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Alex Carnevale

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Mia Nguyen

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Ethan Peterson

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 Decide To Take A Trip By Ourselves

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.


I have been dating my girlfriend Susan for over a year and I can't shake the feeling that something isn't quite right. Don't get me wrong - we get along great and have so much in common. At times she feels like she is a part of my family because she gets along with my sisters and parents so damn well.

We did have a weird incident where she accused me of cheating. I know she has trust issues but it completely was not true at all and she jumped to conclusions about some texts I had received. Essentially, an ex was texting me and I could have just deleting what was written but I forgot. Susan made it sound like there was still some reason I had it on my phone, when there wasn't.

It is not so much that which bothers me as the fact that maybe there could be someone out there better even though I definitely love Susan. What is wrong with me?

David P.

Dear David,

There comes a time in every man's life when he thinks, I would do anything to be with this woman forever because the prospect of finding someone new sounds like the drizzling shits to me. You are obviously not at that stage yet.

It is best to do something to test your appreciation of Susan without dumping her and ending up regretting it. A few women will allow you to couple with them again after such an event, but most can never bear the sight of your face again.

Things that you can do to evaluate the depths of your love include taking a trip by yourself someone for reasons. How often do you think of Susan? How often do you think of her as God made her? How often do you think of a hotel room somewhere in Russia? How often do you think that masturbating is wrong and effectively punishable by a trip to hell?

The answers, respectively, are not much, a few times, frequently, and from time to time.


Things have been going decently well with this girl Paisley. On our third date something happened that has made me a bit worried. We were at the movies and we were holding hands. When the lights came up, I displayed a visible erection that Paisley seemed to take notice of. She seemed a little out of sorts for the rest of the evening, but I'm not sure what her reaction really was.  

In the ensuing days nothing seemed all that different. When we went back to my place though she made an excuse and went home. I'm trying to figure out how to proceed, since I haven't had a connection this positive with someone in awhile.

Jeff P.

Dear Jeffrey,

Our minds all go to different places when we see a signifier. You have entered the realm of the purely semiotic. Each individual brings different experiences to the idea of a large p rising through some bro named Jeffrey's shawts. Maybe she didn't expect it; or maybe it triggered an identification with some negative moment in her life. Who knows, you might never know.

On some level she was probably aware your penis was living a quiet and flaccid life before this, and at the slightest hint of contact with a human being it would choose to spring to alert, screaming with the urethra as its de facto mouth, "I am aware of the current circumstances, Jeff!"

It is important not to let this slow you. If you do not show a woman that you desire her sexually, she will not be able to respond in a concomitant fashion. There is no such thing as taking it slow. The faster you are able to establish a connection between the body and mind of a woman, the sooner you will have a real relationship, versus the penis-observer functionality that you and Paisley are currently operating under.


In Which We Will Never Confuse Amy Adams And Isla Fisher Again

Sleep Routine


Nocturnal Animals
dir. Tom Ford
116 minutes

Amy Adams' real-life husband looks terrible with facial hair, like it is clinging to his face as a small animal might in impotent rage. Her husband in Nocturnal Animals is a clean-shaven Arnie Hammer. He is twelve years younger than her and is usually in New York with his girlfriend. She doesn't sleep nights, and despite the fact that she is rapidly running out of money, she employs a full security detail. One weekend her husband heads out of town and she has nothing to do; I guess she has already cleansed her Netflix queue and Emerald City hasn't made it way to television yet. She decides to read a book to fill the time. She can't choose between Proust and the manuscript of a novel by her ex-husband, Edward Sheffield (Jake Gyllenhaal) that arrived in the post on Friday.

After opting for the latter, she reads his book over the course of the next few days. It is terrible. Basically it's about this guy (still Jake Gyllenhaal) whose wife (Isla Fisher) and daughter are raped and murdered. A detective (Michael Shannon, hamming it up for his own entertainment) semi-blames Gyllenhaal for the crimes since he never resisted or anything. In response to these allegations, Jake shaves his beard. He's the only man in the world who doesn't look older with facial hair.

As I said, this is a very bad book that Edward Sheffield has written. It makes Amy Adams think of when she told Edward Sheffield that he should not write about himself anymore, and instead should make up stories about women getting raped and murdered and how upset that makes the men in their lives. The only action any woman takes in Nocturnal Animals is to read a book and have an abortion. That's it. That's what a woman is capable of.

But I completely forgive director Tom Ford, because Nocturnal Animals either takes itself way too seriously or doesn't at all. There are many amusing scenes in this milieu. Amy has a very entertaining house, all glass and so many countertops. She loves Apple, everything they make. Amy wears this dark color lipstick that makes her look absolutely ridiculous, even though she doesn't really have to do much except read in bed. For this task she dons a series of increasingly absurd eyeglasses. Whenever she dresses up, she looks like she is about to attend a Festivus party.

Early on in Nocturnal Animals, there is a very fun scene where Amy talks to a friend (Andrea Riseborough) of hers who is married to Michael Sheen. Ford, who is gay himself, has the friend explain how much better it is to be lifelong partners with a gay man. "We're best friends," she explains. Amy Adams sort of nods like she sees the wisdom of this approach.

Despite the fact that she is a mere ten years older than Amy Adams, Laura Linney plays her disapproving mother. It is hard to imagine how this could really work, although I guess the insinuation is that since Adams' character is a product of rape, Edward Sheffield's novel was really an attack on her. There are a lot of angles to Nocturnal Animals that I haven't figured out yet, mostly because I was so insulted by it.

Tom Ford's approach to directing actors is where he really shines. He seemingly does not tell any of his performers how to play the scenes at all. It is insane on the surface that a revenge novel involving men in Texas would have the exact same tone as a story about a woman who regrets dumping Jake Gyllenhaal for Arnie Hammer, but even putting that aside, half the actors in Noctural Animals seem to believe it is a satire. 

While most of the performers think they are in an actual movie, Michael Shannon senses this thing is off the rails. Shannon's Texas accent is amusing, and Ford even seems to have fun with some of his lines he creates for the West Texas cop, sensing that this story desperately needs at least a tiny bit of humor to prevent itself from becoming Showgirls. The writing here is certainly Joe Eszterhas-quality.

After finishing the novel, Amy Adams is pretty excited to meet up with Jake Gyllenhaal. She cannot decide exactly what lipstick to go with, and at the last moment she wipes it off her lips entirely. I suppose she figures she should most resemble the person that Jake Gyllenhaal was attracted to in the first place. She plans dinner at this extremely haughty Los Angeles restaurant that probably would not even seat Michael Shannon. The ceilings are so high you cannot even see them.

Amy orders scotch or bourbon and waits for her hot date. Edward Sheffield never shows, because he is pretending not to care, even though he cared enough to not only send her a manuscript of his shit novel, but dedicate the entire book to her. He could have stayed for one drink.

Eleanor Morrow is the senior contributor to This Recording.


In Which Tom Hardy Wears Something For Every Occasion

The Masque of Tom's Death


creators Steven Knight, Tom Hardy and Chips Hardy

Tom Hardy's body is disguised by a variety of fluffy black coats in the London winter, 1814. He is just back from Africa, where he is very regretful about European colonialism. He is the only one. This proto-Edward Said launches himself onto the cosmopolitan London — the highest building by far is St. Paul's Cathedral, which lurks omnipotently in the background. Tom's father has died with a valuable piece of land in his possession.

Tom's half sister's name sounds like a sneeze: Zilpha (Oona Chaplin, granddaughter of someone semi-famous idk) says about four sentences in the early part of Taboo, a new series co-financed by BBC One and FX. But she writes a lot of letters, some under the duress of her profligate husband Thorne (Jefferson Hall), others true stories to her brother. A lot of bad things, we come to understand, happened to them as children.

This, it emerges from the testimony of the acting head of the East India Company (Jonathan Pryce), is the motivation for all bad acts. Pryce is a tired villain, and in Taboo all the composed effluence of his turn as the High Sparrow in Game of Thrones seems to have weakened him. He is becoming quite tiresome to watch, but whatever, it just makes Tom Hardy more charismatic in comparison.

Tom prances from location to location giving everyone the same measure of gruffness. He is well-acquainted with violence, but Taboo at least brings along the onslaught slowly. At first it is not entirely clear why Tom holds such animosity towards the company that however indirectly started his business and gave him his fortune, but who cares? Tom is a racing bullet in a top hat, and it seems only a matter of time before he forces everyone to know it.

Midway through the first episode of Taboo, Tom is interrupted by an older man who demands compensation for raising a little brother Tom seems to have known something about. He visits the man at a farm outside of London, where he witnesses the boy using what I can only describe as a large fork to move hay from one pile to another. "I'm not the sort of man fit to be around children," he announces.

It is hard to key in on what Tom desires so badly he is forced to act like such a madman. He forces a doctor to dig up his father's body in order to perform what I can only assume is the first autopsy in the history of mankind. The next morning finds sunlight penetrating Tom's father's quarters, and the man grimaces as if light itself could be diminished by averting our eyes.

Creator Steven Knight (Peaky Blinders) already has plenty of money, and his projects generally avoid the flaccid compromises of traditional television. Taboo is a fun, if a bit mean-spirited romp through an exciting period for Great Britain. What Knight is best at is not transposing contemporary attitudes and preferences to life in the past. The characters of Taboo are entirely alien to us in some respects, and the bracing difference is felt in every action and decision.

I would never complain about watching Tom Hardy, but many of these scenes feel a bit familiar. Giving Tom colonialism to battle is something a bit new, but the way in which he plans on dismantling and resisting this iteration of modernity remains well-worn ground. It would be fun to see Tom in something completely different, which he could show a few different angles. As fun as it is to watch, what is the point of casting the best actor on the planet to always play a gruff, unhappy man?

Ethan Peterson is the reviews editor of This Recording.