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Alex Carnevale

Managing Editor
Kara VanderBijl

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 Have Gabriel And Damascus

Hard to Say is This Recording’s weekly advice column. It will appear every Wednesday until the Earth perishes in a fiery blaze, or until North West turns 40. Get no-nonsense answers to all of your most pressing questions by writing to justhardtosay@gmail.com or by dropping us a note at our tumblr.


My boyfriend Marcus O'Neill and I have a great sex life, averaging about five times a week if we are able to see each other that frequently with our schedules. Marcus recently confessed that he still masturbates himself to orgasm on a dialy basis whether we have sex or not.

I was pretty shocked by this. Is that kind of frequency normal for someone in a relationship, and should I be worried that I am not satisfying Marcus O'Neill's needs? (I asked him what he thinks about when he does it, and he says me/pornography.)

Ashley T.

Dear Dinah,

Some people use masturbation as a panacea for a variety of common problems: sleeplessness, anxiety, depression, reaction trauma, boredom or if there is not a fresh juice box on hand.

Habits are developed early on, and are sometimes hard to reliably break. You might think that Marcus should be completed by what you do together, but it's possible you are just making him more enervated and aroused. This may not altogether be a bad thing.

If he does have this much testosterone floating around in the ether, then it is also good he has found a way to express it that doesn't hurt you or anyone else, except of course the victims of the Los Angeles-based pornography industry.

We get a lot of questions about pornography, most of them suggesting that it is terrible and should not exist. There is no easy reply to this sentiment, because it will always exist as long as the human body is titillating and easy to display.

If he hasn't already, suggesting Marcus do this in front of you may assuage some of your fears. He may believe you are not interested in his private time, so reassure him with soft comments like, "That's an impressive grip!" or "You're actually good at this?" The only person in the world who does not benefit from encouragement is Howard Schulz.



I've been in a relationship with this guy for less than a month and he wants me to meet his parents and entire family over passover, but I'm feeling a bit reluctant about going. I haven't given him an answer yet, and it would mean the world to him if I went. What should I do?


Annie S.

Dear Annie,

Are you reluctant because you think it's too soon to meet his parents or because you're not that into him and the thought of spending a holiday with him AND his family has you wishing for a chance to wander 40 years in the desert? If it's the former, just go with it. It's probably not that big of a deal, unless the guy's intense in other ways, too. (If he is, just tell him to tone it down.) If it's the latter, then maybe this is a sign that you should get out of this relaysh.

Illustrations by Mia Nguyen. Access This Recording's mobile site at thisrecording.wordpress.com.


"Yesterday's Tapes" - Telepath (mp3)


In Which We Receive Perfect Kindness And Courage

Where The Sidewalk Ends


dir. Kenneth Branagh
105 minutes

There was an episode of ABC's The Bachelor where, in a cross-promotional opportunity with Cinderella that was rather shameless, even for Disney, former Playboy centerfold Jade Roper went on a princess date with Chris. Jade received a new dress and, as a mode of pre-gaming, was permitted to watch an “exclusive clip” from the movie on an iPad. It’s possibly the least exciting moment of the season, but I did note that Lady Rose (Lily James) from Downton Abbey was to be Cinderella. What I didn’t realize until I settled into my seat at the theater, right on time for the 2 p.m. showing, was that Downton Abbey's sous chef Daisy (Sophie McShera) was in it as well. She plays a stepsister. But I’m getting ahead of myself.

The other night, happily strolling the streets of Manhattan, I saw a rat crawling cautiously in the middle of the sidewalk. In New York rats are ubiquitous, but only in the subways, so you can imagine my fear/curiosity. A nearby child also noted the animal and was eager to investigate, but his mother pulled him away saying, “It’s probably sick.” I mean, it had to be sick, right, to venture above ground, away from the roaring express trains, relentless mysterious puddles, and expired metro cards peppering gum-speckled platforms? I took at least two showers when I got back to my apartment and still felt like I had caught some sort of rat disease, or that it had followed me inside my building, or that it now resided in my hair.

In Cinderella, the notion of rodents doesn’t repel — in fact, the rodents are named and revered, not unlike Micky Mouse himself. Cinderella speaks to them more than she speaks to anyone else in the film, and the narrator (who is actually the fairy godmother, obviously played by Helena Bonham Carter) notes, unnecessarily, that they’re her bffs.

When Cinderella is a child (back then she’s just known as Ella), her mother assures her that animals speak, listen, and understand humans, but it’s implied you have to be blonde, clad in blue, and somewhat earthy for that to work. In Disney’s 1950 animated version of Cinderella, Gus Gus the mouse is adorable, partially because he is pristinely animated, wears a cute t-shirt, talks, is fully capable of preparing his own meals, helps Cinderella with chores, and is just an adorable, nonthreatening human in mouse form. In this live action version, Gus is played by that rat I saw on the sidewalk.

A big take-away from the film is animal rights, or, as they say in academia, animal studies. As a vegetarian, an addict of breeching whale videos on youtube, and someone who enjoys having my feet warmed by soft golden retrievers, I like to smugly profess my love and respect for animals. Unfortunately, it was hard to get past the filthy mice that were permitted and in fact invited inside Cinderella’s home, which can only be described as the interior of your corner Anthropologie (you could practically smell the $24 Santiago huckleberry candles, and they let rats in that haven of shabby chic?).

When Cinderella first meets the prince, they are in the woods. She is galloping away from the cruelty of Daisy, Cate Blanchett, and the other stepsister (Holliday Grainger) and finds herself in the midst of a royal hunt. The gentlemen on horseback are after a CGI stag. “Run away,” Cinderella whispers to the deer in much the same way she communicates with the mice. Shortly thereafter, the prince gallops up and mansplains that hunting is “what’s done,” to which Cinderella replies, “just because it’s done doesn’t mean it’s right,” or something, and he is visibly moved.

During this meet-cute, their horses are circling each other dizzyingly, but they stop suddenly after she tells him of her acquaintance with the stag. The camera focuses deeply on his soulless blue eyes, and we see that their entire romance hinges on her defense of the animal, which she tells the prince “has a lot more life to live.” We never see Cinderella eat meat.

The other thing is that the stepsisters and stepmother (Cate Blanchett) are incredibly coiffed, their nails painted, lips vibrantly red, and yet they are the most ‘animal.’ They laugh like hyenas at Cinderella’s soot-covered face and try their hardest to eradicate her sense of self. They rename her and tell her she’s worthless because of their thinly veiled jealousy. The irony is perhaps a bit too heavy-handed, but the joy of clear irony is that nobody misses it, and in politics, you can never be too clear.

“I forgive you,” Cinderella finally says to her stepmother after her foot fits inside the glass slipper, and we recognize the power of good over evil and the freedom of forgiveness, those hopeful ideas that fairy tales so beautifully deliver to even the most cynical audiences. The message is solid, and it goes against criticism that Cinderella, or at least the 2015 imagining, is sexist. In this version, the protagonist is not a pushover who needs a prince to validate her.

The fact of the matter is that yes, Cinderella is treated like a servant and takes forever to finally speak up, but she’s unbreakable in a dazzling Kimmy Schmidt sense. It’s pretty clear she likes the prince for political reasons — by marrying him, we can expect a ban on ruthless hunts for blameless deer and, hopefully, vegetarianism for all of the kingdom. She listens to her mother, who on her deathbed makes her promise to “have courage and be kind." She’s a regular liberal, and she achieves her goals subtly, by leaning the fuck in.

In one scene, Cinderella's twice-widowed stepmother explains the tragedy of her first two marriages. Can we blame her for being pissed that her new husband really only cares about his spawn from his first wife, who died in a gloriously Victorian way — suddenly and gracefully, after a single faint followed by foreboding, indistinct murmurings from a country doctor? If it weren’t for her cruelty and monetary greediness, we would nearly pity Cinderella's stepmother, and plus it’s Cate Blanchett, who is lovely. We get perfect kindness and courage from Lady Rose, obvi, and perhaps most intriguingly a real outside-of-the-box Daisy, who prances around in a hoop skirt like she’s never worked dinner at Downton in her life.

Like Downton Abbey’s obsession with the changing times (I swear, if I hear Carson lament bygone days one more time, I’m giving up on everything, including knowing whether or not Thomas finds love), this is a Cinderella about a changing society — about a commoner shockingly marrying royalty, about a kingdom transformed by a woman’s insistence on being kind to animals, even rats, and about a man being open with his foot fetish.

Julia Clarke is the senior contributor to This Recording. She is a writer living in Manhattan.

"How Can I" - Laura Marling (mp3)

"Divine" - Laura Marling (mp3)


In Which We Exercise Materialism To The Extreme

The Point of Tears


Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt
creators Tina Fey and Robert Carlock

With a spirit of a whimsical middle schooler, Kimmy (Ellie Kemper) skips throughout New York City armed with a purple Jansport backpack and two paperback books in Netflix’s new comedic series Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt. After being held captive for 15 years in an underground bunker with three other women, Kimmy forges a path of her own with minimal survival skills.

For Kimmy, starting anew means shedding her identity as one of the Indiana mole woman. The prospect of putting behind the trauma of Durnsville, Indiana puts Kimmy at ease. Along with adjusting herself to metropolitan life, Kimmy makes grand discoveries in the 21st century like a child peering into a treasure chest for the first time. The show doesn’t belittle Kimmy’s traumatic experiences, whether they would be sexual or physical abuse from cult leader Reverend Richard Wayne Gary Wayne (Jon Hamm).

Behind Kimmy’s infectious, pearly white smile, there lies a thick veil of darkness to her backstory. The underground bunker provided a place for her fears to fester. The sound of velcro makes Kimmy cringe outrageously to the point of tears.

Unlike the other three women, Kimmy has no desire to return to a place that slashed 15 years off her precious life. To start a new life in a new city, one must secure the necessities: job security and shelter. In reality, apartment hunting is stressfull; this stress is almost absent in Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt. Kimmy scours the classifieds and finds an apartment she’s interested in. She is greeted by Lillian (Carol Kane), an eccentric and spaced out landlord for a potential apartment.

Lillian introduces Kimmy to her downstairs tenant, Titus Andromedon (Tituss Burgess), an aspiring actor who is trying hard to make it big on Broadway and has been for a long time. As a New Yorker, Titus is a resilient improviser when it comes to handling difficult situations head-on. In an episode, Titus constructs a chic and Oscar-winning outfit for Kimmy by using everyday household products: bathroom mat, toilet hardware, among many others.

Jacqueline Voorhees (Jane Krakowski), an Upper East Side Manhattanite, employs Kimmy as a nanny. While working in the Voorhees’ household, she changes her last name from “Schmidt” to “Smith” to prevent anyone from discovering her Indiana mole women status. As a nanny, Kimmy excels in interacting with Mrs. Voorhees' moody teenage stepdaughter, Xanthippe (Dylan Gelula) who is under the full suspicion that Kimmy has something to hide. Kimmy naturally becomes her confidant while on the job throughout the series.

Mrs. Voorhees exercises materialism to the extreme and has a refrigerator stocked with off-brand FIJI water labeled “diet water.” Wealthy people always have an abundance of white towels and a fridge stocked with the same items. When she offers Kimmy a bottle to hydrate, Kimmy politely declines, and proceeds to toss it into the waste basket. As a teenager, Mrs. Voorhees dyed her hair blonde and moved away from her home of South Dakota. Her origins and backstory appear to have broken elements that will hopefully appear in the second season.

Creators Tina Fey and Robert Carlock successfully build a successful female heroine with a group of equally charming, eccentric supporting actors. Along with the diversity of the cast, the comedic one-liners make audience members fall to their knees. The range of racial stereotypes represented on the show aren’t intended to be mean spirited. Kimmy’s GED study partner Dong (Ki Hong Lee) is a Chinese delivery guy who wins the affection of Kimmy. One of the character faults is his character being built around sexual jokes surrounding the origins of his Vietnamese name, which has sexual connotations. It’s a cheap comedy trope, and Fey has been criticized for this kind of stuff before.

The show features the upbeat pace and cadence of Fey's 30 Rock, ensuring its appeal to existing fans of Fey and Carlock’s work. Watching the entire series in one sitting closely resembles the feeling of witnessing a stream of candy fall out from a paper mâché piñata at a child’s birthday party. It’s rewarding and sweet. We glimmer at her childlike freedom. Something we wished we still had.

Mia Nguyen is the features editor of This Recording. You can find her website here.

"Hold No Guns" - Death Cab for Cutie (mp3)