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Alex Carnevale
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Kara VanderBijl
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Features Editor
Mia Nguyen
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Durga Chew-Bose
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Senior Editor
Brittany Julious
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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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Classic Recordings
Robert Altman Week

Wednesday
Aug132014

In Which We Find This Excruciating to Enunciate

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,

My girlfriend Judy recently lost her job and is going through something of what my mom calls "a life change." She always thought that she would be a musician, and she is very talented, but she has lost interest on what to this point had been a lifelong passion.

In her search to find whatever other passion might be out there, she has involved me and her family, who live close by, in a variety of outings. First, she became obsessed with birding, even purchasing a cockatoo. When she gave up on that, she sold the cockatoo, admittedly for a profit. Other potential passions fell by the wayside, including God, painting and botany.

Most recently came real estate  she studied for her exam with great fervor, at which point the exam arrived and she decided it was the wrong move and enrolled at a local community college. Her family is a lot less tolerant of her to-and-fro than I am.

I would like her to find something she enjoys in life, and I understand there is a process. What really concerns me is that I never knew her to be so fickle. Do you think a person who has trouble deciding about some things will also have trouble being happy in a relaysh?
 

Doug W.

 

Dear Doug,

“Fickle” is the right word for this sort of behavior if the person is, well, fifty-five and banging his secretary in his brand new sports car. “Self-discovering” is more accurate when it applies to someone like your gf. You don’t mention how old she is, but it’s pretty clear from your description that she falls somewhere between nineteen and thirty-five.

When people are in that phase of life, yes, their interests mutate a lot. They’re experimenting. If Judy decides she’s through, it probably has more do with her desire to be free and to experience a lot of things than a personal vendetta.

If you’re of an age with Judy, you might find that you feel the same way after a while. Respect her free spirit, though, and the two of you may experiment for a long time, together. 

Hey,

I have a male coworker who constantly stares at me. At first I thought he was just attracted to me or whatever, but now it's making me uncomfortable. He doesn't smile, doesn't speak to me, just stares. I'll catch him in meetings, across the room, at lunch. I don't want to be rude, but he's creeping me out. What should I do? 

Lauren B. 

Dear Lauren,

He could just be lacking in social graces, in which case, gifting an etiquette primer is de rigueur. Or he could be attracted to you, or he could be a serial killer. Whichever one it is, being rude to him should be the least of your worries. 

You could try giving him the stink-eye whenever you catch him  this is an excellent strategy that also works on creeps you encounter in public transportation. Simply make a disgusted face at him and watch him burst into flames. 

If the behavior continues, I'd bring it up with human resources. Maybe you're not the only target of his creeper peepers, but even if you are, this could be considered harassment, and you're well within your rights to have someone ask him to stop. 

Illustrations by Mia Nguyen.

Tuesday
Aug122014

In Which We Beg For An Inexpensive Horoscope

The Only Fruit

by KARA VANDERBIJL

“Don’t avoid what is easy,” the Oblique Strategy recommends. Instead of writing, I take a nap. I fall asleep like a person escaping from jail. This torn scrap of paper, this cheap horoscope, this song lyric — I take them as prophecy. “Have a donut,” my coworker says.

I don’t watch many movies — I’ve said this before with the conviction of a person who says, “I have a salty tooth,” while reaching for a cookie — but in July, I watched a lot of movies. Flops and blockbusters and romances and dramas blurred together. I interrupted them only to grab a pint of ice cream from the freezer. My ideas melted. My air-conditioning unit overheated. My ceiling fan began making a very strange noise.

+

Any repetitive, and very easy, activity takes on a greater significance the longer you engage in it. I stayed up very late watching movies that I had already seen because I thought I might receive a secret, previously unheard message from them. This is more than eccentricity. Sleep eluded me while I unknotted the symbolism in Dead Man Walking. Sean Penn as Christ, Susan Sarandon as Christ, Susan Sarandon as feminist, Susan Sarandon as soapbox actor, Little Women, death penalty, last meals. My last meal: a hamburger and French fries. I go pick it up across the street at Slim’s, a greasy counter that has five stars on Yelp and deserves all of them. They serve a generous bag of perfectly crisped fries. I have a salty tooth.

+

Here’s the message I received: find a way to portray despicability without compromising humanity. Find a way to smile at the mirror. “Nesquik?” a man in a yellow shirt offers on the Merchandise Mart platform. “Is it free?” I ask. In response, he hands me two bottles.

My dental hygienist asks questions when her fingers are in my mouth. I am polite, so I like to answer. “How has your summer been?” she begins. She wears purple eye shadow for most of my visits. “Nice,” I try to say, but it is difficult to say nice without the use of your tongue. I hate all the tools she uses except for the soft brush at the end. “Spit,” she says. I promise to floss, but we both know I’m lying.

As a child, I never got cavities; my baby teeth were so durable that the orthodontist had to pull five of them when they refused to fall out. My mother says that this is because there was fluoride in our water. I said, “It’s because I don’t eat very much sugar.” My little brother, the candy-head, still hasn’t had any cavities. The military taught him how to brush his teeth and make his bed.

+

“Take a hike,” says a security guard on a normally abandoned stretch of Kinzie. Today there are trailers, a fire truck, and a row of people sitting in camping chairs reading scripts. Because the guard isn’t talking to me — he’s talking to a couple of kids doing skateboard tricks on a crumbling corner of sidewalk — I walk through the set. The row of people looks up, one by one, but I’m listening to Fleetwood Mac and don’t have time to chat. “You can go your own way,” Lindsey Buckingham says.

I take a quiz on Time.com that matches your relationship to a sandwich. I get a Reuben. I’m always hesitant about them because of the sauerkraut, which I tend to forget I like. When my boyfriend Jens takes the quiz, he gets a BLT, which makes me hungry. “Want a bag of chips with your sandwich?” the lady at the café across the street asks while I’m paying for my lunch. Since it’s a question, I am free to ignore her command. I am polite, though, and I like chips, so I get a bag that’s crinkle-cut, kettle-cooked, and reduced fat. I tell myself that oil doesn’t travel to the thighs as quickly as sugar. Then I make up “thighway,” and I laugh until I want to fall asleep again.

Awoken by sirens, I crave chocolate or a soda. The light outside is a bruise with a yellow center. My journal sprawls open, spine broken, on the carpet where I left it after scribbling myself into a difficult patch of self-discovery. Seams between my muscles strain as I stretch my arms towards the ceiling. “Oranges are not the only fruit,” sings Jeannette Winterson from the bookshelf.

I spend an inordinate amount of time listening for things that other people can’t hear. The undercurrent of fear in someone’s voice — the subtle condescension in a novel — the anger behind a smile. Sometimes these hidden messages blare so obviously that I am not sure how others don’t understand them, or why they choose to ignore them. “Tell me if the water is too hot,” said the hairstylist, twisting the cold faucet open even when I hum that it’s just fine. She’d already made her mind up about the answer.

Kara VanderBijl is the managing editor of This Recording. She is a writer living in Chicago. She last wrote in these pages about learning how to drive and Orange is the New Black She tumbls here and twitters here.

Photographs by Richard Misrach.

"Not in a Bad Way" - Eden (mp3)

"Crying Birds" - Eden (mp3)

Monday
Aug112014

In Which We Voice A Dampish Rat For Your Amusement

Man, Beast and Fox

by DICK CHENEY

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles
dir. Jonathan Liebesman
112 minutes

There was a woman who loved a dolphin, and Michael Bay once got a "she's coming onto me" vibe from an orangutan from the San Diego Zoo, but animals have rarely sought sexual completeness from human beings until Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. Watching Megan Fox ignore sexual harassment from the two lewdest ninja turtles was uncomfortable; the fact that she had to fend off the advances of Gob Bluth (Will Arnett) made it all the more puzzling.

There is a moment in almost every Michael Bay movie where you stop and ask yourself what disturbed sexual fantasy from his past he is reenacting. That moment in Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles came when Megan Fox was stroking a large CGI rat on his deathbed, and the rat was voiced by Tony Shalhoub. The rat's nose and fur has become somewhat damp as he whinges from her touch. Splinter/Steven Spielberg concordance aside, Megan Fox looked old enough to be that rat's mother.

If this was not the time to utilize the voice-acting talents of Selena Gomez, I don't know what is

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles cost $125 million dollars, which is hard to believe given the most accomplished actor in the entire conglomeration is Johnny Knoxville. There is only one African-American character in the film: Whoopi Goldberg plays Megan Fox's boss.

When Megan comes to Whoopi with the true story of how Michael Bay sodomized her and forced her to say that making the Turtles alien warriors from another dimension was a good idea, Whoopi fires her and never appears in the movie again. Despite finding the story of the century and wanting to be taken seriously as a journalist, Fox never breaks the story of humanoid turtles in any publication, even The Huffington Post.

The words "You were too old to play Mark Wahlberg's daughter" hang over this photograph like a Christmas wreath.

The woman (Margaret Lovatt) who loved the dolphin lived with him in a waterproofed environment. The dolphin's name was Peter, and he had a dial-up account with AOL where he posted under the screenname MargLovattsDolfin, mostly about collectible card games and what temperature was best to keep fish at. Margaret took Peter's playful nudges as a sign that he was ready for wintercourse with her. 

"Peter, do you read The Believer? No, you don't? It's a magazine that...oh, nevermind."

Watching a hulking, disturbed, half-blindfolded giant turtle explain how 'hot' he finds the oldest, clunkiest madam in Michael Bay's stable is awkward enough. In addition, Michaelangelo adopts some kind of vaguely ethnic, vaguely Canadian accent that I can't quite pin down; he sounds like if Rachel McAdams was eaten by a salamander. He never consummates his relationship with the brunette reporter or Amy Poehler for that matter, but neither did Will Arnett.

The turtles like pizza, but not as much as you would expect.

Guys, remember. You're fucking turtles.

Since it is no longer acceptable to have male humans sexually harass women in the movies, Bay came up with an ingenious plan to have gruesome assemblages of man and monster tell Megan Fox to spread her legs in a children's movie. I was always told that art imitated life, but I never really believed it until now.

For some reason, Margaret Lovall gave Peter a last name, English. She also gave him a lot more:

"Peter liked to be with me," explains Lovatt. "He would rub himself on my knee, or my foot, or my hand. And at first I would put him downstairs with the girls," she says. But transporting Peter downstairs proved so disruptive to the lessons that, faced with his frequent arousals, it just seemed easier for Lovatt to relieve his urges herself manually. "I allowed that," she says. "I wasn't uncomfortable with it, as long as it wasn't rough. It would just become part of what was going on, like an itch – just get rid of it, scratch it and move on. And that's how it seemed to work out. It wasn't private. People could observe it."

"Megan," Michael Bay said, "Would you like to go where someone could observe us?"

After Margaret moved onto a job giving armadillos near-impossible handjobs, Peter wrote to Boston Globe advice columnist Meredith Goldstein, who explained that Margaret was only using him for twelve-inch cock and he should try jdate, where human women were waiting to anthropomorphize him as a dolphin-version of Chris Evans or, worst-case scenario, Ezra Klein.

Women are beings of infinite understanding. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles exploits this strength by outnumbering April O'Neil and making the turtles more size-appropriate than were the Transformers. "They're six feet tall!" Megan screeches at one point, as if she had never ever seen anything that large. I remember George W. Bush coming up to me at a state dinner one time with a huge grin on his face. He pulled me close and whispered, "You'd have to be huge to fuck a Transformer!" and practically skipped away.

In the end, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, is just an extensive, unimaginative reenactment of Beauty and the Beast. At least in the source work, it took a fabulous library and enchanted castle in order to capture what remained of Belle's heart after a decade of leading Gaston on. ("Gaston, soon! Soon!") The turtles show Megan Fox to their secret lair below the city where they live with their Rat-Dad, and she is very impressed by this. Standards have been lowered precipitously; there must be more than this provincial sewer.

Dick Cheney is the senior contributor to This Recording.

"Depression Blues" - Loudon Wainwright III (mp3)

"Man & Dog" - Loudon Wainwright III (mp3)