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Inside the mind of Conor McGregor

15 November 2016 19:56:07 CNN.com - RSS Channel - Sport

Ever wondered what makes the MMA megastar tick? From his favorite word to power animal, Conor McGregor reveals all to CNN's Coy Wire.

Vice Sport Time15 November 2016 19:56:07


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Hello, Kansas. Meet Gov. Asa Brownback Jr.

19 October 2016 02:31:19 Arkansas news, politics, opinion, restaurants, music, movies and art, Arkansas Times

KARK's Drew Petrimoulx reported tonight that Gov. Asa Hutchinson wants to cut state support of War Memorial Stadium in half, from $850,000 annually. It should be self-supporting, he said. Sure. Why should a guy who's never carried Pulaski County give a flip about a Little Rock stadium that the state's team, the Razorbacks, has all but abandoned? That might not give you cause for concern. It's just a football stadium and without skyboxes at that. But what about the news of still more "efficiency" in state services for those in need — this time disabled children and adults. Remember the big cuts in Medicaid-paid therapy for mental patients and the likelihood that this will boot them onto the streets, though admittedly save the state a lot money? Here's another efficiency being circulated in a proposed rule change: A cap on speech, occupational and physical therapy beyond certain limits without prior authorization. If your child needs more help? Not to worry, DHS says, they are working on a plan to figure out a way to get approval for it. Working on it. DHS says other states require authorization for all access to therapy. We need to be more "efficient" and more "sustainable," says a notice about the change. In other words, the governor wants to cut spending, just like at War Memorial Stadium and at a host of other places yet to be revealed. No better place to cut than among Medicaid recipients — poor and frail people, in other words. This belt tightening will NOT be at the Governor's Mansion, mind you. First Lady Susan Hutchinson didn't think the place suited her; it needs rehab, a shiny sculpture and more. Not at the Insurance Department, where Director Allen Kerr, the former Republican legislator , plans to build a new Xanadu for himself across the street from the Capitol in between junketing far and wide. The governor has already signed off on the land purchase. And don't look for cuts at agencies stocked with Republican insiders at pay much higher than what the previous political appointees were paid. If need be, the big pay raises come extralegally, without legislative authorization. See DHS Director Cindy Gillespie, who scored about $120,000 a year more than her predecessor. And of course the administration is pushing Issue 3 , which would unlock the treasury for millions in taxpayer giveaways to private business and allow taxpayer handouts to the suits at the chambers of commerce who are trotted out by Hutchinson to support things like his opposition to medical marijuana. The Hutchinson administration prefers to continue to make criminals of people who find relief from cannabis. And to ship millions to Chinese communists. Check this sentence in the DHS notice of the rule change to curbaccess to therapy for disabled people: We need to make sure we are spending taxpayer dollars on all programs wisely so that it is here for future generations that need it. What this boilerplate really means is this: We need to make sure we cut spending enough — except for own our pet projects — so that there's room to give rich people another income tax cut. Welcome to Kansas, Toto.

Vice null Time19 October 2016 02:31:19


Dogtown Sound: A new dinosaur

28 July 2016 00:28:53 Arkansas news, politics, opinion, restaurants, music, movies and art, Arkansas Times

The North Little Rock shop takes up the torch from the old guard of luthiers. Wedged in Park Hill just between ½ of ½ Name Brand Clothing, a car wash and an elementary school, there's an unassuming storefront with the words "Dogtown Sound" in the sort of font we're accustomed to seeing in slogans like "Keep On Truckin' " or "Feelin' Groovy." Inside, the design is sharp and clean. A single seafoam green wall makes the Resonator and Lindert guitars hanging on it look like oversized pieces of candy. In sharp contrast are the adjacent walls, on which dark blocks of multitoned wood fit together like a screenshot from Tetris. Shiny skateboard decks hang on a rack in two rows, and drumsticks are organized in a wire bin atop a glass display case bookended by a low chalkboard that's evidently kept children busy doodling while their older companions browse and strum. It's the gearhead opus of Adrian Bozeman, Andy Warr and Jason Tedford, who opened their doors on New Year's Day 2016 with a mission to "buy, sell, trade, repair and consign guitars and accessories for local musicians," and to operate a "micro-venue" for intimate early-evening shows. It works at least in part because the owners' collective resumes are a major part of the soundtrack to this city. Bozeman, son of luthier John Bozeman and veteran of bands like Peckerwolf, the Federalis and The Brian Nahlen Band, has been working on instruments since he was 7 years old. He mans the shop most days, and he's responsible for the vibrant interior design. "We didn't want it to feel dark and dusty," he said. "Even those old music stores that we love were sort of stagnant, never really in that much motion. We want this to feel like a music store, but also sort of like a head shop or a record store, lively and airy and fun." He shows me a mountain dulcimer lying on the counter. I remark on the flower-shaped accents adorning the front. He tells me his father made them, and flips the instrument over to reveal tiny teal deposits where one might usually see rivets or pins. "Turquoise powder," he says. "Mixed with epoxy." The dulcimer, as it turns out, is backed with wood from a cedar tree Bozeman cut down himself. "It was being choked by some elms. I had a choice between a few new cedars nearby, but this one needed to go. I prayed over it and cut it down. I'm weird like that." Bozeman's woodwork frames the space at the back of the shop, too, where there's a full drum set and an open carpeted area where a live Willie Nelson show is playing on a TV screen. Dogtown's hosted a few early shows in the space, and has plans to expand this "microvenue" part of the business in the upcoming year. Warr and Tedford had already been planning the venture when Bozeman stepped in. It's hard to think of anyone in Little Rock who's had more occasion to test out what sorts of sounds complement what sorts of bands than Warr because, well, he's played with so many of them (Brother Andy and His Big Damn Mouth, Marvin Berry, Frontier Circus, Iron Tongue, Booyah! Dad). Local musician Isaac Alexander designed the store's logo, which Bozeman says was used without edit. "We told him what we wanted, and he sent us that design, and that was it. He worked the dog in there, and the dog's tongue. Even the holes in the letters look like a violin bridge." Tedford's co-ownership of a guitar shop is another natural fit. Besides being a veteran of the scene himself (Ashtray Babyhead, Marygold, Gas Can, Iron Tongue), he's owned and operated Wolfman Studios since 2005, and recorded bands for 10 years prior. His sense of what kind of equipment local musicians seek out is finely tuned. When I visited Wolfman Studios last week to talk about Dogtown Sound, Tedford was putting the finishing touches on a track earnestly titled "Rock and Roll," by local band deFrance. I asked what sorts of tracks patrons play in guitar shops when they're trying to impress those in the vicinity. Joseph Fuller, who plays more instruments than most people could identify on sight, and Drew deFrance, the group's frontman and guitarist, weighed in. "Stevie Ray," Fuller said. Tedford described some unwritten rules: "It used to be no "Stairway to Heaven," then maybe no "Enter Sandman." DeFrance ticked off a few: "Guitar Center kids playing 'Need for Speed' licks. Maybe , but that's just 'cause we're in Arkansas. Or just anything with a bunch of gain." Tedford said, "That doesn't happen very often" at Dogtown, though, and rattles off a tale about "this North Little Rock police officer who comes in. He's a flat-pickin' bluegrass dude. He comes in, and he's real , he's real quiet. Proper." "He also drives this 1997 gold Trans Am that's tits . We're sitting there gawking at his car from inside the store, and then he comes in and grabs an acoustic and just kills it." Although they're eager to see more patrons from the other Little Rock neighborhoods, Bozeman says Park Hill's been a good home to the shop in many ways. Ira's Park Hill Grill is in the same plaza for visitors who want to hear an early show and follow it with dinner, and the shop is surrounded by residential areas full of folks who play guitar as a hobby or want to introduce their children to a string instrument. A new biannual event called Patio in the Park was soundtracked by a DJ until May of this year, so the Dogtown Sound crew put together a lineup of live bands for the event. I ask about timing. After all, the era of big-box stores doesn't seem like an especially fortuitous time to open an independent guitar shop of the Gist Music variety. "There was a time when Guitar Center was a cool thing, when it first came here," Tedford said. "I've said this a lot, but it's true as hell — Guitar Center is the meteor that killed the dinosaurs, you know, the mom-and-pops. Boyd's, Music City and Stonehenge, where I used to work in the early '90s." Bozeman, a student of his father's and many other luthiers over the years, mentions Bob Boyd, too, a staple in the Little Rock jazz and music education scene whose tenure reaches back to the days when he taught accordion at Rosen Music Studios in 1957. I ask if he's been into the store yet. Bozeman says no, and that he can imagine the reprimand he might receive if and when the revered mentor pays a visit: " Adrian, come on. What are you doing with that stomp pedal and that piece of marble near that customer's guitar?" Dogtown Sound is located at 4012 J.F.K. Blvd. in North Little Rock and is open 10:30 a.m.-6:30 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday.

Vice All News Time28 July 2016 00:28:53


What’s Underneath the Vatican Power Struggle Over Economic Reforms

25 July 2016 08:14:22 The Daily Register

By EDWARD PENTIN | VATICAN CITY — The Secretariat for the Economy has suffered two blows to its authority in the past few weeks in what inside sources say is a concerted effort to obstruct revealing financial information and possible misconduct in...

Vice All News Time25 July 2016 08:14:22


Blytheville attorney files civil rights lawsuit over police taser incident

22 July 2016 00:15:36 Arkansas news, politics, opinion, restaurants, music, movies and art, Arkansas Times

James Harris , a Blytheville attorney, has filed a lawsuit against the City of Blytheville, the police chief, and a police officer, alleging excessive force by the police against Chardrick Mitchell on July 4. From a press release from Harris: Video evidence from the officer’s body camera revealed that Mitchell refused to let his girlfriend inside his home to retrieve belongings. The officer told Mitchell that if he did not comply, the officer would charge him with “obstruction.” Mitchell then turned around to walk toward the front door of the home, at which point the officer shot Mitchell in the back with his service taser. After Mitchell fell to the ground, the officer continued to shock him with the taser, Harris stated. Harris said that at no point prior to deploying the taser did the officer ever tell Mitchell he was under arrest. The officer is white; Mitchell is black. Full press release after the jump: BLYTHEVILLE ATTORNEY FILES POLICE EXCESSIVE FORCE LAW SUIT BLYTHEVILLE, ARK – Attorney James W. Harris of Blytheville has filed a civil rights lawsuit against the City of Blytheville, the Blytheville police chief, and a Blytheville police officer for what he says was excessive force a against a man in a July 4, 2016 incident. Harris states in the lawsuit, that on July 4, the officer, a Caucasian, responded to a call at the Blytheville home of his client, Chardrick Mitchell, an African-American. Video evidence from the officer’s body camera revealed that Mitchell refused to let his girlfriend inside his home to retrieve belongings. The officer told Mitchell that if he did not comply, the officer would charge him with “obstruction.” Mitchell then turned around to walk toward the front door of the home, at which point the officer shot Mitchell in the back with his service taser. After Mitchell fell to the ground, the officer continued to shock him with the taser, Harris stated. Harris said that at no point prior to deploying the taser did the officer ever tell Mitchell he was under arrest. It was only after shooting Mitchell with the taser did the officer tell Mitchell that he was under arrest. The entire episode was recorded on the officer’s body camera. Harris said that the officer’s written report does not match the video evidence. Blytheville police charged Mitchell with obstruction of justice, disorderly conduct, and refusal to submit to arrest. Harris said he looks forward to defending Mitchell on these absurd charges. Harris said that Sigman remains active on the police force. “I am appalled at the actions of Officer Sigman, as well by the inaction of Chief Thompson in correcting this officer’s gross misconduct,” Harris said. “There is no excuse for this officer’s actions, and with the current civil unrest that is sweeping this country, this type of action only provokes and promotes negative reaction.”

Vice null Time22 July 2016 00:15:36


Search turns up $700 worth of cocaine in Stamford

07 July 2016 23:57:19 Breaking news from stamfordadvocate.com

Capt. Richard Conklin said that a several week long investigation by the Narcotics and Organized Crime squad revealed that a man was selling cocaine out of his Pequot Drive apartment. After getting inside the apartment, police checked a closet and inside a pocket of a striped jacket allegedly found seven losing lotto tickets folded up into what resembled a pharmaceutical envelopes and each contained a gram of powered cocaine, Conklin said.

Vice All News Time07 July 2016 23:57:19


Inside Arkansas' Options for Managed Care in Medicaid (Erika Gee Commentary)

18 March 2016 16:48:57 Daily Report - ArkansasBusiness.com

As I suggested in my preview , last week’s meeting of the Health Care Reform Legislative Task Force brought some clarity and public focus to the previously quiet discussion on managed care in Arkansas. Although there is presently no consensus on what type of reform to adopt, the task force made it clear that we can expect some type of managed care for Arkansas’ traditional Medicaid population. Notably, the discussion and votes from the members of the task force highlighted the extent of the conflict over the type of managed care under consideration. After some unsuccessful wrangling over voting procedures, task force members were asked to support either Option 1, the "full-risk" managed care for the behavioral health (BH) and developmental disabilities (DD) populations, which has been championed by Gov. Asa Hutchinson; or Option 3, the "DiamondCare" plan, a broader "managed fee-for-service" (MFFS) model that was introduced and supported by a group of legislators. In a voice vote where members could choose only Option 1 or 3, eight voted for Option 1, the governor’s plan, while seven voted for Option 3, DiamondCare. But it took nine votes to make a recommendation to the full Legislature, so the meeting ended without any consensus on which option is most appropriate for Arkansas. Given the criticism of the governor’s plan that was voiced at the start of the last meeting by Sen. Keith Ingram (D-West Memphis), the divided vote on managed care was perhaps not surprising. In fact, although the majority of the Democrats on the task force voted to support the governor’s proposed Arkansas Works extension of the private option, when it came to managed care, the Democrats took a step away from the governor, with nearly all them preferring DiamondCare over his plan. The Two Plans While the two options are both considered a type of managed care, there are stark differences. Under the governor’s plan, Medicaid would pay a fee, called a "capitated payment," to a managed care organization (MCO) to cover all services for the BH and DD populations. The primary benefit of this model to the state is that all the financial risk is on the MCO — if the capitation payment is not sufficient to cover necessary services for each patient, the MCO must cover them anyway. Option 3, DiamondCare, was first proposed in December by Sen. Missy Irvin (R-Mountain View), Rep. Justin Boyd (R-Fort Smith), Rep. Joe Farrer (R-Austin), Rep. Deborah Ferguson (D-West Memphis) and Rep. Michelle Gray (R-Melbourne) as an alternative to the full-risk, capitated care model. This group of legislators, nearly all Republicans, believes that the state should balance necessary cost-saving reforms with the promotion of preventative health services. The DiamondCare model would achieve this balance through a MFFS model, including extending the existing provider-payment reforms, such as the Patient Centered Medical Home, to broader sections of the Medicaid population. The modified model considered by the task force also includes a level of risk, by tying administrative compensation to performance. But it does not transfer the financial risk of higher-than-expected cost of care to a third party, as the governor’s plan does. There is a significant difference in the expected savings to be achieved by the two models. The task force’s consultant, The Stephen Group, estimated that the governor’s plan would save a total of $1.439 billion over five years , while the DiamondCare model would save $1.057 billion over that time frame. The cost differences lay primarily in the savings for the BH and DD populations — $991 million under the governor’s plan versus $464 million under DiamondCare. The Stephen Group has recommended the governor’s plan, both because of the estimated savings, as well as the fact that most states are moving away from MFFS toward full-risk managed care. The Opposition, and What's Next The opposition to a full-risk capitated managed care model arises because patient and provider groups have serious concerns about the effect it could have on patients’ access to care and the providers of their choice, as was demonstrated in the poll of Arkansans conducted by the Arkansas Hospital Association and the Arkansas Pharmacists Association . In response to these concerns, the alternative DiamondCare plan seeks to find a middle ground between reforms and the overall improvement of health in the vulnerable traditional Medicaid population. In the wake of the last task force meeting, there have been some indications from Democratic leadership — including Ingram, the Senate minority leader, and Rep. Michael John Gray (D-Augusta), the House minority leader — that the managed care debate could affect Democratic support for the governor’s other proposals — including perhaps Arkansas Works. At the next task force meeting on March 29, members will review draft legislation on the health care reforms they have discussed over the last year and consider making recommendations on what should be introduced at the April 6 special session. If that meeting reveals that the divide over the appropriate approach to managed care has continued — or even expanded— we can expect that the special session will include a significant debate on managed care in addition to the ongoing battle over Arkansas Works. Erika Gee, an attorney of counsel with the Wright Lindsey Jennings law firm in Little Rock, represents clients in government relations, regulatory and compliance matters. Email her at EGee@WLJ.com .

Vice All News Time18 March 2016 16:48:57


I think we're alone now

17 March 2016 04:13:43 Arkansas news, politics, opinion, restaurants, music, movies and art, Arkansas Times

'10 Cloverfield Lane' a claustrophobic thriller. So you've just left your fiance in a huff and a sedan, stopping long enough on the way out of the apartment to grab a bottle of scotch and a box of not much. You hit the open road somewhere in the wilds of Louisiana and, a little after dark, you notice a big truck in the rearview. Then: an accident. Your car spills down an embankment. Next thing, you wake up on a thin mattress on a concrete floor, your banged-up leg cuffed to a pipe on the wall. Your host is a barely hinged Navy vet named Howard, who looks exactly like John Goodman, and he's explaining that you can't leave this basement bunker of his for the next, oh, year or so, because "there's been an attack," maybe by Russians, maybe by Martians, and everyone above ground is toast. This is the mousetrap that ordinary/screwed protagonist Michelle (Mary Elizabeth Winstead, forever the Helen of "Scott Pilgrim vs. the World") finds herself in to kick off "10 Cloverfield Lane." The thematic follow-up to the 2008 found-footage monster movie "Cloverfield" isn't a sequel per se; essentially, it was a spec script (originally titled "The Cellar") that caught the attention of J.J. Abrams' production company and was folded into the "Cloverfield" universe to gin up interest. What could've been a perfectly serviceable little indie thriller thus was warped — maybe not for the better — to dovetail with the milieu and maybe the events of the under-explained "Cloverfield." The good news, though, is that the movie was made at all, and that its bare-bones cast is terrific: Goodman as the rational-to-the-point-of-deranged survivalist who had the foresight to build the bunker; Winstead as the unwilling guest who comes to trust her host's paranoia even as other mysteries arise; and the affable John Gallagher Jr. as an amiable local named Emmett who managed to wangle his way into the bunker at the last moment. The production is spare; a decent community theater could've staged this in three acts on a single box set built like the basement from "That '70s Show" as imagined by Costco. The unseen hero of the production is Bear McCreary, whose score and musical selections (particularly the inspired choice of "I Think We're Alone Now" by Tommy James and the Shondells) keep the story motoring ahead even as the walls constrict you. Dan Trachtenburg directs here; you've never heard of him because this $5 million picture is the biggest thing he's ever turned in. He may be stuck in a mole hole but he'll have you looking at it from every cranny and corner, inside of ducts, looking down from ceilings. A couple of times he gets you close enough to doors to actually look outside. What's there ain't pretty, and only serves to turn up the burner on the poor schlubs underground. The twist that "10 Cloverfield Lane" plays on the usual claustrophobic escape flick is the bleakness it presents at the prospect of escape. So you get out — then what? But get out, you must. Goodman's turn as Howard is genuinely unnerving. The safety and comfort he's offering, seemingly without an ask in return, still comes across as menacing, untenable. And he's the rare antagonist who's nearly as observant as the audience. Michelle and Emmett can barely stay ahead of him, and you've got only a smidge more vantage than they have. What's outside the bunker, when revealed, will remind you that it is in fact a J.J. Abrams-produced film and the year is indeed 2016. Even that few minutes isn't enough to shake off the confines of being in a tomb for an hour and a half. Despite the intrigue the movie's marketing built up, no one at the screening I saw hung around to see what came after the credits. Instead everyone went for the exits, toward fresh air and open skies.

Vice Entertainment Time17 March 2016 04:13:43


Three justices' statements on Jim Hannah — too little, too late

15 January 2016 19:15:46 Arkansas news, politics, opinion, restaurants, music, movies and art, Arkansas Times

Three more members of the Arkansas Supreme Court issued individual statements today on retired Chief Justice Jim Hannah , who died Thursday in Searcy at the age of 71. From Justice Jo Hart: The opportunity to serve as an elected constitutional officer is a privilege known only to the citizens of a democracy. As a member of the Arkansas Supreme Court, Retired Chief Justice Jim Hannah enjoyed that privilege for fourteen years. His work during those years is embodied in the published opinions of the court. Those opinions are left as his legacy. The court has extended our condolences to the family and I add that I will keep them in my prayers. From Justice Karen Baker : Upon learning of the death of Retired Chief Justice Jim Hannah, I wish to recognize his many years of public service. One of his proudest accomplishments was his role in establishing a program that encouraged judges and lawyers to participate in educating the public, particularly Arkansas's school children, regarding the role of the judicial branch of government. This investment in our children's education is a legacy that will continue to benefit for Arkansas for many years to come. My sympathy goes out to the Hannah family during this difficult time. From Justice Courtney Goodson : For the vast majority of my tenure on the Arkansas Supreme Court, Retired Chief Justice Jim Hannah served as the chief justice. During the past five years, I have witnessed firsthand the important role that he played on this court and his leadership over the entire judicial branch. When I learned that Chief Justice Hannah had passed way, I immediately thought of his unwavering dedication to the principle that an independent judiciary is crucial to maintaining our democratic form of government. Today, I pray that God will embrace the Hannah family in their time of loss, and I offer them my heartfelt condolences. These statements add to individual statements issued yesterday by Chief Justice Howard Brill , and Justices Paul Danielson and Robin Wynne . As yet, I have not seen an individual statement by Justice Rhonda Wood (though she has posted pictures of herself with Hannah on her social media accounts.). Wood, however, gave an interview to the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette yesterday. It was extraordinary. She revealed on the record what I'd reported yesterday based on confidential sources — that a majority of the court had resisted issuing a per curiam in praise of Hannah, a more or less routine happening on the retirement of judges. Extraordinary? It is not considered good form to reveal internal court deliberations. Indeed, my reporting on internal court deliberations on the marriage case, including the split that pitted Hannah against Baker, Hart, Goodson and Wood were at the root of ill feelings that made some on the court reluctant to issue an opinion in praise of Hannah. Wood said she was in the minority in favoring a court expression. She told the Democrat-Gazette she thought Hannah should be so honored. Note that Wood and her friends, such as former Attorney General Dustin McDaniel, worked to get this story out in a manner flattering to Wood, though her lobbying to sit on the marriage case led directly to a Hannah recusal from the case that contributed to court friction. The revelation of a split court is meant to harm Courtney Goodson in her race for chief justice, by implying she was at the root of resistance. This helps her opponent, Judge Dan Kemp. Anyone inclined to demonize Goodson as a political animal (and she certainly is) should make no mistake about Wood's own political skills. This is all a distraction from a time to remember an intelligent, kind, judicious and good man who made a number of tough decisions over the years and stood by then. It is an affront to a distinguished record in the bar, on the bench, in the community and in his church that Hannah's retirement drew no formal acknowledgment from his colleagues. It was an affront to his family that the Supreme Court, before the family could be heard from, issued a terse news release on his death, absent any of the fulsome words accorded the same day to a man who served briefly by appointment as chief justice a couple of decades ago. The faint praise issued belatedly today by three adversarial colleagues (Jo Hart's odd statement particularly) won't paper over the personal divide that existed and will continue to exist on the state's highest court. Rhonda Wood's injudicious, self-serving public statement yesterday should be recognized for what it is, the sort of politics that some are attempting to ascribe to Courtney Goodson. I should add that this inside baseball won't reach many in the broad electorate. But it reaches members of the bar, who are instrumental in judicial elections, which are coming March 1. A lawyer whose own judiciousness I respect commented to me this morning: I am shocked that the court will not enter an order honoring Justice Hannah and that Rhonda Wood publicly confirms there is a split on the court over whether to do one. That court may be the worst in America.

Vice null Time15 January 2016 19:15:46


Worrysong

10 December 2015 00:02:17 Arkansas news, politics, opinion, restaurants, music, movies and art, Arkansas Times

The Observer is typing this on the tiny, digital keyboard of our phone, sitting in a doctor's office waiting room, waiting for the love of our undeserving life to emerge from the door. Fat fingers and little keyboarditis abound, but the time when you're waiting in a doctor's office pours out like cold caramel sauce, and we'd rather do this than bite our nails. The Observer is typing this on the tiny, digital keyboard of our phone, sitting in a doctor's office waiting room, waiting for the love of our undeserving life to emerge from the door. Fat fingers and little keyboarditis abound, but the time when you're waiting in a doctor's office pours out like cold caramel sauce, and we'd rather do this than bite our nails. It's not a big thing she found, not a lump or mass, not an angry black spot or simmering brown splotch. Just a pale spot, oblong, hard as a pebble, slightly raised but otherwise exactly the same color as the rest of her, hard to easily find unless you were looking for it. Enough, however, to cause a truckload of worry for us both, with weeks of waiting for an appointment, and right here at Christmastime. Probably nothing. Even her regular doc said so before sending us here. But such anxiety in that "probably." Probably is a thousandth of an inch from "nothing," but that tiniest gap has been a yawning gulf her man has tumbled down some nights, when her own worried and troubled sleep has taken her beside me. The waiting room is full. Other women, other men; other husbands and wives. The nurses appear and call: Bennett, Jones, Green, Bell, Curtis. Women rise and disappear through the doors, following her into the unseen world behind the wall, the most normal thing in the world, as it should be. Downstairs in the lobby of the hospital as we write this, a choir has struck up, angelic voices, singing "All Through the Night," folding into "Away in a Manger," and we think about strength. This is what it is to love someone, brothers and sisters: It is not roses and date nights. It is not clasped hands and whispers. Love is not the things we do in the dark. Love is this: that moment when you realize that the circle of your worry has broadened to encompass another; the moment when you realize that you would give any part of your life, even your life, to see that person spared from hurt or harm. And so it is with her, and has been since soon after The Observer first observed her, and came to know her gentle heart, a feeling like coming home at last from the battlefield. Probably nothing. Probably. But probably is not the full draught of nothing. Probably always has the blade of "maybe" broken off inside it. Probably is the Queen Bitch of the Kingdom of What Could Be, and that is a land of shadow. And so one woman's man waits here in this uncomfortable chair, waiting for her to emerge, and rides the haunted country of Maybe. The clock in the nurses station ticks, and we think of what it would be like to stand with her and fight the monster whose teeth we cannot break, whose eyes we cannot gouge, whose face we cannot crush into the dirt, relishing its pain, forcing that beast to beg her forgiveness with its forked tongue. From behind the wall between us, she texts me that she's still back there, waiting. That she didn't think it would take this long. Neither did her man. And so we wait. We embroider this tiny keyboard with our nervous thumbs and wait. We think our self a jackass for making so much out of a spot we could easily cover with the tip of a single finger, and we wait. For the door to open. To see her face. To hear that the Queen Bitch will wait another day. To get the word that her man can put his sword back in the umbrella stand, and perch his war helmet back atop the bust of Pallas just above our chamber door, to gather dust again. But for now, we wait for another door to open and reveal her to us like a woman restored after being sawed in half in a magic act. Ta-da! But the wait is taking far too long. And then, because this is 2015, the door doesn't have to open. The door turns out to be this very phone, in our hand: "Ultrasound says it's nothing. Just waiting for doctor to confirm." And five minutes later, she emerges. And we walk to the empty elevator. And we step inside. And when the doors slide closed on Maybe, her man turns to her and kisses her like he has come home to her from the battlefield, from fighting the devils of his own heart.

Vice All News Time10 December 2015 00:02:17