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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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Tuesday
May232017

In Which We Have Chosen Another Dog

Pet Abuser

by DICK CHENEY

Downward Dog
creator Samm Hodges & Michael Killen
ABC

Every person has a certain frustration about the way the world operates. The tragedy is that each person can never be convinced that their special objection to these goings on is anything less than a predictable malady, akin to the common cold. Convinced her struggles are her own, Nan (Alison Lohman) decides to share her awful life with a dog, a mutt named Martin she rescued. (Martin is voiced by Downward Dog creator Samm Hodges.)

Amy Schumer once had a great sketch about people who constantly mentioned the dogs they rescue. Well, it wasn't so much a great sketch as a painfully obvious joke repeated several times, but it certainly was reflective of something in the culture. Downward Dog has missed out on that, whatever it was, and completely unironically presents the story of a woman who abuses her dog as if she is the hero.

Nan (is she named after bread?) never takes her dog on walks. She allows him to go on all her furniture, and she frequently punishes him by confined him to a small space and telling him that he is bad, even though he is just enacting behavior she has permitted. She allows him to sleep in her bed, which is completely disgusting. You see, dogs often roll around on the ground, where bacteria collects, and to drag those molecules into your sleeping quarters is just asking for various infections.

Obviously she never even read the internet to find out the first thing about what is involved in taking care of a dog. She leaves Martin in alone in the house, with no way of going to the bathroom, for upwards of ten to fifteen hours. This is completely unkind and also terribly unhealthy for the dog's long term health. Martin's on Downward Dog is not even marginally better than when he was at the animal shelter.

Things are even worse when it comes to the rest of Nan's life. In one scene in Downward Dog, she wears a Metallica t-shirt. I was unsure if this was ironically or not, but it came across as completely sincere. She never actually listens to any rock music. Maybe she did before she discovered she did not enjoy it, or before she met her boyfriend (Lucas Neff) who suspect that this woman is a total fake and leaves without saying anything. When he is around, at least he interacts with her dog, the only temporary reprieve of enjoyment or play Martin ever experiences.

Nan works in the marketing department of a clothing company called Crate + Bow, where she articulates her aim as wanting to "change the world." She never gets involved in politics, even though the actual real-life wife of Samm Hodges, much like every woman I know, spends every waking hour posting and e-mailing anti-Trump material. But to actually articulate the passion of real women in Downward Dog would be angering too much of ABC's prospective audience, so they don't do it. Artists should never be such complete cowards.

The Pittsburgh-set Downward Dog is quite an extensive guide for how to be an awful human being. Nan's boss at work is a guy named Kevin (Barry Rothbart). He is openly sexist, and Nan's friend Jenn (Kirby Howell-Baptiste) even references that she has complained about his behavior to HR. I guess nothing came from that. In one scene, the two invade their boss's private office, which is completely inappropriate, and find a white-board with his ideas. From this list Nan derives a diorama which does seem to feature a dress or maybe just a mannequin:

As bad as the diorama is, it is the only thing of any interest this awful person creates. After Martin tears up the diorama, Nan goes with her original idea. Her plan to advertise the various wares of the clothing company she works for is to put a big mirror in front of all their stores that reflects what the customers are currently wearing. The text on the mirror will say, "Look how beautiful you are." Her boss is furious at this, but some corporate overlord witnesses the presentation and is like, "This could work. It's just inauthentic enough to make absolutely no sense." Even that crazy woman who ran J. Crew would have told Nan she was straight garbage.

At first Nan thinks she is fired. Nan is so full of hate after her boss' reaction that she decides to take her considerable anger out on her pet. I loathe people who take their feelings out on others. She does this to Martin:

You know who can't handle their own feelings? Children, but their have an excuse for this behavior. Children want to seem cool by wearing a particular piece of clothing. Children think that a mirror is a good way to advertise a product. Children think every single person is beautiful because they simply haven't seen enough people to know what being beautiful actually means, or that it has meaning at all. A child, a cruel, evil child, might treat a dog this way. A human being never could.

Dick Cheney is the senior contributor to This Recording.

Monday
May222017

In Which We Return To Twin Peaks At Some Point

The following review covers the first two parts of Twin Peaks: The Return.

David Lynch: The Return

by ELEANOR MORROW

Twin Peaks: The Return
creators Mark Frost & David Lynch
Showtime

The burning corpse of Twin Peaks that David Lynch left behind when network executives and his partner Mark Frost tried to fuck with his creation at the end of 1980s has been alight for twenty-five disturbed years. Lynch has examined volume after volume of his dreams and committed them to film since those halcyon days. Some of his efforts, like 2001's Mulholland Drive exceeded his original vision for Twin Peaks; others became a bit overcomplicated for even his most devoted fans, even if the cinematography itself was typically one-of-a-kind.

This Lynch cares about pleasing no one again. It is in his very capable hands that we find Agent Dale Cooper (Kyle MacLachlan). The fifty-eight year old performer is remarkably well preserved, which makes thematic sense because he has been in another dimension, the Red Room, for all of this time. His dark doppelganger (Kyle MacLachlan with shoulder-length black hair) is in North Dakota, where two murders have taken place when Twin Peaks: The Return opens.

Two clueless cops find the head of a librarian in her apartment, the eye blasted out of its socket. After turning back the blanket, they find the torso of an obese John Doe mismatched to her pretty head. The local school principal Bill Hastings (Matthew Lillard) is the number one suspect, since his prints are found all over the librarian apartment and he knew the victim. In a few relatively straightlaced scenes, Frost and Lynch give us half the pleasure found in the original Twin Peaks: that the show was at its most amusing and poignant when it fundamentally dealt with the mundane.

The other half of Twin Peaks was the wild, spooky melodrama of the Black Lodge, where a demon possessed inhabitants of this Washington town. The moments in Twin Peaks: The Return when Agent Cooper struggles to free himself of his interdimensional confinement are replete with hokey, yet unnerving special effects, and the visuals are at times outright frightening. Lynch takes us to a room in midtown Manhattan where a young man views a glass box. His only job is to see if anything appears in it.

Such a set-up, ominously underscored by Angelo Badalamenti's haunting score, is a metaphor for the open possibilities of Twin Peaks, the town. We return to the familiar residents of the place for good at the end of the second episode. The eternally handsome James Hurley (James Marshall) is still wearing his leather jacket, observing the table where Shelly Johnson (Mädchen Amick) sits with friends. It is in these nostalgic moments where we suddenly realize how grateful we are that this is nothing like the Twin Peaks of decades ago.

So much of the original Twin Peaks was a shocking, amusing send-up of what television had become. Rewatching any of the first run of the show now, it is easily to see how much of the television that followed came out of the feel and style that Lynch developed. The original show still gives off a modern feeling. 

In order to shock us again, Lynch now has the benefit of premium cable standards and practices. Twin Peaks: The Return is frequently gruesome. It turns sexuality into a weird nothingness that fades before the everyday. Its characters are continuously waiting to be astonished by something in their lives, and when that ultimate moment arrives, they do not shy away. Boring people, Lynch insists, are not what they seem. They have their moments.

The original Twin Peaks had one key flaw that makes the show rather difficult to watch at times. That was the performance of Michael Ontkean as Sheriff Harry Truman. Ontkean was straight out of central casting for all the lame cop shows that Lynch was half-parodying here, but since Twin Peaks exceeded what it was making fun of at nearly every turn, his awkward, stumbling performance just got in the way of Kyle MacLachlan, as Truman is forced to portray a clueless straight man in every scene.

Fortunately, Ontkean smartly gave up acting a number of years ago, probably because he was not very good at it. Replacing him are a bevy of newcomers. Some are Lynch's particular favorites, and some are actors he has admired but never had a chance to work with before. Since the individual scenes of Twin Peaks: The Return have every chance of making very little sense to the audience, the rapid pace of the cameos and casting against type helps turn the show into a bizarre retrospective of Lynch's career in film and television.

By the end of the second episode, Agent Cooper has freed himself from the Red Room, ending up in the glass box. A demon follows close behind, and the show intends to follow Cooper back to the town where his life properly began. The town's waterfall and school look nearly the same; its residents are somewhat aged.

Even amidst all the confusion, David Lynch creates so many new feelings and archetypes to exploit, and Twin Peaks: The Return is more gleeful than anything. His basic theme throughout each iteration of Twin Peaks is the continuous discovery of all the places where human dignity can be found, uncovered, and disbanded. Horror, for Lynch, is a pretext to a more elucidated understanding, and he finds this more easily in a phrase, an aside, or a vision that any commonly understood form of elegy or coda. That is why he never wanted Twin Peaks to solve the murder mystery that propelled it from scene-to-scene: because doing so would only mean a false catharsis. They were all the killers.

Eleanor Morrow is the senior contributor to This Recording. She is a writer living in Manhattan.

Friday
May192017

In Which Feigning Illness Appears A Solid Bet

Sisters Before Misters

by ELIZABETH BARBEE

As a child I preferred the nurse's office to the playground. Tetherball wasn't my thing, and after an unfortunate spill, I swore off swing sets. To be clear, I wasn't a wimp. I was sophisticated.

Like many Americans, elementary school teachers view disinterest in contact sports as evidence of a deeper problem. Convincing them to let me skip out on dodge ball was a struggle. Feigning illness seemed like my best bet. I faked sore throats and stomachaches. I became so adept at mimicking the symptoms of sickness that I began to believe I actually was sick. I staggered through the halls almost daily, the back of my hand pressed against my forehead like Greta Garbo. If I had known the expression “woe is me” I would have used it.

When I reached Nurse Hoover's office I flung myself onto one of several white cots and demanded peppermints. Their mentholated taste made them seem medicinal. “Could it be Lupus?” I asked. “Give it to me straight.” Basically, I was Anna Chlumsky in My Girl only not as cute. I had a jaggedly cut chili bowl that my mom tried to feminize with grosgrain bows larger than my head.

I knew about Lupus because I had recently discovered a series of young adult novels centered around teenagers with incurable diseases. They were authored by a woman named Lurlene McDaniel, who must be a really intense person. Her books are titled things like Too Young To Die and Now I Lay Me Down To Sleep, so you look hardcore when you read them in public. I do not think my hypochondria could have reached the heights it did if not for the aegis of these texts. They provided me with great material.

Any time a mysterious bruise appeared on my body I knew the end was near. This inspired  many philosophical questions. If I die, who will take care of my Tamagotchi? Should I leave my rock collection to my best friend, Allison, or my crush, Derrick? Derrick works at Cracker Barrel now and is probably not into rocks. Thank God I went with Allison. Sisters before misters!

My parents were fairly supportive of my macabre habit, because I am their only child. If they lose me, they don't have a spare kid to prove they can keep something alive. The second I complained of a twitch in my left eye or a faint tightness in my chest, they rushed me to the pediatrician.

Dr. Murphy was no Nurse Hoover. For starters he charged. At the end of each appointment he offered my mom the bill and me a lollipop, which was a real blow to my ego. He also had a moderately famous twin brother, Vince, who didn't do his reputation any favors. Vince owned a local music store notorious for terrible commercials that I was sure Dr. Murphy had a hand in producing. Reflective sunglasses and screeching guitars seemed just his style. Worse still, he was onto me. “You aren't running a fever and your vitals look normal,” I remember him saying. I wanted to wipe the smile from his face and seek a second opinion.

It was not that I wanted to be sick. It was that I did not want to be crazy. Our culture is more forgiving of poor health than insanity. Cancer gets you pity, but an imagined medical illness just lands you in the looney bin. People do not send flowers to the looney bin. I learned this from watching Girl, Interrupted.

In my experience, hypochondria is not something you overcome so much as it is something you learn to ignore. After taking myself to the emergency room twice in college, I decided it would be better to die quietly in my apartment than suffer the embarrassment of learning I was just having a panic attack. This has greatly influenced my interior decorating. I refuse to go down looking at a mass produced Breakfast At Tiffany's poster. If you have any hand drawn art at a reasonable price, send it my way.

Elizabeth Barbee is the senior contributor to This Recording. She is a writer living in Texas. You can find an archive of her writing on This Recording here.