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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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Tuesday
Sep032013

In Which We End Things On A Sour Note

All Farewells Should Be Sudden

by DICK CHENEY

Objectively we know Jesse Pinkman has the right to be ungrateful. "He cares for you," Hank tells Jesse about Mr. White. "He has done things to bring you closer, to keep you around." It is not so much that Jesse does not believe these words, but that they are only words. I have to admit that there is probably something missing in me, because I had made up my mind about what Walt should do about Jesse the moment the words Old and Yeller were invoked. God knows I hated that fucking dog.

too bad there is no extant video of the krysten ritter murderNot as much as I despise the prick who hosts Talking Bad. The thing I need least in the world after an involuntary hysterectomy is an actor geek explaining to me how mad Walt is now. Inserting it between the commercials is embarrassing amateur hour, AMC. The performers don't mingle with the audience during intermission you selfish fucks. If you're going to analyze the last scenes of the best show on television, bring the emaciated corpse of Terry Eagleton, the scalp of Elvis Mitchell, a painting resembling Camille Paglia or nothing at all.

they could call the after show Peaking Twins... "What does Shelly want right now?"

Imagine if during the commercials of Twin Peaks David Lynch was muttering about the tragic dream he had the previous night while nibbling on a Snickers bar: "Chris, in my vision God was dressed like a prostitute with gold teeth..." If Twin Peaks had a godawful wrap-up show, it would never have been around to turn to shit shortly after they revealed the murderer of Laura Palmer. Some bespectacled doofus would interrogate the man with, "Where did the thinspiration for the character of Donna come from?" and Lynch would just gargle and beatbox.

you know what's a much better lie Mr. White? "I spilled some gasoline." End of story.

Weak after-show aside, it was tough to see the internal machinations Walt had to go through in order to justify his decision to spare and then murder his former partner. This precocious indecision was also slightly unbelievable, emphasized by Mrs. White observing, "What's one more?" in her swanky hotel room. Things have been pushed so far beyond the brink already that my own internal compass was smashed the minute Saul Goodman's nose was broken or, really, when Gus Fring had half his face blown off. Walt is retired now, and when he gave up cooking meth, the curtain dropped for me - this extended wrap-up is like the third part of "November Rain."

Jesse's final surge of energy and rage reminds us that all heat seeks a lower state to rest. Dissauded from burning down the White homestead, he passed out like an overdosed addict at Burning Man. Sleeping it off in Marie's guest room we were reminded that a right turn resembles a wrong turn in all the most superficial ways.

still better than alaskaIt is hard to remember the epilogue of anything that was really enjoyable, the way all goodbyes should be sudden. The end of Cheers was a 60 minute view of Ted Danson's bald spot, the only other show I can remember the ending to was M.A.S.H. and that was because it was entirely self-congratulatory. Most finales reek of stale death.

I've booked you a flight to a dome. No tears only security checkpoints now

Ending Breaking Bad - or anything worthwhile - gracefully requires a high degree of skill. We have seen Jesse and Walt butt heads so often that the feel good route might have been to pit them both against Lydia. That would have been a false equivalence and a cop out, but the path we tread now shows how difficult it is to make Walt vs. Jesse fresh again. Here every last word spoken is like an invocation, just like Twin Peaks' "fire walk with me." I think I have mixed approximately 80 metaphors since this essai began, I need to go lie down and dream of bombing Syria after this.

remember him on sex and the city. yeah you do

Breaking Bad would be easier to deal with if every possible ending for these two jokers was not so unhappy. By the same token, Walt living in a retirement community and intimidating seniors wouldn't feel fitting either. When Twin Peaks began to fall apart shortly before ABC executives forced David Lynch to reveal the central mystery at the heart of the show, he resisted. He knew that once we knew that MacGuffin was bullshit, the threads the show's characters hung on would fade as well.

I have a similar look on my face every time Lynne suggests going to Applebee's

Breaking Bad already unraveled the moment Mike died. (I'm still not sure how that happened but I blame Jesse, or possibly Todd.) Now the mysteries of the show have been vanquished, and the remainder is merely obituary, the lowest form of art after reporting on college football. Vengeance is the only motivation left for Mr. White's antagonists, and revenge constitutes a state of being without thought. We can't, don't engage with it, we simply witness what occurs.

lara flynn boyle aged 40 years during this show and another 20 during the practice, making her true age 124 today

During that fateful final season of Twin Peaks, Mr. Lynch argued with co-creator Mark Frost, who felt they had to detail the perpetrator of Laura Palmer's murder in a train car, after a parrot named Waldo had pecked her shoulders bloody. By that point it had already become obvious Laura Palmer was the most useless person in the town, making her death itself a kind of mercy. Frost was incredibly wrong in wanting to explain the reason for her death, since no answer would have been satisfying, and the one given led to nothing afterwards.

So too with Walt and Jesse: they already survived their lives. The rest is a footnote.

Dick Cheney is the senior contributor to This Recording. He sometimes sips gasoline when he is cranky. You can find an archive of his writing on This Recording here.

"Alive" - Empire of the Sun (mp3)

"Disarm" - Empire of the Sun (mp3)

Friday
Aug302013

In Which Our Love For The Dome Will Be Forsaken

Inappropriate

by DICK CHENEY

I have so many things to say about the portrayal of mental illness on television and only 20 percent of it is thinly veiled jokes about Matthew Fox's acting ability. But first I have some pertinent questions, all of which you must answer without delay.

1. In We Bought A Zoo, was Matt Damon's character supposed to be slightly less than all there?

2. Chris Pine in everything, same question.

3. Norrie on Under the Dome....what's happening there? She just makes some dude be her boyfriend? I don't think that's allowed.

4. Have you guys seen Diane Kruger on FX's The Bridge? She makes Matt Damon look like the guy in Plano performing an all-cowboy version of Glengarry Glen Ross. (She's incredible, reminding me of myself were I a lithe blonde woman.)

sonya at her high functioning best

My apologies to Chris Pine's family. Before now, if you did not know all the pertinent elements of Aspberger syndrome, you could be mistaken for thinking that Sonya Cross, a homicide detective investigating a series of murders by a serial killer called the Beast, was simply eccentric.

A prevailing lack of social skills is the pervasive factor in Sonya's life. When the son of her Mexican colleague approaches her romantically and she finds herself unable to deal with it, she turns her entire body to face in another direction. In another scene, she meets a junkie mother who cannot care for her children. In a matter of seconds she has alerted everyone else in the room to this state of affairs. Sonya's illness does not limit her very much as a police officer, for the simple reason that police are always saying the obvious.

this man should have been the new doctor who

Set in El Paso and Juarez, The Bridge pairs Sonya with a Mexican cop named Marco Ruiz (the awkward Demián Bichir) to investigate the murder. He is slightly more ethical than other Mexican police, but not very. He cheats on his wife with great frequency, but at least he does not outright lie to her when she accuses him of it. He and Sonya make a good team because he is sorely in need of a person in his life who accepts him for who he is, and she has no other way of understanding the world.

Sonya has made me realize how often I do not say exactly what I am thinking, for example that I think all barbers are arrogant pricks, or that Chris Pine looks like he got his face smashed in by a car door. The violence that runs through El Paso and Juarez is extreme, but no more than the smaller violences Sonya has to conquer simply by existing. The Bridge reminds us that these horrors are equal. It also suggests, like no other show on television, that most people who do destructive things do them for entirely valid reasons, and that makes their crimes all the more repulsive.

Your eye shadow disgusts me Norrie

Repulsive is a word I never use lightly. I guess in my heart I was really upset by Norrie because she blamed Joe for the death of her mother the same way that Lynne once blamed me for the death of non-combatants in Iraq. Joe should have told Noreen what I told Lynne then: "Eventually you'll thank me."

Under the Dome is truly running off the rails now as the showrunners desperately find ways to extend painfully thin premises now that it's a hit. It was funny when Big Jim killed one person, but now that he's basically a serial killer I have a lot harder time taking things seriously. This week he killed Mare Winningham; it would have been emotional except she had been introduced to Under the Dome twenty minutes earlier. Then again, all he did was dump her, handcuffed, into the middle of a lake. Possibly she could breathe underweather like the semen of Hugh Jackman.

at least she's not spending 90 percent of her time complaining Timothy Olyphant works too hard

Big Jim's latest adversary is Mare's daughter Maxine (Natalie Zea), who is running some kind of fight club where she sells drugs and other vices (presumably the GoT DVD sets that are all the Domers have left). Maxine has threatened both Big Jim, historically a questionable move, as well as Dale "Barbie" Barbara with the secrets she has on them. Now that her mother is swimming with the fishes, this plan may well have been put in jeopardy.

at least throw on a caftan b4 you summon a god

The women of Under the Dome are the forgiving sort. Angie got over being kidnapped and imprisoned in an underground shelter within the space of a single episode. Norrie lost her mother and returned to the boyfriend that inadvertently caused Mom's heart attack without a second thought. Maxine was betrayed by Dale Barbara (military customs dictate he must be referred to by his full name or playstation handle, Brbie420, at all times) and in the very next scene she was shoving her forked tongue down his throat.

he looks relieved he didn't have to put her down as well

The magically gorgeous Julia Shumway (Rachelle Lefevre) found out this week that the Dale Barbara she had been sleeping with, because why not, lied about killing her husband. Since she discovered that her husband was just trying to set her up with a sweet life insurance policy, she forgave Barbie his lie. He was incredibly surprised by this, but since there are very few Jewish-American ingénues imprisoned under this dome, he was unable to contain his excitement for what she may allow him to do in the bedroom next. Most likely both are suffering from an undiagnosed case of narcissism.

Has no one ever thought of touching their penis to the dome? In my experience, doing that makes a lot of things go away.

trying to find a way to break it to her that there is no room for a french braid under this dome

Finally, Breaking Bad. All this Walter White backlash is starting to get to me. The greatest man alive was threatened by a DEA agent who didn't know there was a criminal mastermind in his own family? Pssshtttt. The confession video Walt made was a hilarious stroke of genius, and the first true surprise of this final season. Hank's resigned look and ensuing, "You killed us Marie" was a fantastic callback and twist.

don't talk back to your father. really. don't.

The reason I can't abandon my feelings for Walter is this: he never, absolutely never, destroys those who respect him. The things that Jesse Pinkman said to him, the things that his brother-in-law said to him...when he never did a single thing to disrespect either man. This means that whatever Walt decides for them is righteous and correct. Some vain and immature people think they can control others, even those they know are powerful, because this is just their way of life. Walter White is the end of their fantasies, and they must wake up to survive. 

Dick Cheney is the senior contributor to This Recording. He is a writer living in an undisclosed location and will be manning a F-15 to take care of this Syria problem personally in the very near future. He's thinking Tuesday. You can find an archive of his writing on This Recording here. OK see you guys

"Until I Am Whole" - The Mountain Goats (mp3)

"Until I'm One With You" - Ryan Bingham (mp3)

Thursday
Aug292013

In Which We Can Go To My Sister's If We Say We'll Watch The Baby

Scorned as Timber

by REBECCA ARMENDARIZ

In the months that I turned 22 and 25, Neko Case put out new records. In 2006, when Fox Confessor Brings the Flood released, I commuted 40 minutes to a 9-to-5 corporate job following my college graduation and began descending toward the pitiful end to my first long-term relationship. In 2009, when Middle Cyclone released, my boyfriend died after a 16-month cancer battle.  

The struggles with guilt and boundaries, with perspective, yearning, and self-worth, were the same in these two differently fractured periods, and Neko’s songs spoke to me on a level so unintentionally specific and personal, my experiences molded to fit her words. Her vibrating voice dug to the root of everything I felt.

In June she released a trailer for her latest album, The Worse Things Get, the Harder I Fight, the Harder I Fight, the More I Love You. The trailer features the first minute or so of “Where Did I Leave That Fire." In the video, Neko shoulders thick branches as she walks in a field in knee-high boots that are both sexy and rugged-seeming. The camera pans to show her belt buckles, arranged on the top of her dresser, and one reads “CASE.” She emerges from the bathtub she’d sunk all the way into. She awakens from a twitching sleep and smiles. She rolls over to reveal tattoos on each of her forearms that together read “Scorned as Timber, Beloved of the Sky,” the title of a painting by artist Emily Carr, from 1935. Fireworks burst against an ink sky.

“I wanted so badly not to be me,” she sings. There were times when that sentiment applied to my life like an impervious paste. She’s lost her fire, she says, and at the end of the song someone calls about it: “You can pick it up if you come down with ID,” she sings from the perspective of the man who’s found it. I picture myself after losing my own fire, looking as if someone drew an outline of my body and the shape walked off with my spirit. “You look like you lost your best friend,” a stranger said to me at the CVS up Georgia Avenue a few months after Clark died. I’d stopped there to buy cigarettes a day or so after quitting.

Sometimes emerging again to fill the shell of your own skin after leaving it for a while happens so naturally the switch flicks unnoticed, without fanfare. It happened for me at a Tom Petty concert within the opening notes of “Listen to Her Heart.” It happened to me one morning after a few months of waking up regularly for 7 a.m. yoga classes. It happened to me when I took home the guy from the bar with holes in his t-shirt I’d just met but felt connected to. He turned out to be the guy who wears a NASCAR hat only when he uses tools or drives a rented Zipcar truck, and now I live with him and his Queensryche obsession. 

Her poetic articulation of my feelings mixes the perfect storm’s elements, her voice like thunder, the falling patter of the drums, harmonies swirling like the wind to stir something unanticipated inside me. I wonder what this new album will adhere to, what lines will stick with me and why. Despite loving them outside of the context I originally heard them, I remember certain sparks in songs from Fox Confessor and Middle Cyclone as if nothing has changed.

The first track on Fox Confessor is “Margaret vs. Pauline,” about a girl named Pauline who’s got it easy compared to Margaret, who faces mostly hardship. As 2006 dragged on, my boyfriend and I stopped having sex as he figured things out, a phase that lasted months. He started hanging out with this woman who was clearly in love with him, though they were just friends. He’d go visit her some weekends, and her name was Margaret. “Margaret is the fragments of a name,” Neko sings. “One left a sweater sitting on the train,” she says of Pauline. “And the other lost three fingers at the cannery.” Listening, I tapped into both the person who hated his Margaret and the person who always loses.

When Middle Cyclone first came out, Clark, the boyfriend who died of cancer, couldn’t walk and was shitting in diapers. Neko performed two nights in a row in April at the 9:30 Club in D.C., where I worked part-time.  Clark’s friends came over to babysit and I went alone both nights, uncharacteristic of me considering everything else I’d skipped over the months. I stood on the balcony watching her and sobbing. She ended both sets with the first track on the record, “This Tornado Loves You,” in which she compares herself to a natural disaster murdering everything in its path for the sake of an all-sacrificing love. It was relevant.

On the album she segues from “Tornado” straight into “The Next Time You Say Forever,” following up the title line with “I will punch you in your face.” I felt that anger, too, because in my gut I knew I was about to lose. On “Vengeance Is Sleeping,” she says she dips her cigarette before riding the bus, romanticizing an addiction I needed so badly to pass the length of the day.

A month after Clark died, I went to see her again, this time in Baltimore. Patches of rash appeared around my eyes from crying to “Don’t Forget Me,” the Harry Nilsson song she covers on the record that I guess is about divorce but at the time was only about my loss. “You know I think about you; let me know you think about me too,” it goes. It had rained all day on Clark’s last day. After he died, I went outside to smoke a cigarette on this bench right outside the hospice doors, and suddenly, the sky was pink. Now anytime I see a pink sky, I think of him. I think of him somewhere thinking about me.

That same month I made a mix for the guy I’d started fucking, someone I worked with at the 9:30 and had known for years. I put “I’m An Animal,” a song about sex, on the CD. (I figured out its meaning on my own, but I also heard her say it once in some interview.) “I love you this hour, this hour today, and heaven will smell like the airport,” she sings, and I cry with the harmonies on the word “airport.” I know what she means. I know that smell. And while I’m sure Neko didn’t mean to remind me of an actual person I hope is in heaven if heaven exists, she did. I also loved that guy I was fucking, and I still do, for what we shared in those few weeks. He knows it.  Now we are friends, and I am glad I don’t have to regret giving Neko to him.

Since Middle Cyclone, I’ve started owning my experiences and gleaning keepsakes from them to sustain my evolved self. I like myself a lot more, and I feel strongly about a lot more things. “Hey little girl, would you like to be the king's pet or the king?” she asks on “Wild Creatures,” the first track of The Worse Things Get. “I'd choose odorless and invisible, but otherwise, I would choose the king.” Same, Neko. I want everyone to leave me alone and I don’t want to be held responsible for anyone’s suffering but the worst would be serving some patriarch. 

“Night Still Comes” is about depression, and grief, and how you can’t plan on anything. “I revenged myself all over myself, there’s nothing you can say to me,” she sings, and it’s like she’s talking to herself. The “you” is her, and it’s me. “You never held it at the right angle,” she wails, seemingly blaming herself for her failures. On “Nearly Midnight Honolulu,” her otherworldly voice tells a story to validate a helpless kid’s pain and apologize for his and everyone’s loveless plight. It’s sad and uncomfortable to think about, and it’s so beautiful I can’t skip it. It pops up in my mind during the day, without prompting, while sitting at my desk at work.

Listening to "Man" on the new album I can feel my anger, visceral and heavy, in my body. “You’ll have to deal with me,” she says of herself-as-man. Maybe it’s something to do with my age and that I spend a lot more time reading magazines than I used to. Maybe it’s stoked by the internet, by my constant access to a stream of information that pertains to the issues I care about on twitter. Maybe the same thing’s happened to Neko, who tweets regularly.

“Know what's cool? When you tell a person conversationally that you want to find someone to be with and then they make fun of you for it,” she tweeted on August 2. It’s weird that she’s so accessible, that I have access to the mundane things that fuel her words that I then reapply to myself. But it also shows me how brilliant she is to voice the everyday horrors of modern American life in a way that’s so beautiful and perfect that it encompasses all varieties of loss and sadness and sexiness and anger. Neko’s twitter gives her an outlet for her own politics, her own alliances, her own hormones. It gives her a chance to be a regular person. It shows me that she’s doing OK despite her struggles. It’s better now. I’m definitely better now.

Rebecca Armendariz is the senior contributor to This Recording. She is a writer living in Washington D.C. You can find her website here. She twitters here. She last wrote in these pages about her mother.

"Man" - Neko Case (mp3)

"Local Girl" - Neko Case (mp3)