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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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Thursday
Sep252014

In Which We Wake Up Hungover For This

The Blanket Term

by ALLISON NEAL

1

The day after graduation, I woke up hungover to attend the baptism of the man I had been sleeping with and thought myself to love during those final months of school.

2

I thought, before writing this, that I would leave out the graduation and the school, the short time span, and, most notably, the loving — but I am immature, hasty and young, and it all shows whether I declare it at the start or hide it.

3

Is thinking to love someone and loving someone the same? This nags at me, though there was never a point at which he either thought to love me or loved me that I know of; the question, or problem, applies only to me.

4

I could reconcile my quandary if, looking back on it now, I decide that I only thought to love him, and this method of thinking was an error. But as it stands, I either continue to think that I loved him, continue to think that I thought to love him, think to love him still, love him still, or deny all of the thinking and the loving entirely. Sometimes I think that the act of thinking to love him more or less equates to loving him. That is to say, sometimes I presume to substitute one for the other, thinking: I love to love him or I loved him or I loved to love him or I love him, or I don’t and didn’t ever. Loving or not; not thinking. That is simpler.

I admit this sort of thinking and loving is insufferable; if I repeat the word enough, I hope to dull it so that it does not bring me so much shame, in writing or otherwise.

5

Reading over that initial sentence, the only word that now seems somehow misplaced is man. Was he a man? I don’t mean this as a slight, but sometimes I think he was a boy instead.

6

I often sent him e-mails of poetry. Thankfully, very little of it was my own, though that does not excuse it. One poem I sent him, near the end, was George Oppen’s “Boy’s Room.” As I was preparing to leave one morning, for good (it was always for good), he said, “I’m sorry, it’s only a boy’s room.” “You’re 24,” I said back, not caring about poetry.

I don’t know why he said it; he was never “gasping / for breath over a girl’s body” — or not mine, at least.

7

Truthfully, he was not then 24. It was many months until his birthday. Now his birthday has come and gone. I sent him a forcibly cheerful email, which everyone advised against. I did not write of us sleeping together, or even make any veiled references to it.

8

I regret that I am not the sort of person that can say fucking with any sort of ease.

9

I say sleeping together because I am a prude, but also because it is accurate. I think he regrets both  — the actual sleeping side-by-side and the fucking. They are not the same thing, but the blanket term comforts me, pairing them as I sometimes pretended we were paired.

10

Lying in my bed one afternoon, in my room, I was struck by how much larger his bed was than mine.

I told my roommate my observation while she studied. “Aren’t they the same size?” she said, looking up briefly. She had seen his room before, and her memory was more precise than mine. However, I knew that there was no way that he and I could lay side-by-side, not touching on my bed and still fit. One of us would slide off. I was certain his was larger.

11

I was tracing the line of his back one night in his bed, not sleeping, when he interrupted, “That hurts my back, actually.” It was without warmth, but I had often traced two fingers along either side of his spine in this way.

I withdrew my hand, thinking myself seared, though I could have been pressing too hard. The curve of his back was distinctly elegant — something that may have been from years of swimming, or simply God-given, though I don’t know which.

12

The last night I spent in his presence was spent mostly in the dark of his living room. He and a friend of ours joked half-heartedly back and forth while swigging whiskey, as I tried not to fall asleep on his couch. I had been driving all day after moving my belongings back to my childhood home, and was exhausted to return to the place I had just left three days prior — bouncing from one old, abandoned home to another with nothing new to carry.

A pillow and blanket were laid out, though I didn’t know for whom. He was always having guests stay over and seemed to crave, or at least welcome, constant company. Everyone assumed that they were close enough friends with him to stay the night. I no longer felt that way, however, though I did adopt the pillow and blanket temporarily, while trying not to sleep on his couch.

He looked at me kindly from across the room, saying, “You just want to sleep, don’t you?” This seemed to comfort him, so I did not respond.

13

As the night continued, I righted myself and began to stretch, sore from travel. He took the pillow and blanket in my absence, curling up. It became clear that it was he, not I, who was now in danger of nodding off.

“Don’t you want to go to your bed?” I asked.

“I don’t like my bed that much,” he said, muffled, into his pillow and blanket on the floor.

14

Now, I try to regard that modest remark warmly, as if he were saying, it’s nothing personal, it was the bed all along that I didn’t like, not you! Of course, I would reply brightly, it’s a shame we never settled on a more appealing locale — the dirty apartment floor or the table with the mugs of stale tea, for instance.

I don’t know if the bed was a casualty of my imprint, or of someone else’s, or of his own. None of these options would surprise me.

15

In his poem “Firstly” from Love, Poetry, Paul Eluard writes: “Le sommeil a pris ton empreinte / Et la colore de tes yeux.” Sleep took your imprint, and the color of your eyes. I say it hushed like a prayer.

16

I was not surprised when he told me he was going to be baptized.

17

To be fair, I should say re-baptized. He had been baptized as an infant and grown up very religious; I encountered him during a brief lapse of faith.

18

Now that he has returned to his faith, I often imagine that he has sewn together the moment when he stopped believing with the moment he was re-baptized, and that I rest in the crumpled fabric, beneath stitches.

Though, what is this fabric part of, and does it clothe him? I can’t see from here.

19

I used to write him many letters in class. When I wasn’t writing letters, I would write over and over again, in the margins, “Stand still, and see the salvation of the Lord.” The phrase related to the course, but disproportionately, compared with how many times I wrote it.

20

Now that I am standing still, I think I saw more in movement, but I won’t use this opportunity to draft a religious treatise. Only that: it is hard to see light from beneath stitches. I do still enjoy the phrase’s alliterative effect, and sometimes it returns to me, flowing past as water would.

21

I went to the beach almost every day this summer, partly because I had nothing else to do, and partly because I love the ocean. Though I became transfixed by water after the baptism, the writing of this feels more often like sifting sand before a boundless body.

“I am the easiest of men. All I want is boundless love,” writes Frank O’Hara, mocking me.

22

His eyes were clear, distilled blue. They were not the color of the ocean.

23

I asked him once what color he thought my eyes were, though I know them to be a murky blue-green. I like to see which color people settle on as a matter of self-absorption. “They’re gray,” he answered.

Les yeux glauques. He had often spoken of the term in class, mistaking glauques for gray, acting as if it amounted to something beautiful. I did not recognize the reference at the time of my question, and now, I do not know if he was making any kind reference at all, or if I have made it all up, desperately.

Why does he not see any color in me? I thought instead, and said only, “Your eyes are blue,” something that he knew.

24

Incidentally, glauques does not mean gray, but sea-green, or unclear, depending on whose translation you trust. Reading now from Pound’s “Yeux Glauques,” the poem we read in class, I come across the stanza “The thin, clear gaze, the same / Still darts out faun-like from the half-ruin'd face,/ Questing and passive.../ Ah, poor Jenny's case...” Why did he think glauques meant gray, and what about them is beautiful? So far as I can tell, glauques amounts to neither, and it lawlessly sticks in my mouth when I try to pronounce it correctly.

25

St. Augustine advises, “Water is a unity, all the more beautiful and transparent on account of a yet greater similitude of its parts... on guard over its order and its security. Air has still greater unity and internal regularity than water. Finally the sky... has the greatest well-being.” Try as I might, I cannot make water cohere with the sea.

26

Today the sky is August gray, and it does emit the greatest well-being, and vividly.

27

His baptism took place in a church, in a tub full of water. He wore orange, a color I had never seen him in, and made a speech whose contents I cannot remember, though it moved me at the time. I do remember watching as he and his orange shirt descended, and then rose up again, smiling. But where were his eyes looking? Not up, but out. A horizon.

28

Having a Coke with You / is even more fun than going to San Sebastian, Irún, Hendaye, Biarritz, Bayonne / or being sick to my stomach on the Travesera de Gracia in Barcelona / partly because in your orange shirt you look like a better happier St. Sebastian / partly because...” reads some of the first stanza of O’Hara’s “Having a Coke with You.” It concludes, “it is hard to believe when I’m with you that there can be anything as still / as solemn as unpleasantly definitive as statuary when right in front of it / in the warm New York 4 o’clock light we are drifting back and forth / between each other like a tree breathing through its spectacles.” Frank and I would like to know: what was the joyful, orange shirt doing in that statuary church?

29

When I see him emerge from the water, do I see the orange shirt, or do I see him? Which is smiling, and which is moving?

30

 

“Out of the ash / I rise with my red hair / And I eat men like air” ends Plath, and I concur. In actuality, my hair is more orange than red, if we’re going to stick to colors. Sometimes I call it gold, in a fit of megalomania, something to which I am regrettably prone. 

 

31

When the sky is not August gray, I go to the ocean and sometimes regard it, and sometimes swim in it. I am not a good swimmer, but I do well with the cold and the salt does not hurt me.

When I leave the sea to return to my pieces of sand, as what do I emerge?

32

And can I rise from anything at all?

Allison Neal is a contributor to This Recording. She is a writer living in Berkeley. This is her first appearance in these pages.

Wednesday
Sep242014

In Which We Consider These Troubling Problems And Times

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.

Hi,

One of my friends just moved in with his girlfriend. She’s basically a freeloader — she’s quitting her job to pursue painting full time now that she doesn’t have to pay rent — but my friend seems blind to the fact that she’s only into him for his money. Also, they’ve only been together for 8 months, so there’s no way this can end well. Our entire group of friends is thinking about planning an intervention. How can we convince him that this is wrong on so many levels?

Jess F.

Dear Jess,

You don’t convince him. You grab some popcorn, pull up a chair, and watch the train wreck happen.

This may sound cruel, but after you’ve given him your honest opinion of the situation (presuming you’re close enough with him to share your opinions without coming across as a busybody), there’s nothing more you can do. After the wreck has happened, help him pick up the pieces, and don’t say, “I told you so.” You’re allowed to think it, though.

Hi,

After graduation, most of my college friends and I stayed in the same town. We hang out all the time, and I consider myself fortunate that I didn’t have to “start over” like so many people do after college.

Here’s the problem. Most of my friends got into pretty well paying gigs right after graduation, while I only found an administrative position. Whenever we hang out, they want to do expensive things like go out to dinner or buy lots of drinks at a bar or take weekend ski trips and stuff like that. Obviously, I can’t afford most of this stuff, but I also want to hang out with my friends. I’m too embarrassed to bring this up, and I’m racking up a considerable amount of credit card debt. I’m so anxious about money most of the time that I have trouble sleeping. What should I do?

Andy T.

Dear Andy,

You gotta tell your friends.

If you want, you can try to go the sneaky route, like trying to suggest that someone cook instead of going out to dinner, or by saying you’d rather snowshoe around the neighborhood than take another ski trip to Banff. But it’s easier to just sit your friends down, look ‘em in the eye, and say, “Gertrude, Bob, Hazel? I just can’t afford to do all this stuff anymore.”

Chances are, your friends aren’t giant dicks and love being around you, and they’ll happily agree to scale back the expensive outings so that you don’t lose sleep over money anymore.

I don’t think I need to tell you that racking up credit card debt, not to mention a slow-burning resentment of your friends, is no way to live your life. So be honest. It’s free.

"Amanda" - Foxes in Fiction (mp3)

"Glow" - Foxes in Fiction (mp3)

Tuesday
Sep232014

In Which Every Morning When We Wake Up Robert Rodriguez

Mexican Goddess

by DICK CHENEY

From Dusk Till Dawn: The Series
creator Robert Rodriguez


I still think the casting in Pulp Fiction was all wrong. Bruce Willis was too old to play a prize-fighter. Uma Thurman looked pretty good but she didn't seem like some crime lord's wife, and I still don't understand what the point of flirting with a gay hitman was. Also giving someone a long speech before killing them, especially if they are Phil LaMarr? Pulp Fiction had a lot of plot holes, and it was also missing something very crucial: Wilmer Valderrama in a key role.

From Dusk Till Dawn
, the 1996 version, had George Clooney. It was before he met Steven Soderbergh and contracted the airborne virus of self-righteousness; it was before he turned an engagement with a semi-pretty lawyer into a public makeover emphasizing what a great guy he is. He was still doing that annoying thing where he lowered his head and looked up through his brow to talk to other actors.

I am ashamed to admit I thought the accent from That 70s Show was how he really talked.

The new George Clooney (D.J. Cotrana) looks like a miniature version of his hunky predecessor. Everything about the series version is a little smaller, a little less depraved, but it turns out that is just what the concept needed. The new From Dusk Till Dawn fixes almost everything that was wrong with the first one, including killing off one of the Gecko brothers far, far too soon. Recently released on Netflix in its entirety, the show has already been renewed for a second season.

Stacy Keibler is salivating for the third time today.

Seth and Richard Gecko's journey from Los Angeles to a strip club in Mexico that traps them inside deserved a lot better. It was one of Robert Rodriguez and Quentin Tarantino's first projects, and if George Clooney wanted in their movie, they had to take him, even if he was kind of bad and mealy-mouthed in the role.

The casting of Seth Gecko is no better here, but the casting of Zane Holtz as Richard Gecko is entirely improved, since Tarantino wasn't much of a performer either. Even after only a few minutes of From Dusk Till Dawn, you get how much of television has entirely the wrong tone for its content - Rodriguez's control over that aspect allows you to relax and enjoy the litany of stupid cultural references we have come to expect from Quentin Tarantino-inspired diegesis.

MIght be best not to take your wardrobe cues from Frank Miller there Bob

The original surprise of From Dusk Till Dawn is that you could be surprised by it, assuming you did not know it was a supernatural movie to begin with. In 1996, the twist came so out of nowhere it is hard to imagine the drama without it, but now that the mystery is gone, the concept has to rise or fall on its own momentum. In 1996, we were surprised by a lot of things, I mean, who even knew why a man would put a cigar tube in a woman's vagina in those innocent days?

Valderrama himself is a revelation as a powerful vampire masterminding the crime spree of the two disturbed brothers. Opposite Mexican pop star Eiza Gonzalez as Santanico Pandemonium, the pair deepen the flimsy role popularized by Salma Hayek. The extensive background on the vampires is not really necessary, but the tone is so much fun that it obscures all the flaws in the concept.

She should take her pep talk to the UN

The Gecko brothers meet up with a former reverend (Robert Patrick) taking his kids to Mexico as he flees a vehicle manslaughter charge, it was kind of hard to imagine Harvey Keitel as a man of the cloth. Robert Patrick makes a much better Jacob Fuller, and Juliette Lewis was a bit old to be the virginal sacrifice/ preacher's daughter. Replacing her in our hearts is Noah's Madison Davenport, who kind of looks like an off-brand Emma Watson.

She's eighteen and you're disgusting.

Davenport's star turn here is perfect. She is just tantalizing enough to be impossible; the character is deeper than any female in the entirety of Rodriguez's oeuvre to this point. Instead of being simply a survivor, we understand and appreciate what it means to be a woman torn apart by the men around her. Turning Kate into a real heroine rectifies nearly all my complaints about the original.

How I learned I want to marry Robert Patrick.

Rodriguez's talents are rare in the industry: he gets nuanced, emotional performances out of young actors that other directors can't, and his control over when violence happens and how people react to it stands out too. Where he is not so unusual is his love for the stems of his leading ladies. Fortunately the women of From Dusk Till Dawn are overall too young for him, and judging from the excessive screen time and gratuitous nudity Eva Green had on display in the latest Sin City, he had other priorities.

On some level worshipping women as gods or beacons of purity is as destructive as positioning them as prostitutes, but at least in From Dusk Till Dawn, they get a chance to select their fate for themselves.

Dick Cheney is the senior contributor to This Recording. You can find an archive of his writing on This Recording here.

"I Keep Running" - Ryan Adams (mp3)

"Jacksonville" - Ryan Adams (mp3)