I knew we weren’t going to get good news, so I turned away. Technically, we hadn’t received any news at all—the ultrasound technician had said perhaps ten words the whole time—but that was its own evidence.

When previous scans had been normal, it had been apparent fairly quickly. Because of liability issues, technicians aren’t supposed to say much, but body language and demeanor say enough. When the technician cheerily points out the baby’s head, its chin, its heartbeat, fears are quickly alleviated.

Our technician didn’t speak and hardly looked at us. She stared straight ahead at the monitor. One hand operated the machine’s controls, and with her other arm, she somehow manipulated the ultrasound’s transducer without looking, almost as if she were an extension of the machine.

6a00d8341c630a53ef0133f244c12a970b-800wi 

What’s with the get up?

What do you mean?

 

Isn’t it a bit early for chaps?

It’s nearly happy hour.

 

Right, but you’re not going to be riding a horse to happy hour.

How do you know?

20. Mud

DIRECTOR: Jeff Nichols

CAST: Matthew McConaughey, Reese Witherspoon, Sarah Paulson, Sam Shepard and Michael Shannon

RELEASE DATE: TBD

Take Shelter writer/director Jeff Nichols continues his string of ominous Southern parables, and McConaughey continues his string of challenging and interesting work, with the story of two young boys who befriend a fugitive.

 

 from falling
     she’s a champion—
 
love on blind bicycles
     with up sort of relish rose.
 
the couples whirled
giddily; red stars,
     all sons turned
 
     bright.

imagesImagine a fantastically drab ballroom. Seven square tables have been set up in front of a large stage, each table seating two couples, including Bob and Jane Coffen. Imagine everybody has finished gumming their salmon and parsnip purée and now the overhead lights go out.

Darkness.

Intrigue.

The sound of a recorded heartbeat thumps from the speakers. Loudly at first. It fades until only faintly playing in the background.

The lights go back up, and there are two people standing on the stage, a man and a woman. The man wears a sign on his chest that says SPUTTERING HUSBAND. The woman’s sign says ZOMBIE WIFE. They both stagger around the carpeted stage, weaving wildly, like blind people doped on booze without canes or dogs or good Samaritans.

Querido person who stole my iPhone outside of a kebab restaurant in Barcelona at 4 a.m. and the prostitute who molested me immediately after:

I just wanted to get the Canadian girls’ email address and some fourth meal, not an unexpected $749 Verizon purchase upon return to the States and an aggravated right nut.

Shifty Thief, you’re a heartless motherfucker. Can’t you find a way to target individuals who actually listened when the Verizon associate told them getting the insurance is a good idea? But, Shifty Thief, I must be honest: Easy target aside, you are good at what you do. I don’t even know when you got me or what you look like, and I had even sobered up. I either placed it on the counter at the kebab restaurant and you swiped it, or I didn’t get it all the way back into my pocket and you picked it when I was molar-deep in some rolled-up European tastiness. I never thought I’d like any combination of food that included cabbage, but I was wrong, and no matter what you might have lifted from me, Shifty Thief, I’ll always have my cabbage epiphany.

Our Waking Life

By Mag Gabbert

Essay

Ty and I were asleep. We were in my new apartment, the first place I’d ever lived in on my own. We’d gone to bed exhausted after a full day of moving my belongings from my grandmother’s house in Dallas to my new place in San Antonio, where I was about to begin my junior year of college. The apartment was still empty, but for a few stacks of boxes in the living room, a wicker trunk that was to serve as my coffee table, and a futon, laid flat in my room, that was to serve as my bed. I remember opening my own front door for the first time, the rushing smell of fresh paint and wood.

Reckoning

By Angela Stubbs

Poem

In a private room, a woman works tirelessly, altering damaged clothing. There are pants for a man who wants to hide scars, a vest for a girl who needs to feel safe, a wool cape to swoop over the shoulders of one who carries the weight. I enter the room and notice the woman is held together with safety pins and tiny fibers that have attached to her skin and look like glue. There are small lines that look like stitches that hold her dress to her body. She looks at me and the scarf in my hand.  She hums with a needle pursed between her lips, pausing to say with her eyes, I cannot fix this.  She takes my scarf and wraps it around my neck, holding the ends of it in her hands.

The year she turned eighteen, Devi became a cashier in the Food Halls at Parkson Grand, Malaysia’s first fine department store, in a suburb of Kuala Lumpur. Before that she’d lived with her family in their village in the north. She’d barely finished secondary school when Parkson Grand advertised around the country for a “Malaysian Rainbow.” They wanted to hire people who were Malay, Chinese, or Indian, like Devi was.

It wasn’t college (no one in her family had attended college), but it was a way to earn actual ringgit and a way to explore. She sent in an application; six weeks later, she climbed on a bus. Her mother wept outside the sputtering vehicle, shook her fist when it took off. That night Devi curled on top of the last bunk in a room already occupied by five other cashiers in a falling-down apartment building on the edge of the jet-black Parkson Grand parking lot.

There’s no doubt that with the California state legislature passing a bill to ban therapies aimed at trying to “change” the sexual orientation of minors, “reparative therapy” is once again going to make headlines. I was in a form of reparative therapy in British Columbia, Canada, for six years, after which I filed a medical malpractice suit against my former psychiatrist, “Dr. Alfonzo,” for treating my homosexuality as a disease. If this new law in California is to be criticized, it is because the use of “change” therapies on people older than 18 should be prohibited as well. I was 24 when I met Dr. Alfonzo, 31 when I left his therapy, and almost 40 when the lawsuit ended in an out-of-court settlement in 2003.

Writers Explained

 

Kate Zambreno is the guest. She is the author of two novels, O Fallen Angel and Green Girl, and her latest book is a critical memoir called Heroines, now available from Semiotext(e).

Bitch magazine calls it

A brave, enlightening, and brutally honest historical inquiry that will leave readers with an urgent desire to tell their own stories.

Also in this episode: A conversation with Ron Currie, Jr., whose new novel, Flimsy Little Plastic Miracles (Viking | February 2013) is the January selection of the TNB Book Club.

Listen here:

Trance

It would’ve been easier to write a list called “The Only 3 Movies I Won’t See in 2013,” but that wouldn’t have done anybody any good. So instead I made an entirely subjective list of 40 reasons why I think this will be an amazing year for film. Missing are big films that I’m just not that enthusiastic about (The Hunger Games: Catching FireMan of Steel), films that would be on the list if it weren’t for the director’s last film being a total letdown (e.g. Ridley Scott’s The Counselor; thanks a lot, Prometheus!), and films that would be on the list had I written it any other day (sorry, The EastLowlife, and Kill Your Darlings). For the most part, the order is arbitrary. However, the top five are set in stone, and if I could only watch one movie this year it would be the film at number one.

So, without any further ado…

Insincerely Yours Book Jacket RGBDear French Laundry Restaurant,

I know from experience how difficult it can be to secure a table at your renowned restaurant.  My telephone has a calendar that allows me to book well into the future, so I was hoping you could make an exception for a young man who knows he would like to reserve a table for six for his sixtieth birthday meal on December 21, 2029.  We would each like the full tasting menu and wine pairing.  I don’t know the dietary restrictions of those that will be present, but I can provide as the date approaches.

Thank you,

Mark Black

Steinberg, Susan (high-res for media requests)What are you wearing?

A skirt, a shirt, and tights.

 

Do your clothes match?

No.

 

What is Spectacle about?

Plane crashes and guys.