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Alex Carnevale

Features Editor
Mia Nguyen

Reviews Editor
Ethan Peterson

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 Senator Obama Comes From Hard Stock

Don't hate the player, hate the game. The worship of the one known as Obama is chronic. His tee-shirts look like images of Che Guevara. His nascent cult is a group of highly educated doofuses. And yet this character retains a postmodern charm, by which of course we mean the kind of brutishness we recognize in ourselves. Meet the next president of the United States, ex-smoker Barack Hussein Obama.


'Hers Was A Mind In Full Tilt'

Obama's mom was a wild one

by Alex Carnevale

Now that the American people have sued the Clintons for divorce, we will be dealing with a new first family of the Democratic Party. I have already made my feelings about Michelle Obama known here. She is a goddess and a thinspiration to us all.

While Obama is still an old guy, he had a young mom. Born in 1942, Stanley Ann Dunham died of ovarian cancer in 1995. Obama's dad is also no longer with us, and while Barack's grandmother is still alive, and he has many half-brothers and sisters, the only referent we have for who Barack's mom is are the accounts of those who knew his mother and father.


The Chicago Tribune and Vanity Fair provide the relevant details, but I cut the articles to shreds and merged them. You may post your lawsuits as comments on this page. Feel free to go back to the originals for more entertainment.

Chip Wall can't help but zero in on the little stuff whenever he watches Barack Obama on TV.

The turn of the smile, the sharp wit, the comfortable self-assuredness, all of which he saw up close, a half-century ago.

It's his old pal Stanley.

For Wall and a few dozen others, Obama on the campaign trail often brings to mind Stanley Ann Dunham, Obama's mother and a strong-willed, unconventional member of the Mercer Island High School graduating class of 1960.

"She was not a standard-issue girl of her times. ... She wasn't part of the matched-sweater-set crowd," said Wall, a classmate and retired philosophy teacher who used to make after-school runs to Seattle with Dunham to sit and talk - for hours and hours - in coffee shops.

"She touted herself as an atheist, and it was something she'd read about and could argue," said Maxine Box, who was Dunham's best friend in high school. "She was always challenging and arguing and comparing. She was already thinking about things that the rest of us hadn't."

Hillary, McCain and Barack both come from far less serious religious backgrounds, and there is no way any of them actually believe in the power of prayer.

The education of Obama the would-be politician didn't begin, of course, until after his birth in 1961, in Honolulu. But the parental traits that would mold him - a contrarian worldview, an initial rejection of organized religion, a questioning nature - were already taking shape years earlier in the nomadic and sometimes tempestuous Dunham family, where the only child was a curious and precocious daughter of a father who wanted a boy so badly that he named her Stanley - after himself.

It's an amazing story when a woman who was a loner and something of a outcast can do something as important as give birth to the President of the United States. That's why it is so lucky to be a woman. Well that, and suffrage.

Her parents, Stanley and Madelyn Dunham - he was a boisterous, itinerant furniture salesman in downtown Seattle, she worked for a bank and was the quiet yet firm influence at home - moved to Mercer Island in 1956, after one year in a Seattle apartment. The lure was the high school that had just opened and the opportunity it offered for their daughter, who was then 13.

But interviews with their friends from Kansas, now in their mid-to-late 80s, and interviews with their daughter's former classmates and teachers, now in their mid-60s or older, paint a vivid portrait of Barack Obama's mother as a self-assured, iconoclastic young teen seemingly hell-bent to resist Eisenhower-era conformity.


Boyish-looking, Stanley Ann was prone to rolling her eyes when she heard something she didn't agree with. She didn't like her nose, she worried about her weight, she complained about her parents - especially her domineering father. Her sarcasm could be withering and, while she enjoyed arguing, she did not like to draw attention to herself. The bite of her wit was leavened by a good sense of humor.

She sounds like a real iconoclast. Essentially, Stanley Ann Dunham was every single woman who lives in the tri-state area if they traveled back in time and hooked up with a Kenyan.

While her girlfriends, including Box, regularly baby-sat, Stanley Ann showed no interest. "She felt she didn't need to date or marry or have children," Box recalled. "It wasn't a put-down, it wasn't hurtful. That's just who she was."

Oh. I didn't realize all girls said that.

"I Hope You're Happy Now" - Elvis Costello (mp3)


it's scary to look at these white obamas. very scary

The idea of being not exactly what your parents wanted is a universal feeling, and considering the involvement of Barack's father in his life, it's an important part of our president-to-be. Barack's mother experienced similar disappointment.

Her name was something to tolerate - barely. Elaine Johnson, who used to wait for the school bus with her, picked up on that when Dunham introduced herself one morning.

"I know, it's a boy's name. And no, I don't like it. I mean, would you like to be called Stanley?" Johnson recalled her saying. "But my dad wanted a boy and he got me. And the name 'Stanley' made him feel better, I guess."


big stanley dunhama, ann & the kids

I include the following passage not because it needlessly makes reference to handling Baby Barack's shit, but because it presents a time in place in history that will never be revisited.

Susan Blake, a classmate and former city councilwoman from Mercer Island who long ago changed the infant Barack's messy diaper, said of her friend: "Hers was a mind in full tilt."

In a recent interview, Obama called his mother "the dominant figure in my formative years. . . . The values she taught me continue to be my touchstone when it comes to how I go about the world of politics."

At Mercer High School, two teachers -- Val Foubert and Jim Wichterman -- generated regular parental thunderstorms by teaching their students to challenge societal norms and question all manner of authority. Foubert, who died recently, taught English. His texts were cutting edge: Atlas Shrugged, The Organization Man, The Hidden Persuaders, 1984 and the acerbic writings of H.L. Mencken.


Wichterman taught philosophy. The hallway between the two classes was known as "anarchy alley," and students pondered the challenging notions of Wichterman's teachings, including such philosophers as Sartre and Kierkegaard. He also touched the societal third rail of the 1950s: He questioned the existence of God. And he didn't stop there.

"I had them read 'The Communist Manifesto,' and the parents went nuts," said Wichterman, adding that parents also didn't want any discussions about "anything to do with sex," religion and theology. The parental protests were known as "mothers' marches."


babies for obama

Their high school class was an in-between generation. The Beat generation had passed, and the 1960s era of protest was yet to begin. Classmates of Dunham - Wall, Blake, Hunt - felt they were on the cusp of societal change, the distant early warning of the '60s struggles over civil rights, women's rights and war.

"If you were concerned about something going wrong in the world, Stanley would know about it first," said Chip Wall, who described her as "a fellow traveler. . . . We were liberals before we knew what liberals were."

One classmate, Jill Burton-Dascher, said Stanley Ann "was intellectually way more mature than we were and a little bit ahead of her time, in an off-center way."


is barry actually a character from the TV show The White Shadow?

"Versions of Violence" - Alanis Morrisette (mp3)

What are liberals? What kind of liberal is Barack? Does he actually differ from past politicians in any conceivable way? Could the life experiences of his birth mother and father have affected him positively? These are questions we must pose.

Is America on the cusp of societal change? My guess would be not really. Hell, Barry doesn't even support gay marriage. The guy who runs his campaign is Dick Gephardt's poolboy. Change is a buzzword. What might a President Obama really accomplish, and what coming-together (intercourse) was he borne out of?

The man Stanley Ann Dunham fell in love with was a Kenyan grad student, meeting with the fate of so many of our finest women.

Stanley Ann began classes at the University of Hawaii in 1960, and shortly after that, Box received a letter saying that her friend had fallen in love with a grad student. He was black, from Kenya and named Obama.

About that same time, another letter crossed the Pacific, this one heading to Africa. It was from Barack Obama Sr. to his mother, Sarah Hussein Onyango Obama. Though the letter didn't go into great detail, it said he had met a young woman named Ann (not Stanley). There wasn't much on how they met or what the attraction was, but he announced their plans to wed.

The Dunhams weren't happy. Stanley Ann's prospective father-in-law was furious. He wrote the Dunhams "this long, nasty letter saying that he didn't approve of the marriage," Obama recounted his mother telling him in "Dreams." "He didn't want the Obama blood sullied by a white woman."

Oh, irony. Fantastic.


Parental objections didn't matter. For Stanley Ann, her new relationship with Barack Obama and weekend discussions seemed to be, in part, a logical extension of long coffeehouse sessions in Seattle and the teachings of Wichterman and Foubert. The forum now involved graduate students from the University of Hawaii. They spent weekends listening to jazz, drinking beer and debating politics and world affairs.

My grandparents met in a socialist club, so I guess I shouldn't talk, but ew. Speaking of ew:

The self-assured and opinionated Obama Sr. spoke with a voice so deep that "he made James Earl Jones seem like a tenor," said Neil Abercrombie, a Democratic congressman from Hawaii who was part of those regular gatherings.

Mr. Abercrombie later went on to marry Janet Fitch and start a clothing company.

While Obama was impatient and energized, Stanley Ann, whom Abercrombie described as "the original feminist," was endlessly patient but quietly passionate in her arguments. She was the only woman in the group.

If you're a grad student from another country, you obviously do whatever you have to do to knock up a U.S. citizen while you're there. That's freakin' common courtesy.

"I think she was attracted to his powerful personality," Abercrombie said, "and he was attracted to her beauty and her calmness."

Six months after they wed, another letter arrived in Kenya, announcing the birth of Barack Hussein Obama, born Aug. 4, 1961. Despite her husband's continued anger, Sarah Obama said in a recent interview, she "was so happy to have a grandchild in the U.S."

"I know he loved Ann," Abercrombie said, but "I think he didn't want the impediment of being responsible for a family. He expected great things of himself and he was going off to achieve them."

"The World I Know (live)" - David Cook (mp3)


The marriage failed. Stanley Ann filed for divorce in 1964 and remarried two years later, when her son was 5. The senior Obama finished his work at Harvard and returned to Kenya, where he hoped to realize his big dreams of taking a place in the Kenyan government.

Punting on your son Barack Obama has got to be one of the biggest missteps since Brian Dunkleman left American Idol.


Stanley Ann Dunham loved the speeches of Martin Luther King Jr. and the music of Mahalia Jackson, and thought Harry Belafonte was, as her son remembers, “the best-looking man on the planet.”

"Penetration" - Pedro the Lion (mp3)

At 18, she met and married Barack Hussein Obama Sr., a former Kenyan goatherd and an economist-in-training who had recently become the first African student in the history of the University of Hawaii—this in 1960, a time when inter-racial marriage was still illegal in almost half the mainland states.

Thinking Harry Belafonte is handsome has to be on SWPL somewhere.


It was his mother’s presence—and not infrequent absence—that most colored his early years. She cried easily and remained an impossible romantic. (She would pull her children from bed to look at a particularly beautiful moonrise.)

The couple divorced in 1963, when their son was just 2, and Barack met his father (who ultimately claimed paternity of a total of eight children by four women before dying in a car crash at age 52, in 1983) precisely once more in his life—for a month, at Christmas, in Honolulu, when he was 10.


Obama & half sis

Ann and Barack Sr. fanfic could be entertaining. "As he put his pollen inside her dandelion, he muttered, I bet this baby won't hold political office BWHAHAHAHA. Ann, meanwhile, was already reading a Joyce Carol Oates novel and counting her alimony money." Something like that.

That was the end of Ann's first marriage. There have been worse first marriages. Imagine having a bad marriage and not even having a president-elect to show for it. That's gotta be the best bad hook-up ever.


Ann next married an Indonesian national named Lolo Soetoro. She eventually began pursuing a Ph.D. in anthropology that required frequent fieldwork in Indonesia, and Barack spent four years of his childhood there, in the world’s most populous Muslim nation.

Because his mother wanted Barack to have the best possible bite at the American Dream, she left him in Hawaii for much of his adolescence in the care of his maternal grandparents, Stanley and Madelyn Dunham, who fed him a poly-cultural diet of sashimi and Jell-O with grapes, and got him admission and a scholarship to the prestigious Punahou School, in Honolulu. He arrived there in fifth grade as a round-faced boy with baby fat, and left the lanky figure of today.

The sad fact of Obama's childhood - and a motivator to keep him close to his children - is that his parents weren't around enough for him. His new stepfather didn't help things, from the sound of it.

Alice Dewey told me that Dunham “divorced happily” from Soetoro—who died in 1987 of complications from a liver ailment—in part because “he gradually became more and more like a Westerner and she became more and more like a Javanese.” Obama told me he could only laugh at the false press accounts that portray Soetoro as some kind of radical Muslim who had sent him to an Islamic school. “I mean, you know, his big thing was Johnny Walker Black, Andy Williams records,” Obama said. “I still remember ‘Moon River.’ He’d be playing it, sipping, and playing tennis at the country club. That was his whole thing. I think their expectations diverged fairly rapidly.”


Barry's half-sister

It will be interesting to see if any of this becomes GOP talking points. It's unlucky for the GOP that Barack Obama Sr. is not around today, he sounds like a terrific guy.

Her boldest step of all may have been marrying Barack’s father, a fellow undergraduate at the University of Hawaii, whom she had met in a Russian-language class. Obama has acknowledged that the precise circumstances of their marriage are a bit cloudy, even to him; it would turn out that his father was already tribally married to another woman, in Africa, and after he left Barack and his mother to pursue graduate studies at Harvard on a scholarship, he would marry and divorce another American woman, and then father a child by a second African woman.

Barack Obama's father did write him letters from time to time, as this Washington Post article recounts. One of them said, "Like water finding its level, you will arrive at a career that suits you." He did nail that one.


Ann Dunham kept up a fond correspondence with Barack’s father, even after her marriage to Soetoro, another foreign student, who eventually went to work for an American company, Union Oil, in Jakarta. She made sure her son knew of his father’s intellect and his government jobs in the post-colonial regime in Kenya, and of the improbable courtship the two had shared. But Obama’s father would remain a distant, intimidating, absent figure, the disappointing details of whose life and career Barack would learn about only much later. “The truth is that none of the men in my life were that successful or that stable,” Obama told me. “They made an awful lot of mistakes.”

Rectifying our parents' mistakes is a difficult task. Since it is nearly impossible to imagine anyone short of Barack Obama Sr's ghost himself derailing the Obama steam train at this point, we will all have to live with President Obama.


barry gets a degree

As one of my advisors put it to me, "You can't hate Obama just because people you hate like him." I don't hate Obama. He's a compelling figure. But the feeling you have for a great orator, the stirring emotions you get when you see him, have little to nothing to do with what kind of leader he might be. Concern over the election of an executive with no large amount of experience or substance in his campaign is natural. But he will be President, so I have to live with it. You must accept what you can't change. We can only hope Barry has learned that lesson, too.

Alex Carnevale is the editor of This Recording.


“Today the best thing I saw was at the airport, a little girl was waiting line at customs, trailing behind her family, touching each one of the poles that are there to keep us in lines, hugging each pole and kissing each pole as she passed.” Would you like to know more?

Tess’ superb plan to become a lingerie model.

Molly got depressed about late capitalist America.


In Which It Is A Way Of Asking What To Be

Leon Wieseltier's classic evisceration of Louis Menand's essay on George Orwell in The New Yorker is the shortest possible distance between two points: George Orwell and our admiration of him. Here now Wieseltier's essay in its entirety.


by Leon Wieseltier

Whom to be like? It is a way of asking what to be; and for intellectuals and journalists (they are not always the same) there are many greater mistakes than the aspiration to be like George Orwell.

For a long time, indeed, the admiration of Orwell has been one of the most encouraging features of our political and cultural situation. This aspidistra deserves to be kept flying. Liberals and conservatives tussle over his true teachings, and over the identity of his true sons; and there is something a little comic about all these feuding heirs, and also a little belittling in the way the battle for Orwell has turned into still another franchise, still another exercise in branding, in this stupefyingly mercantile time.

Yet finally Orwell is worth tussling over: He had a narcotic relationship to principles. There are worse masters, much worse. Or so all thoughtful people believed until a few weeks ago, when The New Yorker announced that Orwell was "wrong."

"In what sense," Louis Menand demanded, "can writings that have been taken to mean so many incompatible things be called 'clear'? And what, exactly, was Orwell right about?" About Stalinism, one starts to say - but Menand is not impressed. "Orwell was against imperialism, fascism, and Stalinism. Excellent. Many people were against them in Orwell's time, and a great many more people have been against them since." The condescension in that remark is disgusting.


As it happens, a great many people were not at all against Stalinism in the years in which Orwell wrote, and if many more people have been against Stalinism since, it is in part owing to the genuinely valiant refusal of Orwell and others to desist from their denunciations of it. Yet the intellectual struggles of the 1930s and the 1940s matter less to Menand than the fact that the CIA - "Howard Hunt was the agent on the case": how repercussive! - secretly bought the film rights to Animal Farm.

Menand disapproves of intellectual struggle. It is so overwrought, so over. "We don't live just by ideas," he observes in his sedative way, as if anybody believes that we do live just by ideas. Of course, it is precisely because we don't live just by ideas that we must live also by ideas; but I am getting heavy.

Menand sneakily makes Orwell over in his own diffident, perspectivist, mildly anti-intellectual image, so as to relieve us of Orwell's obligations. "He is not saying, This is the way it objectively was from any possible point of view. He is saying, This is the way it looked to someone with my beliefs." This is madly incorrect. Here is Orwell in 1942, in "Looking Back on the Spanish War," reflecting on the lies of wartime:

This kind of thing is frightening to me, because it often gives me the feeling that the very concept of objective truth is fading out of the world. ... I am willing to believe that history is for the most part inaccurate and biased, but what is peculiar to our age is the abandonment of the idea that history could be truthfully written. In the past people deliberately lied, or they unconsciously colored what they wrote, or they struggled after the truth, well knowing that they must make many mistakes; but in each case they believed that 'the facts' existed and were more or less discoverable.

Orwell plainly regards the eclipse of objective truth as a decline and a danger. This passage, and there are more like it, is not an expression of perspectivism, it is a repudiation of perspectivism.

read it here

"XXXXXX" - Foals (mp3)

For The New Yorker's authority on Orwell, the danger lies not in the fading of the concept of objective truth, but in the clinging to the concept of objective truth. Menand thinks that truth is merely a warrant for terrorism, that objectivity is just an early form of fanaticism, that certainty only kills.

"Moral certainty of any kind can lead to bloodshed," he asserts in Raritan, in a piece that is critical of the abolitionists of the nineteenth century. "Of any kind": All certainty is like all other certainty, its content is insignificant, all that matters are its consequences.

the battle over orwell's legacy

Menand has risen above substance. He is indifferent, and afraid. His fear is understandable: When one has renounced the inquiry into truth and falsity, certainty must seem terrifying. Every conviction must look like an absolute. And so he notes that "in defining the United States as a civilization in opposition to militant Islam, even President Bush found himself, in his speech before Congress right after the attacks, explaining that moral certainty is precisely what makes the enemy so dangerous."

Do you follow? A war against jihad is itself a jihad. There is no distinction between a just war and a holy war. What a haul of irony! In this way "the modernist paradox is complete: Americans now find themselves in the position of fighting, and being willing to die, for the belief that no one should be made to die for a belief."

menand, on kael

"The First Incident" - Frightened Rabbit (mp3)

Menand is fond of that miserably apathetic sentence: He published it also in The New Yorker last fall, in a review of books about the catastrophe of September 11, adding there that "Americans hold it to be a transcendent truth that it is possible to live a good life without loyalty to a transcendent cause." Philosophy is finished. Go shopping.

Who are these Americans whose spiritual condition Menand intuits so clearly?

Myself, I have less anecdotal evidence for the population's perfect post-modernity. I have met Americans who are willing to fight and to die for a belief, and Americans who are not willing; and Americans who would like to discuss the particular belief a little more.

And if we are indeed a nation of suave anti-foundationalists, too enlightened or too embarrassed about transcendent causes, then I see no reason to worry about, say, John Ashcroft and the political Christianity that he faithfully and inappropriately serves.

Ashcroft is a nasty creature of certainty, no question about it; but his opponents are no less certain that his certainty is false. And so they should be, in my view. In Menand's view, however, the argument can never be closed.

He derides Orwell's linguistic contributions to modern liberalism - "Big Brother," "doublethink," "thought police" - as "belong[ing] to the same category as 'liar' and 'pervert' and 'madman.' They are conversation-stoppers." But why should some conversations not be stopped, not concluded with the demonstration that a man who was called a liar actually lied? Or is stopping the conversation in this way like stopping the conversation in the totalitarian way?

fun orwell quotes

John Brown in Pottawatomie and Mohammed Atta in Manhattan acted in a similar spirit, but it is significant that the former dreamed of freeing enslaved people and the latter dreamed of enslaving free people. The notion that the hatred of slavery was an excess of hatred, and perhaps that the Civil War was not quite a war worth fighting, is bizarre.

With their metaphysics, Menand writes, the world of the abolitionists and the world of the slave-owners "seem to have more in common with each other than either does with our own." There speaks the pragmatist: fascinating at a dinner, useless in a struggle. Unlike Menand's Orwell, the pragmatist is not "a misfit." He is a fit.

This essay originally appeared in The New Republic.


At present we know only that the imagination, like certain wild animals, will not breed in captivity. Any writer or journalist who denies that fact - and nearly all the current praise of the Soviet Union contains or implies such a denial - is, in effect, demanding his own destruction.

- The Prevention of Literature

Considering how likely we all are to be blown to pieces by it within the next five years, the atomic bomb has not roused so much discussion as might have been expected. The newspapers have published numerous diagrams, not very helpful to the average man, of protons and neutrons doing their stuff, and there has been much reiteration of the useless statement that the bomb "ought to be put under international control." But curiously little has been said, at any rate in print, about the question that is of most urgent interest to all of us, namely: "How difficult are these things to manufacture?"

- You and the Atomic Bomb

All writers are vain, selfish, and lazy, and at the very bottom of their motives there lies a mystery. Writing a book is a horrible, exhausting struggle, like a long bout of some painful illness. One would never undertake such a thing if one were not driven on by some demon whom one can neither resist nor understand. For all one knows that demon is simply the same instinct that makes a baby squall for attention. And yet it is also true that one can write nothing readable unless one constantly struggles to efface one's own personality. Good prose is like a windowpane. I cannot say with certainty which of my motives are the strongest, but I know which of them deserve to be followed.

- Why I Write

"Awake at the Wheel" - Glorytellers (mp3)

[Hitler] has grasped the falsity of the hedonistic attitude to life. Nearly all western thought since the last war, certainly all ‘progressive’ thought, has assumed tacitly that human beings desire nothing beyond ease, security, and avoidance of pain. In such a view of life there is no room, for instance, for patriotism and the military virtues. The Socialist who finds his children playing with soldiers is usually upset, but he is never able to think of a substitute for the tin soldiers; tin pacifists somehow won’t do. Hitler, because in his own joyless mind he feels it with exceptional strength, knows that human beings don’t only want comfort, safety, short working-hours, hygiene, birth-control and, in general, common sense; they also, at least intermittently, want struggle and self-sacrifice, not to mention drums, flag and loyalty-parades…. Whereas Socialism, and even capitalism in a grudging way, have said to people ‘I offer you a good time,’ Hitler has said to them ‘I offer you struggle, danger and death,’ and as a result a whole nation flings itself at his feet.

- review of Mein Kampf

In Moulmein, in lower Burma, I was hated by large numbers of people--the only time in my life that I have been important enough for this to happen to me.

- Shooting an Elephant


No Country for Old Men's roundly sexual encounter with modernity.

The Suicide List.

You my friend, are a damn fool.


In Which We Demand That Nicolas Cage Remake Shopgirl

There Will Be No More Links For You And Your Friends

by Alex Carnevale

Who are you? Why are you visiting these links? Answer me.

There's been a terrifying lull before the storm, or should we say lul. Answer me.

Molly is sick so she can't post, and yet she still bills me for the hours. According to Molly I owe her $80,000 grand and I have to pay her parking tickets.

It isn't the Bryan Singer-Tom Cruise plot to kill Adolf movie Valkyrie that has us disgusted beyond all plausible recognition. After all, how is else is Peter Biskind going to get his next book deal?

There is but one upcoming film that may signal an international problem- this time in the arena of in U.S.-Thailand relations.

they pitched it as Shopgirl meets Hard Target

P.S. Thailand, we liked you better when you were called Myanmar. Whoa, settle down, Thailand, it's like you'd never been confused with Burma before. Whoa, settle down Myanmar, that was directed at Thailand.

Bangkok Dangerous will probably have to use full-frontal Cagity to get anyone to watch it, but that worked for Lust, Caution. South Park broke the penis taboo on TV the other day, I actually didn't know what a penis looked like until I saw Mr. Garrison's on a mouse.

One thing is for sure: Bangkok will contain far more jokes than Step Brothers.

in the third act, they get into NASCAR

I don't understand when John C. Reilly became a viable comic actor. Did he accidentally bone Maya Rudolph and get himself uncast from There Will Be Blood? Is he paying alimony to seventeen betches?

Someone needs to end this pairing. The only thing worse is the prospect of Zooey and Chloe in an indie western comedy, three words that you want at least 30 feet apart at all times. This is just validating my fear that ultimately Judd and his minions are doing more harm than good.

Not to be outdone, the veteran comedy moneymakers are striking back...with a Rambo parody. Wow. Charlie Sheen is going to be receiving residuals for this movie and he's not even in it.

the fiery end of three careers

The amazing part of this "film" is that somehow Tom Cruise has a part in it as well. (His reps tried to strike down pics of him in his fat suit.) Tom wants people to laugh with him above all, he watches his key scene from Risky Business every night after masturbating with his E-meter. I hope he doesn't actually star with Stiller in the Hardy Boys' movie Hardy Men.

Although Night at the Museum is perhaps the finest film of its generation, the world did not need to see Stiller and Wilson in Tropic Thunder, so it appears that Kate Hudson's ballbusting ways have finally rewarded us.

did they even need the fat suit?

If Cruise agrees to appear in Todd Philips' disastrous tour-de-force Men, about an advertising executive (why doesn't Tom just work in advertising and give up acting?) who takes an apartment with his wife's lover to save his marriage, I will turn green. That this storyline will be perilously real by the time this movie comes out is a virtual lock.

Tom's only path to regaining relevance is to appear as a pedophile on Gossip Girl. Better yet, he should get Kristen Bell fired from voiceover duties and narrate that bad boy.

From the guys who ruined the memory of Freaks and Geeks

Seth Rogen has tested me for the last time. I am going to digitally alter the entire run of Undeclared so I can insert Eddie Izzard as a cyborg sent to go back in time and prevent Pineapple Express from ever getting made. The memory of James Franco being attractive and Seth Rogen being cute is a bromance that needs to end. I need to curl up with that Stacey Dash photoset and cry for awhile, enjoy the links.

LA Times makes up stuff about Guantanamo Bay

The signs of Times Square

So Greg Hill, Lucas Farrell, and Brandon Shimoda had this idea to put together a journal in about six hours. The astonishing results are here.

Obama at the helm

John J. Miller's piece about "liberal" wikipedia is funny:

It’s impossible to say whether these biases influence voters, but lots of web activists have made up their own minds. The 2006 reelection campaign of Republican senator George Allen of Virginia is a case in point. “The left-wing netroots used to advertise on blogs and elsewhere for people to post negative information about us,” says Jon Henke, who was a new-media coordinator for Allen. “On Wikipedia, we got our brains beat out.” Whereas the entry on Allen came to read like a compendium of opposition research, the one on Allen’s Democratic opponent, Jim Webb, didn’t suffer the same kind of treatment. “His profile was glowing,” says Henke. In the end, Webb narrowly defeated Allen.

The problem has nothing to do with the rules governing Wikipedia. “The policy guidelines are very good and having a neutral point of view is close to a sacred rule,” says one experienced editor, a conservative who has worked on political content. “Conservatives shouldn’t whine about bias because they can correct it themselves.”

In order to do so, however, they need manpower. “We’re up against a bunch of liberals without jobs who are making these changes,” says Patrick Ruffini, a GOP political consultant. So far, however, conservatives have found it difficult to respond. Last summer, David All, a Republican web strategist, tried to organize conservative Wikepedians to serve as watchdogs. “Each of the top 200 races in 2008 should have at least one volunteer responsible for monitoring Wikipedia,” says All. “There are people out there who won’t make phone calls or lick stamps for candidates, but who will be active online. For a campaign, this could be just as important as a traditional ground game.” The effort sputtered out and All has moved on to other projects, but he still believes it’s something that Republicans should try to tackle in more than an ad hoc fashion.

"Up Against the Wall" - Peter Bjorn and John (mp3)

"Start to Melt" - Peter Bjorn and John (mp3)

"Poor Cow" - Peter Bjorn and John (mp3)

Lightspeed Champion live.

New albums for you to enjoy.

Is this America's best prosecutor?

Jason Reitman turns down Justice League

This picture of M. Ward and Zooey freaks me.

neoconservatism in 1776

new Wolf Parade

I loved Colm Toibin's piece on Hart Crane in the NYRB:

In April 1917 Crane wrote to his father of his great ambition:

I shall really without doubt be one of the foremost poets in America if I am enabled to devote enough time to my art.

The poetry he intended to write was to be highly wrought and full of self-conscious and hard-won artistry. Although there are times in his work when a word or a phrase seems chosen at random, selected for its sound as much as it sense, his letters emphasize that he was not interested in a dream language or summoning his phrases at random from the well of the unconscious. In January 1921 he wrote to a friend about the Dadaist movement: "I cannot figure out just what Dadaism is beyond an insane jumble of the four winds, the six senses, and plum pudding." And two weeks later he wrote to another friend: "There is little to be gained in any art, so far as I can see, except with much conscious effort." Later that year, he wrote again:
I admit to a slight leaning toward the esoteric, and am perhaps not to be taken seriously. I am fond of things of great fragility, and also and especially of the kind of poetry John Donne represents, a dark musky, brooding, speculative vintage, at once sensual and spiritual, and singing rather the beauty of experience rather than innocence.

The following year he wrote to Allen Tate: "Let us invent an idiom for the proper transposition of jazz into words! Something clean, sparkling, elusive!"

After 24 years in the Soviet Union...

I'm not that into naps, are you?

I like this tumblr

Casting the Bush movie. I am in talks to play Dick Cheney, didn't you know?

21: terrible movie, dope soundtrack

Rachael Ray's new look scares us to our very core

Astronomy picture of the day

The urge to live like a mobster

paris' new pet is a cheetah

How to cheat at Scrabulous

You get killed off the show, dumped by your girlfriend, and it all works out for Dominic Monaghan

This SNL skit is funny

new coldplay album named after this frida kahlo painting:

Alex Carnevale is the editor of This Recording.


Pam from The Office got revealing.

We macked on Roberto Bolano.

Our journey into the world of concept cars.


In Which We Treat Them Mean

This is the first part of a two-part series by our senior contributor Karina Wolf. Go inside

The Rabbit Hole

by Karina Wolf

On Wednesday, Julia says she doesn’t want us to read for an entire week. No, she amends, not just no reading, also no talk radio, no music with lyrics, no television, no email, no web browsing, and no chatty phone calls that we wouldn’t ordinarily make. “I’m not going to tell anyone not to see a movie,” she hedges. “But there may be other things you can do with your time.”

The Artist’s Way is the perfect workshop for an aspiring Left Coast-ist. There are affirmations, visualizations, and the idealization of synchronicitous events. The author of the book and workshop, Julia Cameron, also talks about her ex-husband, Martin Scorsese (Sicilian Scorpio) and about herself (sensitive Pisces). She’s writing a musical and, sometimes, there is group singing, which she insists puts us in touch with our better nature.

It’s a strange group, between 50 and 70 students, a salad of Westchester moms, brides-to-be, guys with broken hearts and broken limbs, students who are doing NIA dancing, whatever that is, and a photographer who’s following the Diamond Approach. A latently angry lot. This is group therapy for artists, creative recovery according to Julia.

I’m open-minded about personal betterment strategies. I’ve been subjected to a lot of them, thanks to all the therapists in the family. I’m also starting to think that, like my dogs and my niece, I’d have a greater sense of security from a better set of rules. But as a freelancer who works from home, I know this will be an interesting experiment in madness.

On the way out, I check for texts, emails, and Facebook updates, call my dad so that he can recount the plot of two nights of In Treatment and walk to Magnolia to buy a fortifying dose of sugar. I suspect that the instrumental Arvö Part on my laptop will only heighten this Bergmanesque austerity, so I stuff my iTunes with Charlie Parker and Miles Davis (no duets with Ella, though: no lyrics!). I am now hopped up on green tea latte and chocolate cupcake. There is nothing to do but spy on the naked neighbors, clean the refrigerator and listen to “In a Sentimental Mood” 45 times.


Before I fired my acupuncturist, Dr. Y determined (through muscle testing) that all my problems stemmed from “the concept of living through others”. I want to congratulate him—the entirety of my thoughts and memories seem to come from media, ether- and other-generated materials. I linger nostalgically over my most recent media forays: that puzzling YouTube clip about John “Walnuts” McCain; the wiki entry about Charlie Parker’s recording of "Lover Man"; those Asobi Seksu songs.

Certain half-measures occur. Can I, for example, flip through the Maira & Tibor Kalman book of photos that I just bought? No words there. But I’m bargaining. It would be a little like when I went to the fascist nutritionist who nixed sugar, dairy, wheat, starches, fruit, caffeine, and alcohol from my diet. Sometimes the desire for bread became so intense that I’d have to unfasten a bag of sourdough just to sniff at the contents. If I’m still craving it, I’m probably not cured.

On Thursday, I’m perfect—most of the day. It’s raining so I can’t get Hector to install the pigeon wires. There is nothing to do but walk the pups and write.

I had already made plans to see Gemma Hayes and Mundy at Mercury Lounge, and I decide to soak up every locution and lyric that comes my way. Nourishment for my inner artist. Gemma Hayes has West Coast malaise: she was shopping for a bikini in LA and discovered the one she liked was dry clean only. Get it? Her remarks are a little evolved for the crowd, a rowdy Saint Patrick’s day warm up. But she is gracious when someone’s mobile phone interferes with the sound, and her song “Back of My Hand” echoes pleasantly in my word-parched brain.

Gemma admits that kids are cruel. When she was 9 or 10, there was a little boy in her class who kissed her while the teacher was writing on the blackboard. All the other students jeered. Gemma waited after school, beat the crap out of him, and threw the boy and all his copybooks into a puddle. A few days later, the boy came over to her, apologized and gave her a present. “So treat ’em mean, I guess,” she says, after apologizing to the memory of the humiliated schoolboy.


"No Ordinary Love (Sade cover)" - Gemma Hayes (mp3)

"Hanging Around" - Gemma Hayes (mp3)

Mundy is a little rough around the edges. “Someone up here farted?” He waves his hands around. “It’s a fart with wings, then. Or someone has a very high ass.” He plays a couple of songs. I even get a shout out before his single from the Romeo + Juliet soundtrack. There are a couple of wolf whistles, though my name means, obviously, nothing and Mundy also dedicates the song to some stewardesses, buxom blondes, and bartenders who are following him around.

Afterward, we find ourselves at the Scratcher, where Paddy Casey is sitting at the bar like a gnome on a toadstool. Mundy comes along, then the cabin crew from his Aer Lingus flight, then the guy from The Frames who just won the Oscar.

At the bar, we talk to a transplanted record producer, Shuggie, whose eyes are springing from his head—think Susan Sarandon with hyperthyroidism. Can you guess where my name comes from, he challenges us. The most famous Shuggie of them all. Can you guess. Guess.

I take a stab. Shuggie Otis?

No. He’s crestfallen. Sugar Ray Leonard.

I met Mundy in Monaghan. Recalling this, he pulls out the book he’s reading—Patrick Kavanagh, he believes, is going to inspire the final song for his new album. I’m three paragraphs into the Monaghan poet’s The Green Fool before I realize I’m having Word Rush. I feel exhilarated and slightly queasy, the sensation you’d have shopping at the Columbus Circle Whole Foods after exiting a sensory-deprivation tank.

I hand back the book and start talking to Paddy, who is a cross between Vladimir Putin, Crispin Glover and Lyle Lovett. Discretion of Putin, stare of Crispin, frizzy hair of Lyle. He also has the tiniest, most recalcitrant mouth I’ve ever seen. His cure for writer’s block, he tells Mundy, is to unplug everything in the house and lie in the dark until something happens. Seems to work; he’s being followed around by MTV for a documentary about his new album.

We notice that Paddy is wearing seven layers of zip-up jackets. He is his own nesting babushka/tootsie roll pop. We set about unlayering Paddy Casey. He is resistant. He leaves at four because he has to make an in-store appearance at ten in the morning. How are you going to wake up, we ask him. I don’t have to wake up. He smirks. Someone will do that for me. This reinforces my thought that everyone needs personal support staff.

Karina Wolf is the senior contributor to This Recording. She lives and writes in New York City. The Rabbit Hole with conclude with Part Two tomorrow.


Beard season brought out the bears of fall.

Jess vs. boys.

We engaged the enemy on its own soil.


In Which Help John McCain Has Lost Himself Again

Our in-house astrologer tackled the star charts of Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama last week. Today she moves on to determine the fate of the one known as John McCain.

The Supersuperdelegates:

Horoscoping the 2008 President Election

by Zelina Kurkova

John McCain
August 29 1936
Colon, PAN

As the Democratic Party pulls its usual pre-election routine of doing everything it possibly can to ensure a Republican victory, oldy oldster John McCain keeps on pressing the flesh. This week he found himself Jewing it up in Israel. McCain was a terrible soldier who found himself in impossible circumstances; he then married a rich white girl and stuck it to her a few times. Why not? Nothing to lose, everything to gain. It's sad that the McCain personal fortune had come on the backs of his drunk-ass constituency, as Cindy's money comes from beers. Plus, she was his second wife (his first one was a model). But for the man whose main goal for over a decade was to prevent free speech, it's sort of par for the course. Virgos should not grow up to be president.

Rising Sign is in 01 Degrees Sagittarius
You are known for being open, frank, outgoing and honest. At times, though, you are also blunt and quite indiscreet. Others have to learn not to take everything you say personally, because you usually do not mean any harm. You appreciate living your life in a straightforward and simple manner - you dislike social niceties and consider them to be hindrances to real communication. You have lots and lots of energy and tend to become quite restless if you feel confined.

at some kind of a wall

Sun is in 06 Degrees Virgo.
Extremely careful and cautious by nature, you value neatness and order above all else. You rigorously practice very high standards of living and conduct and you demand the same of everyone with whom you come into contact. At times, you are so supercritical that you are merely nit-picky. You are also greatly concerned with hygiene, cleanliness and personal health problems. Very likely your health is much better than you think it is - don't worry so much! Extremely methodical and analytical, you are a perfectionist - this makes you the perfect person to carry out highly detailed, precise operations. But, at times, you pay so much attention to details that you lose sight of the larger issues.

mccain's strength

Moon is in 28 Degrees Capricorn.
You are serious and shy and very uncomfortable in those situations where spontaneous and exuberant emotional reactions seem called for. An achiever, you prefer doing practical, worthwhile things that produce tangible results. You need role models to respect, love and emulate. You tend to feel that you're a failure unless you get an important and highly respected position in life. Don't be so hard on yourself!

Mercury is in 02 Degrees Libra.
You are known for not jumping to conclusions about things. You tend to weigh all possible choices very carefully before making a decision. When in the slightest amount of doubt, you will compromise rather than ruffle any feathers. You are a true raconteur of culture and taste - your ideas and opinions are neat, elegant and refined. A born diplomat, you dislike discord so much that you will go out of your way to make others feel comfortable and at ease. You speak softly and pleasantly.

"The Dog's a Vapour" - Bauhaus (mp3)

"Endless Summer of the Damned" - Bauhaus (mp3)

his hot daughter's inane blog

Venus is in 22 Degrees Virgo.
You express your love and affection through selfless service to people or causes. You have a tendency to underestimate yourself and doubt your self-worth. This is very demeaning and should be avoided - learn to love yourself as well as you do others. Your standards of perfection are very high - you are attracted to relationships based on duty and responsibility. You are supercritical of yourself and others and, at times, prefer to be alone rather than deal with any imperfections in yourself or in those with whom you might relate.

Mars is in 12 Degrees Leo.

You are a very proud person. Strong, bold, courageous and self-possessed, you love to be the one to initiate significant actions. When people expect a lot of you, you respond positively and will work hard in order to maintain their respect. But when your dignity or pride is threatened, you tend to become sarcastic, arrogant and domineering. Try not to take any challenge or resistance that you meet as a personal affront. You are very stubborn about your right to live your life according to your own principles.


Jupiter is in 15 Degrees Sagittarius.
You have a very strong sense of ethics and morality. You are widely read and may also be widely traveled because you are sincerely interested in expanding your knowledge of the world about you. At times, you have an annoying tendency to be self-righteous and preachy about your belief system. You are usually quite idealistic and you demand the right to be able to explore the entire world of experiences yourself. Remember to grant others the similar right - be tolerant, not dogmatic.

Saturn is in 20 Degrees Pisces.
Your tendency to think that your life is out of control is based on an unreasonable fear, probably connected with an unfortunate experience with the person who filled the father figure role in your early life. Try to stop having unrealistic expectations about guide figures. Remember that they are merely human, with all the same faults and self-doubts that you have. When you get confused or uncertain, try to simplify your lifestyle - things will then become easier to bear.

hottie harem

Pluto is in 28 Degrees Cancer.
For your entire generation, this is a period of profound global changes, especially in the nature and shape of family structures. In one such period, in the Twentieth Century, major calamities such as depression and world war accelerated the replacement of the old village-oriented extended family by modern cosmopolitan living.

no he's not

N. Node is in 01 Degrees Capricorn.

You rarely get involved closely with anyone unless he or she has something specific and practical to offer you. You tend to be "all business" when it comes to dealing with others. You're usually so intently focused on a particular goal that you rarely have time for social niceties or casual fellowship. As such, you're a valuable member of any team situation and will probably rise to a position of leadership within the group. Your trustworthiness and sense of responsibility are unquestioned. But do try to avoid the temptation to "use" others to reach your goals - they might come to resent you.

Zelina Kurkova is a contributor to This Recording. She is an astrologer living in New York.

"American Hearts" - A.A. Bondy (mp3)


Flashing back to our nonfiction week.

We mourned mankind.

We celebrated our love of the sketch comedy group The State.