Despite decades of leading the country in female incarceration rates and evidence that long sentences do not deter drug users, Oklahoma lawmakers are rushing to undermine recent voter initiatives that weakened punishments for drug offenses and invested in rehabilitation services. Oklahoma voters in November turned drug possession charges, which had been felonies with the exception of a first-time marijuana offense, into misdemeanors, capping the maximum punishment at one year in jail and a $1,000 fine, effective July 1. They also reallocated money saved toward mental health and rehabilitation services. In a swift response, the House passed House Bill 1482 this month with the minimum votes required, ensuring the change would not apply to people within 1,000 feet of all schools. People caught in that radius would still be charged with a felony and a first-time offense would still carry a sentence of up to five years in prison.
Denis Johnson died on Wednesday, at the age of sixty-seven. A few weeks ago, not knowing that he was fighting cancer, I asked him if he'd be willing to contribute to a series of short pieces about jobs for this year's Fiction Issue. "Wonderful to hear from you," he wrote back. "But come now, don't you know that in certain circles we don't even utter'the J-word'? My second wife came home one day and said, 'When are you gonna get a job?' and it came over me like a revelation, and I said NEVER.
Dimension 404 on Hulu is a science fiction anthology show in the tradition of The Twilight Zone and The Outer Limits. TV writer Andrea Kail loved the fifth episode, "Bob," about a (literal) giant brain who works for the National Security Agency. "I thought this was one of the best things I've seen in a long time," Kail says in Episode 347 of the Geek's Guide to the Galaxy podcast. "I thought it was incredibly good filmmaking, and incredibly great writing and acting. There was nothing about it I didn't love."
"There are no happy endings, kid. Just these moments," one character tells another in Robert Coover's story "Matinée," an irreverent look at love, time, and cinema. Those moments are what we experience in this handful of love stories, none of which, it seems, have truly happy endings. There's the unforgettable exchange in Annie Proulx's "Brokeback Mountain" (so powerfully re-created onscreen, in Ang Lee's 2005 film adaptation of the story), in which a ranch hand tells the man he's loved for years, "I wish I knew how to quit you." There's the declaration of forbidden love, quickly defused by laughter, in Ruth Prawer Jhabvala's "Aphrodisiac," or the moment in Alice Munro's "Passion" when the young protagonist, on an ill-fated drive with her fiancé's brother, has a sudden revelation about love and desire: "She had thought that it was touch.