florida seems to have some doubts. “Economic segregation is greater in bigger, denser metros with large concentrations of high-tech industries, college graduates and members of the creative class,” he writes. A subsequent chart measuring metros by the segregation of the poor is similar. Florida devotes just 18 pages to the megacities of the developing world. Earlier drafts of the book worked up to a Clintonian gambit: a national Department of Cities and Urban Development tasked with economic development, job creation, infrastructure, affordable housing, and urban foreign aid. But his list of cities by income segregation is topped by Cleveland; Detroit; Memphis, Tennessee; and Milwaukee. “To solve a crisis this deep and systemic,” he writes, “we must put cities and urbanism at the very center of our agenda for economic prosperity.”
But then, just as Florida was finishing up his book, came the election of Donald Trump. Basic Books. But when it comes down to showing how these places have become more unequal than their peers, Florida falters. Florida calls for investment in high-speed rail but doesn’t mention the California high-speed rail project, which is underway, or the Obama administration proposals scuttled by Republican governors in Florida, Ohio, and Wisconsin. His thesis was that prosperity was generated by the attraction of “creatives,” defined as a group of 38 million Americans (as of 2002) whose work required the creation of “meaningful new forms.” This included everyone from painters, architects, and engineers (the “super-creative core”) to “creative professionals” in industries like health care and financial services. For the less educated, segregation is highest in the Sun Belt metros. The top three are Memphis; Birmingham, Alabama; and Louisville, Kentucky. The question becomes: If cities so different—high-crime, impoverished Fresno and capital-of-the-future San Francisco, for example—have indistinguishable problems with inequality and segregation, is this really an urban crisis? Despite it all, Florida remains cheerful. The Atlantic’s CityLab site, which he helped found (and where I worked in 2012 and 2013), served as an official organ for the new urbanites. He addresses two crucial issues: the widening economic divide between cities and the widening economic divide within cities. Los Angeles and New York are in the top ten, but so are Miami, Austin, and Memphis. He calls for transit in sprawling cities but doesn’t mention the trials of Houston’s light rail network or the failure of Detroit’s regional transit plan. Or accompany it? It has been 15 years since Florida’s book The Rise of the Creative Class took the world of economic development by storm. Mayors welcomed this theory of growth that put the attraction of human capital over corporate geography. Instead of delivering tax breaks for headquarters, factories, and stadiums—the dominant mode of economic development, then and now—cities just had to make themselves cool. It’s a disjointed finish to a book that otherwise stresses that rental affordability, segregation, infrastructure, and inequality are in fact national problems. Or something rooted in deeper and more pernicious qualities of the American economic model? Segregation of the wealthy? Those problems seem quite different, but at their root is a deep and daunting question: Is it better to help troubled places or to help the people in those places move? He’s right to advocate for a land tax as a solution to constrained urban development, but it was only five months ago that Southeast Michigan’s entire business community couldn’t muster support for a minuscule property tax for trains and buses. cities of New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, Washington, and San Francisco. A parody Twitter account, Dick Florida, sends up Florida-style urbanism with missives like this: “Roses are red/ Violets are blue/ I’m a creative/ Here to displace you.” Eagerly, amicably engaged with critics, peers, and new ideas, Florida has been a source of controversy ever since. On one page he writes both:

“Metros with higher rates of inequality experienced slower overall rates of economic growth.”
“Very few US cities or metro areas have been able to combine high levels of economic growth with low levels of inequality.”

And the “New Urban Crisis Index,” a Floridian composite of economic segregation, wage inequality, income inequality, and housing unaffordability, basically cuts across all the categories of cities that he has taken the trouble to classify. In The New Urban Crisis, Florida sets out to prove that this is what’s happening and show how we can fix it. It’s indicative of the tenor of this book, which is heavy on studies from sociologists and economists (at one point, there’s a page where more than half the sentences introduce a new ratio), but addresses history only in short anecdotes, and politics hardly at all. Most of his suggestions, like so many of the glittering renderings and fantastical maps that populate contemporary discourse about cities, are both theoretically appealing and practically infeasible. This blindness to the perversity of American politics (which Florida otherwise follows closely) weighs heavily on the book. As you might expect from a book that aims to diagnose and solve the problems of global urbanization in a little more than 200 pages (with 100 more of appendices and endnotes), its content falls short of its ambition. —
The New Urban Crisis by Richard Florida.

How Girls Breaks the Traditional Rules of the Friendship Comedy

It’s not necessarily surprising to witness the time of death being declared on this collective friendship. But there is no doubt that these six people will always be in each other’s lives, a concept that’s easy enough to believe considering that some of them are already related by blood, married, or have children together. That’s not why they can’t hang out together anymore. She forces all the relevant parties—herself, Shosh, Hannah, and Jessa—into a cramped bathroom to do what one would traditionally expect of the four principal characters on a half-hour comedy closing in on its series finale: mend fences, forgive each other, and vow to remain best friends forever. In this week’s episode, as Hannah looks around the room at Shoshanna’s party with a blissful smile on her face, it’s obvious she’s saying farewell, with no regrets, to the ones who kept her afloat. (Two years ago, in the midst of season four, Margaret Lyons wrote a piece for Vulture in which she asked, “We all know that these people aren’t nearly as invested in each other’s lives anymore. It’s a show about four young women linked to each other who, eventually, become completely separate adults. She’s got her best friends to keep having brunch with, and Big, and “the love,” as the song “You Got the Love,” which plays over those final Manhattan moments, makes abundantly clear. (It’s unclear exactly where she’s living, but I have already convinced myself that she resides somewhere in Westchester County, where she might conceivably bump into Sarah Jessica Parker’s character from Divorce.) But it isn’t that departure that causes the friendships on Girls to come to an end. Girls, on the other hand, seems to have taken Carrie Bradshaw’s platitude and made it a mission statement. We cannot hang out together anymore because we cannot be in the same room without one of us making it completely and entirely about ourselves.”
“I think we should all just agree to call it,” she adds a few seconds later. Shoshanna is 100 percent correct when she says, “We cannot hang out together anymore because we cannot be in the same room without one of us making it completely and entirely about ourselves,” except for the first part of that statement. Because, as Girls has been signaling for a long time, the odds are she won’t have any idea. The women of Girls never have brunch together; over the course of the series, especially its second half, it was more rare for all four of them to be in the same space at the same time than not. Will she see some of these people again? For Hannah—and undeniably, Girls is Hannah’s story more than anyone else’s—those life preservers were Marnie, Jessa, and Shoshanna, as well as Elijah and, for a time, Adam. But it still follows the unwritten rule of TV friendship comedy: The established group dynamic must never disintegrate. The apartment Monica and Rachel originally shared is being vacated, which is a signal that the Central Perkers are embarking on a new chapter. Spoilers ahead for Sunday night’s episode of Girls. During that transition, it’s natural, especially if you’re living in a city as overwhelming as New York, to clutch onto the life preservers bobbing in the sea around you. There’s something especially fitting about Shoshanna being the one to vocalize this conclusion since, as established in the very first episode, she was the Girl most in love with Sex and the City and most eager to see herself as a character in that Cosmo-sipping, ladies’ night 4eva! But it also makes a point in the finale of showing its four main women—Carrie, Miranda, Charlotte, and Samantha—all together and exuberant in each other’s presence. But in the end, a major flash-forward shows us Will, Grace, Jack, and Karen having drinks together decades in the future. Granted, it keeps that intact by putting them all in jail for violating good samaritan laws, a curtain call that can hardly be called sentimental. Even the cynical Seinfeld finale, which also starts off with a journey to Paris that does not go as planned, ultimately keeps the Jerry, George, Kramer, and Elaine connection intact. See also: Girls Recap: We’re All Just Doing Our Best Will & Grace goes a few steps further in its finale by focusing on a rift between the two leads that it initially implies is never fully repaired. And maybe watching them finally realize that was the whole point of Girls. Via voice-over in the final moments of the show, Carrie says that, “The most exciting, challenging, and significant relationship of all is the one you have with yourself.” But that doesn’t fully ring true because we can see that Carrie does not have to spend a ton of time with herself. Slowly, we’ve been watching the inevitable happen. “Nope, that’s not it. Perhaps in the future she’ll even have a “I couldn’t help but wonder” moment as she tries to imagine what Jessa or Shoshanna is doing with her life. On Girls, life isn’t Sex and the City. “I am trying to fix this,” Marnie says, “so that we can hang out as the friends that we’ve always been, and we can be again if we just—”
“No,” Shoshanna interrupts. The New York they know is less about shoe shopping than realizing how often people take shits in the middle of the street. The last season focuses largely on Carrie’s decision to move to Paris—seriously, why is France always the obstacle in these shows?—to be with Aleksander while struggling with her lingering feelings for Big. Hannah, Marnie, Jessa, and Shoshanna have always lived as if the most significant relationship of all is the one they each have with themselves, which is a big part of their respective problems. It’s been clear for a while, especially during recent seasons, that the glue holding together the girls of Girls has lost much of its adhesiveness. fantasy. They can’t hang out together anymore because it’s been this way from the beginning; they—or at least Shosh—have just gotten mature enough to finally realize it. Unlike on Friends or Sex and the City, Hannah doesn’t just threaten to leave the city. More than halfway through Sunday’s penultimate episode of Girls, Marnie Michaels calls an emergency meeting during Shoshanna Shapiro’s engagement party. Then there’s Sex and the City, the series to which Girls has most often been compared. With Hannah’s brief stint in Iowa, and Marnie’s marriage, and Shoshanna’s move to and return from Japan, and of course the whole Jessa-Adam relationship, they have already been doing that for a while now. Like Friends, it hints at a non-Hallmark ending but ultimately veers away from it and doubles down on togetherness. We can see in this week’s episode that she actually follows through and does it. At its core, Girls isn’t a friendship comedy so much as a coming-of-age story, a portrait of that emotionally fraught period where a person or people make the transition to adulthood. This article originally appeared in Vulture. How come they don’t know that?”) Apparently, now they do. But all she’ll be able or inclined to do is wonder. Even if the series finale ultimately suggests that Hannah, Shoshanna, Jessa, and Marnie maintain some level of contact with each other in the future, that won’t change the fact that Girls is ultimately about what happens when people grow up and the support systems of their young adulthood start breaking down. But Shosh being Shosh, she still can’t give up on the fantasy entirely, which is why she’s traded up from one social circle to another that sounds a little more Carrie Bradshaw–friendly, at least in the sense that her new friends all apparently have nice purses. Maybe. Consider Friends, for example, whose finale threatens the possibility that a member of the flock will fly away—Rachel is all set to move to Paris in the last episode—but ends with everyone together. That represents a bit of a left turn within the pantheon of comedies built around companions making their way in New York City.

The Genius Ingredients Coconut Macaroons Were Missing

As delightful as all those other macaroons may be, with their one-bowl ease, their irresistibly chewy texture and snowball-like charm, it turns out they could be—curiously and dramatically—better. Danielle Kartes’ Coconut Custard Macaroons Makes about 60 cookies

18 ounces sweetened, shredded coconut (about 6 1/2 cups)
1 large egg
1 stick butter, melted
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract (available kosher for Passover)
3/4 teaspoon fleur de sel or other large-flake sea salt
3/4 cup sweetened condensed milk

See the full recipe on Food52. Maybe Just Stick to Spaghetti.  Avocado Makes This Classic Hors d’Oeuvre Devilishly Good  Roast Pasta Before Cooking It. Adding more fat and salt—the ingredients that we spent the 1990s stripping away—isn’t necessarily the answer to making everything better, but the difference it makes in these macaroons is profound. This makes them as good a treat to eat now (and I do mean now—they’re ready fast) as to share with your lucky co-workers and friends tomorrow. And the butter has an amplifying effect—the cookies don’t just taste better because butter inherently tastes rich and good but because it turns to browned butter in the oven and mingles with sugars and salt to become caramel. Don’t Toss the Leaves.  Spaghetti Doughnuts? At the same time, the butter and egg yolk help the pointy outer edges of the macaroon brown and crisp up as the inside stays soft and custardy. Don’t worry—I’ve stress-tested them for you, and a quick toast in the oven brings them back to their full crispy-chewy glory. This post originally appeared in Genius Recipes on Food52. As Kartes was researching classic macaroon recipes, she told me she found herself wondering, “Where was the egg yolk? Go ahead and tell them. More from Food52: Buying Artichokes Only for the Hearts? Where was the fun?” So she took it upon herself to add them, and an important dose of salt, in the form of flaky fleur de sel, too. They won’t be able to pinpoint why they’re so much better than all the other cookies that look like them. Instead of a straightforward sweet, coconutty chew, you get a more rounded richness and a welcome savory oomph. Even if you’ve had some version of these macaroons before (and you have) and been quite happy, you couldn’t have known what they were missing. Most macaroons are made with shredded coconut and little else, bound with sweetened condensed milk or egg white. Where was the butter? Any passersby who taste them will go doe-eyed, and keep wandering back for more. Really!  Refry Your Way to Creamy, Flavorful Beans of All Kinds  Three Tiny Steps for Perfecting Any Sponge Cake Recipe In fact, the cookies are so moist (there, I said it) that they can soften and lose some of their addictive crunch over the course of a day. And until Danielle Kartes, author of the blog and cookbook Rustic Joyful Food, emailed me a few years ago, I didn’t think much about what they might be lacking. All of these flavors swim along quite happily with coconut.

Hasan Minhaj Will Headline the White House Correspondents’ Dinner, Which Is Still a Thing That Is Happening

Minhaj, who is Muslim, has been a vocal critic of the president, particularly when it comes to his Islamophobia rhetoric and policies. “It is a tremendous honor to be a part of such a historic event even though the president has chosen not to attend this year. SAD! For an idea of what Minhaj’s performance might be like, check out his set at the Radio and Television Correspondents’ Dinner in June 2016, in which he mocks Congress for its dependence on donors, calls CNN “Bravo with plane crashes,” and makes a surprisingly serious appeal for unity in protecting civil liberties. On Monday, she also released a preview of what we can expect: Full Frontal’s Samantha Bee announced months ago that she would hold her own alternative White House Correspondents’ Dinner in light of the administration’s adversarial relationship to the press, with the proceeds from the event going to the Committee to Protect Journalists. For a time, this year’s event seemed as though it might not even happen, given the strained relationship between the president and the media, a relationship which led multiple outlets to cancel their parties surrounding the event. Sure enough, President Trump will not be in attendance, having declined to show up for what will now almost certainly be a no-holds-barred roast of him and his administration. The announcement comes just a few weeks before the dinner itself, which is usually a night that unites the administration with the press corps (and quite a few celebrities) in the name of comedy and raising money. Now more than ever, it is vital that we honor the First Amendment and the freedom of the press,” said Minhaj in a statement. The White House Correspondents’ Association has finally named a comedian to perform at its annual scholarship fundraising dinner: The Daily Show’s Hasan Minhaj will take the podium at the dinner on April 29, following the footsteps of the likes of Jimmy Kimmel, Wanda Sykes, and Jon Stewart. And while comedians tended to go relatively easy during the Obama years, Minhaj certainly wouldn’t be the first Daily Show alum to tear into a sitting president at the WHCD.

Rihanna and U2 Will Be Featured on Kendrick Lamar’s New Album Damn

I’m in a space now where I’m not addressing the problem anymore.”
Damn will be released this Friday. Kendrick Lamar may be riding high from the chart-climbing success of his new single “Humble,” but the Grammy-winning artist has a lot more in the pipeline this week. “My focus is ultimately going back to my community and the other communities around the world where they’re doing the groundwork,” he told Pitchfork in March. “To Pimp a Butterfly was addressing the problem. After teasing new info over the weekend, his upcoming album Damn has been confirmed for a Friday release, and the newly released tracklist includes a few details to get particularly excited about. Lamar’s studio follow-up to the brilliant To Pimp a Butterfly (2015), Damn consists of 14 songs, most of which will be performed by Lamar alone. You can also check out the new album art and official tracklist below. But on two tracks, he’s landed a couple of big—and very distinct—acts: Rihanna, to be featured on “Loyalty,” and U2, on “XXX.”
Lamar described Damn as a return to his roots, which he’s become more distanced from as he’s achieved success.

This Devastating Funny or Die Video Uses United Airlines’ Own Words to Make Brutal Satire

“Every thought, every movement, carefully coordinated and synchronized,” we hear, as we watch the victim scream and those around him shriek in confusion. At this point, not even those most sympathetic to United in this PR calamity should be able to defend that one. “Performing together with a single United purpose: That’s what makes the world’s leading airline flyer-friendly.” Oof. Here, the exact, calming voiceover of the United Airlines’ popular 2013 ad “Flyer-Friendly” is replayed, without any edit, against that horrifying viral video of a passenger being literally dragged off a United plane. The video, at a tight but targeted 30 seconds, manages to put United in an even worse, nastier light—no small feat. In this new Funny or Die video, a classic strategy is implemented to truly savage effect: Use their own words against them. And that “flyer-friendly” slogan is just too perfect. It spins that standard, smiley corporate culture script with devastating precision, revealing its hollowness via the presentation of company policy gone badly, violently awry.

Orange Is the New Black Returns to That Shocking Cliffhanger in an Ominous First Look at Season 5

Whatever this means for the show’s narrative, exactly, it’s certainly an ominous sign of things to come. It was a fittingly chaotic moment to end the tragic, dark, and excellent fourth season of Jenji Kohan’s acclaimed series on—and if this brief teaser is any indication, it looks like the cliffhanger might just pay off with a bang. Orange Is the New Black appears to be wasting no time after ending Season 4 on its biggest cliffhanger yet. Orange Is the New Black returns to Netflix on June 9. Spoilers ahead for the fourth season of Orange Is the New Black. A first look at the fifth season picks up exactly where we left off—with a gun in Daya’s (Dascha Polanco) hand, aimed precisely at prison guard Thomas Humphrey (Michael Torpey), with inmates surrounding her, chanting loudly and indistinctly. Conceivably, the first look could serve as the new season’s opening minute, with Piper (Taylor Schilling) and Alex (Laura Prepon)—who were away from the scene at the time—wandering through the prison halls until they finally catch a glimpse of the chaos, and Daya, in what could turn out to be the most consequential moment of her life, trying to center herself amid the screaming and figure out what to do. It’s an unbearably tense introduction to the new season, so tense that it ends with the abrupt sound of a gunshot just after the video clip cuts out.

Jacques Demy’s Great Movie Musicals May Make You Love La La Land a Little Less

(Unfortunately, no one has yet managed to release Model Shop, the only movie Demy made in the U.S., on home video, since comparing the way Demy and Chazelle shot their own versions of contemporary Los Angeles would be especially fascinating.)
The Criterion Collection released both Umbrellas and Young Girls on Blu-ray as part of a Demy box set a few years ago, but today they’re for sale as standalone discs as well, and they’re both for rental on iTunes and other digital platforms, the former for a piddling 99 cents. And speaking of music, Slate has dragged composer Justin Hurwitz’s lackluster pastiche before, but put up against Legrand’s masterful command of melody and shading, it sounds even worse. The moment when the ferry pulls away from the camera in the opening of The Young Girls isn’t forcibly more cinematic than Chazelle and cinematographer Linus Sandgren’s meticulously orchestrated (and Oscar-mandating) long takes, but it comes out of the environment rather than being imposed upon it, transforming the way we see the world rather than manufacturing a new one. La La Land’s Damien Chazelle has made no secret of his love for French movie musicals, especially the movies of Jacques Demy. Chazelle’s dedication to his old classmate is laudable, but Best Original Song Oscar or no, it’s time to drop that zero. Can you cover my shift?”—that would be run-of-the-mill were it not set to Michel Legrand’s music. La La Land explicitly and implicitly homages Demy’s films: A storefront on the studio lot nods to his Umbrellas of Cherbourg, and the opening dance on the Los Angeles freeway looks an awful lot like the first scene of Demy’s The Young Girls of Rochefort. There’s just one catch: After watching The Umbrellas of Cherbourg and The Young Girls of Rochefort, La La Land looks just a little thin by comparison. (You can also view both, along with five other Demy features and The World of Jacques Demy, the excellent career-spanning documentary by his widow, Agnès Varda, via Criterion’s subscription service, FilmStruck.) Watching them in the wake of La La Land’s startling success—it’s taken in $436 million at the box office worldwide, and its soundtrack is the best-selling LP of 2017—is enough to make you hope there’s a new audience for Demy’s movies, just waiting to be tapped. I don’t know of another musical that centers, like Demy’s A Room in Town, on a shipworkers’ strike. Chazelle’s Harvard thesis film, Guy and Madeline on a Park Bench, draws heavily on Demy’s technique of placing musical numbers in naturalistic settings and integrating plot points that aren’t usually the stuff of musical theater. Demy loved to find magic in the mundane, even banal: Rather than a flashy dance number, he opens Umbrellas with idle chatter between auto mechanics—“You going to the game tonight? The Varda-supervised restorations of Demy’s movies bring out their delicate pastel palettes, which naturally shine through in Criterion’s immaculate transfers. Physical media gets you a host of extras, including Varda’s 25th-anniversary documentary on The Young Girls of Rochefort, a 1966 TV interview with Demy and Legrand, and, on Umbrellas, an essay by the late, great Jim Ridley.