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Alex Carnevale
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Mia Nguyen
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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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Friday
Mar022018

In Which We Cry Inside A New Bedroom

This Is Up Front

by MARK ARTURO

NEW YORK - Three men walked all the way back from the front of the line, coming up to us. Their arms filled with packages, they said they wrote the future of the world. Now they were purchasing supplies and the like, lumber or metal, to make palatable the less fruitful aspects of the dedicated life. I said, "What will happen, in the years to come, that we should know about?" They thought for a while and tossed Starbursts into each others' mouths.

Outside of Home Depot, one man had a parrot in a cage and another men was heckling him. The parrot repeated both of what they said in a slightly less horrifying vernacular. Traffic was moving backwards on the parkway. I was saying goodbye to everyone, and the way I was saying goodbye was with tiny backwards motions of my fingers, alternating even and odd.

Central Park. In the shallow water, my cousin Arlo sails a paper boat. The crest of the fake boat rejects the shadow of a wave. Further down by the Polish statue, in 2007, I was told I was loved next to a seal. I think of him (the seal) on Easter, and alternate Wednesdays. Ash is a language, sailboats are a language, lost to us.

Arlo is the type of cousin one regrets not having at a younger age. He moves in time with the waves, but there are no waves other than the sound variety, massacred by the chattering of finches. The slow onward progress of events impresses an echo but nothing further at this time. Arlo repeats non-sequiturs to himself. They say that is the habit of a growing, learning child, but I disagree, having observed it up close. It is more like a reflex.

After I drop him off at his mother's, I walk the shadow side of the street past the hospital. A group of monks are harassing tourists. A bunch of men, all 5'5" and shorter, are comparing different bowling balls in the courtyard of a church. When I come back on Sunday, there is a pile of Christmas lights as high as a man.

My new apartment is painted a color two shades from the natural repose of a man ensconced in brick. "I would like to see you on Tuesday, maybe Wednesday if I can get off work," an e-mail reads, and I send it to a specific archival folder where it can be reconsidered as if it were a legislative proposal. Someone else's best efforts are bound to be disappointing.

Regrets:

a) Made the left turn, never went to Philadelphia

b) Partial prints, partial apologies, men in auburn-crested suits

c) Offered up under my name, Mark, also the name of many others. We should have one way of addressing ourselves known only to the animals

d) I wish I had touched the heel of a vessel to the top of this gangly haberdashery, crossed and languid in the molten core

e) or even said her name aloud

f) not voting for Hillary Clinton

g) more caution can always be used upon the crossing of an avenue

God repeated a statement of fact as if it were a divisible question. We know the query is an answer to whatever other question there was before something existed. Now, to the time where nothing existed. Who made the first word in the first mouth, and abdicated the rest to the imaginary?

It is great to be able to talk about these things in a city, because no other setting can handle it properly. When I get home the men of the future are engaged in a vesting and intricate argument. They believe, as do I, that the key is the measuring unit, and then the amount. Without knowing how much of anything we can desire, and survive, we must test out the correct volume. Anything else would be a broken promise.

Mark Arturo is the senior contributor to This Recording.

Saturday
Feb242018

In Which We Are Patronizing Of Everyone Including Ourselves

Ghostbusters Without Ghosts

by ETHAN PETERSON

Annihilation
dir. Alex Garland
115 minutes

The only remotely interesting aspects of Jeff VanderMeer's Southern Reach trilogy were his ideas about faith. To summarize briefly: once certain people became intoxicated with alien spores, they begin to have different priorities. The resulting erosion of the self began with the title of this first, well-intentioned book.

I didn't particularly agree with where VanderMeer went with things next, but if Annihilation is successful, they will probably have to do a completely different story for a sequel. There was no way to film the changing of a person's mind, so Annihilation begins with a scene where Lena (Natalie Portman) is beginning her class on how a cell changes. This introduction is meant to convey that we will see, in the following, a mutation of human cells.

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Portman has not seen her husband Kane (Oscar Isaac) for an entire year at that point, since he departed on a military mission. They met in the military, which is so surreptitiously convenient that it sounds like a cover story. Director Alex Garland (The Beach) loves these kind of chicken or egg moments, because he believes they describe some aspect of the human condition. "Most of us here," a woman later explains to Lena, "don't exactly come from happy lives." Lena's depression is existential -- practically, it is not related to Kane at all.

Suddenly, Kane returns. All he can do is to take a single sip of water, in what he believes is what should be human behavior. In order to determine what has befallen him, Lena is introduced to the concept of Area X: an alien-affected area near a lighthouse which is slowly expanding until it takes over the entire planet. 

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No one returns from Area X, and certainly not groups of men. Jennifer Jason Leigh's psychologist character, Dr. Ventress, has cancer, so she is not expecting to come back from this survey of the area they call "The Shimmer." Lena "agrees" to join.

Garland manages some exquisite visuals, but they lose a lot of the earthly feeling in the novel. In the book, there is a sense of being tied so close to your own biology that every breath is either a vindication or a repudiation of it. It would be a lie if we said there was not something essentially patronizing and transparent about this all women group of explorers. Relationships between any of the major characters in Annihilation are not fleshed out whatsoever, which I guess leaves a lot implied.

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Portman is always entertaining for a max of 45 minutes. After that every director runs out of ways to make her react, so they inevitably go with some cheesy scene where she is giggling a lot, like more than a person should or would ever giggle. It happens in Annihilation, as the movie slows to the kind of placid place where the audience has to collectively pretend to agree it has not run completely out of ideas.

Ethan Peterson is the reviews editor of This Recording.

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Tuesday
Feb202018

In Which We Mime The Motions Of The Jungle Cat

The Words That We Know

by ETHAN PETERSON

Black Panther
dir. Ryan Coogler
Forever

If the aggressively mediocre Ryan Coogler had not at one point found Michael B. Jordan, is it too harsh to say all would have been lost? Killmonger (Michael B. Jordan) is a most unusual Marvel villain in that he is not strictly speaking a villain at all. This is not a novel concept, since was Judas all that bad considering? But Killmonger is way better than Judas in almost every way.

Last week, a student at Christ the King high school in Queens wasn't allowed to wear a jersey with his birth name on it. His birth name is Malcolm Xavier Combs. Was he also named after P. Diddy? Time will tell on that one, but white administrators at Christ the King were evidently not enthused by the controversial career of the civil rights leader.

According to National Action Network crisis director the Rev. Kevin McCall, school administrators actually ranked different black leaders as appropriate or inappropriate.

While former President Barack Obama and civil rights leader the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. received a thumbs-up, Malcolm X and the Rev. Al Sharpton both were given a thumbs down.

I guess some people have a long memory about the whole Tawana Brawley thing. But I can't blame Al for that - how was he supposed to know a fifteen year old was lying? Getting even more short shrift in this tawdry affair is Malcolm X himself, the man who was born Malcolm Little. Everyone who has read The Autobiography of Malcolm X knows that Mr. X was a very fine Mr. X, maybe the best Mr. X except for Mr. X.

Malcolm dealt with some struggles. He grew up in a pervasively racist society. There was no such thing as rap. LeBron was just semen in a man brewery. Michael B. Jordan's mother was living comfortably. Malcolm X was not. For what he endured, he should never be villified. Plus as I recall he had exactly the right amount of anti-Semitism a human being is capable of ignoring, pretending it doesn't exist.

Anyway, there is a lot of time to sit and think during Black Panther. I don't personally (and this is not a view I extend to any of you) feel that a white character created, some might say, to take commercial advantage off a militant movement of African-Americans of tremendous historical and academic importance, is something that should be supported. I heard Harrison Barnes, a small forward on the Dallas Mavericks, took an entire theater of boys to see Black Panther in Texas. That sounds like a tedious afternoon.

My heart goes out to the family of Malcolm Xavier Combs. It is great that Ryan Coogler can just make these weird African epics now but I have a lot better ideas for stories he can work on. You see, my concepts for Ryan Coogler's career involve actual African-American authors, and yet box office success is assured because of the three most important words in Ryan Coogler and my life: Michael B. Jordan. These are the words that we know.

Just in general here is a list of characters I would love to see Michael B. Jordan play. (I would like to see Chadwick Boseman work in local theater.)

- Jesus

- Hamlet

- Fortinbras

- protagonist in a remake of Big

- David Ben-Gurion

- Richard Wright

- a remake of Marshall but without Chadwick Boseman and only Michael B. Jordan

- Michael Jordan (too on the nose?)

- Lacan

- Deleuze and Guattari in the same movie

I think you get the idea. Black Panther features a fictional African nation. But there were great nations made of African individuals that you don't even have to make up!

Anyway, it is sad what they did to Killmonger, but it is also great for those of us who imagine that something besides a safe action movie could be produced from that enduring historical culture. Then again, lowering your expectations leads to unhappiness in the long term.

Malcolm X was a great American purely because of what he overcame. He was an inspiration to so many people, and he probably wasn't that bad of a guy.

Ethan Peterson is the reviews editor of This Recording.