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Alex Carnevale

Features Editor
Mia Nguyen

Senior Editor
Brittany Julious

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 We Derive Our Self-Image From Canned Meat

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 friend Anna quickly took to me at school. She follows me around everywhere. She had a boyfriend for two months and that gave me some breathing room, but they broke up because she cheated on him and now we're back to square one.

Anna does have some good qualities, mainly in the way she treats me. Her attitude towards other people is what bothers me very deeply. She judges them immediately for their worst qualities and mocks people using a series of impressions that ranges from the mildly amusing to super hurtful. I feel that she is bringing me down.

How do I rid myself of Anna without destroying her and making an enemy in the process?

Ellie S.

Dear Ellie,

Lie. Tell her that you have feelings for her and it's difficult for you to be around her. Granted, this could backfire and you two could end up adopting a Malaysian child named Tomas, but if you are fairly sure she is a heterosexual, this is a safe bet. Before you "come out" to her, make sure to listen to a lot of Elliott Smith and when you hear about Kristen Stewart's latest girlfriend, exclaim how brave she is.

If this gambit does not work to maximum effectiveness, then change tacts. Make a list of all the things you like and dislike about Ellie and fax it to her on the letterhead of a local attorney. Celebrate with a margarita; you've earned it.



Recently, I got drunk and cheated on my boyfriend Mark with a friend I will call Ian. I realize that alcohol does not excuse my behavior, but there had always been a longstanding attraction between Ian and myself and while it was something I probably never would done while sober, I was in good enough shape to know what was happening and sleep with him.

After what happened, I felt extremely guilty and realized that I wanted to be with Mark and never betray him again. Here are some other pertinent facts and events that happened since the "incident":

1. I told my friend Wen what I did and she has told me that I should tell Mark lest he find out from someone else;

2. Mark would probably be upset by this news but I think he could probably get over it given enough time.

3. I have put off Ian's followups on this incident but he seems to be making more of it than it really was.

How do I handle this?

Megan A.

Dear Melanie,

Many people don't have the patience to get what they want from others. You want forgiveness from Mark, and to put this ugly debacle behind you. On the one hand, it would be great if Mark never found out about this, but given the close proximity of the individuals involved, it seems like that is not an option. This leads us to the conclusion that Mark must know what you have done, and in the easiest way possible for him to move past it.

A lot of men cheat, so it is possible that Mark has already stepped out on you, Megan. Tell him, "We need to talk," and make extremely subtle references to the idea that if he has done something he is not supposed to have done, you will understand, but you would prefer to hear it from him. There's a 30 percent chance this will yield some kind of confession from Mark. If yields nothing, don't double down. Apologize and say you are sorry for doubting his word, but observe his behavior over the next week or so. If he is extra-nice, he is probably guilty and you can get the full story by following up strategically, even using alcohol to get the information you desire. It worked for Ian.

Assuming that Mark is more proficient at holding out under scrutiny than Edward Snowden, you are not going to get what you want by giving him the CIA treatment. That means we move to Plan B, which entails the following: create a personal crisis to put in the context of the event. Wait until Mark has something important to do when you will not be able to contact him. At that time, have a "personal crisis", e.g. someone you know is in the hospital or an old friend passed away. Sent him a million frantic texts like, "I need you," etc. Then shut off your phone, after telling a friend to inform Mark that you are okay but you are sleeping it off.

The next time you contact him, let him be in person. Inform you got drunk, something awful happened, and where was he? The road ahead may be a bit tumultous, but if Mark really loved you, why wasn't he there for you? 😉

Illustrations by Mia Nguyen.

"Unwavered" - Basic Soul Unit (mp3)

"Restless In Thought" - Basic Soul Unit (mp3)



In Which We Analyze What Has Become A Cold Sore

For Shame


creators Sharon Horgan & Rob Delaney

Rob Delaney is a recovering alcoholic who lives in London with his wife Sharon (Sharon Horgan) and their two kids, Frankie and Miren. He sees his wife drinking when they are at dinner, when he comes home from work at a pharmaceutical company, when they are out at parties. He thinks about maybe drinking at some point down the road, when his children are grown up, and he can employ a bodyguard and a driver to protect him from exactly how inebriated he wishes to be.

He works in a cubicle across from an attractive woman who flirts with him constantly, both of the desire to tweak his modest, sober nature, and possibly because she harbors a genuine attraction for a man ten years her senior. He finds himself masturbating in the company bathroom in the new season of the BBC series Catastrophe, which he recognizes as both an important necessity and an all-time low. What working woman doesn't want to stroll up to her cubicle mate and utter those fateful words: "Can I suck your cock?"

Things are clearly very different in England. They once had a female prime minister, but now they just have an American expat who is forced to marry the mother of his son. He pretends to love her, of course, but there is the creeping feeling on Catastrophe that maybe they aren't all that suited to each other. Sharon and Rob fight a lot: sometimes it is the sort of play-fighting that many couples use as a transition to sex and intimacy, but other times the debates are reflective of a deeper resentment.

The subject that Rob and Sharon fight about most often is sex. This is exacerbated by the stress of Sharon's latest pregnancy, but it is a difficulty that haunted their partnership before they were even married. The two were brought together by a rampant, exhausting physical chemistry: Sharon was obviously attracted to the massive amount of hair featured on Rob's body, and Rob likewise by the possibility of a human woman finding that appealing.

Their close friends have reached no better acclimation with their lives as they approach true middle age. Close friends Chris and Fiona stopped having sex and decided to get a divorce, with the husband hiding under the covers. Sex is not only the foundation of every single relationship on Catastrophe, is it something like a canary in coal mine.

Alcohol has a varying effect on human sexual performance. It can loosen the inhibitions of a shy or modest individual, causing greater pleasure. Drinking also has the possibility of dimming the penis' primary function. Deprived of the possibility of inebriation, Rob always seems overly pent-up, and as the co-writer of Catastrophe, he does little to mitigate the idea that his straight self might not entirely be his best self — and he constantly apologizing to Sharon and the world for that.

This second season of Catastrophe is even darker than the first. Sometimes Rob and Sharon come to a grudging happiness at the end of their trials, but most often the results are far sadder. In one scene, Sharon and Rob run into a couple at the movies who have actively defriended Sharon. Rob calls the woman "a cold sore," and Sharon is immensely pleased by this. They have passed on some aspect of their unhappiness to others, and lightened the load.

What is finally so unrealistic about the laugh-out-loud hysterics of Catastrophe's situations is that Sharon and Rob seem to exist in a world that is completely without empathy. They have no ability to feel for others, and ask nothing of the other people in their lives, even those that they depend on. This is a harrowing way to live, but there is a disturbing element of truth in it. Like that woman said of Kramer's painting, "He's a disgusting, offensive brute, but I can't look away."

Alex Carnevale is the editor of This Recording.

"Firestone" - Kygo ft. Conrad (mp3)


In Which She Has Googled All Of Your Information

Strength of the Cat


Jessica Jones
creator Melissa Rosenberg

Krysten Ritter's pale face lingers over her computer. She has an ability long sought after among detectives: the ability to use the Google search functionality to dig up information her clients need. It was somewhere around the time that she searched Wikipedia for a list of New York's hospitals, and then printed out a hard copy of this information on her deskjet printer that I began to get somewhat cynical about Jessica Jones.

In other scenes, Ritter is on the receiving end of the penis of Mike Colter, who plays Luke Cage, a man with impenetrable skin. This presumably would lead to chafing during sex, but Ritter never complains or asks him to use a condom. Their child will be a wizard with instant messaging clients.

The bathroom of this hovel was not so well appointed. Where are the damn sconces!

Ritter's detective is deeply afraid of a man named Kilgrave (a bored-looking David Tennant), who manipulates people by telling them what to do. In this way, he is no different from any other man in Ritter's life — although there are precious few of them present on Jessica Jones. Ritter lives in a netherworld of supportive women, whether it is her lesbian boss (Carrie-Ann Moss), her best friend Trish (Rachael Taylor) or her client Hope (Erin Moriarty).

Now this is a reaction to the male gender that I am more comfortable with overall.

You would think that a relationship with an overly controlling man would give Ritter some kind of distrust of all men. She treats the opposite like they are sort of besides the point, informing her lovers that "I won't break" and allowing them to penetrate her from any angle. Sex is a major part of Jessica Jones — at one point she even breaks her own bed from slamming down on a cock. Jessica really enjoys wintercourse, which is a wonderful, refreshing approach on one level but honestly lacks nuance for a character who has been violated and tortured by a past partner.

Every casting director in Hollywood was a huge Deadwood fan.

Rosenberg has a decent handle on Jones' two main relationships, and it is a joy watching her go back and forth with Carrie-Ann Moss, who makes Ritter seem decidedly warm in comparison, and Rachael Taylor, who humanizes Ritter by making her seem like a silly younger sister at times. It is the character of Luke Cage who has already been appointed his own Netflix series, even though Colter is absolutely atrocious to watch and a series based around Taylor's ethereal beauty and martial arts would make a lot more sense.

A gorgeous vision hosting a radio-only show. No.

Taylor's Trish is actually the most fascinating character on the show, because she is afraid of both men and women. Her apartment is a kind of fortress, and when a fan approaches her to ask for an autograph she she knocks him and down and screams, "He grabbed me!"

I think that is what is missing about the character of Jessica Jones. She does drink a lot, and maybe isn't the nicest person at times, but she never makes any mistakes whatsoever, even putting search terms into her computer. We would not need a cast of characters dedicated to making her seem likable and relatable if she had these qualities as part of her intrinsically.

What kind of person has no hobbies except for Donald Rumsfeld?

The series succeeds mainly on the basis of Rosenberg's snappy writing and upbeat pacing. Few scenes in Jessica Jones are longer than a minute or two, and we virtually never lose track of our lead actress, who is something like a super charismatic ghost. She has grown up a lot, but she is not really all there yet.

Dick Cheney is the senior contributor to This Recording.

"Best of Intentions" - Mutemath (mp3)