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Alex Carnevale
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Mia Nguyen
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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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Thursday
Jul022015

In Which We Find Nicholas Ray In A Lonely Place

This is the second in a series about the life of the director Nicholas Ray. You can find the first part here.

A Dangerous Fault

by ALEX CARNEVALE

He has a dangerous fault in work. You feel that he is thinking a little bit more about himself, and the angles, than the material. This comes out of his uncertainty.

Hollywood in the late 1940s was a dangerous place for anyone who had ever has the slightest association with the Communist party. The director Nicholas Ray had recently married an actress named Gloria Grahame after impregnating her.  He could not afford to be blacklisted; he had to work. So he turned to his friend Howard Hughes.


At RKO, Hughes' mission was to make anti-Communist films — he did not particularly care the politics of the people who made them. Ray refused to direct a movie called I Married A Communist because it hit too close to home — his friend Gene Kelly had done just that. His first film, They Live By Night, had been shelved and  a proper follow-up, starring Joan Fontaine as a miscast bad girl, was something of a mess as well.

He was unhappy with his marriage, too. Grahame was beautiful, but as Patrick McGilligan explains in his masterful biography Nicholas Ray: The Glorious Failure of an American Director, Ray admitted he was "infatuated with her: but I did not like her very much." At the start, their connection was mostly sexual, with Ray's friends in awe that he was able to even maintain an erection given the amount of alcohol he consumed.

Gloria loved sex more than her husband. One of her friends suggested that when they were out, Gloria stood behind Ray with her eyes cast to the ground. Ray's gambling and drinking were spiralling out of control — Grahame and her mother would spend hours replacing his cocaine with sugar.

One of Ray's closest friends, Humphrey Bogart, was his star in the legal drama Knock On Any Door. In 1951, they planned to reunite for a picture in which Bogart would play a man with the double life of a screenwriter and serial killer. The working title was In A Lonely Place. Because the Production Code was loathe to approve the concept of Bogart as a multiple murderer, Ray and producer Robert Lord rewrote the script to make Bogart only a potential suspect in the case.


In A Lonely Place is a masterpiece of atmosphere and mood over actual content. Bogart plays his usual caustic individual, but Ray pushes the character into something like a literary supervillain. They had great trouble casting Bogart's love interest-victim until Ray suggested his wife. In order to get the film publicity they drew up a his-and-hers contract where Ray's second wife was forbidden to "nag, cajole, tease or in any other feminine fashion seek to distract or influence him" during the film's production.


On set, the real intimacy was between the heterosexual Bogart and the indeterminate Ray. The particulars of the relationship depended entirely on which of them was drinking at the time. "At certain times when I would not drink," Ray later wrote, "when filming, particularly or the preparation before filming, our relationship would alter. In some ways it became deeper, in others, only more formal."

Ray rewrote the novel's ending to reflect the dark nature of the relationship between himself and Grahame. The real-life parallels were all too obvious to everyone on set of In A Lonely Place, and Bogart convinced the studio that it all actually worked, so Ray's new ending stood. Although not very successful at the box office, In A Lonely Place established Ray as a director who was doing new things that other men in the industry could only dream of.


The closeness necessitated by their working together drove Ray and Gloria Grahame even further apart. He moved his things out of their Sunset Boulevard home and slept in his trailer. They kept up the fiction of their marriage in order to protect their young son, but the gossip columnists broke the story. Grahame's deep hurt was expressed on a series of men, while Ray started an on-again-off-again courtship of a younger woman named Marilyn Monroe.

One night Ray walked in on his 13-year-old son Anthony from a previous marriage inside of his soon-to-be-ex-wife. The story followed Ray everywhere. (It only worsened the situation in 1962 when his look-alike son and Gloria Grahame reconnected and decided to exchange vows of marriage.) The betrayal meant more drinking, more drug use, and when he could get it, more of Marilyn.

Alex Carnevale is the editor of This Recording.

"Crux" - Jean Grae (mp3)

"August 20th" - Jean Grae (mp3)

Wednesday
Jul012015

In Which We Find Someone Who Can Play The Bass

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.

Hi,

Aaron has been dating my friend Katy for just short of two years. She loves him dearly and sees a future for them together. They are both in their late twenties. Recently, Aaron told me in confidence that his Italian-born parents want him to take a long trip to Italy and "find a wife there." I guess this is something of a tradition. He has had some great experiences with his family in Italy and he confessed that it is something he has considered. 

I recently observed someone ask Aaron whether he had a girlfriend, and he said yes, "She is really nice." This struck me as true but also a bit underwhelming. Do I tell Katy any of this, and how do I advise Aaron?

Priya C.

Dear Priya,

That's how someone would describe material possessions, like a soft pashmina or an adopted pug, not a significant other. There's definitely a lack of passion in his cadence and demeanor. According to his missteps, the red flags line up perfectly. One, he doesn't love Katy enough and is already resorting to flying out to Italy. Two, a part of him still wants to please his parents to fill a void (i.e. parents never got him the Yorkshire terrier he wanted on his 5th birthday). 

When we were younger, my parents knew my brothers and I weren't going to have traditional marriages. Not every parent is going to let their child run into the wild to figure their own romantic endeavors. They fully accepted the upcoming cultural and generational shifts. Marriage is just the cherry on top for them. I rolled merrily along with my life and didn't expect anything of it until I met a girl in college who had an arranged marriage. She fell in love with him as time went on, but it was an unusual and fortunate circumstance not everyone is so lucky to have. 

Aaron should fully accept the full responsibility of what is to come. If he is percolating the idea of flying to Italy quite heavily then he should tell how Katy how he really feels about her. More importantly, ask him if Katy is his soulmate, or if the timing is right, "his soulsies."

Hi,

My stepsister Andrea has a young son named Ruben of 12. He is hyperactive and frequently embarasses her in front of company. I realize he has behavorial problems, but my fiancee isn't as used to dealing with him as I am. Our wedding is in a few months and she has said in no uncertain terms that she does not want Ruben to be anywhere around us that day.

I realize the possibility of ruining the ceremony would be terrible, but I have suggested as a compromise that he could attend the reception where more than one individual is likely to embarrass themselves. I feel it would be a long-remembered omission to disinvite a member of my family who is a part of our lives, even if he has issues with ADHD.

Mark S.

Dear Mark,

You're actually thinking of disobeying your-wife-to-be's wishing on your wedding day? You stupid, naive motherfucker. Compromises are for Chamberlain and when they are all out of whole wheat wraps. If your family holds it against you or your wife that you made this unilateral decision, it's their problem.

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

 

"Genesis" - Lau Nau (mp3)

"Kuoleman Laiva" - Lau Nau (mp3)

 

 

Tuesday
Jun302015

In Which Ted's Behavior Reaches A Critical Turning Point

Outlet Shopping

by ALEX CARNEVALE

Ted 2
dir. Seth MacFarlane
115 minutes

At the beginning of Ted 2 the title character is living in a two-room apartment with his wife Tami-Lynn (Jessica Barth). The two have slowly been growing apart. After examining their credit card bills, Ted determines that his wife has spent $120 on clothing at Filene's Basement, an amount he deems excessive for an outlet store. He lashes out at Tami-Lynn, asking her why she needs nice clothing for work when her job as a grocery store cashier demands she wear an apron over it.

Due to drug use, Tami-Lynn's ovaries have been corrupted into a black fugue. Because they cannot have a child together, and no agency sees them as fit adoptive parents, Ted considers their marriage effectively over. This is the single most offensive notion in Ted 2, although it is not the first time that fertility issues have let directly to divorce.

The rest of Ted's jokes aren't terribly offensive at all. They are scaled back a lot from MacFarlane's long-running animated series Family Guy, where some of the things said about blacks, Jews, women and Frank Sinatra are downright disrespectful. Ted 2 is tame in comparison - most of the humor is about ejaculation and blowjobs. Seth at least had the dignity to hire African-American actors to say the really wretched things.


In order to get Ted certified as a person and not a material good, he and his friend John (Mark Wahlberg) hire a lawyer named Samantha (Amanda Seyfried). MacFarlane spends most of the movie making fun of Seyfried's disturbingly prominent eyes. Despite enjoying Ted's favorite pasttime — marijuana smoking — Samathana is deemed not as cool as a 40 year old guy wearing what appears to be a hairpiece and a stuffed teddy because she has never seen Rocky 3.


Ted 2 was begging for a road movie where MacFarlane could really examine America up close and make jokes about people the elites on the coasts secretly suspect are inbred racists who believe in omnipotent supernatural beings.

Instead Seth targets most of his jokes here at the elites themselves, since most of these one-liners, except the one involving Wahlberg being coated in semen, can only be understood with a college degree or by Good Will Hunting-esque prodigies.


Ted 2 starts to get exceptionally dreary and dull in its second act, when a long courtroom scene slows the comedy to a devastating crawl. Neither Wahlberg or Seyfried is good at anything much escept being a straight man. This would normally be fine, but Ted is just a despondent, rather depressing individual here and even his normal joie de vivre would not be enough to carry material this dull. This Ted is not wild or funny at all, just sad that no one respects his choices or personality.

The rest of the movie is not much better, as Ted's depression leads him to walk around Comic Con where a vendor is selling his clones for $40, and a Hasbro employee named Donny (Giovanni Ribisi) tries to analyze him for science.

Ted 2 reminds one of the serious turn taken by John Landis' worst movie, Beverly Hills Cop 3. Beverly Hills Cop 3 would never have been released today. Someone would have seen it for what it was — a dramatic version of a comedy series predicated on Eddie Murphy's wild improvisation. He refused to do any of that in the production of Beverly Hills Cop 3, thinking this wacky kind of behavior did not fit an older, more mature detective. He may have been right, but no one wanted to see it.

Alex Carnevale is the editor of This Recording.

"The Starting Line" - Matt Pond PA (mp3)

"A Second Lasts A Second" - Matt Pond PA (mp3)