A demon burst out of the house, screaming in a language that chilled our teeth to the roots. Its many wings beat the night air. We clambered out of the blue, skin tearing off our fingers and knuckles and knees. We leapt the fence as the demon leapt into the pool with a soul-wrenching crash as if it meant to open a portal to hell behind us. I ran without looking back. A fear overtook me so powerful I started laughing. I sprinted aimlessly in the dark, laughing from terror.
Although I was vice president of Kristen’s five-person “Metaphysics Club” in high school, I was neither a “crystal” nor an “indigo child of the millennium.” According to her, I just had a “puke green aura” and good penmanship, which earned me the job of recording the number of demons she saw each week. This was hard to keep track of, as they vanished and reappeared with “shifting faces.” Kristen despised quiet and cerebral “crystal children,” almost as much as she hated Latinos, not realizing that her best friend and second-in-command was the latter.
Reg got into the car. Meg climbed in beside him. He started to drive. He could still see the balloon. It was a bright red dot against the blush-grey sky. He imagined that it would quickly come down with the weight of the ring in it. He would have to buy her a new ring, if that was the case. Or maybe it was an omen?
"Why did you get a balloon?" Meg said. "It isn't my birthday."
"I need that one," Reg said.
"It's okay. I like flowers more than balloons anyway."
Upon arrival, sign your name on the sign-in sheet and grab your nametag. Place it on your forehead. While you are waiting for the rest of the ladies to arrive and sign in, please enjoy a complimentary cup of coffee. That is, please enjoy a single complimentary cup of coffee. Subsequent cups of coffee will not be complimentary.
She dialed 9-1-1 and frantically looked for the nearest mile marker while waiting for the operator. "9-1-1 dispatch, what's your emergency?" came a voice neither friendly nor urgent. This dispatcher expected no emergency. "There's a shoe in the middle of the interstate. A very nice shoe. Not like a ratty old shoe," Marie blabbered.
"Come again?" the voice even less urgent than before.
When I awoke alone in the chair, my mouth felt different. At first I couldn’t really feel anything, but then I began to wiggle my tongue around, searching for my teeth. As I was exploring, the dentist returned, sans mask.
“How’s it feel?” he asked with a smile, his curly mullet flowing freely.
“I fees weir,” I mumbled.
“Not surprising. That was the first time I’ve ever done anything that extreme. I’ll have to monitor how you react closely.” He approached as he spoke, flashlight in hand. “Now open up wide.”
She was cold. How long had she been in the bathroom? Her body felt like it belonged to someone else; she had no control over her limbs, her fingers, her neck. Her head floated.It took a moment of gazing, unfocused, into the toilet bowl before the image of him heaving her thin body against the shower door flickered in her head.
“And after that we drove out to the countryside to the star party to watch the lunar eclipse.” He drew a star and a moon on the railing with his finger. “The ancient Chinese and Scandinavians supposed it was a dragon devouring the moon, but the moon always returned. There we were, the two of us, newly met in a population of, at that time, six billion-plus. Remember when you pointed to the Andromeda galaxy and said you’d like the myth better if she saved herself instead of waiting for a prince to do it? I thought, this woman is my hero. I thought of all the pinpricks of light above us. I thought how we too sent off reflected light, traveling 186,000 miles per second to the edges of the universe."
I tapped back through the previous days’ photos. They were blank until the morning of her death three days before. Then, one by one, day by day, the small square photos went back through time, the last photo taken exactly one year prior to her death.
Scrolling through them, I recognized nothing. Some photos had trees not seen around here. One was from such height it made my skin crawl. I could feel my face grow clammy as I downloaded the phone’s photos onto her computer. Some were fuzzy, several were macro shots of details, others half obscured by over exposure or shadows. Checking the metadata on each photo, I sorted them by place. Some were local, taken around our Tennessee landscape. But when I was through, 366 photos were literally all over the U.S. map.
... it’s a divine calling we must answer. To spread the word to the furthest reaches of the universe. Wherever light quells darkness, men in white button-up shirts and black ties will continue ringing doorbells.
It packs a much bigger punch than its predecessor and is far less goofy and cartoony than Episode VI. Luke Skywalker becomes a man, Han and Leia actually start to figure out their feelings for each other, and I'm not yet sick of R2-D2 and C-3PO. The deepest emotions are on display but it never falls into melodrama.
These Marvel movies have always contained teasers for the next installments, but this is the first one that’s felt like a commercial more than its own storyline. The movie seems to be more about introducing characters and plotlines that will play bigger roles in the next Marvel properties, from the upcoming Black Panther to the Infinity War films, that it remains in a sort of narrative purgatory.
Ex Machina is smart yet accessible, led by the powerhouse that is Oscar Isaac, with a sharp script that makes you question both the characters on display as well as what is self-awareness and the morality of playing God.
Child 44 is a plunge into mysticism as much as it is historical fiction. It’s a thrilling nightmare, one that scares us more than any recent Hollywood horror film has, and it’s a warning sign. “This, too, can come to pass if we’re not careful,” the movie tells us.”If we don’t pay attention to the encroachments on civil liberties by our well-meaning lawmakers, and if we don’t go the extra mile and build communal bonds with our neighbors, this nightmare can materialize.”
When I tell people I experienced overt racism and intolerance while growing up they are often shocked. I’m only thirty-three years old, and they thought racism was a relic of the past, something worn and tired, gathering dust on the shelves of civil rights museums. They also thought it was regionally confined, so they are even more surprised when I tell them, “near Dayton, Ohio.” They were expecting Mississippi or Alabama, or some other southern state that is notorious for its history of Confederate flags and midnight cross-burnings.
In the 1960’s, cigarette ads often featured women with black eyes, saying they would rather fight than switch brands of cigarettes. The Winston ad featuring this woman read, Me and my Winstons, we got a real good thing. She looks more like a battered woman than a happy smoker.
"The soldiers beat and kicked the men down. It was terrible. They stomped on top of their bodies until the men were nearly dead and could not move. They accused them of being PKK, but this was not true. We were all shepherds. Feraşin had only 1,000 people with over 100,000 sheep and cows. Our family had 500 sheep. We had a good life in Feraşin. It was our Shangri-La. They burned all the houses with everything we owned ... "
... when Vince Gilligan said the spinoff would be a prequel with Saul Goodman as the lead, I was a little letdown, wondering at the direction this spinoff could take. I liked Saul a lot, but a whole show about him led me to think it’d be a comedy, one that really only had one note. I’m here to say I was dead wrong. And I’m quite happy to be.
You remember nothing of the show itself, other than a rustic tree projected in yellow light as the stage's backdrop, running your fingertips over the dark blonde toothbrush fuzz of Tom's buzzcut, the surprise of it after last seeing him with purple locks down to his ears. But that was in March, and this is a new school year and everything. This is post-break up, and there's even an older boy you've got your eye on, but so rare is it that you have some tactile evidence of another body that vaguely welcomes yours. You reach for his hand. Acoustic guitar strings let out their distinctive squeaks. He squeezes back.
Most fighting games, and definitely video games in general, seriously downplay just how damaging fighting can be. While it’s true that a one-punch knockout is rare, a knockout isn’t the only damage that can be done to a person. Cuts, bruises, contusions, concussions, sprains, and broken bones are just the tip of the injury iceberg that is downplayed or flat-out ignored in video games.
Suddenly, the call to prayer blared from the speakers in the minaret. Only in Syria is this call made by a choir rather than a single muezzin, and the harmonic effect is haunting. We were allowed to enter the mosque to observe, but we were relegated to the women’s side only. As thousands, women on one side, men on the other, knelt in murmured prayer touching their foreheads to the carpets, no one seemed to notice the American women clad in gray hooded robes watching from the corner.
This scene shows Snyder’s approach to horror in Wytches. He’s using childhood fears, be it of a bully or of something strange in the nearby forest, and suddenly making it adult- the bully has a gun and the strangeness in the forest turns out to be horrific, yes, but something that forces you to radically change your social life because everyone blames the incident on you. The fears of childhood are being matched with the fears of adolescence and the fears of adulthood.
I’ve learned and mastered the skill of ignoring inappropriate statements and questions like these. It’s nothing I haven’t heard before, so I can just brush it off as I always do even though I feel nearly powerless and weak. I can’t answer their questions or assertions or else I will become a joke that they will mock. Helpless.
They expect me to show proof that I’ve exhausted absolutely every other option before accepting the orientation as true for me. It only exists as a last-resort diagnosis—given, of course, under the authority of someone they trust—and even then, I probably ought to be trying to cover it up or at least not talking about it publicly. If asexuality became a thing we could all accept as part of our reality for a minority of people, well, then asexual people might start recruiting and nobody would have babies anymore.
Because these twists are not outlandish, the show can get away with them, since our own lives are filled with sudden changes. Someone we know suddenly dies. We find out we’re being laid off without warning. A lover decides to end a relationship. In hindsight there may have been signs, but in the moment it’s like a smack in the face.
"I want to write words to rattle in peoples’ heads and cut their hearts so deeply that once they’ve finished sounding them out, these people feel like they’ve been kicked in the gut and feel like it was the most beautiful beating they’ve ever received. I want my longer stories to be a means of escape; I want people to disappear for hours and when they finally emerge they look around and wonder where the hell they are."
"I love the American West, and I love reading and writing about the West. If I occasionally take issue with the “Western fiction” label, it’s simply because I think it can sometimes be used to separate so-called “regional” literature from literary fiction as a whole."
"The room was so quiet, and the love coming at me from everyone listening to me read was palpable. I could feel it coming at me in waves, it was beautiful. Reading it seemed to go on forever, and I remember trying to read slower and slower because I didn’t want the moment to be over! When I was done, I felt like the story was actually gone from inside of me, the events of the story were finally, finally done after so many years."
"What they need to do is hold ad networks responsible. These ad networks now have a financial stake in financing illegal activity. They made money off illegal and legal activity without any consequence. Imagine it like a pawn shop, thousands of years ago society figured out pawn shop people had to be responsible for what was in their pawn shop. If it was stolen or not and if society didn’t do that anything about it someone could steal your chariot or your big vase and take it to the pawn shop. They could make money and the pawn shop guy could make money, and the person that owned the chariot or owned the big vase is out. After a while the system is going to wear out because no one is going to put any energy into something if it’s going to be stolen."
"Will an MFA make you a better writer? Who the fuck knows? Like Rilke said: 'Do not now seek the answers, which cannot be given you because you would not be able to live them. And the point is, to live everything. Live the questions now.'"
" ... because the stories I write now have more of an emphasis on relationships between women (sisters, primarily, or women lashing out and being transgressive towards patriarchal structures like marriage, religion, and identity), that tends to make a lot of male writers uncomfortable, because they don’t see themselves in these stories. But to that I say, welcome to the rest of the world, where if you’re not a cis-gendered hetero white male, you don’t always see yourself in THEIR stories, either. Mainly, the conflict I’ve gotten is about the transgressive nature of a lot of my female characters. They don’t bend; they lash out."
"I like beginnings. I will rewrite the first few pages over and over and memorize them and carry them in my head. And then if I get stuck midway through, I will go back to that beginning and look for a crack in the foundation. That’s just something that works for me, in part, if anything, because it’s a fun fantasy, that all narrative problems can be fixed by one sentence in the first five pages!"
"I think my subjects are universal, but I don’t like writing about universal things in a universal way. Some people can, but I can’t. I have to do the unconventional. So I bring in the most absurd things I reasonably can."
"I just do my own thing, sometimes I get help from the industry and sometimes I don’t. The way I’ve set my career up, I’m gonna do what I do regardless, but it’s whatever. If they want to get on board they can."
And now there are green walls, babies fall out of me, mountains crush the horizon, and the coyotes stalk our cats. I watch my feet, how they tread on graves, and my hands weave blankets before the sun can rise, blankets with the constellation of Libra, with its binary and double stars, claws of the scorpion and scales, its home built on air.
He seemed to know everything and nothing, as if space-time ran right through him and he merely channeled its Tao. He could feel the rhythm, the rhyme of all things, understood the untrammeled Force in all its power.
He mistakes idle trash for exotic birds w/ names he can’t pronounce, the sound of kid fights w/ old arguments between adopted parental figures. He lives in a model house of blind luck, sensitivity training & a heightened 6th sense whose presence is attributed to hearing loss & basic stubbornness.
"I used to be a boxer," my grandfather said and you could see the tinge of pride as the words came out of his mouth. you could see he had been transported back to some earlier day when he had the physical strength and the stamina to go toe to toe with any fool who would dare.