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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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Monday
Jun272016

In Which We Woke Up This Morning And All The Direwolves Were Gone

Fully Thronesed

by DICK CHENEY

Game of Thrones
creators David Benioff & D.B. Weiss
HBO

It was a show that barely got a second season order, so constrained by budgetary limitations that in early seasons Jon Snow's direwolf Ghost was portrayed by a toy poodle from Tom's River, New Jersey named Lady Sunstein.

All the direwolves are gone now, and all the Lannister children as well. They were all the product of an ill union between brother and sister - and, it is intimated, so too may some of the Stark children be the product of a similar relationship. The way Ned Stark looked at his sister as she was dying in childbirth was a bit on the creepy side. Maybe we find out later, in the vast books of the Citadel, that Rhaeger was impotent.

There was something a bit trite about these climactic scenes as they finally arrived. The first twenty minutes of this show was brilliant and probably should have been in last week's episode. It was amazing how Cersei sort of gave up on her son and left his bay windows open for a deadly fall. I was so happy that I would never be forced to watch Natalie Dormer or Jonathan Pryce act again that I almost cried.

Grandma Tyrell's indignation at this state of affairs seemed rather forced. I don't really understand why the Golden Girls need to be affliated with Daenerys, since she seems destined to enter into a love relationship with her nephew Jon Snow. On the other hand, the absolute insane amount of people that have been killed off means that the remaining characters are necessarily inhabiting a larger role.

The worst part of the finale was undoubtedly the turgid scene between Daenerys and Tyrion. What kind of woman throws out a perfectly good terrible actor and replaces him with a much shorter terrible actor? Tyrion as a character would have a lot more relevance if he exhibited any emotion at all. Like, what is even the point of this mutual appreciation party? Cersei may not have liked him very much, but didn't he already get his revenge?

The power struggle in the North is a nice wrinkle, but a couple things. The Onion Knight was absolutely fine with Melisandre for like a year, but suddenly he's accusing her of being a murderer? He's been acting like they were best friends the entire season. Also, I'm pretty sure the little girl was going to die from greyscale any day. Melisandre could have plausibly used that in her defense. I guess it's time for her to meet up with the Brotherhood without Banners. She could finally bring Catelyn Stark back from the dead.

So many people were and are still caught up in thinking that Arya Stark never left that little shit room in Braavos, and the Waif is now Arya Stark. I guess it's possible, although why she would go and eat all of Walder Frey's children I truly don't know. I felt like that probably could have used an episode in itself. Arya should have infiltrated the camp and shown all her skills. This way it just seems like she teleported to her destination and the kill has so much less effect.

Cersei Lannister should be a tremendous villain, but I'm sort of failing to see where she went wrong in any of this. Bran saw her fucking Jaime in Winterfell. She took mercy on the boy and never killed him. She returned to Westeros. Her husband was a dangerous alcoholic so she got rid of him, but in the nicest possible way. She did kill Ned Stark, but in her defense, he was very nosy and anyway I doubt she could have stopped it from happening. The Golden Girls killed her daughter and the Tyrells killed Joffrey. So exactly how did she lose the moral high ground in any of this? This entire season she's been nothing but trod upon by a group of religious fanatics who stole her remaining son.

I honestly don't know why he even bothered finishing the series of books. It feels like we are so close to end of things that the rest of Game of Thrones will just approximate the feel of this episode. The finale was just a big epilogue, a Where Are They Now? for a group of people that have already experienced all the tragedy they will ever know. How do you punish the punisher, or torture the tortured? There was a finality to everything, a sense that we could watch these shifting alliances forever, until we decide ourselves to leave well enough alone.

Dick Cheney is the senior contributor to This Recording. He will return to his reviews when the remake of Lost hits ABC in the year 2026, or when Game of Thrones returns, whichever occurs first I guess.


Friday
Jun242016

In Which Diane Renders All Other Faces Useless In Comparison

Sob Story

by DAN CARVILLE

What I noticed about Diane first was actually something about myself. When I saw her I cycled through so many different reactions, unable to fixate on one in particular. First came a kind of mental thrust, a movement towards an indiscernible affection. Then lust, at how she was arranged. I only felt that bracing sadness afterwards, reminiscent of when I was a boy and saw a bird lose its sight.

I love animals, humans especially. Last week I witnessed an earthworm wriggling on the sidewalk. I put it in the ground. I thought to myself, "Is this what I think I am always doing?"

Her real name is not Diane. At times I wonder what this looks like from above.

I have told so many people I cannot be with them over the years. I suppose we all have, but when I think back on telling Diane, I realize on how little hinged my choice. The others held something messy and incomplete inside that I could not really ignore. Maybe that sounds harsh, but I am not really thinking of these women as they are, only what I saw in them. It's awful to think you want to make someone else more whole. It is no reflection on her, only on you.

On occasion I imagine my life if every time I had said the word need, I replaced it with want, and vice versa. Because that is what I meant to say, really. Whatever I wanted, I actually needed. Whenever I said need, I lied.

I suppose I could be the worm, wriggling. My metaphors are relatively less substantial, the further I get from the one I love.

She had marvelous taste. I know there is nothing in that except my own admiration. She spoke of everything outside of me with wild abandon, as though it were being described for the first time.

painting by patrick hughes

Diane was impressionable. Unfortunately she realized this, and took various measures to guard against it. I learned quickly, going over her lithe body, her arrested torso, that cruelty was useless. She was unconcerned by such things. She called them waste. (Like so many, she was the only one who could harm herself. If she was going to suffer, she and only she would know what she was punished for.)

To impress yourself on such a person, as is my habit and function, seems impossible at first. I used the internet. She came over at all hours; sometimes she would agree to come but not show up. When I asked her what had happened, promising myself I would be restrained, she waited for a long time before responding. Or maybe it just felt that way on gchat.

From time to time she would text me, but exclusively aphorisms and quotations. Largely they bore no relation to me, every once in awhile one would seem to comment on my lack of humility. It felt like we were never reading the same book.

Diane was a musician. I don't know why I say 'was', probably she still is. I am afraid to bing her and find out. I am happiest when I am writing, gleefully explaining this chronicle of her so I no longer have to force sense on it in my own mind. She has a marvelous voice, dusky and gravelly. I loved how she said my name, but I loathed myself for thinking there was anything substantial in it.

Our sex was high level. It transcended intimacy, since no other emotion could have been brought to these events without being overwhelmed by their intensity. Other writers make sex sound so similar to my own experience, or so foreign from it. I do not trust what they say about it, nor do I think I am ever supposed to.

We rarely went out together. Once I asked why that was, and she answered that no one asks why a blouse cannot nurse a child. I was quiet for a long time after that.

Yesterday I went back to a grotto she took me to once, a natural elision in the rock. Fog swarmed over beetles dancing between the parapets, oak and pine shivered and turned away. She was always saying how light went through objects; to be honest I thought it was kind of horseshit, but sometimes disbelief can turn around and become a kind of wonder.

Possibly I should have said this before anything else, but Diane had a serious addiction. Still, she was never high all the time, and she never used in front of me, for which I was grateful. Once I was so ashamed when she did not come to see me, as she promised. I typed to her what I suspected. She typed that it was inappropriate for two drugs to bicker amongst each other.

I thought it was a compliment when she said it, but I now believe the statement lacked any inflection at all. Diane excelled at unadorning the truth while still softening it.

Sex really had nothing to do with Diane. It was something she exuded, as I said, but then it would be replaced by what she was. Her lower body was a bit larger, and depending on what she wore, my attention could be drawn anyplace. How is it that a woman can be something and never say what she is?

Reading that back, it sounds sexist. I am not really talking about women, only Diane who is not Diane. I hope she reads this, because it will prove everything to her. She will hold this webpage in her arms like carrion. Most of what I said is true. Diane typed that it is wonderful to relinquish something that has already been destroyed. When I wake I see that mouth; I'd be lying if I said I was not entirely consumed with her in these moments, when the light hits any tender face other than her own. She seemed to absorb envy.

Dan Carville is the senior contributor to This Recording. He is a writer living in Brooklyn. You can find an archive of his writing on This Recording here. He last wrote in these pages about the falcon and the angel.

Thursday
Jun232016

In Which We Have More Hair Than We Know What To Do With

Dream People

by ETHAN PETERSON

Cleverman
creators Ryan Griffen, Michael Miller & Jon Bell
SundanceTV

Watching Cleverman on SundanceTV this week I was reminded of how completely America has erased its indigenous people from contemporary culture. In Australia, a different state of affairs exists. Aboriginal people are always at the edge of Australian culture, but their mature concepts and themes have a deep influence on how Australians define themselves as the people.

Koen West (Hunter Page-Lochard) has integrated himself completely into this people. He runs a bar with a friend and fucks the guy's girlfriend in the back between serving pints. On the side he makes money relocating Hairies (a native species divergent from humans with immense strength and speed) to secret housing and then reporting their whereabouts to the government, who persecute them out of fear.

Every single character in Cleverman has this potential for evil, and while it would be farfetched to say this is an Australian characteristic, it reflects a basic guilt for the essential crimes against the aboriginal people that the United States pretends to have resolved through casinos and lenient tax situations.

Koen becomes a cleverman in the show's pilot, which among other things gives him the power to see individual's futures through touch, as well as almost unlimited healing. This gift from his uncle alters the fabric of who he is, and gives him a new perspective on his shitty, drug and sex-fueled life.

His primary antagonists on Cleverman carry most of the action, and they are what make the show so much fun to watch. The first is Jarrod Slade (Iain Glen), a media executive much closer than Ser Jorah Mormont to Glen's natural strengths of steely resolve and an unclear sense of what is moral in the world. His wife Charlotte (Frances O'Connor) looks to have barely aged in the nearly two decades since she starred as Fanny Price in Mansfield Park.

The casting of the two as a couple with vague sympathies towards aboriginal people and Hairies makes the de facto Australian point of view. Cleverman features a somewhat light commentary on how we view the various problems of immigration and cultural minorities with different beliefs. Cleary and Slade's waterfront home is a metaphor for how their literal positioning of privilege keeps them apart from the realities of such debates, and the protection of their wealth seems a tad bit convenient for this fractured milieu.

The other antagonist is Koen's brother, the wonderfully certain and slightly demonic Waruu (Rob Collins, in a breakout role). Collins has a young daughter and a wife he cheats on with a white woman. Besides his infidelity, his only crime is that he is not the cleverman he expected to become when his uncle died. The concept of a character who is ruined by being denied one thing - when he has everything else - is kind of Oedipal. In any case, it is somewhat unusual in serial television.

The weakest part of Cleverman is the plight of a family of Hairies who Koen betrayed. Their incarceration by a bunch of vindictive and malevolent prison guards is the only part of the show without shades of grey. It seems too grim an indictment on the Australian people that they would allow torture and murder of any species. Observing these creatures of transparently applied makeup is hard enough without seeing them shocked and bled.

While British shows have found an easier time appealing to American audiences, a more difficult accent, lower production values and a less similar environment have slowed the inroads of the up-and-coming Australian film and television industry. Cleverman hurdles these difficulties through impressive production values, a variety of gorgeous locations and Ser Jorah Mormont and his wife. Initially the political messages seem a little abstruse, but that can be solved over time. 

Despite small missteps, Cleverman's blend of horror and near-future science fiction gives the series an exciting base. The show is noticeably short on action so far, but that energy seems to have gone into showing us all the angles of its conflicted, embattled characters. Cleverman is the only show of recent note that gives me the feeling that actual life conveys at moments – of a difficult slog dotted by brief moments of incandescent beauty and love.

Ethan Peterson is the senior contributor to This Recording.