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Alex Carnevale
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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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Wednesday
Jun292011

In Which Have We Got A Plan For You

What You Need To Do

by ALMIE ROSE

Welcome to another edition of what you need to do, where we seek advice in the silver screen. Last time we looked at Jonathan Lynn's Clue. Today, let's look to Ed Wood's Plan 9 From Outer Space for what we need to do.

What you need to do is spy on the entire world. You always want to be in the know, so if this means getting a pair of binoculars, then you need to go for it. You never know what's going to come out of the sky and fuck with your perfectly perfect late-1950s girlfriend. Doesn't matter if you're standing in the middle of nothing; that's the first place they're going to attack!

What you need to do is dress in your finest black boob-enhancing dress and pile on the make up for your graveyard strolls. You never know what hottie you'll run into and it will be mortifying if he sees you without your brows penciled like you're perpetually surprised. The vampire look is in, and by vampire look we mean a well-placed mole and cheekbones that could stab someone right in the heart. You go, girl!

What you need to do is keep a close watch on your surroundings. You never know when an angry Fred Mertz type is going to sneak up on you. Maybe the real lesson here is don't smoke. Or don't leave your girlfriend sleeping in the car when you're in a graveyard. Who can say? We're all living in this crazy martian-invading world and doing the best we can, gosh darn it.

What you need to do is keep your hair perfectly coiffed. People will take you seriously if your hair looks like hardened cake frosting AND if you're wearing a tux. You combine those two and it's like, Oh hello MR. PRESIDENT. Pick up the slack, gentlemen!

What you need to do is have grace if you show up to a party and you're wearing the same outfit as someone else. Sometimes, these things happen. Forever 21 is really popular. It's best to take it with a smile and a laugh and a, "Hey, someone snap a picture of us crazy kids together!" Don't let grace be an accessory you leave at home.

What you need to do is get your beauty rest. Look at how perfectly relaxed and un-posed this young woman is, in her nighttime ballgown with her diary nearby. Ladies, take note: you CAN look pretty while sleeping! Work on it, girls!! Alien invasion is no excuse for bags under your eyes!

What you need to do is cut yourself more slack. Okay, so you signed up to star in a film by a director who's going nowhere and doesn't really know how to direct or even turn on a camera. That's okay, bro! Life is full of surprises. All you need to do is the best you can. Don't facepalm your way through life! Open up that face and shove your palm in your pocket. Don't you worry. The saucers are up there. The graveyard is out there. But I'll be locked up safely in there.

Almie Rose is the senior contributor to This Recording. She is a writer living in Los Angeles. She is the creator of Apocalypstick, and she twitters here. She last wrote in these pages about Clue.

"I Might" - Wilco (mp3)

"I Love My Label" - Wilco (mp3)

"Either Way" - Wilco (mp3)

The new album from Wilco, The Whole Love, will be released in September.

Wednesday
Jun292011

In Which Flowers Never Bend With The Rainfall

The Dying Mirth

by DICK CHENEY

Who has it better, gays in New York or television critics? I spent the last three hours digesting the second season of Showtime's The Real L Word. I now know more about an arbitrary set of lesbians in Los Angeles than even my proudly out daughter. Here are some conclusions I have come to about lesbians:

- there's a lot less talk about Celine Dion than I had been led to believe

- by and large they work at Marc Jacobs or in advertising

- they're just like us

"i just decided i want to start a lifestyle magazine called Dirty Boudoir"

- Turquoise is a frequent motif in their swimwear

- Lafayette's last name is Reynolds and his boyfriend is straighter than Sam Merlotte

I connected more with a bunch of lesbians way outside my age and price range than I did with the entire cast of True Blood. Try achieving empathy for a newly-turned lesbian who stages MMA fights in New Orleans for some reason and tongue kisses her "opponent" afterwards. Try feeling sad for a bunch of people who turn into horses.

not so subtle allusion to the four horsemen of the apocalypse

Most shows end with a deux ex machina, they don't begin with one. The first eight minutes of True Blood were about as intelligent as all the horrible things Mother Jones has been writing about Michele Bachmann. Your magazine was named after a female politican, maybe you shouldn't spend your entire website criticizing one. After you spend 80,000 words picking on one woman, she starts to sound pretty good simply for defying you. The only magazine more unfaithful to its mission than Mother Jones is Cat Fancy.

Am I going too fast for you? Are you the kind of person who needs 8,000 well-crafted words in order to understand that True Blood is simply a propaganda vehicle for the Democratic Party? (Don't worry, David Frum is working on a column about this.) Harry Reid sketches out True Blood storyboards on bar napkins in between bong rips. The entire Sookie-is-a-fairy storyline came about when he used a derogatory word to describe Barney Frank.

[stage whisper] sookey?

The only good part of True Blood was Bill Compton's office as the King of Louisiana. A Bill Compton as Patrick Bateman-montage might be the only thing that would ensure Alan Ball spends enternity in heaven. But you didn't come here for mediocre jokes about True Blood and cutting edge observations about Mother Jones. You came for the throne, and also for my summer reading pix.

Last Sunday's season finale of Game of Thrones featured no horse being cut in half, no raunchy sex scenes between inappropriate partners. There were some heads on pikes, but thankfully no one was decapitated. Someone did get suffocated with a pillow, but there was a very strong feeling the individual in question was already dead. There was only one prostitute and she was bored.

Boring a prostitute is no easy feat. Even when Karl Rove is tired of "consulting", he goes for the reach around to make sure you're receiving something tangible in return for $1500 an hour. After he's finished serving you, he gets roughly the same expression on his face as Khal Drogo did after his vaginal rejuvenation.

he's still most likely going to be voting in the Democratic Dothraki primaries

After the black magician restored her husband to some semblance of life, Daenerys did what any one of us would do - she got really high and set herself on fire. Sir Jorah Mormont's facial expressions during this scene were so cartoonish it's truly a wonder he didn't scream, "No, you'll burn on the pyre, Khaleesi!!!" Try shrieking "Khaleesi!" wildly during oral sex and when you're at the ATM. The rewards are great.

A dreadful scene between Varys and Littlefinger proved that nothing of any interest was happening in King's Landing except for King Joffrey's awesome tyranny. In the books, Joffrey is about as likeable as Joe Biden, but in the show he has a striking charisma. When he ordered his guard to slap Sansa in the face my cheeks immediately grew rosy at the thought of the ensuing gifs.

With a big lack of protagonists in King's Landing, Tywin Lannister had a fatherly moment with Tyrion and sent him off to be his grandson's Hand of the King. He'll have to sit on a high seat, but he won't be any more out of place than Arya Stark is "disguised" as a boy. If you want to make someone seem like a boy, shave their head, or draw a picture of a dick on a piece of paper and put it inside their pantaloons.

sansa stark after hearing dance with dragons will be delayed again

While you're waiting for season two of Game of Thrones, it is best to educate yourself in the interim. My summer reading picks are thematically oriented around "If You Like Game of Thrones," because let's face it, who doesn't? The rest of George R.R. Martin's oeuvre is a little hit-or-miss, never read his music novel The Armageddon Rag unless you want to fall asleep and never talk to George about it unless you want to hear him bitch about his publisher for six hours.

Here are all GRRM's hits:

 

A Song for Lya

Sometimes I'm at a loss for what made this novella one of George's most popular stories. On the surface, A Song for Lya is a familiar tale about two psychics falling out of love. There's nothing new in the light satire of an alien religiosity. Instead it's the little details that make Lya distinctive - all of its relationships, especially the main love relationship, seem completely alive and real in a setting where such emotions are often overlooked and cast aside in favor of the weirdness that surrounds them. Lya makes us seem like the real aliens. The novella, available in GRRM's story collection Dreamsongs, is most memorable for its stunning ending, which never ceases to create a warm feeling in my bowels.

 

Windhaven

Martin's collaboration with Lisa Tuttle serves as the template for his strong-minded heroine whose society just doesn't understand her. He also experimented here with an island setting for the first time, foreshadowing the inimitable Iron Islands and Dragonstone, the place Littlefinger eventually takes Sansa.

In Windhaven this oldest of science fiction conceits concerns a generation of fliers, ending with a broken-down old woman who can't get in the air anymore. Whether the idea was Martin's or Tuttles doesn't matter, it's George's usual tact of following its story past where most authors would cease entertaining themselves.

 

Sandkings

Saying Sandkings was the best thing George R.R. Martin ever worked on is not that difficult a summation of this novella. Sandkings is the one of the greatest pieces of horror fiction ever composed, concerning a man who walks into a pet store looking for the next big thing and getting more than he bargained for. It was also later adapted into a fabulous graphic novel/one-shot, pre-figuring the Targaryen-era Westeros stories GRRM would later release, including The Hedge Knight and The Sworn Sword, both of which are well worth seeking out.

 

Tuf Voyaging

Martin was only honing his chops as a stylist when he created this series of popular stories about a cat-owning space detective. Modeled after his idol Jack Vance, the tales take on a strange environmental cast that makes them a little wooden at times, but given a chance to follow in Vance's humorous footsteps, Martin does as least as well as Vance's other imitators.

 

 

 

Fevre Dream

Martin's attempt at the vampire motif came about two decades too early. Set in a slave-owning American south where a riverboat is a marked sign of status, Fevre Dream contains a scene where an African-American baby is eaten by savage vampires, and is not for the faint of heart.

What made Fevre Dream such a distinctive horror novel at the time was its gluttonous, unconventional protagonist, who makes a rather dire setting romantic in its finer moments. The twist ending is enough to make it an ideal present for your mother; mine preferred Clive Barker.

Songs of the Dying Earth

Martin co-edited this tribute to Jack Vance, and his contribution to the volume, "A Night at the Tarn House," ranks with the now-deceased Kage Baker's awesome story in the style of her hero. Martin's magnetic introduction details his gesture towards Vance in Tuf Voyaging and where he believes he diverges from his progenitor.

You can read GRRM's recollection of writing "A Night at the Tarn House" here. His own personal blog is awesome - every month, he posts high definition images of the lice living in his hair.

 

Dick Cheney is the senior contributor to This Recording and the CIA's foremost analyst on George R.R. Martin. You can find his Game of Thrones recaps here.

"Stargazer" - Thievery Corporation (mp3)

"Where It All Starts" - Thievery Corporation (mp3)

"Light Flares" - Thievery Corporation (mp3)

The new album from Thievery Corporation, Culture of Fear, was released on June 28th.

Tuesday
Jun282011

In Which We Watch Her Hands For Clues

Cheating on Keira Knightley

by TRACY WAN

Last Night
dir. Massy Tadjedin
90 minutes

In many ways, Massy Tadjedin's Last Night is an exercise in how to make cheating look like the right thing to do. After all, a cast anchored by such unblemished actors — Keira Knightley, Sam Worthington, Eva Mendes and Guillaume Canet — clouds the film with a perfumed haze, leading us to contemplate their couplings agreeably, if not approvingly. There are no reinforced protagonists or antagonists, only choices amongst the beautiful.

Knightley and Worthington play a married couple - Joanna and Michael Reed - who met in college and married a few years down the line. Canet plays Alex, the guy who came in between the two stages of the Reeds' relationship; Mendes plays Laura, a designer for Michael's real estate development projects, and an attractive wedge in their otherwise quotidian marriage. The film centers around the various shades of cheating that arise when husband and wife are separated by a business trip, and both parties are confronted with an excess of desire.

Exploring a theme painfully common to relationship-oriented dramas, a film on infidelity often finds tropes hard to eschew. Secretive, erotic, unnecessarily elaborate — to our relief, Last Night is none of these things. It's straightforward, simple and, although predictable, surprisingly insightful. Most notably, it's — to the extent that still allows for unfaithfulness — honest.

Joanna dissects the impossibility of a relationship with Alex: "Oh, what I wouldn’t give to tire of you." She is frank in ways that are almost cruel; the film is stitched with these moments of disclosure. The characters’ respective bearings give depth to the otherwise routine plot. Instead of exploring the infidelity landscape, Tadjedin opts for a macro lens, a study of the minutiae. This sense of privacy, like the kind of bond forged after a confession, incites our empathy.

Last Night operates upon this surplus of information: although the four main characters are all astute, earnest and admirably introspective, they are also overdetermined. If happiness is not to exclude temptation, honesty does not prescribe morality. Being earnest does not mean knowing what to do with that honesty, if the choice is yours at all. Their frankness means unfaithfulness is discussed and resisted before being consciously and deliberately carried out. Last Night reveals the often-eclipsed ramifications of infidelity: awareness, acknowledgement, history, isolation, circumstance. Nothing is disavowed.

A film so visually interested by the personalized gestures between individuals certainly does not fail to utilize them as delineations as well. There are many complementary shades of affection in this movie: the almost-had-you embrace and the almost-lost-you reconciliation; the contemplative bleariness of guilt, and that of love's loss. Her guilt is manifested in the nervousness of her hands; his guilt is revealed by his taciturn responses.

The love between Joanna and Michael is a love that has aged into a refined rapport, an understanding of each other’s motivations no longer requiring demonstration. Much of their relationship has been internalized, and as such, there is ritualistic intimacy in everything: brushing teeth, snacking at midnight, taking the time to say "I love you." He intuits her silences as his own shortcoming. She reminds herself not to forgive easily. Their impulsions towards each other, as with gravity, have reached weightlessness.

No two bodies respond to each other with the same motions, and Joanna's relationships are no different. Her relationship with Michael exists in its own affective dimension, as does her relationship with Alex — with few overlaps.

She is aware of the polarity of her relationships, if not grateful for its perpetuation; it invites multiplicity, an alternative reality. Despite condemning Michael for craving novelty, she adorns herself in his absence: for Alex, she puts on lipstick, moisturizes, dons a pair of heels.

As that alternative, Alex and Joanna share an intimacy that is equally enviable, something that the director portrays beautifully. They have retained the cuteness of a new couple: the compulsion to smile, the inability to keep your hands off each other.

Alex knows Joanna through states of retrospective permanence: fixed addresses, memorized phone numbers, the writer's propensity for coffee in the morning. The frames of their relationship, developed in sparse windows of time across years — an e-mail here, a party there  — are welded to nostalgia. Their affection is most salient through reminiscence; after all, memory has always been a trigger for dormant desire. She tells him that their love is "something that doesn't change", something to hold on to. It doesn't lessen, doesn't become diaphanous with time. But how could it? There is no escape: a photograph kept in the dark barely fades.

the director with her stars

What Last Night exposes is not a series of acts of infidelity, but the rueful choices of individuals plagued with another reality, what Joanna astutely calls "the in-between", the episodes in which one can live outside of oneself. Its sadness lies in the inability of these characters to be content with a singular possibility, to put their decisions to bed and lie in it, unclothed, undisturbed.

As a result, the sting of Joanna and Alex’s night together is soothed by its own tenderness; the carnal grace of Michael and Laura's night is obstructed by his guilt.

There are instances of this life that we will into being, and those that materialize as consequence. As Joanne acutely confesses to Alex, "I don’t know that this would be what it is on its own." And really, what is? Her word is true of this and all stories, and all that we do. What we wouldn’t give to tire of the impossible, to accept the future without referencing the past, to be contented with the everyday without the unexpected to punctuate it? But we can't: we need absence to be sure of presence. Love only exists in comparison.

Tracy Wan is a contributor to This Recording. She is a writer living in Montreal. This is her first appearance in these pages. She tumbls here.

"Green Grass" - Tom Waits (mp3)

"Motel Blues" - Bombay Bicycle Club (mp3)

"Modern, Normal" - Memoryhouse (mp3)