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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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Tuesday
May242016

In Which Seth Rogen And Evan Goldberg Enter The American South

God Magic

by ETHAN PETERSON

Preacher
creators Seth Rogen & Evan Goldberg & Sam Caitlin
AMC

It sounds like the setup for a twisted joke. Two Jews make a television show about Jesus Christ. Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg, when they are not driving the people in neighboring offices to insanity through the odiferous smell of their pot smoking, did not exactly pick up the Bible before making Preacher. If they did, it certainly was not the New Testament.

The graphic novel Preacher was about as knowledgeable about America as Seth Rogen is about the Gospel of Matthew. Preacher was one of many works by European writers attempting to depict what was happening in the country in the world producing most of the world's visual media. By caricaturing America in the same way America did to them, writers like Ennis, Alan Moore and Neil Gaiman levelled the playing field.

The graphic novel Preacher isn't really offensive in its rampant violence, which seems basically tame now, or its view of Christianity, which is more a silly appreciation than actual critique. Preacher's broader caricatures are harsh parodies of people in the American south, all easy targets.

Not being native to Texas, writer Garth Ennis ran out of jokes about the region and Preacher turned into a pretty serious story about what a man does when he loses faith and how he acts when he regains it, if he ever does. Of course it does not really matter if you pray to God if he does not really exist. In the world of Preacher, he does, but he is not the only one of his kind. Jesse Custer (Dominic Cooper) is the protagonist and titular character, whose interaction with an angel-demon hybrid gives him the power of command.

Cooper is a tiny man, but this only adds to his considerable charm, since he has to find a way to impress us as a person without using his physique or literal momentum. The first fight scene in Preacher occurs after Jesse encourages a local woman to file a complaint against her husband. It turns out the abuse of the wife is at her own request (!), and instead of apologizing, Jesse breaks the man's arm and beats up his friends. This outcome adds to the general sense that the main characters in Preacher may not exactly be the most God-fearing folks.

Take Jesse's ex-girlfriend Tulip (Ruth Negga). I remember her being so much more likable in the comic, where she wasn't explaining what a sterling examplar of womanhood she is all the time. In the pilot episode of Preacher, she builds a bazooka with a couple of children out of soup cans. It's completely unclear why this should make her sympathetic; in fact she would be the most monstrous character on this show if it were not for Jesse's vampire friend Cassidy.

The long Cassidy sections were the worst part of the comic, and yet their utter lack of narrative seriousness was a welcome relief from Garth Ennis' at times dreary tone. We learn Cassidy is undead very early on. This revelation would have been far better somewhere down the line — it means nothing when Preacher begins, and it has been approximated so many times in the last twenty years.

I figured Rogen and Goldberg would focus on what Preacher actually does do well, which is a stylized form of violence which at times and in certain lights resembles prayer. It takes real skill to make action so seamless it comes across in a delightful space between accuracy of purpose and choreography, and that is missing in AMC's Preacher. Rogen and Goldberg's take on Preacher remains entertaining because the subject matter and setting are still quite unique, but so far the killing takes a serious backseat to the large, slowish characterization. It is a welcome upending — more Sydney Pollack than Quentin Tarantino.

The most chaotic moments of Preacher have Rogen and Goldberg overmatched, since they do not know where to put the camera and it feels like they are recreating fights they've seen before. They have replaced that stylized violence with an actual understanding of these characters. Despite their inadequacies, you can really feel the world of Preacher is something they have thought about more deeply than Ennis ever did, and it is wonderful to see the world of the graphic novel find more stable roots in the drama of more realistic human lives.

Ethan Peterson is the senior contributor to This Recording. He last wrote in these pages about Julian Fellowes' Doctor Thorne.

"What Do You Want With My Heart" - These United States (mp3)

"One You Believe" - These United States (mp3)


Monday
May232016

In Which We Climbed The Red Keep So Many Nights

Bran Is 40

by DICK CHENEY

It's been a hard year so far. It hasn't been as hard for me as it was for Bran Stark. First of all they didn't have the money to get Sean Bean to play his father again. Sean Bean is under contract with TNT so he couldn't come back and play a younger version of himself. Instead it was a guy who looked a lot more like the actor playing Ned Stark in Braavos, who I have to admit was suspiciously accurate in his portrayal and could he be the real N.E.D.? Second of all, Bran is aging at a rate of ten years per episode like Robin Williams in Jack.

Bran's stupidity and love for the dream world allowed him to learn a somewhat pertinent lesson about the Children of the Forest. Those magical creatures may have erred in turning some blonde guy into a White Walker. Given that these weird female children knew the principal weakness of the demons they developed to destroy the wildings, I don't know much of a threat these cold ones really are. Just burn them. It's easy.

Hodor's time travel moment was cute, but it is even better I don't have to hear his stupid grunting anymore. Apparently the white walkers got as far as that door and decided not pursue Meera and Bran. It was very nice of Summer the direwolf to go down fighting, which I believe means there is only one direwolf left. These important budget reductions give us all the CGI money HBO needs when you add it to the cash they saved by firing their head of programming.

I was enthusiastically looking forward to the drowning of Euron Greyjoy. I don't know why the interminable saga of the Iron Islands ever became important at the expense of houses with interesting stories and purposes, but wrapping up the entire saga in one episode was basically a mercy killing.

The dragon queen's tearful dispatching of Iain Glen to cure the gross rash he has on his arm was well done. They should honestly just pause the show here and give us a spin-off season of Iain Glen traipsing through Valyria and meeting another Targaryen, twisted by his environment into something resembling a scientist. As in all of my GoT fanfictions (don't tell GRRM), there are intense sex scenes where someone is always like, "Forget the throne, being inside you is all that's crucial at this juncture," to which their wintercourse partner inevitably responds, "Don't talk that way about the throne."

It was funny how Arya was gleefully laughing when watching the reenactment of a man who loved her father gored by a boar, but as soon as her own family entered the diegesis, the frown emerged. I'd say all things considered, this drama hewed closely to the truth, although I will always be seriously let down that Sansa didn't fall in love with Tyrion. In retrospect, there was no reason that should not have happened. Think of the fanfic!

Sansa clutched the dwarf's trembling paw in her hand and held it to her bosom. He tasted of whiskey and camomile, an overpowering combinationthat simultaneously repulsed and aroused her like nothing else. "Where do whores go?" she whispered to him. "Come on, what?" he replied, flossing her teeth with some string and eating what fell out. Tyrion could think of nothing better than to be this massive ginger's baby bird.

That's just my opening salvo for the characters. Eventually the story would have featured Sansa biting a chunk out of Shae's leg and whimpering like a direwolf when challenged by her tiny husband. People, certain people, would have really enjoyed my approach to this period in the history of Westeros. I would not have included yet another scene where we fully detail when and where Varys' balls were removed. I felt the previous eight hundred renditions of this piece of backstory were probably enough.

I'd suspect with no romantic prospects on the horizon the dragon queen might start having some intimate feelings for her own personal high priestess. As I said last week, the pure, unadulterated impact of fictional romances has become a way of all around living for me. That's why the interplay between Eric the Red and Brienne has spawned an entire novelette I call Climbing the Blonde Keep.

Dick Cheney is the senior contributor to This Recording.

"Sandy" - Nancy Wilson (mp3)


Friday
May202016

In Which We View All Of The Flowers And Herbs

In the Garden

by MARK ARTURO

You were the painted face, the considered night, three black stallions on a march. I was the peeled-back rind of something discarded, repurposed as a hat. You had seven weeks to answer one simple phone call. You did not fail at the task, but it could not be said you completed it, either. A cage can have openings, more than one, invisible to the eye but whole in themselves. You were the winding clock, I was each movement of the hand, and that is what I miss.

Your sister Leslie had this tiny boat she used to go out on as a girl, long before the cancer. I still get Christmas cards from her. There is a diligence in certain people which feels like tracing a finger against that long, white wall. Those individuals break themselves against incontinence, instructing us that nothing is ever really unbearable. I want to imagine a better person than myself.

by isabelle tremblay

Leslie featured the gifted dress, paeans to songbirds so unexpected beaks shut in response, an animal smell, not unpleasant but still worrisome. You had the clean scent, the arched neck, the light sweat misting on an exchange. I had the bottle.

In our purpose, there is an accounting of deed and voice. You talked too much, on the phone, at night. You made me feel apoplectic with your nonsense worries. Not angry at you, or me, but the corruption of the world. Sweetness always reverses itself. That is why I never take it seriously when someone believes that I am cold.

You rolled the magic die, ending the game too early or not soon enough. I was the wizened epoch, managed as a tragedy and destined for repose. Leslie was the ancient crutch; her daughter is the swirling phantom. No more adjectives left now. Only people, and their nightengale eyes.

Here's what I can do: wrap the old engine, shiny and clean of grease, in a red plastic container to hide it from thieves. Glove the sky and hold tighter than you believed you could when you found something you wanted, or loved. The only firm grip is that of God, she said, but I did not believe her words: only acts.

Calm is an additive, something you put into it. From here, isometric, symmetrical.

by isabelle tremblay

Here's where we can go: Portugal, or further down on the penisula. To your mother's house. I'd honestly love to see her garden. Over to the campus, where you waited with coffee all those hours. Tibet and Mali, whistling over a new ocean. Stand outside the house, wondering if the human beings inside of it are nice, or if they turned. Ireland. Bermuda. The tall hill in that photograph of you.

Making visible the hours in the arbor. Holding a small object rather than a long, thin point. Stars in her throat, face against the ground. The sea of the formerly inconceivable. A key frame redrawn on paper.

This is the last attempt, until the next one. You were all the condensation. Leslie was the morning rush, her daughter the ancient tome. I made a few things with my hands just to show you they could still work. I won't touch anyone with them again until you say they do.

Mark Arturo is the senior contributor to This Recording. He is a writer living in New York. You can find an archive of his writing on This Recording here.

Painting by Isabelle Tremblay.

"Used to Love You" - Yuna ft. Jhene Aiko (mp3)