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Alex Carnevale
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Managing Editor
Kara VanderBijl
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Features Editor
Mia Nguyen
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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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Thursday
Apr092015

In Which This Revolting Tribute To Paul Walker Turns Our Stomach

Juggernaut

by ALEX CARNEVALE

Furious 7
director James Wan
137 minutes

On the night Paul Walker died, Vin Diesel ate the following: six scones, a generous cut of lamb, ice cream and a bald eagle. Afterwards, he felt bloated, but not too bloated to perform his signature role of Dominic Toretto. As Dominic, Diesel drives a car off a mountain, drives a car through several Abu Dhabi skyscrapers, killing various pedestrians in the process, and finally drives a car off a ramp into a helicopter. He survives all these collisions without any medical attention whatsoever. You will be forgiven for asking yourself the following question, the same question Jon Hamm's wife asks herself on a hourly basis: "Is he bragging?"

Diesel's head looks like it is on the verge of expanding so far sideways that he will become a deft mixture of Juggernaut and Stevie Van Zandt. Shortly before Vin drives that car into the helo, a CGI representation of Paul Walker fights an Asian guy. Walker's scenes were assembled by cutting in other scenes from the movie, using his brothers as  stunt doubles and copious CGI. The end result is both technically impressive and entirely lacking, since it looks as close as it can to real while we know it is fake. The Uncanny Valley was the original nickname for Diesel at Harvard.

The right move would have been to kill off Paul Walker's character, to show that insane stunts with vehicles, and often just regular driving, can frequently lead to death. Then again, watching Diesel grunt his way through a dense forest in a muscle car while Jason Statham's face looks like an emote is probably enough of a PSA instructing us that no one should ever get behind the wheel again.

The recent analysis of the Furious 7 audience proved that the massive audience for these films is mainly non-white. Furious 7 is a lot more about class, however, attempting to prove that a professional behavior and attitude is not necessarily the best way of accomplishing our goals as a society. About an hour into the movie, Kurt Russell, 64, shows up as if to put the exclamation point on this moving theme.


Kurt's skin looks like a sesame bagel, and he is weirdly miscast in a Judi Dench-like role. Besides the incredibly unversatile Statham, the only other villain of any interest is portrayed by Djimon Hounsou, 50. Because he is the sole person in the cast with even the most basic level of acting ability, he sticks out like a sore thumb and sounds ridiculous.

Furious 7 begins when Statham mails a bomb to Vin's house. No one dies (no one ever dies in this movie, they only perish off screen from its themes and poor performances), but Vin is extremely upset. He visits his friend Hobbs in the hospital (a steroid-infected Dwayne Johnson) who gives him instructions on how to avenge The Rock's broken arm.


Vin, his amnesia-stricken GF (Michelle Rodriguez, 36, looking embarrassed to be a part of this) and his friends Ludacris and Tyrese all drop out of an airplane, already in their cars, into Azerbaijan. They land on a steep mountain road. Paul Walker almost dies right then by falling off a cliff, but Michelle drives the back of her car over the edge so he has something to grab onto. "Thank you," he says.


Between action sequences director James Wan includes lengthy phone conversations between Paul Walker and his wife Mia (Jordana Brewster, 34) about how she is pregnant and wants him to be home with her instead of driving around with his friends. In context, this comes off as a criticism of Paul for not spending enough time with his family, and instead hanging around Vin Diesel's rapidly expanding neck all the time.

About fifty percent of Diesel's dialogue is even audible at all, which explains why David Twohy barely had him say a word for the entire first hour of Riddick. Diesel, 47, can barely pull off the climactic fight scene with Statham on the roof of a parking garage, and Statham himself is starting to look a bit slow at the same age.

Things get even worse in Furious 7's finale, however, as after we watch CGI Paul Walker silently play on the beach with a young boy who is not his own, the movie yields to a montage of Walker's scenes from the previous films. All those memorable moments are recalled, like that time he drove a car, and slept with Vin's sister at least twice.

"You're not going to say goodbye?" Michelle Rodriguez asks Vin as the sack of meat strolls off the beach and bracingly lowers himself into yet another vehicle. He tells her that it's never goodbye, implying that he will see Paul again in the afterlife. (There is no way that gasbag is going to heaven if he keeps making these pieces of shit.)

Vin pulls up at a stop sign after that, and who but Paul Walker should pull up alongside him? Yes, they made a street race into the last scene of their movie, played over sappy music about how much they miss their friend. At first I was disgusted and appalled, but then the words "For Paul" were draped over a beautiful white light. Would "Fuck You Paul" have been more appropriate considering the overall tastelessness of this tribute? Sure.

Alex Carnevale is the editor of This Recording.

"Shadow Preachers" - Zella Day (mp3)

"Sweet Ophelia" - Zella Day (mp3)

Wednesday
Apr082015

In Which We Decide To Live Within These Walls

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,

Two months ago I started dating a man named Shawn. We met through mutual friends and immediately clicked. Shawn runs his own business, a restaurant, but he is pretty good about making time for me. It's a new relationship, but we have agreed not to see other people and give things a chance.

Shawn has asked me extensively about my dating past, and I have been truthful to him; granted there is not very much to tell. He is five years older than me, and when I ask him about previous girlfriends, he gets a bit uncomfortable. He did tell me about his most recent ex, a woman named Sheila. Naturally, I googled the fuck out of Sheila - she is an actress who has appeared in various television shows and resembles me to a certain extent. When I asked Shawn what happened, he just says it didn't work out.

I want to be able to just let things go, but Sheila (not her real name) seems really amazing and it concerns me that I don't know exactly what Shawn is thinking concerning her. How do I get over this?

Julia F.

Dear Julia,

Un)Fortunately for you, this is one of those few, rare times where a situation gives you exactly two options. You can either

a) trust that Shawn will open up in the future, since this is still an early time in the relationship, or

b) have a few whiskey sours at happy hour and demand an answer as to why he and Sheila broke up right before going to bed on a Tuesday. Hint: only one of these involves maintaining your dignity.

Exes are a touchy subject. To quote my friend, it’s a sens-y time. Some people, like you and me, want to be as open from the beginning of the relationship as possible. To us, being completely up front is a way of saying “I’m trusting you and us.” This makes it hard when others are not as eager, or willing, to share.  What we assume is a negative reflection on ourselves is really just a different way of processing a relationship. People like Shawn view complete, detailed honesty as earned, rather than deserved from the beginning. That’s not to say he’s texting Sheila on the sly, but maybe he’s just not ready to dig in to all of the reasons they broke up and all the feels it accompanied. It sounds like Shawn is just the Ron to your Hermione in terms of emotional expressiveness. Then again, Ron was a soulless ginger, but nobody’s perfect – not even this she-devil Sheila. She's clearly the worst.

As a side note, if months pass and he’s still not fessing up – have a mature conversation as to why it is important to you that he shares more of his past. If he’s reasonable, he should be open to discussing it at least somewhat further detail. If he’s still being super sketchy, then maybe take route b and prepare for the hangover to follow.

 

 

Hi,

For the past few months, I have been dating a girl named Toni. Things seemed to be going well, but Toni's ex, who I will call Daniel, cheated on her behind her back. Because of this, she has some trust issues and sometimes asks me who I am texting or calling in a very accusing way.

To be clear, I have no intention of going behind Toni's back to do anything. I understand she has a difficult time trusting considering the circumstances, but the problem is this: seeing this needy and destructive side of her is making it difficulty for me to embrace her love wholeheartedly, since I know she is not all the way there with me. How can I keep this from souring our relationship?

Aaron T.

Dear Aaron,

A lot of people lack empathy, and can't understand how their behavior affects others until they are on the receiving end of that same behavior. You don't need to check Toni's phone or ask who she is talking to - but maybe showing that you can be a little jealous, too will soften Toni's attitude about the relationship.

Reassuring her that nothing is actually going on is probably what her ex-boyfriend did, time and time again. It's what all liars do. Show her you are trustworthy, don't tell her. Be offended by the implication without being angry, and try to change the subject.

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

 

Tuesday
Apr072015

In Which The Last Days Of John Keats Met Our Expectations

Piazza di Spagna

by LINDA EDDINGS

I am ashamed of writing you such stuff.

The last days of John Keats involved a great deal of wishing for death. Indigestion plagued his stomach, and the severity of his symptoms from tuberculosis drove him to leave England for Naples, where it was thought that a better climate would enhance his prospects. Because of his illness and general low mein, none of Keats' friends wanted to accompany him to Naples. Instead an acquaintance would go.

John Keats by Joseph Severn

The young painter Joseph Severn had little in the way of money, so he took on the job of caring for Keats. Storms prevented them from going any farther than Northampton at first, and Keats was deeply bothered by a female passenger suffering from consumption. He had observed years earlier that "Milton meant a smooth river."

Keats had already left his previous life behind when he boarded the Maria Crowther. He penned goodbye letters to his sister and fiancée, both of whom were named Fanny. On board the Crowther he could not even muster the strength to masturbate and regretted never having sex with Fanny Brawne. "I should have had her while I was in health," he complained to a friend.

She contrived to disappoint me in a way which made feel more pleasure than a simple kiss.


Because of an outbreak of typhus in London, the Crowther was quarantined for ten days. Keats described his chest as burning with the fire of hot coals, and continued to regularly write letters to his friend Charles Brown. Penguin has recently put together the best of Keats' letters in a single collection, and although some are childish, others contain the best writing of the period.

He understands many a beautiful thing, but then, instead of giving other minds credit for the same degree of perception as he himself possesses, he begins an explanation of such a curious manner that our taste and self love is offended continually.

After his ship was again quarantined outside of Naples. Keats moved to Rome, into an apartment at the Piazza di Spagna. "The very thing I want to live most for will be the great occasion of my death," he explained somewhat insincerely in one of his last letters. He spit up what Severn noted was "fawn-coloured phlegm," and Keats' doctor predicted diarrhea. Their plan for daily walks through the plaza was now out of the question.

Severn gave up the responsibility for administering opium to Keats' doctor, because he was giving John too much of the substance. Dr. Clark hired a nurse because Severn would stay up all night sketching the poet to keep him company, never bothering to sleep. "He talks of a quiet grave as the first rest he will ever have," Severn wrote.

Severn had never eaten so well in his life as he did by Keats' bedside. He served Keats bread and milk every day, because it was all the man could keep down. For himself he had fish or meat, and always pudding afterwards. He loved the convenience of having fresh produce in Italy. Keats finally feel asleep for good one night in Severn's arms.

Casts were made of Keat's face, hands and foot. Doctors found in the autopsy that his lungs had been entirely devastated for the past two months. Despite not really knowing each other all that well, Severn and Keats are buried next to each other in Rome's Protestant Cemetery. All of Keats' friends in Italy put daisies on his grave.

Linda Eddings is the senior contributor to This Recording. She is a writer living in Manhattan. You can find an archive of her writing on This Recording here. She last wrote in these pages about Simon.

"Words" - Seinabo Sey (mp3)

"Pretend" - Seinabo Sey (mp3)