The sweet squirt of christ.
The sweet squirt of Christ. Getty Images

What's in store for us? We're self-isolating and trying to figure it out. This week: a $200 million dollar money hole, Christ squirts, and personalized reality TV.

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Churches will be the center of the next wave of outbreaks. Organized religion has always been the country's flaming sword and its Achilles' heel. It has led us into foolish crusades in the Middle East, immiserated its parishioners, whitewashed white supremacy, perpetuated the subjugation of women, oppressed LGBTQ communities, covered for child rapists, tricked people into scammy health care markets, and forced billions to read bad translations of exceptionally bad Greek writing. Now its houses of worship will prolong a deadly pandemic because a bunch of death cultists can't handle one more month of Zoom meetings.

On Friday the President called for churches to resume in-person services immediately. In Washington state, Governor Jay Inslee is working on guidance for reopening church services following aggressive and nearly successful legal challenges in Oregon and California, plus constant nagging from Republican leadership in the Legislature. But it was a choir practice in Mt. Vernon that created a "superspreader event" in Skagit County, infecting 52 people. And as I mentioned in Slog AM last week, one county in North Carolina linked its outbreak to a single church service, "actually, a youth rally,’’ according to Rockingham Now.

In Salem: "a stunning concentration of COVID." In Sacramento: "180 Exposed To Coronavirus During Mother’s Day Service At Defiant NorCal Church." In Baton Rouge: "Member of defiant Central church dies from coronavirus illness." After resuming mass in May, a Texas church shut down again after a priest "probably" died with the coronavirus and "five other members of the church's religious order also tested positive for COVID-19." In Chicago: "Churches reopen for Sunday service in defiance of Illinois' stay-at-home order." Even with new social distancing measurers in place, I expect churches will be largely responsible for the resurgence of the virus. —R.S.

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Squirt gun blessings and baptisms will become a longstanding Catholic tradition. This uniquely American response to social distancing guidelines is too weird to stop doing post-pandemic. —J.K.
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My brother will still be single. He's been Tindering, and Bumbling, and Hinging throughout the pandemic. Having just moved from a small town to an actual city, he was giddy about how many more profiles there were to swipe through and people to talk to. He'd text, he'd Zoom date, but he's one of those people who has a hard time translating himself online (in other words: he sucks at texting), and things kept fizzling. As his state opens back up, he's noticing a dating divide between the risk-takers and the risk-averse.


There's a lack of information about singles and dating in the wake of stay-home orders. The Netherlands, for instance, released guidance for singles to get one, and only one, "sex buddy" for the time being. Across the board, research is showing that courtship is changing, that people are taking things more slowly. For my brother, there's a fear that this slow pace will continue. He's worried people won't want to meet up, that caution will trump impulsiveness, and he'll remain just as he was during quarantine: alone.

Maybe this all could change once dating apps start offering "COVID-free passports." —N.G.

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There will be stronger regional and bicoastal arts partnerships after all this digital connecting. Maybe I'm being optimistic, but two events happened last week that gave me hope. The first was a virtual gala for On the Boards (OtB), and the second was a "film university" class put on by Portland's Movie Madness and Hollywood Theatre.

Gala seats are typically reserved for butts who are willing and able to unload cash. But out of COVID-era necessity, OtB facilitated a free and virtual gala this year that was not only successful at raising funds—they raised over $80,000 in one evening—it also expanded OtB's reach. The contemporary performance venue has long had a national reputation, and my friends in Minneapolis and New York City, who've only followed OtB from a distance, were able to engage in this gala from their living rooms.

More regionally, I was able to take a film class offered by Portland's Movie Madness on early kung fu movies, which I never would have been able to take pre-pandemic because the class was supposed to be in-person. Hopefully these arts organizations and audiences will be able to build on these new relationships in meaningful ways. —C.B.

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Work from home will mean less home, more work. It's been swell, being able to work from home—you spend all day with your pets, you wear comfy pants, no more need for small talk with the coworker with the weird breath. If we're lucky, we'll come out of the quarantimes with more people than ever allowed to work from the comfort of their own space, which seems nice, but just wait until management starts wondering how they can squeeze more productivity out of this new setup. It'll start with small, reasonable stuff, like "all employees must wear headphones when on Zoom calls so the echo isn't so bad." Okay, sure! But it won't end there. You'll soon be expected to pay for your own upgraded home internet plan to handle all the video meetings; you'll get memos about acceptable workspace layouts; and job listings will include requirements like "must live in an apartment of more than 800 square feet." As management shifts the burden of owning real estate onto workers, soon we'll look fondly back on the days when we could leave our work at work. —M.B.
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There will be an influx of indie style films. British filmmaker Christopher Nolan's Tenet—an action-packed thriller involving some sort of convoluted time travel element—is potentially fucked. Slated to release in theaters in July, Warner Bros. stands to lose all the money they put into the film due to the uneven reopening and limited capacity of movie theaters around the world. What looked like an almost guaranteed slam dunk at the box office is now looking like a $200 million money hole.

Although the studio may opt to push Tenet to a later release date or make it available on demand, the insecurity of the theater circuit probably means these big-dick, giant-crew, hundred-million-dollar movies will become financially and physically impossible for the next few years. Coupled with the idea of quarantine pods, I believe smaller budgets, lighter crews, and more intimate storylines will become favorable to production studios large and small as we deal with the economic fallout of the 'rona. —J.K.

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A smooth-brained Netflix TV show will serve us different edits based on what the algorithm thinks we like. Netflix's recent success with its interactive Kimmy Schmidt special, which copies its Bandersnatch format, allows audience members to choose their own adventure, picking their own plot directions and getting rerouted if they wander too far astray. This process is transparent and cheery, but what if the transparency was removed and the algorithm just made choices for you based on your viewing profile?

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I thought about this while watching Netflix's popular The Big Flower Fight, hosted by Seattle local Kristen Griffith VanderYacht. In its first episode, the show weirdly decides to only show a portion of the contestants during the episode's final judging. I thought this was bizarre. Who were the characters looming in the shadows? Were they ghosts? Was someone else seeing them?

Personalized edits would be ridiculous in regular scripted television, but what about reality TV? What if you saw more confessionals from the character that best fits your taste? I'm not arguing that this would be a good thing—but every other aspect of our online lives seems to be tailored to our clicking habits. When will reality TV do the same? —C.B.

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Kids will be permanently impacted by staying indoors. In the 1980s, my mother was terrified of losing her youngest child, my brother Kudzai, to AIDS, which had an exceptionally high infection and death rate in her city, Gaborone, Botswana. As a lecturer at the University of Botswana, she had seen with her own eyes students dropping like flies. Her response to this crisis was to do everything possible to keep her son indoors. She bought him the latest video games, satellite TV that accessed programs in the US and UK, and a home gym. This period of seclusion left a permanent mark on my brother. Even in his 30s, he could spend a whole week by himself in his apartment reading science fiction and fantasy novels or playing video games. Kudzai, however, did not fear the outside world; he would leave his apartment in a heartbeat if you invited him out for drinks or to a dinner. But if there was no reason to go anywhere, he would simply and effortlessly not leave his apartment.

Something along the lines of my brother's psychology will eventually be expressed in the children who've been on lockdown and social distancing for over two months. This difficult period will leave a permanent mark on their development. Indeed, a recent study in Spain that, according to the New York Times, "examined the psychological impact of the confinement on children in Spain and Italy" found that around "90 percent of 431 Spanish parents surveyed described emotional and behavioral changes in their kids, including difficulty concentrating, irritability and anxiety." There is no way of avoiding this impact and its potential negative consequences. There is no and may never be a cure for COVID-19. It is either we stay at home for long stretches of time or spread the deadly virus. —C.M.

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