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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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In Which There Is Only One Cure For Seasickness

Waves Like A Small Puppy


The idea that animals think like human beings, she said, is more insulting to animals than a credit to them.

I said, "I never stated a dog thought like a human, only that they sometimes act like one."

She asked me to explain how a dog acted like a human without listing characteristics that are common to every living thing to provide my point.

I said that there was a dog who could identify a bunch of toys by what words her master said.

"What the hell, Dan. You watch 60 Minutes?" she said. She skipped rocks, but unlike anyone I had ever seen before, she went to get the ones she had thrown. I explained that dogs did the same thing.

She said that she did that because of erosion, and dogs did not know what erosion was, so she and Toby could not be thinking the same.

I said, "I think what goes on in his brain is a series of impulses, and his behavior comes from how those impulses bounce off the things he is told to do." I was waving my hands around a lot as I said this.

"You're describing yourself," she said. She did a little dance and boarded the tug boat that takes you to some shopping. A man onboard got seasick and had to be let off at a dock where a dock said, "TAKE THE SEA. LEAVE THE OLD MAN."

I put my arm around her but it felt odd, given the movement of the boat, so I put Toby in her lap and tried to remain calm.

"I don't understand why every one thing," she said, "has to be like something else. Why must a dog be like a man? I don't want him to be."

I said that comparing what we do know with what we don't is a starting point. At this point nausea filled my stomach, like bubbles were pinging against the wall of my insides, trying to make a sound, any sound at all.

I managed, "It appears like you just don't like people who anthropomorphize their pets. That's a very strange pet peeve. By the way, I think I am going to be sick."

She said that I should choose an object in the distance to focus my vision on, and try to keep my gaze level while I looked at it. I nodded. "I also cured the hiccups," she said.

"No you didn't," I said. "How?"

"You only have to replace one involuntary behavior with another. Whenever I get them, I go right to the toilet."

Back at the marina, I was feeling better. I bought Toby a rawhide bone shaped like a dolphin. He rolled on it.

Dan Carville is the senior contributor to This Recording. You can find an archive of his writing on This Recording here.

"Outside" - Calvin Harris ft. Ellie Goulding (mp3)

"Love Now" - Calvin Harris ft. All About She (mp3)


In Which We Understand This Is Difficult Guys

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.


Bottom line, I'm with my girlfriend because she's overweight. Or at least, that's how we met. I'm attracted to women of her shape and size, and so was immediately drawn to her for that reason. But of course, in the time we've been dating, I've fallen in love with her for many other reasons. When people ask us how we met, or what attracted us to one another at first, it's awkward. I don't want to lie, but I also feel like the truth is unacceptable. Please help.

Alan B.

Dear Alan,

Acceptable or not, the truth will always be set free. You, my friend, need own up to your personal tastes with finesse. Not the type of finesse where you find yourself resembling Matthew McConaughey pounding his chest in front of Leonard DiCaprio, hair perfectly coiffed. 

Your significant other might suspect something is up if she finds out you've been hiding. Women are intuitive and know when things are awry. A myriad of problems will arise if you continue to clench your secret, which will ultimately ruin your chances of her ever putting out in addition to other things. For example, she'll stop crooning Natalie Imbruglia in your ear in her underwear. Your chances of her suggesting bottomless Sunday brunches are pretty much over.

You can't mask your insecurities with more lies. The relationship you two have built over time is something to be proud of. Accept your love for larger women with grace and eloquence. If not, then it's probably best to weep in the corner of a Barnes and Noble with a copy of The Surrendered by Chang-rae Lee.



I started using Tinder last week and it was my first time using the app. All my buddies rave about it as being the best app to meet girls, so I went for it. I went on a few dates with this one girl, and she seemed distant and uninterested, but would end up being an exuberant person via text. I have no interest in seeing her for the next date that we planned. I'm being honest with myself and don't see our relationship going anywhere. I want to express it to her in the most gentle way possible without being offensive. How should I approach this? Should I call her? The thing is, I don't want to hear the sound of her voice. 

Kenny C.

Dear Kenny,

You didn't have a great time, yet you planned another date. What happened there? Did she insist upon it? Were you swayed by her superior texting skills? Did you just not want to let her down? If so, it might be worth exploring why you're so intent on saving face.

It's Tinder, for god's sake. It's not like you bumped into each other on the street and discovered you'd both been listening to the same Celine Dion hit, wondering if this could be the day you meet The One. No. You both used an app that allows people to hook up with one another based on their proximity and selfie skills. Don't make this into more than it was.

At this point, you don't owe her more than, "Thanks for meeting up with me last week, but I really don't see this going anywhere. BFFs?" Chances are she'll be like, "God I'm so glad I don't have to waste my superior texting skills on you for another minute, peasant." Poof. You're free.

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



In Which Birdman Makes An Ingenious Move

Birdman, Black Swan and Gender Performance Anxiety


Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance)
dir. Alejandro González Iñárritu
119 minutes

Alexander Iñárritu’s new film Birdman opens with a sustained view of the back of Michael Keaton’s body, clothed only in white jockey shorts, asking us to scrutinize the physical tolls of aging – the sagging, the balding, the spots.  Yet we can’t help but notice that he is levitating feet above the ground, the first indication that he retains the afterglow of great powers. Keaton plays Riggan Thomson, a middle-aged Hollywood movie star, who writes, acts, and directs in an adaptation of Raymond Carver’s work on the Broadway stage.  

The film derives an extra punch from Keaton’s star-text: his status as the Batman of the 1980s and his subsequent disappearance from the Hollywood scene. In Birdman, Riggan is literally haunted by the character, Birdman, that made him famous; this superhero-cum-alter ego dwells in his dressing room and unconscious, reminding him of his glory days and scoffing at his turn to the theater. Riggan yearns to make good art in a world that only seems to reward cheap exhibitionism.

With his enormous feathery black wings, Birdman offers an unexpected visual echo of Natalie Portman’s nightmarish black swan in the 2010 film of that name.

Like her avian vision, Riggan’s Birdman is ominous and omnipresent, pecking at him with insults and reminders of how he has fallen from big box office stardom. Both films reveal the porous boundary between self and role that characterizes immersive performance. And like Black Swan, Birdman examines the emotional and physical costs of performance, especially the relentless self-scrutiny it inspires. 

Whereas the self-destructive consequences of the female beauty standard are coming to be widely acknowledged, Birdman’s study of aging male celebrity reveals that no one is immune from the ravages of our culture of images. The film constantly dwells on male anatomy, making an equation between cultural relevance and masculine potency.

Edward Norton stars in Riggan’s play and serves as a reminder of Riggan’s own aging body. He proudly displays an erection on stage, a feat that he can apparently only accomplish in that venue. The alter-ego Birdman equates Riggan’s move away from the big screen with irrelevance and failure. Urging him to return to his superhero franchise, he tells Riggan, “Sixty is the new thirty.” We might read this as Hollywood’s injunction to the stars it creates: sixty must be the new thirty; there is no room for older people. Renee Zellweger’s surgically altered face is a case in point, but Birdman reminds us that this is true for male bodies as well.

Birdman juxtaposes multiple media forms, including high and low literature, the theater, and the superhero franchise, in order to reflect on the fate of American entertainment. But even as Birdman laments the decline of serious art, it is an experimental, new kind of film that doesn’t resort to older techniques. Indeed, the entire film appears as one long continuous shot without a cut.

This ingenious formal move emphasizes the extent to which the characters are always on stage, always performing, and the distinction between representation and reality erodes. Birdman transforms the well-trodden narrative of the old, white man in decline into a truly original statement on the state of celebrity and age in contemporary culture.

Sari Edelstein is the senior contributor to This Recording. She teaches American literature at the University of Massachusetts-Boston. She doesn't tumbl or tweet. She last wrote in these pages about Richard Linklater's Boyhood. Experience our mobile site at thisrecording.wordpress.com.

"Surrender" - Bush (mp3) 

"The Only Way Out" - Bush (mp3)