TIME Dating

This Book Perfectly Captures All Your Insecurities About Dating

Dey Street Books

Written entirely in texts and emails, this novel seems like it's ripped right out of your own inbox

It’s rare to pick up a book that perfectly captures love in the digital age, but that’s exactly what Neel Shah and Skye Chatham’s all-too-realistic novel succeeds in doing.

Through the strings of email chains and forwarded texts that comprise Read Bottom Up, readers meet Madeline and Elliot, a couple whose meet cute at a restaurant spirals into an over-analytical relationship that any millennial will be able to relate to. Though the format may sound gimmicky, there are real insights here: anyone who has dated with technology will recognize themselves, or someone they’ve dated, in these pages.

TIME talked to Shah, 32, an LA-based screenwriter, to learn about his writing process and skeptical take on texting and romance.

TIME: Tell us how you decided on this medium—screenshots of texts and emails.

Neel Shah: I have a friend in New York, and every time we would be dating people, she would always forward me emails or texts from a guy, and I would do the same with her, and a lot of times we had different takes on what the texts or emails meant. One time specifically she forwarded me this email chain from a guy, and she was like “Isn’t this great, it looks like he wants to take this relationship to the next level,” and I read it and it almost seemed as if he was breaking up with her. Now so much of dating is done online—not even just via apps, but texting and emailing is such an important part of how people court, and I felt like it had not been captured in a way that felt real.

You’ve said you and your co-author both composed your parts totally separately, right?

We wanted to make it feel like people in a real relationship. And we realized the easiest way to do that that was for my co-author and I to pretend we were in a relationship. We set up our own email accounts for our characters and did the whole thing blindly. We figured out the rough beats of their relationship, but everything else we didn’t really plan. We wrote the whole thing as if we were conducting a relationship in real time, and I didn’t show her any of my responses with my friend, and she didn’t show me any of her responses to her friend until the very end. But generally all the responses and their micro-analysis was all done blindly.

Do you have a real male best friendship that resembles this one?

I actually do, his name is David. It’s weird—for me, those conversations that are real and vulnerable don’t really happen in person. But when it’s just a Gchat or a text I find it a lot easier to emote and talk about feelings in general. Digital makes that stuff a lot easier for guys. I would think girls generally do have those conversations a lot more in person. Even with my group of guy friends now, I’m on tons of text and Facebook message threads, talking about relationships and feelings.

Was part of your goal with this to create a kind of time capsule for how people conduct relationships?

When I was in New York I dated a girl for a few years and I remember so much of our initial courtship, and so many of our fights happened on email. I typed her name into my Gmail inbox now and I have this long, archived rundown of what exactly our relationship was, and it’s very accessible. I think most people probably have that in their inboxes. And it’s so acceptable. And I imagine that that won’t be the case as people get older, and those types of longer correspondences will move away from email. Especially now, after that Sony hack, people are more wary of putting things down on paper than they were before. This book feels specific to a place and time, but in a way that I am very fond of, and want to capture.

What do you think this book says about dating, and how we communicate in general?

I can almost tell immediately whether I’m going to like a girl or not based on how we text. Sometimes there’s this definite disconnect between the person you can pretend to be and the person you actually are, which makes dating a little difficult. What this says about dating in general, I can’t tell if it’s a really a good thing or bad thing ultimately.

The fact that it becomes so easy to date people, multiple people, to fire off a text and email, to literally dozens of people a day, that type of stuff is a little unseemlier and it’s harder to tell whether it’s a good thing or not. To me it feels easier in a way that is probably not good.

Did you notice certain male tendencies or flaws? Was this a chance at self-improvement for you?

It does make you aware of your own behavior. This book is only going to be successful if it feels relatable and real. I think Elliot in a lot of places is a doofus: he’s a very specific type of guy, he’s not an outright liar but he can be a little bit unseemly and slippery in a way that I certainly have been guilty of. But for sure, I do think that getting older, you feel like you don’t have to put on a pony show for every girl you meet because sometimes that can lead to people feeling like you really like them, even if you don’t, and that’ll lead to people’s feelings getting hurt. Just trying to be more honest with yourself, if that makes sense.

Can you boil all this down to three tips for dating?

1. Sometime people you have the best text chemistry with are horrible matches in real life. Kind of a bummer, but true.

2. Girls like plans. Like with time and location and stuff. (“Yeah we should totally do something!” isn’t a plan, unfortunately.)

3. Don’t ever lie about anything that happens at a wedding because you will be found out because everything that happens at weddings is now on Instagram. Also don’t ever lie. But definitely don’t at weddings.

What do you think about friends who want to stalk people you’re going out with?

You don’t need to be doing that so early. Just calm down, everyone just take a breather. There are definitely benefits. It’s very easy to go on someone’s Facebook or Instagram page and you can tell pretty soon if that’s someone you’re going to like or not, or at least whether that persona is someone you’d like.

Sometimes not being so stalkery and parsing every single thing you can find on every single social media platform is really good. Sometimes even people who are now dating who I know, initially they were like, “Oh yeah you know, we didn’t have great chemistry on text or email and then we went out and it was actually really good.” Sometimes, you have to go meet them to figure out if you’re going to like them. That’s something I’m so bad at doing. I will discount someone if I don’t feel like we have good banter chemistry, but I’m also single and there’s a reason for it.

TIME Bizarre

Skunk Found Near a Frat House With Its Head Stuck in a Beer Can

Matt Hatfield / Oxford Police Department—AP A skunk with its head stuck in a beer near a frat house at Miami University in Oxford, Ohio, September 14, 2014.

So college

This skunk was spotted neck-deep in a beer can near a fraternity house at Miami University in Oxford, Ohio, offering us a very literal example of a “skunked beer.”

A resident flagged the local police, who arrived at the scene to find “the animal banging around trying to get the can off and running into shrubs,” according to the Associated Press.

Officer Matt Hatfield of the Oxford Police Department snapped this photo and fortunately an animal control officer managed to release the skunk from its dank, dark beer prison, freeing it to pursue a better-tasting brew. It’s also worth noting that the officer did so without getting sprayed, which skunks tend to do when agitated. The prospect of dying in a Miller Lite can is certainly grounds for agitation.

TIME Crime

Eric Garner Died from Chokehold While in Police Custody

Garner was being restrained while police were attempting to arrest him for allegedly selling untaxed cigarettes in Staten Island

New York City’s Chief Medical Examiner said Friday that Eric Garner, the Staten Island man whose death during a police arrest last month sparked charges of excessive force, died from a chokehold while he was in custody for allegedly selling untaxed cigarettes. The incident has been ruled a homicide.

Medical examiner spokeswoman Julie Bolcer said that the death was caused by “compression of neck (choke hold), compression of chest and prone positioning during physical restraint by police,” and that asthma and heart disease also played a role.

In a widely-seen video of the arrest, Garner, a black man, is physically restrained by several white officers, and can be heard saying “I can’t breathe.” The incident has sparked nationwide debate, with many commentators drawing attention to the role that race may have played.

Garner was arrested for selling untaxed loose cigarettes.

TIME Aereo

Aereo to Court: We’re ‘Bleeding to Death’

A month after the Supreme Court ruled that the TV-streaming service was operating illegally, the cash-strapped startup has requested an emergency ruling that will enable it to start earning revenue again

Facing a dire financial situation, the TV-streaming service Aereo Inc. asked a federal court in Manhattan for an emergency ruling on its application to operate as a cable TV service, a move that would allow the company to begin earning revenue for the first time since it stopped operations June 28.

The TV-streaming startup said it is “figuratively bleeding to death,” as it has not made money since it stopped operating after the Supreme Court ruled its services were in violation of copyright law last month.

“Unless it is able to resume operations in the immediate future, the company will likely not survive,” said Aereo in a federal court filing.

A federal judge in Manhattan declined to make a decision on the application Friday, saying the company “jumped the gun” in making the request without permission.

A Supreme Court ruling in June found that the company’s antenna-based transmission of live and recorded broadcast programming was a violation of U.S. copyright law. In response, Aereo began to argue that it was a cable company, the very sort of company it was hoping to replace. But Aereo cannot operate as a cable company without a license to do so from the U.S. Copyright Office, which has said it will not issue a license until the courts determine the company’s status.

[Bloomberg]

TIME

Congressman Mistakes U.S. Officials For Indian Ones

"I am familiar with your country, I love your country," Florida Congressmember Curt Clawson told high-ranking U.S. officials Nisha Biswal and Arun Kumar

Rep. Curt Clawson, a freshman Republican congressman from Florida, mistook two senior U.S. officials for representatives of the Indian government during a House hearing on Friday.

“I am familiar with your country, I love your country,” Clawson said to Nisha Biswal and Arun Kumar, addressing fellow U.S. citizens who hold high-ranking positions in the State Department and Commerce Department, respectively.

“Just as your capital is welcome here to produce good-paying jobs in the U.S., I’d like our capital to be welcome there,” he told Biswal and Kumar. “I ask cooperation and commitment and priority from your government in so doing. Can I have that?”

After a lingering silence, Clawson smiles slowly. Kumar appears to grin, while Biswal echoes Clawson’s sentiment, informing him it should probably be directed to the Indian government. It’s unclear whether Clawson realized his error.

Nisha Biswal serves as Assistant Secretary of State for South and Central Asian Affairs, while Arun Kumar is Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Global Markets and Director General of the US and Foreign Commercial Service. Both were introduced was U.S. officials before testifying before the House Asia and Pacific subcommittee, according to Foreign Policy.

TIME Television

WATCH: The Walking Dead Season 5 Trailer Debuts at Comic-Con

AMC unveiled the trailer for the upcoming season of the popular zombie series

The trailer for Season 5 of AMC’s The Walking Dead debuted at Comic-Con on Friday — and it features new series regular Gareth, a long trek towards Washington to cure the epidemic, and plenty of blood-spattering human-on-zombie violence. Yep, there’s guns, a crossbow, a sword, a firehose, a baseball bat — and that’s just the beginning.

The new season will debut on October 12.

TIME movies

X-Men Director Bryan Singer Dismissed from Sex Abuse Suit

Director Bryan Singer attends the 22nd Annual Elton John AIDS Foundation's Oscar Viewing Party on March 2, 2014 in Los Angeles.
Frederick M. Brown—Getty Images Director Bryan Singer attends the 22nd Annual Elton John AIDS Foundation's Oscar Viewing Party on March 2, 2014 in Los Angeles.

The X-Men director has been dismissed from a sex abuse lawsuit, but others are still pending

Bryan Singer, who directed several films in the X-Men series, has been dismissed from a federal sex abuse case filed in May by a British actor identified only as “John Doe.” Singer filed a motion to dismiss a few weeks ago, arguing that Doe’s suit was without merit.

“We are pleased the case was dismissed,” said Marty Singer, the director’s attorney, to the Hollywood Reporter.

The original suit claimed that the director had attempted to rape a then-17-year-old in a London hotel room. Singer has denied the allegation. Other suits filed against the X-Men director alleging underage sex abuse are still pending.

The three films in the franchise that Singer directed—X-Men, X-Men 2, and X-Men: Days of Future Past—have grossed over $600 million, according to Box Office Mojo. He will also direct X-Men: Apocalypse, which is in pre-production and slated to release in 2016.

[Hollywood Reporter]

 

TIME Canada

Flight Makes Emergency Landing Due to ‘Agitated’ Passenger

The Sunwing flight headed to Panama was forced to return to Toronto after a passenger allegedly made threats concerning the plane's security

Sunwing Flight 772 was forced to make an emergency landing in Toronto at 8:55AM Friday because an “agitated customer made a direct threat against the aircraft,” an official at the Canadian airline said in a statement. The plane, which had departed at 7:00AM, was originally headed to Panama City.

Two U.S. F16 fighter jets from Toledo, Ohio were sent to escort the plane back to the airport, North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD) told Canada’s CBC News. Several officers with drawn guns boarded and removed the unruly passenger after the plane landed, one passenger told CBC. A Sunwing official said that the passenger was arrested by Peel police and is currently in custody, and that the craft is undergoing a “full security inspection” before returning to service.

Recent weeks have seen a rash of aviation disasters, with the crash of AH5017 in Mali, the crash of GE222 in Taiwan, and the downing of MH 17 in Ukraine last week.

 

TIME Ukraine

Experts: MH17 Victims Could Have Remained Conscious During Fall

A firefighter and an armed man look at the remains and the corpses of passengers aboard Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 that was shot down over eastern Ukraine, July 17, 2014.
Jerome Sessini—Magnum A firefighter and an armed man look at the remains and the corpses of passengers aboard Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 that was shot down over eastern Ukraine, July 17, 2014.

A forensic analysis of the disaster

In the aftermath of the downing of a Malaysia Airlines jet, it has been widely assumed that death—or at least unconsciousness—came quickly for the 298 people aboard when the Boeing 777 came apart in the oxygen-thin, cold air at 33,000 feet. But some medical and aviation experts who spoke to TIME are questioning this assumption.

As photos from the MH17 debris field near Gravobo, Ukraine, have shown, many of the victims’ bodies appeared completely intact after falling from a great altitude. TIME asked experts to review photographs from the scene and found a minority view: some victims may have survived the aircraft’s disintegration and even experienced consciousness during the fall to Earth. The images were taken by French photographer Jerome Sessini, who was among the first at the crash site, and they focused on plane debris and victims’ bodies. (Some of Sessini’s work was recently published by TIME, but the photos reviewed by the experts also included images of human remains considered inappropriate for publication.)

The intact bodies are not out of the ordinary, according to Dr. Michael Baden, the former chief medical examiner of New York City and chief forensic pathologist for the New York State Police. Baden has investigated high-profile plane disasters like the TWA 800 crash in 1996 and the 2010 crash of a Polish government jet near Smolensk, Russia, that killed Polish President Lech Kaczynski. As Baden explained, objects falling through the air reach what is called terminal velocity, an upper limit on speed dictated by such variables as air density and the falling object’s surface area—but not the height from which it is dropped. For a human body, terminal velocity is about 120 mph (193 k/h). Impact at that speed inflicts devastating internal injuries, but the skin tends to remain intact.

Baden says that many of the victims did exhibit minor burns and shrapnel wounds, most of which appeared non-lethal. He says this suggests that some of the passengers could have been alive and even conscious during their descent.

“The cause of death in the great majority of these people would have been impact with the ground,” he said. Unless they were affected by the initial explosions or shrapnel, and absent some pre-existing condition like lung or heart disease, they would have remained alive and even been conscious at some point during the approximately 3-to-4-minute fall.

“Even if there’s no oxygen, you’d catch your breath in four minutes,” he said. “You might have some brain damage, but you’d be alive, and you could be conscious,” he said. Autopsies, at least when there is such extensive damage to the head and brain, cannot allow doctors to pinpoint when exactly consciousness was lost, so it might never be possible to know for sure if Baden is right.

The deceleration that occurred as a result of the attack—which could have been the equivalent of driving into a wall at 500 mph—might have been less sudden than has been assumed. The Russian-made SA-11 suspected to have been used in the attack is designed not to strike the aircraft directly, but to explode before impact, instead releasing a cloud of shrapnel.

“The deceleration itself wouldn’t be rapid, it would almost be like someone pulling back on the throttles perhaps,” says Robert Benzon, a former Air Force pilot and veteran accident investigator for the National Transportation Safety Board, now retired. Benzon speculated based on the nature of the missile that the decompression may have been somewhat gradual, and could have been survivable in the short term. “In my estimation what you’d have is a lot of small holes in the airplane,” he says, “so the decompression itself would be pretty slow.”

Several bodies were found still strapped into their seats. Robert Goyer, who is editor-in-chief of Flying magazine, said that airliner seats are designed to withstand tremendous G-forces, sometimes more than a human body can sustain. Even when the seat itself is torn from the surrounding structure of the plane, people are likely to remain belted in. He cited Juliane Koepcke, who in 1971 survived a two-mile fall into the Amazon rainforest, strapped to her seat all the while.

Photographs indicate that those who did stay in their seats tended to retain all of their clothing, but other passengers were found in states of undress. While Goyer said that it was common to see bodies stripped of clothes after falling a long distance through the air, Baden suspected other causes.

“You can lose a shirt or a headband or maybe even a jacket, but not pants and underwear and shoes and socks. It would seem to me, given the situation, that looters came,” he said. As further evidence, he noted indications in the photos that some of the bodies appeared to have been moved around, based on lividity—the dark discoloration of the skin that occurs in the lowest parts of the body, as blood settles due to gravity. (When this discolored skin is seen facing up, it suggests that a part of the body previously low to the ground was shifted from that position.) Baden also observed that none of the bodies pictured appeared to be wearing watches or jewelry.

The investigation into the tragedy was initially hindered by strife in the region, with some reports suggesting that rebels have threatened investigators, tampered with the plane debris, and moved bodies around. The Dutch government has since succeeded in negotiating the release of some of the passengers’ remains, which were kept on refrigerated train cars and eventually flown back to the Netherlands for a more thorough forensic examination.

TIME Baseball

Baseball Tips Its Cap to Derek Jeter in Farewell Video

Teammates, rivals, and fans both celebrity and local join in

New York Yankees veteran Derek Jeter, who has announced that he’ll retire after the current season, earns a lot of respect in a new commercial from Jordan Brand, the Nike subsidiary that has endorsed him since 1999.

As Jeter gets ready to bat, he notices that he’s being saluted by the opposing pitcher, fans in the crowd, famous people in the crowd (including Spike Lee), New York City cops and firefighters, rappers Jay Z and Action Bronson, athletes Carmelo Anthony and Tiger Woods, begrudging players on rival teams, and, eventually, Michael Jordan himself.

This is Nike’s farewell to a player who’s been celebrated for his character both on and off the field for two decades. It will air during Tuesday’s All-Star game, which will be Jeter’s 14th, and last.

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