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Alex Carnevale

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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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Robert Altman Week


In Which Red Oaks Takes Us Back To A Certain Time And Place

Something Better


Red Oaks
creators Gregory Jacobs and Joe Gangemi

It was truly disturbing listening to BBC coverage of the referendum on Scottish independence. Pundits trying to pretend to be neutral resulted in more ehhhhs than when Mel Gibson made his speech to the Anti-Defamation League. (The amount of Braveheart memes that spawned from this event was also intolerable.) The British were acting like, "Hey, Scotland has something really great, why would they even think of looking elsewhere?" Scotland responded, "OK fine."

David Myers (the pimply Craig Roberts) has roughly the same situation on his hands. He is in a long term relationship with a wonderful looking blonde Karen (Gage Golightly). She is the yoga instructor at a Jewish country club in New Jersey, and he is the junior tennis pro. On the surface, things seem great:

What was life even like before AppleWatch?

There is always a very good reason that a man is more interested in a brunette than a blonde. Some of these reasons include

1) colorblindness

2) recently saw an episode of Chelsea Lately and was like, "I'm out"

3) Listened to Nina Simone's "Black Is The Color Of My True Love's Hair" during transcendental meditation

4) common sense

5) "the grass is always greener"

6) Neil Strauss' The Game

7) Jane Austen's Mansfield Park

8) Any movie starring Reese Witherspoon's obsequious chin.

Actually, what am I saying, who would pass up a yoga instructor for a human sized mouse?

When David spots a Molly Ringwald-type watching him play tennis against the country club's president Mr. Getty (Paul Reiser), he loses his focus and concentration. Her mystery spans the eons; there is no way she would ever let him take her on the greens of the club's single golf course, so of course she must be more desirable than his current girlfriend.

someone kissing your face while mosquitoes bite your bare thighs is a most unpleasant sensation

Karen wants to move in with David after high school. She thinks they should get a cute dog together and take the little pup for walks. She will pursue her modeling career quietly, and only when David strictly approves of what she is doing. (Unfortunately Terry Richardson was still alive in the 80s, but such danger comes with the territory.) David is not as thrilled by the life Karen has set up for him.

David closely observes the relationship of his parents, portrayed by Richard Kind and Jennifer Grey with the kind of aplomb that the Anti-Defamation League should probably look into when they complete their Mel Gibson investigation. David's father has recently suffered a heart attack, but this incident has resulted in only more bickering and stress.

Jennifer Grey, we hardly knew ye

Watching Grey without her signature schnozz is still very difficult for me, whereas my wife Lynne wondered aloud, "She couldn't throw on a little make up? She's on television" while doing her Joan Rivers impression. David's parents are not in love with each other. There is no passion there: his mother may be a closeted lesbian, and his father has a predilection for Asian women, both of which are so noxious a stereotype that you might notice it if you weren't too busy observing the glory of Karen in her natural habitat:

Getting menopausal women to wear blue eyeshadow should have been the focus
of Michelle Obama's wellness initiative

Sure, Red Oaks does start to feel a bit cobbled together after awhile, but David Gordon Green excels at giving us something that is completely familiar and filling it with new surprises. It makes a dark sense that people stay in unhappy relationships while they continue to pursue new ones. Could Scotland maybe find a better God? They'd rather have England on the hook if they need them. I'll get my coat.

Where was I? New surprises. The senior pro at the club is Nash (Ennis Esmer). After David lets Paul Reiser, the club president, take a few sets off him, David's job is in jeopardy if he can't beat the older man after losing a set. He wins while the brunette watches him from the cheap seats.

life was so good before popped collars

It turns out that the lingering brunette is Paul Reiser's daughter. I think they eventually had a kid on Mad About You, didn't they? That relationship sure took its sweet time. Paul and Helen had the most amazing kitchen. It was like an enclosed room with counter space everywhere. It was super-cozy, and Helen Hunt's forehead wasn't super-massive yet. Paul Reiser really had it all. Now he just looks tired, cranky and sick of starring in pilots that don't get picked up:

"I was with a blonde woman for two decades, David. Pass."

The best part about Dirty Dancing was the class struggle, and how Patrick Swayze was trailer trash that no one wanted around their daughter. The second P. Swayze saw that schnozz, he sang the Jewel song, "You Were Meant For Me" and they danced together. (It's been awhile since I've seen Dirty Dancing.) Jennifer Grey was radiant in her role as a Jewish man's daughter,  of that much I can assure you.

Skye (Alexandra Socha) is a lot less charming. Her name isn't really funny, but her resemblance to a brunette Molly Ringwald is intense. Red Oaks will probably never make it to series, since it seems to run out of steam on its own concept about twenty minutes in to its first episode. There's something interesting here, but not enough to commit to. I'm going to go ask Lynne if she wants to pull my pants down to my ankles and scratch my mosquito bites. Talk to you later.

Dick Cheney is the senior contributor to This Recording.

If you watch Animal House today, all those guys would have life sentences in jail.
"Not a Second More" - The Lees of Memory (mp3)

"(I Want You To) Let It Flow" - The Lees of Memory (mp3)


In Which We Are Judged On So Many Things

painting by Kate Shaw

The Right/Wrong Time



I certainly did not know two years ago that leaving school would be just as harrowing an experience as entering it in the first place. When I started graduate school as a rather insecure 25-year-old, I found the first semester to be one of the most challenging experiences of my life. I remember a conversation with my mother a few weeks in, in which she lamented the loss of my presence at home, and in which I lamented the loss in my confidence and ability to speak my mind. Through her tears and my discomfort, I communicated what I could not say to her in person: that I wanted more than anything to come home and be comforted.

My parents, who have learned how to be supportive of me and my choice to study the humanities, sent me to California with the sense that I would relearn who I was and return to them a reformed and renewed person. This is true, although I never went back to Chicago. I relearned who I was in graduate school — rebuilt what I had deconstructed in undergrad  and now I need to relearn how to be a whole new person. One who does things instead of thinks things, one whose identity is connected intimately to whom one works for.

This is because we pretend it is a choice who we work for and why  have we not been directed through life’s strange twists and turns to end up in a place if only because chance made it so? That you met so-and-so doing something connected to what you do, or that your friend introduced you to someone who happens to have some money set aside for an intern  these are the ways we get jobs, not because we actively search for something that fulfills our identity. This is the way I have gotten jobs  only because I have proven myself to the right/wrong people at the right/wrong time.

Painting by Kate Shaw

It is a strange thing, then, that we place so much value in where someone chooses to make their living. We ask about it at parties, or assume that it must be announced like a calling card on social media. It must go after my name in every email I send out  I am inextricably connected to what I do. Even after I am much older, should I ever decide to leave what I do even though it is fulfilling, it will live on my resume as a stamp of my life as a 27-year-old. You did “x” for “x number of years” and that’s how we will define you.

The only act in connection to work that has ever proven my identity is leaving a job  ceremoniously and at a young, impressionable age. The leaving was the act of being myself. The leaving is what led to everything that came afterwards. The leaving was the key to my success. When I tell some relative much later in life how to feel alive, I will tell them to quit their job in the way I did: without any regard to the consequences. Quit when you know you can’t take it anymore, and then revel in your poverty, for it was your own choosing.

Of course, I could never imagine giving such advice now  not when I know too deeply and too recently what it feels like to see bright red numbers and an unfortunately placed “-” on my bank statement.


Unlike my sister, who works as an accountant, I have found that the kinds of jobs I've had expect me to envelope myself in them. In most cases, I have not minded this expectation. I am accustomed to enveloping myself in things  it is how I exist best. In college, it was maybe listening to certain kinds of music or reading certain books. In graduate school, it was my research and exploration of young Muslim women living in Pakistan.

Such a life is only worth living if you believe in what you envelope yourself in. And such was my perception of crisis in my transition from student to worker that I met with my thesis advisor at first notice to go over the potential PhD programs to which I should apply. In recent conversations with him, I have confessed my own doubt and apprehension in my work. To this he replied: what is your project?

And to that, I thought, I have too many.

painting by Kate Shaw


Having been raised to be creatively-focused, I find the most challenging aspect of my job is not the expectation of bringing ideas forward or challenging my bosses, but rather the expectation of hyper-productivity. I had never judged myself before on how much work I could accomplish in a day, only the quality of said work. To be judged on both now is a challenge I have never encountered before. As much as I try to welcome such a challenge with open arms, I find that I am often seeing my own flaws in a way that makes me resent what I used to do and who I used to be. That I could have spent all that time learning how to be better at what I do now and didn’t  that I had wasted so much of my life not being a good enough or fast enough worker.

I resent those who are able to work in the creative field even more than I resent myself. I recall especially a talk I attended a year ago with Zadie Smith, a much beloved author, who said that she could spend at maximum about four hours per day writing. What I actually resent is not that she requires only four hours per day to write amazing works of literature, but rather her financial ability to live her life comfortably while working however many hours she chooses to.


When my mother turned 50  a few years ago now  she told me over the phone that everything she thought she knew about herself was so little compared to what she knew now in her middle age. Her role as a mother, as an immigrant, as a woman – all of these things made such little sense to her when she was my age. Even in my struggle for instant satisfaction as a millennial, I hold very closely onto this notion. That one day, I too will be a slightly wrinkled 50-year-old woman who will look back on my life with the solid understanding of where I have been and where I will be then.

Hafsa Arain is the senior contributor to This Recording. She is a writer living in Los Angeles. You can find her twitter here. You can find an archive of her writing on This Recording here. She last wrote in these pages about her childhood.

Paintings by Kate Shaw.

"Kahlil Gibran" - Starfucker (mp3)

"Malmö" - Starfucker (mp3)


In Which We Discuss This As Carefully As We Can

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.


My boyfriend Tomas comes from a religious family in Texas. Outside their church is an eclectic, graphic depiction of the crucifixion. He has told me that he does not feel he could ever commit to someone who does not have some kind of faith, since he wants to raise his children as Christians.

It's hard to know exactly how I feel about all this, since my parents never really mentioned religion at all to me, and aren't observant themselves. From what I know of his faith, there are aspects that I might struggle with, specifically instruction in abstinence before marriage.

Tomas is a wonderful person and when we do talk about God I find myself wanting to hear his views, even when I don't feel entirely comfortable airing my own. Ultimately, I don't know if I would want to raise my children in the style of his family. What should I do?

Tina F.

Dear Tina,

It sounds like you know a small amount about his church, but you should probably get to know more. At an appropriate time, like after sex or while you are choosing a new job, subtly find out details about his worship. Casually ask aloud, "Hey Tomas, would your church by any chance be the same church that the murderer attended in True Detective?"

You need to learn more about your boyfriend's faith before you can properly judge it. Does child sacrifice play a role? Every Sunday, do people put things in their mouth? Dicks or wafers? Check on that.

A lot of things are said in a relationship at a young age. Once you have his child in your tummy, he's not really going to be able to say no to you. He can't well force you to go to church. If he does, call the cops. He is not going to go by himself. There are plenty of places to worship in private, ideally in another state with no income tax.

You say you have trouble expressing your own views. Fine. There are many ways to influence his instead, changing them to become more like yours. Example: he strolls in from a hard day's work and you're casually reading On the Origin of the Species. When he asks what you are reading, remark that it is more spiritual than you thought it would be, and did he read that thing in the Guardian about how a girl raised in the church rebelled from its strictures and had unprotected sex in a kangaroo's pouch? Eventually he'll get the picture.


I was recently talking with my boyfriend about 9/11. He explained that he had been a freshman in college when the attack occurred, and described some of the things that happened at his Ivy League school during the attack - people crying, others screaming in shock and trying to reach their loved ones. Unfortunately all I could think about as he was telling this story is how I was in fourth grade when this happened. Before this anecdote, our age difference did not seem so important, but now I can't get it out of my mind. What should I do?

Martha S.

Dear Martha,

You are correct in stating that anyone who was in college during 9/11 is old, perhaps too old for you. In order to verify your hypothesis, here are some indications that your partner (#loveofyourlife) may just not be the right age.

- He was in graduate school during the Second World War.

- He thinks that penicillin is a "miracle life-saving drug" and defends it for hours whenever you rag on it.

- He wanted to name your cat Clementine or Archibald.

- His drug dealer asked him if he ever watched Fawlty Towers, and his response was anything except, "What the fuck are you talking about?"

- He soothes his feet by washing them in a water basin with Lucille Ball's face and torso on it.

- He asks you if that "upstart nation" Israel is going to be around for good.

Age isn't important, but not having the right opinions about things like John Cleese and Israel could come back to bite you in the ass later on IMO.

"Mi Lost" - The Bug ft. Miss Red (mp3)

"The One" - The Bug ft. Flowdan (mp3)