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Alex Carnevale
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Managing Editor
Kara VanderBijl
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Features Editor
Mia Nguyen
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Durga Chew-Bose
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Senior Editor
Brittany Julious
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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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Tuesday
Sep302014

In Which We Believe That God Has Spoken Directly To Ron Perlman

His Left Hand

by DICK CHENEY

Ron Perlman's goatee looks like a hand covering his mouth. He is left handed, so it is his left hand that he raises in a public fountain where the police find him, speaking in tongues. In the opening scene of Hand of God, his pert body receives enlightenment from his God, a traditional beginning to many Bible stories. Executive producer Marc Forster's Amazon pilot purports to make fun of this tale. Hand of God is a roundly pessimistic take on this inspiring yarn.

You see, Perlman's character is from Texas, which means he is probably a bad person. Ron's wrinkles portray a judge named Pernell who used to give everyone maximum sentences - before God spoke to him. 

I was recently told by someone that Barack Obama is an atheist, which I have to admit surprised me. If someone made me president, I'd be sure think God wanted good things for me, and was probably planning for me to enter into a long term relationship with a woman completely different from my wife in every way, say, a prime minister of another country.

Dana Delany plays Ron's wife. They are rarely in the same frame together, because it is really hard to believe the two are a couple. Ron has sex with an African-American prostitute in his judge's chambers, but then he thinks better of this act. He's been enlightened, and having sex with a woman for money is wrong. The woman has to hear her client say, "I think we should just talk from now on." Ron seems sad to do it, but he can't cheat on his wife anymore.

European artists like Forster are obsessed with Westerns, which was kind of a sideways version of the south. Now they've turned their back on people like Pernell. Unfortunately, I can think of no redeeming quality of such a person, either. Perlman's character degrades everything around him in pursuit of God's wishes, which does not seem so terrible in theory, but is in practice devastating.

Pernell's daughter marries a Jewish woman who wants to take him off life support after he tries to kill himself, after watching his wife raped by a police officer. (This is what Forster thinks law-abiding citizens of America do with their time.) Pernell disobeys her wishes and keeps his son alive, believing the young man can communicate with him, using the power of the Lord, who the rapist is.

Pernell's fellow churchgoers include men and women of color. Pernell finds he relates to them better than the other people in his life, who have only a cursory connection to the Lord. 

That people who believe in God go against his principles is not a contradiction in terms. Ron turns ugliness into its own farcial weaponry on those who understimate him. Whatever gruff charm he has left is kind of like the final snarl of a working hound. 

Austin, TX makes for a flaccid setting, probably because the show is not shot there and because Forster knows nothing of whatever charm might be had in the city. Hand of God does not know whether to condemn belief or consider it a cause roughly on the same level as justice. It is as mixed up as its protagonist.

As bad as the Amazon-funded Hand of God is, it should have been a lot campier, with Perlman in gothic robes and a subplot about Dana Delany's addiction to drugs. Camp really needs to come back; where is Wayne Koestenbaum when we actually need him for once?

This past week was saved by a female performance that will echo through the eons. Kristin Connelly's performance as the wife of Harry Houdini had to be seen to be believed. I invited a lot of my friends over to watch this woman. She was incandescent:

This is what she wore right when the doctor tells her Houdini isn't going to make it. I mean the costume design on this thing was the most moving part of the magician's journey. There's also a moment where she screams at Houdini, why did I marry a Jew? The entire story is quite dramatic. It's weird that Kristen Connolly and Ellie Kemper are two different people, and not twins.

There's a really odd scene in Houdini where Houdini kisses his mother on the lips. It turns out to be the smooch of death, because I guess she died when he went on tour in Europe. The History Channel really brought it this time. I wonder if there was actually a newspaper that said this:

The paper would probably looks authentic, were it not for the motto, "All the News That's Fit To Print." I guess the inaccuracy would be forgivable, I mean William Randolph Hearst was not that big of a dick, and Aladdin was actually a wonderfully effective thief.

Kristen Connolly's effortless line readings were the highlight of this ten-cent production, but Adrien Brody was not terrible himself. His hair was electric, and he made Houdini seem very condescending and obsessive. The actors who played Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and his wife were also excellent:

Campy biopics haven't been this impressive since the Celine Dion biopic with Joe Pantaliano. If you have a chance, treat yourself to that gem. I think the TV Guide network airs it every Kwanzaa.

Dick Cheney is the senior contributor to This Recording. Visit our mobile site at thisrecording.wordpress.com.

"Holloway (Hey Love)" - Wildcat! Wildcat! (mp3)

"Garden Greys" - Wildcat! Wildcat! (mp3)

Monday
Sep292014

In Which Her Mistake Was Waiting Six Episodes

Resemblances

by KARA VANDERBIJL

Just like that, it’s time to bid adieu to Outlander -- at least until April, when the Starz adaptation of Diana Gabaldon’s beloved novel will return to screens with its first season’s final eight episodes. Seriously, whoever created mid-season breaks needs to be taken out and flogged. While that’s happening, let’s take a look at a few things we’ve learned from the show over the past eight weeks:

1

Explaining this story to people who haven’t heard of it never gets easier. Eventually the only solution is to dish up a healthy serving of black pudding, sit them in front of the telly, and make them watch it.

2

Or else pass them a copy of Gabaldon’s book and watch them fall into spasms of delight when they realize there are SEVEN MORE IN THE SERIES.

3

Speaking of spasms, if a group of ancient stones starts whispering to you, your vacation is not going well and you need to leave.

4

Should you get sucked into the past via the aforementioned stones, don’t fret: your life is about to get a whole lot more exciting.

5

People pay good money to have experiences like yours, Claire. Haven’t you heard of living museums?

6

Just think: if you travel back to the past, you start a never-ending cycle wherein you never really cease to exist.

7

Don’t trust Redcoats.

8

If the captain of the Redcoats, who looks suspiciously like the husband you left behind in the future, starts confessing his sadism to you, this is not your cue to let your guard down.

9

This isn’t Fifty Shades of Grey.

10

But it is a romance, so look alive, Claire!

11

When you have a completely unexplained but intense attraction to a perfect redhead who calls you by a cute nickname and wears a kilt, you need to do what God intended and jump his bones immediately. Don’t wait six episodes.

12

Then again, seven is the perfect number, isn’t it?

13

The wedding is pivotal, and not just because of its consummation. Every decision thereafter involves another person. Claire cannot escape through the stones anymore without facing the consequences. There are consequences, there is loss, on both sides now.

14

Outlander as a portrait of female desire.

15

Then again…

16

If you are a woman in the 18th century, you will narrowly escape rape in pretty much every episode.

17

By the end I wouldn’t have been surprised if Claire had just rolled her eyes and hiked up her skirts. “Let’s just get this over with.”

18

All in all, it has always been a drag to be a woman.

19

But that’s okay, because Jamie exists.

20

Behind every good woman is a well-written male character.

21

There are few greater male characters than ones who are written into existence by women who are obviously in love with them.

22

If you don’t believe me, read the books.

23

Scars are sexy.

24

Do NOT fuck with anybody whose last name is Randall.

25

If your name is Frank Randall, you’re boring but we still feel sorry for you. We’re sorry you’re boring. Somehow, despite being boring, you manage to be important, which probably wasn’t easy for Diana Gabaldon and certainly isn’t for Tobias Menzies, who plays you. He’s doing a great job, though.

26

Frank, your theme song is Fleetwood Mac’s “Secondhand News.”

27

Obviously casting Menzies as both Frank and his ancestor, Black Jack Randall, was a key move, if only because it gets us thinking about family resemblances, which aren’t just skin deep. Violence, abandonment, detachment, psychopathy… couldn’t they also be inherited?

28

The following things look comfortable: sheepskins, kilts, cloaks, Highland grass, those cozy knit caps all the guys seem to wear, not having to wear any panties under your skirts (!)

29

The following things do not look comfortable: corsets, any of the chairs, that weird roll thing Claire has to strap around her middle to make her ass look bigger underneath her skirts, saddles, putting a knife inside your boot, being flogged, wigs, those strips of cloth men had to tie around their necks for whatever reason, not having to wear any panties under your skirts

30

Everything else aside, ripping open a bodice seems pretty satisfying.

31

There are a lot of ancient euphemisms for sex and all of them are wonderful but they’re used in such distasteful situations that it’s hard to imagine asking anyone to grind your corn and have it sound even remotely inviting.

32

None of the food looks good.

33

Books aren’t just for smarts; they’re also for tickling the deep, abiding parts in all of us that want to fall in love. That want adventure, and risk, and a good, hot, long roll in the hay discarding 18th-century clothes. That want men who wear their kilts and scars with pride.

34

Romance is the only genre.

Kara VanderBijl is the managing editor of This Recording.


Friday
Sep262014

In Which We Rummage Through The Center Console

Too Shy

by TAYLOR HINE

Mercifully, the blizzard had subsided. The sun shined for the first time in nearly a week, from a cloudless, clear sky. My father’s black Nissan Sentra was completely buried beneath clean, crystalline snow, untarnished. The curve of the car’s roof was barely visible. Before long, my father shoveled a driveway full of melting snow, and my mother and I packed our bags. We loaded them into the Jeep Cherokee and began the three-day drive to southern Louisiana, where my best friend lived.

I own the Cherokee now, and the tape player works just as fluidly and magically as it did when I was a child. My mother rummaged through the center console, moving plastic cassette covers around, searching. I leaned forward to watch her.

“Oooh,” she said, presenting a black and white cover to me. It was the strangest I’d ever seen: A man with long hair and a beard to match looked to be on his knees, tossing a clear ball into the air. Next to him was another man with unnaturally long legs in a black suit, holding a cane and sipping from a glass, head tilted upward. Behind them was an empty doorway, and FLEETWOOD MAC was printed across the top in a strange font.

I glanced at my mother quizzically.

“You’ve never heard this?” she exclaimed, then smiled. She put the tape in as my father drove eastward, away from the mountains.

Road trips are sleepy affairs for me, pleasantly so, and “Monday Morning” was not unwelcome for me in that moment because the excitement of a trip just begun had yet to wear off. The first time I fell in love with the idea of falling in love was with “Warm Ways,” and “Landslide” told me that love is something that people actually fear. They may not know what it is and, even as adults, they may not have actually grown up yet. When I heard “Landslide” for the first time, I knew it was beautiful, and I was aware of the passage of time in a different way other than a ten-year-old might.

My parents bought The Dance, their 1997 live album, for my twelfth birthday – the first CD I ever owned. I had recently won a silver stereo from having raised the most money for a school fundraiser, and it was rarely off when I was at home. A year before, I had taken a series of guitar lessons, only to tuck my guitar away in my closet mere days after they ended.

The version of “Big Love” on that album made me pick up my guitar again the very same day I heard it. I was convinced that I would be able to pick up right where I left off without having practiced, and when I fumbled with the strings and dropped my pick inside the guitar not once, but twice, I gave up, thinking that I would never be good enough to play “Big Love” anyway.

+

In middle school, we were required to take a year of typing classes, which consisted of interactive games that tested our speed and accuracy. On Fridays, we were allowed to bring in a CD of our choice and listen to it on our computers as long as we brought our own headphones. My parents had bought The Very Best of Fleetwood Mac for me recently (God knows why, because they owned most of their studio albums anyway). A boy next to me said, “Is that Fleetwood Mac?” as if there could be another Fleetwood anything.

“Yeah,” I said, smiling over at him shyly.

“My parents listened to them while we were living in the Ukraine. All the time. Fleetwood Mac is their favorite band. We moved here last year.” His voice was thickly accented, and I liked it.

I smiled again. “Want to listen to the second disc of this?”

He and I never became actual friends; I was too shy and withdrawn to really make friends with anyone – not for long, anyway – and this lasted for several more years.

Throughout middle school, I rode the bus from our suburb with a group of kids who teased me mercilessly whenever they saw what was playing on my iPod. I’d tried desperately hard to listen to the likes of Britney Spears and Backstreet Boys back in the early 2000s, for the simple reason that all the other kids were, too. It didn’t take me long to appreciate not why my mother didn’t let me listen to her, but that she didn’t let me.

“Who’s Fleetwood Mac?” one boy, named Leo, scoffed.

I rolled my eyes, turned up the music, and leaned my head against the window, looking out.

+

You can’t really talk about Fleetwood Mac without talking about the relationship between Stevie Nicks and Lindsey Buckingham.

The Dance was released as a concert DVD, and I watched it one Saturday morning with my mother. Lindsey remained carefully in shadow while he deftly played “Silver Springs,” just behind Stevie, and he looked at her intently all the while. Christine, John, and Mick all remained on the periphery. I thought that, perhaps, it may have been a stage act – hadn’t they broken up thirty years ago? Was this for the benefit of the audience, to keep them guessing? Was it to keep the spirit of the old band in the audience’s minds? I didn’t know. I couldn’t ignore how they looked at one another, how he seemed to avoid her eyes when she sang at him. Like the “voice will haunt you,” this performance haunts me still.

Back when Rumours was in the process of being released early in 1977, Stevie was told that “Silver Springs” was too long to fit on the album, and that another song of hers, “I Don’t Want to Know,” was to replace it. In a BBC radio interview back in 1991, Stevie talked about the incident.

And then I started to scream bloody murder and probably said every horribly mean thing that you could possibly say to another human being, and walked back in the studio completely flipped out. I said, 'Well, I'm not gonna sing ‘I Don't Want To Know.’ I am one-fifth of this band.' And they said. 'Well, if you don't like it, you can either (a) take a hike or (b) you better go out there and sing "I Don't Want To Know" or you're only gonna have two songs on the record.' And so, basically, with a gun to my head, I went out and sang ‘I Don't Want To Know’. And they put "Silver Springs" on the back of ‘Go Your Own Way.’

This placement of “Silver Springs” with the “Go Your Own Way” single is interesting, given that thet represent the two sides of their breakup during that period. It’s no wonder that people still feel this album, still listen to it fervently, and it’s no wonder why it remains one of the greatest selling albums of all time. Songs being tossed back and forth at one another in the wake of a breakup – and these don’t even comprise the entire album – who would ask for more? This is why we love Adele’s 21, or Taylor Swift’s Speak Now or Red: they are up for interpretation, either in the context of our own lives or in the musicians. In many cases, the writers will come out and say directly who or what these songs concern.

Celebrities are treated as fictional characters in the real world – the stuff of myth and stories that just happen to be alive. We forget that they are actual people. For me, musicians hold a more significant place than, say, an actor or celebrity chef. They expose themselves the most through their work, through their words, and at the same time, like other celebrities, are subject to media attention. I will only pry into their lives as far as interviews and biographies will allow me. However, when they lay emotions out in their songs, or stories, or anecdotes, it’s incredibly hard not to want to know more: Are they inviting us to figure out what they’re saying about themselves, or about ourselves?

Interpretation of songs is a double-edged sword: it can be either universal or in the context of the songwriter or band. I try to stick to the universal end of things, where it’s safe, where I’m not treading dangerous ground. Of course, Fleetwood Mac is one of those rare exceptions, because we know so much about them and their relationships with one another, so much about Lindsey's violent streak and Stevie's affair with Mick, that we can't help but wonder.

+

My mother and father picked me up from school on a dark, overcast day. Light filtered through the clouds and dispersed evenly among the kids, the houses, the sidewalks, and the playground.

“We have a quick errand to run before we go home,” my father said as he pulled away from the school.

He consulted some printed MapQuest directions and drove us to what looked to be an abandoned warehouse.

“Where have you brought us?” my mother asked him irritably.

“I just followed the directions. I’m not sure what this place is even supposed to be.”

Fleetwood Mac’s latest album, Say You Will, had been playing with the volume turned low. The CD started over again, the player making small noises, adjusting itself. They began to shout. I reached between them to turn the volume up, for the first time having the audacity to come between them and remind them that I was there, that I was witnessing all of their un-love.

Lindsey’s voice soared over theirs, the guitar and bass booming everything else out. I closed my eyes and leaned back into my seat.

+

It isn’t the artist’s job to hold the hand of the viewer or listener when the work is presented. There certainly can be, and often there are, clues. Words can have different interpretations, even if they don’t make a whole lot of sense – and this can be very, very bad at times. We can’t assume that Buckingham and Nicks wrote their songs solely for and about one another just because they were together at one point. But it’s so much damn fun, trying to figure out exactly what they’re saying to us. We then wonder: Who are they speaking to? Each other? Us? Themselves? Why can’t it be all of these?

Taylor Hine is the senior contributor to This Recording. She is a writer living in Denver. She tumbls here. You can find an archive of her writing for This Recording here.

"Landslide" - Antony (mp3)

"Future Games" - MGMT (mp3)