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Alex Carnevale

Features Editor
Mia Nguyen

Reviews Editor
Ethan Peterson

This Recording

is dedicated to the enjoyment of audio and visual stimuli. Please visit our archives where we have uncovered the true importance of nearly everything. Should you want to reach us, e-mail alex dot carnevale at gmail dot com, but don't tell the spam robots. Consider contacting us if you wish to use This Recording in your classroom or club setting. We have given several talks at local Rotarys that we feel went really well.

Pretty used to being with Gwyneth

Regrets that her mother did not smoke

Frank in all directions

Jean Cocteau and Jean Marais

Simply cannot go back to them

Roll your eyes at Samuel Beckett

John Gregory Dunne and Joan Didion

Metaphors with eyes

Life of Mary MacLane

Circle what it is you want

Not really talking about women, just Diane

Felicity's disguise

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In Which We Return The Favor Almost Constantly

Hard to Say is This Recording’s weekly advice column. It will appear every Wednesday until the Earth perishes in a fiery blaze, or until North West turns 40. Get no-nonsense answers to all of your most pressing questions by writing to justhardtosay@gmail.com or by dropping us a note at our tumblr.


I have never enjoyed performing oral sex due to a bad experience I had with a previous boyfriend.

It seems like a lot of guys expect this and if I'm not into it, they think I'm not into them. It's just a personal preference, but I can't seem to find a way to express my revulsion towards the act in a way that makes them feel accepted.

Can you advise?

Harley B.


You may want to first consider the fact that people do not usually repeat experiences they do not find pleasurable. It is what entered you into this situation, and it can probably quite easily get you out of it.

Still, for some people even a bad kumquat is delicious, and we can only hope you have not met one of those.

An honest conversation, preferably one where you sob at length, is ideal for defusing this situation. If you need to make vague promises about getting comfortable and revisiting things down in the future, feel free. It sometimes takes people a substantial period of time before they learn to accept the fate life has bestowed upon them.


Is there anyway to know if you should give up on an on-again, off-again relationship. It seems like we always find our way back to each other, but at the same time the instability is a bad sign, right?

Teresa P.

Dear Teresa,


Wait, what was the question?

Yes. Instability is a terrible sign. It's just when I hear someone explaining away some defect in their relationship with a romantic notion they probably digested from a Jane Austen novel or Friends, I reflexively shout no. It is the same thing I do when someone tells me that they are really excited for Wisdom of the Crowd.

Illustrations by Mia Nguyen. Access This Recording's mobile site at thisrecording.wordpress.com.


In Which We Find Eric Gill Among Some Old Books

The Antidote


As years go by, Eric Gill becomes more, not less, unsettling.

- Fiona McCarthy

Art is not an aesthetic but a rhetorical activity.

- Ananda Coomaraswamy, epigraph to Eric Gill's essay "Art"

The natural world is God's present to himself.

- Eric Gill, Last Essays

Eric Gill would fuck anything: family members, strangers, a dog. It might seem strange, then, that he wrote essays praising Christianity, specifically Catholicism. I don't know that he even was admiring Christianity as much as he lived in wonderment in the pleasure of believing in something.

Eric Gill never had a regular job — he spent most of his time working on sculptures. They became more and more erotic, since he was obsessed with the carnal pleasures of the body. But even so, he had the temerity to write an essay entitled "Work." (Why is it the people who don't work always have so much to say about the meaning of it?) He wrote:

We must return again and again to the simple doctrine: physical labour, manual work, is not in itself bad. It is the necessary basis of all human production and, in the most strict sense of the words, physical labour directed to the production of things needed for human life is both honourable and holy. And we must remember that there no exceptions.

What is man? Is he just an animal for whom earthly life is all? Or is he a child of God with eternal life in view?

I honestly don't know which answer is worse.

Eric Gill kept a vial of poison in his workshop, just in case the mood struck him.

Quite naturally, Eric Gill made the act of creating art into a heavenly task. Perhaps he never imagined it would be democratized to a willing populace.

Eric Gill designed only one home in his long career. It was utterly normal-looking.

Eric Gill's nudes in particular are disturbing, given the various harms he perpetrated on his daughters. He found no boundaries in life, and since he was good at one thing, he felt it justified his pursuit of many others. You can find a similar quality in public figures. Moreover, they never apologize for their behavior, and take every opportunity to continue doing what they enjoy.

Eric Gill writes, We are ourselves creators. Through us exist things which God Himself could not otherwise have made. Our works are His works, but they are also in a strict sense our own, and if we present them to him, they are our presents to Him and not simply His to Himself. They are free-will offerings.

Do you understand why this is not a good philosophy?

Let me give you an example. I once knew a writer who was completely paranoid others would steal his precious ideas. He had this idea — I can share it with you now, because I think he is a priest or something like it, and gave up writing — about a murder mystery that involved a chase across the Andes. I don't know why he thought this was such an original concept, although it might have made for a nice story. When I tried to talk to him about it he put his fingers in his ears.

He also loved Eric Gill, and introduced Eric Gill to me. His name was Ben.

In a diary of his trip to Ireland, among other insulting things, Eric Gill writes, At Ballinasloe saw the first people either distinctly Irish or distinctly beautiful — two girls. Otherwise, all the people ugly as in England.

Do you understand why this is not a good philosophy?

The world of men lasted for quite a long time. It was a natural extension of a philosophy that there was a reason why some things were beautiful, and a reason why things were ugly. Because if you think at any length about this, it is more a trick of the mind than an actual perspective on events. Therefore, objectifying women was morally correct for such people, and Eric Gill.

By 1930, Eric Gill began to suffer from intermittent amnesia. Even in this forgetful state, he knew he had done awful things to people he should have cared for, even beyond how much he cared for and loved himself. Life had completely proved his view of things wrong, and the creeping sensation of this infected what remained of his existence, as well as his writing.

He wrote:

I believe in birth control by the man by means of:

(1) Karetza.

(2) Abstinence from intercourse.

(3) Withdrawal before ejaculation.

(4) French letters.

I don’t think 3 and 4 are good. I don’t think abstinence from orgasm is necessarily a bad thing. It depends on the state of mind and states of mind can be cultivated. (Anyway there’s no point in ejaculating seed into a woman who doesn’t welcome it – they can jolly well go without, if they don’t want our spunk they needn’t have it.)
Let us talk about Matriarchy next time.

In 1934, Eric Gill went to Jerusalem for the first time. He saw all the usual tourist sites, with the wonder of a child. He began wearing a long, black robe and a head cloth, in a demented parody of Jesus, a man he admired. He was so happy, and then God bestowed upon Eric Gill a painful toothache. I guess sometimes God gives himself a gift.

Mark Arturo is the senior contributor to This Recording. He is a writer living in Manhattan.


In Which We Sincerely Believe We Do Not Belong



Tin Star
creator Rowand Joffe

In Tin Star, Jim Worth (Tim Roth) is a London police officer who relocates to a mining town in British Columbia with his wife Angela (Genevieve O'Reilly), his daughter Anna (Abigail Lawrie) and his son Peter (Rupert Turnbull). At the conclusion of the show's tumultuous first episode, an assassin approaches the family at a sinister Calgary gas station. He fires a bullet at Jim's head from a distance of seven feet. Instinctively, Jim ducks, and the shell explodes his five year old son's head. Fragments of the boy's skull impact on his mother's cranium, and she enters in a coma.

Jim is a recovering alcoholic, and it is not one night later that he finds himself in a bar. Tin Star creator Rowand Joffe gives us a hearty close-up of the heavenly whiskey that Sheriff Worth desires more than anything in his turgid little life. Everything in his world is categorically easier to abandon than alcohol – which is not to say he is not going to fail his family. Just that it will be hard.

Jim's enemies do not really have sufficient reason to want him or his son dead. They are representatives of the oil concern which has infilfrated the town. The idea that oil companies would have to resort to murder to get their way when they can simply purchase everything in sight is somewhat implausible, but who cares? Tin Star is more a pure revenge fantasy, meant to bring Jekyll's story into a Western forum. It has to be a fantasy – I mean, I can't rationally believe in a rural Canadian town where everyone in it is a different type of asshole.

Christina Hendricks plays Elizabeth Bradshaw, a representative of that oil company. Hendricks grew up in the Pacific Northwest, although you would not really know it. I think her father was British, which makes sense with her coloring. She looks absolutely tiny in this, having eradicated any of the voluptuousness which might lend a sympathetic tint to this merciless. character. She is not so much a villain as an embodiment of a lack of personal morality.

Jim's daughter Anna is drawn to alcohol, and one of the most affecting scenes in the show's opening episodes has her chugging down the various components of a motel mini-bar. "I want to be an archaeologist," she tells her father, and this fortune-telling strikes us as wildly off-base. Jim himself has nothing in the way of hobbies or passions – that was what drinking was for. His job enables him to practice the only skill he has – the distribution of violence, and to mete it out for somewhat rational reasons.

He is completely disconnected from modernity. It is what happens to those of us who, as we get older, neglect to manifest a regular discernment of what makes society itself. Such people often change their surroundings, since doing so gives them a reasonable excuse for feeling lost. There is no such get-out-of-jail free card when we are surrounded with those we know, and those who know us. It is better to be in the wilderness, where you can sincerely believe you do not belong. You will be right.

Eleanor Morrow is the senior contributor to This Recording.