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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
Feb212017

In Which Katherine Heigl Falls In Love With A Murderer

Knocked Down

by DICK CHENEY

Doubt
creators Joan Rater & Tony Phelan
CBS

"He's the first guy I feel like I could really talk to," Katherine Heigl explains to her mother, who is serving a life sentence since she was two years old. Her mother is very proud of Katherine Heigl, who has become a noted defense attorney. Why isn't anyone else proud of Katherine Heigl?

Actually, her boyfriend is. "You fight like most people breathe," Billy (Steven Pasquale) explains to her over dinner. He has just been released from prison on bail, but Katherine Heigl still finds something attractive about this pediatric surgeon, who is going to be convicted of a murder he committed twenty-four years earlier in Gramercy Park. He is really proud of Katherine Heigl: her education, after all, is considerable. She made it through four years of NYU without killing herself, and then headed uptown to Columbia for her law degree. It taught her, somewhere along the line, that it was OK to make love to her client. "We are the lucky ones," she muses in a private moment.

Katherine Heigl has everything she could ever want, yet people still don't want to watch her. At times she looks like a skeleton riding a bike through New York City in Doubt, the new show from the married Grey's Anatomy producers Joan Rater and Tony Phelan; she resembles a muppet when she is in the courtroom and her lips come together just so. Dulé Hill just looks at her like, "Why am I on this show?"

I guess it all comes back to when Katherine Heigl started saying bad things about Judd Apatow and how much Knocked Up sucked. It did suck, but maybe it was supposed to? 2007 was a very confusing year for a lot of people. Perhaps it was not the best idea to cast Ms. Heigl in a show that is exactly like Grey's Anatomy. "Travel's not my thing," she explains to her boyfriend at dinner, in an attempt to become even more unlikable to her target audience.

Men gave up on Katherine Heigl when she savagely turned on Seth Rogen, causing him to retreat into his office where he smoked so much pot that he drove other people out of the building. Women could still have a chance of liking Katherine Heigl, but Doubt gives them so many reasons not to do so. Personally, I love Katherine Heigl. Did you know that Katherine Heigl has two adopted children in real life, and is dating a murderer in not real life? "It's not going to be easy to explain the coincidence of the cat scratch to the jury!" someone bleats in the background.

In order to discover the reasons why Katherine Heigl's unpopularity has led to such low ratings, it behooved me to research the cause of Katherine Heigl's unpopularity with her key audience. This resulted in a somewhat combative conversation with my wife Lynne, which I have reproduced below to the best of my memory.

ME (DC): Do you think Katherine Heigl uses a loofah?

LYNNE: I don't believe she can actually ride a bike. That's probably a stunt double.

DC: Did you feel betrayed when she left Grey's Anatomy?

LYNNE: Not really, I mean, she was an actress on a TV show.

DC: Do you think Katherine Heigl smells like gasoline and Head & Shoulders?

LYNNE: They were still rolling out the credits on this show fifteen minutes in. Is that Omar Epps?

DC: No. Do you think people who travel don't like people who don't travel?

LYNNE: I don't understand the question.

To be fair, Doubt's questionable command of civil procedure renders the show essentially an extended fantasy sequence. In one of the show's key subplots, another attorney (Laverne Cox) wins the trial of a deranged man who pushed a woman in front of a subway. Afterwards, she commiserates with her associate (Dreama Walker), who exclaims, "Our client is on his way to a mental institution and we're supposed to be celebrating?" Where did she want a murderer to go, vacation?

Are you maybe starting to get the same sense that I am, that at one point Shonda Rimes killed a dude and the point of all these hour-long shows is to slowly legitimize murder in the eyes of the public until she confesses to Oprah and everyone is like, well, Viola Davis killed several people and continued a fruitful teaching career in a top tier law school, so you're fine Shonda?

But back to Katherine Heigl, the only subject really worth writing about. I have devised some suggestions for Katherine Heigl, so that she can resume her rightful career as a serious television and film star. My first thought was that she should do a role with an accent. Katherine Heigl with a southern accent would be just darling. If she can't do an accent, than she should stop dieting down to fit preconceived stereotypes about how leading ladies should look and play the role of a woman who is almost permanently pregnant. Gentile pregnant women are very sympathetic.

Anyway, it is kind of sad that Doubt is such a mess. I think part of the problem is that the show is photographed and scored like every other Shonda Rimes show. It just comes across feeling so generic at this point. Plus Katherine Heigl's outfits are not so exciting in this. She wears a lot of sweaters and the ensuing sexual milieu is extremely dated. I understand she is a powerful attorney in this diegesis, but she's already making love to her client, so keeping up appearances otherwise is maybe a misguided use of resources.

Dulé Hill and Katherine Heigl have a lot of chemistry. It would have been great fun to see them taking off their clothes, and I think that is where Doubt was eventually going down the road, but we'll never know now because the show is doing such garbage ratings. That's a shame, because I would have really enjoyed seeing their bodies press together. It would have sounded like a car wash.

Dick Cheney is the senior contributor to This Recording.

Monday
Feb202017

In Which Marriage Remains Not Quite As Sweet As You Think

Just Another Apple User

by ETHAN PETERSON

Imposters
creators Paul Adelstein & Adam Brooks
Bravo

Despite having been bilked out of his life savings by a disingenuous American woman named Saffron (Inbar Lavi), things are still pretty great for Ezra (Rob Heaps). For one, he does not appear to have much in the way of life savings, as much of his wealth is the wealth of his parents who run some kind of business. Ezra's bullshit detector should have been ringing loud and clear when a purported waitress from Belgium agreed to convert to Judaism, but for some reason he felt this was par for the course. He'd had a wonderful life.

After Saffron leaves, Ezra meets Richard (Parker Young), who looks almost exactly like him. This is partly because neither actor is in, fact, Jewish, which is a very hurtful casting choice. You will spend a lot of time trying to tell Ezra and Richard apart, although the key can be found in Ezra's questionable American accent, which slips into British inflection from time-to-time. In the pilot episode of Imposters, Ezra attempts to kill himself with an extension cord after trying to put his head in an oven. He succeeds at neither enterprise, which weirdly makes us loathe him even more. What kind of man sees his marriage fall apart and becomes even less sympathetic? The man with the cringey name of Ezra Bloom.

This is cannily done by creators Paul Adelstein and Adam Brooks, since if Saffron really was a monster, then they couldn't spend all her scenes putting this attractive Israeli-American actress in a series of less likely outfits. "She's just doing her job," Imposters convinces us to think, since the show is not really interested in the victims of crime, who all share a similar (boring) psychological profile exposing their own weakness and vanity. The imposters themselves are the focus here, led by a woman named Lenny Cohen (Uma Thurman).

Victims, according to Imposters, do not really lose much that is not already missing. This is completely fucked up, but what else would you expect from Bravo? After Ezra finds his wife gone, he plans to call the police so he can rescue her from her captors before he views the message she has left for him. It is super-apologetic and very nice overall, thanking him for their time together and asking that he not try to find her. It was a great deal more kind than any break-up I have ever had.

Instead of taking his wife's well-meant advice, Ezra completely self-destructs. He gets increasingly drunk and tries to convince his friend Gaby (Megan Park) to adopt a Belgian accent during intercourse, since it is the only way he can really get turned on now. Shortly thereafter he finds out that Saffron had engaged a third victim, a woman named Jules (Marianne Rendon), to whom she was also married. The badinage between these three people is enough to make even Lorelai Gilmore take a nap.

Jules lives in the most magical apartment I have ever personally witnessed. Eventually, Imposters means us to conclude that Saffron and her group of con artists only target people with such astronomical sources of revenue that it would be hard to feel any concern for them at all. How would they even miss the loss of income? Even the emotional damage, we are led to believe, is considerably less. Wasn't Saffron sort of well-meaning in how she broke these people's hearts?

First the Bravo Network ruined the entire concept of divorce, which I had so much faith in up until now. Now they purport to implode the entire premise of human emotions and trust in general. These are deeply cynical, awful television executives, and it somehow makes it so much worse than they have cast these extremely beautiful and kind actresses in the roles of villains. The only time I ever really hated Uma Thurman was when she was intimate with Quentin Tarantino.

Watching Ms. Lavi perform Saffron's various roles, including the cuckold of an asshole banker (Aaron Douglas) and the boyfriend of a tech mogul (Stephen Bishop), is quite frankly delightful. She is extremely talented at using her body language to convincingly influence other actors — she gives them so much to engage with as a performer. Ms. Lavi's different accents begin to slip at times, but who can blame her? Each of the people whose lives she enters would probably give her everything if she simply asked

Ethan Peterson is the reviews editor of This Recording.

 

Friday
Feb172017

In Which We Calmed Down After The Screaming In The Sky

Second Person

by DAN CARVILLE

I like a girl with personality. I have a lot of personality myself, and when I see someone else that has it, my heart goes out to them. – Ross Macdonald

The thing about the second person that is a mistake is that writers like you think it is the only form of address. Maybe your ex will feel it is him or her you are really saying this all to, and when they realize that, they will come to their senses. Only if you had ever become important enough to be addressed in the medium of literature, most likely you never even took the time to read about all the people whose hearts you tore up, stomped on, and drowned off the dock at Pacific Point.

There are other modes of address, and I will tell you about them after I get through this. There is a way of writing that is therapeutic, sure. Afterwards, this bracing feeling floods me, like my body is filled with nature, if I am in nature. Coleridge said that you see the beauty if it's inside you, otherwise the viper thoughts are all that's left in the remarkable scene. Then again the man was addicted to opium. After he wrote, he did some more, so each feeling was artificial and he could no longer discern what was therapy, and what was trauma. I don't do drugs anymore: you made sure of that.

Well, the first month we were dating, I was not so sure it was going to last. I told you I was going to Oregon for the weekend and the phone service might not be the best. You said, "You'll get a lot of writing done." You said, "Isn't it beautiful up there?" I had taken a lot of pictures on my phone from another time I was in Oregon. If you really look at a picture you can tell the time it was taken, but I knew you weren't going to go to all that trouble, and that you believed me. I was in Oregon.

I guess it's not really cheating, only I wasn't going to tell you or anyone else about it, and I never have until now, because it is so far past making a difference to anyone. Her name was Patricia, I mean was it really? No, but what do I get out of saying her true name. We already established that I lie. She had this vitality that was something apart from her, feeding off who she was. For that reason Patricia could never get whole. I gave her some Valium I had – I don't remember where I got it, and we went to the museum down here.

It was the exhibition that they have every two years, and she told her friend to come. The friend was a local who was very frumpy and obviously in love with Patricia. She also dated some guy who had been in prison and I think this made her interesting to Patricia, because Patricia's boyfriend was also something of a bad guy for other reasons, not like he went to jail but he had very specific sexual requirements and yelled at her when he drank. In contrast, I realized after listening to their discussion, I must be the most milquetoast fucking person in the world.

I never let myself love Patricia, because I knew nothing would ever come from it. She was a tourist in my life, and that only gives you a sad feeling if you let it. If you (and I don't mean the editorial you) shut down your emotions at the first moment they occur, then they have only happened once, and are unlikely to repeat themselves. That kind of emotional control is priceless, only I do not have it anymore.

I may end up going east for school. That's one of the things I wanted to tell you. I decided it would be better not to have to walk around this place getting reminded of where we got ice cream, or I took you to some dinner on your birthday. Those are sad details now, and the park across from your apartment (that you never went to) is not so bad either. It is quite painful to think of all the misapprehensions I have had about the world, because they make me realize that I see people in that mistaken way as well. For God's sake I trusted you.

When I write 'you', I feel like there is another you, waking up somewhere. That's all I need to get by. But there are other forms of address — more indirect ones.

I visited one school the other day. The students are noticeably younger than I am, but not so much that they will know I have had a hard time up until now. I plan to pretend I am like them: full of this contained grace. It is an asset, as we enter middle age, not to be soured by what we have experienced, but I do think I needed to be touched by the world in order to claim it. Standing at a distance will not help in your writing, or any profession you select. It only means you will not get to pick the moment you are drawn into things.

After the museum, when her friend had gone to sit shiva for her grandmother, Patricia and I fooled around on the beach. It felt like I was alone because you were not there, so I sent you a picture of Oregon. Later I called to hear your voice. I did not like to talk on the phone much before then, but I remember the first time I called you. Outside, a plane was streaking across the sky and I took a picture, since nothing ever seems that close to the moon. We told each other what we knew about ourselves. I know you liked what you heard. I barely even knew you to say hello at that point, but I hoped you did. And those marvelous months together. How did I screw up that up? Oh well.

Dan Carville is the senior contributor to This Recording. He is a writer living in Manhattan. You can find an archive of his writing on This Recording here.